Tag Archives: 2019

Lucas Rabelo and the heavy inheritance of Flip

A celebrated legacy can be a real weight for a skateboarding board brand. Sure, it may sell a bunch of logo boards and provide a lot of material to dig into for possible reissues. But it can be a real anchor around the neck of your current riders. Or perhaps more of an invisibility cloak.

Just ask Alien Workshop’s Frankie Spears or Stereo’s John Lupfer or new H-Street pro Isiah Hilt or Powell’s Brad McClain (or anybody on Powell since, like, 1990) or Black Label’s Jake Reuter or Zero’s Tony Cervantes, who has been that team since 2008 but hasn’t made a fraction of the impact Wade Burkett did when he was on Zero for about a year in the beginning.

No matter how good you skate and how much charisma you exude, people’s memories of the brand are locked into some golden years and golden teams of the rose colored past. You’re likely to be judged that much harder for having the audacity to think your name belongs among the hallowed firmament.

No team has created a heavier estate to bestow than Sorry(s) era Flip. We’re talking Tom, Geoff, Arto, Ali, Bastien, PJ, and Appleyard (and to a lesser extent Rune Glifberg and Alex Moul). Characters so popular you know them by first name alone. Starting with Rowley and Penny arriving in the states in 1994 and ending with Shane Cross’ death in 2007 and Arto’s subsequent departure, Flip was unstoppable. This is a brand that could be considered in decline as it added Bob Burnquist, Rodrigo TX, Lance Mountain, and champion Luan Oliveira. In 2012, the same year riders David Gonzalez won Skater of the Year and Alec Majerus won Tampa Am, Flip released a video called Weight of the World. Would their best ever be enough?

The fact that Louie Lopez, nurtured at Flip’s teat and turned professional in 2013 at age 18, had to leave the team to establish himself as a full-grown skateboarding superstar speaks volumes.

And, in 2019, into this shadow stepped South American Lucas Rabelo.

Lucas, whom I had never heard of but apparently has been an up-and-comer in Brazil with Matriz skate shop since he was little, has a lot of tools on display here starting with very first trick: A mammoth yet crispy clean alley-oop frontside 180 to switch hubba grind. Between that and a similar skatepark alley-oop 180 to switch smith that went viral earlier this year, Rabelo has dibs on making this thing (and its variations like the 5-0 later in the vid) his signature trick, perhaps even with naming rights.

He also demonstrates advanced levels getting twisty and tech into the handrails. That frontside 270 the hard way into a switch bs lipslide is both a mind bender and a face melter. I’m not a huge fan of long pinched grinds on mellow rails which are trending right now, and thankfully only one of them is in here. It’s presence is as if to point out that, yes, he can do those too. Same “don’t think I can’t” thing goes with the switch handrail hurricane.

We also get some ledge slides measured in yardage to help counterbalance all the flip outs (one as part of a 4-trick line), some flatground pop over garbage cans, a heaved frontside 360 for fans of the gap, and a surprise bs 360 ollie out of a rail 50-50.

But, with all this expert level skateboarding happening, the clearest sign that this kid could be something great is the line at the 1 minute mark. Solid fakie backside nosegrind 180 with enough speed leftover to go straight into a popped flatground nollie heelflip. Then ending with a nollie backside 270 to frontside noseslide (done in a polished ‘switch-fakie’ style). The discipline to throw in a ‘simple’ line like with nary a flip or shove it in or out shows an eye for style, and when everyone can do everything, power, form, and selection are what can separate and elevate.

The cover of CemporcentoSKATE magazine, one of the biggest in Brazil.

Now, it’s not entirely impossible for a brand with a long and glorious history like Flip to write a new chapter that shines equally bright under its own renown. Some would argue that Real Skateboards, fast approaching its 30 year anniversary and sporting such immortal alumni as Gonz, Huf, Salman Agah, Tommy Guerrero, and Julien Stranger is setting high water marks for itself. Somehow the current Foundation team, even without Corey Duffel, will probably go down as its most memorable.
Hell, Blind lost Gonz, Jason Lee, Tim Gavin, Rudy Johnson, Henry Sanchez, Guy Mariano, Keenan Milton, Jeron Wilson, and Brian Lotti by late 1993. But whose legacy are TJ Rogers and Kevin Romar currently laboring under? Ronnie fucking Creager and a cartoon Grim Reaper mascot, who joined the team to pick up the pieces from all those departures, that’s who.

