Nyjah Huston is in the news again, this time seeking to reel in among the biggest and slipperiest, if not necessarily the most lucrative, fish of the skate-award realm: Thrasher’s often-legendary Skater of the Year award, which if nothing else remains a monument to the grand intangibles in a world increasingly dominated by quantitative benchmarks such as Street-League scoring points, unique page-views and ‘likes.’ Before running out the remainder of the year swilling macrobrews and lighting cars on fire before giggling and bearded photographers, Nyjah Huston in his just-released ‘Fade to Black’ part cranks the Old Metallica, dons several colors of Thrasher branded t-shirt apparels and deploys any number of massive backside lipslides, kinked 50-50s and blizzard flips onto handrails in his bid for the SOTY prize.
Like many Nyjah Huston video parts before it, this year’s comes packaged as an ‘event’ chock full of feats that go several stairs further than others have dared, and inevitably has ignited frothy debates over the ‘jock’ nature of Nyjah Huston’s skating. A gently probing analysis of the topic reveals a more fundamental question, however: Are skateboarders, who draw their identities from an athletic activity, by definition ‘jocks’?
When weighing such weighty questions, it’s helpful to begin with the basics. Webster’s dictionary defines ‘jock’ as an ‘athlete, especially: a school or college athlete,’ derived from the noun ‘jock strap.’ The stretchy but supportive apparatus that embraces sportsmen worldwide today originally was invented around 4,500 B.C. by Tunisian animal husbandrists, casting about for methods to speed spice-laden camels across North Africa’s arid plains.
Modern-day skateboarding has had little use for what we now understand to be the commoditized jock strap, eschewing more-formalized undergarment support in favor of short-shorts in the early days of taming backyard transitions, to the no-safety-net stance of the early 1990s’ goofy-boy scene. But as contest purses grew more lucrative, skateboarders began to gravitate toward more form-fitting garments previously regarded as the exclusive realm of Ed Templeton and Mario Rubalcaba. The advent of stretch denim largely obviated the need for classical support regimes and some skateboarders now even have adopted tighty-whities, a mindset unthinkable just a decade ago.
Gleaming trophies and contest hauls go only so far in rationalizing such an attitudinal shift, however, and so to better understand the gravitational forces and wearable whims at play, Boil the Ocean sought out H. Stoss ‘Boss’ Perot, professor of chemical and metallurgical anthropology at the highly regarded East Wangle University. Boil the Ocean Web Site was particularly intent on engaging Professor Perot’s viewpoints given his long-running research into the fibrous content of modern-day jockstraps and designer sweatpants, a marketplace now cornered by just three multinational gargantuates — ancient trade-houses of vast means.
“There’s far more afoot than people understand,” Prof. Perot claimed while on the phone from his research facility where he looks at elastic bands. “And far more at stake. I believe this shift reflects a systemic risk that has gone unaddressed, if not willfully ignored, for far too long.”
We departed immediately for Prof. Perot’s facilities, as per coded instructions faxed over so as to elude what the academic referred to cryptically as ‘overeager aficionados’ of his singular research. Yet upon arrival we discovered the once-immaculate lab, typically festooned with stretchy materials of all types, ransacked and smoldering with no sign of the professor. A breathy croak emanating from beneath a pile of debris in one corner offered sign that the destruction was not total, and we rushed to dismantle the wreckage.
A toothy, bearded maw presented itself; that of an orangutan, a specimen out of the northeastern hills that was known to me as Mike. “They’ve got him,” Mike rasped, before lapsing into a pitiable swoon of the sort only a highly intelligent primate can truly manage.
Our mission revealed to us, we sped directly to the local ammunition dump before taking a back-room table at a friendly ale-house to plan. Pots of coffee, roasted meat and strong drink emboldened us to our cause, which became increasingly clear to be a suicide mission. The orangutan kept silent counsel at the table’s far end, slowly twirling a Bowie knife amongst his spidery fingers as his cigar burned to a stump. “So it must be,” the creature muttered, to no one in particular. “The hard way, as it ever was.”
Bizzell Hutchinson, that tavern’s deeply whiskered proprietor, had time only to throw wide the door and bark “we’ve got company” before the mortar fire began. Rockets screeched down, peeling back the roof and walls in great fiery curtains as we scrambled across the floorboards and broken mugs. Half a chair careened by and through the haze Mike, machine-gun braced against his shoulder and clattering, still gnawing his cigar and faintly, grinning. The elastics cartel had located us.
TO BE CONCLUDED…