photo courtesy of stance socks

photo courtesy of stance socks

DC Shoes and Thrasher released Nyjah Huston’s new video part last week. It is bonkers. It takes some pausing and rewatching to really understand how crazy it is, because nobody should look that relaxed front blunting and flipping a board onto rails that big. Go watch it.

Now, maybe it’s because I’m cynical or jaded because I’ve seen so many “part-to-end-all-parts” announcement over the years – Jerry, MJ, Koston, Mariano, Koston again, Mariano again, Bob, Westgate, Jamie Thomas, Danny Way, Chris Cole, Rowley, Arto, Appleyard – you get the idea. And that’s just been in the past ten to fifteen years.

It’s a weird contrast – on one hand, I’m witnessing the literal progression of skateboarding. Nyjah is doing tricks that have never been done on spots that could easily kill you. But I keep catching myself drifting away. Am I… bored?

I’m not alone. In the age of film-quality-or-better DSLRs and pocket computers that shoot in HD, people are making skate videos with VHS camcorders and VX1000s. The popsicle shape is the pinnacle of functional skate deck design, plus or minus a few tweaks over the years, but companies are selling weirdly shaped decks and popularizing once-passé gear.

Like the musicians who have found (or kept) an audience for limited-edition cassettes and 7” records despite the ease and accessibility of digital files, skateboarding is developing a taste for the throwback.

welcome skateboard shapes / photo courtesy of prestige skateboards

welcome skateboards unusual shapes / photo courtesy of prestige skateboards

It makes sense: there are only a small handful of people in the world who can skate like Nyjah Huston. To paraphrase Mike Vallely in The Bones Brigade documentary: a kid watching that video part might think, “wow, skateboarding is really scary and hard, look at that.”

So I put on the Polar promo, which I first watched because it’s named after all three tricks I can do: “No Complies & Wallrides +shuvits.” It’s a totally different experience. There are DIY spots, like the ones I’ve made with my friends. There are dudes hollering and making weird noises when someone makes a trick. People fall down. It seems… real. Relatable.

There’s been an element of that throughout skateboarding’s history, only now it’s not reduced to gang-style rivalries like Hosoi vs. Hawk or Ramp Locals vs. Daggers. The Girl/Anti-Hero tours parodied the idea, reminding us we’re all still a bunch of goofy dudes playing with toys, no matter how different our video parts look.

The surge of small skater-owned companies is heartening. I love that Colin Read put out a video filmed entirely as seen in a VX1000 viewfinder. The feeling of watching a new clip, seconds after finally making it, is something most skateboarders know.

Not every skateboarder has perfect schoolyards, a professional film crew, a TF, or paid travel to literally any spot in the world. Most of us spend a few months of the year skating in the garage or the basement, or shoveling spots and dealing with frozen bushings. We don’t have a budget to cover tickets, or “optimize” every skate spot, or bribe security.

”There’s a certain polish, an air of artifice to it; it’s perfect, but not in the way Nate Jones’ 360 flips are perfect.”

Nyjah is good, one of skateboarding’s best. But his skating doesn’t speak to me. There’s a certain polish, an air of artifice to it; it’s perfect, but not in the way Nate Jones’ 360 flips are perfect. It’s perfect like you got the green bonus on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. And sure, that’s great, but it’s not MY version of skateboarding.

But skateboarding isn’t about perfect. It’s about having fun. We’re all a bunch of weirdos. It’s cool seeing some of those weirdos do things that have never been done before. It’s cool seeing some of those weirdos printing their weirdo friends’ art on boards and shirts and selling them on BigCartel.

In that way, the kind of Northeast-inspired urban skateboarding that’s become so high profile is welcoming. It tells some little kid in Nebraska on YouTube, “We skate shitty spots, too, but look what we can do. It’s cold as hell here too, but we’ve got thermals and flannel and coats. Let’s do this.”

There’s a feeling of connection you get watching those lo-fi videos. The homie montages, back yard miniramp footage… you could be skating there with them. You feel like you’re at the session. That spot looks so gnarly. How did he even ride up that? HOLY SHIT he made it!

My favorite new video is that clip on YouTube of Pontus Alv cruising around. He doesn’t skate “spots” he just skates whatever’s there. It’s pure 100% down-for-life skate rat, compressed and stored in YouTube forever. When I watch that video, I get the same feeling as when I’m watching a friend make their trick.

Look, we all understand someone has to be “the best,” if only because of semantics. I appreciate that there are people out there who always strive for bigger, faster, longer, higher, and more. That’s progress. They produce people like Geoff Rowley, who famously assumed magazines and videos represented how all pros skate every day. But they also turn away a lot of kids who miss out on the simple pleasures of skating because they can’t live up to “professional” standards for one reason or another.

Serious, heavy-hitter video parts will always exist, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all of “good” in skateboarding. Nyjah’s part is a game-changer, but so was Louie Barletta’s Tilt Mode part, and so was Jason Lee’s part in A Visual Sound.

So, which is “better?”

Comments

  1. fuck off.

