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.
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”.
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”.
Habitat took the successful formula laid down a few years prior with the Metal video, turned up the volume, added some world travel, animated graphics, and footage of stuff being broken and gave us Fred Gall’s 5 minute magnum opus in Inhabitants.
(Ignoring the Classics introduction) The video starts on a quiet afternoon in New Jersey with a broken television and a M80. Black Sabbath introduces us to Freddy in his various elements: in the train yards, trying to skate collapsing piles of debris, breaking fingers, and traipsing through ruined abodes. And with a quick acknowledgement to him being a Sect Original, we’re off.
This part sets a lot of high water marks for Freddy’s career. It has:
The most number of tricks: 68
The most number of lines: 8
The most number of wallrides: 10
The most number of ledge tricks: 25
The most number of flip tricks: 15
We are getting the full arsenal on display here. Alongside all the pretty Barcelona architecture we have plenty of crust, some skatable construction site objects, window wallrides, and a fucking big flip disaster in a pool! Big nollies, shove-its out of bluntslides and into wallrides, and my favorite Fred Gall trick of all time… this thing:
I reached out to Freddy to get the lowdown on the Peace and Unity Go Hand in Hand blunt 180 transfer to grind down on the world greatest street spine and here is what he told me: “That grind was a full accident. But I landed it and was like ‘yo, I just grinded’. Fuck it, we’ll use it anyway.“
One can go on and on about Fred Gall in Inhabitants, but, seriously, just watch it. It’s Freddy’s favorite part of himself. And, most importantly, it makes you want to go out and skate whatever terrain you can find.
While Freddy might not ever again match Inhabitants in term of quantity or diversity of tricks, his video output was far from declining. Coming up, we have at least 14 more parts released over the next 8 years to contemplate, and I’m not even talking about any of those Habitat Field Logs.
Bonus Fred: While watching the Inhabitants DVD, if you hit play while Fred’s name appears at the beginning of his part you get access to this nostalgic edit featuring the best tricks of the Philly years.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Oliver Barton talks about this fabulous Fred photo from 2007 in a 2014 Transworld Photographic Memory feature.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Freddy was on the cover of Skateboarder magazine in 2008. It was hard to find a decent scan of it but I did dig up this picture (of apparently Ecko Unlimited’s copy) off the social medias.
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.
Before we contemplate the birth of Habitat, Mr. Dibbs, and how it feels to skate New York City with one pant leg rolled up, let’s catch up with historic Fred Gall to see what he has been up to since our last episode. First, we contemplate Fred’s 7 clips from Transworld‘s 1997 video, Interface. While this video was released the same year as Alien Workshop‘s Timecode video, it is a much more contemporary look at the style Freddy would be rocking for the late 90s. Although just 10 tricks, it features a few weighty moves like the varial heelflip over the Brooklyn Banks wall and the ultra tech switch shove nosegrind to fakie shove out.
The dust had barely settled on the grey VHS tape that is Timecode before things started to shift. Lennie Kirk quickly slipped through the looking glass of militant Christianity and off the pro skating landscape and, significantly, Jason Dill and AVE joined the Sect. Most importantly to Freddy’s career, Alien hired a new video and team guy name Joe Castrucci, and the first order of business was to make a 411 Industry Section. By the time 1998 was in full swing, Freddy had more or less detached himself from the Philadelphia scene and, when not touring with the Alien team, concentrated his attack on the New York / New Jersey area. His hair was long and tied up, his pants were baggy and cargoed, and for some reason all his footage was in black and white in that segment.
Freddy and the AWS team immediately started filming for their next full length video following the 411 section. But by the time Y2K rolled around, a new team had formed around Castrucci’s vintage tourism aesthetic, a trio of East Coast professionals, a couple of future stars in Danny Garcia and Mark Appleyard, and the heir to the dirty Jersey ledge crown… young Brian Wenning. Also Rob Pluhowski. Fred Gall was the human link from the old Workshop to this new team.
But before we get into all that, once again peep Freddy’s 3 New York tricks in Zoo York’s Peep This video from 1999 (as seen in our All the Gall intro post).
