Tag Archives: Real

“I wanted to do my best” – Huf in Non-Fiction

It’s easy, and usually totally appropriate, to celebrate the good in somebody once they are gone. In death, we remember their best qualities and finest moments. We can speculate on the great things that were to come but now won’t happen without having to face the reality that most of our heroes shine much less brightly through their second and third acts. It is safe to say that, while an early demise is always tragic, some legacies clearly benefit from ending before they can be diluted.

Keith Hufnagel‘s recent death after a private battle with brain cancer that lasted several years requires no selective retrospective. His life, his interactions, and his career(s) were simply all good.
Unlike others in the skate-sphere who have passed away, where we have to choose to ignore some of their less savory moments and celebrate their skills and contributions in skateboarding while looking away from their less admirable sides, or having to face the question that if they had somehow altered a couple of decisions they would still be with us. There is none of that. Huf ruled on and off the board.

One of the best conceptual ads ever.

The fact is that a bad thing happened to a great person and it sucks. Keith, by every account, was cool and humble and friendly with everyone he encountered. He ruled New York and then ruled San Francisco and then, most improbably of all, he dominated the global shoe game. The general rule is that you can’t do that much and be that successful without making some enemies along the way. As far as I know, Huf made no enemies. Everyone admired Huf’s skating and business. More importantly, everyone respected Huf as a person.
And these aren’t just rose-colored glasses looking backwards; The tales of him being a solid dude we’re well known and expressed when he was alive. Huf was beloved, and it helps to think he knew it.

There are a lot of better eulogies happening than what you can read here. My entire knowledge of Keith Hufnagel’s personality is hearsay. But what I can comment on definitively is how much I enjoyed Huf’s skating. And there are a lot of great Huf parts to enjoy. Even better, they are almost all the very best type of skate videos. Not the type of videos where death was narrowly escaped or you can’t fathom how such a trick can be done (although there are a few of those moments), but the kind of skate videos that make you want to get out and skate.
We may not have the talent or guts to take on the biggest of rails or the deepest of ditches, but with Huf in your mind it is easy to feel like you can pop just a little higher and roll just a little smoother.

Keith’s part in Real’s Non-Fiction is my favorite, but it really is a toss up. My favorite Huf trick, the 360-flip from block to block at SF’s Brown Marble (the best trick at one of the best spots of all time) is in the Finally FTC video from 4 years prior. But Non-Fiction just oozes with all the excitement of the mid-90s Bay Area potential. It was a magical time and place to be alive and skating; And Huf’s part captures that and then takes everything up a notch. His Union Square grinds spark, his Kezar Stadium 50-50s go all the way, his SF-cruising hill adventure features pole jams and wallies off of statues.
We also get that fish-eye angle of the Banks line we already loved from Underachievers. As a personal nostalgia bonus, my heart jumps with the clips from the Marin School bank-to-wall (which was in Berkeley, not Marin (it was on Marin street) and we skated all the time) and the Oakland Museum rails (which I skated by regularly but never had the guts to try).
He then fucking does a trick on the black rock at Black Rock! I was lucky enough to have gotten to skate those ledges in 95 and 96 and that was just not fathomable. That spot was a ledge and stairs on a hill. The ‘rock’ was just in the background. They had to build a little plant garden around that huge sculpture because of Huf!

There is a lot Huf will be known for: Obviously the Pop. The plywood ramp ollie over a dumpster. The blond mop-top he rocked for not that long but we will never forget. The best frontside lipslides on ledges. The weed socks trend he inadvertently unleashed on the world.
But for me it’s the 360flips. He gave us a lot of really good ones, but this is just tops. And it was in 1993!

Rest In Peace.

Mason Silva. Mason.

I don’t typically feel the need to jump in to point out a video that is up presently. More often I want to spend my blog writing efforts on celebrating the parts of yore and those that might have slipped through the cracks in the internet age. But, holy hell, that recent Mason Silva part for Nike SB is just on another level of monstrousness.

Kids that come up through the Element camp are guaranteed talented from the get-go, but increasingly the top of the crop is quick to move elsewhere for fear that they’ll forever be high-fiving Chad Tim Tim in the shadow of Nyjah and reissued Bam boards. Peacing out since Peace is Tyson Peterson, Evan Smith, Nassim Guammaz, Greyson Fletcher apparently, and perhaps the skater with the most to gain, Mason Silva. After floating for a bit, he is now comfortably in the stable Real/Spitfire family, getting decent checks from Nike SB, and completely taking things up a significant notch with his video output in 2020.