    December 9, 2013 3:07 pm

    ya’ll are fucked. shit talkers. when jamie started raw-dogging rails and making a career as a rail-skater, people adored him for it. He branded his skate company off a toy story character and still keeps his cred. I do not remember any people crying about the new direction in skateboarding… that you could get broke off trying some of the gnarliest shit ever… and don’t forget, Jamie was never the tech dude either… nobody said shit when gnarly skating became the go-to. You could not kook an 18 stair.

    This kid nyjah, who is a kid… he’s not a man yet, is out there putting down the gnarliest shit and bringing tech skating to rails in a way that’s never happened in the history of skateboarding. It’s pretty obvious he does not care about the way his shit is edited or even filmed. For fuck sake’s… he front-blunts to fakie the jolla rail for a stupid espn contest… and that trick would be most “gnarly” pros career cap and would be kept under wraps for some time. nyjah’s ads are gnarlier than most pros whole video parts.

    Talk whatever shit you want about nyjah houston, his skating is inspiring a new generation of skaters and he’s pushing skateboarding to new levels of madness alongside a group of pros that are so mind-numbingly good it can be hard to relate. ishod drops four parts in one year, westgate… fuck it… this was 3 years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A78GPvOBhoA

    Nyjah’s part is not “too good,” ya’ll are just hating because somebody is way fucking better than you could have even imagined. He is a skateboarder. Respect skateboarding and the people that risk their health to progress the sport. If you can’t do that, then it’s time for you to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up.

    • Cherry-lime-aid

      December 9, 2013 3:16 pm

      Calm down Nyjah! It was just an opinion…

      • cherboi

        November 15, 2014 9:18 am

        Why is anyone trying to back a skater that doesn’t have a any style? We all know this young womanizer is banging gnarly tricks but it doesn’t mean it appeals to “core” skaters. Monster dummies and DC freaks sure gobble his shit up but not anyone with a fucking brain knows hes not tight. Fuck Jamie Thomas glad zero is a sinking ship

    • donsimon420

      December 9, 2013 4:52 pm

      skateboarding is a matter of tast, lets not hate on shit, lets be proud and thankful for such a huge variety of styles, tastes and terrains. when i thik about other sports (like soccer or skiing – pretty big in my home) its simple to judge by goals or best time. one is better than the other. not in skateboarding. its not about winning. its about joy, style and creativity. lets be thankful for the fact that skateboarding is a lot more complex!!!!! lets skate, not hate

      • Ikenna

        December 13, 2013 3:44 am

        actually soccer is way more complex than just goals. know your references

      • donsimon420

        December 19, 2013 3:21 pm

        sure it is, but at the end of the day the team with the most goals wins – the other loses. who loses in skateboarding?

      • metallica+nra

        July 2, 2014 3:38 am

        And the soccer clock is added to and added to unless a certain team does not win. Top Skaters like Nyjah have done a ton of falling and if I watch a soccer game and someone falls its a penalty. You have to lay down tricks to win in skateboarding and until you can prove that then running around on a field is nothing and I mean nothing and never will be nothing like skateboarding. Most of these shit talkers cannot ever do a hand plant with their mom holding their legs. Pathetic.

    • danny

      December 10, 2013 12:06 am

      drink bleach.

    • danny

      December 10, 2013 12:08 am

      his skating is god tier but his message and his persona are shit. He’s selling poison to younger generations and if you like the sound fo destroying the thing you claim as a hobby- then you have no part in telling people what’s what.

      you are part of that same problem.

    • Rza

      December 10, 2013 3:05 am

      You write like Nyjah skates, no style and bores me to distraction. What ever Nyjah does from here on out will all be subject to debate by “progression” apologists like yourself and “essense” purists like the rest of the people here, right up until some Brazilian kid does it all only bigger and with style and finesse. I give it 4 years.

    • Rza

      December 10, 2013 3:11 am

      Oh and plenty of people, industry and buying public hated on Jamie when he was coming up. He struggled with sponsors whilst sleeping at EMB, was dropped from Real, labeled a one trick pony, a rail dog ect. He pushed through and made his own waves. Some people still hate on him. Your a fucking cry baby. Fuck off

    • Gabe

      December 10, 2013 11:10 am

      If you actually read the article, you’d see they are not talking shit, just an opinion on the fact that there has been, and will be a better video part. Your probably 13, maybe 14, with your panties in a bunch because someone mentioned that Nyjah may possibly not be the “best” skateboarder alive. So just go back to watching Barney and bitch on Facebook about it so the majority of people don’t have to hear it.

      • Flo

        December 24, 2013 9:11 pm

        So fucking retarded to mention that “he is propably 13/14”, what kind of argument is that? How old the fck are you and why on earth would it give you credit?! Anyway you seem to be fairly dumb, shouldn’t loose my time replying to you.

      • bob467

        April 22, 2014 10:15 am

        “Anyway you seem to be fairly dumb, shouldn’t loose my time replying to you.” loose… I think you mean lose. Damn you’re an idiot. Trying to act all intellectual yet you don’t know the difference between loose and lose.

    • stale_ale

      December 10, 2013 1:36 pm

      PAT DUFFY.

