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New articles and content will be popping up exclusively on the new site and eventually I’ll have this WordPress site auto-redirect there.
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.
A lot has to come together to create this kind of transcendence that can’t be easily relayed or translated. It can happen with a skate edit, but it takes more than great tricks. It takes atmosphere, pacing, style, and sincerity. The spots, the song, the angles, the tricks, the b-roll, the references… if one beam slips the whole thing can collapse. But if somehow the delicate structure holds and everything overlays at the right place and time, it goes beyond something great. It connects in a way that is far beyond what we could ever expect from video of skateboarding .
For your consideration, Tom Knox in Jacob Harris’ Atlantic Drift 11.
Really, Tom Knox just did what he has always done, but somehow everything came together even better than usual and the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. Tom delivers all things we need and expect from him: the quick-footed rapid succession of tricks, the dreary London skies, the crustiest of weathered British spots. Probably more than anyone, Tom Knox knows how to construct a line and it shows. But we also get lots of smaller touches that stick with us: that quick backside powerslide after 360flipping into the little ramp (which was the 5th tricks of a 7 trick line), the look when he survives his nose inadvertently bonking a pole after a do-or-die kickflip into a head-high brick embankment, the clacking of wheels of the cracked tiles, the fact that Jacob Harris shows us glimpses of these spots soaked in rain water.
I would never recommend anybody put out a 10 minute part that is filmed more or less all in the same city. Hell, even such storied Marks as Suciu and Johnson had trims they could’ve made to their magnum opuses upon second viewing. I’ve now seen Atlantic Drift 11 at least a dozen times, and every time I am surprised by how short it feels. It’s a part that just absorbs you.
And it isn’t epic or joyous. And it doesn’t strive to portray melancholy or heroic triumph over adversity. It doesn’t feel over thought or over edited. Even the insider’s nods to Ben Reamers, younger siblings getting theirs, and video anniversaries feel easily paced and light handed. It is like Tom and Jacob put on some warm clothes, headed out into the damp morning air and just got to work making the most of a well worn city in a strange time. The video doesn’t try too hard, but it tries just hard enough.
Bonus Knox: Tom Knox (and Jacob Harris) also released a one minute NB shoes commercial a day or two before Atlantic Drift came out, and it is also very fun to watch:
Bonus Bonus Knox: The Thrasher interview that accompanies Atlantic Drift 11 is pretty good, and features some amazing photos by Henry Kingsford.
While 1990 may have been the year that street style skateboarding eclipsed vert in progression and relevance, and 1992 may have seen boards gets symmetrical while tricks got big and dangerous, but, by my analysis, 1994 was the year it all came together. Raw East Coast skating started to get is proper documentation with Dan Wolfe’s Eastern Exposure 2 and Sub Zero videos. Over in Southern California, heavy skate parts like Kris Markovich in Prime’s Fight Fire With Fire and new-to-Plan B Jeremy Wray in Second Hand Smoke added significant nails to the slow-rolling-prayer-flip-to-curb-grind-combo coffin. But arguably the video that made the biggest impact in skateboarding during that significant year was Stereo’s A Visual Sound.
Stereo Skateboards was started by Jason Lee and Chris ‘Dune’ Pastras (aged 21 and 19 at the time) in 1992 out of DLX Distribution in San Francisco after a false-start partnership with Vision’s Brad Dorfman called Blue. It was built around vintage Americana design principles, particularly that of Blue Note-era jazz record aesthetics and icons. In an era of acceptable sloppiness in the name of advancing technical progression, not to mention questionable fashion choices and visual branding centered around cartoons and sarcasm, Stereo stood out by doing less. This emphasis on simplicity was evident in the graphics and advertisements, and then really hit home when they released A Visual Sound.
The video is a testament to the strength of a unified aesthetic. While a specific rider’s persona might get muted for the over-arching image of the brand (Did Mike Frazier really hand out in coffee shops? Would Carl Shipman prefer brighter colored footage? Was Greg Hunt actually into jazz music?), having Dune and Jason (and probably Tobin Yelland) art direct the project and execute their vision alone makes A Visual Sound about as cohesive a video as can be.
But it isn’t just the jazz soundtrack and the still photos and the black and white super8 film. The Stereo team all understood the importance of style and simplicity. The pants are tighter, the tricks are much simpler, and the obstacles are higher. Everyone seems relaxed and flowing. While any review of the component parts of A Visual Sound needs to spend time paying homage to the complete video (as we have just done), and Ethan Fowler, Matt Rodriguez, and Jason Lee all produced exemplary sections that are worthy of praise, the skaterboarding part I want to watch again and again is the video opener: Mike Daher.
