Posts Tagged ‘Mark Suciu’

One Louder

December 4, 2021

Where tightly plotted intricacy doesn’t work, apply overwhelming force — such is the Skater of the Year-centric read on Mark Suciu’s ‘Flora III’ vid, the latest and most dizzying in a flurry of fourth-quarter footage releases that it is tough to consider through many other lenses. The sheer quantity of tricks and lines that Mark Suciu has digitally distributed over the past six weeks must stand as some type of record, likely matching in the entire career output of multiple early 1990s pros.

The focus, discipline and ‘clean livin’ required for such feats still are relatively new behaviours to the skateboarding sphere, where the misfit rebel motif remains as beloved to the average skatepark vibe as it is to the beverage conglomerate marketing campaigns. This is also the source of skateboarding’s conflicted attitudes toward effort — specifically letting it show too much, versus putting it in at the spot — and the ensuing queasiness toward overt SOTY campaigning, as contest podium-standers don Thrasher shirts and turn up the heavy metal for November video part drops. It’s uncouth to talk much about it. Several decades removed from the industry crashes and societal rejection that put a gravestone on Thrasher’s cover and affixed a chip on skateboarding’s collective shoulder, there remains a risk in coming off like you’re trying too hard, or believing your own hype; in the same way dead-eyed casualism is the preferred roll-away, aloof detachment is the preferred career approach.

“I tried that year,” Mark Suciu said on the ‘9 Club’ pod cast last summer, in response to a question of whether he would make a ‘push’ to win Thrasher’s legend-making Skater of the Year award. In 2019 he had a head of steam built up with his landmark ‘Verso’ project nearly done and plenty more footage to spread around, and the Thrasher powers seemed to take notice, inviting him on trips and making him confront the question of whether and what type of effort he ought to make. “At first I was like, what? Nah. Then I was like what, wait, what if I was? How do we start backwards, how do I prove to myself that I earned it? So it made that whole year really fun for me because I was trying to skate hard, trying to live up to that.”

The nod wound up going to longtime Thrasher favorite and certified madman Milton Martinez, probably cemented the moment he rolled across the street after kickflipping into the monstrous Sunset Carwash bank. Mark Suciu wound up putting out yet another video for Habitat that year, then took a break, and while he voiced no ill will on the 9-Club, the whole process sounded sort of draining. “I found out like everybody else, on Instagram,” he said. “Which was fine.”

Two years later, Mark Suciu’s assumed a commanding presence in the last days of skateboarding’s 2021 award season with a consummate professional’s approach, spreading his output among his sponsors and friends in an increasingly deafening torrent. At one point this web logging website had suggested his prodigious ability would show in sharper relief via fewer, more distilled vids centered mainly around the tricks that only he could do or think of, but as this bold year of the ox nears its close, it’s clear he is going the other way, a precision operator instead choosing max volume.

The last minutes of his two most recent video parts* lay it out there — in the Spitfire one, he deals out tricks at the NY courthouse before literally heading across the street and continuing with a battery of tricks at the Blubba. The more western-coast ‘Flora’ section peaks with two minutes of shoving, spinning and increasingly contorted handrail tricks that draw on his earlier feats and spraying a bunch of new ones, like a fakie take on the Davis Torgerson nollie frontside hurricane, a Lutzka type spin to blunt, a nollie 360 backside nosegrind, and various others fit to test a blog post’s daily allotment of hyphens. Whereas the final ‘Verso’ segment was a puzzle to try and figure out as Mark Suciu linked tricks and lines into nested bookends, the last couple minutes of the ‘Flora III’ vid on initial watch are one of the more visceral experiences in recent memory, the tricks blasted out in shock-and-awe fashion with no slow-mo or fades to black, evidence laid out in a case that leaves very little room for doubt.

Presuming a Skater of the Year win doesn’t lead Mark Suciu to step away from professional skating as he’s contemplated in the past, is a bowl part bound to be his next medium? How many more k-grind to switch k-grind iterations could he have tacked onto the 3x combo if that one double ledge setup were longer? How much runtime would a vid like this have if Justin Albert were to have chosen a Screwed Up Click/’Baker2G’ approach? If the award going to Mark Suciu doesn’t all the way dispel the side-eye toward overt SOTY campaigning, will having a literary minded, college educated Thrasher laureate help sketch out another archetype for the kids?

