Archive for October, 2019

Footage Chasms, The Ultimate Answer, And An Alternate Quartersnacks Ballot

October 26, 2019

In Douglas Adams’ cautionary coming-of-space-age ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series, men at one point design, construct and program a computer powerful enough to deliver the answer to ‘life, the universe and everything.’ The momentousness of the answer upon its final calculation, ’42,’ is undermined by its numerical and rather tingly nature. Their next technological plate of crow was to design, construct and program a computer powerful enough to supply the actual question, though it is unclear whether this strategem saved the ultimate answer-seekers from being torn to bits by an angry mob.

Thug-motivated New York City scene chroniclers Quartersnacks this month asked an only slightly less weighty question: If you were to bury five video parts and five full-lengths released between January 1, 2010 and today under your house for future generations to reference when they discover skateboarding, what would they be? Loaders of the website subsequently were directed to enter the five best video parts, in order, followed by the best five full-lengths, in order.

Mind the gap, gentle reader, as you are swallowed into a gaping chasm of IG footage comps, Thrashermagazine.com web entries and full-length contributions from a constellation of pros, ams and assorted bros that sputtering economic gravity pumps cannot stop from expanding. The Snack Man requests favorites, and so these shall be received. But tweaking the first iteration of the question — burying only a handful of vids for future generations to unearth — exhumes an entirely different answer.

Would such a time-capsule document contain the subjective faves of its stuffer, including subtle but essential variations on Love Park ledge, backside noseblunts, prohibitions against varial kickflips and kids under 16? Or might it objectively map the body of 2010s skating, with all its gasface-inducing ender-enders, its thirsty moneyraking, its aching tragedy, its wonderful stylistic entropy? Which five video parts* could guide some 2050s hardflipper through this expiring decade’s ups, downs and wooly sideways moves? Is it possible to capture a whole decade in a five-part ‘mixtape’ or is this the type of ill-considered subintellectual exercise best left to archaic blogging platforms and their sludge-dripping ilk? Let’s read on.

Tiago Lemos — ‘Press Play,’ 2016

Did any individual person over these past ten years expand and warp the known boundaries of skateboard possibilities more than loose fitted bio-Brazilian Tiago Lemos? The answer is maybe, but they all could be stacked and concrete poured over them and still Tiago Lemos could switch backside tailslide the lot. His godlike pop only is one part of the picture, and in this clip for DC he dishes forth various handrail barges and pants-wrinkling technicalities like the nollie inward heelflip backside lipslide.

Nyjah Huston — ‘Til Death,’ 2018

This long-in-the-making union of Nyjah Huston, Nike and Ty Evans aligned the sector’s highest-powered and most bankable entities to create a relentlessly hyped part that was at once gobsmacking, expensive looking and oftentimes difficult to watch. Nyjah Huston has come to embody a certain kind of moneyed excess, both on and off the board, and as global wallets open and the hoopla machine winds up ahead of the 2020 Olympics, ‘Til Death’ was an apt warm-up act.

Blobys — ‘I Like It Here Inside My Mind, Please Don’t Wake Me This Time,’ 2016

Polar’s rise to prominence in the early ’10s marked the power shift away from the distributor-conglomerates like Crailtap, DNA and Black Box, raised up on THPS-driven largesse in the years before the skate economy’s bottom fell out, and Pontus Alv’s pulsing, frenetic full-length debut for his Nordic board designer cemented the new vanguard. The Polar dudes scattered their shove-its, wallrides and no-complies across Europe, New York and the Pacific Northwest, but if you were to bottle the aged grayscale stone, fast-and-loose street schralps and Continental accents that wielded influence across much of the decade’s second half, you would pour out something like the Paul Grund, Roman Gonzeles and Kevin Rodrigues JV that closed this vid — bashing walls and curbs, early grabbing and disastering through swinging chains and neon glare past midnight in the Paris cuts.

Lacey Baker — ‘My World’, 2017

Fragmentation of skateboarding’s controlling constellations over the past decade, aided by Instagram, canny corporations and the proliferation of screenprint brands, helped throw doors open to any number of comers, importantly including a fresh and focused female generation. Lacey Baker is pushing forward the front lines, dealing in a rapid-snapping brand of tech at home atop SoCal pic-a-nic tables and East Coast monument blocks alike, here flicking impeccably over a bench, there unfurling a noseslide nose manual to flip out combo to the delight of some young Ghostbuster.

Alien Workshop — TWS ‘Cinematographer Project,’ 2012

Josh Kalis was off the team for like three years and it still got him emotional! It goes without saying that the skating, music, lineup and aesthetic here in this, last part in Transworld’s second ‘Cinematographer’ outing, held up as the decade ran its course. Alien Workshop stood at its eleventh hour apex with Dylan Rieder wrapping one of his impossibles over a picnic table, AVE tackling the Heath Kirchart hubba backside, Tyler Bledsoe threading a backside tailslide across a tight top step, some screwball Omar Salazar stuff — and then Gilbert Crockett and Jake Johnson rising to the pro ranks, that switch kickflip, the nollie backside wallride with all four wheels, the switch front blunt. It’s hard to imagine one video part touching ten years’ worth of heights, tragedies, power shifts and stylistic milemarkers, but this one set up an awful lot of them.

