Whatever Happened To: Brandon Biebel???

As the SOTY race of 2015 came to a close, it seemed that there was one man willing enough to play the game by his own rules. He cared not for strategic, fourth-quarter video part releases. Neither did he feel one way or the other about sporting the trendiest of Thrasher gear. He was a man with integrity, and a love for jaw-dropping, flame-emoji-inducing instagram edits.

His name was Brandon Biebel.

Now, I use his name in the past tense here with purpose. Today, as part of my usual post-work, pre-masturbatory ritual, I found myself right where I always do, perusing instagram's ever-incriminating 'Explore' page.

Amidst the thumbnails of tattooed, large-breasted females, hillary v. bernie memes, and occasional skateboarding-related content, I noticed something so disturbing, the absence of which stopped me dead in my tracks.

Where the fuck did Biebel and his solid gold instagram posts go?

Not one to jump to conclusions, I figured I would give him the benefit of the doubt and go straight to the source, @brandonbiebel...After all, I probably just missed all of those posts, my life is so busy, remember? I don't have all the time in the world to keep up with this shit...Then, it hit me: I really, really do have all of that time, and I should have noticed this by now. Fuck.

As I navigated toward his page, anxieties multiplying by the second, all of my greatest fears were confirmed - it had been 3 weeks.

The next five minutes of my life were spent undergoing all of the proper stages of grief that I'm too lazy to google and regurgitate for you in this text box.

Among the many thoughts that crossed my mind was this: how did it take this long for anyone to bring this up? And what does that say about the skateboarding community that the absence of something so dire to the survival of our social media ecosystem could go unnoticed for 21 fucking days?

I'm sure some of you may be wondering yourselves, "How did I let this happen? Am I a bad friend?," or "Will he be okay? Where is he? What happened to him anyways"

Though it's uncertain at the moment, we did a little bit of investigating and foudn that he is alive, and appears to be okay.

Yup, we can confirm that that is, in fact, Brandon Biebel and the boys in front of PLA Skate Shop, in Sacramento, California. Most importantly, he appears to be alive and in stable condition. However, this was taken 5 days ago, and two things are troubling about this shot:

1.) Where is his skateboard?

2.) Why isn't he smiling?

This man is clearly deprived. He is practically crying out for help with that face. Again, I'll repeat: the man has gone 3 weeks without an instagram post. Can you imagine what that must feel like? I pray for him.

Anyways, at this point we can only assume the worst: Blake Carpenter, Daniel Lutheran, Joey Ragali, and Braydon Szafranski, presumably the ringleader here, have taken Biebel hostage. 

I want to take the time now to advise all reading not to be alarmed. I repeat, DON'T PANIC. We have a plan.

...Alright, the jig is up. WE ACTUALLY DON'T HAVE A PLAN.

All we can do at this point is send Brandon our deepest, unified message of love and solidarity in this trying time.

We miss you, Brandon. Instagram misses you. Thousands of kids, grown ass men, and women (probably especially women) miss smashing that like button, seeing your posts inhabit the explore page, and waiting for the absolute-fire YouTube compilations to drop. 

So, Braydon, Daniel, Joey, and fucking Blake, we beg to you, please, if there's even an ounce of decency in your hearts, drop Brandon back off at the park, and hit up Eric Bork to get back at it with the Olloclip. 

Without you, Biebel, how else will we convince ourselves to skate?


What Ever Happened To: The Shifty Flip?

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Multiple discovery is a term used to describe the phenomenon where different people, often living in different parts of the world, discover the same concept, arrive at similar conclusions, or invent the same thing at the same time. Things like this have been going on forever, and were especially prominent during the enlightenment, but I'm not gonna get into that because there's only so much Wikipedia paraphrasing one idiot can do. Anyways, there's a point to be made here. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that some time in the 90's, some human performed a kickflip and decided to slightly tweak that shit. At this moment something great happened, and thus the shifty flip was born.

Think about it. Why go through the trouble of inventing a new trick when you could just do one you already know how to do, but slightly differently? It's a simple concept, really. So simple in fact, that I've began to develop a theory of my own on the origins of this remixed maneuver.

No one invented the shifty flip.

The shifty flip has been there all along. Much like how Jack Torrance has always been the caretaker of The Overlook Hotel, the shifty flip has always been a skateboard trick. It just took some experimenting, and a few pros with exceptional kickflips to discover this one and reveal it for the whole world to marvel at. Lets take a look at some of skateboarding's most monumental shifty flips, brought to light by those brave enough to question the unknown, and brilliant enough to crack the code.

