From Sidewalk 196 - January 2013
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ben Raemers for a long time now, and have been privileged enough to watch him grow from the super humble, polite and unassuming teenager he was, into, well...the super humble, polite and unassuming adult he’s become. He’s probably a few inches taller than he was the last time he laid claim to a suitable amount of pages in our publication, his hair’s a little longer and chances are that he’s probably a tiny bit wiser, (“tiny" being the operative word here...), but on the whole, the Benjamin you see before you today is much the same as the one that was last interviewed near enough four years ago. Before you ask, the personality you’re greeted with via the constant stream of content coming out of Internetland is still 100% genuine – what are everyday occurrences for most, do indeed baffle Ben, he is overly appreciative for the most minor of things and he does apologise for nothing way too often; in fact, if ever there was a Family Fortune style chart of Ben’s most frequently used phrases, “Sorry geez..." has got to be up there.
He might not be too clued up as to what you need to do if your car suddenly blows up on the motorway, or how much oil you need to successfully fry eggs, but to be fair, I doubt I’d give two shits about meaningless stuff like that either if I could do padless 540’s on concrete or fearlessly step to 16 stair handrails on command.
Whilst real life may get the better of him from time to time, he undoubtedly holds skate- boarding firmly in the palm of his hand right now, and once the Enjoi video drops in a few months time there’ll be literally no hiding from the ballistic level of skateboarding this Walton native is producing.
The following pages are merely a taste of the madness that’s in store. Once it’s over, 2013 will no doubt be referred to as The Year Of The Geez.
You heard it here first...
Photography by Various artists
“Do you know the way to San Jose?"
My favourite thing about living in San Jose - apart from all the skating and friends - is the sauna basically. I pay a membership to a gym that’s nearby, it’s a gymnastics club that has a swimming pool, weights and all that, but I don’t bother with any of that really, all I properly use is the sauna. I go in there and get a two liter bottle of water from the shop, drink the water in the sauna, go swimming for half an hour to 45 minutes, go back in the sauna, drink another 2 liter bottle whilst sweating, shower, get changed and by that time it’s usually 11am and everyone is getting up, ready to go skating. That’s how I start my day. In San Jose...
I live in a bunk bed in San Jose as well, which, as weird as it sounds, I really enjoy. I bunk with my friend Carson and his dog Falcor; I don’t know if you’ve seen him on Instagram – Falcor408. We have a bunk bed in Jerry’s house; Jerry Hsu used to live in that room but he moved out to live in LA. We were on a trip to Australia and he basically said he had this room but didn’t live there and we were like, “hey, we’re trying to find somewhere to live" and he said, “you can move in there if you want". I asked Carson if we should get a bunk bed and live in there, and he was like, “yeah alright, sweet", so we live in that bunk bed in the room.
Two of us: and a dog... Our room definitely gets messy really quickly as we both have that much stuff. We have no cupboards so everything gets rammed onto shelves and thrown on the floor; it’s definitely not glamorous. It’s somewhat unlivable at times but we man through it. Carson’s got a long-term girlfriend but she lives in Portland, which is an eight hour drive away. He was liv- ing with her before but she moved out. He goes up to Portland to see her but if she comes down to see him I don’t sleep in the room. I’ll sleep in the basement, which isn’t as creepy as it sounds. The basement is really nice actually, we did it up; it’s big, there’s loads of space. We’ve got a couple of sofas down there, and a pool table. San Jose is a really friendly place. The whole LA/Hollywood thing is too much, I don’t really go down there too often; it’s a little bit fake at times. In San Jose everyone seems a lot more down to earth and normal. People go to LA to be in movies and stuff, so if you go to the shop it seems like a different world but San Jose is a normal place but with good skate spots. I do like LA though; I just haven’t given it a chance.
Everyone should follow Falcor408 on Instagram; everyone single post is of Falcor. She’s got BGP’s in the new Osiris video; she went on a Creature trip so they dyed her green for it...Falcor has seen the most action out of anyone. All the bangers that go down around the San Jose area, if Carson’s filming, then Falcor’s always there too, so she’s witnessed some serious stuff.
There’s a photo of her on Simon Woodstock’s board down the skatepark...she sees all the action.
“One day when people say the name ‘Munson’, they’re gonna think ‘winner’." If it wasn’t for Mark Munson I don’t even know what I’d be doing. I wouldn’t even be working in Specsavers because the only rea- son I worked there was down to Munson saying I needed to get a job, so I was like, “oh, alright, I’ll get a job".
He definitely sorted my life out for me and ended up looking af- ter me. He took care of me and sent me along the right path, not the wrong path, which would have probably been easier for me to go down.
I ended up moving into his spare room when I was 16, I got a job and that, and he hooked me up. These days he’s killing the game; he’s got a kid, his girlfriend is the best and he has his own company called Navitas, which is an outdoor brand.
I’m really happy for him. Good things happen to good people.
I always get injured at the wrong times. I’m filming for a video part right now, for an Enjoi project. I was on a trip in China and I got the worst heel bruise of my life; I’ve never experienced a heel bruise like it. This is the fifth week and it’s still there. My ankle’s bad too but feeling better; so hopefully it’ll be all good but it al- ways seems to happen at the wrong time.