Habitat was introduced with its own cohesive 12-minute segment in the middle of Alien Workshop’s monumental Photosynthesis in the year 2000 (runner-up for the unofficial greatest skate video of all time competition); And Freddy’s got a solid minute and a half in there. His part displays a skater within a transformation, perhaps not yet quite finding his lane entirely. Timecode-era teenage Fred was gone and the Mayor of Dirts had yet to arrive.
The stock Gall tricks are all kicked up a notch: The switch 180s to 5-0 grinds are on a handrail in a line. The backside 5-0 to backside 180 out is taken to Los Angeles’ famous J-Kwon gap to ledge. A full 2/3rds of his tricks are switch. We see one of the first filmed wallrides of Fred’s career and it’s a doozy – kickflip to backside at the Brooklyn Banks – good enough to get Fred his only Transworld cover. We even get a pair or rare glimpses at Fred’s badass nollie hardflip [see the triple-bonus note below]. The level of competition from the rest of the team is intense, but Fred holds his own. And unlike his parts in Timecode and 411 #30, the Photosynthesis footage felt cohesive within itself and the rest of the video. The days of just gathering whatever clips could be found from friends was over… for now.
On the clothing side of things we witness some of his more memorable/forgettable kits: Cinched up baggie pants and lots of yellow t-shirts. Fred seems to be dabbling into fresh territory and it just doesn’t suit him, in my opinion. It does make footage of this era distinct and easy to spot when later sliced into retrospectives and such; It is definitely ‘of the era’.
Fred has admitted to not stepping up and pushing his potential during the years immediately before and after Photosynthesis. Those were times when big money was to be made in the skate industry and a few short-sighted decisions for quick cash in the shoe game along with a generally laid back attitude towards his career kept him from those true superstar paychecks. Fred Gall, of course, is not big on regret. And while he might not have won the Y2K shoe sponsor sweepstakes, how many professionals can claim a single board sponsor for 30 years?
Bonus Fred: If you ever wanted to bask in the warming glow that is new millennium Fred Gall fucking up the Venice pit ledges switch stance with his cargo pants cinched up, today is your lucky day cause that is precisely what happens in Danny Minnick’s 2001 Collage video.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Digging deep into Quartersnacks using the command-F function unearthed this Jim Hodgson footage from a 1998 Vans Triple Crown contest from Asbury Park, New Jersey. The video starts with 20-year-old Freddy dropping in off the top turnbuckle and the entire run is excellent. Fat stalefish airs, steep varial heelflips to fakie, and a nollie hardflip on the flat bank. Further research shows Willy Santos won the contest (of course) and Freddy didn’t even place in the top ten.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: I asked the man if he still has nollie hardflips, a trick we shan’t see again after Photosynthesis. He told me, “Thats another one that I can still do. I don’t know. I haven’t done that one in a while but I know I can do it.“
Alien Workshop knew exactly how to package and present teenage Fred Gall and his part in Timecode is a brilliant mess that set the template for his next couple decades of parts. Black Sabbath, locomotives, beanies over the eyes, heaved flatground 360 flips and large drops into embankments will all become standards. While the spots might not be as crusty as future episodes, the aesthetic of the part is grimy enough.
The clips are often dark and filmed terribly, sometimes the result of LSD on both the skater and filmer’s part. The footage was pieced together from several years of clips scattered from various sources but the product is cohesive. Fred is blurred but powerful, having graduated from the crisp bright ledges of Love Park to the dimly lit nighttime streets of cities nationwide. Freddy ollies onto parked cars, nearly gets clipped while bombing hills in SF, and utterly destroys Hubba Hideout. Only one of his three Brooklyn Banks tricks is your typical over-the-wall affair. The opening line is mostly just ollies and pushing in Philadelphia’s Underground and it fucking rules! Listen to Fred talk about the tricks he filmed that got lost (at around 12:55)… tricks that couldn’t be replicated without psychedelics. I’ll be referencing this Bobshirt interview a lot, to be sure.
When I asked Fred what the greatest trick of his career was, he responded: “The tricks I did on the Hubba Hideout were really important. So I guess maybe the switch crook was my favorite.“
As mentioned by Fred, it would be neat to see these tricks filmed clean and from multiple angles, but the way it is feels like an authentic reflection of Fred’s skating at the time: rugged, raw, and without pretension. It fits well.