Originally from New Jersey and coming up in Florida with the first wave of Alien guys, Daher spent a little bit of time on Powell before getting drafted into early Stereo. His part is preluded with 30 seconds of super8 film and still photographs that portray Mike arriving, lighting a cigarette, throwing down his board, and then we’re off. It’s a great setup to a part that just oozes accessible San Francisco street skating. Most of ‘the city’s’ pre-Pier 7 compulsory spots are here (Brown Marble, Union Square, both sides of Wallenberg school, Ft. Miley), but none of the moves are pushing the limits of courage nor technical innovation.
The strength of this part is simplicity, pop, and style. The wheelies are smooth, the ollies are big, the ledges are significantly well over curb height, and the pants are reasonable sized. The colors are subdued and mellow. The jazz music percolates rather than pushes.
One would think a part this simple and flow-y would easily be overlooked when released, only to be rediscovered by overenthusiastic skate bloggers 25 years later. But, surprisingly, it was well regarded for it’s time. Thrasher magazine, the home of ‘skate and destroy’, even declared it “Best Video Part” in their 1995 T-Eddy awards.
As Jason Lee transitioned from skateboarder to Mallrat movie star, Mike Daher found himself more or less ‘over it‘ when it came to skateboarding for dollars. He popped up here and there every 7 or so years later, filming a trick here for Supernaut and there for Rasa Libre, but more or less this one part is his entire legacy to skateboarding. From what I can gather, after dropping off of Stereo Mike was an early adopter of growing and supplying herbs for the California medical marijuana movement with his Rolling Hills Farm brand. He had a guest board from Magenta and Killing Floor in 2015, and more recently a Strangelove guest board referenced his present horticulture career.
Bonus Daher: A few fun facts:
Mike’s older brother George invented the concept of ‘focusing’ (intentionally breaking with a definitive stomp) one’s board. He also coined the term.
Mike was initially to be part of Metal Skateboards along with Freddy Gall and Jerry Fisher, but he didn’t stick with it through its initial roadblocks.
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.
Some will argue that Modus Operandi is the best of the best, but I find myself going back time and time again to 2001’s Sight Unseen. Cardiel’s only non-Anti-Hero bro-cam part. Young Dustin Dollin going for broke. The mysterious momentary resurfacing of Henry Sanchez. Duane Allman on rollerblades! Heath!
And then there is on-the-verge-of-puberty Tosh Townend’s sleepy part. I never really liked that one. I always thought is was slow and a bit boring and just threw off the pacing of video. But its a worthy price to pay it as it transitions brilliantly into one of the best montages of all time.
Some unknown hesher stands tentatively on a rooftop on a dreary day, sizing up the easily double-overhead distance to the flat below. He drops in, perhaps loses some momentum on the flat of the roof, and acid drops into the abyss. Dude fucking sticks it, but his old board isn’t having it and snap under the pressure. Oooooh! I have no idea who this guy is, but he forever has my respect for committing to that crusty plummet. Easily my favorite drop in of all time.
The montage that follows is an entertaining capsule of the era with a solid mix of future legends (pre-Menikmati Arto, Expedition-era Janoski), heroes in their heyday (Dill getting buck), famous flameouts (lil Evan Hernandez), and dudes I can’t recall at all (Victor Sonosch?). Brian Anderson tosses a big double-set varial kicklfip, Max Dufour highlights a little vert section with a heaved double flip, and Kevin Taylor delivers a gorgeous Suski grind.
Toss in Ed going feeble, Trainwreck, 15 year old Bastien Salabanzi, Chris Lambert going big as usual, Bob Burnquist somehow wrangling an out of control kicklfip indy grab, and Alf’s bs noselide the La Jolla High handrail that was so textbook it ended parts in two separate videos.
Winter is coming. Get out and skate while you can, friends.
Bonus Buck: I just got word through the magic of Instagram comments that the drop in is by Kyle Haggerty. Not much other info on him out there, but he did have the opening part in the 2003 Ker-Per trucks video, and it’s pretty good. Apparently he is now a smokejumper fire fighter. Damn.
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.