*this is over the last two weeks dudes

‘Never Put So Much Time And Effort Into Any Single Goal In My Life’ — Runners N Riders For 2021’s SOTY Season

November 6, 2021

“Anyone who knows me knows how much I put into this!” exclamated David Gravette last week on Insta-Gramm; “Without a doubt I have never put so much time and effort into any single goal in my life.” The noted Creature fiend was gushing not over bagging a trophy handrail or handling some monstrous gap, but rather hooking a salmon on a fly road, hooked with an October caddis nymph, of all things. While David Gravette cradled his mauve-and-sewer-green triumph in the PNW streamwaters before letting it loose again, reality TV game show host Andy Roy’s chance encounter with a sackful of aluminum cans sent him down his own fogged memory lane to recycling hammers during his years on the struggle, balling for position against other refuse collectors at Potrero Park.

Both social media posts earned several flame emojis, but also provided a glimpse of achievements to be claimed beyond the skateboard realm. For several worthies, however, the biggest prize in ‘tha game,’ Thrasher MagaZine’s yearly Skater Of The Year, remains tantalizingly within reach; which of this year’s early contenders has more gas left in the tank for an awards-season push, and which others have yet to reveal their true powers? Let’s read on.

Jack O’Grady: for an aged web blog’s money, the most ‘Thrasher’ of the lot and squarely of the Milton Martinez mold, freshly minted pro-fessional Jack O’Grady provides Australian crust and concrete in spades via his springtime ‘Pass~Port Part,’ with plenty of caterwauling ride-aways and slams and generally questionable judgment, like that gap kickflip into the bank, for instance. Tristan Funkhauser’s eye-popping China Banks FSA didn’t quite dethrone Jack O’Grady’s technicolour rail-to-rail leap for Thrasher’s best cover of 2021, but does he got more coming to ‘seal the deal’ before the early-December drop-dead date?

Yuto Horigome: skater of the next three years in the hearts and minds of the billions of new heads worldwide now tuned to backside kickflip nosegrinds and 360s into shit, Mike Sinclair’s Olympic meal ticket has a credible bid for the also-significant Thrasher award, having nollie backside spun his self onto the cover of the mag in the process of videotaping his ‘Yuto Show’ part for April Skateboards earlier this year. He brought some fairly intense handrail stuff, like the nollie backside noseblunt and the switch pupecki grind and the backside sugarcane, though it remains to be determined how much weight an Olympic gold doubloon holds with the Thrasher brain trust, if any.

Chima Ferguson: Knowed as ‘the Thunder From Down in Australia,’ Chima Ferguson broke out Andrew Reynolds’ ‘Stay Gold’ manual for purposes of shutting down Vans’ recent ‘Appreciate U Bro’, interspersing big flip tricks down gaps with clean-cut ledge and flatground lines, while also manualing off the side of a building and nosegrinding what effectively seemed to be a type of shed. Chima Ferguson went the two the hard way over handrails, sailed over sidewalk warning bumps, and made Jack O’Grady’s kinker grind down the St Martin’s Place double set somehow seem a lil bit smaller after blasting an ollie all the way down. Does he now got enough cutting-room floor materials and the intestinal fortitude to record a few more heaters for a late-November follow-up?

Felipe Nunes: If Danny Way’s invention of a new way of skating via the MegaRampTM was enough to merit the only really justified SOTY repeat, Felipe Nunes’ feats in his ‘Limitless’ vid this year should earn similar consideration. On the theoretical pro skater character sheet Felipe Nunes’ ability ratings for power, confidence and creativity all would be maxed out — he hits famed street gaps and rails, throws an above-the-coping 540, spins a backside 360 onto a rail and finds approaches spots that traditionally legged pros wouldn’t be able to manage, like on the moistened film-roll QP. The shot of this dude climbing a fence is impressive all by itself.

