DON NGUYEN HAS NEVER LIVED the average life. But then again, what is the average life? While most would have stereotypical expectations of what a young Vietnamese immigrant boy should be like, Don adheres to none of those. Spending time at an early age in an Oklahoma pool hall surely isn't on anyone's list. Neither would be riding around on a piece of wood for a job, but Don isn't the type of guy that plans things out, nor would he follow the trail paved for him whether it be by his parents or Ho Chi Minh, and he most certainly cannot fall into what anyone else thinks he should be like. In a world where skateboarders, that's right skateboarders, are taking themselves very serious, The Huge is the first to have a laugh at his own expense.--Lee Dupont
Are you ready?
I don't like the way you're looking at me right now.
Why did you quit Stereo for Bummer High?
Um, you might have me confused for Shimizu.
How is Hike treating you? Have you been on the private jet yet?
Ahh yeah, the private jet is sweet.
When did you move to Portland?
I was born there.
Oh shit, that's right. How often do kids confuse you for Daniel Shimizu?
All the fucking time! It's pretty awesome.
What do you do?
Just be a complete dick. I think Shimizu started it. I told him that I've been getting confused for him. He said he's been getting confused for me, but he just says, "Yes, I'm The Nuge," and then starts being a complete dick. So kids think I'm an asshole. I was like--lightbulb--I should just be a dick back, turn it around on him.
I stole this question from Reda: What kind of Chinese are you, anyway?
Chinese. Just kidding. Vietnamese, fuck face. Half this shit's Reda's jokes already.
I owe him 30 cents per word or something. When did you learn to speak English?
That was my first language.
What? I thought you said it was your second?
Yeah, it was my second. I was like three or four, I think. I learned cuss words from my brother and my cousin first.
English cuss words?
Yeah, yeah. The first English words I learned were like "stupid," "fuck," "shit," and then I learned the rest in school.
You showed up for kindergarten and all you could say was "fuck, shit, and stupid"?
I guess. I think "stupid" was my first word. I swear to God I remember it.
You're only like one of two Asians in America, Shimizu being the other one, that didn't go to college. Do you think now you should have gone?
I did. Where did you get your research from, bro? I went for a year, and I went to school with a bunch of strippers. It was a community college in Oklahoma. It was fucking hilarious. I only went for general ed.
If you went back, what would you study?
Real estate maybe, I don't know.
No. Lawyer maybe. Just kidding.
What is the biological quantum field theory?
E equals MC squared? I don't fucking know.
What did you just say? What did you just call me?
Can you do algorithmic origami?
You're Asian so you must know what the numerical value of Pi is, right?
Well, I have no idea if you're correct.
It's because I'm Asian, I'm smarter than you.
You're good at geometry then, too, right?
I play pool a lot so I can see some angles.
Most of the fights you get in are after you lose at pool. Why do you get so mad?
I don't really fight anybody, I just break shit. I don't know, it's stupid. It was only once, I think. Because I'm drunk, I guess.
You're first generation American. How did your parents end up in Oklahoma? Was it after the war?
After the war they bounced. I don't even really know the whole story. My grandpa worked for the American embassy over there doing something so they had a way out. He had to make up birthdays for paperwork for my room, my sister, my dad, and fucking everybody, I guess. It was crazy when they were leaving so he had to make them easy to remember. My mom's was April 4, 1944; my sister's birthday was like April 5, 1967 or some shit. You know, just like easy numbers to remember. They were like "well, we're leaving, just got a ticket out." It happened really fast.
They were evacuated off the roof?
They got fucking spaceshipped off the roof of the American embassy in Vietnam the day the war was over or some shit, and, yeah, got dropped off in Portland. My grandpa went to Oklahoma for some reason, but my parents went to Portland. I don't know what the fuck I was doing in Portland. Then they went to Oklahoma because my grandpa was already out there somehow and some other family, so we just went. So I don't even know, I just ended up in the small town of Moore, OK, after that. Then we moved to the north side of OKC and my dad opened the pool hall. I was four or five years old.
And you were only able to say "shit" and "fuck" when they opened the pool hall?
Yeah. I wonder where I got that? Growing up in a fucking pool hall.
That's probably why you're good at pool, not because you're preconditioned to be good at math and geometry.
I guess I was born good at geometry, that's what I hear.
Your dad travels back and forth still a lot, but you haven't been.
I should go there. Yeah, my dad goes back and forth. I need to go there when he's there.
You have brothers over there, don't you? Like a whole other family you don't even know.
I've got a whole other shit over there going on that I didn't even know about. I didn't even know I had a whole other family. I have half brothers and shit that I've never met.
What if you go there and meet your brother and he's this Vietnamese guy just like you with long hair, a Sabbath shirt on, he has a Firebird, and overplays Roky Erickson at all times but he has a super-thick mustache.
I don't think that could happen. I'm talking about the Roky Erickson thing, You can't overplay it. If that happened, though, that would be the shit. What if there is.? You just tripped me out. What if he had a thicker mustache? I'd have to punch him. What if he had a full mustache? I would kick his ass! Wow, I would have to fuck him up.
