Thrash metal legends Megadeth, condiment staple Kikkoman soy sauce, children’s television powerhouse Mr. Rogers, action movie blockbuster Terminator 2, cult cartoon Rick & Morty… these disparate cultural items come together as a sampling of the official collaborations of Primitive Skateboards. And they are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sailor Moon, Tupac Shakur, Dragon Ball Z, Corona Beer, Marvel Comics, Anna Nicole, Biggie Smalls, Naruto Shippuden, Sri Racha, Transformers… it appears no intellectual property is off limits for P-Rod and Co.
There really isn’t much more to be said about Marisa Dal Santo‘s part in Zero‘s 2009 video, Strange World. Not that I’m discouraged from writing about it, or posting clips of it, or making data visualization charts of it. But, really, there are only so many ways to express “All Time Greatest Part by a Woman”. And while gender is significant to the discussion, it isn’t really a necessary qualifier to watch this part again and again. It is just a damn fun collection of grind-grabs, big drops, dope thrift store outfits, and our favorite no comply flip trick ever. Whether one wants to enjoy it as just a great skate edit, or as the greatest skate edit from a woman is a matter of context. It holds up either way.
Despite the fact that all skate videos are, in a way, specialized music videos, it is still a risky proposition to attempt to make an actual skate music video. The most obvious precedent that comes to mind is Peter Smolik‘s ill-advised music video part featuring The Fedaralz in Shorty’s Guilty video. While not exactly career ending, it certainly is an embarrassing marker for the upcoming rugged descent that continues to scrape the real life pillage of rock bottom. The lesson is clear: Skate to the music, edit to the music, but don’t put the band in your part.
It happens sadly not enough, but every so often, that you will encounter something that, even as it is happening, is glorious and memorable. It might not be a life altering there-was-before-and-there-was-after thing (then again it might), but it is a piece of something that will be with you forever and you understand this even while it is unfolding right before you.
It can be an incredible meal or a day of river swimming or an art exhibition or a film or a skate session or even just a song. But you get just a quarter of the way through and it just know that this could be IT. But will it sustain? Will it deliver on the promise it has set up thus far? The longer it continues the higher the potential for things to go awry but the greater the joy when it doesn’t crack. Each step further can transport us even deeper; Or will the next step be a misstep? But it doesn’t collapse into something merely impressive. The magic preserves and when it is over you know you just participated in, if merely through witnessing, something sublime.
A celebrated legacy can be a real weight for a skateboarding board brand. Sure, it may sell a bunch of logo boards and provide a lot of material to dig into for possible reissues. But it can be a real anchor around the neck of your current riders. Or perhaps more of an invisibility cloak.
No matter how good you skate and how much charisma you exude, people’s memories of the brand are locked into some golden years and golden teams of the rose colored past. You’re likely to be judged that much harder for having the audacity to think your name belongs among the hallowed firmament.
Fred Gall doesn’t really seem to worry about the past too much. He is celebrated because his friends and fans celebrate him, not because he is a self-promoter. Even in the midsts of his present comeback (which feels like a beautifully collaborative happening with his New Jersey crew), Fred seems more interested in shining light on the spots he is skating than himself.
And so, until the next part comes, we end this fantastic voyage of Freddy. I saved the 2013 Thrasher retrospective, Dirts Win, for this final post. It’s a very solid celebration of the career of Fred up to that point and even features a few never-before seen tricks and angles. Plus Brian Wenning chilling on the stoop in sweatpants. I asked Fred who made this video and he told me, “Dude. I think Brennan [Conroy] might have made that cuz I don’t know who else would have.”
Fred Gall and friends (specifically Joe Dorsi) started Domestics as a skate shop at some point in the early years of the 21st century in Carteret, New Jersey. Finding more success with making clothing (and not properly zoned for clothing production at the shop), it eventually moved to a warehouse where it continues churning out screenprinted shirts and hand-sewn jackets, bags, and other soft goods to this day, made right here in the US of A; Including the Fred Gall Signature Lightweight Work Pants. They also make pandemic face masks. In 2013, they released a little Fred Gall promo part. It’s pretty badass.