Evan Smith: Getting yourself arrested in the process of securing a Thrasher cover photo hopefully provides an obligatory pass to at least the semi-final rounds of Skater O The Year consideration, even if being passed over for several years running may not. At this point in Evan Smith’s wide-eyed, grime-caked and bandy-legged career it’s easy to forget that in the early going with Element.com he could’ve gone the energy drink and contest circuit route, versus the somewhat less well-trod path involving dog shit eating and kickflip wallriding on glass walls. This year of the Ox hasn’t been Evan Smith’s heaviest in terms of output, but his ‘Uma Landsleds’ section had one of the longest noseslide to backside tailslide combos in recent history, a nollie inward heelflip steered calmly into GX territory and one of just a few Clipper lines to involve a kickflip down the first set. Evan Smith doesn’t come off like a campaigner but does have the talent and seemingly boundless energy to release some other vid before the month is out.

Mark Suciu: After the torrid pace of 2019 and the mental torture involved in completing his landmark ‘Verso’ project, the comparatively lower stakes of a sub-5 minute vid for some custom-colored Gazelles look good on perennial most-talented-skateboarder-on-planet-earth candidate Mark Suciu. A little bit more of an upbeat song helps too, making him look a little looser flipping his way across those Bay Area and New York waterfronts, exuding PJ Ladd flatground energy til he runs out of cobblestones. With Mark Suciu nearly every project has some trick it seems like you haven’t seen before, like the backside tailslide to 5-0 to pivot around at Pier 7 and the backside tailslide to backside tailslide in this one, and there are some flashes of ‘hammer Suciu,’ like the switch 5-0 and the big switch frontside 360. As far as Skater of the Year, he sounded fairly over it as per his ‘Nine Club’ appearance, but he also mentioned having a couple other videos more or less in the can.

Due To Skating To An Unreleased Steely Dan Demo And Other Services Rendered, Niels Bennett Hereby Is Named Your 2020 Skater Of The Year

September 6, 2020

Think about the totality of human history. Go ahead. It’s about 200,000 years. A long time, but not that long. Some highs (discovery of fire, the toboggan, automatic bill-pay), some lows (the extinction of the unicorn, alarming levels of space garbage), and in between numerous creamy middles. Yet perhaps the most shocking conclusion over this period is the relatively small number of people have set skate parts to Steely Dan songs.

‘Bro,’ a knowing bro may say. ‘Recall Mike Santarossa, later to be Prime’s most reliable nollie backside kickflipper, skating to “Do It Again” in a demo footage-heavy section for Powell’s “Scenic Drive” that also included the rarely spotted half cab to frontside smith grind 180 out.” This is a fair point, driven home with bloodcurdling abandon by the fact that the terminally smooth Tony Ferguson in ‘North 2’ later would reprise the same song. A deep-thinking bro may go on to highlight how ‘Dirty Work’ soundtracked the latter half of Dan Narloch’s boss level section in the late ’00s Midwestern seminality ‘Boondoggle,’ or that Studio snippeted ‘Boston Rag’ to open its 2012 ‘Mood Lighting’ project. It would have been really difficult for Logan Lara to avoid incorporating ‘Reelin In Tha Years’ into a ‘Boys Of Summer’ release at some point.

And yet all of these choices made by individuals over the last ~25 years fall short in their own ways, for instance by leaning heavily on the somewhat generic if well-executed ‘classic rock’ projections of the early Steely Dan catalogue, before they fully steeped their music in jazz arrangements, kicked off all those other dudes, and plowed through hundreds of millions of dollars in studio time for days-long pursuits of the perfect take. Here in human history, and indeed the planet’s own, Scott Johnston stands apart in Mad Circle’s Bay Area document ‘Let The Horns Blow,’ using ‘Peg’ in a choice that has reverbrated and frequently gyrated through time.