Dylan Reider (Dylan.)

 

It isn't a discussion about style if Dylan's name doesn't get brought up. In what I guess should be referred to as his 'self-titled', one of Dylan's opening clips is an enormous shifty flip launched at a height potentially taller than the man himself. Say anything you want about Dylan (#freedomofspeech), but the boy can shifty flip.

Matt Beach (Can't Stop)

We've revisited topics related to The Firm's 'Can't Stop' multiple times here, and Matt's shifty flip is no exception. Matt Beach can make any trick look good, (see fakie varial heelflip into LA river banks at laughably high speed) so it's a no-brainer that he was able to make a trick that looks good no matter what, look even better. If you told me he was just walking by the spot that night, stumbled upon the generator session, used Jani's board, and did that shit first try, I'd believe you.

matt beach gif
matt beach gif

Lucas Puig (Bon Apetit)

Lucas, Lucas, Lucas. How many times are we gonna go over this? You can't simply know how to do every trick, and do it well. You're making people look like assholes out here. Especially with this shifty flip bullshit you've got going on in your Bon Appetit part. Hey buddy, hate to cue you in BUT ITS 2003 AND YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THIS GOOD YET.

lucas gif
lucas gif

Andrew Reynolds (This Is Skateboarding)

 

There are many examples to offer when discussing the Reyn-Reyn shifty flip, but the man who supposedly edits all of his own parts put together a highlight reel of his expertise in this field, smack dab in the middle of his iconic This is Skateboarding part. I mean, I know the switch shifty isn't a shifty flip, but it may as fucking well be. Then he lays it on you: backside shifty flip, frontside shifty flip. He must have been feeling some type of way about the shifty flip on that barcelona trip as well, because the TIS credits also gives you a behind the scenes look at a MACBA session, ending in a disturbingly casual frontside shifty flip over the 4 block. Loneliness is such a, draaaag.

 

*Also please note a beautiful moment where worlds collide and Bryan Herman roasts a pop-shuv it on flat just before Drew shifty flips*

Many (PJ Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life / Boston Massacre)

 

This video was full of them. Gallant and PJ did their fair share of dabbling, while Fiske would go on to perform one of the best flatground shifty flips of all time in 2004's Boston Massacre. Adam "Daddy Longlegs" Cowell of more recent Fancy Lad fame is also well versed in the maneuver, performing one switch over a coveted Modesto 3 block. Nothing beats Gallant's opening line however. To the delight of VX1K audiophiles everywhere, the dude roasts one in a flawless LA schoolyard to start a line/his part. PJ's contributions: shifty flipping financial 9 (before it was Pluto'd to an 8), and a switch shifty flip of his own on flat at windows.

gallant gif
gallant gif

Tom Penny (Sorry)

 

After punking the whole world into thinking he wouldn't have any street footage in 2002's Sorry, Penny takes the shifty flip to Barcelona's iconic bump to bar. And isn't that nice? Tom did it frontside, Drew did it backside. We really all can just get along.

Brayden Szafranski (This Is Skateboarding / Baker 3)

Brayden Szafranski's part ending shifty flip over Santa Monica triple offers one of skateboarding's greatest tales of redemption. The boy had a strong section in This is Skateboarding. Heavy slams, heavy song, even a front blunt kickflip at Love Park. The only thing missing was a successful shifty flip in Santa Monica. He had been robbed. Fast forward to Baker 3 however, and it was quite obvious that he had some unfinished business to take care of. Lets just say he put that shit to bed. Scored to Sabbath, Brayden closes out his part with the Santa Monica pier behind him, his skateboard underneath him, and a gallon of jager some place in front of him.

brayden gif
brayden gif

P. Rod (The Forecast)

In the dying days of the shifty flip, P. Rod reminded us that style still mattered. 2005's The Forecast saw a young Mike Mo on the come-up, Jason Wakuzawa on the cusp of a pro career that would never really materialize, and P. Rod on his rise to Jordan-like fame. Towards the end of his part, Paul starts really giving hell to the Oxnard Kicker Gap. As if 3-4 NBD's weren't enough, we get treated to something beautiful, something better than a textbook switch tre. Approaching at optimum speed, P. Rod executes a shifty flip, rotated at just about the ideal 90 degree angle. After teasing the frontside flip (P. Rod actually has an incredible non-switch frontside flip) for just a moment in time, he does the unthinkable and brings that shit back. What a guy.

p rod gif
p rod gif

Rodrigo TX (Can't Stop)

(You're going to want to watch this anyways, so whenever you're ready just start er up)

 

I don't really even know what to call this one. Forgive me for sounding naive here, but if magic were to truly exist, Rodrigo is guilty of some fucked up dark arts sorcery here. As the sound of Ja Se No Morar has fully cast us under a spell of its own, Rodrigo is shown kickflipping over a rail.