*Naming five feature-length videos that capture the era is relatively easy. They are, in no particular order, all of the Bronze videos.

Last Days Of The ’10 SOTYs, For 90 Years Anyway

October 13, 2019

As another decade winds down, uninterrupted* by rogue asteroid strikes, Mayan doomsday prophecy or thermonuclear holocaust, we remain fortunate enough to ponder which professional-level skateboarder will absorb this, the final Skater of the Year trophy to be handed down before the dawn of a new decade, gilded with Olympic golds. It is an auspicious moment, the first short-pantsed bronze boarder handed down in Thrasher’s post-Jake Phelps era. Will the Knights Templar of Hunter’s Point raise up Mark Suciu, who screeched a precision frontside blunt across NY’s Con Edison banks, incredibly back to regular? To the bloodthirsty Milton Martinez, who ollied over the whole damn thing? Let’s read on.

Mark Suciu: Cultured, poised and stepping into the moment, streetstyle codebreaker Mark Suciu is the obvious contender if only because of the buckets’ worth of elbow grease he’s applied across the spectrum this year: Turned in a truck part, won the final Grotto Lotto, landed a Thrasher cover and interview, ripped the Dime Olympics, and wrangled not one but two media cycles out of a marathon, epic part that somehow managed to match the hype and map new dimensions of the form. Given Mark Suciu has ample time to film another couple video parts between now and mid-December, his candidacy has a certain whiff of inevitability, but two months are a long time.

Simon Bannerot: One of the increasingly reliable tentpoles of Girl’s new era, young and wavy PNWATV Simon Bannerot has done his bleeding and gotten it in that most Thrasher of theaters, the road. His turn on Thrasher’s ‘Am Scramble’ franchise netted a rare no-hands inverted cover, he conquered the Bronx’s four banks, unleashed the ender-ender for Girl’s UK tour vid, and conceivably could release some other video before the year is out. His comeback from a gnarly car accident would seem to answer the ‘has he suffered enough?’ Hewittism, but he may be deemed to require further seasoning.

Milton Martinez: The scion of a disgraced industrialist out to clear the family name and reclaim its fortunes, Milton Martinez brings the backstory and drive required for a late-innings Skater of the Year push, with Thrasher chops in spades. Over the course of the year Milton Martinez served up snippets of what he’s building toward, such as his blazing, downhill Australia line, his mountainside descent in April, the Independent and Volcom tour appearances, and now the threat of bigger things to come, a pulse-quickening kickflip into the hallowed Sunset carwash to set off 2019’s final sprint. Presumably, he has a video in the offing.

Clive Dixon: Did you remember that Birdhouse put out a video earlier this year? Perhaps not, but the Thrasher brain trust certainly does, having turned one cover over to Clive Dixon’s jaw-slackening handrail spin on Jeremy Wray’s water tower leap, and his more recent Staples noseblunt slide, with the really odd backdrop of Geoff Rowley’s bronzed 50-50 in the backdrop, presumably missing just by a hair. For those keeping score at home Clive Dixon also nollie noseblunted El Toro last year, but does he have more to uncork prior to year’s end?

Bobby Worrest: The champion of the people, the AVE-category 2019 veteran ballot entry, the king of Pulaski, Bobby Worrest played a major role in this year’s somewhat improbable but very welcome Venture resurgence, turning in an overstuffed Gucci bag of a part that included the now-notorious ‘up the three’ line, with only the house music throbs holding it back from immediate classic certification. Bobby Worrest quickly resurfaced in Gang Intl’s ‘Facades’ last summer, made an obligatory appearance in Nike’s ‘Crust Belt’ tour, and seems like he never runs out of fuel or fresh angles on those beloved Washington blocks. With Tiago Lemos not overtly tilting toward this year’s title, Bobby Worrest is the candidate most easily imagined in a gilded throne SOTY cover along the lines of Brian Anderson’s CMB-themed entry.

Rowan Zorilla: After a sleeper part being zoomed in and out upon in Bill Strobek’s ‘Blessed’ Film last year, off-kilter Shep Dawger Rowan Zorilla in 2019 has slouched back into a more lackadaisical pose, closing out the second installment of Iphone vibe project ‘Boys of Summer’ II — a t-shirt and sweater-promoting vehicle that included him fakie 360 flipping up the EMB steps, an important trick for people to know about. A more ‘serious’ part, if such a descriptor could be applied to Rowan Zorilla’s unique, bandy-legged swerves, would seem to hinge upon ‘Baker 4’ arriving before year’s end. But this is an even-money bet at best for a proven ‘keep it skate’ company that could opt to reward nostalgia for late-90s style two-year ‘coming soon’ campaigns and pushed back release dates.

*as of this writing.

