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Yesterday (5/6) Artist and former Professional Surfer Shawn Barron died at age 44 in Santa Cruz.  I didn’t know him personally, but growing up he was a major influence on my surfing life.  I remember watching the above clip of him doing a barrel roll in one of Volcom’s early surf films.  It blew my mind.  Barron surfed so different from the rest of the pack.  The man pulled some of the gnarliest airs, charged crazy Mavericks and from what I gather was an all around good guy.

Barney came out of a time when surfing was so open and diverse stylistically.  He was at the forefront of the aerial revolution.  It was guys like him who paved the way for all the seeming impossible stuff that is being pulled today.  I had the pleasure of meeting Shawn briefly at an autograph signing and surf demo back in 2003 in New Jersey. I just remember him being full of life and he even pushed some of the groms into waves after the demo was over.  Its a shame of his untimely passing, but I think there is not one of us around who can’t say the man didn’t live a remarkable life.

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Higher Standards

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Epic Sand Spit circa ’09. Pretty sure I was in the pit for the first half of this wave, then hit this section and pulled back into it. Photo: David Molleck

 

I found myself sitting on the break wall  at Sand Spit tonight watching one intrepid soul doing his best to make to the most of the meager wind swell on offer.  Though it was small it also looked a bit on the fun side.  Did I turn around and run back to my apartment to get my board for a paddle?  Not even.  I had a mediocre surf a Emma Wood in the morning that more then filled my surf quota for the day (Check out the April Surflog for more on that surf).  Then I remembered back eight years ago when I first came out here and didn’t even have a car.

I surfed some of the most deplorable Sand Spit one can imagine.  I would have been super stoked on a session that I was at the moment bearing witness to.  Eight years is a long time.  Throw in another three years or so of constant travel to some of the world’s best waves prior and one’s perspectives can really change.  Up until the past two years ago or so I never would have believed that I could even be considered a jaded southern Californian surfer.  I thought my east coast surf ethic would stay strong.  In a way it has still.  I with out a doubt paddle in far more conditions then my born and bread Californian friends.

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Near Epic Rincon Photo: Chris Lisanti

At the same time I have in the last eight years surfed nearly every single wave in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area epic at least once.  Spots like Rincon I have had so many days that would make any normal surfer grin from ear to ear and experience the wave of his life on that I have lost count.  These days such has almost worked to my own personal detriment.  It’s hard for me to get into average Rincon, or small Sand Spit, sub par El Capitan.  I have seen these waves at their best.  I have caught some of the best waves of my life courtesy of them.

There was a time when I first arrived here in Santa Barbara that I was constantly finding the “wave of my life”.  Today my causal expression when asked to describe the conditions is most likely “Best of the worst” or “better then not surfing I suppose”.  I still have plenty of stoke and love surfing more then anything else in life.  At the moment I am having a real difficulty finding that fire in my eyes that I used to have.  I want to recapture that.  I want to go out there and be stoked on two foot Sand Spit and an eight turn ride at Rincon.

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Hollywood By the Sea absolutely going ballistic. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

What do we do when the magic appears to be running out?  I have been surfing 24 years, been a professional, challenged and pushed my limits.  Where do I go from here?  One thing that is for sure surfing is still the love of my life.  Every facet in my day to day is catered around finding the best surf I possibly can.  If I miss a day I still feel as bad about it as I did when I was eleven.  I guess I just need to reconnect with that inner grom that at the moment is ashamed of who he grew up to be.

I remember when I was fourteen I rode my bike 3 miles in February to the beach.  The air was maybe 2oF and the water I was furiously peddling to get to a balmy 38F.  I would get to the beach already frozen, pull on usually wet and cold 5/4/3 and paddle sometimes windblown knee to thigh high closed out dribble and it meant everything to me.  Lately I have felt lost and I think the main reason is because I lost my stoke, my soul.  I guess the new plan is to rediscover this, find my stoke, my soul and let my inner grom out and forget about this being an adult stuff.  I think I have let the real world cloud my priorities for way too long.