It’s got some all-time Freddy moments in there like the kickflip backside noseblunt to backside revert, a dump truck into a dump truck, and a heavy gap into bank ollie in front of a dozen mesmerized Cambodians. And I bet you missed that crustition fakie kickflip.
Most monumentally, Freddy takes things up a notch at his hometown Metropark narrow street quarter pipe thing, a spot he has been continually fucking up for a while now, with a this beauty:
Fred talked about the origin of the name ‘Domestics’ in a 2008 Thrasher interview: “There was this bar next to my mom’s house when I was 18, and I would go and drink beers in there. I would order Budweiser by telling the bartender, ‘I’ll have another Domestic.’ I got kicked out of there so many times, but I lived next door so I would put on costumes and go back in there. I’d dress up as different factory workers.“
Habitat also released Search the Horizon in 2013. Not a bad video, but very much focused on the newer riders like Al Davis, DeLa Torre, and Mark Suciu. Freddy only had 3 tricks.
A few months before the release of Search the Horizon, Pacific Vector Holding Inc. had bought a controlling share in the DNA brands: Alien Workshop, Habitat, and Reflex bearings. Within a year they would be dismantling it. This, along with a lot of highly publicized departures, led to the temporary end of Alien. But Habitat, thanks to a lot of Castrucci efforts and a short-lived distribution deal with Tum Yeto, kept itself more-or-less together. Fred stayed on the team, but found his role being diminished. As Kerry Getz and Tim O’Conner would fade into retirement, now Gall would not only be the last of the 1990s Alien Team to remain, but the final member of the original Habitat line-up still standing.
Fred, like so many skateboarders before him (and along with him (and also in the future)), lost a lot of productivity down the black hole of the NYC party scene around this time. Somewhere in the haze he found himself spending a brief amount of time locked up, a brief amount of time being married, finding a job in the construction industry, helping build the Shorty’s Place DIY park, and skating regularly in front of Andrew Petillo’s lens.
Which leads us to our (almost) final Fred Gall part (for now). A two and a half minute promo for his new wheel with OJs, released in 2015, called, logically enough, Freddy Gall for OJ Wheels!
As has become the trend, several tricks in this part were seen before. Regardless, the part itself still holds up pretty well. 82% of the tricks are on crust, 24% are wallrides, and 52% are on some kind of transition. A couple of key moments would be the backside 270 ollie nosepick to 270 revert out, the hefty quarter to quarter frontside flip, and the 1-2 punch of the gap to frontside tailslide on the banked ledge followed by a quickie hippie jump.
But wait, there’s more… I just learned that in late 2015 Freddy shared a part with Al Davis and DeLa in John Valenti‘s Local Express video. John’s filming is always impeccable, and Fred, as usual, destroys some banked ledges from both stances.
Bonus Fred: Fred Gall tours the Domestics warehouse and talks about spots in this early video from Jenkem:
Bonus Bonus Fred: In Search the Horizon, Mark Suciu did a little homage to the master…
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: The Scum League, sponsored by OJ Wheels, returned to a rain-soaked Shorty’s Place in 2013.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Now you can learn to patch spots with as much skill and craftsmanship as master bondo artisan Fred Gall in this 2014 Jenkem instructional video:
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Some Thrasher content featuring Freddy’s First Look at the mag from 2013. Some great moments here such as Freddy pining for Geoff Rowley’s Vans’ paycheck, giving ex-teammate Austin Gillette some sass, affectionately calling Dylan a “ladyboy”, and counting stairs like a skate rat.
Check back in the Warm Up Zone cause we ain’t done. Uncle Freddy hasn’t released a ‘part’ since 2015, but he hasn’t been silent either. We still have plenty more Fred to ponder including the dark years that culminated with whatever the fuck it was that happened at Bam’s, our hero gets sober and then gets busy, and Freddy tells us what he his cooking up for the future.
