"River Raiders: Cons Barges Brazil" Article

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Have you ever seen a bunch of grown men on the verge of tears? That’s what it’s like at the end of these Cons Brazil trips—it’s like the last day of summer camp and everybody is wondering when they’re going to get to see their best friends again. We’ve been trekking it down to South America every chance we get these past few years. What started off as a simple tour back in 2015 has morphed into a regularly-occurring mission. And why the hell not? The locals, food, weather and spots all rule. Hope to see all my homies back in the Amazon ASAP. Until then, I’ll just keep this box of tissues close by.

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Fuck a tour van, we're on a boat!

CONS photo 3On one of these ollies, Manderson’s wheel punched through the bank and he got pitched onto his bad elbow. Gotta pay to slay

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São Paulo Street View
São Paulo is like the Wild West meets New York City. Though thick with pollution, poverty and crime, there is an underlying vibe of art, expression, and creativity—from the Pixação-style graffiti-covered high rises to the rich skate history, it’s an inspiring place to visit. The current skate hub seems to be Roosevelt Square and the spots surrounding the area. We spent a good deal of time in that general zone because the traffic in São Paulo is crippling—every move needs to be carefully calculated or it can be a day ender. Better to push around than sit in the van (as always).

CONS photo 5His ¡DEMOLICIÓN! part premiered the night before. Milton celebrated by demolishing the demo—frontside flip
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CONS photo 6This trick has different names depending on who you ask. Fred Gall calls it an “Arab Money,” so we’re going with that. Biano Bianchin takes one to the bank

CONS photo 7Skate church is in session—Louie blesses the spot with a crooked grind

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Louie Lopez: Early Bird
Louie was in São Paulo a few weeks before our trip for a contest. While most of the participants stayed inside the convention center for the better part of a week, Louie hit the streets to do some recon for his upcoming mission. He stumbled upon this classic São Paulo bump to bar, which was recently given some new life when the rail was added. Sunday morning is the only good window to hit this thing because cars are blocking the runway the rest of the week. When Louie decides he’s gonna do something, it’s damn sure gonna go down. We set our alarms and hit it early and, sure enough, Big Lou came through with a crooked grind before the church crowds dispersed. God bless the Skate Gods.

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Lou switch crooks through the blue

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When the sun comes out, the shirt comes off and Louie gets more air than the hip should allow

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CONS photo 8Coulthard had to stand in human feces to shoot Kauê Cossa’s switch Philly Cheese. Sometimes being a photographer is a shit job

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CONS photo 49Not one for resting on his laurels, Milton squeaks out a banked back tail 

CONS photo 10Ollie over the blue into the orange, Ibu finds a new line at an old spot

An old soul who's wise way beyond his years, Ibu skates with a power and grace one could only be born with. Often referred to as the Secret Weapon, the Badalonan Beast is a secret no more! Now’s your chance to witness the what's been popping off in the shadows.

For those who aren’t familiar with you or your skating, tell us a little about your background.
My parents are from Gambia, Africa. I like to say I’m from there even though I wasn’t born there. My parents decided to come to Spain, with nothing, to start over to try to give me and my siblings a better life. I currently live in El Masnou, right next to Badalona, which is where I do most of my skating.

One thing that trips me out is you grew up so close to the skateboard mecca of this millennium, Barcelona, but it seems like you never really skated there. How did you find skateboarding and were you aware of what was happening down the street from your house?
Yeah, I’ve only skated Barcelona a few times. I found skateboarding through one of my sister’s friends, Pol Busquets, and his crew called Alella, which is the name of their town. They showed me some skate videos but at that time the Internet was something pretty new and the connection was so sketchy so we just ended up skating, not being exposed to much other than each other.I wasn’t really aware of what was going on in Barcelona. I guess I didn’t care that much either.

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So for the first time really leaving home, what did you think about getting on a plane to fly over 20 hours to Maringa, Brazil?
I thought that it was a really long flight! But the idea of just being able to go to Brazil makes those 20 hours really worth it. I have a baby daughter so honestly the thought of being able to sleep for 20 hours sounded like a dream come true.
CONS pullquote 4So to be clear, you woke up, took a train to BCN, flew over 20 hours, went straight into your first demo and then sat for hours and signed hundreds of autographs. Did you have any idea what you were getting into? Were you scared the whole trip was going to be like that? How did it feel to have people wanting your autograph?
I had no idea how the trip was going to go. Skating a demo was something totally new. Honestly, I don’t really remember that day. It was all such a blur after traveling so far, and then all of a sudden we started with the autographs. It made no sense for me to be there signing next to guys like Milton, whose part I think even came out that day, but also funny that people who just met me and saw me skate for the first time were asking me to sign posters to hang on their wall. It’s like giving a bicycle to a fish, it doesn’t make any sense, right?

