Rules of Skateboarding #13: Mark Suciu

Illustration by the magnanimous  Cosme

Illustration by the magnanimous Cosme

it’s finally here. In tandem with Mark Suciu’s long-anticipated Verso part, we’re maybe a little too stoked to feature Mark’s chat with Ian Browning about a highly pertinent subject: enders.


What’s your favorite ender?

I did a little bit of research, just to have an idea of my favorites, and I got so bummed on the whole idea of enders. Maybe not bummed, but I just realized how difficult it is. 

I was thinking of all my favorite novels, and they don’t have ‘enders’. There’s too much shit going on to be able to tie it up all at once. Granted, I don’t read the most plot-heavy novels. But even if you’re doing a plot, the last plot point is often a little before the end. Like, if someone has a transitional ender, it’s a couple hard tricks and then it winds down.

I was thinking about it. Albums kind of have enders. But would you say the last song has to be the best?

Jerry Hsu with Mark’s favorite ender EVER. Nollie backside heelflip.

Jerry Hsu with Mark’s favorite ender EVER. Nollie backside heelflip.

No. 

You can have an amazing last sentence, that can feel like a banger, but because it’s so multifaceted. The ender in a skate part is supposed to be the hardest trick, and I was looking back and trying to think: what are the enders that work well? I think my favorite one is Jerry Hsu’s Bag of Suck nollie back heel. I think it’s just the best ender, because throughout the part he’s been doing gnarly shit and really stylishly, but he doesn’t huck in that way. And when he does, it looks so fucking good, and then the roll away is clean but with that body contortion to make it look so gnarly. It just looks like he flew off a cliff, you know? The most insane ender that could have been.

It reminded me a little of Mike Mo’s ender in Forecast, where he switch flips off a cliff. I rewatched that part thinking, oh this is going to be good because he, like, switch flips a 10 but doesn’t do anything that monstrous until the end, where he’s a 15 year old kid putting his skills to the test, and this is when we bring you to this insane spot and you do what you’re really good at and you succeed. But then it turns out that that’s not his ender. The switch flip off the cliff isn’t his ender, it’s the switch heel where Jereme Rogers and Antwan Dixon get psyched, and I think they kind of use it because of the homie vibes and like, the pro skater vibes. 

So my favorite ender is Jerry Hsu’s nollie back heel, and second place is PJ Ladd’s tre flip with the push. It’s just understatement. The line is super hard. It’s worthy of being an ender. A lot of people would consider that clip as the ender, not just the tre flip, but I really like that the tre flip is the last trick. You wanted the last trick to be the hardest? Well, that whole line is fucked, and here’s just the nice perfect push, cut at the exact right moment.

PJ Ladd, 360 flip.

PJ Ladd, 360 flip.

I like the energy of that line. Specifically ending on the tre flip and the push. It’s like he could keep going. That, to me, embodies to me the idea of that part. He has all this talent that you almost can’t commit to film in a way. You need to be out skating the Window Ledges in Boston to see him just unloading all these crazy tricks to get it. But ending on the hyped push, he could have conceivably gone on and done seven more tricks.

True. What really got me bummed at the idea of enders was the Mike Mo thing: I forgot his ender. I didn’t even know what it was. Same with Mike Carroll in Modus (Operandi). I didn’t remember his ender until I rewatched his part, because all I was thinking of was the SF Library line. Should that have been his ender? No, definitely not. That worked well as an opener. 

Mike Mo, I couldn’t remember his ender. Carroll, I couldn’t remember his ender. And then I thought about enders that I didn’t like. A novelist would never end a novel with an ‘ender’ because they’re going for different things. It’s not just plot. It could be a tonal ender, like in an album. But when skaters go for tonal enders, it doesn’t work. I feel like Kirchart in Mindfield is a tonal ender, because of the clothing and the motorcycle. It’s sick as fuck. But the fact that it is the ender opens it up to one-uppery. And that gap got fucking destroyed. Lazer flip. Bigspin heel. Switch flip. Impossible tail grab. His ender was a backside flip. That’s a long gap trick.

And the exact same thing with his farewell part. What does he do over the hydrant? A kickflip? And then Elijah Berle took him out and tre flipped it.

