In June of this past year I decided to drive to a city that represented, for me, the end of fun. I can explain both this representation and my desire to visit by pointing vaguely in the direction of a certain book set in Peoria, which is not a novel and definitely not a memoir, but is, everyone agrees, about boredom. I had written one review of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, and read a thousand others because they were everywhere. I also knew the state's seventh-largest city was only a few hours from Chicago. Summer was sluggish to begin, and for far too long I'd been frozen. I needed to see how it was to play in Peoria.
Even the rattiest of kids can't duct-tape or shoo-goo a pair of Vans beyond matter of months. Skate culture (and shoes) have a huge overlap with the world of streetwear. Thus the skate shoe market spins in a rare confluence of fashion and function that we might call a no-brainer. Or goldmine. Or what Mark G. Parker, Nike's chief executive and president, did in fact call a “unique consumer segment … underserved in terms of product innovation.” Seven months ago, action sports represented $390 million of Nike's business, up 120 percent since 2007, the fastest-growing category within the brand. The company aims to double this figure by 2015.
We do not see Nyjah Huston moving through city streets—his filming missions are selective and nocturnal. They are movie sets lit by floods run on generators that growl and smell of petroleum. He skates with trucks rigidly tight, keeping his lines straight and landings perfect. Anything less requires a quick tick-tack adjustment—a, clunky, artless flourish and probable cause for editing that cuts landings as soon as his legs absorb the impact. Every time: feet wide, strategic, automatic. Soulless.