With untold eons yet to go, now comes Niels Bennett, onetime amateur for Girl, this week promoted into the professional ranks via the svelte and vaguely clown-themed ‘Nervous Circus.’ After introducing Australian ripsaw Rowan Davis, some frontside flip reminders from Tyler Pacheco, a couple Sean Malto clips that suggest he could be aging beyond 17 years old, and four straight minutes of Griffin Gass’ thundering, early-Andrew-Allen-meets-Primitive tech, Niels Bennett sails in with a satisfactory-sounding backside 5-0 and a string of high-fives to his forebears. There is a Rick flip, a frontside heelflip bigspin at Fort Miley, a fakie frontside flip the hard way over the Keenan Milton rail in LA, a fakie backside nosegrind 180 out at New York’s pyramid ledges that must for sure have been done before, but this good? The switch frontside bigspin is a post-millennium take on that one planter gap a bunch of those dudes used to skate and he has previously provided Chaffey materials.

Mark Suciu, who may be viewed as a spiritual predecessor to Niels Bennett, embedded similar themes into his ‘Cross Continental’ part in, wow, 2012. But in addition to a vicious and strategically placed fakie ollie and the incredible looking bluntslide to backside tailslide across the Flushing grate gap, Niels Bennett presses humankind forward via the incorporation of ‘Let George Do It,’ a deeply mined demo gemstone cast off by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen early in their 1970s vision quest. The song is in one swoop a sturdy vehicle for Niels Bennett’s loose limbed and cerebral tricks, a nod to his probably more fastidious Chocolate forebear, and a recognition that musical supervision decisions still exist that will stand up across human centuries, while remaining beyond the psionic clutches of Youtube’s copyright beholders.

Are unsleeping and relentless song-recognition algorithms to blame for the Siberian unicorn’s untimely extinction? When’s the last time you turned up the volume when ‘Is There A Ghost’ began bleating out of the speakers? Are switch frontside bluntslides for Griffin Gass similar to a 50-50 grind for everybody else? Does the dreamsicle color scheming of Niels Bennett’s debut OG model fill you with a childlike sense of longing for times past, or an inescapable woe over spilled popsicle sticks coagulating into sidewalk blobs, and guiltridden memories of slain unicorns?

Diced Pineapples III: Nightmares, Dreamscapes And Wallrides To 50-50s

May 9, 2020

What became, oh best beloved, of the dog who caught the car? In the ancients’ telling, the dog received a car — as well as a seven-year loan, rapid depreciation and a set of factory floormats. The dog eventually paid it off but vowed to never again catch new, only pre-owned, and went on to live a fiscally responsible life troubleshooting code and grilling on weekends before meeting an untimely end after consuming a sack of Halloween candy.

In many ways this is the story of our time. But what about the other story — that of the slower, less tenacious dog, maybe a dachshund, that never really got after the car but yearned to see, from the chained comfort of his owners’ yard, one of his ‘dogs’ finally nab one? Eight years ago, a wordy and meandering internet-based weblog page theorized about a person, any person, wallriding up a vertical block, locking both front and back wheels atop the ledge and 50-50 grinding it while still in the horizontal/wallride position. It was in many ways a simple dream that nonetheless required multiple entries to poorly articulate, and then it spun unto the ether like so many twisted cigarette butts, flung from a novelty ashtray while pondering the power of positive visualization. “You can take something that was pure thought and make it reality” — Marc Johnson’s long-ago teachings at the knee of high school footballer Cliff Kauffman.

Usually when it comes to tricks, and increasingly in this daily-saturation, everybody-is-good age, if you take something that was pure thought, chances are that someone’s already made it reality on InstaGram, or on a jubilantly coloured curb in a VHS-only release from the days of yore. Yet this particular variation — wallriding a vertical surface, off flat, no bank, grinding both trucks from the side and not transitioning onto the top of the ledge — seemed to hover just outside the frame. That is until last month, when Www.Thrashermagazine.com uploaded the latest iteration of its ‘Plazacation’ series, setting loose a formidable lineup into DC’s Pulaski park, among them former mayor Darren Harper, current incumbent Bobby Worrest, prodigal son Jack Curtin, plazzaseur Mark Suciu, the incomparable Tiago Lemos and, critically, Rahzel Ashby, who hits the big white wall backside, edges both wheels over the top, scratches and rides back down, sealing the deal.