For Fred Gall, 2012 was a year of unrewarded efforts, times of trouble, but also some of the most selfless actions imaginable. It the year Uncle Freddy went from skater we love to folk hero skate legend. It all starts when Fred and NJ Scum, thinking some exotic spots might give Fred a fighting chance to take home some cash in ESPN X-Games Real Street challenge, head to Cambodia.
Freddy delivered a decent part for Real Street, indeed encompassing some colorful spots along with the crusty ditches, crumbling pools, and highway underpass wallride lines we have come to rely on him for. It even has that excellent roll-in at Ogden Bank to Ledge in NYC where Fred is rocking the cornrows.
Alas, Freddy did not win X-Games Real Street that year; But he did achieve enough karmic credit to counterbalance his hedonistic lifestyle several times over when he saved a bunch of Buddhist monks from their burning monastery. This true story is absolutely incredible, and one of several occasions Freddy has literally saved the lives of strangers. Rob Brink wrote a decent article about it for ESPN. There are photos and video footage if you have any doubts. The whole tale is just beyond epic, yet everybody who knows Fred and has commented about these heroic actions all say the same thing: this is just the type of person he is.
In addition to acts of gallantry and ESPN, 2012 saw Fred spend some time dealing with some legal troubles. Hear him narrate NSFW jailhouse tales of terror in his Brick Harbor online skate shop part, Fred Gall, Sober?
If you’re having trouble following what shop Freddy represents, let him explain, at length, from a recent discussion: “NJ Skateshop. And I rep Orchard and Seasons too.” So rather than this part being a shop-sponsor announcement thing, it seems like Freddy just stopped by the Brick Harbor offices with some prison stories and a fresh mix of NJ Scum clips to share. Not too much here we haven’t seen before in some variation, but the stylish bs 5-0 bs 180 out and the crooked grind to fakie over the stairs in a pool are worth note. Freddy also swallows a raw egg.
Bonus Fred: Vindication! The Nut Daily News reports: Freddy wins Real Street 2018. “To the dismay of his fellow contestants, Fred was neither asked to join, nor did he submit any footage that could even be judged.”
Bonus Bonus Fred: There is a little bit of footage of Fred in the burning building.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Towards the end of 2012, Street League Skateboarding held its Super Crown Championships in Newark, New Jersey. Somehow Freddy and his misfit team of crusters got on the course after hosting their own “Scum League” event at the Shorty’s Place facility in scenic Paterson, NJ.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Fred’s fun Enthuse Your Curbiasm video for Indy. It features that curb from Granny’s that Fred still has, and a Chucky doll, so I can finally post this Fred vs. Chucky photo I found on some Instagram account somewhere but I can’t remember where.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Fred Gall ‘n the trenches’ for his clothing company, Domestics.
The crazy soup that is Uncle Freddy‘s skate footage got real thick as the new decade arrived in 2010 and 2011. Fred dropped no less than four parts in the span of about 16 months in that frame, so one can be excused for getting them mixed up. It can all become a blur of sweat and crust. If you can keep your head together through it all, some of these tricks rank up there up as Fred’s most stylish.
In the first week of 2011, Lowcard Magazine did an online vote to declare the Worst Skater of the Year for 2010 and our boy Freddy took the crown (Dan Drehobl was runner up). As far as we know, another WSOTY has never been proclaimed.
The WSOTY video by NJ Scum has some great tricks amongst the dry heaves and snot rockets. Fred frontside wallrides a chainlink fence, bluntslides a handrail, and gaps into backside lipslides. Of the 15 clips of ‘Fred-Smashing-Stuff’ in his career (and this includes him blowing things up with explosives), the switch beer bottle jam ollie to bottle stomp is king. Overall, Lowcard’s video is some grade-A Gall.
