Nice Guys Turn Pro — An Interview With Dustin Henry

Photo by Colin Sussingham

Sometimes it feels like there is little incentive to be kind to our fellow humans during this cruel crossroad of human history. And kindness within skateboarding is no exception — nobody ever woke up to a Monster Energy Mercedes G-Wagon in their driveway for patiently waiting their turn at the skatepark. Earning the privilege of being paid to skate is as competitive as ever. I mean, don’t people find it a bit convenient that Ishod would “roll his ankle” in Toronto (his opponent’s city of residence) just days before the World Championship of Skateboarding? (I, Ishod starring Margot Robbie in her most transformative role yet coming to theaters Christmas 2019.)

All jokes aside, the recently pro Dustin Henry is as well known for being a sweetheart as he is for his dancey skateboarding — and not in a standard-issue sweetheart sort of way that all Canadians are born with, but with an extra dose of heart-meltingness that earned him our Skater You’d Be Most O.K. With Your Daughter Dating Award two years in a row. We spoke with him during a hungover week after Glory Challenge and his going pro surprise party to see if there is any truth to old idiom that nice guys finish last.

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What was your favorite part of Glory Challenge?

Meeting Nora.

How did it go down?

I was with Breezy [Breana Geering] and she was like, “Nora’s here!” We were in the Dime store, so we went outside looking for her and I was like, “Oh, she probably left, whatever.” Then I saw her from super far away, and we both just had our hands out. It was so cute.

Damn, what was the first thing you guys said to each other?

“Finally!” We chatted a bit and got lots of pictures. I felt bad though because I felt like I was chasing her all weekend. I hit her up every day: “Nora! Where you at?” Then she’s like, “I’m at the hotel.” And the next day I was like, “Nora! Where you at?” And she was like, “At the hotel.” I was too excited

How’d your first couple of days of being pro go? Is everything different? Does the air taste fresher?

I wish I was in New York with you guys. I feel like I should just live in New York — like, living in the place where the company actually is. Montreal is nice though.

Did you have an idea in your head of what being pro would be like when you were a kid?

I guess it was different back then, because you’d see pros that were just living so crazy, just seeing Muska having nice cars and crazy houses.

Want to run down your extensive sponsor history?

I got a package from Supra [Distribution] of Girl boards. Then I started getting City Skateboards. And then City went under, so I rode for Think. And then I rode for Toy Machine. And then I got on Cliché.

What the fuck…

And then I got on Polar. And then Alltimers.

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The 2018 Dime Glory Challenge A.K.A. Montreal Fashion Week

The Dime Glory Challenge has been compared to Wrestlemania, it has been called an antidote to Street League, and a joke in the face of skateboarding’s road to becoming an Olympic sport. I have heard colleagues echo my sentiments about Dime being the only company whose ideas are worthy of jealousy. “You know that one Dime video where ___” is a frequent refrain among many of our peers.

How do you write about something that everyone is unanimously in love with for the third year in a row without veering into trite redundancy? Why is it impossible to see anyone who doesn’t like Dime as anything but a shameless contrarian?

Last Saturday, we woke up so excited that we showed up to the Challenge at noon, only to learn that it would not begin until 3 P.M. Our moderately day-drunk sights set on our fellow attendees: only a week removed from #NYFW, a buzzed “wouldn’t it be funny” soon turned into asking strangers for pictures of their outfits to pass the time and break some ice.

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Around The Horn — Riedl, Jamal, Tiago & Busenitz Weigh In On 2018’s World Championship Game of S.K.A.T.E.

Throughout most of our lifetimes, the four-peat has been elusive in professional sports. (The last one was the New York Islanders’ dynastic run of Stanley Cup wins from 1980 until 1983.) This weekend, however, we approach the real possibility of the first four-peat of the new millennium: Wade Desarmo could become the World Champion of Skateboarding for the fourth time in a row.

Only one obstacle stands in his way: winner of Thrasher’s 2013 “Skater of the Year” Award and recurring recipient of Quartersnacks’ more encompassing “Best Skater” award, Ishod Wair.

Your local shop, bar, and T.F. bench has no doubt been abuzz with predictions about this weekend’s game, but predictions seem split down the middle. Sure, Ishod is the Best Skater™ — except who really wants to play devil’s advocate by doubting a three-time repeating champion? Since none of us have ever played a World Champion in S.K.A.T.E. before, our opinions are reduced to amateur guesswork. To get some real insight, we contacted Wade’s past three Glory Challenge opponents and Dennis Busenitz, who once famously swept him in an obscure exhibition series called “Battle at the Berrics,” for their predictions.

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Skate Spot Porn: Prague’s Stalin Plaza

Fall 2018 marks ten years since Billy Rohan rescued those slabs of marble from Albany’s defunct Shelter Skatepark, with which he would go on to create the best iteration of 12th & A that there ever was. Through the spring of 2013, 12th Street became a rare place to skate straight, stone ledges in lower Manhattan without having to worry about a kick-out. I remember Billy being in awe of how he and Curtis Rapp pulled off this marble heist and installation without a hitch: “This spot is perfect — it feels like Stalin Plaza, except instead of marble ground, I have to settle for a basketball court.”

I also remember that when we were doing the interview for this old segment about the Chapman Skateboards archive, Gregg mentioned how Billy equated their patented technology for a “performance tip” (a piece of special plastic at the nose and tail of a board that kept your pop crisper for longer) to be like skating on Stalin Plaza ground at all times.

Apart from Billy’s anecdotal obsession with Stalin Plaza, I have wanted to go there since Harsh Euro Barge came out. It looked the right amount of different from any other European holy grail spot; something stood out about those arbitrary pieces of marble stacked on flawless ground, with a precision applied to the spacing between each one. How were these piles of beautifully sliced rocks left alone in a building-less abyss?

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Shit To Sugar — A History of Trying to Make New York’s Chinatown Banks ‘Work’

The China Banks are some of skateboarding’s most hallowed ground. From being a pivotal filming location for Powell Peralta’s The Search For Animal Chin, to the site of Joe Valdez’s tricks that earned him a devoted cult twenty years after the fact, to the host of numerous NBDs, magazine covers, and even 2018 video part enders — there are few street spots in skateboarding that have been able to endure FOUR DECADES of continued innovation and history.

…but those are San Francisco’s China Banks.

New York‘s China Banks are perfect three-foot-high quarterpipe transitions, which are ideal for a city that didn’t begin getting a surge in actual skatepark transitions until the 2010s. They have gaps between them, a hip, and are the perfect size for anyone looking to have fun learning a transition trick on a natural quarterpipe. The only catch is, of course, that they are made out of perhaps the only surface less conducive to skateboarding than fire or water: cobblestones.

So why have our Chinatown Banks, constructed out of some of the worst possible material for skateboarding, endured as a kinda-sorta-maybe-could-be spot for the past ~twenty years?

You know those friends who always find themselves in “project” relationships, where they try to see the best in the person despite countless red flags, and drain themselves trying to “fix” their significant other? That’s New York skateboarding’s relationship with the China Banks — I mean, have you seen the garbage we skate? We look at bad spots through rose colored glasses, thinking they’re mere steps away from perfection. We’re co-dependent on these bad spots; the plain trick on the bad spot just means so much more than if it’s a hard trick on a recycled plastic bench in a parking lot. Maybe if we approach them just the right way, and apply just the right tweaks to them, the Chinatown Banks will love us back.

Unfortunate for us, things don’t always work out as optimistically as we hope.

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