How many other iterations of this same trick have tumbled past weary blogspotters’ cracked and malfunctioning radars before this one finally rang the bell? With the trick tamed, is the next obvious step to look for someone to somehow incorporate a kickflip? Has Gustav Tonnesen probably already done this? In ‘Field O Dreams,’ after Kevin Costner built it, and they came, and he edited and uploaded the footage, was he satisfactorily stoked or was he left only with an empty, searching feeling in place of the cosmic itch-scratching he had long yearned after, setting him on a path toward a moistened and post-apocalyptic life of solitary roaming and pee-drinking?

If Franky Spears Kickflip Backside Noseblunts The Pyramid Ledges And The Footage Disappears, Is It Again An NBD?

February 21, 2020

Current events. Priceless works of art. Mankind’s steamiest industrial achievements. The beauty of a peacock’s feather. A plate of shrimp. All are fleeting in the arc of the universe, spilling out across millennia, like so much galactical flab. In the time of the electronic cigarette and smouldering anxieties, time is a loosened and wiggly loop, like the yellowed waistband on a ragged pair of Hanes.

A man’s body of work, they say, can be measured two ways: by souls ignited in inspiration, or by enemies’ bodies rotting beneath the ground. Just for the sake of argument let’s consider Niels Bennett, Frankie Spears, Felipe Gustavo, Tom Snape and Gustav Tonnesen in the former category. Their efforts featured in last year’s post-SOTY season Adidas release ‘Reverb,’ reliably extending the sportswear conglomerate’s series of professionally executed, inoffensive videos that, like the company’s other releases over the last four or five years, is precisely as interesting as whatever dudes are featured. Who in this case are excellent: Tom Snape, possessed of an uncommon switch inward heelflip, joined co-Commonwealther Dom Henry on the board of the ‘Peep This’ preservation society; Frankie Spears, under Mark Suciu’s tutelage, burnishes an upper-classman’s refinement to handrail brutality; Niels Bennett puts a fakie frontside blunt to regular on Philly’s Puerto Rico school up-block and argues further for a pro board at the reinvigorated Girl; Gustav does Gustav stuff — a strong 20 minutes.

Or was it? Perhaps in a nod to camera-dodging subcultural sasquatches such as Ryan Hickey and Tom Penny, if you weren’t there, all you have to go on are stories and substance-fogged innuendo. Days after its internet posting, ’Reverb’ evaporated, leaving behind only fond memories and sadly pixelated vid-not-founds. It is not the only Adidas video to have vanished; Mark Suciu’s 2015 voiceovered, butt-sweaty shoe mover ’Civil Liberty’ is gone, as is Dennis Busenitz’s very good ‘Euro Lines’ part, and others. Whereas some remain archived elsewhere, speculation abounds over music-licensing half-lives or other yet murkier doings.

Given skate videos’ gradual elevation to cultural documents — along with photographs, they are the true record and benchmark for careers and achievement in an inherently subjective and qualitative realm — the abrupt erasure of lines, phrases or entire paragraphs from what’s effectively skateboarding history raises all types of unsettling questions about control and ownership. Particularly as corporate footwear actors consolidate their position as the industry’s gravitational core, the issues run well beyond memory-holed proof of who did what where, or the need for agent-repped pros to begin requesting contract clauses to preserve months or years of work for posterity purposes, let alone resume material for future sponsorships or TB-hashtagged IG postings.

If companies are bankrolling skating’s historical documents, are they also purchasing the responsibility for maintaining their piece in internet-age perpetuity, or do vids remain the entity’s property to digitally dustbin if they so please? Will the body of skate video history ultimately rest on how strictly Google, Facebook, InterActiveCorp and others decide to enforce royalty payments to musical publishers? In an age where hot shoes are ready and willing to pump out multiple video parts in any given year, are disposable video parts actually a type of flex?
Are sometime grating, mostly generic license-free songs a worthwhile price to pay for secure YouToob real estate? Will people even notice amid the growing ‘content crush’?