No team has created a heavier estate to bestow than Sorry(s) era Flip. We’re talking Tom, Geoff, Arto, Ali, Bastien, PJ, and Appleyard (and to a lesser extent Rune Glifberg and Alex Moul). Characters so popular you know them by first name alone. Starting with Rowley and Penny arriving in the states in 1994 and ending with Shane Cross’ death in 2007 and Arto’s subsequent departure, Flip was unstoppable. This is a brand that could be considered in decline as it added Bob Burnquist, Rodrigo TX, Lance Mountain, and champion Luan Oliveira. In 2012, the same year riders David Gonzalez won Skater of the Year and Alec Majerus won Tampa Am, Flip released a video called Weight of the World. Would their best ever be enough?
The fact that Louie Lopez, nurtured at Flip’s teat and turned professional in 2013 at age 18, had to leave the team to establish himself as a full-grown skateboarding superstar speaks volumes.
And, in 2019, into this shadow stepped South American Lucas Rabelo.
He also demonstrates advanced levels getting twisty and tech into the handrails. That frontside 270 the hard way into a switch bs lipslide is both a mind bender and a face melter. I’m not a huge fan of long pinched grinds on mellow rails which are trending right now, and thankfully only one of them is in here. It’s presence is as if to point out that, yes, he can do those too. Same “don’t think I can’t” thing goes with the switch handrail hurricane.
We also get some ledge slides measured in yardage to help counterbalance all the flip outs (one as part of a 4-trick line), some flatground pop over garbage cans, a heaved frontside 360 for fans of the gap, and a surprise bs 360 ollie out of a rail 50-50.
But, with all this expert level skateboarding happening, the clearest sign that this kid could be something great is the line at the 1 minute mark. Solid fakie backside nosegrind 180 with enough speed leftover to go straight into a popped flatground nollie heelflip. Then ending with a nollie backside 270 to frontside noseslide (done in a polished ‘switch-fakie’ style). The discipline to throw in a ‘simple’ line like with nary a flip or shove it in or out shows an eye for style, and when everyone can do everything, power, form, and selection are what can separate and elevate.
Now, it’s not entirely impossible for a brand with a long and glorious history like Flip to write a new chapter that shines equally bright under its own renown. Some would argue that Real Skateboards, fast approaching its 30 year anniversary and sporting such immortal alumni as Gonz, Huf, Salman Agah, Tommy Guerrero, and Julien Stranger is setting high water marks for itself. Somehow the current Foundation team, even without Corey Duffel, will probably go down as its most memorable. Hell, Blind lost Gonz, Jason Lee, Tim Gavin, Rudy Johnson, Henry Sanchez, Guy Mariano, Keenan Milton, Jeron Wilson, and Brian Lotti by late 1993. But whose legacy are TJ Rogers and Kevin Romar currently laboring under? Ronnie fucking Creager and a cartoon Grim Reaper mascot, who joined the team to pick up the pieces from all those departures, that’s who.
So here we are at the dawn of a new decade, Flip’s 5th if you count the years in the UK when they were called Deathbox. 45% of the pro team is middle aged, Luan appears to be waiting out his contract, Arto is just a bloated shell of his former self who clearly isn’t riding a skateboard anywhere other than his custom built backyard pool, Ben Nordberg is still am at age 31, and Lucas Rabelo has been elevated to professional.
Between Lance and Bobgnar and Tom Penny (who appears to have hit a comfortable plateau in his abilities; seriously, I can him skating at this level, selling mushroom boards by the trunkful, and wearing these exact same outfits well into age 70) Flip has the nostalgia market covered. Will Lucas Rabelo and Denny Pham and Matt Berger be enough to rebuild Flip. Probably not, but it’s a good start. If he can keep skating at the level we saw in this part, and not get lost in the lucrative world of contests, Berrics clips, and inevitably Monster energy logos, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Giving that tears-of-joy kid the ender in their recent Spain Tour edit is also a solid feel good move from Flip.
BONUS: Here’s a quick edit of 15 year old Lucas skating for LRG Brazil back in 2014.
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.
The fact is that a bad thing happened to a great person and it sucks. Keith, by every account, was cool and humble and friendly with everyone he encountered. He ruled New York and then ruled San Francisco and then, most improbably of all, he dominated the global shoe game. The general rule is that you can’t do that much and be that successful without making some enemies along the way. As far as I know, Huf made no enemies. Everyone admired Huf’s skating and business. More importantly, everyone respected Huf as a person. And these aren’t just rose-colored glasses looking backwards; The tales of him being a solid dude we’re well known and expressed when he was alive. Huf was beloved, and it helps to think he knew it.