So here we are at the dawn of a new decade, Flip’s 5th if you count the years in the UK when they were called Deathbox. 45% of the pro team is middle aged, Luan appears to be waiting out his contract, Arto is just a bloated shell of his former self who clearly isn’t riding a skateboard anywhere other than his custom built backyard pool, Ben Nordberg is still am at age 31, and Lucas Rabelo has been elevated to professional.

Between Lance and Bobgnar and Tom Penny (who appears to have hit a comfortable plateau in his abilities; seriously, I can him skating at this level, selling mushroom boards by the trunkful, and wearing these exact same outfits well into age 70) Flip has the nostalgia market covered. Will Lucas Rabelo and Denny Pham and Matt Berger be enough to rebuild Flip. Probably not, but it’s a good start. If he can keep skating at the level we saw in this part, and not get lost in the lucrative world of contests, Berrics clips, and inevitably Monster energy logos, I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Giving that tears-of-joy kid the ender in their recent Spain Tour edit is also a solid feel good move from Flip.

BONUS:
Here’s a quick edit of 15 year old Lucas skating for LRG Brazil back in 2014.

Favorite Part of 2019: Leo Romero in Programming Injection

For the intro of Plan B’s 1992 Questionable Video, Matt Hensley was more-or-less forced to ‘retire’ from professional skateboarding by revered showrunner Mike Ternasky. Apparently Matt was getting too old and wasn’t progressing enough. He was 23. Ternasky did the same thing to Sal Barbier the next year in Virtual Reality. Part of what prompted the launch of Girl skateboards was Mike Carroll’s fear that he might be told to retire next.

Back then professional skateboarding was a very young man’s game. Nowadays, we have the opposite problem. Few skaters definitively announce their retirement from professional skateboarding. Instead, they hang on to such life-preservers as the legend/reissue vortex, vanity company after vanity company, the “I stopped skating at a professional level long ago but still have my name on a board somehow ” limbo, or the old “board-royalties onlyprogram. Nowadays, some pros aren’t even pro.

A pro skater’s mid thirties are where the line gets drawn. Like it or not, if we were to measure rails, count stairs, and tally-up improbable tech consistency, you will lose to the younger generation. You can cling to the professional purgatories mentioned above (go ahead and click those hyperlinks), you can join the literal handful (Heath, Scott Johnson, and -um- maybe Cario Foster) who actually went out with agency and dignity, you can have your board unceremoniously dropped without fanfare, or you can do like Leo and go out there and skate and make a great fucking skate part for your board sponsor.

Certainly Toy Machine’s Programming Injection wasn’t the best full-length skate video of the past year. Leo Romero’s part in that video part wasn’t the gnarliest, or the techest, or the most relevant of his career. Heck, it wasn’t even the gnarliest part of the video. It didn’t even get one of the 27 nomination slots in Transworld’s Best Video Part of 2019 online poll. But I watched it a lot when it came out a few months back, and I still enjoy watching it now as I write this.

Leo’s part was the sum of a lot of good things coming together to get the stoke flowing. Good trick selection, a decent song, not too much redundant footage, and a surprising discipline in the choice not to have cutaway shots of him playing acoustic guitar. Ed Templeton’s artworks and sarcastic word balloons, while being core of Toy Machine’s branding over these 25+ years, has definitely become a liability at this point.

Some of the joy is certainly derived from this part was that I was ready to count Leo out. He definitely could’ve coasted through this video with a few tricks in the montage section next to Billy Marks and Matt Bennett and we wouldn’t have been all the disappointed. He could’ve pulled a Janoski and cashed his signature shoe checks (admittedly not Nike-sized, but still) and maybe busted a slappy-crooks or something in the next Tum Yeto tour edit. But no. Leo locked into those rails straight up (none of the 90-10 shit), slammed onto his face while staring right at the camera, busted a line with two ‘uphill’ tricks, and still had enough in the tank to give us an ender worth talking about.

Looking at last years pick, I must acknowledge my own preferences for shorter, surprisingly catchy middle-of-the-video parts from regular-footers we didn’t expect much from. I clearly have a type.