But wait, he isn't over the rail... But now he is. But now he isn't. Was that a kickflip front board?

(This is the part where you dig up your remote and press the rewind button, but then it rewinds too far, but then you realize that you kinda need that extra time anyways to prepare yourself for what you think you just saw, so you guess that's okay. Everything is okay.)

rodrigo gif
rodrigo gif

Yeah. You were right the first time around. That dude totally just kickflipped over the rail then landed back on the other side of the rail again, in what may perhaps standout as the definitive, single greatest shifty flip to ever occur.

There are undoubtedly other instances of shifty flips out there, but I can't stand to follow that one up with anything else. Maybe Rodrigo transcended the shifty flip, and should really be held in a class of his own? The answer to this question, like many of life's mysteries, may always remain unknown.

Thank You,

-Evan

Whatever Happened To The 'Sponsor Me' Video? A Call To Arms For The Abolishment Of Shameless Self-Promotion.

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When will it end? As tired a topic as it has become, the internet continues to change the way skateboarding's incoming generation perceives themselves. I'll put it this way: Until they create scratch and sniff touch screens, none of these little turds are ever going to realize that it's their shit that's been stinkin' up the biodome. I'm lookin' at you, Instagram. In one swift motion, this incredible photo sharing app has produced an army of #mememe #lookatmytricks robots who actually have themselves convinced that they've built up a fan base who gives a shit. And now, on behalf of everyone old enough to buy their own 6-Pack, I have the distinct pleasure of telling them this:

No one cares what tricks you just learned, how blessed you think you are, where you just "practiced", or "trained" for this weekend's tournament game of S.K.A.T.E. that you obviously expect to win. Nobody cares about the new product you frequently get or the amount of instagram followers you had your parents buy you. Nobody cares about the tattoo you got on your 18th birthday. Nobody cares about the #skatelife you live. Nobody cares about the video "project" you're working on, the release to hellaclips part you've poured your heart and soul into. Nobody cares.

insta

You will never go pro. And if you do, so what?

I know this all sounds very harsh and cynical. I know. But god damn, I've had enough. I can't watch a clip of some kid 360 flip front boarding the Hollywood 12 rail knowing how amazed my 12-year-old self was to watch Braydon Szafranksy cut his head open trying to kickflip front board the same thing. And all for what? To post it to instagram? You had your filmer put the time and effort into filming a trick, only to have them compress the clip and format it especially for Instagram?

braydon sza

So what's the point in all of this bitching and complaining anyways? I think I'm just bitter that it seems like there's no sense of rejection in skateboarding anymore. Before, a kid had to basically film their own part, put it onto a tape or some sort of secret quicktime file, gain support from more connected people (usually people who support the local scene, like shop owners), and send it off to a team manager who would either be cool with it, or straight up tell it like it is and say NO. This was a very natural and organic path for a promising skateboarder to take.

But now? Kids can craft an image for themselves and shamelessly secrete their dumpy footage to the endless feed. This way, if it's good (i.e. worth the most points in THPS), someone will eventually notice and they'll get hooked up. If it's bad (it almost always is), they rarely find out that people don't like it or approve of it. The process of rejection is completely blurred. What results is a generation of kids who don't know what it's like to fail until its too late, and that's some scary shit.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBIafk3pvss&w=420&h=315]

Now listen, I'm sure there are still perfectly humble kids out there who are just doing their thing. I'm not even saying that all instagram skate clips are bad. Post your little heart out. But like anything, it's all in the way you present yourself. Stop hashtagging skate life. Stop pretending you feel blessed. Stop tagging companies you aren't sponsored by in all of your clips. Just fucking skate. Whether you dress like Sean Pablo, or Manny Santiago, it's just skateboarding (the skateboarding fashion show argument is a whole other can of worms). So next time you double-treflip the 4-stair at the Stoner Plaza, switch it up a bit. Post it to Snapchat instead.