Dirty hairy Hippie Ben tells us about the skating in the holy land. Adventuring in Spain and getting to visit California and Panama last summer. Enjoy the beautiful shots!Hi Ben, how are you?
I’m great! How are you brother?
Awesome. Having a nice weekend?
Oh yeah, we just spent the weekend at the Ramon Crater – down in the Israeli desert. Perfect pavement, perfect nature and perfect weather… hard to beat.
What’s the Ramon Crater?
The Ramon Crater road, is a twisty beautiful road. A black line, in the middle of the red Israeli desert, descending down a crater. A few hairpins and a straight shoot into nothing. Beautiful!
Who is Alon?
Alon Meiri is my partner in dirty. the other founding half of Dasilva; together with Ido Carmi (rider, apprentice and a dirty dirty man) & Tom Goldwasser (camera whiz), we make skateboarding goodness happen.
Is there a big community out there?
The longboard community in Israel is pretty small and mostly surfing oriented (cruisers). But there is a small, warm family of skaters pushing themselves here. Between the LGC Israel, us and a local core skateshop we’re family with, we round up around 50 people at sessions.
Where is the hub?
I would say in the center of Israel. Tel Aviv, its surroundings and Herzliya are definitely where most of the scene thrives. The ILC (Israeli Longboarding Community) rounds up people and information about happenings in the surroundings, but since the scene here is very people oriented – most sessions or events go through the LGC, us and the skateshop – SLIK.
Who runs the shop?
SLIK is a skater run, family style core skateshop in Herzliya Israel. Run by Tomer Ifrach (a local scene mover and stoke spreader) and styled by Tamir Moosh (a local skater and pimp/artist). It’s the only real centre of actual longboard equipment and information you can find in Israel.
We’ve been working with Slik from the get go to push the scene in Israel and they have definitely pushed it . They’re true brothers and they make A LOT of noise wherever they go.
What difference have they made to the scene?
Since awareness in Israel to the other aspects of longboarding (other than cruising ) isn’t great yet – they have been working hard on informing the groms, organizing events, sessions & slide jams with us to promote the freedom in longboarding and offering all the equipment for it.
Are there any others in Israel?
There are a few shops offering longboards here and there but none that offer the information that goes with it.
Who organises the events?
The LGC Israel, run by Katya Krasner, Margot Touitou & Bar Shachar have been holding open weekly sessions in the centre of Tel Aviv, giving our little scene a major boost, together with Slik and ourselves. We try to have a big slide jam organized by all of us once a month.
Are there many women skating in Israel?
Not many yet, but unique. They’re all super cool people and serious about the sport. Katya, for example, just won the latest slide jam we held in the outskirts of Jerusalem. She rocks!
What’s your favourite thing to do on your board?
Do you remember the first time you skated fast?
Yes! It seems so slow now. There’s always faster though. Each one is the dominant memory of “fast”.
“(Going fast) focuses you. Sort of like meditation… the rest of the mind chatter kind of disappears when you’re constantly focused on the line and scared as shit.”
What do you like about going fast?
It focuses you. Sort of like an ongoing meditation… the rest of the mind chatter kind of disappears when you’re constantly focused on the line and scared as shit. And, its just fun.
What were you riding then?
I’ve been riding the same board forever – only new versions of it each year, its perfect for me. It is a beautiful monster. Set up with Surf Rodz RKP’s, Divine Road Rippers & RipTide bushings – its pure love.
Why do you love it?
This year we’ve changed the specs on my board a bit and so the name changes. It doesn’t have name yet. We’ll be launching all the 2014 lineup soon.
The prototype is an 36” x 9.75” monster made of Baltic Birch & Carbon Fiber, an aggressive concave and flares that lock your feet in. It’s hard to explain exactly how natural it feels. Try it.
How about ‘’Big Ben’’?
That’s fine by me.
Why don’t you want to try anything else?
Oh, I do. I try every new board I get to see – its always interesting. And all of ours naturally.
Are any of the above your sponsors?
No, no. I’m not sponsored by anyone. But they’re all family. We like to stay close to anyone we work with.
Would you like it in Pink or Black?
What are your favourite local tracks?
If I have to choose, I would choose two: A road called Poriyya – in the north of Israel going down the sea of Galilee. Super green surroundings and a fast grippy road – kind of like our Maryhill but a bit faster; and – The Ramon Crater Road. The desert is my home.
Have you skated outside Israel?
Oh yeah! Last year the original dirties (Ido, Alon and myself) toured Spain and rode everything from the LGC Zaragoza sessions to unskated roads in the middle of nowhere!
This year we toured California and searched for hidden roads in the Panamanian jungles with Gina Mendez and the local skaters. Goddamn it was amazing. I take my board everywhere we travel to.
How does one become Dirty?
I would say – one does not become dirty, but rather is born into dirty …or not.
“…one does not become dirty, but rather is born into dirty…”
Is there a way to show the path to getting dirty?
If there is a way – Ido Carmi must surely hold the map.
Why is it important to stay Dirty?
It has a “boredom repellent” effect to it. There is never a quiet night once you start playing dirty.
Dude, Gina! Do you get down on hard wheels?
Oh no – not techslidin’ hard. It scares the shit out of me!
Where else did you skate in Spain?
We started in Barcelona and it’s surrounding. Moving in a most random and dirty fashion, towards Zaragoza, Madrid and finally Malaga. Anything with the slights chance of riding potential got ridden.