It is also worth noting that this WSOTY video is a single skater internet part that was released less than two months after P-Rod’s Me Myself and I part. So, yeah, Freddy also was one of the innovators of the modern internet part and how we presently consume modern skate media content.
A few months before this Freddy had a similar part in Habitat’s Origin DVD. I say similar because the intersection of Origin to WSOTY is near total. Not including ‘lifestyle’ clips of dumptrucks-into-the-river or machete Freddy, there are only 3 tricks in Origin that we haven’t already seen in Lowcard’s vid above.
Habitat did, however, do a little 20-year anniversary celebrating with Freddy in 2011 by posting all of his ads with AWS and Habitat up until that point online (since taken down) and a commemorative Hell on Earth deck. They damn well better do something big for his the 30th anniversary in 2021.
I guess technically Origin was both earlier than WSOTY and confined to a physical disc rather than the net, so the overlap is understandable. I guess these two videos, featuring nearly the same footage, are a solid marker of Freddy starting to fall solidly into his own aesthetic rather than Castrucci’s vision. Origin is still worth a view if only for the frontside 50-50 on a kinked rail at 0:42.
Unfortunately for Fred (and for hippie skaters everywhere), his shoe sponsor, Ipath was sold by then-owners Timberland (who by all accounts seemed to be decent bosses) right around this time, and the shoe brand’s decline towards dissolution began. With a team video by Thad Croskey almost finished, the new majority stakeholders had just cut most the team and weren’t interested in releasing a video to promote the brand. While Freddy made the cut and continued to be sponsored and even had signature shoes on Ipath for another couple of years, by all standards it was a slowly sinking ship. The skate trips to exotic lands were over. Thad jumped ship in solidarity with all the cut riders and they pooled resources to bring the world The Other Ones as a ‘vigilante style’ independent release in 2011. If you ever wanted to watch Fred Gall skate to country music, here you go:
Clocking in at 4 minutes long, this is Freddy’s second-longest (non-retrospective) part, although some of the footage gets reused here from previous parts or again in later parts (yes, we see that ledge ride to handrail fs lipslide in at least 3 different videos). It’s got plenty of interesting spots, both of the crusty curved and street variety. In fact, nearly 25% of the tricks in this part are ledge tricks. Not bad and not what exactly one would expect of Fred during this time.
Some of the highlights include a tasty slow-motion frontside flip on a giant brick cone, a backside kickflip to tail to revert on a cobblestone street volcano, the retro line featuring a nollie backside flip and switch crooks to regular, and Fred shouting “I made it alive!” after surviving a monumental ollie into a ditch. You can see a 60p version of The Other Ones here. Freddy’s part starts around 21:00.
Rounding out the year 2011 is a dual shared shop part with Steve Durante for Orchard and/or Seasons skate shop. Apparently they put out a collaborative wheel and have open relationships with their riders. Again, some deja vu footage from NJ Scum since everyone wanted in on that sweet Jersey VX1000 action. This cut also has some gems like a straight up rooftop gap kickflip, a rarified nose manual trick, and Freddy skating a pool wearing a gas-powered leaf blower. If you ever wanted to watch Fred Gall skating to the Misfits, here you go:
Bonus Fred: Lowcard made a handful of episodes of Fred Gall Show around the time they crowned him Worst Skater of the Year. It’s basically just a buzzed Uncle Freddy with a swollen face yelling into a beer can microphone while he ‘interviews’ the likes of Bobby Worrest, Pat Duffy, the Daggers, John Falahee from New School, Jeff Pang, Steve Rodriguez, and other randos.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Our hero gives Ryan Sheckler a run for his money in a high-stakes game of skate in 2011.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Story time with Uncle Freddy for some Brazilian website called Rettaskate, or something, I don’t know there is a lot of random stuff out there with Fred and it can be hard to figure out who did what and why. I find this one funny, though.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Freddy and Pat Duffy sort of talk about Recs and Primus and other things in this video from sponsorme.com (what the fuck were all these websites?). Worth a watch just just to hear Fred deliver the quote: “What, do I gotta buy some shit to skate your spot? I’ll do it.“
In 2009, while on an Ipath tour to Bangkok, Thailand, Fred Gall did a wallride on a moving bus. Not inside a bus that was moving, but on the outside off the loading platform. Each attempt required gauging the speed, distance from the platform, and landing, as well timing the bus as it drove by. Other than the occasional skitch, almost all other ‘moving vehicle’ tricks before or since have involved a high level of coordination with the driver of the vehicle. Correct me if you know better, but nothing even close to it was attempted until Tyshawn boardslid a moving construction vehicle a decade later. Fred got as raw street as possible in a foreign country. It’s fucked up and awesome.
