It was around 2004 when I cruised up to Los Angeles and visited with Scott Craig for a magazine feature. Scott mentioned a friend of his who was building cool bikes in downtown in L.A, a shop called Super Company Customs in the Little Tokyo district. And that’s when I met Trevelen.
Aside from being the owner and builder at SuperCo, Trevelen’s also a 15-year member of the Lifestyles Los Angeles Car Club, the Soul Assassins and even a boxing gym owner (it was also around this time when Trevelen had been getting paid to spar with Oscar de la Hoya).
Let’s start with a few questions that people always wanted to ask but were too scared.
Were you ever in a gang?
HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah - I rolled hard for years, man. I grew up with a gang in San Diego. Off the first term that I pulled, I ran into people from L.A, Orange County, Anaheim, San Bernardino, Pomona, everywhere. You’re housed with all kinds of people so you build relationships. My old neighborhood left a bad taste in my mouth.
During the trial I was in, I had people from my neighborhood that I had considered good friends… but then there were two informants in that neighborhood that I had considered good friends at the time. And well, it broke my heart.
What part of San Diego are you from?
National City. It was the Whittier Blvd of San Diego. Everybody came from all the neighborhoods to come to Highland Ave; which was our neighborhood’s cruising spot. Our backyard.
So, we had people from all the surrounding neighborhoods cruising OUR neighborhood. We’d get it the worst because we were the idiots that had to be on the block, you know, on the boulevard. Our neighborhood was known for being rowdy and every weekend it was on.
Didn’t matter where you were from - National City or India, you gonna find some tough motherfuckers wherever you go. I’ve come to figure that out. There’s gonna be some dudes that will always call your bluff, you know? And growing up in that neighborhood there, a few guys testified against us and it broke my heart. I never wanted to go back.
At the time, I wasn’t gonna back down. I was expected them to be more like a club or a brotherhood and to have something like that happen to me… well, I ran into a couple of rats so I thought to myself fuck a gang. From that point forward I rolled by myself.
What was the one moment that brought you clarity? When you thought to yourself, oh shit – I gotta change my ways:
I got picked up in ‘92 on the conspiracy to commit murder on an ambassador. I was sitting, awaiting trial. It was a special circumstance and I was even looking at the death penalty. But even if they were to put me to death, they weren’t gonna really do it. I wasn’t even the one that did anything.
I was sitting in the courtroom with my co-defendant. My best friend Matt, whom we called Sleepy, him and me we were attached at the hip. Our attorneys got them to drop the special circumstances and they said, “Mr. Rabanal here is facing 65 years to life.” They were going to give my friend Matt life with no parole. Right then it’s when it sunk in.
I looked at my attorney and I started crying and said, “Is this for real?” He told me I should’ve thought about this before I started getting into this shit. That’s when I really started to think about this. There was no downshifting - there was no brake. It was full throttle. Anything I hit, I hit. It had nothing to do with how my dad treated me when I was younger, none of that. It was whatever I had chosen in life.
It dawned on me I had to make a change or I’m doomed. I did and finally made that change. But from then on I enjoyed life. Every day, I enjoy it. I sleep good at night. I got good people around me. No weird phone calls in the middle of the night, people driving by or my phone tapped, nothing. If I really told you the whole story, you would be like oh my god!
After this ordeal in ’92 though, it got worse. Something I probably can’t talk about but yeah, it got really worse.
Like you, having lived in Hawaii, I think there’s lot of evil people in Los Angeles. I don’t think they even know that they’re evil but…
…Oh yeah, sometime I like to take a minute to tell people how fucked up they are, you know? People don’t like constructive criticism.
What was it about the city of Los Angeles that made you stay here?
Well, I paroled in 1989. I did 5 years. I had 72 hours to go and report to my parole officer in San Diego. I went there, I sat down and told him was I leaving. Either he take me back to prison or let me go. I couldn’t stay in San Diego a daylonger. My parole officer didn’t think I was serious, that I was telling him I was leaving San Diego that day for Los Angeles. I had $200 gate money in my pocket, t-shirt, sweat shirt, Levi’s, and a pair of blue Nike Cortez. No personal belongings.
My parole officer asks me, ‘how you planning on getting to Los Angeles?’ I told him I didn’t know, but I had some friends in Lynwood - the Miranda Brothers. They told me I could stay with them. I had been L.A a few times you know, back when I was skating, 16 years old. So I took the Greyhound up to downtown L.A, took a bus to Lynwood. When I got to the Miranda’s they were like ‘no way holmes, my old lady’s not having it. You can’t stay here’.
At this point I remembered skating in Venice and meeting some good guys from there in the late 70’s. So I told the Miranda Brothers to take me to Venice. I lied, told them I had some friends I could stay with so they dropped me off. This was around in 1989. I was homeless, living at a park, where all the homeless people would sleep. It was summer, wasn’t that cold.
To eat I would just hang out on the boardwalk and wait for people to dump their hot dogs in the trash. I could grab half a hot dog, get water in the bathroom; I was all right for a few months. So I was sitting at the beach one day and I met this guy John, they called him Bagel. He was a crazy motherfucker but he was a cool cat. I had seen him all the time. We started talking about the area, about Hawaii, and then he went onto tell me how there was a room above the place he lived that was empty, so he let me stay there.
I came along some work at a surf shop. The guys there knew my dad was a shaper and I had also shaped with my dad in Hawaii, so I got a job shaping boards.
You not gonna turn born again Christian on everybody, are you?
No… my mom’s a Buddhist; I grew up around Buddhism. For the past 10 years I’ve been getting back into it. I live for the moment. It’s all I have. Right now is my conversation I have with you. Then I’m gonna thinking about getting home. Anything after that is up in the air. Whenever I think about what I gotta do later, what I gotta do tomorrow, it stresses me out.
Is it hard being sober?
It is. I’ve never done cocaine or speed to this day, but I’ve done a lot of heroin. I wake up every morning, living for the day, knowing I can’t get loaded. My whole agenda back in the day is getting up to get loaded.
I shot dope with a lot of people. Rock stars, movie stars; the list goes on and on. I just did it like some people do Tylenol. It seemed like it was a good life, you know? It’s all I could think about every morning, every day. There was no fear to what I was trying to accomplish.
These days, hanging around drunk people sucks. If I don’t know the person, the last thing I want is Budweiser Breath, his arm around my shoulder, telling me how much he loves me, although I’m sure he does but… I know I was that guy when I was drinking but… I mean it gets annoying.
Okay, next one. Did you know that everyone is too scared to tell you that your chick is super fucking hot?
HAHAHAHAHAHA I got a beautiful ol’lady. You know, the question doesn’t offend me. Back in the day it would’ve, yeah. We’re gonna be together for 12, 13 years now. I got a really good relationship with her. She put up with my shit, I put with hers. She’s type of girl that you can bring around the guys just cause she’s cool, you know, she’s a cool chick.
You got lucky! Any last messages for some of the kids that may be reading this?
Choose your path wisely. Take responsibility for your actions. If you’re 10 or if you’re 80, you gotta be responsible for your actions. If you make mistakes, it don’t mean it’s the end of the world.