      • N

        January 29, 2014 2:34 pm

        PAT MOTHERFUCKING DUFFY.
        DANNY FUCKING WAY.
        COLIN MCKAY.

        All three skaters who skate god tier and who are enjoyable to watch. Like the title said, I faded to black while watching Nyjah’s new part. Sure his tricks are life threatening and amazing but in my opinion he was pretty boring. The line he did looked sketchy and unsure as hell. Overall I’m not impressed with his style, or lack of, and his skating and demeanor in general.

    • finger date

      December 10, 2013 2:32 pm

      Plenty of people hated on Jamie Thomas during that era.

    • Cleve Clau

      December 10, 2013 5:40 pm

      Go back to Hellaclips.

    • Eric N

      December 10, 2013 8:11 pm

      Nyjah is the fucking king and thanks to him a lot more people are paying attention to skateboarding and that will allow your local skate shop owners to become wealthier, more skateparks and plazas will be built, and push a younger generation in to a whole different league of skating. I absolutely love skating and it would be awesome to make a career out some entity of skating; Rather it is filming, BLOGGING, editing, designing, or even skating. Unfortunately it is not there yet but it soon will be. Nyjah is just the top kingpin right now shaping the standards. There is still going to people other skaters that will make cool parts that you can relate too. Still a ton of goofy guys out there.

    • drew

      December 11, 2013 3:59 pm

      Stoops.

    • Mich

      December 12, 2013 3:47 am

      Nyjahs father must be pissed raising him in a kind of alternative way, than his son makes tons of cash an poses in front of a mercedes. Dyrdek decadence stuff. Nyjahs skating is more than amazing, i´m not bored, but i´m more with the kids who give a s… about money and just skate.

    • SC

      December 12, 2013 10:33 pm

      I totally agree with you. Saying he’s “too good” is an insult. I mean c’mon, nobody’s over here calling Reynolds “too good” or Rowley “too good”! I think Nyjah’s critics are just mad because 1. they’ll never be able to even stick one of his warm-up tricks, and 2. he’s still so young. People like to hate on the young guys. Also, I don’t like it when people say a spot is too clean or some crap, just because you come from some random place that snows and you have to skate in your basement in some shit don’t whine on the internet about it. Nyjah lives in Southern CA, some of the best weather on the planet year around, you can’t blame him for having access to nice spots.

      • Fuck Airspeed again

        December 13, 2013 11:01 am

        fucking nyjah fanboys, chill out…fucking hate when people bring up the ‘better than you’ argument, well no shit? But so if someone is better than you, you can’t comment about it? The fuck? Damn. The pity puts me off too, yeah nyjah had his dad do this and that…there are people who’ve had it way worse. Damn, I mean the dude rips but c’mon, enough with the hostile reactions after someone makes a comment about him that isn’t to your liking

      • josh

        December 17, 2013 11:13 pm

        nope. dude doesn’t get me hyped. park skater to much training involved and very scripted.

    • Ikenna

      December 13, 2013 3:42 am

      No one is denying Nyjah of his gnarliness and talent, a statement is just being made that even though he does think Nyjah is good, his “stunts” dont keep him entertained like watching raw, fun, stylish skating and I’m quite sure the majority of skaters can agree.

    • AP

      December 18, 2013 5:40 am

      You just didn’t get the message Nyjah… calm down.

    • Ishua

      January 1, 2014 9:45 am

      Dude, first off, CALM DOWN.

      Secondly, I can see what you are saying. A lot of people hate on Nyjah when he’s obviously great, and perhaps they are jealous.

      Thirdly, I can see what the writer of the article is saying, at least when he talks about the boringness or artificialness of it. I feel that way too when I watch nyjah. It’s not like Rodney Mullen, Mark Gonzalez, or even Brandon Westgate. It’s not that creative or surprising.. just really big rails. i admit, he’s a crazy skater, but it’s like I’m watching the tony hawk video game..

    • Justin Timberland

      March 19, 2015 10:25 am

      i did, i even sent one of my first ever emails to puzzle (european video mag). i think i was complaining that i was fed up watching boring smith grinds, lipslides and 50-50’s being done down different hubbas/rails. they even replied saying that skateboarding was for a change, back into more technical tricks and less deadly handrail monotonous tricks involved. they were telling the truth and i am now happy that every taste can be satisfied, from daewon song amazingness to nyjah’s gnarly as fuck railjobs. but surely, 1995-1999 was a very boring period video-wise but this is my personal taste and opinion.

  2. c dub maj

    December 9, 2013 3:16 pm

    I think the green level in THPS pissed that guy off

  3. Tight

    December 9, 2013 3:18 pm

    ^if that is the case, bob could have won, and nobody is hating. To follow up, when Jamie dropped his shit, the view began to shift, and this was before skating was what it became today. It was en route, but was not run by kids. Skating has room for everyone, but skater of the year is reserved for those who truly love raw skating. Tech kids, there is room for, but polished attitudes about skating was lame during the Bones Brigade era as much as it is now. I thought this was a great read, and represents a lot of what I felt was accurate.

  4. BlueEyesWhiteDringus

    December 9, 2013 3:22 pm

    omg. please get the fuck out of here with that shit doodoo boy

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