Overall, Timecode presents a team in flux. The Workshop was wisely transitioning from its opening line-up of fading Florida bruisers and no-name laser-flippers to a team built around a still respected Dyrdek with Freddy, Josh Kalis, and the bright but brief flame of Lennie Kirk. This lineup would last another year before Joe Custrucci would take control and thing would enter their next phase. By 1999, Fred would star as the DNA brand continuity for that most successful Workshop spin-off, Habitat.
Bonus Fred: Fred had just a handful guest tricks in Dan Wolfe‘s 1996 masterpiece, Underachievers: Eastern Exposure 3. They were mostly slow-mo jams in the almost entirely slow-mo (and even the non-slow-mo was pretty slow) minute long part of (1 of 3 Ams) Jerry Fisher.
It is a real shame we didn’t get more of this era of Freddy being filmed by Wolfe. What we did get was the legendary Love Park ledge gap to flat rail 50-50. A trick that was great at the time and later revealed to be executed on a borrowed board not long after Fred had smoked crack from the first time. Moves like this, for better or worse, helped cement Fred’s status as a reckless party animal, a prophecy that would self-fulfill again and again throughout his career.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Although released in 1994, I group Fred’s peppering of footage in Thrasher’s Feats video with the Timecode era (plus, the last post already had so many bonuses). It is a real treat to get to see some extra San Francisco Gall.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Somebody uploaded some footage of the jump ramp at the Love Park contest in 1994. The backside flip in Feats was from this, and here is an obscene (in a good way) switch pop shove from that day. There is even more footage from this contest in 411 #9. Fred tied for 2nd place with Ricky.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: We’re all pining for more Fred footage from the 95-97 years: that sweet post-Philly Timecode era before he tied his hair up. Here’s some random demo in Australia from 1996:
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: I found another frame from this dope-ass 1995 session of Fred skating the Underground in Philly by Ryan Gee. Hell yes. This and lots of other amazing East Coast skate history prints are available from Gee here.
Tune in next time when Freddy rolls one pant leg up and helps launch Habitat, a team that he is still professional for to this day.
And then, in 1994, it all came together. Rather than simply crossing Newark Bay into New York City to skate, young Fred Gall started heading down into the city of Philadelphia. There, amongst the abundant stairs and ledges of such storied spots as City Hall, Muni, and Love Park, he thrived. Surrounded and elevated by a close cast of friends built around the Sub Zero skate shop that included Sergei Trudnowski, Matt Reason, Jerry Fisher, Eric Ruwadi, and mayor Ricky Oyola, Fred put himself in the vanguard with his switch-stance ledge skills, inebriated proficiencies, and slouching style. Amongst the constant training that was aggressively skating from spot to spot and an adherence to the unwritten code including pushing with your back foot when skating switch, Fred emerged as the skater to watch.
Fortunately for those wanting to watch, this entire scene was diligently documented by lensman Dan Wolfe and released throughout the year by way of several VHS videos. Let’s check them out. Please note that a lot of the footage from these three videos has been sliced and reedited into both the Eastern Exposure Zero video as well as Fred’s easter egg part hidden within the Inhabitants DVD.
First up we have Freddy’s Rookies section from 411 video magazine issue # 8. To announce his ascent into the pro rankings for Alien Workshop, Fred gives a sampling of what he at the time would be known for: Lots of switch and nollie ledge tricks around Philly, with an occasional handrail thrown in there. The part, like the Digable Planets song it is set to, is meandering and leisurely with a lot of casual lines. Not a bad thing, especially when you have an appreciation for the rarity of quality non-mongo switch pushes happening at the time. This part exudes “East Coast”ness with its spots and its pacing, which is significant considering how California-centric the whole skateboarding industry was at the time. The highlight of the part would be the City Hall line that features a nollie noseslide down a hubba, a 180 into a switch nosegrind on one of those amazing granite benches, and then a pedestrian buzzing switch 360 flip. This part also has Freddy giggling during his brief interview overdub and Jerry Fisher snuggling in bed with a cat, which is adorable. Not a legendary part, but a great overview of his talents and probably the most seen part released that year as the others were in much more regional (although now much more celebrated) videos.
