February 10, 2016

R.I.P. Switch Crooks Kitty

You can't always remember the way important questions are asked. The way Steve Nesser remembered it, he and Clint Peterson were hanging out and, pretty much out of nowhere, Clint asked Steve a good one. "How much of Chad's life," talking about Chad Benson, who knows if Clint phrased it like this, "has been spent in crooked grind position?" Steve relayed this story one Saturday noon session at Familia HQ, as Benson zoomed in circles doing crooked grind fakies on the bank to ledge, as he's often wont to do.

Wont to do for the last decade or two. Benson's been crooksing for a while under various guises -- he was a flow guy for Planet Earth Skateboards in the very middle-90s, complete with shelltoes, and has had his name on a board for three different local board brands. He strictly wore white shoes even after he gave up on Superstars, lots of Kalis' first DC pro model. Benson would probably admit to bumming out his share of kids at the skatepark over the years, but it's mostly just because he's hyper. As of late, he's taken to wearing a lot of black, and was even seen in the past couple of weeks wearing a Thrasher tee.

Clint didn't remember the question coming up the way Steve did. Maybe it was the way the question was phrased. "He," Clint said, meaning Steve, "was probably watching him in the crooks position for the 3,000th time that week when it occurred." No matter, how much of Benson's life do those guys think he's spent in crooks position?

Said Clint, "Ha, that's good, how old are we now? I'd have to say a good year of his life, three-quarters of it being switch, of course." Of course.

A year, for reference, is 8,760 hours long. Steve guessed lower. "12 hours," he said, before adding, quickly, "24? I would have to dig into that."

Chad turned 40 in December last year, so depending on who you ask, Clint or Steve, he's either spent 1/40th of his life in crooks position or, at minimum, 1/29,2000th of it.

Unruly fractions like 1/29,2000, when it comes to lifetimes, seem to be reserved for fleeting experiences like laughing or riding jet skis. However, for real enthusiasts -- Benson loves his crooked grinds -- it seems too minute, too little for a true fanatic. How much and how long are/were crooked grinds in Chad Benson? It was worth an interview in the back room of the skatepark:

PS: When did your cat die?

CB: Let me think. March 2011.

And when did you get the cat?

That would be 1998.

And what did you name your cat in 1998?

Switch Crooks Kitty.

What kind of cat was it?


How did you explain that name to people?

We just called it Crooks and nobody really asked. Except for the skateboarders, then I told them it was Switch Crooks Kitty and they really liked it.

So was it actually named Crooks or was it Switch Crooks Kitty?

On the certificate that she was registered under it was Switch Crooks Kitty.

How long did you agonize over that name?

Never, it was instant.

Crooked grinds came into vogue about '91, did you learn them that year?

Yes – I might have learned them before '91 because my friend Dave Flannigan learned them before I'd ever seen them and he called them “toaster grinds.” I went and learned them from him and we did them in the old Government Center garage and did them on the bottom step at The Fed.

So was it before Dan Paterka started doing them?

It's before I saw [Paterka do it]. It could have been right around the same time. I learned them because of Dave.

Dave Flannigan, what's he known for around here?

He is now a professor at the University of Minnesota.

Oh! I got him mixed up with Cardwell.

Flannigan! Different Dave. Dave Flannigan was my brother's best friend growing up in high school, with Nate Reiman, and they're the three that taught me how to skateboard.

And when was that?

Uh, 80s, late 80s?

Can you put a date on it?

'87, probably. We had a miniramp in our backyard before we moved to Rochester.

You lived in Benson, Minnesota?

I lived in De Graff, outside Benson. We went to school in Benson, all of us, and Dave and Nate would always come down to my house to skate the miniramp in the backyard. It was like a ditch, but then they re-did it and made it into a little 3-foot miniramp after seeing Shackle Me Not.

Do you know who did the first switch krooked grind? Did Koston do the first switch K?

I would guess it's Koston, I don't know.

When'd you do yours?

Ah, switch crooked grinds – probably '93? Probably, and I learned to pop out of them in the middle of a ledge, I remember learning that at Flushing in New York City.

In like, '98?

In like '98 – I'd always have to come off the end until then. I could always fall out 180 in the middle, but I could never pop out to fakie until I learned them at Flushing.

What's your favorite...shit, it's gotta be a switch crooked grind. What's your favorite switch crooked grind that you've ever done?

That switch crook fakie tre was a battle – that was like a two year battle.

That took your ankle out, right?

Yeah, that was at that loading dock spot in Eden Prairie.