Obviously I love Kirchart and I think what he’s done is ineffable, but it makes it effable when you fucking put an ender that can be quantified into ‘How big is the gap, and what have other people done on it?’ That happens a lot, too.

Eric Koston, backside noseblunt.

Eric Koston, backside noseblunt.

That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. Traditionally it’s the toughest trick, which is either the most difficult, or the one that has the most consequences, or something else that makes it worthy of last call, but there is no hardest trick. So there is always some decision: what do you choose to highlight?

And a lot of the times it’s just, like, ‘Here’s the footage we’ve got and this is the sickest way to end it.’ And all though that is a totally natural, organic way of putting together a video part, that’s not the video part that is in my mind, the number #1 video part. 

Hill bomb enders, that kind of thing can work. Like Busenitz in Roll Forever. Another really good ender is Koston on Bricktown. The back noseblunt. That’s a really good ender, and it’s also the ender to the video and it works. That wasn’t one of his best parts, but the video had so much hype, and it was long, and well produced. That was definitely one of the hardest tricks. The whole thing: that spot, for an LA spot, looks really good. It’s nice color blocking, you know? So visually it works, and he did it with so much style—it’s not an ollie over to front nose, it’s a perfect back noseblunt.

That’s a really interesting one because it’s like, that has been outdone by bigger back noseblunts, but that one stays. Maybe it’s because that rail hasn’t been kickflip back noseblunted.

Nyjah Houston, crooked grid nollie flip out.

Nyjah Houston, crooked grid nollie flip out.

What do you think about after black hammers? You’ve never had one of those, have you?

I don't think so, no. It’s probably because I haven’t gotten a good enough trick.

I was going to say, speaking of after black, even Nyjah’s enders aren’t that… The one in his ‘Till Death part was a crook nollie flip on that rail, that’s like a double set but it kinda looks like a flat bar. It’s hard to make that trick look good. I don’t know if i’ve ever really liked an after black ender. Are they any good ones?

I loved the Purple video, but I didn’t like those after black parts. The Jake one worked really well at the premier, though.

I mean, Heath comes to mind, but we’ve already talked about that.

What’s his ender in Sight Unseen? That was the first video I ever watched.

On the Stanford Hubba?

No, it’s the brick... it’s similar to the Stanford Hubba. it was a tailslide like 12 stairs, then it gaps out over 5. Front tail to straight. I think I even as a kid being like “oh is that harder than the other one?”

Oh, Reynolds in Stay Gold is a sick one. That also got outdone. But it works so well with the song and it’s so perfect. Such a triumphant part. And at least for me it works too because I can clearly remember how gnarly that kickflip was. And the fact that Chris Joslin tre flipped it...Chris Joslin is such a jumper and doesn’t quite have the legacy of Andrew Reynolds, (no offense) for me that ender remains more than the sum of its parts. It’s not just the Reynolds kickflip down the gap. It’s everything put together: the style of the trick, the part, the song, the point in his career.

I think spots play a big part a lot of time as well. That was definitely the first thing i’ve seen down that gap. I’m thinking of other times where things have have been outdone, but you have a legacy based on the skater that first got their scratches there.

If it’s the first time you skate a spot, then that will always work.

There’s Andrew Allen in Prevent This Tragedy.

The switch bomb?

Jake Johnson, switch wallride.

Jake Johnson, switch wallride.

Yeah. Or Jake in Mindfield.

Jake in Mindfileld, I love that part so much, but I’m not crazy about that ender. I forgot that ender until I rewatched it last night. That switch wallride is insane, so fucking sick, but it felt like it was just as crazy as the rest of the shit. I was rewatching it and was like ‘Is this the ender or is the wallride on the double set?’ because they’re both just as gnarly.

Jake Johnson in Short Ends though. Switch flip back tail at the Temple rail? That was pretty fucking sick. 

That’s a good part.

What’s important about the Guy Mariano ender in Mouse? The switch shove crook?

That’s the great mystery. 

What do you mean?

Because it’s not the hardest trick in the part. There was such a technical barrage. Two tricks beforehand he does the gap to switch back tail on the J Kwon sign. I can’t do a switch shove nosegrind, and I can’t switch back tail, but switch back tail seems way harder something that big.

