Ishod Wair and James Pitonyak are lifelong friends from New Jersey and to celebrate their two
decades of friendship, as well as our 20th anniversary, they teamed up with Ishod’s
and James’ board sponsors, REAL & THERE, to create a very special deck drawn by Jeff Cheung
and an edit of some of their earliest footage.
While visiting NJ last weekend for a Super Skate Posse giveback James and Ishod sat down with
us to chop it up about the project.
Interview by NJ Skateshop
Photos By Jonatan Mehring
How long ago and how did you two meet?
Ishod Wair: I have no idea.
James Pitonyak: It was, like, 20 years ago at least.
IW: I feel like I met most of the people that I know from Jersey at a skate thing at Princeton Police Station. Do you remember when Dillion [Constantine] landed in credit card and broke the board in his butt?
JP: Oh yeah.
IW: You would have seen it 10, 15 years later on America’s Funniest Home Videos. I saw it I was 11; Dillion broke a board in his ass. It was super funny. You were there. That had to have been when I met you because I didn’t really see people before that because I was 11.
JP: I think I remember the first time meeting you or seeing you. We were at Vets for this Extreme Function thing and the owner, MaryAnn York, comes up to me and is like, “Hey. Here’s the new kid on the team. He has so much potential.” And I look over and you’re trying stationary kickflips and not landing them. (Laughs.) I was like, “Uh…ok. Cool.”
IW: I remember that time because she didn’t put me on the team yet, it was like, ‘we’ll have you around but you’re not on the team yet.’
So you were progressing ahead of Ishod?
JP: I think so. I think I started skating a few years before Ishod. I started when I was 10.
IW: I remember you never had little kid style. From the first time I saw you , you never had little kid style. You always skated structured.
JP: I never really realized that myself.
IW: Everyone in the area knew James Pitonyak! You were quiet and you would just pull up and just wet flip tricks. With glasses on! Killing it. Pretty dope!
How did this whole 20th anniversary NJ x REAL x THERE project come about with the deck and the video project come about?
IW: You. (Laughs.) You all told us, “Yo, we have all this old footage. John Andrews had all these old mini dv tapes that we digitized.” I was like, “Oh, yeah! He definitely has a bunch of footage.” Then you started sending me random clips from back then I was like, “Whoa! Crazy! I could switch varial heel when I was 12?”
What was your reaction when you each saw your baby footage from 20 years ago edited together?
IW: I’m old!
JP: Oh yeah! For sure. Same.
IW: Then I was like, “Holy shit! I forgot about this!”
JP: Yeah, I was like, “This happened 15, 20 years ago! It’s insane to look at now. I hadn’t seen it in a while. John Andrews had all this footage on cassettes. It wasn’t online anywhere so it’s a real trip to see it now.
What do you think people’s reaction will be to seeing you all as babies?
IW: “Wow! They sucked!” (laughs.) Nah, nah.
JP: No, you were still killing it back then.
IW: Nah, I don’t know. I think they’re going to be like, “Damn. That’s sick! Archive footage of two old friends.” That’s always cool to see.
As long as we’ve seen you at and around the shop you have always have been good and the footage proves it.
JP: I don’t even know what to say. I hope people are psyched on it.
Talk about your old friend and filmer, John Andrews. He’s like the ultimate renaissance man. He did everything except skate in this edit. He filmed, edited, scored and animated the piece.
JP: Oh yea! He made the music, he had the clips. He was always out filming with Ishod and Chris Tams, and Kurt and me. If it wasn’t for John I wouldn’t know where I would be. He was my filmer growing up. obviously without a filmer you don’t really push yourself. I was always trying to film better clips and he was always there.
IW: Yeah, John is the man! It was good seeing him at the New Brunswick giveback event. He said the last time I saw him was at a skatepark 10+ years ago. But he looks exactly the same! He had a beard when we were kids!
JP: Yeah, he was always hairy. I see John out in SF. He has his band, John Andrews and The Yawns, and so he’s always traveling so I’ll catch him whenever he is in town on tour in The Bay.
There’s a clip at the beginning of the video where you answer the door, Ishod, that’s part of a day-in-the-life you filmed back then.
IW: My mom actually asked about that because she specifically remembers me filming the day-in-the-life. I was just mad young and being a little strange. I don’t know. I watched that footage and was like, what the hell was I talking about? Little Ishod you were being a little odd. I was a kid, whatever.
I randomly clicked through a few clips out of the 80 tapes and when I got to that day-in-the-life tape it was just you skating down the street for, like, ten minutes.
IW: Day in the life, man! They were really trying to capture it. We didn’t do very much back then. I remember as a kid trying to learn to push because I didn’t like mongo. All the homies would be up ahead of me and I’d be falling over trying to push switch. Eventually I would push switch and then I’d get tired with my regular push and then I’d push regular and then I’d push switch again. I learned to try and push switch really early. There was that era in the 90s when switch mongo was cool but I feel like my era was about never pushing mongo. Mongo is wack. So I never wanted to push switch mongo so I really tried, even as a kid, to learn how to push switch.
Unity and There Skateboards creative genius, Jeff Cheung, was kind enough to do the amazing collab board graphic. What did you all think of that when you saw it?
IW: I thought it was real cool.
JP: Yeah, Jeff’s art usually has naked people but you can’t really put naked people on a board that is going to be given to little kids as their first board. So it was a little altered but it’s still very cool. I think it’s great.
Speaking of kids, we launched the deck by giving out 100 of those decks as completes to underserved kids in New Brunswick, NJ with half of them going to kids from Lincoln elementary school students, which is right across the street from the shop. What was that experience like for each of you, to come home and feel all the love while hooking up all those kids?
IW: I’ve never done anything like that before in that type of organized setting the way Super Skate Posse does it. I usually have a bunch of stuff that I’m not using and I’ll normally pull up to a skatepark and wait until I’m done skating and ask if anyone wants some free stuff and I’ll start throwing shit at. And then I’ll leave really quick because I feel awkward about them saying thank you too much. But it was really cool to give out those boards in New Brunswick because they were all young and falling around and I can remember when I was that age and doing that.
It was super dope. Hopefully it keeps the kids out of trouble and they have fun with their friends skating and doing everything we did in our younger days that led us to what we’re doing now.
JP: Hopefully we get some future pro skaters out of New Brunswick or just people enjoying skateboarding. Just to introduce skating to those kids is amazing. To come back to New Jersey to help out the place where I’m from, where Ishod is from is awesome.
IW: Like in 10 years when I’m 40 and I come back to Jersey I’m sure someone is going to be like, “I don’t know if you remember this but I came to this thing at the New Brunswick Park, my mom brought me there, I didn’t even really want to go but I got my first skateboard from you and I’ve been skating ever since.” I’m glad to have been a part of that journey for those kids.
You two made lifelong memories for those kids and sparked a new generation of friendships. All of New Jersey thanks you for it.