- The work of Nick Ghobashi first came to me by way of a single portrait.
I saw a photo he’d taken of MC favourite, photographer Jonathan Mehring, and instantly wanted to know more about the man behind the lens. When we caught up, Nick had just moved back to his hometown of Washington DC, and he gave us the kerbside perspective of run-ins with local notorieties, the best local spots, and how forced creativity has been working in his favour.
So Washington DC—is that where you grew up?
I grew up close to the city, let’s just say there were lots of drugs and weird shit going on so I hung out downtown skating and going to shows a lot.
How has DC changed from your perspective now, do you have new eyes coming back?
I don’t know, this place has utterly defied the expected status quo both quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, it’s now full of freakin’ uppity, well-to-do white folks with loud mouths that have ‘reclaimed’ the city. Now the government actually pays attention to what people need. Well, the white people at least… it’s pretty jacked.
Nah, but in all seriousness, DC has become really nice, unequally so for now, but quite lovely and entertaining nonetheless. There are loads of new spots popping up every day and a much larger diversity of skateboarders of every race and gender. Everyone kinda drinks their arses off now too though, like everyone… it’s mental.
Any funny stories, anecdotes from the sidewalks of DC?
Hmm story time eh? I used to work for this magazine around here for a little bit when I moved back. I’ve overheard Congressmen drunkenly making policy at parties, rich assholes with top-secret clearances doing blow off underage girls asses, and more than my fair share of unwanted public nudity. There have been some pretty funny fights at Pulaski.
But one recent story comes floating out of the ether of my memory. I was riding my bike around near my house the other day trying to find Obama’s house (which is about four blocks away). I couldn’t find it, but I see this little kid bombing the hill on a scooter. Some large woman is half chasing him, pleading for him to slow down. He keeps getting speed and eventually just flies into this pole and into a metal pedestrian barricade. Just completely eats shit!
I pulled up next to him and asked her if he was alright and the kid is just scraped up crying and all. Then I read the barrier and it says some sort of government crap on it and as I look past the kid a pretty woman is running towards his cries. She gets up right next to the kid and five feet from me and I realize it’s Ivanka Trump, the Donald’s daughter. This was her house, that was her kid, and that was her barrier/secret service that is now all jumpy. I then laughed my ass off that I just saw Donald Trump’s grandson bomb a hill and eat shit on a scooter. It was fucking perfect.
Then my thought process went like this: “Haha damn that kid ate it, that was fucking GREAT, suck it Trump.” Then: “Ah man, he’s just a little dude I feel bad for him,” to “Damn, Ivanka is smoking hot.” Finally: “Oh shit, Secret Service is looking pissed and looking at my half-Arab ass, peace boys.” And I rode off. Good shit for sure. I’m still gonna challenge Obama to a one-on-one basketball game if I see him. He’ll win for sure, I’m rather terrible.
Tell us about the cameras you’ve been using on this project.
So all my shit except my Nikon D3 and a 50mm lens got jacked a bit back. After not shooting for a little bit, I decided to roll back into it gradually, just going out skating and taking film cameras with me along with my digital. I’d literally have one camera and one lens on me most of the time. I’d use my Rollei 35 SE Rangefinder, my ’75 Minolta 35mm, and mostly a bunch of Ilford black and white film. I had no flash, no fisheye, no zoom, just 50mm lenses.
It forced my creative hand and after being pissed ’bout it for a while I just rolled with what I had and got what I could. People were hesitant to shoot on film with no flashes for a little bit, but it really made me view things differently. Now I got all the equipment again, but that forced creativity was sort of fun and helped expand my style and skills.
Have you got some tips on where to eat, drink, or skate for outsiders visiting?
Go to Bureau to get the skate goods, (it’s the only shop left and my roommates run it). Hit U Street if you want to get wild and wasted, stay sober and still party hard, or get some good food. Specifically, I would highly recommend Velvet Lounge for a good time. Also, there’s a bar called Breadsoda that all the skateboarders go to. It’s run by dudes that skate and ride motorcycles ‘n’ shit and has pool tables and good food and beer.
Union Market is sick, additionally. If you go to Freedom Plaza say what’s up to the locals, and “SEND MORE”, (that means bring pizza, beer and/or Henny). If you skip these formalities I can’t guarantee your safety, especially if the boys have been hitting the Henny. Also, go to Richmond, it’s a super sick small city about 90 miles from DC, and the skateboarders there are unlike any others. It’s crusty though. Go see Baltimore too, it’s even crustier… actually, don’t go to Baltimore. (Just kidding homies, calm down!)
Any shout outs?
Shout out to all the Venue dudes, Bureau homies, Pulaski homies, Shaw skatepark, my Baltimore brethren and also the Aussies that came through a bit ago on the Chafing tour. You should have seen those dudes’ faces when they saw a deer for the first time. And when we took ’em to Hooters, haha it was the real deal.
Stop trying, empty your mind.