When Josh Kalis talks about a growing shortage of organic skating and tricks in current videos and magazines he’s mostly talking about how filming has come to be oriented around missions rather than documenting whatever progression is coming out of an existing scene or spot or crew, and he has a point — the idea that the possibly most-recognized/followed spot is a California warehouse done up in shades of gray probably says something about the state of the union/kids these days/etc. But the discussion around Mark Suciu’s States-spanning video part throws out some broader questions about what constitutes real or genuine skating, amid explosive charges of what one friend termed “pseudo-east coasting.”
Oh? It’s hard to recall eastern-borns skating Southern Californian schoolyards being derided as west coast carpetbagging but let’s go with it here. Authenticity counts, or it used to. In the days of yore, like the 80s, “poseurs” served as shorthand for wannabe types looking to co-opt the image of skateboarding without paying the various tolls, such as being branded a loser/misfit/outcast in zones outside of California, as well as physical injuries and legal reprisals in all locations generally, or possibly owning Limpies. Shoulder chips were earned by those who slaved over hot asphalt in pursuit of a flip trick destined to go unloved by all but a handful of local peers. Or even more dire, skating a vert ramp.
The knock against Suciu (ten years ago you could maybe slot in another Habitat employee, Danny Garcia, in a similar fashion) I think is that he’s looking to mint an image by taking some California skatepark show to hallowed East Coast spots and thereby earn valuable blog-points that are redeemable* for blog-cred on widely observed messageboards, a surefire plan to reap riches and piles of endorsement goods. This type of NIMBY brainwave has forced young’ns in days past to pay respects to their forebears and earn respect in old-fashioned ways, in some cases by stepping up to the same shit they skated. An argument could be made that kids build more character skating Love Park nowadays in its more-illegal state versus the ’99-’00 heyday. But what would be an acceptable penance for growing up in California, indulging in some “Forecast” ledge combos and not bombing enough hills? At what point would it be cool for such a bro to take his shot at the Fred Gall ledge-to-handrail? Should Jake Johnson have taken heat for tilting at the Astor Cube? Were hard feelings harbored after Bob Puleo tried his hand over in London?
There’s legitimate gripes to be made when up-and-comers seek to launch their personal brands upon your El Toros and your Hubba Hideouts and your Macba 4s, especially if they’re foolishly snarling traffic for the builders of Burnside or the flag-planters at Embarcadero. Maybe the Love Park holdouts still feel this way when they look at the Mark Suciu part. I’ll grant that part of it is down to the dude involved — much less slack would be granted to, say, Ryan Sheckler if he concocted some video part that stitched together beloved Eastern seaboard plazas and a bunch of spots in New Jersey and whatnot. But I don’t get the impression that Mark Suciu is bereft of street cred, and if this is a calculated get-rich quick scheme on his part I think he’d do better to log hours on Google Earth looking for teeny stair sets to jump up, or figuring out where Elijah Berle shops for his outfits, or recording some private skatepark antics.