Update 2K19: Mark Suciu’s Pants Are Starting To Properly Fit Again

October 6, 2019

There is a moment a few minutes into Mark Suciu’s ‘Verso’ opus when the druggy Air saxophone slinks in, you settle back into your chair, set aside the anticipation and the mental trick tableture and pattern recognition software updates, and let the waves wash over. In this brassy and bulging era in which everybody can do every trick, the differentiator between the merely ‘super good’ and the truly great is the capacity to innovate and the vision thing. Talking tricks, Mark Suciu has always had the bag; his ‘Cross Continental’ statement of purpose showed he could pull out some interesting ones and place them well; his Philadelphia residence demonstrated he could think up some new ones. His eight-minute flex in ‘Search the Horizon’ unspooled seemingly boundless consistency and energy and reach on a global level, but for Mark Suciu even that at times failed to scratch some maddening, internal itch, sampling a planet’s worth of spots with just minutes or hours to think of which rabbit to pull out:

On a trip, it’s a give and take. Staying in one area you get to really understand a certain spot, and putting a lot of time to think about if something is going to yield a great trick. But, also, on the flip side, travelling from spot to spot, you don’t really care, like, ‘Oh, this is really an amazing spot, I need to get something here, even if it’s a simple trick.’

After a couple years’ worth of relatively paint-by-numbers outings — at least, by the lofty standard set in his Gucci Mane-esque 2012-2015 run — ‘Verso’ aims to answer all that. Mark Suciu’s characterized it as one part labor of love, crossing off bucket-list tricks at spots sentimental and seminal, while stretching outside his Swiss-engineered ledgework to jump back onto some big gaps and hairy rails. But he also aspires to ‘level up’ in the video game, hinting for months about themes of trick symmetry and ‘rhyming lines’ that sounded like a rethinking of skateboard video parts themselves, a feat only a few folks have really pulled over the past couple decades — Spike Jonze, Mike Hill, Danny Way, Colin Read, Miles Silvas and Colin Kennedy, maybe some others.

Mark Suciu’s skating always has been best presented in the video projects that help humanize his always-preternatural talent and more recently, his burgeoning intellectualism (which remains a welcome swerve from decades of increasingly rote Q&As revolving around domestical macrobrews, weed and good times with the homies, often plated with some zesty ego stroking). It helps when his otherworldly precision and clean cuttedness is played off against some grit, be it the crack-dusted Love blocks, Elliott Smith’s caterwauling guitar, a sweat-stained shirt, sweary drunken louts, grainy VX, or Swizz Beats’ gutteral yelling.

For a little while it looked like ‘Verso’ might be marred by another humanizing trait: hubris, as the vid’s pre-release media campaign built towering expectations, an IG hashtag was launched, and the premiere came and went an apparent work in progress. Then the wait began, a weeks- and then months-long vacuum inevitably filled with chatter of some unfilmed trick, ‘Better Call Lory’-level music rights frustrations, or on those tingly late nights, visions of Mark Suciu descending into a Caden Cotard-like spiral of creative madness, the stacks of footage and trick lists piling upon one another and steadily eroding the young fella’s sanity.

All this of course comes back to pants, for what is more human*? This week’s long-awaited arrival of ‘Verso’ puts to rest many of these wiggly questions: The part exists. Mark Suciu goes in. Importantly, his pants are looking looser and freer, getting closer to the ‘Cross Continental’ sweet spot of his own personal stylistic trouser spectrum. Initially it can be a disorienting and even tiring view, trying to pick out instances of trick symmetry shuffled amongst the typical deluge of up-across-and-over, and rapid-fire flickery. The nice saxophone was previously mentioned.

Some early hints, like the bigspin tailslide/fakie frontside noseslide 270 shove out and the panaltitudinal Lloyds line**, wink at where Mark Suciu’s head has been, but the part’s core lies in the fourth ‘chiasmus’ section where he strings together trick sequences that progress toward reversed versions of themselves, based on the board’s rotation and flip versus the ledge. It is a level or two deeper than the widely anticipated ‘mirror lines’, and suggest a new depth to what’s possible with a video part. Whether or not Mark Suciu needed 8 minutes of other footage to build to this point is a different question, but this is the vid’s big achievement, and it raises interesting possibilities as to what the medium can do beneath feet as talented as a Mark Suciu’s. If tricks, spots, lines and music can be considered a palette, or language, can skate videos function as ascerbic commentary, a winsome love tune, coded screeds, an impressionist’s blur? To what extent have they already?

Is the Mark Suciu of ‘Verso’ more poet or mathematician? Are we so far away from Dave Carnie’s ‘Me, Skateboard,’ performance piece of 20 years ago? Where was the Joey Guevara clip? Does his IG story pic from a few weeks back, looking down on Wallenberg, suggest he’s got more in the tank as the 2019 SOTY campaign lurches into its final trimester, pregnant with potential?

*Nothing, bro. Pants are a human creation firmly separating the species from kangaroos, swine and even the most confident invertebrates

**to truly ‘rhyme,’ shouldn’t either the frontside flip or the switch backside flip over the NY rail have been a frontside heelflip/switch backside heelflip, so that the board flips the same way in both tricks?