by ANDREA SCARPA - Photo by ANDREA COLZANI
PADERNO, NEAR MILAN
I grew up in a suburban town that is light years away from the metropolis, even if Milan is only few kilometers away from Paderno. I think I got to know Milan only at the end of high school, with my first girlfriend from Milan. It was a meaningful destination. At the time, Milan was definitely more beautiful than it is, even if, looking at the postcards of the time, you can see cars in Piazza del Duomo and this surely was not wonderful, definitively more colorful.
MILANESE ‘TERRONE’ (derogatory expression for ‘Southerner’)
In Milan there were the Milanesi, I say it as a Milanese terrone, because the Milanese is an hybrid: in my opinion a Milanese is whoever lives in Milan, no matter where they come from. My parents are from Puglia, I was born in Umbria, I married a Romagnola (woman from Romagna), but I deeply feel a Milanese.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PASQUALE
I am a child of the sixties, my name is Pasquale, like my grandfather’s, and my last name is Di Molfetta as the city of origin, even though my parents were from Canosa di Puglia, which is nearby. My name was a label.
AWKWARDNESS AT THE REGISTRY OFFICE
I still vividly remember the embarrassment and shame I felt especially at the registry office, and maybe I haven’t freed myself from it yet. I don’t know if it’s still like that now, but I remember that when I was thirteen or fourteen I often needed some certificate, for several reasons… Anyway, every three months or so I had to go to the registry office in Paderno Dugnano. To begin with, there was this very high counter that made me feel uneasy, and then, when it was finally my turn, I was asked: ‘What do you want?, I had all my rigmarole: ‘Family Status Certificate’, ‘Who’s it for’, ‘For me’ and I always tried to prolong the agony… ‘Father’s surname?’. ‘Di Molfetta’, ‘What?’ (Bastard), ‘Di Moletta?’, and I felt as everyone around me looked at me and told me “terùn“, “Father’s name?”, “Michele’’, and there I was lucky because my father’s name was all in all ‘normal’, ‘Who’s it for?’, ‘For me”, “What’s your name?”, “Pasquale (softly)”. That experience I didn’t let go for years. If I had been born a billionaire and my name was Pasquale maybe I wouldn’t have cared about it, but being poor and terrone wasn’t nice at all. I finally went over it only ten or fifteen years ago, after many years as a radio speaker, when I learned to joke about it.
VADE RETRO, IDIOT
I often say my name to make fun of myself but I realized that people no longer think I’m an idiot because my name is Pasquale. For a long time I thought that if people found out what my real name was it would have been over for me.
I remember my childhood as a time of great tolerance and coexistence. If I speak and understand milanese (Milan dialect), is because I grew up in a street where most of my neighbors were Milanesi, the southerners were two or three, but nobody cared about that; sometimes I even felt as if they were fascinated by this exotic component.
MY DREAM? DOING SOMETHING
Those of my generation had no right to have dreams, so my dream was just to do something. I had a dream but it was meant to be just a dream, I never thought one day I would have had a job like this, that I would have become so successful. My father worked every day to earn the money for the day after and sometimes he couldn’t even manage to do so. Therefore as a teenager the idea of reaching a minimum well-being was my dream.
FAMILY STROKES OF LUCK
The first stroke of luck was moving to Milan, even if at the beginning it was a bit difficult. Secondly, I’m fortunate enough to be the son of such bizarre parents: my mother had a strong character, but she was also very ironic. My mum’s irony is the distinctive feature that I put in my work (as well as my brother). My father had a passion for music that was never able to develop because it was only a hobby, and that surely sent us on the right path. My father played the trumpet, which now is on my fireplace, is gets polished up, sometimes my kids spit in it. It is very difficult to play.
I was lucky to be in Milan at the very moment in which the first radio stations were born, I was 18 years old in 1975 and that was a big stroke of luck. No one who was in the radio environment thought to make it a profession, because it took years before radio stations had a decent turnover. I was passionate about it, it soon became clear that I was more skilled than most of my peers, as most of my peers tried to work in the radio environment.
A FACTORY WORKER DJ
Because of the radio, although I went through my first four high school years without too many problems, on my last year I didn’t get admitted to the final exams because I never went to school and I had other things on my mind. That was a disaster. My parents sent me to my work in a factory, I worked 8 hours a day, in the evening I went to school, after school I went to the radio station. This was my life for two years, because I managed to fail again as, despite it was an evening school, I rarely showed up. The year after I passed the exams, maybe just because the teachers were sick of seeing me.
