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.
As discussed previously and will surely be brought up again, Transworld Skateboarding was on quite tear there in the years surrounding the turn of the century. Releasing at least a video every year, often two, sometimes even three, and all of purchase-worthy quality. John Holland, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, and Ewan Bowman were locked in pretty tight through this time and a lot of future legends had a chance to build their legacies in the new digitally recorded video format. While these videos may have started as simply the video documentation of the tricks being photographed for interviews and contents pages, their importance in the preservation of skate heritage has, in most cases, surpassed the (now scanned) printed page.
These videos aren’t perfect. The mumbling intros are lucky to be forgotten. The insistence on using Atiba’s puttering attempts at electronic music for the closing credits is a continually wasted opportunity. The overenthusiastic editing and slow-motion can be a bit dated. But there is so much right about these videos it is easy to not concern oneself with these trifles. And take a look the VHS releases the competition was trying to sell around this time: Do you remember who skated in the Thrasher’s Go For Broke video? Neither do I.
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.“
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”.
The latter half of the first decade of the 21st century is fuzzy time in skateboard video history. It is after the decline in dominance of VHS tapes but before the birth of the stand-alone online part. Internet video content was mostly contest footage, tour edits, or Ask the Phelper. The real heavy tricks were saved for the few and far between DVD releases. Sure, we got some classics like Mind Field or Ride the Sky in that mix, but a great deal of decent parts have just been lost in the mist of shop videos, second tier video magazines, and low resolution uploads to early youtube.
It is in this fog that Fred Gall released part after part, about 2 every year for several years in a row. Freddy’s chief collaborators through this period were Habitat videographer Brennan Conroy and Andrew “NJ Scum” Petillo, who could be described as Fred’s primary filmer from Inhabitants onward. While Habitat would release plenty of Gall footage through a couple of videos and many, many internet ‘Field Log’ cuts, NJ Scum would bring us the majority of Fred footy sliced and diced into various projects.
Further exacerbating the blurring of all these parts is the fact many tricks are used twice (or even three times) in separate projects. Other times it is a different variation on a previously seen trick, or unrelated tricks at the same spots during the same session. While the overlap might not have been disorienting when these videos were being released with limited reach and and big enough gaps in between, but when one is surveying All the Gall consecutively, the results are a not-unpleasant haze of graffitied ditches, noseblunt stalls, and crusty frontside ollies. I’m not gonna lie, it was a bitch trying to log all these tricks for our statistical analysis of all these parts over at 4plymag (article coming soon). Just as we thought we had witnessed every drop in and yank out, a new part would pop-up from the aether featuring wonderful new footage with stuff I swear I had seen elsewhere… or had I? You will forgive me if I get confused. Such were the wondrous days of digital video before instagram let you post videos, not that shit got less hectic from there.
This whole odyssey of lesser known parts starts with a real treat: Thrasher magazine’s rarely mentioned 2008 video, Brutality, of which Freddy had the opening segment.
Clocking in at nearly 3 minutes and over 50 tricks, Brutality is the third longest part Freddy has made, which is saying something considering it came right on tail of his mighty efforts in Inhabitants. In fact, it is much more of a companion to 2005’s Decade of Destruction (of which it shares a couple of clips). And it certainly isn’t just Habitat leftovers. There are some sweet tidbits in here. We got a couple of pole jams, which is a surprisingly rare trick from Fred. That nose grab blunt to fakie on the parking garage bar is fucking crazy. Have you ever tried to skate one of those things?!? We also get the only Fred Gall Burnside clip ever released here, another oddity considering Fred is an honorary member of the “Nobodies” gang of local PNW Burnside toughs.
Also coming out in 2008 was Joe Perrin‘s full length Last of the Mohicans, a video that started out as just a made-up title for a non-existent project but eventually blossomed into a classic of New York skating. Freddy has a solid 90 seconds of footage as part of the first “Loose Cannons” montage. The whole video is tops.
Let’s round out this era of Freddy with Ipath’s 2009 Promo video. Around this time, as clear as I can tell, Ipath released the signature Gall Jersey Devil mid-tops. I have no recollection of this shoe, but maybe it was just me not inspecting the velcro-strap section of the footwear display closely.
The later-era of the Ipath team was pretty tight, featuring Matt Rodriguez, Adelmo, vagabond Kenny Reed, Danny Dicola, a few tricks from Richie Jackson, and a young Ben Raybourn. Fred’s gets his licks in with a rooftop backside 360, the wall-footplant-Sal-flip-to-fakie, and plenty of crust.
There was yet another full part by Freddy that was released in 2009, but that one is so special I’ve decided to wait until next episode to dig into it. Check back soon, you won’t regret it.
Bonus Fred: This 2-part ESPN.com interview with Freddy from 2009 is good. Read it before it gets lost to the internet black hole of dead links.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Searching around the web, I’ve found a grip of images of Fred’s Ipath shoes from 2009:
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: I also found some evidence of the Fred Gall Low Life shoe from a 2010 Ipath catalog PDF.
Heading even further down the rabbit hole, I found this image, also apparently from an Ipath catalog, on an old SLAP thread. It appears that the Gall Mid came equipped with Fred’s ‘personalized stash pocket’. The quote to go with this photo is a classic, but I really don’t see Freddy ever actually saying, “If you are smart and want street cred, buy my shoe…”
I don’t believe the Low Life or the updated Gall Mid ever got fully produced, and consequently Fred, and countless others, did get busted. Ipath switched ownership in 2010 and dropped a bunch of their team along with a nearly completed video. Fred did remain on Ipath into maybe 2013 when it fully died, and that video with another full Freddy part did get released eventually, but that is a tale for another time.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: The plot thickens: After I did a social media post about the Gall Ipath shoes, the good folks at Metal Skateboards clued me into the Derelict, Fred Gall’s low model that was around from maybe late 2010 into perhaps 2012. The 2011 Ipath catalog highlights that the Derelict features “…our advanced More Cushion for the Pushing footbed”.
The story up until now… Chris Joslin‘s amazing ability to flip his board down ungodly sized gaps is successfully kept under wraps by Plan B to then be unveiled in 2014’s True video. The part is amazing and distracts us completely from being ghosted by Danny Way, Colin McKay, and PJ Ladd (but good on Pat Duffy for actually riding a skateboard). However, with just a little digging in the crates, we discover that True wasn’t the first video part of Chris’ to be distributed via the world wide web. Witness entnies Welcome to the Team part from earlier and 2014, and then feast upon Chris’ section in the 2013 Bones Wheels’ New Ground video.
But did Plan B, Sheckler’s etnies, and Bones brand Wheels really discover this kid? Following this thread even further back in time, we unearth the young Joslin gem that is his big part in the independent 2012 Ground Control video. Here lies the Powell Peralta flow-years footage of a prodigy finding his footing and taking is park-honed skills into the streets.
Somewhere there may exist a miniDV tapes loaded up with a fearless child jumping transitions to flat at the El Dorado park, but the story gets interesting when a just barely teenage Chris Joslin begins to hit the streets with the older Cerritos Ground Control crew in 2010.
The crew had been gathering footage for over a year and a full length independent video was starting to form. The concept that would become Ground Control the video, along with a proficient line-up (featuring future names like Mike Piwowar and Jason Park), was getting locked in. But then Chris started filming tricks. Filmer/editor Ilja Maran recollects, “Chris was always so successful on every filming mission (usually landing HUGE tricks in 5 tries or less) so before long it was pretty obvious he would have last part. It wasn’t even a matter of who would end the video with the biggest trick. It was always just Chris with a heavy ender that he would keep out-doing.”
Ground Control sees Chris as a fuzzy-headed yet already well-rounded street skater with a penchant for shoving out of ledge tricks and all the standard rail tricks on lock. His potential is obvious and local shops like Gallery and Mad Wax provided the stepping stones of sponsorship, as is the natural order of things. And while Chris might have had eyes on bigger fish in the board sponsor ocean than Powell, he was appreciative of what they provided.
For the most part, this isn’t ‘little kid’ footage, especially as we approach some of the really big tricks in the final two minutes of the part. The familiar ‘bolts’ landing on the big sets that Chris would soon be famous for emerges.
Ilja talks about the final tricks: “One of my favorite clips with Chris is obviously the ender at House of Drops. We went to shoot the tre-flip late one day and he stuck every try for almost 30 minutes but it got too dark before he could get the rollaway… We went back the following weekend and he was NOT getting close at all. Then, magically, after 5 or 6 tries he rolls away from the first stick. It was unbelievably easy for him. He seemed so non-chalant about the massive tre so I thought, why not keep going? I think I said “I got you on lunch if you sw frontside flip it”. And again, of course… Flips a few not close at all.. Then BOOM perfect catch, perfect stomp. Rolls away after the first stick. That was honestly the most stoked I’ve ever been on filming a clip and probably ever will be. Not only was it the ender of the video it was a HUGE surprise to everyone who was at the premiere. Everyone assumed the tre-flip was the ender of the video because the whole crew knew he tried it but the sw frontside flip was our secret surprise. Me and Chris went on a small side mission for that ender.”
A tightened edit of the Ground Control would go on to win the Berric’s Younited Nations 3 contest, earning the entire cast (along with always fun Distreeto crew from Mexico) a weeklong trip to skate the Berrics, which perhaps gave Joslin the last little push he needed before he dropped the perfect stomp into the skateboard consciousness.
I had to do a little digging to find the edit of their session, and you will be shocked at who got the ender. A little side note: why would the Berrics not be preserving their old video edits? Besides some of the earliest Joslin footage, that Josiah Gatlyn Recruits was one of the few repeatable park edit parts and all we have is some low-res youtube upload. Get it together, Steve.
Thanks to Ilja Maran for giving me the insider’s view into the emergence of a unique talent. The whole Ground Control video is solid and has a unique aesthetic with a consistent long lens panning style to interconnect every trick. It’s an unconventional vision that takes a bit of habituation for a viewer to settle into the flow of this filming and editing style, but I find it eventually creates a sense of rhythm to the video that unites all the parts. I’m also a fan of the use of long-lenses for big tricks, and it delivers that in spades.
As with most independent videos, Ground Control was a passion project for the friends . A lot of independent filmers sacrifice their bank accounts and their bodies just to celebrate their local scene so don’t let their work get forgotten. You can follow Ilja on the ‘gram at @dead.pixels or check out his youtube channel to see the latest skate edits. His professional film work reel is over at fineprintfilms.com.