Written off at the time, Anthony Pappalardo's section seemed, at worst, a middling effort from a veteran, if not actually aging pro, at best, an idiosyncratic part form a newly idiosyncratic dude, a bad brained outlier in a day-glo late-mid-aughts blockbuster. Yet, with the distance of years, Pappalardo's effort comes off as another piece in the Pops puzzle, the evolution of a veteran, if not aging pro, who might be fed up with skating ledges all day. In no way did it seem like the end nor a prelude to a pro shoe on a different company, but things aren't always as they seem, right?
Pop's subsequent disappearance from Pretty Sweet posters earlier this fall, before the video premiered, seemed to be confirmation of all the worst rumors, Internet or otherwise. In what appears to have been a long process, 48 Blocks tracked down Pappalardo for a year-ending interview*, disabled comments and all. The interview answers some questions while, at times, creating more, at the very least explaining (from one point of view) why a dude who clearly had more in the tank so swiftly fell off the radar. Two quick hits, first, on his relationship with Cons (quotes are unedited with brackets only for clarity):
"People don’t realize this, and I dont really know how not, that if you’re not 15 living in your parents house anymore, that when people stop paying you to ride a skateboard, that’s it. You can’t put the time and effort to worry about trying to film some trick you thought of… all that goes out the window. That window…that’s the whole point of sponsorship, within 24 hours of that call [from Cons] I was literally stressing about how I was gonna eat that night. Living on nothing but purely survival instincts, and the most frustrating part of it, is nobody knowing that, living this double life, a lie in the sense that I’m out there still trying to live up to those expectations of just being a pro skater , but it’s not possible – believe me, I tried. I really fucking tried, and that was just basically the hell of what has been the past two and a half years of my life and this is the sketchy way they were able to get away with doing that to me – a couple hours later that night, I get a text 'Anthony, I really feel bad for how this worked out, so I’m able to offer you this as a contract for the next two years…' It was fucking embarrassing, I was making more being an amateur for Lakai, but backed up against the wall, I had to sign this thing, I had no fucking choice, they just released a shoe."The truth of pro-skater-recession-economics has never been laid so bare. I've spoken to other pros who've weathered sponsorship droughts by taking menial-to-skilled labor jobs, but it's unnecessarily cynical and unfair to fault Pappalardo for trying to keep the dream alive. Elsewhere in the interview he stresses that skateboarding is all that he knows, without an air of entitlement, but just the longing and perhaps the regret of a man removed, both by his actions and others out of his control.
Speaking about Chocolate, he re-enforces that lack of entitlement:
"Right now, I still get boards from Chocolate. I don’t have any of my own boards out currently and I shouldn’t until I put out of some type of video part and start getting more coverage. Nothing is more logical than those consequences and there isn’t an ounce of bad blood between [me and Chocolate]. Those guys are the last people I would ever point a finger at and honestly, I don’t think they knew the severity of my situation over the past couple years and its exactly how i would be handling the situation if I were them."My excerpts are only a tiny sampling of what Pops had to say; my two grabs are from the first and final questions, respectively, which probably total to more than 3000 words between the two answers. Be sure to read the full interview, the only link above.
I came upon this interview via Twitter and dudes talking about how sad they thought it was, which it is, to a certain extent. However, Pappalardo comes off as far from broken, no matter how Converse treated him and his confidence (according to him). He speaks as if the end is not nigh, some sort of second or third act just delayed. I'd love to believe him.
*Unable to keep my inner media critic at bay, this interview is a vivid illustration of why email interviews should be avoided if possible, reluctant subjects or not.