BYE BYE LINUS
My girlfriend left me because she believed that I was unreliable: she studied accountancy and thought that her boyfriend had to be efficient… What did I do then? It was the summer of ’78 and I started working full time for the radio. I started in a small station, then I went to Milan International and then I got here in ’84.
WHAT IF YOU HADN’T GOT HERE?
I wouldn’t have become the Radio Deejay Linus you know, but I would have made it some other way, because, hoping not to sound presumptuous, I think I have a balanced brain.
A SPLIT BRAIN
Meaning that I have the two halves: the artistic half and the more pragmatic half are very proportionate. I once jokingly defined myself as a “Swiss artist”.
STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS
I think Milan’s strength could also be its weakness: it is a city without a specific social class. Turin or other cities are far more layered and therefore much more classist, in Milan middle class is predominant.
To be honest I believe that what was once called “the enlightened bourgeoisie” got a bit lost. I grew up in the Milan of the great families, maybe I didn’t know them personally, but they were in the air. The Pirelli, the Falk etc… They were people who earned a lot but used part of that money to enrich the city, not only creating employment but also through good deeds. That generation is over now, but financiers still remain.
FINANCERS, BAD PEOPLE
Milan is the capital of finance. I think that ‘finance’ is one of the ugliest words ever invented because it has nothing to do there with the economy, finance is something different… It’s about speculation; financers are almost always bad people. With regards to building speculators, unfortunately Milan is not different from Rome or many other cities.
MILAN FOR EVERYONE
At least Milan is a very open city where you can always organize any kind of event and people will attend. Unfortunately, we are a bit turned in on ourselves and a bit resigned after decades of wicked management.
INSPIRE US, PLEASE!
What’s missing is someone capable of inspiring us. Take Pisapia for example, whom I think is a great guy: he was a great mayor and he will continue to be up to the end of his job, but he didn’t manage to get his message through to the people.
CAR SHARING PIONEERS, BUT…
We have become the car sharing capital in the world, not only in Europe. If someone had told us so five years ago we would have thought it was a joke. If we managed to do it, it is only because the council worked very hard on this, it is because reconciling social categories, taxi drivers and everyone else was very difficult, but we made it. The message that we are the best in Europe has got through, but it hasn’t been perceived well enough.
I heard about Ambrosoli who had already been nominated a few years ago, but frankly I’ve never really liked him: I don’t think he could inspire us. Even if he never really got along with Pisapia, I like Boeri because he has a very modern point of view.
MAYOR? THEY’LL NEVER ASK ME
Me? But I mastered as electrician, no way, I’m illiterate, I can’t do it, I’m a disc jockey. Anyway they’ll never ask me! This is like the X Factor legend: for six months people were convinced that the following year I was going to replace Morgan as X Factor judge, but the truth was that I knew I was never going to be asked and so it was, even if it was written almost everywhere. It takes a certain kind of character for that type of position and I’m just someone who’s good at his job.
MOSQUES? I’M TOLLERANT, BUT…
I’m a tolerant person, but sometimes I think we are a bit too tolerant towards others, but it is better not to say this kind of things if you don’t want to sound reactionary. I used to consider myself as a lefty, but the left wing made me so sick and tired that I took some distance from it. Sure, if I have to choose I’d certainly support left rather that right, but at the same time I don’t see why we should be so condescending or permissive. Sure, religious freedom is a fundamental right, however something should come from the other side as well. We are always willing to meet them halfway, but I don’t feel they are taking any distance from some negative realities that we are witnessing.
SOME ADVICE TO UNDERSTAND MILAN
This is a city that offers a lot of opportunities, don’t fall for the story about recommendations because it is not true. I’m a living example of that, and all the people who work with me have not been recommended. However it is important to be willing to work hard, no one gives you anything, let alone in a place like this.
A BICYCLE THIEF
I reached a stability in the radio environment after 7-8 years of work, and in those 7-8 years I sacrificed a lot. I also found myself stealing a bicycle to go back home at night time since I didn’t have a car. I have a great memory of the area around Sant’Ambrogio where I also lived for a while, the narrow streets between Via De Amicis and Via Cesare Correnti. But maybe if you ask me what my favorite place is, I’d have to say Montagnetta di San Siro. Since I started doing sports I’ve discovered the change of seasons, so places like Montagnetta di San Siro, Trenno Park and Sempione Park are my Milan.