AN ODE TO JUNK SPOTS
They’re different from the quasi-renegade concrete pours on underused parcels of land that we call DIY parks. They’re different from modular parks...
It’s possible that Gino Iannucci was my first favourite skateboarder outside of those featured in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The Chocolate Tour came out within my first year or so of skateboarding, and while I was becoming very familiar with the cast of THPS in the evenings, I know that I definitely dug “Gino’s skate part” as well. My best friend had a pair of his Axion Islanders too, so that helped with some name recognition early on. By the time Yeah Right! came out in 2003, I was without a doubt a big fan of Gino, and was always on the lookout for more of him in videos and magazines.
A couple of things strike me now, looking back this far. One, despite all the lame things I may have been into in my teenage years, I always give my younger self a bit of credit for recognizing the subtle greatness of Gino amidst the onslaught of handrail and stair skating that would come to dominate the aughts.
The other thing is that, maybe due to his low-key nature, Gino has always had a reputation of not necessarily producing that much coverage. And looking back on the arc of his career, I’m not so sure that’s a fair assessment. First of all, his quality control is second-to-none, so that unquestionably gives his coverage some added weight. But even leaving that aside, the guy has really always turned up for his sponsors projects. Sure, he’s never the one with a pile of footage and a multi-song part, but it’s rare that he’s M.I.A. in a video where you’d expect him to make an appearance. He’s also had a healthy amount of web and Instagram commercials and clips over the years. The guy can still move wood and get people talking anytime they catch a glimpse of him. Let us muse.—Jeff Thorburn
-This part is set in the pre- and early-Nike SB days, so we see Gino skating some interesting kicks, something he still does to this day.
-At one point Gino said that after the Backside Flip up the stairs in the opening he was planning to Fakie Shuv-it Flip the stairs afterwards. BA ended up getting that trick, and on a green board at that. Gino’s always had a chill way of bailing off a trick if it doesn’t feel right.
-There’s a great contrast between the opening clip at a spot that you’ve seen plenty of times, and when the part kicks in with Guns N’ Roses and Gino skating full speed at the shitty, rugged parking lot spot, the kind of spot we all know so well. Turns out these are the Roslyn Banks, a favourite-spot of Gino’s. This won’t be the last you’ll see of them, albeit next time with a different approach. I’ve always wondered about that one rolled up pant leg in this clip too. Is that to do with the ankle monitor we’ll touch on later? Gino mentions in the above linked clip that while trying to shoot a photo of this Kickflip over the stairs, he slammed and slid across the bank so hard that it almost ripped his pants right off his body.
-If you happened to buy this video on DVD from a bigger box store instead of a skateshop, you might know a slightly different version of this part better set to “Blue Jean” by David Bowie.
*Slap Hero Daniel Policelli also brought to my attention this alternate version of Gino’s part, found on the bonus feature of the Yeah Right Limited Edition DVD. I think the Guns version still takes the cake.
-Next we have three Flushing Meadows clips, each hitting a different part of the spot. There’s the Switch Pop Shuv-it over the grate and pipe:
the oh-so-chill 360 Shuv-it over the grate while wearing what look like some classic indoor soccer shoes but always make me think of George Costanza and his favored Cortez’s:
and then the patient and powerful Backside Lipslide on the ledge over the grate. I think he likes this spot.
-The whole approach to the Switch Noseslide is wild. It’s just the right kind of awkward spot for Gino to return to off and on over the years. The clip has him wearing the sweater vest we’ll see again later on, while in the photo he runs a Six Feet Under t-shirt, visible again in the bonus footage while he shows off a broken wrist.
-And while we are still on the topic of this spot, let’s note the two separate photos, from two very different time periods, of a Backside Ollie on the hip in the background.
-This whole part feels like it was filmed in Fall, especially in this 180 Nose Manual clip.
-He’s hauling on the approach to the Frontside Noseslide to fakie and lands so chill five feet out from it. The caption from the sequence always stuck with me: “Fast and loose…”. Rounding out the scene, there’s the guy holding the flash and then the older fella in the driveway behind the old truck. While I know this clip probably comes from the early 2000s, the scene in the ride away combined with the ride up through all the dumpsters and graffiti sure does make this look like pre-Giuliani New York City, before the implementation of the broken windows theory.
-This Switch Backside Tailslide also looks to have come from that same session, but I’ve never seen footage of it.
-This pretty much couldn’t be any more of a shit spot in a small town. Once you go beyond the oozing style on this Nolle Backside 180, you notice that it’s a loading dock drop that he approached in a way that made it a bit of a gap. He’s got gloves on because it’s either freezing cold or the ground is super rough. It’s probably both.
-A quick clip of him throwing down his board, still wearing those gloves, and you can just see the cold.
-Mark Whiteley caught a great Gino-throw-down photo some years back in Barcelona.
-I always thought he was adjusting an ankle monitor in that quick clip of him sitting down. But now I can see it’s just the tongue on the Jordan’s he’s skating.
-There may be an ankle monitor under the left pant leg and sock though, as seen in his Epicly Later’d.
-If the tricks in this part, with it’s abundance of shitty spots and shaky filming, were done by just about anyone else, it would be entirely forgettable and potentially unwatchable at times. Corny as it may sound, this part is a true testament to the value of style, and an illustration of how it can shine through in even the most sub-optimal circumstances. Gino really can make anything look good.
-Another prime example is the Backside Heelflip at the type of parking lot spot most of us have spent plenty of time at. He still flicks them sometimes in the FA warehouse.