Who did you ride with in BCN?
Just the three of us. Alon, Ido and myself.
Unfortunately no – since BCN was our first city on the tour, we didn’t have the time to meet any of the locals for real. Other than a few beers together. We were anxious to get on the road and travel.
How was Malaga?
We were never inside any city for too long. Other than Madrid with our sisters from the LGC we tried to stick to nature. But, the south of Spain in general was great. It was warm and everyone was friendly. Great vibes!
Did you enjoy Madrid?
YES. Madrid is the shit! Other than having our sisters Jacky, Monica and Valeria take care of us which made everything in Madrid all that better, It was just real. Madrid feels like the heart of the skate scene. Art and creativity flows in Madrid and moves out. Something is happening all the time somewhere but super chill at the same time and very open,
Who’s your favourite?
I’m a smart enough man to avoid a question like that haha.
What took you to Cali?
Basically, we were looking for a warm place to escape for the winter… Cali has both insane nature, sick sick siiiccckkk roads and lots of great friends we could crash with. And as its the mecca of skateboarding – we had to go.
What did you expect to find there?
Actually – exactly what we found. Skateboarding heaven. Roads, nature, waves to ride and great people to share our travels with. Its never boring. Always surprising. California is amazing.
How did the roads compare to home?
Some were similar, but most were completely different. The pavement is great and the options are endless. Cali is so big you can find anything.
Did you attend any events?
We rode a lot but no events were held during the time we were there unfortunately, as it was winter. In Spain however we went to the LGC freeride in La Muela and froze our asses off with our sisters and we got a chance to hit the Buddywood session in La Loma. Two different sessions. Both were awesome!
Is there anything from home you missed?
Anything nostalgic – The beach and my cats I guess. But mostly, my friends. I can travel for a long time without seeing my folks or have any comforts of home. But not seeing my friends is hard.
If you could have taken anything from Cali back, what would it be?
Amanda Powell & Dane Webber.They are two of the chillest nicest people we had the pleasure of spending time with… and an old-school VW bus I saw in Santa Barbara.
Are you embracing the bare foot philosophy?
Definitely! You won’t catch me wearing shoes in the summer.
Who are the dirtiest skaters you know?
I got to see some great dirty’s along my travels. From young Panamanian groms to old California hippies – but none were like our little sister, the vagabond queen – Ishtar Backlund. She is most def the most exquisite example of a dirty skater in know.
What did you enjoy most about the West Coast?
The vibe and skate culture. For me to come from a place where there are hardly any waves and longboarding is not that common – seeing everyone around us, young or old – holding a board, going to a sunset surf session or simply chilling in the skatepark. Watching the groms shred made us feel like we were home.
Where did the winds take you after that?
When we finished touring California and Panama we hit Munich and ISPO to meet with some old friends and make new ones. Munich was cold… ISPO was… drunk. Gotta love our scene.
What took you to Munich?
You mean Valeria?
I would follow Maleria anywhere.
What gave you the biggest smiles at ISPO?
Valeria Kechichian without a doubt. That woman is a world of happiness. I didn’t see her since we finished shooting OPEN with the LGC. The reunion was awesome.
What is OPEN?
OPEN is a longboarding project produced by the LGC and filmed by master Daniel Etura, taking place in our little country – Israel. The film follows 14 of the best female riders this sport has to offer as they shredd the holy land. And let me tell you brother … those chicas shred!
What was your role in the project?
The Dasilva family was in charge of all of the local production. From driving the trucks and taking the crew to the best spots to throwing parties with all the crew and talking to the police . Tom teamed up with Daniel filming and running the equipment side of things. Basically, making sure things run smoothly as possible. Israel is very much a middle eastern country, things are always hectic.
What was it like skating with so many rad girls?
Unfortunately I didnt get a chance to actually ride with them at all – there was always something to do. Working on the film was not an easy task. But just being with all of the crew for almost two weeks, sleeping eating and travelling brought everyone very close. It was an amazing ride! There were zero negative vibes throughout the filming.
What are your plans for the year?
Each year has been so different from the year before making it hard to plan. This year we tried to step up our game. New shapes. New materials and worldwide delivery.
Where can people get your boards?
We have a few shops we work with around the world.
Israel – Slik Skateshop
Spain – Toxic World Boardshop
Panama – Speed Republic Boardshop
England & Germany – Coming soon.
And of course through our online shop.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Yoga, meditation …but most of the time you would catch me either taking pictures or editing them.
When did you start taking pictures?
I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I could hold a camera.
What do you enjoy about photography?
It gives people a chance to see things from my perspective .
What’s your favourite thing to shoot?
Would you believe me if i said skateboarding, and friends. I like freezing moments of emotion and revisiting them later.
What do you want people to feel when they view your photos?
Who are your favourite photographers?
Ryan Tater and Morgan Massen – both are insane. Each with his unique style.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-19.
1 .. 2 .. 19
1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
Hard question… either Tommy Devito from the Goodfellas or Col Kurtz from Apocalypse now.
2 – what weapons would you choose in a zombie apocalypse?
No weapons – I would have a beer and watch everything go down.
Ben Kaufman! This has been a pleasant journey. It was nice to spend this time getting to know the man behind all the hair. Hope we get to hang out again!
Haha you crack me up man. Thank you for everything Gbemi, my brother! I hope we’ll get a chance to have a cold beer together soon. Much love.
Any last words?
Do what you love and do it well.