And then Koston’s ender in Mouse is a switch flip front crook on a ledge. It’s a hard trick on a nice spot, but he was skating double kink rails in that part, you know?

I’d be remiss not to talk about filmers and editors while we’re talking about enders. Who do you admire, for putting together either good video parts or good enders?

I don’t know...Kyle Camarillo is responsible for the Jerry Hsu nollie back heel, right? I think he knew that’d be a good ender, but he probably didn’t know how big of a deal it’d be.   

(Joe) Castrucci for Mosaic...Danny Garcia’s slew of enders in that. That sort of model, Castrucci, Ty (Evans). You can plan out an ender, you can ask the skater to get something, but a lot of the time it’s not going to work out at all.

Brennan Conroy was trying to get Austyn (Gillette) to get an ender for his Austyn Unlimited part back in 2011 or so. The ender was a back lip on that rail in Guadalajara, where it’s a bump-flat-down, and it curves. I’d just imagined that trick as being so gnarly. When he does it, he grinds the base of his truck against the rail instead of sliding it perfect. Even if he had done it perfect, you just don’t know.

Marc Johnson’s switch noseblunt to back noseblunt, does that really work? He just kind of tunes & tic-tacks. It’s a little kickturn and an tic-tack. I know it was hard for him, because it was a mental block. That thing was made of metal, I’m sure that was a big part of it too. If that thing was made of fiberglass, he could have done it in like an hour.

Marc Johnon, switch noseblunt to backside noseblunt.

Marc Johnon, switch noseblunt to backside noseblunt.

That was another trick where it’s so technically beyond my comprehension where, along with probably another half dozen tricks in that part, I just have to be like ‘Whoa, that was crazy...but is it more impressive than anything else?’ It doesn’t strike a solid completion in a lot of ways.

I do like it in Koston’s part in Yeah Right! where he has several enders. I heard that some people didn’t like the treflip noseblunt ender. I think that whole winding down of that part is pretty gnarly. But there are so many shitty enders out there. Like Carroll in Fully Flared, back blunt, kickflip to fakie, up that stupid fucking ledge. It’s so bad. Ty, as much as he facilitates skating and getting gnarly stuff, I’m sure he makes those dudes believe in themselves and what they’re fighting for. 

I’m struggling with a really stupid ender right now, it’s like, I don’t want to say too much about it. But I don’t know if it’s worth it. I just got stuck doing this one thing and I don’t know if there’s any way out. 

Eric Koston, after black 360 flip noseblunt.

Eric Koston, after black 360 flip noseblunt.

That is a great segue – you decided to go in a different direction in terms of laying out this Verso part. What’s the inspiration behind the format?

The structure is just something that’s happened as we’ve made it. It’s a pretty simple structure, like, ‘Let’s do a whole New York part.’ I’ve done a whole Philly part, I’ve done San Jose parts, and I have a lot of New York footage now. More for editing and filming, more of a way of understanding what we were going for. Looking at the New York footage like ‘It doesn’t quite feel like a whole part yet, let’s keep filming.’ So that’s it.

For the ender, I’ve had all these ideas of lines to go together for the last year and a half, almost two years. It was just all based on things I had done but not yet filmed. Thinking about them that much, it was just another arbitrary decision, my brain needed to make a little file folder for those tricks. That was the shape that it took. 

It does have to do with my slight discontent with mirrored lines. They’re supposed to be conceptual, but it’s the case of a concept completely ruining the skating. If you do a mirrored line, everyone is going to know what you’re about to do on the fourth trick. I love Silas so much, but he posted that stupid line where he does half-Cab up the curb, frontsidle flip the gap – It’s at a shopping center –then nollie frontside180, switch frontside flip the gap. You know he’s going to do when he nollie frontside 180s the curb. You know he’s going to switch frontside flip the gap. The reason he posted that is because it’s a concept, but the gap wasn’t that big, the tricks aren’t that hard.

So yeah, I think mirrored lines are kind of dumb, but my brain still gravitates towards them. I wanted to mess with it a little bit. Say Silas did half-Cab up a curb, frontside flip, then the next line was nollie frontside 180, switch frontside 360 flip. That would be a little bit cooler. It keeps the structure, but it’s a surprise. 

