Interview with Ben Redgrave about falling down.

 

Melinda: The first question is...uh...what's the worst fall you ever took? Is it this last one?
Ben: No, not by a long shot, the last one was pretty bad but the worst was when I hit my head - the worst recent one that can I remember... I hit my head really hard on the concrete and I'm pretty sure I had a concussion - I was dizzy and nauseous - but I didn't go to sleep I just kept skating.

M: So can you describe this last fall? Since we have all these great illustrations...
B: Right. So we better talk about it. So I was approaching the top of a six-foot transition and at the top there's a platform and basically my wheels slipped out off the coping and my head hit the platform but first my hip contacted with the coping - just above my hip so alot of my organs got squished temporarily. My head hit the platform and my knees hit the transition so essentially I was bent not quite ninety degrees but close...
M: as close as the human body will allow...
B: yeah. Its not laterally but... (hand gestures to illustrate)... sideways...
M: Yeah.
(laughter)
B: That was really life affirming...
(laughter)
B: I had just shown up, it was just the second run I had taken in this bowl so I was still excited to be skating, alot of my friends were there, I found that pain's alot easier to take when you've got people around you, which sounds like a self-help thing but it's true...if I hurt myself bad skating by myself then I'm more likely to just go home...but the pleasure greatly outweighs it.


M: Well...[For this topic - collapsing] I'm going to talk about what it felt like for so long to just keel over out of nowhere and just the physical sensation of that... So is there a way to describe what it's like between... like you're going really good on a board and then you know going down.
B: Yeah. Sure. It's all in a fraction of an instant. It's actually really nice when you know that you're falling cuz you kind of prepare. But lots of times, like when I did this to my hip it was just like that (snaps fingers) it's instantaneous. My palms are really bad from falling on my hands so much and my wrists are all fucked up so if you're falling from a height or if you're going down a slope you can prepare to roll or whatever, and hopefully just run it out. That's part of the fun is loosing control like that but not getting hurt, but when it's really instantaneous not so much a total shock/out of the blue, but when you know that you're gonna get hurt and there's nothing you can do about it - then a really calm kind of resolve happens. Like in that instance I'll think wow work's really gonna be a bitch this week.
M: Yeah I always had a flash of 'wow this is weird'.
B: Right. A great deal of it is just wonderment...just getting ambushed by physics... and you just have to surrender...it's like what is that - Stockholm Syndrome - where you fall in love with your kidnapper...

...........

M: Do you have to constantly re-negotiate your natural protection of yourself? You're 28, you've been skating a long time you know how bad it could be...
B: To some degree, that's what I had to say to my friend on the phone the other night when he asked me to go to Louisville, 'you know when I was 15 I would', but the car ride alone would be excruciating, it's not so much the physical reaction like how you react in the moment of falling but how you deal with the repercussions. But it's fairly instinctual how you fall...
M: You don't find yourself getting more cautious?
B: No if anything I've been becoming less but that's because the rest of my life is so dull.
(laughter)
B: So I want to have fewer fetters when I'm skating, psychologically, cuz getting over them you know that's a great feeling. And it's also that when I skated when I was younger I was really timid on the board...
(digression into proper term: rider or skater - it's skater)
M: OK so as a skater....
B: OK good I actually thought of the real reason - when I had stopped skating when I moved to Chicago and I basically took up drinking and getting fucked up as my primary hobby I got way more fucked up physically than I had before - skating. I took a lot of bad spills when I was a kid but nothing...I had just been in so many fights, but starting skating again was more a voluntary thing.
M: Less self-destructive...
B: Yeah, oddly enough.

M: Yeah we're both people who have a tendency towards mental collapse in a way.
B: Right.
M: Skating seems to be the thing that...
B: Re-inflates me?
M: Yeah...keeps you flowing. So even though it has it's dangerous side it's not even close to could happen if you didn't skate or have some kind of physical outlet.
B: Yeah.
M: Yeah that was the hardest thing about being house-bound, I had no physical release...
B: Yeah.
M: And knowing why but having no solution...

B: Well it is stupid in going against common sense...but common sense doesn't allow for...
M: Well public common sense...cuz my internal common sense...it's just a matter of time...
B: Before it gets released in some other way.
M: Yeah. What's so disturbing in a way is you don't learn that anywhere...you just barely get it because you have to.
B: I don't think it's something that you can really teach...look at all these vagaries we're talking about....

M: Well we know what's it's like to be unaware of a way out so but until you find the right thing, like there's times when I'd walk from here to downtown and when I'd tell that to people they'd look at me like why would I do that? And you want to say no it's the physical action...but that wouldn't satisfy you...
B: Yeah right.
M: And skating wouldn't satisfy me...

B: I was watching some horrendous extreme video show and there was a clip of these two women who were finishing this decathlon in Hawaii or something, they're naturally best friends and they had to crawl over the finish line cuz they were collapsing they had swam however many miles, rode their bike for however long, and they ran a fucking 26 mile marathon - they just look like they should have been shot, you know just put out of their misery... and it's like I don't understand that but I kind of do...People who do 'athletics' are really looking to preserve their body and this isn't about that in the least, it's about pushing something inside of you and also physically...it's not about who's the best...I mean that's not what it's about for me, there are guys I skate with who are all competitive...
M: There's this other thing of getting hooked on the endorphin rush which isn't at all what I'm talking about either. It's more like a release of tension although that seems too simple a description for what actually happens.
B: Right. Yeah.