I always like to kind of test and fuck with people—but saying it out loud, it seems kind of evil. Were you pissed at me? You actually killed that demo. You frontside 360d over a picnic table and kickflipped it the long way. People were tripping on you.
Kind of evil? It really is! I know how you are and I know I can’t show I’m bummed because then you’ll think it’s funny and get the last laugh. I wasn’t bummed, though. Even knowing you were just trying to fuck with me, I have to thank you for taking me. Brazil is a dream come true.

CONS photo 44Ibu's got the kinda kickflip pop that turns one man's trash into another man's spot

At one point you told me you weren’t going to skate because you ran out of clean socks. I honestly never pegged you for such a little baby. You weren’t thinking, Hey, I’m the new guy. I need to figure out my sock situation and get on with it?
Fuck. I mean, you’re going to give it to me so sometimes I need to put it back on you. It’s not that I wasn’t going to skate but it was really hot out there and sweating inthe same socks two days in a row doesn’t sound comfy, dude. I don’t know about you but I’m not doing that shit. And you bought me socks in the end anyhow.

So a week into the trip at the São Paulo demo, a guy had traveled multiple hours to see you skate and have you sign his issue of Free magazine that you had a photo in. Were you tripping on that?
I’m still tripping on that. Dude came out of nowhere holding the magazine. I wasn’t even ready to sign it after he told me about the trip he’d taken just to see me. I just got hyped, maybe even more than he was.It’s just crazy that he knew about me.

CONS photo 45Over the block, into the bank—Like I said, the dude's got pop

Do you have a favorite memory from the trip?
I do—the big BBQ at Kauê’s and meeting his family was definitely my best memory. The vibe there was so good—his neighborhood friends and family, with so much home cooking was incredible.

CONS photo 43Ibu goes over JMS with a BST. Tag, you’re it
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Maringá Magic
Maringá might be Brazil’s best-kept secret, for some reason untouched by the skateboard masses. Former 5Boro Pro Rafael Gomes and his Retta skateshop crew have the city on lock with anything and everything one might need. It’s really awesome when the local skaters are excited to share their culture and spots. It can literally make or break a trip. Rafael and the guys took us to this perfect bump to bar deep in the cuts of an industrial zone. As the session heated up, the boys tailgated across the street with cold ones in hand waiting for Bobby to land a varial heel. It took about two sips…

CONS photo 12Felipe Oliveira’s backside 180 to fakie 50-50 wasn’t BAD, it was RAD

CONS photo 13Here's Bobby! 

CONS photo 14BDK slices a varial heel for the brew crew

Kauê Clean
Have you ever watched a squirrel jumping from branch to branch and wondered how it manages not to fall? That’s kinda what it was like watching Kauê Cossa skate this spot. He was pushing through traffic, splashing through puddles, rolling over cracks that should have stopped him in his tracks. Hell, he even managed to miss the hole that Manderson punched in the bank. He rolled away from this front tail and it was as clean as his matching kit. Then we all sat around and watched Mike’s swellbow inflate like a flesh balloon.
CONS pullquote 6 CONS photo 15Front tail, no bail, Kauê sets sail

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CONS photo 16Biano rolls in on a cop young enough to be his son

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Take a Boat, Skate a Boat
Early on in the trip, rumors of a skateable abandoned boat in the Amazon river started swirling. It was one of those stories that keeps building and you can’t tell if it’s real or not. We decided it would be an epic adventure regardless, so we went in search of the mythical vessel. To get to the boat, we needed a boat, so we rented some water taxis and headed upstream. The journey was amazing—we passed entire villages living on the water, people shuttling around to schools and grocery stores. We saw restaurants cooking up fresh fish straight out of the river. And finally we happened upon it—a massive rusted-out abandoned ship rotting on the side of a sandbar. It turned out to be super hard to skate, but who cares? We were riding a boat in the heart of the Amazon! After the session we ate at a floating restaurant and drank cold 22oz bottles of beer—that’s the only size they had. Getting to go on any skate trip is a blessing, but this experience was unbelievable.

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CONS photo 19Not sure what’s rustier—the ship or the desk-jockey dad who was the lone soldier to grind around the stairs. Feeble by the author

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CONS photo 20Manderson, once-in-a-lifetime frontside kickflip for the memory banks

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Scooby Anderson has become a permanent fixture on any Cons trip to São Paulo. He grew up skating in SP, but because of his size thought basketball might make more sense. He followed his hoop dreams and eventually landed a spot in the Brazilian Novo professional league. After his b-ball career, Scooby ran security at a night club called Void, which hosts local skate video premieres and also has the Largo da Batata ledges in front of it. It was there that Scooby reconnected with the São Paulo skate scene, quickly becoming one of the crew. He now has his own security company and is down to roll with us anytime we’re in town. On this trip, he told us he was going to have to break out for a day because he had another gig, but he promised to send his “best guy” to take care of us. We were skating at Roosevelt Plaza and Scooby was secretly watching over us. He didn’t think his employee was doing a very good job and he came over to talk to him. Apparently, during their conversation, the guy asked Scooby if he could go home early. His response was, “Yeah, you can leave early. You can also never come back!” Getting fired for not protecting skaters well enough—that’s a new one to me.