I always get injured when I’ve got something coming up, or when something new or exciting is happening, like the first time I went on an éS trip. When I got on the team I pretty much broke my ankle so I couldn’t go on the first trip when I would’ve met everyone. Then I was meant to try film a video part for éS and I did the same thing; the first week of trying to film for that part I pretty much broke my ankle again.
Now I’m trying to film for the Enjoi video project and I’ve hurt my heel, but it’s all good, it’s getting better you’ve just got to hope for the best. Luckily I got hurt at the end of a filming trip to China so I got to skate the entire time and destroyed my heel on the last day. I went back to America and missed out on some stuff due to being injured, so I was sat around in the house being bummed out. It’s all good though; it all heals in the end if you give it time. There’s nothing you can do with injury apart from wait around and see what happens.
To pass time, now I’m back in England I can drive around and see mates all over the place but I need to get a good hobby. I haven’t got the In- ternet at my mum’s house so I’m pretty much stuffed on that front, I can’t just sit on the computer all day...I wish I had a sauna nearby...
When I’m out in America I definitely try to eat as healthily as I possibly can. About 75% of Americans are really fat/obese and I don’t know what my mum would do if I came home and I was obese, so whilst I’m out there I’ve got into not going out for food that much. If you go for dinner out there the portions you get are just ridiculous, it’s impossible to finish but you feel bad not finishing it, you feel rude so you end up finishing it, but it’s always way too much food.
I’ve started to cook myself, trying to be a little bit healthy these days. I probably cook bad food, but it’s just the right portion. Over there, if you go out and get a burger then it’s the biggest burger you could ever think of, and with the most amount of chips...it will be the greasiest meal you could ever imagine too. If you cook it yourself you can control your portion.
You need to wake up and eat some cereal; if you don’t do that you’re going to go out and get a breakfast that’s bigger than a main meal over in England. It’s just gnarly food.
“Nah, he’s not seen me, I’ll get him later." I feel that Alan Partridge is probably one of the best things I’ve ever discovered in my life, because his character is from Norfolk, which is only 45 minutes from where I live when I’m back in England and he’s the funniest guy in the world.
Everyone needs to watch a little bit of Alan Partridge; it’s the funniest thing ever. My favourite Partridge clip...just type into YouTube ‘Alan Partridge Dan’ and watch that, it’s classic Partridge. You might need to understand Dan and understand previous stuff to get that one though.
A lot of the time when I’m in America I forget the English accent so it’s good to listen to the accent and the humour and remind myself what it’s like at home. Good old Partridge.
A beaver state of mind
I feel like if I’m an old man and I can still skate when I’m 50 years old that I’d get a house in Oregon. The whole place is the most beautiful place in the world; the skateparks are the best skateparks you could ever imagine, and camping out there is so much fun.
The best park in Oregon is Lincoln City; it’s massive and there’s so much stuff to skate there you don’t need to do any tricks, you can just cruise around all day. No one kicks you out; you can have a BBQ there and chill out with the lads.
The gnarliest thing I’ve ever seen go down in Lincoln City was my friend Mario: There’s this massive grass hill there that’s really steep and covered in trees, it’s hard enough to walk down - a few beers must have been consumed - I looked to the corner and Mario was sitting on a spade, he was sliding down the hill on this spade. It was the sickest thing I’ve ever seen.
Visi-Tor is the original skate crew, the Ipswich mandem. The signed-up members are Gorm, Dave Davies, Adam Howe, John Minta, Paul Roe, Ryan Gray (even though he’s got Carve Wicked on his leg), Shandos and Carl Hacker-Knackers. I’ve got a Visi-Tor tattoo on my leg but I don’t know why, it’s just the mandem. We were walking along one day in London, we looked at this phone box and there was a ‘Visitor’ sticker and we were like, “hey, this should be the name of our crew". That was when we were like 12 or 13 and would skate together all the time. Good times... These days everyone’s still skating but doing different things. Adam’s working three jobs - he works as a screen printer, at a food shop and I can’t remember what his third job is. Dave’s killing life right now, he’s got a kid. He still skates and he’s the best skater ever. Gorm doesn’t film anymore; he just works at a Co-Op disability scooter place and skates every day. Good old Gorm!
My teeth are terrible, I’ve got six holes in my teeth and I never go to the dentist. I should go soon before something bad happens. I’ve got a feeling toothache’s coming sometime soon so I’m going to go to the dentist in the next week or so. It’s not free over here but it is cheaper. I tell you where you want to go to sort your teeth out – China. I was in China recently and got the gnarliest abscess on my tooth, my face swelled up. I went to the dentist, he cleaned it up, took all the bad shit out of it, did so much stuff to it and gave me an X-Ray as well, and it came to about £10. I’m not even joking. They were like, “is this price going to be OK?" and I was like, “this is the cheapest thing ever, it’s fine". So the next time I go to China I’m going to go get all my teeth done on the first day. I’ll be like, “alright lads, I can’t skate today, I’m going to do one thing..." then go and get all of my fillings, get everything done, and it’ll probably come to about 35 quid to get ten teeth sorted out. Seriously, if you need your teeth sorting, go to China.
