Before anything: Manolo’s Tapes went live with an incredible retrospective of all the Girl and Chocolate videos yesterday. We can talk about Keenan’s switch flip, or how ahead of its time each Koston part was, or all the crazy stuff Marc Johnson has done, but let’s talk about some real shit…Ben Sanchez.
A longtime personal favorite Chrome Ball post is the dual tribute to Ben “Burger Boy” Sanchez and Shamil Randle. For a pair of twenty-year-old companies, very few of their riders have been afforded the ability to fade into obscurity like those two, and nostalgic reminders of less prominent names are among the greatest joys of The Chrome Ball Incident.
If Richard Mulder, Mike York, Chico Brenes were the seventh, eighth and ninth guys off the bench, then Ben Sanchez was something like the twelfth. Not to sound like a broken record, but the era when Girl and Chocolate were a batch of the best skaters alive surrounded by dudes who were more style than pushing the envelope is the one we most frequently put on a pedestal. Those guys helped the videos feel more like skate videos, and less like blockbusters. Koston and Guy were there to show you how good skateboarding could possibly be. Mike York got you hyped to try some pretzel spin noseslide combo that inevitably ends with a tic-tac. Ben Sanchez, on the other hand, was the guy who made you remember, “Damn, I haven’t done a half cab noseslide in a while.”
Though they both enjoy similar “Remember that guy?”-status, an anomaly for the Girl camp, there’s a key difference between Shamil and Ben Sanchez: Shamil looked cool as all hell on a skateboard. His opening line in the first Chocolate video — a switch back 180 on flat, a backside 180 nosegrind on a regular sized ledge, and a switch flip — is something a lot of people reading this could do, but would be hard pressed to make it look as good as he did. Ben Sanchez was a heavyset dude who looked like he was trying. Skateboarding actually looked like it took effort for him, making him all the more relatable to those of us who forfeited our hopes of ever progressing towards flipping into slides. Looking at the rest of the team, it was obvious most of the dudes were “better” than him, but he ripped to Earth, Wind & Fire for three minutes in probably the best skate video ever made regardless. He’s a hero to all of us who stayed stagnant, working to hold onto the dozen tricks we have, while our dickhead friends keep progressing.
Ben’s Mouse part often gets held to high regard by all those wise enough to know it’s not about how hard the tricks are. Skateboarding isn’t set up for a situation where we root for the benchwarmer going off for 23 and 14, but at least we can get hyped off watching the husky dude skate fast and do the most exemplary Chinese ollie ever committed to film. He was the underdog on one of the most mythologized skate teams of all time.
Thank you Ben Sanchez, wherever you are. You continue to be an inspiration to us common folk in the age of superheroes.