It's in the intro to Weekend Warriors where you roll the shit out of it wearing a KG jersey.

Yeah! I could do it on fake-boxes then but never do it outside until the Familia video.

And that was on what ledge?

It was on the one over...behind International Market Square. So yeah. And Nate [Compher] almost fucked it up.

Was Nate filming it?

No, Nate was skating too – he did the nollie crook nollie heel that day – and he was walking back to try again when I made it and his legs were over the top of the camera. So if you watch it, you'll see his pants on the side of the camera when I make it.

Can Nate switch crook better than you?


The Familia Video from Familia Skateshop on Vimeo.

The switch crook fakie 360 flip happens at 0:59 into the video above. Internet records say the video was posted about six years ago, which means one of the first dudes to really do that trick was a preschool teacher from the Midwest. Benson was in a fantasy football league with Davis Torgerson this past season. They're both fans of the Minnesota Vikings. Davis had some food for thought when asked how long Benson's crooked grinded.

"About half the time he spent waxing the ledge," Davis fired back. Touché.

Benji Meyer has filmed at least four of Benson's video parts, including for Apocalypse, Midopoly, Anonymous and Weekend Warriors, over the span of nearly a decade. Asked about how much time Benson has spent crooked grinding, Benji said, "Too much! I met him in '91 and he was switchstance pointer grinding," an archaic term for crooks, "then." That timeline on the switch variant doesn't line up with Benson's, but either way, it's a couple decades of crooks both ways. Benji was kind enough to go through the archives for the clip below. He sent along the following program note: "He tapered off the switchstance pointer grinds around the Anonymous days. Couldn't find anything after this Shitheads Vol. 8 time." Still, it's a chronicle of switch crooks 1995-2001.

In that same timeframe, the late-90s, Benson and Neal Erickson skated together a bunch. Neal's got a mean crooked grind of his own and way back when, rode for Gullwing Trucks. Benson gave him a ton of shit for that before they were friends. When Neal got the question, he was the first person to try to crunch some numbers. "You figure he’s been crooking for 20 years, four days a week, 20 crooks per session, two seconds each," Neal said. "What’s the math?"

The math is 46.2 hours -- just shy of 1/7,300th of Benson's life. He really hasn't noticeably slowed down skate-wise, even as middle age approaches, so it's imaginable he could push things through age 50 and get up towards that 60 hour mark.

Benson and Dan Jackson have skated together since well before they were both Planet Earth flow trash. It's possible Dan has witnessed more Chad Benson crooked and switch crooked grinds than even Benji; it's also worth mentioning Dan has switch crooked his share of rails and sketchy ledges. When asked the big question, Dan was kind enough to show his work:

"His typical time range for a crooked grind is .5 to four seconds. I will guess the daily average of all crooked grinds in a session to be one second all told. Obviously some days are more crook-intensive than others, but a good, typical session average would contain 30 total crooked grinds. This gets us to an average total of 30 seconds per session. He has been averaging 4 days a week skating since the crook was popularized around 1991. 208 sessions/year x 25 years = 5,200 total crookable days. By my math, that equals 156,000 seconds, or 2,600 minutes, or approximately 43.3 hours spent in an active crooked grind position."
Benson's probably crooked grinded for about two days.

February 9, 2016


The concept that a magazine would either send a dude to a random American city to shoot an article about it or, even better, that the photog would enterprise that thing and do it himself (happy birthday, ZED, by the way), is no longer with us and yet is a reminder of how far we've come.

Per the photo above, in the heady summer of 1998 on a Saturday night downtown, we came upon Ted Newsome attempting to shoot Ryan Hanson doing a switch hardflip into the Reliastar/ING/Whatever-it-is-now fountain the long way. We lurked across the street in the Fed parking lot. ZED's jumped into that bank and grabbed doing so at least two different ways.

As stated, the article came out in March 1999. Come the summer of 2001, another photog that'd shot for TWS, one Brayden Knell from Atlanta, showed up during the hottest week and put another article together, that ended up in a Transworld the next year with Bastien flip backtailing a handrail on the cover.

January 18, 2016

(•_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)

Fried back Friday @4n_official ��: @4n_lundbl33zy #mendotaskatepark #minnesota @sk8mafia

A video posted by Corey Millett (@4n_friedtillidie) on

I was unaware of this. This is important.