Mark Suciu, Verso, and the Chiasmus vs. the Blubba

Verso, the Mark Suciu skate video that delivered on all its promises, exists in three movements. In the month since its belated debut so very much has been written and diagramed and decoded in regards to the final portion of the video. You know the section I’m talking about – the part with the sort-of mirrored tricks. The “chiasmus“.

If you took the red pill and followed Mark down the rabbit hole then you now live in a place where we are saying trick names like “Nollie Frontside Heelflip Fakie 5-0 Frontside Revert” and then basking in the sublime symmetry created by the “Nollie Backside Heelflip Nosegrind Backside Revert” that happens 40 seconds later. You are cool with a premature video premiere coming with a prerequisite artist statement. You understand that the last trick, a simple grind, isn’t an ender… it’s a bookender. You comply with demands that one show respect by not mentioning Verso in the comments of his friend’s part’s release announcement less one steal said friend’s thunder. You have embraced a world where the ender is a concept featuring 14 interrelated tricks. You know what chiasmus means.

But perhaps you aren’t the type to delve deep into a skater’s intent. Maybe you don’t view skate videos as something to solve. Conceivably, that Thrasher interview is just too damn long and academic.

Perhaps you took the blue pill and woke up in a world where Mark Suciu, the kid who (along with Dylan) upped the value of the internet-solo-part above that of the part-in-a-team-video with his 2011 Cross Continental masterpiece, has gotten his skate mojo back. You ignore all that encrypted significance and simply enjoy the results of Suciu skating at capacity and with full Adidas funding for the past two years. Is that so bad? Perhaps it is even better.

And thus unfolds the first 2-song course of Verso: a Cross Continental continuation where Mark continues to leave his impression on global skate landmarks past and present – Lloyds, Muni, Kezar Stadium, South Bank, the Bay Blocks. But now Mark is older and wiser. His tricks are even more flawless and quick footed. The reverts are more backbreaking and unexpected. Mark goes big when needed, mixing in some solid double sets and gap-to-rails with all that ledge trickery. His hair is flawless and his pants fit well.

And then we get to the real: Mark Suciu skates New York City. This middle section is what cements Suciu’s legacy onto skateboarding forever even more so than having a namesake grind. Between interstitial cuts of subway doors and manhole cover warm-ups we are treated to one-ups at some of your favorite contemporary NYC sets and ledges in addition to some architectural treats. Mark notches his belt at the expected City chestnuts such as the 360 nollie at the D7 Blocks, the ledge dancing within the Flushings Fountain, the tech devastation of the Pyramid Ledges, and then a triad of Blubba mind benders for dessert. Toss in some stunt tricks worthy of a Thrasher cover, a few cellar door skrells, and hyphenated trick combos from rail to bench or beam to beam and Holy Cow. What a part. Just that New York section alone.

I’ve watched Verso many, many times over the past month and each time the New York section just towers over the mirrored-tricks part, yet this grouping seems already a bit lost in all the academic discussion surrounding the final act. It isn’t a stretch to say the New York Verso is overshadowed by the other parts within the same video. Which is a shame because on its own it is one of the greatest New York parts we have with wide reach. Right up there with Eastern Exposure 3, that part in Transworld’s Greatest Hits, Zoo York Mix Tape, and something else that Quartersnacks would crucify me for not mentioning should they ever read this blog.

Obviously, as I strive keep this ill-conceived Matrix analogy going, I’m more of a blue pill guy.

But maybe this isn’t an either/or situation. Maybe you snatch both pills out of Morpheus’ hands and shove them in your mouth and swallow them both before he or any of the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar can stop you. Maybe the chiasmus doesn’t have to obfuscate the Blubba.

Either way, holy shit, Mark Suciu has some fucking talent riding a skateboard.

 

Serial Hometown Turf Murderer – Bobby Worrest again!


I know, I know. How many times on this blog am I going to erupt with praise of Mr. Bobby Worrest‘s skateboarding?

Well, as long as the parts are a good as the Welcome to Venture joint that just arrived this past week (as well as a fantastic Chromeball interview), every damn time.

Bobby just keeps bringing it. The best switch pushes, the amazing Pulaski lines, the gorgeous VXness… and all this for a truck sponsor! There is so much more to like in this video than just the tall ledge noseslide 270 out (the pretzel way) that everybody is gushing over, but holy shit check out that tall ledge noseslide 270 out (the pretzel way).