CONS photo 25Dr Z celebrated a birthday on this trip. His switch flips, however, will never get old

CONS photo 26Victor Sussekind disappeared from our signing and came back talking about a spot he found. He took us to a ledge off the side of a roof—then he boardslid it first try! We let him off the hook for skipping the autograph session

CONS photo 27Frontside noseblunt slide to the hotel bed, Brazil was not kind to Jake Johnson
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Jake and The Mystery Virus
Jake noseblunted this ledge on his one-and-only day of skating the entire trip. After spending a night at the hospital and finding out he didn’t have Dengue fever, our best guess is that he contracted some other kind of virus* when he fell into a massive puddle of stagnant water while skating the abandoned boat in the Amazon. He was physically crippled with heavy flu-like symptoms the entire trip, only leaving his hotel room at the end of the mission to come home. Hope you’re feeling better, JJ.

Not the coronavirus either, this was months before the first cases of the pandemic were reported

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Jake's last slash of the trip before it all went wrong

CONS photo 28Sleep well, soldier

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LOOK AT FELIPE ONCE AND YOU’RE GUARANTEED TO LOOK TWICE. With his clothes, style, trick selection and tattoos—it’s impossible not to be intrigued. Wanna know what persuaded him to tattoo his face, find out why he alters all of his clothing and hear why he’d rather skate one of Louie Lopez’ used boards than a fresh plank? Read on…

Where are you from, Felipe?
I’m from Salvador, Bahia.

It seems you have a very unique trick selection but underneath it all is a very solid foundation of classic Brazilian technical skating. What influences your skating?
Maybe it’s because I started skating when I was really young and I was influenced by my older brother who used to skate in the late ’90s. Around 2010 I went to Aracaju to film with my friend Albino Freaza. This was the first time I really skated and filmed on the streets and Albino really pushed me to learn the basics and every variation of them. After learning the basics I realized I could develop them into some tricks that I thought could be possible. It’s interesting, but I think I still have this pure relationship with skateboarding like kids have with something they love too much.

CONS photo 31Armpit-high kickflip noseslide with a little board bump assistance, Felipe finds new lines in São Paulo

How was this trip different from others Cons trips over the years?
For me, it was dope. I felt more comfortable, connected and inspired by the team because it was the fourth time I skated with the foreigners. It was amazing for me to finally meet Ibu. During the trip we talked a lot and found out we have much in common.

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It seems like you’re always creating, taking old clothing and repurposing them, sometimes staying up all night to paint a pair of shoes. What’s your inspiration behind all of this?
Being from Salvador helps me to be disconnected from the skateboarding mecca which is São Paulo. And this is good, because I can find my own references and stuff that I bring back from my childhood when my mom inspired me to paint my clothes, shoes and draw a lot. I created this thing called WorldXit, which is my idea of going against the modern way of consuming by creating unique hand-painted clothing.

For many people, the thought of a face tattoo—even for people covered with tattoos—is pretty wild. How do you feel about face tattoos and what made you want to get them?
My history with tattoos started when I was young. I had a friend whose dad was a tattoo artist. He introduced me to this world and I’ve learned how to do it based on my drawings. Tattooing gave me freedom and independence at an early age because I could raise money from it and then travel to skate. It helped me a lot to be where I am now, actually. Four years ago I decided to go live on my own and opened a tattoo studio at my house in Salvador. Then I realized it was time to access my own identity, which was hidden inside me, and I got the face tattoos. I like all of my tattoos because each one has a story and they make me feel closer to the ancient tribes who started it.
CONS pullquote 10At one point on this trip you broke your last board. You had me ask Louie Lopez if he had an extra, but what you were actually wanting was the board he was skating. Why would you want Louie’s old board over a fresh one?
Come on, dude, Louie Lopez is the best skater and person out there. For real. Where I am from, people don’t have enough money to buy a brand new skateboard, so I grew up sharing boards with my friends. So having a board that was skated by Louie is what really hyped me up. Thanks, Louie!

CONS photo 42He wears the black for those who’ve never tried, to take a backside lipslide for a slide
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The Cossa Family Farewell Feast
On our last night of the trip, Kauê’s family prepared an epic BBQ feast for us, which turned into a party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. The vibes were high, our bellies were full and we all wished the evening would never end. The next morning, however, we all wished it had ended way earlier. As we packed our bags, Kauê told us there was one more spot he wanted to hit before we headed to the airport. The bad news: it was on the opposite side of town. We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic, watching the light slowly fade, and half of the crew had to jump in a cab as soon as we got to the spot so that they wouldn’t miss their flights. The rest of us stared at Kauê who climbed up on top of a sculpture and started trying to kickflip into a steep bank. The clock was ticking, and just as it was time for us roll out, he caught the most beautiful kickflip and ended the trip on the highest note. Until we arrived at the airport and realized Jake’s bag was nowhere to be found.

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CONS photo 32Kickflip into the bank on the last second of the trip. Hell of a way to close it out, Kauê
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