Right now my main video project is an Enjoi part that should be coming out at the end of March, early April. It’s not a web thing but I’m not 100% what it is really; all they’ve told me to do is film this part, but it’s good, it keeps me busy so long as I’m not injured. It’s good to have something to do and something to keep you motivated. I’ve enjoyed travelling around; we’ve filmed in China and all around America, that’s about it to be honest. We’re going to Taiwan in January, which should be fun. If my ankle heals in time then I’m going to go Barcelona in early January to get a couple of bits too.
I’ve not had many video parts; I think my only real video part was for the Sidewalk video that came out last year. I’ve had a few things in the past but it feels like this is the next serious one. Filming for the Sidewalk video was serious to me though because I definitely wanted to make it as good as I could. I feel like I could have made it better but I wasn’t really around that much. Still, I was happy with it. I always like having something to work on. After the Enjoi video I don’t have too much planned; I’m going to be in America for the majority of the summer so I’m sure something will come up.
I’ve somehow got eight tattoos now, and they’re all on the left hand side of my body. On my arm I’ve got Oscar the Grouch, Snoopy, the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, the British flag...I’ve got ‘Smile’ for some reason - I don’t even remember getting that - and the Essex swords. On my leg I’ve got Pingu, my mum’s name and Visi-Tor, and that’s about it so far.
The first one I got was the British flag. I was out in America for three months in some proper ghetto living scenario. My mate and I were in the living room of this house on these two sofas, and there were two other people who lived there and one of them had a tattoo gun. He wasn’t a tattoo artist: he just had a tattoo gun. We all got really hammered and thought about what tattoos to get and we all just ended
up getting tattooed, and in the morning for some reason I woke up and I had that. I don’t really know why I got it but I’ve got no regrets; I’m happy with it, it’s all good. The other ones are mainly cartoon characters that I’m stoked on. I need to think of some more cartoon characters to get on there; I can’t think of any right now but I’m sure something will come up.
On the opposite side of my body I’m going to get thrash metal, Satanism...nah, not really. I’m saving that side, I don’t know what to get, I’m going to get something good; who knows though, let’s see what happens.
My tattoos usually happen the day that I think about them so whatever I think of on that day can go on that side, but I have no ideas just yet.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
I’m in a really weird part of my life right now because my mind doesn’t know where to miss. I’m in England and I miss all my friends and housemates in America, but when I’m in America I miss my family and friends over here.
In England I miss the weather, but when I’m in America I miss the cold weather...my body is all over the place. I miss everyone but wherever I am, I’m happy. If I ever feel really homesick in America, feeling down and sad, then the first thing I’ll do is go on Skype and see if any of my English friends are online, if not then I’ll watch Alan Partridge and deal with the homesickness that way. You’re never homesick if you’ve got Partridge. The things I miss about America I can deal with. I miss the warm weather and my friends but I know I’ll be back there in January, I know I’m going to see them all soon so I don’t miss them ridiculously; they’ve all got their own families and everything.
It’s hard to deal with sometimes when I’m in America and I think about my mum and everyone back here: fam- ily comes first. I cherish every single day when I’m back here and try to hang out with my mum as much as I can.
The wrong trousers
I find that I’ll have a pair of trousers and I become addicted to them so I’ll wear the same pair for about three weeks straight, and by that point they’re basically done. You’ll wash them, the colours are gone, espe- cially if you skate in them every single day, they end up smelling so bad but I can’t help but wear them, and no amount of deodorant can sort that one out.
Dropping a Beg-Baloch
So a lot of the time when I’m going into America or any other country, they’ll pull me up because my second name’s actually Beg-Baloch. Basically, my dad’s name was Beg-Baloch but I never got around to changing it to Raemers legitimately so every time I’m waiting to get into America I’ll panic as I know they’re going to be questioning me about all this terrorist stuff, because the name Beg-Baloch is from Afghanistan; I’m half Afghani.
I don’t even know my dad but I never got around to changing my name. Every time I get off the plane in America, waiting to get into the country is the scariest feeling ever. The people question you like crazy when you’re waiting to get through the border. I’ve probably been pulled up about four times now; I know it’s not much, four times, but you just don’t know if it’s going to happen.
This one time they were questioning me for ages and then they sent me to this room with two other people, and they interrogated me for hours, asking me about everything to do with my dad. I was like, “I don’t even know this geezer, he’s just my dad but I never got round to changing my name. All I’m out here to do is skateboard." So they took me outside after hours of questioning, got my bags and then I showed them I only had skateboards and everything, it went on for another half an hour and then they for some reason thought I was trying to smuggle drugs so they were going to give me a cavity search.
By that point I was over it and just said, “just send me home, it’s not worth this. I’m not getting cavity searched, just send me back to England". In the end they let me in, but after that, whenever I get to the border it’s just scary. I’m just waiting to hear the stamp going down then I know I’m in The States.