It’s easy, and usually totally appropriate, to celebrate the good in somebody once they are gone. In death, we remember their best qualities and finest moments. We can speculate on the great things that were to come but now won’t happen without having to face the reality that most of our heroes shine much less brightly through their second and third acts. It is safe to say that, while an early demise is always tragic, some legacies clearly benefit from ending before they can be diluted.
Keith Hufnagel‘s recent death after a private battle with brain cancer that lasted several years requires no selective retrospective. His life, his interactions, and his career(s) were simply all good. Unlike others in the skate-sphere who have passed away, where we have to choose to ignore some of their less savory moments and celebrate their skills and contributions in skateboarding while looking away from their less admirable sides, or having to face the question that if they had somehow altered a couple of decisions they would still be with us. There is none of that. Huf ruled on and off the board.
To be fair, if we are indeed going to account for All the Gall, we should consider the bright but brief blowtorch of a career from Alex ‘Trainwreck’ Gall (no relation to Fred). It won’t take long, for his legacy was built on the weight of just 2 full parts. With such a strong impact made so quickly, only to disappear so completely, Trainwreck’s career path has become the archetype of the explode then vanish what-ever-happened-to skater.
As awesome of a nickname as he posses, Alex Gall didn’t earn it from his aggressive skateboarding or monumental slams. He got literally hit by a train as a child. His skating wasn’t on any radars at all as he grew up and he emerged fully formed as a ball of destruction in his Jamie Thomas produced Wheels of Fortune part in 411 #39 from 2000. He went pro for Zero not too long after, but quit the team while on a trip to New York, thusly never having that Zero part you swore he did.
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.”
With Habitat reunited to Alien Workshop and rebuilding on the backs of SOTY Silas Baxter-Neal and SOTY contender Mark Suciu, Freddy found himself relatively out of the spotlight for an extended period of years here. He might have been down, but he certainly wasn’t out. Habitat released boards with his name on them here and there, but he was seemingly being transferred to unspoken ‘Legacy’ status, where the respect is high but the pay is low. “I got bummed out, too, because Habitat, when it got sold and all that shit happened I kinda lost my place, you know what I mean. I was like ‘Fuck, I gotta get a job now.’“
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.
It is just so easy to lose hours or even days going down the internet rabbit hole in the name of research. Looking for that long lost skate graphic or trying to confirm who filmed that clip. And with the bottomless skate video machine that is the internet, you can believe that for every word I’ve typed here at least ten minutes was wasted consuming ephemeral content in the name of skate history.
But occasionally our meandering minds stumble upon pure fucking gold and one wonders how such a shiny piece of treasure has been hidden all these years. Such is the case with Fred Gall‘s part in the 2009 Frontside Skate Shop video Pasado Presente Futuro.
As far as I can tell, Frontside uploaded this video to Vimeo within a year of its release over a decade ago and (as of this writing) it has only been viewed 2085 times. And at least 20 of those are me! For a comparison, the Nine Club Experience episode where Freddy facetimes in for a few minutes has been viewed over 36 thousand times in just 2 years.
Now, this part isn’t just throwaway excess from some trip to South America. In addition to what I assume are clips of Fred skating spots that are local to the shop and some demos, this part is chock full of never before seen US of A footage, some dating from all the way back in 2003. There’s Pyramid Ledges footage here and wallride variations from that Mosaic opener spot. So how did a skateshop in Medellin, Colombia get all this gold?
Fred recalls: “My boy Hector from Colombia started a skate shop there. And my boy Don La from Jersey is Colombian, so that’s where that connection came. And then Hector came and stayed with us, and then me an Tim O’ where like ‘yo we gotta go to Colombia and skate.’ So we went to Colombia. We paid for ourselves. And we were like, holy shit, this place it rad. And we went back a little while later to do a Slap article. So that’s how that came about. We had Brennan [Conroy, Habitat videographer] with us. So that shit should have made it somewhere but I guess it didn’t.”
Snooping around on Instagram, it became clear that Frontside is a force in South American skateboarding and has been a regular stop for Freddy, the Habitat team, and lots of other professionals for a while now. A side note that Frontside, despite being from his hometown, does not seem to have any association with David Gonzales.
Pasado Presente Futuro video gives us a lot of the Freddy you didn’t know you needed until just now. Freddy ollies from the wall into the Brooklyn Banks again, but now that fence is there and it is filmed long lens. Freddy bombs into traffic switch. Freddy with the stalefish grab at a demo. Freddy switch frontside 180ing into a wallride down steps. The only filmed Fred Gall nollie 360flip in existence. Freddy skating to Kool Keith and Ultramagnetic MCs. And then this:
Pasado Presente Futuro is a gift for us Freddy fanatics. I hope you enjoy it as much as I continue to. If you find yourself in Colombia, tell Hector “Gracias” from us here in the Warm Up Zone.
Bonus Fred: You can watch the Freddy and Friends Frontside part in higher quality on Instagram here. Interesting to note that with the help of Google translate it seems while the release of the Frontside video was 2009, most of this footage was filmed in 2004. Here is a picture of when Fred Gall, practicante de skate, was in a Colombian newspaper in 2004:
Bonus Bonus Fred: I was going to delve into the whole moving-bus-wallride thing here, as that also went down in 2009, but let’s save that for next time. In the meanwhile, here is a picture (again from the Frontside IG) of Freddy holding a jar of Juan Valdez coffee wearing a Rodeo Time hat and a Hewlett-Packard parody shirt that says “Son of a Bitch”.