There are a lot of better eulogies happening than what you can read here. My entire knowledge of Keith Hufnagel’s personality is hearsay. But what I can comment on definitively is how much I enjoyed Huf’s skating. And there are a lot of great Huf parts to enjoy. Even better, they are almost all the very best type of skate videos. Not the type of videos where death was narrowly escaped or you can’t fathom how such a trick can be done (although there are a few of those moments), but the kind of skate videos that make you want to get out and skate. We may not have the talent or guts to take on the biggest of rails or the deepest of ditches, but with Huf in your mind it is easy to feel like you can pop just a little higher and roll just a little smoother.
Keith’s part in Real’s Non-Fiction is my favorite, but it really is a toss up. My favorite Huf trick, the 360-flip from block to block at SF’s Brown Marble (the best trick at one of the best spots of all time) is in the Finally FTC video from 4 years prior. But Non-Fiction just oozes with all the excitement of the mid-90s Bay Area potential. It was a magical time and place to be alive and skating; And Huf’s part captures that and then takes everything up a notch. His Union Square grinds spark, his Kezar Stadium 50-50s go all the way, his SF-cruising hill adventure features pole jams and wallies off of statues. We also get that fish-eye angle of the Banks line we already loved from Underachievers. As a personal nostalgia bonus, my heart jumps with the clips from the Marin School bank-to-wall (which was in Berkeley, not Marin (it was on Marin street) and we skated all the time) and the Oakland Museum rails (which I skated by regularly but never had the guts to try). He then fucking does a trick on the black rock at Black Rock! I was lucky enough to have gotten to skate those ledges in 95 and 96 and that was just not fathomable. That spot was a ledge and stairs on a hill. The ‘rock’ was just in the background. They had to build a little plant garden around that huge sculpture because of Huf!
There is a lot Huf will be known for: Obviously the Pop. The plywood ramp ollie over a dumpster. The blond mop-top he rocked for not that long but we will never forget. The best frontside lipslides on ledges. The weed socks trend he inadvertently unleashed on the world. But for me it’s the 360flips. He gave us a lot of really good ones, but this is just tops. And it was in 1993!
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.
By 2002, Trainwreck was pro for Bootleg skateboards (back when it was still connected to Baker), covered in tattoos, and skating to Slayer for his definitive part in Transworld’s In Bloom video. The part is a barrage of burley that was the style of the time: Handrails and hubbas with an occasional carcass toss thrown in there. The only line to be found is just a sequence of two large parking lot gaps. Looking back from a few decades in the future, the switch kickflips stand out, and that backside lipslide to fakie at the Banks is golden.
By the time Bootleg released it’s Bootleg 3000 full length video in 2003, Trainwreck was gone. With his body broken (and a drinking problem that wasn’t helping), Alex walked away from the skateboarding-for-money game completely, which is a rare thing in skateboarding. So there you have it: his career lasted all of about 4 years.
Bonus Trainwreck: In 2015, the Thrasher series called Ricki the Dude’s Total Recall posted a whole mess of footage of Alex from 1999 that was filmed for Duffs, thus nearly doubling the amount of total Trainwreck skating available to watch.
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.”
Also inspired by the general idea of Dirts winning is the Dirts Win clothing company done by Freddy’s boys out of Florida. Tim O’ encapsulates the connection in a Thrasher article from over a decade ago: “There’s a lot of Jersey folks who are disgusting scumbags, and there’s also some Florida scum, so it’s just scummy bastards bonding.” They should have some new stuff coming as soon pandemic manufacturing allows.
Freddy has had such a long and legendary career based on both early innovation and crusty spot choices. But much more important is the loyalty he has gained through being such an genuine fun person and a true skate rat. Fred has made some very bad choices over the years and it is a testament to his character that everyone stands by him through it all. The fact that he has had essentially just one board sponsor continuously for 30 years despite being such a handful is very telling. How many other skaters have stuck with, and been stood with, for that long without owning the company? Cab? I can’t think of any others off the top of my head. We all want Fred to triumph, which makes his present resurrection so satisfying for all of us as spectators.