Every trick in this part is huge. Just take a moment to analyze any trick in the video and it dawns on you just how incomprehensible nearly all these tricks at these spots are.
How about that 4 trick line around 1:00 which should serve as a breather after a just humongous and stylish bump to bar hardflip. A huge crooked grind on the top of a bench back, landed perfectly, frontside tailslide launched to fakie on the next bench back, a quickie switch 360flip, and then a straight-on fakie ollie to switch manual and let’s just 180 out of that for good measure. And that is one of the less memorable clips in this video.

Speed. Power. Style. Trick variety. Decent spot selection. This video requires multiple viewings, several rewinds, and maybe even a pause here and there to give a proper look at just how damn steep the bank is.

The only criticisms would be the camera angle on that last ollie, which just seemed so much more monumental on the Thrasher cover, the video being titled “Mason” (which utilizes a titling concept that should’ve been retired with Dylan), and the song selection. I could see where some folks might like the Roxy Music track, but I feel like Mason’s skating is strictly hardcore.

Zion Wright – Jupiter Rising & Real Part

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and Zion Wright just released his second full part of the year earlier today on Thrasher’s website. Real Skateboard‘s Skater of the Year intentions are loud and clear. So let’s not waste another moment and dive right into Jupiter Rising while revisiting his Real part from June and see how his candidacy stacks up.

First off, don’t be fooled by that 8:54 running time. There are 3 minutes of credits featuring a photographic retrospective of the part you just watched and what could easily be interpreted as an acceptance speech. Still, 5 minutes of skating is damn impressive and even with all the high fives and roll away footage, it’s pretty cram-jam with skateboarding stunts.

It is quite a compliment to Zion that such advanced handrail tricks as backside 360 ollie to frontside boardslide or kickflip frontside 50-50s or long tall overcrooks have been denigrated to “stock” status. But, alas, here we are and here are tricks we’ve seen in a part just five months ago (and also on King of the Road) and I find myself craving just one goddamn manual. Would it kill you to skate a ledge or do a wallie or something.

With that in mind, the bowl footage we get stands out as some of the strongest arguments in favor of Zion’s SOTY aspirations. Aired McTwists and kickflip Indy grabs gives some much needed depth to the part. The last two SOTYs were awarded to rail jockeys (one of which also rode for Real). So with just a few choice filming missions, Zion could easily recategorize himself into the ATV slot. It would give him a boost above the current crop of Tyson Petersons, Ducky Kovakses, and countless other round rail pinchers and carcass tossers numbing up the feed these days.

Half-cabbing into these things is still next level, though.

Jupiter Rising has to be digested in tandem with the bafflingly titled “Real” part from June. I actually prefer the “Real” (I’m already annoyed at having to put the title in quotes to distinguish it from other parts he may produce with his board sponsor, Real) part. But, really, the parts are just so similar.

Would one 12 minute part have been better? I would argue that it is wiser in this day and age for footage stacking skateboarders in their prime to break apart lengthy, multi-song parts into several digestible nuggets, and then release all but one of them at the end of the year.

Joey Bast – Real Non-Fiction – 1997

Joey Bast‘s quick part in the middle of Real’s Non-Fiction video paints a sweet portrait of mid-90s San Francisco skateboarding. The EMB/Union Square days were essentially over but the city still had lots of classic terrain available.The mass produced ‘skatestopper’ had yet to be marketed, the routineness of security guard encounters coupled with the plethora downtown spots made easy pickings for a skater with the obvious natural talent and baked-in pop of amateur Joey Bast. Thus, about half the tricks being filmed on the same day.

From an older Bobshirt interview: “I was kind of a procrastinator. When it came to filming I would always put it off, so in total I filmed for maybe two weeks. Real did set a deadline and I realized that I didn’t have enough footage, so all the footage where I’m wearing that stripped shirt was the last day of filming.”

Sitting amongst a legendary roster featuring prime Huf, laidback style king Drake Jones, barrier breaker Jamie Reyes, the Cardona twins, and the fucking Gonz, it would be easy to glaze over Joey Bast’s 90 seconds. He was dropped from the team not long after (or perhaps even before) the video was released, and other than a Planet Earth part and some 411 clips, that was all he had to give. Which is a shame, because the kid had a lot of loft in his tricks and some serious ambidexterity combined with the willpower to not film all his tricks at the trendiest bust-free SF street locale of the era, Pier 7.

So take a quick moment and appreciate a forgotten part that is as refreshing as a misty breath of fresh air before an elevated pop shove it.