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?”

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  1. Chris Ronson Shad

    December 9, 2013 5:13 pm

    Man down with the minority here. fan of Pontus since in search of and his earlier 411 segments. But also think the Nyjah part is some of the best skateboarding ever. So clean. What the hell, Robot???? Go watch sketch monsters at any given spot and declare how raw, with all your bros and Barney friends on indies only.

    All of it is “RAD”. All these (artists/athletes/delinquents/ fill in label here) are fully dedicated to and love skateboarding. And it shows in both …and it is not polar opposites. Yeah see what we did there.

    Roll down the street and live. Then pay back all the bros you bummed $5 for smokes ($15 in NYC). I am sure all your skate heroes and men of fantasies have more in common with each than you would honestly admit. If this was a guitar blog it be the same thing of Segovia vs Al Dimeola vs Vai, vs Satriani, vs dimebag, vs Yngwie vs youtube sensation..and just as many saying they all suck. Or your taste is amateur.

  2. Hoy

    December 9, 2013 5:49 pm

    What??!! I can’t relate to 1/2 the skate tricks that were put out in skate vids 10 years ago but that didn’t stop me from having fun and tooling around. If watching someone kill it with insane skills and dedication to their art be it skating, snowboarding, guitar, piano or otherwise, bums you out because you can’t do it, go practice some more!!! “Too good,” thats such an egotistical way to watch Nyjah’s part. Yes your ego is hurt by a young amazing skater so you’re hating on him. That’s pretty sad. Try watching with awe and inspiration rather than disgust and jealousy! If he starts selling bed sheets and scooters like Shaun White has done with snowboarding, then there’s something to rant about!

  3. beyne

    December 9, 2013 6:40 pm

    his part gave me a headache, hammer after hammer after hammer. It honestly hurts your eyes

    maybe throw in a bowl line or something?

  4. Rog

    December 9, 2013 8:01 pm

    Nyjah is a Transworld Skater. He doesnt embody anything that Thrasher represents.

    If you’re that butthurt about Nyjah not getting SOTY, he’ll get some consolation prize from Transworld or some shit again.

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