Posts Tagged ‘Verso’

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

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?