I first heard about it in a Boil the Ocean post that referenced a Skateboard Mag article. When I talked to Freddy about the All the Gall project, the conversation inevitably went there: “People were flipping out. I would hit the bus and the bus would stop, every time. The bus driver would get out and yell at me. Or I would just skate away. And like, that went on for like, over an hour. And I had to wait for one that wasn’t going too fast and it was really hard to judge. I landed a couple of times with like just my feet on the bus and got really fucking spun around and shit.“
A little investigating and one can find this amazing photo by Matt Price. Matt was a photographer for the Skateboard Mag at the time and there to document the exotic Ipath trip, which had become a somewhat annual thing. This picture was a full page in that magazine article. He also published it and a few others from the ‘session’ in his Golden Hour zine #2 (dedicated entirely to Fred Gall, get yours here). Quartersnacks did a little movie poster parody from the photo.
I reached out to Matt for his thoughts on the whole bus fiasco and he did me one better; He contributed some high-res outtake photos of the event for this All the Gall event. Gorge yourself on these:
Thad Croskey, who was filming for Ipath during those years, gave me some insights on the event. “It was just crazy he even saw that spot and was like, ‘I wanna wallride a moving bus off this platform to the street.‘ Fuckin Fred man.” So Fred waited until the final days of the trip to get his attempts in “…you know, in case he died.” He spent the better part of one evening waiting for the right bus going the right speed (with a little help from TM Ohio Dave running interference) for each attempt. At the urging of his cohorts, Fred put his efforts into cavemanning into the ride. Despite nearly loosing his leg into a wheel-well and an arm in an open window, he got a land. This is the session with the purple Domestics shirt.
The next evening he returned (wearing a brown shirt) determined to straight up ollie into a wallride. After some hairball attempts and some very angry bus drivers, cooler heads prevailed and Fred walked away hoping to get it on next year’s Ipath trip. As discussed, Ipath changed ownership before another Thailand trip could happen, and their busses have remained free from Freddy’s scuff-marks since. But Fred is still hopeful for a make. When I spoke to him recently, he told me, “Dude, I want to go back there and get that. It’s insane.“
But what of the footage? Fred tell us, “There’s footage of me cavemanning into it and making it. But there is no footage of the actual make of the ollie into it.” I asked Matt Price, and Matt connected me with Thad. With only a polite request to prompt him, Thad dug deep into old hard drives and emerged with the goods. I want to emphasize that both Matt and Thad got zero compensation for their generous sharing. They all contributed for the love of skateboarding and Freddy.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Frederick J Gall busride footage:
So what did happened to the footage? Why have we not seen this before now? Thad reveals, “The [Ipath] video was 95% VX footage and I was trying to keep it as much VX as possible. Plus he was thinking of going back to ollie on to it, so we didn’t want to put that footage out right away in case he went back.”
Bonus Fred: Thad also gives us a little sampling of the shit Freddy and friends were dealing with on that second day of attempts.
Bonus Bonus Fred: If all this amazingness isn’t enough bonus enough for you, here is Freddy talking about his 1994 Thrasher cover in some 2009 online content. These were the types of ‘internet exclusive’ videos on thrashermagazine.com before the game changed the following decade.