3. Mark Suciu — ‘Verso’

December 29, 2019

Does Mark Suciu need an editor? After four video parts this year totaling about 22.5 minutes of footage — last week he said he’d originally planned to do six — one risks growing numbed to further midsized hubba bluntslides, bump-to-bar kickflips, bigspins out. Award season aside, there can be no doubt that Mark Suciu is among the most gifted ever to put sole to grip, but his machinelike footage zone-flooding risks turning the exercise into a slog all around, Mark Suciu included, as per his recent Chrome Ball entry. His best stuff comes when he’s really reaching, like the Municipal Plaza line in ‘Search the Horizon,’ his clips involving the Fred Gall rail at Love Park, and this year’s ‘Verso’ opus,* culminating in its matched sets of tricks stacked against one another like a color-coded bookshelf, except with previously unseen ledge combos. Maybe sheer volume cannot win Mark Suciu Skater of the Year — maybe he never will be ‘Thrasher enough,’ even as the mag elevates self-care and underrepresented groups — but as skating sorts itself into ever-more specialized niches it’s bracing to watch a fleetfooted tech master huck at thunder gaps and big rails to see if he can, and ponder what new directions remain as far as ledge wizardry. ‘Verso’ is too long, of course, but it also is a part you can get lost in and savor new wrinkles, like the nighttime line in Milan, Grant’s Tomb ollie flex, the ride out on the varial heelflip.

*no magnum

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?

Two Wrongs, A Right, And The Gargoyle’s Secret Formula

December 9, 2018

At a time when so much of what we know seems in flux — meat grown from animal cells, NASA robotically probing risky asteroids for humankind’s own graven purposes, rampant varial flips — there is a reflexive urge to set things in order. Ledge skating’s tenure-track man of letters Mark Suciu made his own offering this month, creating exclusive content with Thrasher that set out a number of aesthetically acceptable ledge combinators and warned impressionable yung booger-sliders away from a few others, including the oft-maligned crooked grind to backside lipslide.

Among the regimented rules of skateboarding, where ‘no rules’ is the ruling rule among many other unofficial rules, the crooked grind to backside lipslide’s longstanding pariah status stands out, maintained even as similarly ill-advised ledge combos ran rampant across copiously waxed blocks following ‘Fully Flared.’ Born of those spastic curb cauldrons in the early 1990s, the crooked grind to backside lipslide lay low for a certain number of Earth years until Bastien Salabanzi donked one down a semi-legit handrail in ‘Sorry,’ drawing immediate reprisals in the shallow backwaters of the early message-board days and inspiring several other related atrocities over the years to come. It was a time of war, girth and widespread musical pirating.

Yet even as aesthetically middling ledge combos (see the 5-0 to switch crooked grind) and clearly ugly ones (see any that begin with a boardslide) remain part of 2018’s conversation, the crooked grind to backside lipslide still is taboo, even after stylistically endowed persons including Silas Baxter-Neal have tiptoed up to it via the crooked grind to backside tailslide and ruffled relatively few internet feathers in the process. Weighed against the lipslide to switch k-grind that arose from the Guy Mariano/‘Fully Flared’ school or the twirly lipslide spinaround to frontside bluntslide, the crooked grind to backside lipslide on paper appears to have just as much to recommend it, if not more — there is no greasily scooting of wheels from one position to another; it involves the backslide lipslide, one of the better-looking tricks on either rail or ledge; and properly executed, it returns to the preferred regular-stance rollaway rather than to fakie.

Unlocking the value of this much-derided trick maybe requires a much-derided skater. It is Chad Fernandez, so belittled by his onetime Baker Boys bros and a prime actor in Osiris’ greatest ‘Storm’-era excesses, who retains the best on-film execution of the crooked grind to backside lipslide. A novice beerbuyer’s age in the past, the future gargoyle wrassler closed out his part in Transworld’s little-recalled ‘Interface’ vid with a ten-second clinic on the necessary ingredients for a successful run at this trick. Filmed long-lens from the side, Chad Fernandez picks an elongated and mostly flat rail that allows for the crucial nuance — a lengthy crooked grind, rather than the brief tap that sets other renditions up for immediate and pathetic failure — before dropping back to a backside lipslide that’s just long enough to make the point before landing back to regular. This skater-trick intersection, counterintuitive to the hilt, reveals the best in each — and also the sadly ingrained prejudices still allowing both to be too-easily dismissed, 20 years on.

