December 9, 2013/ Ian Graham/ ARTICLES/ Comments: 130

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?”

Related Posts


  1. avt

    December 25, 2013 4:18 am

    i have respect for nyjah’s consistency and his sheer technicality
    when attacking spots/ his consistent constant rankings
    with that being said.. initially i was in awe watching this part seeing
    the high level of skating with the constant bangers back to back.
    but the super clean editing and lack of personality is a frustrating one indeed.
    i’m glad it was mentioned in this article.. and its great to see
    nyjah’s skating bring skating into more public visibility..
    at the same time, its great there are guys like pontus.. and even
    pappalardo (where is he now??) gonz, omar salazar.. people who really
    push and explore and think out of the box..
    its almost analogized in a way as nyjah being like some top 40 artist
    with a hit almost everone loves.. but its all studio magic and
    does excite but still leaves some dissatisfaction due
    to lack of heart or jagged edges..
    lol i dont know what i’m talking about but am glad there
    can be an intellectual discussion about this shit.
    its stupid reading fan boys angry defensive comments
    that are read as poorly educated narrow minded dumbasses
    skateboarding needs more people who explore it uniquely

  2. Jay

    May 1, 2014 8:39 pm

    HAHAHAHA nothing but haters I swear. I personally know nyjahs fam, and they are by far the most humble people I know. Worry about yourself, and how you’ll progress in life and maybe you wont have the time to be on the internet looking for blogs to write on and bash truly the best contest skateboarder in the world… lmao fuckin lames I swear. Try learning just a 1/16 of what this kid knew at the age of 11. ha..thought so!

  3. KayOh

    June 13, 2014 11:30 pm

    All of you bitching about this are sad as fuck. Last time I checked, Skateboarding was never about just style, or just tech, or just faster/bigger. I cant think of one instance in the last 15 years that I have watched someone’s part and not just seen a reflection of the same love we all share for this same thing.

    Yeah, Tony T may just like to go fast and blast bowls more than anything else, and Jamie may love hitting rails for days, Nyjah likes to get tech in spots most people probably cant, but these guys are doing something they love, and that is clear. Who the fuck are we to be anything other than hyped for them?

  4. i amnot james franco

    June 21, 2014 4:12 pm

    nyjah is part of a government conspiracy.

    he is a robot or maybe hes reptilian. basically the greys or something. it had to do with 9/11 im not sure google it. anyways they put flurioide in the water it makes the skaters look funny and smell bad. i dont know how nyjah smells but they also put aluminom in deodorant which causes althzemiers. so that could be part of the mystery.

    dont forget about all the perservatives in the food. all the drinks that sponser him are poison. hes a puppet for the new world order. wake up sheeple. wake up. bill clinton.

    so yeah. thats how i see it. but the thing to do is

    1. detox your body
    2. do some yoga
    3. meditate
    4. eat raw foods
    5. activate your pineal gland
    6. ?
    i cant remember number 6 but it doesnt have to be in that order.

    oh and someone said nyjah doesnt read books? thats scary. i dont trust robots who dont read books or make art or smoke weed. im all about raising those vibrations and healng chakras to enter the 5th dimension.

    all in all i agree with this article. his skating is great but like i said, hes not real, has no style, and dorritos will kill you.

Leave a comment