– While they are not two people that I even imagine co-existing, Gino told Quartersnacks in 2016 that one of his favourite parts of all-time is Jim Greco’s part in Baker2G. While it’s possible to appreciate someone that bears little or no resemblance to anything in your own life, I figured there had to be something about Greco that catches Gino’s eye. I’m a long-time fan of both of them as well, so what exactly might they have in common? They both have a self-confidence in how they present themselves, and they are keenly aware of how everything they do might be perceived and scrutinized, yet they continue to defy any norms or expectations put upon them. There is a mythical air around both of them. Nothing they do is bland. You couldn’t call either of them followers, at least followers of trends in skateboarding. And while it might be easy to assume guys like Gino and Greco think that whatever they do will be accepted and praised, it takes just about as much self-assurance to leave the house in a pirate blouse as it does to leave it in a sweater vest.
Additionally, there is a shared recklessness between Greco and Gino, an ability to sometimes control absolutely chaos on their skateboards. And while it’s harder to picture Gino eating the type of shit that Greco has over the years, both have their own go-for-broke styles. Gino is just as highly combustible in the battle for a trick as Greco is.
-They also both have a mean Backside 360, complete with front feet flapping, like Gino does here on a bump to gap, and Greco does down a gap in his Baker2G part.
-This was a cool little hat trick of clips, going from the Backside Heelflip, to the Backside 360 on a similar type of spot, rounded out by the Switch Backside Heelflip.
-Nollie 180 Switch Manual, not a trick you see very often. He’s cruising too, based on how far out he lands.
-The Backside 180 Fakie Manual is the coolest type of manual, and the one I most associate with Gino. This one is his finest though.
-Maybe the best example of how rough the spots and filming got to be at certain times in this part occur on this gap to manual pad. The filmer is definitely just running along the manual pad to keep up. But hey, you do what you’ve got to do when trying to capture lightening in a bottle. That Backside 180 Nose Manual 180 out comes with a high risk of slipping out and grating your hip and forearm, and the Switch Pop Shuv-it Manual ride away is telling of how rugged this spot is.
-His chrome-dome on the Backside Flip over the guardrail always makes me think of Marc Johnson, who was a new addition to Chocolate and introduced in Yeah Right!. And again, another rough spot you can find in just about any town.
-The previously-mused on Jason Dill twists up a graceful manual combination, while Steven Cales drives a Backside Overcrook straight into the ground in one of the more unsettling and painful looking makes that you’ll ever see.
-A floating Switch Backside 180, nicely timed with the melodic break in the song, and showing some relation to the opening animation, although the inspiration for the setting in that one is actually the upcoming double-set.
-The footage of the Switch Flip over the hydrant, as seen in the unfortunately cropped Nike ad, pre-SB. Do you think they added and coloured the shoes into the ad after the fact?
-This “First Sponsor” ad series was pretty cool though:
-Here we go, one of the finest clips in this part, and maybe the best example of a Backside 360 that you could show someone. The way that his knees are tucked up and in. The baseball style shirt that I previously only associated with punk and glam rockers like Tony Trujillo.
-There’s the chill impact absorption on the second angle, and then of course, this:
-The one line in the part, and really, it’s all you need. Well timed to the song, starting with speed and power on the Backside Tailslide. There’s the quick set up and flick on the Nollie Flip. The use of a basic 180 to set up, and then a rather unusual and awkward trick on the bank to bench, followed by the immediate desire upon landing of squeezing that Switch Frontside Shuv-it in there.
-The Backside Tailslide to fakie on the out ledge that Mike Carroll and Rick Howard both had photos of their own Backside Tailslides on, shot at the same session and run in the same 1999 issue of TWS. Gino’s penchant for combustion is apparent while riding away fakie right into the ledge and going ass over teakettle.
-Speaking of Backside Tailslides, too much time searching #ginoiannucci on Instagram did yield this.
-A second switch Pop shuv-it in Italy, followed by a well-documented Nollie Backside Heelflip with last week’s “Musing on…” subject, Anthony Pappalardo, in the background. Gino’s Nollie Backside Heelflips always have and continue to seem so reckless, like they could just explode if he doesn’t put them down. It’s odd because this is a trick more typically associated with precision skaters like P-Rod, Brandon Biebel, or Eric Koston.
-Here it is, the sweater vest while backside flipping over the planter off the kicker. A rarely-if-ever seen set-up and kit combination. How random is it that I associate Gino and his sweater to Chris Pulman’s clips in the London section of Static II? I’ve not heard of Chris since then, but I know he was running a sweater vest while skating in London for at least one day in the early 2000s.
-We are nearing the end, and that means it’s time to return to the rugged Roslyn Banks. The first banger is a Fakie Varial Flip Switch Manual. That’s followed up by a bleached out Switch Varial Flip Switch Manual. Everything about this clip makes it seem so much older: the trick itself, the hair, the skinny upper body with the baggy jeans, and the way the board is gripped with the space left above the front trick. He looks like an extra in Kids or a punk video from the 90s. Or just any kid nowadays I suppose.
-Finally, the pièce de résistance, the Backside 360 Manny down the Roslyn Banks. Even Owen Wilson took his hat off to him. There’s definitely some Matt Hensley inspiration going on here with that flapping foot. It’s grainy and gritty parking-lot-at-night lighting, and it’s the blue on the soles and sides of those Jordan’s that really draws maximum attention to the fancy footwork required to pull off something that even the filmer didn’t think was possible.
-Even though it’s from the next video, Hot Chocolate, let’s leave on this note.