New moves from RIFT:

December 21, 2015

Program note

Folks in the skateboard media business with straight news reporting experience are seeing worlds collide as the story behind the arrest of Keelan Dadd, Steven "Baby Scumbag" Fernandez and the latter's manager for the sexual exploitation of a 12-year-old girl plays out. Hard news rarely invades skateboard world like this -- skaters do die from time to time, and while that's tragic and sad, the bulk of "real news" regarding skateboarders is typically drug-fueled and at least a little funny. This one isn't -- it's no "sex scandal," per a poorly-worded TWS head -- and it's got real-world consequences, most importantly for the alleged victim, as well as for the likes of 27-year-old Dadd, whose sponsors are lining up to drop him long before he could ever stand trial for felonies that could lead to a lengthy prison term. How swiftly Dadd is being let go is a fascinating contrast between skate world and, say, how the NFL deals with domestic abuse (that league which operates on collectively bargained contracts and so on and so forth for differences), but not much to revel in since he's far from proven guilty.

This blog will most definitely not be updated from now until around the second week in January, 2016, so just hold tight.

December 20, 2015

'15 Platty's


Super deep thoughts on how the Platty's work (unnecessary apostrophe but years of style backing it up), via the 2010 blockbuster, Inception:

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."
Probably just that intestinal worm.

Arbitrary local skateboard awards done in the style of the T-Eddy's. PAST YEARS: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

MinneSOTY: Jack Olson.

Dark Horse: Jesse Krueger.

The Professional: Tabari Cook.

Rad Dad: Emeric "Olu" Pratt.

So Long Ago?: DEBRI2.

Best At HQ: Evan Smith.

Remix: The Hiawatha.

People's Champ: Jack Dawkins

Still Waiting On That Part: Alex Uncapher.

Right Below The Surface: Corey Millett.

Gentleman Filmmaker: Tim Fulton.

40-years-old: Chad Benson.

Best Hair: Davis Torgerson.

TWS Part?: Davis Torgerson.

Still Skates: Dennis Burdick.

Father Time: Judd Prozinski

Year Of Progression: Brian Estrada.

Whip It, Whip It Real Good: Tanner VanVark.

Decade's A Long Time: Cody Davis.

The Force Stayed Woke: Todd Brown.

Brooklyn: Pete Spooner.

Serious Inquiries Only: Kevin Horn.

Divine Hammers: Jan Jacobson.

You'll Never Believe To Which Blog We'll Never Link:

Down Under: Andrew Leibman.

ALL CAPS/New, New Layout: The Hesh Dot Com.

Gentleman Scholar: Ricky Nunn.

Former Loc Done Good: Dane Vaughn.

Staff Writer: Wylie Tueting.

Thank You: Steve Nesser.

Conflicted: Dana Ross.

Questions Of Infrastructure: Phil Schwartz.

The New Oak Street Cinema: Bell Museum.

Copy Editor?: Village Psychic.

Casually The Best Dude Here T.J. Moran.

Good Ass Beer?: Kevin Chartand.

How Old Is That Dude?: Dalton Jones.

Thank who? THNKU.

OH Snap: Kirian Stone.

Most Anticipated: The Lair Video.

December 8, 2015

Dip Dip We Dip

#familiaHQ #later #weoutdisbitch ��@shanebrown333

A video posted by Alex Uncapher (@slamdunkapher) on

Winter is coming?

December 4, 2015

Death Row Alley

Kevin Horn's Chapter XIII will be screened Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. at the Fulton Tap Room, 414 Sixth Ave. N. in Minneapolis. More info here; that project appears to have turned out.

Caught the Nike SB video earlier today. Cory Kennedy skates to a song that shoulda been banished because of its association with Blurred Lines, but the dude comes through. Remix? Trevor Colden is the Millennial skater's everyman. 51-year-old Lance Mountain has this shit dialed. He skated street too! I'd forgotten how entertaining Omar Salazar is and BA in Miami-white linen was dope. Kevin Bradley is who we thought he was. His frontside 360s are quite good, perhaps second place. Koston slappied A LOT and seeing Mariano -- as guest skater/Swoosh teamrider -- was a bit strange. Can't fade EK's ender though, which is one hell of a feat of angular momentum and other physics, and his trick in that spiny-ditch spot was reminiscent of the middle sequence here. Karsten Kleppan is unfairly well-rounded.

-Benson turned 40 on Tuesday and still finds new lines, here and there.

-Shitheads Vol. 8 turned 14 on Tuesday. This is probably the best section outta there.

-Who killed The Hesh?

-The good folk at Wiskate got a shout in the Quartersnacks book, as did TC OG Hardflip.com. Old skate Internet, rep.

-Element is in town this weekend for two things, tonight at Familia HQ (if the Fam IG imbed goes dead know HQ is @ 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday at 3rd Lair: