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.
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.
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.“