Does this clip negate the long-held notion that two wrongs do not make a right? Would this one be harder or easier switch? Could Mark Suciu prove his willingness to accept an intellectual and stylistic challenge by filming one, perhaps up and then across the chunky red kink-ledge at Manhattan’s Columbus Park, which he combo’d in his Adidas shoe video earlier this year?

Horsemasters, Horse-punchers And The Intergalatic Pistol Whip

November 18, 2018

In the 2004 coming-of-age musical ‘Mean Girls,’ a quartet of junior high-schoolers skip town to search for a dead body, braving a vicious junkyard dog, a deadly freight train and menacing bullies in a journey of self-discovery and humanoid bonding. Along the way they bicker and fight, but when the pistol goes off in the final act, nobody snitches, and they all are one step closer to that exhausting and pressurized land: adulthood.

As another year darkens and draws to a close, who is the dog, the dead body, the pistolier? It sounds like a cool card-based RPG but really it is the story of the skateboard culture. Besides obviating magazines and videos as content gatekeeping mechanisms, Instagram’s rise as skateboarding’s universal center has enabled widespread broadcasting of hard feelings and beefs, with Dan Plunkett, Richie Jackson, Bobby Puleo, and Marc Johnson airing pro-level grievances, and that’s just in the last few weeks.

Palace, that UK-based maker of tailored track suits and premium triangles, for years has done double-duty as a moneyed backbiter and/or uncomfortable truths-sayer, depending on where you sit. In all-caps product descriptions and tour-article photo captions, Palace has tweaked and aired out would-be riders like Tiago Lemos and ‘that white guy on Numbers and Adidas who skates rails,’ as well as rival deck merchants such as Eric Koston and Guy Mariano’s Numbers New Edition.

This week it was Alien Workshop and Habitat, panned in a Blondey McCoy photo caption for being ‘fully dogshit now,’ a blow irksome enough to draw a profane emoticon rejoinder from bookish ledge savant and marquee Habitat pro Mark Suciu. Set aside, if you will for a moment, AWS’s historical role as an obvious graphical and thematic touchstone in Palace’s occult-scented earlier years, or the painful generational shift at hand over the last few years as the upstarts eat the old guard’s lunch. It feels here a wee bit like Palace is punching down, given Alien and Habitat’s years of struggles as a hot-potato asset tossed between corporate overlords and distributors, while Palace is out here opening glitzy outlet stores with fuzzy novelty letters, and playing the ponies with the wealthy horsemasters of Ralph Lauren.

Does Palace really just need a better foil? One wonders whether their bullet-pointed, Londonite verse might eventually take aim at Supreme, Palace’s closest competitor in cobranded clothing collections and vulturist resale premiums. As many of their multi-decaded contemporaries like Alien, Girl and Zoo York are in retreat, Supreme is ascendant, in the midst of a trans-continental premiere tour for Bill Strobeck’s ‘Blessed’ movie and meanwhile promoting collaborative products with North Face, radio-controlled car makers and da X Files, to name a few. Given Palace’s predilection for poking fun, it’s tough to imagine them not giggling over the Superb ‘Blueberry’ parody a few years back, or group chats evaluating the various outfits on display in the new vid, even as their respective retail bosses jockey for position and consumer favour in the same discretionary spending-heavy locales.

Could a well-timed and high-profile company-to-company beef bolster the promotional cycle for whichever company next comes with a full-length vid? Would such a rivalry, fanned to the overheated levels required for modern internet discourse, result in a Disco Demolition Night-style clothing immolation, ranking among mankind’s costliest bonfires ever? Do Palace and Supreme’s mutual love for Lucien Clarke and (one naturally assumes) Jamal Smith neutralize any possible negative vibes?