Guest Post: Anthony Pappalardo - An Existential Crisis and Gino Iannucci

"At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At 40, we don't care what they think of us. At 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all." - Ann Landers

There’s no parallel between Gino Iannucci and the Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ann Landers, but as I enter the advanced age of 40, the pen name’s quote gives me feelings. When you’re old and a bit hungover, anything can trigger a melancholy miasmic jab to your gut. A crushed milk carton, finding a phone number in a coat you haven’t worn in years, the lint and sand, wedged behind an old sticker you’ve never stuck anywhere, and of course Gino Iannucci: Male Model. Wait, what? Yes, back in February Iannucci surfaced in some dapper Eidos Napoli gear, designed by designer Antonio Ciongoli who confirmed to me via email that he pushes switch mongo. Strange, but worth an Insta follow.

In the passing months, Iannucci has appeared in my feed in various sweaters, coats, hats, and other age-appropriate things, eliciting a neurological reaction from my 40-year-old brain that reminds me of my mortality and the fact that there is life after youth, but it’s a very different existence. I do not get these emotions when I see a member of Team Handsome juxtaposed against a model with skin made of cream, wearing designer clothes, while making a pensive face. No. Eli Reed? Never. Nor does this bit of sadness enter my non-existent soul when I see Mango wearing this multi-brand, norm fit in Vogue. It’s just different, man.

These are young folks, being young. They make us hopeful and we envy their talents. These boys will continue to evolve, devolve, go sober, fall off the wagon, get married, divorced, injured, learn, be stubborn, and all kinds of other shit. They are not from Long Island. They are not 42-years-old. They have style, but they do not yet have the creases in their faces that read “life.” Gino has that lifestyle, a forever icon, constantly making you gaze into photographs, wondering where he got his footwear, what outlet mall he ravaged for his Nautica gear, just how long your braided leather belt should hang, and if you could possibly pull off a sweater vest. No, you can’t, BTW.

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Yes, Gino Iannucci in a $325 wool cardigan will occasionally send me into an existential crisis. I don’t do epiphanies or succumb to depression, but the thought of the heroes of my youth—the Carrolls, Howards, Breneses (is that a thing?), Kalises, Marianos—will soon stiffen up, and roll slowly towards the latter half of their life. Memories will get dull, hair thin, as they begin to resemble a skit they once filmed in their primes. Of course, being close in age turns the lens towards myself. I was not blessed with the sprawling finesse of Gino Iannucci, the origami-like hand posture of Michael Carroll, or the fleet-footed, boundless ability of Guy Anthony Mariano. My transition might be to actual transition—the old guy at the park, a bit doughy, scratching out a pivot to fakie, making the youngsters cringe, hoping they won’t have to call 911 if I snap a bone. No matter how many Tired edits Thrasher posts, I would rather pursue the romantic route Iannucci’s navigating, instead of plomping around on a football shaped skateboard, sloppily stepping off my board, before lurching a foot back on, thinking my No Comply was as graceful as Ray Barbee… well, at least not on video.

Losing your physical ability as an older person is scary and that crushing fear is even more toxic in a skateboarder. The foam roller, that extra 18 minutes of stretching before a session, the additional two weeks every ankle roll needs to heal. Pro, flow, or regular joe/josie, we lose tricks, but never the feeling.

I often take a walk to clear my head, during these confusing moments, yet find myself even more introspective, as I pace the industrial streets of Greenpoint, that brush against East Williamsburg. I think of my neighbor, also named Anthony Pappalardo, still in his 30s, envious of how much life is left in his knees, jealous of all that he’s accomplished, and wishing could have logged just one minute of footage as good any of his full parts, knowing that even at my peak physical condition, it wasn’t a reality or possibility.

And the boys whizzing through the streets of Brooklyn, logging footage for a webclip called “Rind,” “Squelch,” or “Dollar Slice.” The glut of European decks, neatly stacked at the Theories of Atlantis warehouse, a few blocks away, that I’ll never skate. The brown marble ledge I slowly lose the ability to ollie up to, convincing myself a slappy noseslide is an acceptable replacement for a Welshian ollie up and pop out. Sad. I won’t lie, that shit is depressing.

Mariano, Iannucci, and myself are Italian Americans, and to paraphrase/butcher what Reda once said in an episode of Epicly Later’d, “Who do you think Brayden gets along with better on Baker? Terry Kennedy or Ellington? He gets along with both, but he relates to Ellington more.” The takeaway is that I have an affinity for all Italian American skaters of my era, and secretly wonder if Carroll is part Pisano himself, since we both share a striking, Roman nose.

Us Eyetalians are prone to heart disease and other health problems, due to our heritage and bloodline. As the space between Snuff and my next milestone grows further, I’m reminded that I’m running out of birthdays, and more tragically, running out of Iannuccian Pushes to fawn over.

I’ve always said that one of the highest plateaus a human being can reach, is doing something so poetic, so poignant, so magnanimous, that your achievement becomes a cliché. Hyperbole so commonly used in our diction, yet it doesn’t diminish the accomplishment, but rather it crystallizes it in the culture.

So, here stands this deity of New York Cool. The patron saint of quality over quantity, brimming with so much confidence, that he’d make a young Steve McQueen self conscious, now means something different to a fellow skater, just a few years younger, embarking on the next part of life.

But the flame has not dimmed. There’s a flicker, in both those little sparks of footage, sprinkled upon us from the heavens and his residence on a #smallbrand that’s both fucking awesome and Fucking Awesome. Stoic, solemn, he faces what we fear and leads in ways that will always make other jealous.

The Sean Connery of skateboarding, by way of Italy, kinda.

I’d rather watch Gino push than get old.