Most importantly, in the spirit of Freddy, spend time with your friends and have fun. Pitch in a bag of concrete and some elbow grease to that DIY, bring a case of beer or sparkling water to the session, give that grom a high five when they finally get the guts to skate that hubba but then slam, if you have a pal who is trying to get sober be supportive. Be good to your friends. Oddly enough, the biggest realization in this exhaustive examination of a single skateboarder is how interconnected he is to his scene. The story of Fred Gall is populated with essential supporting characters as is all our lives: The filmers, photographers, TMs, teammates, shop owners, friends, business partners, fans, friends, Mom, and Granny.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but the Bobshirt interview with Freddy is essential.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Freddy talks about a different time he saved lives in foreign countries on an episode of the Ride Channel’s Free Lunch from 2012. Unfortunately, Fred never appeared on Rob Brink’s Weekend Buzz show.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: The Fred Gall episode of Epicly Later’d from 2007. Featuring Granny and a pole jam rock to fakie.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: In 2010, Freddy calls Tony Hawk from Canada to see what strings the Birdman can pull to get Jaws across the border. The conversation is about as clearheaded and sensible as one might imagine. Ryan Lay recorded it. I think the Boil the Ocean transcription is even better.
Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Fred: Here are some more images I gathered from the interwebs but didn’t use yet.
I want to thank Fred for taking the time to connect and answer my questions, Jared over at 4ply Magazine for getting the ball rolling on this one, Matt Price for the photos, Thad Croskey for unearthing the busride footage, everyone who has said nice things on social media, blog comments, or the message board, and everyone whose photos and videos I used for these articles. If I didn’t give you proper credit, please let me know so I can make it right. Shout out to everybody in the NJ Fred fam for their support, especially Metal Skateboards (I assume it’s Lou behind that account), NJ Skateshop, Paul Gar, BA, and everyone else. All those session seem like so much fun. Acknowledgments to Jono Coote’s 2016 Fred Gall Footage Feast article in Sidewalk for doing this first.
Please check out our Fred Gall: Living Legend article on 4ply that crunches the numbers on all these videos with interactive data-visualization charts. Freddy even gave us a few choice quotes about some of the tricks.
Emerging from the darkness in early 2019 with the support of his friends, Fred Gall successfully completed rehab and good things started to happen immediately.
In spring of that year, Alien Workshop reissued (although neither Fred nor AWS seemed to promote) a vintage Fred Gall graphic.
In June 2019, photographer Matt Price released Golden Hour #2, a photo book dedicated to Freddy shot over a dozen years touring, skating, and hanging out. (Get your copy, 50% of the proceeds go into Freddy’s pocket.)
Also that summer, Freddy began work on a backyard ramp at Granny’s house, which he now occupied. This would eventually, along with a concrete bowl, the curb he brought there 3 decades earlier, and possibly more obstacles, become Freddy’s skate Compound, a DIY spot that, despite a falling tree’s efforts, won’t be destroyed like all the others. Fred demonstrates his five favorite mini-ramp tricks in the Transworld quickie.
Freddy’s Compound, along with a close group of friends and filmers like Fat Bill understudy Paul Gar and wine-rack artisan NJ Scum Petillo, might not just lead to the resurrection of Gall but old-time Philly head Sergei Trudnowski and 2000 SOTYBrian Anderson as well. Somebody get Ricky in this mix.
I see that, even though his name is not very prominent, Freddy does have a new deck presently available through Habitat as well as a guest board on Matt Rodriguez’s Es La Boom.
And even as I was publishing the first of these All the Gall articles, NJ Skateshop’s Freddy and Friends video, featuring tons of Northeast skate celebrities shredding the latest in defunct New Jersey DIY spots, Hebrew Hideout, dropped on Thrasher.
Things continue to look up; It appears like you can once again wear a shoe with the Gall name on it as State Footwear has confirmed the rumor that there is a Freddy shoe available now. Whether this is just a short-term Habitat collab situation or the start of a something lasting will be told with time, but in the meanwhile get yours while you can.
In addition to all this, Freddy has been perpetually giving us the gift of slowly logging every barely skateable piece of crust in the East Coast with his Instagram Spot Checks. Dig in and be inspired to scour every cranny of your neighborhood cause you no longer have any excuse for not trying to hit that bank-to-wall.