It’s pretty heartbreaking, because if I can’t get it then it has to come out with the ender for the New York section, and the part is so much bigger than that. Trying this stupid trick is what I’ve been stressing over in skating for the last year. I first tried it last September, in Spain, and I’ve been to Spain three times since then. It’s stupid, like, why did I get stuck on that? 

I can’t figure out how to end the section without doing that exact trick, since it’s conceptual. I can't figure out what other trick would go there. I mean, I’ve thought of other tricks, and they all involve a nollie bigspin or something. You know? I could do that, but that trick sucks. It kind of has to be this trick. When I was brainstorming, I brainstormed well, and I thought of the best way to end it given all our restrictions as skaters. You have to do something really sick, and if I put out a nollie bigspin, nobody is going to be stoked.

It’s true.

It’s a tonal ender as well, and if we take out the last section, since they’re place-based, we would have to totally disrupt the entire edit in order to create that tone at the end, since it’s a minute long section that has a different feel than the others. 

I don’t necessarily think that it’s a good ender, but it’ll definitely be interesting.

So is the ender what’s causing a delay between the premiers and the web release?

Yeah. 

Mike Carroll. Early  Baker Maker ?

Mike Carroll. Early Baker Maker?

So if you didn't have the ender, why did you premier the part at Atlas and Max Fish?

I thought I needed the deadline stress. I thought I wasn’t being serious enough. We were trying the ender in the days prior, and on the day of the premier itself.

We never actually had the deadline. Obviously. The video hasn’t come out. But I thought, maybe, that if it did come out and if I really knew that this was the last session, that I would do the trick. Because it’s been such a mental block. I’ve tried really, really hard, to the point of hurting my back and knee and leg. I was hoping to get as close to the deadline stress as possible. 

And then I did a shitty version of the ender, and I was just thinking of Carroll in Questionable, where he switch bigspin heels the EMB double set and doesn’t land it. I was just thinking, yeah, whatever, have it be this big part with a kind of let down ender.

I don’t know how it was when people watched Questionable, but I actually had a dream that Gilbert Crockett had this really good part, I was at the premier, with an ender that he didn’t land, but it was so fucking gnarly that I was blown away that he even would try it. I ran up to him afterwords, right away, and I was like ‘Dude, did you ever get close? Was that that the closest? Did you ever put one down?’ When I woke up from that dream, I was thinking, that’s how i’ve gotta do it. It doesn’t matter. Just put it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

But then one of the owners of Atlas, the shop I ride for, heard that and called me up. ‘Dude, you have a perfect part, you have to have a good ender. You can’t ruin it with the ender.’ For my Cross Continental part, I thought ending it on the Love Gap was, as far as an ender goes, super straightforward and kind of opaque. Especially because that photo would have been run already and people would see it coming. I was like, ‘Let’s not use this, let’s use what actually was the hardest trick for me, which was the bigspin into the rock in San Jose that Jerry Hsu nollied into.’ I thought that would be a good ender. And Ryen Motzek, the same half owner of the shop, said ‘You can’t do it. You have to use the Love ender.’ And looking back, it was the best advice he’s ever given me. I respect his judgement and he’s made me try harder, for sure.

I think I can do this ender, as long as my leg holds up. Recently, two weeks ago, I fucking rode away for five feet. I tried it for six and a half hours and rolled away for five feet on one of them. And immediately ran back, because I knew I was going to do it the next try. But I never did it.

You have likely seen this before. Mark Suciu, varial heelflip.

You have likely seen this before. Mark Suciu, varial heelflip.

Is this the most emphasis you’ve ever put on a specific trick, ender or not?

For sure. Without a goddamn doubt. That’s why I think it’s ridiculous. It’s so stupid. I think if I could just skate and not stress so hard...I don’t know. It’s just ridiculous. But I also think it’s also sort of important. It’s a pretty weird and redundant thing to say, but I think it’s important because it seems important. The part of me that thinks it’s ridiculous is the half that isn’t trying the trick, and for a while, that half was actually more like three quarters. On the days where I would go to the spot, try it for 20 minutes, and lose my mind, focus my board the split second I got there pretty much. Knowing I couldn’t do it that day, but feeling that I wouldn’t be able to do it ever. But then it’d still be early enough to put together another board and i’d keep skating and just have all this nervous or frustrated energy that would make me skate well.

