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. Insertnamehere

    December 9, 2013 3:23 pm

    Is it the image, or is the skating? Skateboarding’s motto right now is “that part was insane, BUT…’

    We have all wanted to dress like our favorite skaters, and unfortunately for Nyjah, no real skater wants to dress like they just walked out of PacSun. Is say we’re stoked to see progress. It’s more the image that’s unrelatable, if not threatening, to skateboarding.

    Reply
  2. ben kessler

    December 9, 2013 3:27 pm

    NO, it was not too good.

    Reply
  3. N8

    December 9, 2013 3:29 pm

    I’m sure Nyjah has tons of fun skateboarding. The faggot writer of this article is just jealous. I’d prefer to watch people like Nyjah and Rowley killing stairs and rails with good style any day over some goofy looking bullshit skating that is just soooo “unique” and “different”. That shit’s lame. If kids get turned away from their dreams of becoming pro because they watch heavy bangers, they’re pussies and are skating for the wrong reason anyways. How bout you get off Nyjah’s dick and worry about your own skating?

    Reply
    • Cherry-lime-aid

      December 9, 2013 3:36 pm

      Well if there was no possibility of a SOTY nomination for Nyjah. You would have never seen that part. You would only see him in Street league and the X games. The message he conveys to kids is that skateboarding is for contest. Unless you are in contention for SOTY. I don’t know about you. But the skateboarding I grew up with was nothing about contest.

      Reply
      • John B

        December 9, 2013 8:20 pm

        What era did you grow up in that skateboarding was not about contests? I dislike the contest vibe as much as anyone but skateboarding and contests have been like “peas and carrots” since day one. Nyjah wins alot of contests and gets paid well for it. So does Dennis Busenitz should we all hate on him too. If Nyjah can film a part that good all willy nilly just because he might get SOTY then he truly is the most talented skater of all time. It seems to me that he lives and loves skateboarding as much as anyone he just does not subscribe to the fight the system ideology that most skateboarders do. He was in a Chris Brown video “Lame” Except wait what if he really loves Chris Brown? If MJ had a chance to be in a Love and Rockets music video he would jump at it and guess what there are more people in the world that that think that band is “Lame”.

        Nyjah and every other big paid pro do yourselves a favor and buy nice stuff with your money and enjoy it but don’t post continual photos flaunting it. Its like winning the lottery then picking your friend up in a lambo to drive him to the food stamp line. Eventually even your best friend is going to get sick of it.

    • Tight

      December 9, 2013 3:55 pm

      Well nate, frankly calling the writer a fag simply because most of skating has been thinking this for years before nyjah speaks volumes about your understanding of what it was, what it is, and what people want it to be.

      GQ commercials, flashy skating, it only goes so far. Nyjah can turn around and be Tony Hawk if he wants to, but selling out products and images to kids instead of investing into skateboarding culture at the root is far from hidden. It is flashy, it is in your face, like a drink advertisement. Get paid, we get it. Progress skating through your talent, we get it. Trying to tell skateboarding culture it is something it is not about … well … some of us will butt heads on the topic. The only faggot in public eye regardless of skating, is the dude doing GQ commercials. Thankfully, he is just a kid, and like yourself has no idea how to see beyond his own endeavors or point of view.

      Reply
      • john

        December 9, 2013 4:54 pm

        ” trying to tell skateboading culture it is something it is not about ”

        Professional skateboarding is :

        All Pros justify their pay , in their ” modeling ” activities and status.

        From the Baker , Slave ” freespirited cool bum-like guys , to Plan B , Element skaters and Dylan Rieder / Gillete trends , all of them basically are getting paid NOT to skate , no sir it doesnt stop there. They are paid to skate , in order to advertise the products of the skate business and to make greater sales for the unknown non skater businessman , or the more likable ” skater businessman” .
        And the greater the skater , the greater his power to make better sales.

        At this point i want to say , that i have no intention to condemn this article , because it is of good will , it wants to show the ” beautiful ” aura of skateboarding that seems to be decaying today . And … “We get it ”

        But , if you look at it from a distance , i find it hypocritical and somewhat shallow to accuse Nyjah that he tells skateboarding culture it is something it isnt about , while Figgy , Gravette , (even Tom Penny ) etc.. are doing it the ” right way” .

        Why is that? Because one chose to say yes to advertising for a “GQ commercial” or Sports tires and rims , while the others dont do that , they stick advertising the raw skate products.

        So I guess this is how we think and state the wrong : Hey skater , its ok to tell kids to buy skate related products , cause they are raw , and we like raw skating and raw skaters and raw stakes and raw music and raw jeans .

        Be a model and advertise only skate products , if you advertise the other stuff outside skating , you are a sellout , you kneel to the money and obey , you are a puppet , a clown you dont do it the right way , we dont like you cause i dont ” feel your skating ” despite i see it .
        WTF is this shit ??

        Nyjah is a skateboarder cause he skates.
        He is a Pro skateboarder , cause he is also in the advertising business , since thats what a pro is about.
        Thats what i am trying to say. All of the pros , advertise ,so you better think if it really matters whether advertise a car tire , or sunglasses or a beanie , or a board , should give us different opinions on the skater. To what extent are they different ?

        Cheers

    • LL

      December 9, 2013 5:43 pm

      Congratulations on needing to resort to “faggot” and “pussies” to get across the point that you couldn’t even be bothered to actually read the article and the message it was trying to convey. Not only are newcomers intimidated by skill, but then they get to be subjected to being called wimps because of a lack of stepping stones to get them there? Skateboarding, like all sports, is supposed to be about having fun. When it becomes nothing but a competition of egos and bullying, it negates the entire point of doing it in the first place.

      Reply
    • danny

      December 10, 2013 12:10 am

      so being gay is a negative/bad thing?

      you need to flip your script if you want to live on earth, you sound ignorant as all get out.

      Reply
    • Boo

      December 10, 2013 1:56 am

      A person with a different opinion is jealous? By your logic, it’s like telling someone all they could do whileis skating streetand is a boardslide on a parking block and kickflip off a curb just because they mosty skate transition. And define ‘”goofy looking.”the exactly what tricks are goofy or not. I’d rather do a goofy trick just to piss off anyone who treats skateboarding as a serious sport. If you weren’t such a pussy, where’s your ultra-gnarly video part at?

      Reply
    • SC

      December 12, 2013 10:36 pm

      True

      Reply
  4. Charlie Highlander

    December 9, 2013 3:30 pm

    I totally dig this article.

    Reply

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