General Ops


 Lizard King by Yoon Sul


Having Lizard King live on my couch in my old condo in Downtown Los Angeles was very productive and fun, to say the least.  We worked very well together, and the best way to describe the relationship was “the yin and the yang.” One of us was the taking-care-of-business guy, while the other was the let’s-have-fun-we-only-live-once-for-satan guy. 

Late in 2008, we started shooting photos in hopes of an interview in one of these things that were made of paper filled with photographs called a magazine. Nothing was planned; we just went out and did it. The first thing Lizard wanted to do was kickflip firecracker the triple set in Santa Monica. So, after a cup of coffee one morning, Lizard called his good luck charm, Beagle, and we were on our way to meet him at the Santa Monica pier at 11am. Beagle had brought a good luck charm, as well: a toy lizard he found in the streets a couple days prior thinking, as usual, destiny brought him to the Lizard because he had been filming Lizard a lot lately. Beagle placed the lizard at the bottom of the triple set as a sign of luck.

Beagle - Lizard King

Lizard was ready to go. He did the standard warm-up ollie to firecracker first try. A good sign to start. He then ran up the stairs to try the real deal… and yelled out the standard Lizard ready-to-go signal: “FOR SATAN!” Beagle and I were probably doing Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions as he said it, as we are very huge (up until Eraser) Arnold fans and know every line from every one of his movies (until Eraser, that is); that, to this day, is our special connecting bond.

After hearing “SATAN!” we crouched down into our “work stance” and were ready to capture history. Lizard throws the first kickflip and hits the bottom deck, but falls off his board at the bottom. He got that one out of his way and knew now what he needed to do to roll away. He again runs up the stairs, as Beagle and I are reciting lines from Commando in Austrian accents, as we hear him screaming, “I’M LANDING THIS NEXT ONE… FOR SATAN!” He rolled up once again and cracked one of my favorite kickflips of all time and rat-tat-tat’ed the bottom set with his tail and rolled away into the famous Santa Monica bicycle lane. BOOM. SECOND F%$&#@!G TRY. We weren’t in Santa Monica for more than twenty minutes, and we were already celebrating the start of Lizard’s interview with what the Jim Greco Skateboarding Dictionary calls a “hammer.” That lucky lizard, man. 

Lizard King by Yoon Sul

After the ten minutes of high fives, “FOR SATANs,” and Arnold Schwarzenegger quotes, we were scratching our heads wondering what to do next… we originally thought we might be at the triple set for a while. I then thought of the California incline bridge that for many years I drove by as a young teenager growing up there, thinking, “That would be so sick if one day someone could wall ride the top of the bridge!” It was just a couple minutes away, and I brought it up and it interested Lizard. We got there, and in my mind I thought we were there to just check it out. To be honest, I didn’t think it was possible: it’s a weird spot and it’s hard to pump up that thing to get an ollie onto the bridge. This spot is really awkward to skate. Lizard took one look at that thing and did his “passion snap,” and with one pump ollied onto the bridge. Without hesitation, I ran and set up my flashes as Beagle pulled out the famous Shake Junt VX—no Arnold impressions this time. I had Lizard pose for the standard focus and light test photo, and we were off to capture a fantasy I had for many years. 

Lizard’s second try was a picturesque perfect wallride that he jumped off of. I shot that horizontal thinking spread and got that one out of the way. I then flipped the camera to vertical position, thinking cover… as a photographer, if all stars align on a photo, always have the options. 

He ran back up the bridge, and again, “I’M LANDING THIS ONE FOR SATAN FOR SURE!” came screaming out of his mouth. I had goosebumps because I had a feeling he was right and I was about to capture the one photo in my life I’ve always wanted to capture. He rolls up, snaps an ollie, and gleams the cube on that perfect mango of a splitting wave and comes rushing out of the tube onto all fours. I couldn’t believe it. He did it and I witnessed a fantasy come true as well as shooting that photo… I feel as though I was meant to have that shot. The three of us were screaming, and this time it was probably a twenty-minute celebration of high fives, “FOR SATANs,” and Arnold impressions. 

We weren’t in Santa Monica for more than two hours, and by that time it was only around 1pm. Considering what we got, we decided to call it quits because it was a perfect day, and to taint it would have been upsetting. So, as we saw Beagle pull away onto PCH in the white Ford Econoline, Lizard and I made our way back downtown—and we made it back in 25 minutes. No traffic… it really was the perfect day. 

We decided to celebrate and have lunch, which turned into happy hour, which turned into a late night walk back home to the condo. Without knowing it, we were also celebrating our first covers which were to come a couple months later for Transworld Skateboarding. That really meant the world to us. Fast forward ten months: we finished shooting for Lizard’s interview and we got our second cover for the same magazine. Needless to say, 2008 was a very good year for us!

In hindsight, though, being a photographer, I wished we had gone there later in the day. It would have been an epic golden sunset light photo. But you know what they say: “Beggars can’t be choosers!” What a great day that was.  

Santa Monica Wallride - Lizard King - Yoon Sul

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