Next up we take a look at Fred’s footage from Wolfe’s fabled Eastern Exposure 2 video. While the video is a smorgasbord of spots and skaters and Fred does have a trick here or there in other parts, the bulk of his tricks are grouped together between Serge and Reason in the Philadelphia section. Clocking at just a little over a minute, the footage, with only one exception, was filmed entirely at Philly’s Love Park and City Hall and scored by a frantic John Coltrane saxophone solo. With just a handful of sessions documented Fred again manhandles the area. The complete ambidextrous nature of the skating with fluidity and grace from both stances was novel for the time. We also get treated to some stair skating with Fred’s always solid but underutilized heelflip and a monster straight nollie.
My favorite clip of Eastern Exposure 2 is Fred’s opening line on the upper plaza at Love: backside flip, switch 5-0 180 out, the hairpin turn pushes, nollie nose slide, and then the only fakie 360 flip the Fred ever committed to video. That sequence with the front foot shuffle after landing the bs flip, two switch pushes, badass ledge trick and then Fred tucking his hair behind his ear while cutting the tight turn and heading back towards the camera has all the subtleties that make this just so emblematic of Fred Gall at this time. This is how every young skater on the East Coast, including me, wanted to skate.
I thought I had every scrap of Fred’s skating memorized from this time period, but, for the life of me I could not locate a single instance of a switch 50-50 grind. No photos neither. This seemed odd, as a switch 50 on a handrail in City Hall was famous enough to get mentioned specifically in Fred Gall’s amazing Chrome Ball interview. When I had the opportunity to speak to Freddy about the missing trick, he immediate pointed me in the right direction: “Its in Thrasher: On The Road. You will find that there. I have kinda a little part in there.“
And so he does, and there it is, along with some other Philly bits you might enjoy.
The pinnacle of Fred Gall’s amazing year was the final part of the Sub Zero shop video Real Life. While the other part of 1994 may have sampled the goods, this is the footage feast. Set to the unlikely soundtrack of the flute-filled summertime Canned Heat jam Going Up the Country, Real Life has Freddy savoring all that Philly splendor. Sticky handrails, those amazing Afro Banks lip tricks, a pair of street gaps, and well curated lines at all the notable plazas in the City of Brotherly Love.
This part features two incredibly pleasing heelflips: the quick footed up the bench to over the trashcan at Muni that would get homaged 19 years later by Habitat teammate Mark Suciu, and the mammoth Pulaski planter gap to end the part.
Memorably, Real Life gives us some bonus credits scenes of an intoxicated Fred and Ricky clowning around the late night streets of Philly after, apparently, about 8 beers. Just to be clear here, that’s a drunk 15 year old Fred Gall nollie frontside 180 to switch 5-0 grind a ledge in the dark, and it is amazing.
After 1994, Fred would slip off the video radar for a bit, traveling here and there with Alien Workshop, dropping out of school, dropping acid, shooting photos in SF for Slap magazine, and enjoying the life of a pro skater while not generally worrying about capturing every session on camera.
Bonus Fred: A pair sweet tricks including one of my favorites, the bs 180 to switch bs 5-0 on that SF ledge-rail, from the Chaos section of 411 #9.
Bonus Bonus Fred: Fred also had a Fine Tuning segment in 411 #9. While the literally phoned-in trick tip is worthless (as they always were back then), the footage of the straight-on backside noseblunt slide at Love is priceless.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Fred also had a trick tip in 411 #7 from early 94. It’s at 35:30… Whoops – looks like music copyrights got this thing taken down from Youtube. You can watch 411 #7 on the Transworld site for the moment.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Youtube user Skate Video Vault uploaded Sub Zero Real Life in its entirety, but somehow Fred’s part has the skate noise but no music. While I happen to love the Canned Heat track, it is interesting to see this part without music:
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Fred did a lot in 1994, so much so that some of the bonus bits will be grouped with the next episode. Or, as is the case here, I’l just keep updating this page with more bonuses. With that in mind, Fred won the Love Park contest in the “Sponsored” division (he wasn’t pro yet at the time) in the winter of 93/94. He talks about selling weed at this contest in his Bobshirt interview (around 5:00), and you can find the 411 #6contest footage here (around 23:50).