I asked Fred about his thinking behind the spot checks on the ‘gram and he told me, “If I go to Philly I’ll get 5 photos, I’ll slowly put them out. And the sometimes if I don’t have a photo that’s new I’ll dig up an old one. But for the most part it like I’m going to the spots and I’m posting ‘em. Some of them are a joke, if you’ve noticed. I’ll post a curb or something. If I film tricks at a spot I won’t post it. Any old spots that have already been seen I don’t care, but for the most part anything I’m trying to keep private to myself I won’t post.“
Which brings us to the big question we that has lurked underneath this entire exploration… Will there be another full-on Fred Gall skate part?
“I’m filming a video part.I have so much footage right now. My main part is going to Thrasher. And then whatever I have doubles of or leftovers is going to Transworld. And then I have a whole DIY part going to Jenkem. I worked really hard on this part. And I’ve been sober the whole time filming it. A completely different approach. So this ones gonna be real good I think. Dude, I’m coming in HOT on this one for sure.“
And so we end this odyssey on a happy note. Freddy is out there getting clips and skating in the backyard with friends (often with a broken arm). Sobriety has been good to Freddy over the last year plus. But, in typically Freddy fashion, he doesn’t seem at all ashamed of his past nor concerned in any way with what folks think about him. As I’ve said repeatedly throughout this series of blog posts, Fred’s endurance and popularity is rooted in his authenticity. In a constantly filmed social media world of people trying way too hard and forever needing affirmations, Fred Gall is who he is and skates how he skates.
Bonus Fred: The same day this post was published, Jenkem releases a video of the pals buying and delivering Freddy a new mattress. This whole thing happening in Jersey right now is very endearing. I really don’t want to think about what the old mattress was like, though.
Just, one more episode of All the Gall remains where I try to wrap it all up. So tune in next time here in the Warm Up Zone. Til then, get out and there and skate.
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.’“
This timeframe found Fred facing more legal difficulties, mourning the loss of Granny, dealing with the IRS, unsuccessfully undertaking rehab, and then having to cope with the untimely death of his Mother. By late 2018, when Bam held his bizarre gathering, Freddy was not looking healthy.
But throughout all this time, even without the spotlight or a specific video project or a sponsor’s travel budget, Fred kept skating. Since there are no official video parts in these years, it’s all just Bonus Fred:
Fred Gall went to the CPH Open in Copenhagen in 2016 and, like everyone else, skated high on mushrooms. Jenkem videotaped it.
In 2017, Vice started a little webisode thing called Can You Skate It?. Inevitably, the debut episode featured Freddy; Trespassing and skating an abandoned NJ wind tunnel. That episode has been taken down by Vice (but we still found it over here); Freddy is in a later episode where they “build a skatepark out of mean social media comments”. It is about as enjoyable to watch as it is well conceived… not very well.
Probably the most significant thing that happened in this time period would be Freddy getting a guest board on Fucking Awesome. Dill came through for Freddy (and us) during a time in need and the deck was popular. When prompted, Fred told me, “They paid me really good. I made more off that board than I have from Habitat in fucking five years or something.“ Those boards already sell for nearly 4 times their original value on the collector’s market… I guess people really want to childhood portrait of Fred in a Mets jersey with a shit-eating grin on their wall.
2018 was a busy year for Fred despite the partying and day job. The Habitat connection was kept alive with a couple of tricks in the montage section of the Connector Line video.
He finally got his own beer with Cypress Brewing Company. It was “is a 5% DDH America Pale Ale brewed and dry hopped entirely with Amarillo with notes of tangerine.”
Check out Daniel Mercuro’s compilation of Freddy and Friends iPhone clips from 2018:
Bobshirt did one of his amazing interviews with Fred Gall for a DeckAid show at NJ Skateshop. Like all his interviews, it is just so good and insightful. I absolutely utilized this video heavily when making these All the Gall posts.
This whole era culminates in a strange party over at Bam Margera‘s Castle Bam mansion and skatepark in Pennsylvania. It was bizarre to see this from the outside looking in through instagram; It appeared to be a tornado of drinking, possible drug detox, Andy Roy, Tim O’Conner, Danny Way, some dude in a bandana, a Ghost concert, a head injury, a baby, the possibility of a Meek Mills performance, skating, and then maybe the crowd rips all the ramps apart with their bare hands. Some morning in the middle of this ruckus an impatient Freddy spontaneously bombs Bam’s driveway, which apparently was a NBD. It is fun to hear how pumped Fred and Bam are when he makes it.
The good/terrible times continued into early 2019 until tragedy struck. But from the darkness Fred survives. Tune in next time as we spread hope and speculate on the future of Freddy.