If you met your long lost brother for the first time and he had a full mustache, you would punch him first thing?
Straight up. A punch to the neck. I would kick his ass. Or wait, he would probably kick my ass if he could grow a good mustache. He'd just do everything way sicker because he's got a good stash. He's got a Firebird but with like a 454 in it.
Don't even talk about it. I'm trying to blow the motor up so I can get a new one.
Why do you like Guns 'N Roses so much? They have that one line about immigrants and faggots in that one song. Axl was talking about your morn in that one. That isn't nice.
That isn't nice, but if you listen to the song he pretty much nails it, you know. He's just trying to live, I mean, he's Axl and all these people were trying to fuck him up. But now he's a bitch so I don't even know.
You're seriously a white trash Asian. How wide do you have to open your eyes before people think you're white trash instead of Asian?
I don't even know what that means. I don't know what to do with my eyes, dude. That's a funny question, but I don't know what to say.
That was my favorite question of the whole interview. You've got to answer it. I'm trying to ask you how you turned out like this?
No, it's a good question. I don't know, man, I can't help it. When I grew up my cousin, who's pretty much like my brother, his name's Randy, I was raised with my brother and my cousin Randy. Randy was always into Zeppelin and Sabbath, and he grew up in the '70s. He had a sick-ass Firebird and shit. He was always into that side of things. But then my brother was into gangsterville over here, and I was growing up between both of them. But I think Randy was fucking blasting all of it into my brain. My brother was all into NWA.
Ninjas With Attitude? Never heard of 'em.
Is that why you got a Firebird and an old Cadillac?
See, that's weird. Those are things that I like and I think that's why. My dad always drove a Cadillac so, luck, I had to get a Cadillac. Then I had to get a sick-ass fast car, too. Get a fast one and a fucking cruiser. I've got three cars; I've got a jeep, too. It's pretty much an anchor. It's just been chilling in my driveway for over a year now.
If you had a yard, would you put all your cars in it?
Stack them. I would just buy bodies of cars and shit, try to piece one together with a skate tool. I'd be out their like "I got seven skate tools, somebody turn something. Does it start yet?"
You've been going on your own trips. What was the last one you took?
Just got back from South by Southwest in Austin, TX. Everyone's been talking about budgets; I hate budgets. So I've been fuck it, spend whatever; just go on road trips with the homies. It's pretty fun. That's my new goal, just go anywhere. Fucking get a van, get some homies, and go skate. It's more fun when you can do it on your own terms, because nobody gives a fuck what you're doing, you're just rolling.
You constantly have people around you all the time. When you're skating or just at your house, you always have like five to 15 hippies around you. Why?
I don't know. I don't like being alone, I guess, ever since I was little. I think it's because I grew up in the goddamn pool hall. I think these are all things that happened because of how I grew up. I was in the pool hall after school until midnight every night. Just around a bunch of people all the time. I can't even go to the store by myself. I like rolling in a fucking crew.
Was the pool hall just like a weird Asian hang out?
Yeah, it was an all-Vietnamese pool hall.
Oh man, I just said "weird Asian."
I'm going to get killed by some ninjas.
You just got racist--and then more racist! You tired to fix it and it just got worse!
Anyway, your dad was a bookie, right?
Yeah, yeah. Dude, it was gambling at all times. It's a pool hall so everyone was gambling on pool. Then off to the side it would be like domino games, card games--fucking, he was a sports bookie. Mostly football but he would be the guy, like the head of the sheet and everything. Around 12 or 13 I started to figure it out. I always knew what was going on but around then I started to really figure it out.
Have you considered any more acting jobs since Dogtown was such a smash hit?
No. That shit was awesome in its own way but it was fucking weird in another way. So no. Why was it weird?
It's insane, dude, I don't know why. It was fun because all we did was chill and skate, but then I think it was because it was a skate movie. I'm not trying to act in a fucking movie.
Did you like the hair extensions?
Did you get rich from the movie?
Yeah, for like a month, but then I fucking blew it on a Beamer that got repoed. I spent all of it up in like a month in a half. Doing all kinds of crazy shit that I wouldn't have done.
How many times did you bail a trick for extra money on the set? You got paid per stunt attempt, right?
Oh yeah, that was funny because we finally figured out like a month into the movie. The stunt coordinator finally broke it down to us, told us each try you get more money so we were like, fuck, we should just start bailing tricks.
How much was each "stunt" worth?
I think it was like 200 bucks for each bail. So that's like 1,000 bucks if you bail five times. 'Cause I'm Asian I knew that real quick. But we were like let's fucking bail everything.
What trick should people not do around you on a mini-ramp?
What do you mean?
Yes, the old Chinese ollie. Clint (Peterson) will never say "chink-chink" around me. He always says "Chinese ollie."
Say something in Vietnamese.
What did you just say about my mama? Pretty much.
That should do it, interview done.
What? Wait, now I'm drunk. Ask me some more questions. We should just restart the interview.
Why did you quit Stereo to ride for Bummer High?
Stooops, because I was born in Portland.
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|Date:||Jun 1, 2009|
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