And so it was that in the year 2022 we witnessed the return on Frederick J Gall.
Over the 30 years since his skate video debut in 1991, through the streets of Philly, on magazine covers, through destroyed rooms in Spain, in burning buildings in Cambodia, on moving buses in Thailand, and back home in Jersey, Freddy somehow survived. As his cohorts dropped out of skateboarding’s gaze and the signature decks became less frequent and the hours got filled with day job tasks, Freddy just kept pouring concrete and riding.
Then, on July 29th, Spiritual Healing dropped. Fred full-on delivered.
In 2021, all of Fred Gall‘s hard work started to bear fruit. While we went a whole year without seeing that part we’ve been promised, he was far from being silent. Freddy continued to stay “sober” (the kind of sober that includes smoking reefer, which we’ll take), continued furiously skating with friends in the New Jersey area, and continued pouring a bunch of concrete not just in his back yard but also under a nearby bridge and really all over New Jersey.
Habitat’s Mosaic video from 2003 is just cram-jammed with memorable sections… Renaud’s opener, the last legitimate efforts from Steve Berra, Dill’s 3 song banger, Poppalardo, Janoski, Garcia, and so on. One could be forgiven for not taking notice of Fred Gall tucked in there towards the beginning.
But isolated from the rest of the video and taken within the context of his entire oeuvre, Mosaic finds Freddy reinvigorated after an unproductive spell and finding his comfort zone. Some soon-to-be regular East Coast spots make their appearance, such as that bench-ledge between the brick banks or that crazy narrow street-quarter piece of architecture. There is plenty of time spent on walls and on curved concrete, plus a smattering of prime Barcelona spots.
Some favorite segments from this part would be the opening flatground backside 360 line, that line that has Freddy looking like Weird Al that features both a fakie heelflip and a switch varial flip down stairs, and that sweet gap kickflip into a tiny banked wall. Honestly, put this part to some heavier music and it would hold its own towards the top of the heap.
Two years later, in 2005, when Asbury Park New Jersey skate company Metal Skateboards released its video Decade of Destruction, Freddy had evolved into the fully actualized skateboarder he was meant to be. He was still pro for Habitat at that time, and Habitat and Metal would occasionally team up, but Freddy had been collaborating with lifelong pal and Metal boss Lou Cuccaro for at least – well – a decade, and this familiarity seems to shine. Surrounded by friends, family, and the roughhewn terrain of the Tri-State area, Fred Gall was presented as the skater he was destined to become. The Dirt is undeniable.
The actual skating isn’t all that different between Mosaic and Metal. Freddy still busts out the switch ledge skills and varial heels. Yet it feels as though he had found his new voice in the cracked pools and shitty banks of his home turf. A voice that would sustain him indefinitely. Habitat was always a very polished brand and Freddy was not designed to be a clean skateboarder, at least not any more. Metal Skateboards understood that. With this new taste for crust, Freddy would no longer just be known for the tricks; He would known for the spots. Another thing he would be known for, occasionally to his own detriment, was his oft-intoxicated carefree attitude. Where Freddy went, the party followed, frequently accompanied by property destruction, arrest warrants, holding cells, and unpaid penalties.
Decade of Destruction, Freddy’s longest part up to this point at 3:40, is golden. It’s got Black Sabbath. It’s got shirtless Freddy skating pools. It’s got Freddy pushing through ditches. It’s got Freddy launching off that street-quarter thing to backside tailslide on a cafe table at night. It’s got backside 360s over gaps made of rubble. It’s got Freddy’s footage from not one but two Slap magazine covers (plus this). Does Freddy do a hippy jump with his long hair flowing while holding and open bottle of beer? Damn right, he does. Metal is still around (quarter-century of destruction?) and produces the Brebick cop shirt. Brebick is the Fred’s childhood doppelgänger who lives in the mirror. There are still some DVDs of Decade of Destruction available.
Bonus Fred: “I had one smith grind ever in my entire life. It was a back smith down the Phoenix Hubba and it was in a Habitat tour section of a video or something.“ It took some doing, but we found it in the “TriSect Tour” section of 411 #58 from 2003.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Habitat’s Regal Road video also came out in 2005 along with the Kalis in Mono Jammie. Freddy’s got some good stuff in there. Rather than embed the whole video here, I’ll just loop the best timed 360flip ever recorded. I’ve got eyewitness confirmation from South Bank that the hooligan in the gray hoodie was knocked out by that step stool just seconds after this clip ends. Typical Fred, grinning and having a good time skating through the dark side.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Listen to Tim O’Connor‘s commentary of Freddy’s Mosaic part. If you find Tim funny, then this is pretty funny. If you don’t find Tim funny, then this is most definitely not funny.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Some more Gall in Ipath’s Summer Preview from 2005. Freddy had finally landed a somewhat steady shoe sponsor at this time in Ipath. They would eventually release some signature shoes for him, but we’ll get into those another time.