The same thing happened when I went to Madrid once to try the trick. Before we started trying it in New York. We got there, and there were fences up around the thing the whole time we were there. They actually took them down the day we left, which was completely improbable. But that trip was so productive. I would never land a trick and think, ‘Okay, i’m stocked on this trick and I can chill, because I hadn’t landed that one trick.’ So I think it’s a good way of making myself more productive. But it doesn’t matter at all, and I don’t think anyone is going to care, and they might not remember it as a last trick.

I think it’s been interesting to have the months of calm where the part isn’t out, because people get so mad. People are obviously always asking me on Instagram and I really never respond. It’s like, I had the premier, and it’s not coming out. It’ll be out soon. It’s just a couple months. It’s not a big deal. I don’t understand. Things take time, you know?

Guy Mariano, switch shove-it to switch crooked grind.

Guy Mariano, switch shove-it to switch crooked grind.

So it’s funny that we talked about enders losing their value, because we already talked about my ender. I was going to ask that if you were editing Guy’s part in Mouse, whether you would have used that trick or a different one.

Ok, i’ll rewatch it. (Mark pulls his phone out to watch the part)

All right, so it starts with a switch bigflip, which is a fucking hard trick, but filmed kind of steezy. So a good intro. And then after that he goes to the Venice ledges where he will have his ender. So he starts it off there.

I was thinking about enders, that they kind of are sometimes plotted, like the plot points in a novel. Say some skater ends their part with a switch tre down a nine stair, they might have a switch tre down a little three block during the part, so that you can see that they can do it. But then the ender is them taking the hard trick to a big spot. So it is kind of plot based.

I really like the way it ends. The ender: how low the camera is, the hand movement and the overexposed sky. But I would do the switch tre over the table.

I guess the reason i’m so conflicted about enders is because for my Cross Continental part, I didn’t want the varial heel to be the ender because it didn’t seem like a creative choice. It felt like something that everybody was going to know. It’s so important to have an ender that speaks for itself. And sometimes, something that speaks for itself lacks subtlety, and that makes you not like the clip as much. Because you’re obsessing over these things for so long.

Ending on the varial heel is almost a lowest common denominator. Everybody is going to get that because it’s the Love Gap.

Right. It’s also, it works on a couple different levels because it’s a good spot, it’s an iconic memorable spot, but it also makes sense for me.

It fits the whole cross continental vibe.

Yeah. It ends on a coast. And I moved there soon after. The bigspin into the rock, you have to go to that spot to know how gnarly it is, and a clip on that spot won’t look as magnificent as Love does.. And there are some tricks that will always work as enders for me, like back noseblunts, because it’s such a beautiful looking trick. And it’s also an infamous trick. Same with switch tre. Even though a lot of people do switch tres pretty badly. They catch them with the back foot. Still, I understand it.

So what’s your favorite ender?

Yep, it’s Jake Johnson again. Wallride on the East side.

Yep, it’s Jake Johnson again. Wallride on the East side.

I don’t know. I struggled a lot with this while watching parts, thinking that I might have to talk about this. I like Jake’s in Mindfield. It’s a number of things: I’m sentimental to the time when that part came out. But also, I really like what that brought into the equation. I think he ushered in the resurgence of the wallride, as well as switch power, which obviously he in no way originated, but I think in a contemporary urban setting like that, especially in New York, was new.

Obviously he does that regular wallride on the brick, which I think is maybe even arguably gnarlier. Have you seen that wall? It’s a very specific arc that you need to do it and not fly off at the end. And the switch ollie at Columbus Park onto that rail. I like the way that trick ties a lot of those things together.

Switch power is a good way of putting it. I always thought of it as switch simplicity. I think before that video, before seeing Jake’s skating, I wasn’t really thinking of switch skating besides ‘Oh, it’s technical.’ You know, switch it up, do a switch trick.

And that was around the time I started that it would be so sick to see a switch ollie up the curb to switch grind down the handrail, real quick. And Jake was not quite doing the quick foot switch stuff, but like, that is so hard and so simple. Maybe unbeknownst to me, that ender did work its magic.

Village Psychic