I am going to  get back on my bicycle, ride down to the beach and surf and forget about everything else cause in the end all that bullshit society has made me believe was important to me and suppose to make me happy hasn’t.  When I was sleeping on the couch at my current apparent back in 2007 with nothing but four surf boards and a back pack full of clothes just shredding anything and everything I could were some of my happiest times here.  These days I have nice things.  Friends are envious when they walk into my apartment.  All the while I am miserable.  Get ready, for a change is soon to take place.

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The dream is still very real. It’s out there for the taking…Photo: Chris Lisanti

 

 

Event Champion Filipe Toledo reminding us that safety turns are a thing of the past.

Event Champion Filipe Toledo reminding us that safety turns are a thing of the past.

This years Quicksilver Gold Coast Pro at Snapper Rocks concluded in lack luster conditions that left all of us surf fans wondering what is to come of this surf season.  Despite meager conditions the competition did not fail to hold interest for die hard fans.  As top seeds kept falling in early rounds to surprisingly remarkable performances by the low seeds it reminded all that it really is any man’s ball game out there.  Sure everyone wants to see the best surfers in the world surfing against each other at the best waves in the world, but a major part of surfing is having the ability to surf sub par waves well.

Many got down on Kieren Perrow that he should have canceled the event due to wave quality.  I think an event cancellation should be the absolute last possible scenario.  We only have 11 events a year to watch as opposed to most other sports where fans get to view 20 plus games a season.  If an event gets canceled its a let down to both the fans and athletes alike.   What I think should be considered in extreme cases is a change of event venue.  We all know in places like Australia there are spots that are wave magnets and such waves should be all set to go as a back up venue.  In this case Duranbah would have been a logical option, a location that has been used as a back for Snapper in prior years.

Duranbah on one of its better days.

Duranbah on one of its better days.

Professionalism was another topic that came up strong a this years Quick Pro.  Josh Kerr was the first to lose his cool in round 3 when he gave his board a few shots with his fist on the way in.  Then an irate Gabriel Mendina got on the mic for a post heat interview with Peter Mel where he just decided to speak his mind freely, calling out the WSL, Perrow, and threatening Glen Hall using the F-bomb.  Last time a surfer sounded off that hard it was Bobby Martinez in the 2011 NYC event.  He was banned from competition for it.  In this case Mendina ended up with a fine.  Honestly why force guys to do a post heat interview after they lost?  Of course the guy is going to be upset.  Andy Irons blew up on a reporter once in the height of his career when he was asked how he felt about losing. His reply was “how the fuck do you think I feel?  I just lost”.  To top off the round three festivities Freddy Pataccia after posting one of the lowest heat scores of the event surfed his board right into the rocks.

One would say these guys need to show a better attitude considering the WSL is trying to build a larger non-surfing audience.  Of course one needs to remember that you are dealing with a bunch of surfers who got into this sport for its free form no rules type of feeling.  When one attempts to put it into a format and give fair and accurate scores for one surfers ride vs. another there is going to be quite the margin of subjection.  This on top the already unnatural environment created by these high profile contests are enough to make any surfer lose his mind.  Even Kelly Slater has destroyed more then one board in a post heat tantrum.  Lets face it surfing really isn’t a sport to be judged with numbers, but to be ascetically enjoyed.

We cannot control the ocean hour to hour let alone day to day.  I love watching surf contests now that I have been out of them for nearly ten years.  I for one couldn’t stand contests when I had to compete.   Competitive surfing will never sell to masses like other sports do.  Its too complicated for your average non-surfer to understand.  Fuck, my friends and I have trouble following the judging sometimes.  Instead of the WSL focusing on selling to this non-surfing audience they should cater to making it more entertaining for the surfing audience cause that is the market anyway.  There are close 20 million surfers world wide and that is who the WSL should be focusing on.

Eventually the event came down to Julian Wilson and Filipe Toledo, a final I very much anticipated to be a show down and a half.  I even stayed home a little later from the bar to see it.  Toledo to his credit put on an amazing performance the entire event and didn’t disappoint running away with the final leaving Julian comboed for most of it.  More then anything I am proud of the the judges for allowing two of the more progressive guys to make it to the final.  Could this mean the WSL looks to reward explosive surfing in 2015?  Lets hope so.  We will have to wait for Bells to start June 1st.

Where would we be in this life without books?  T’is a question I ponder often.  I for one would be completely lost if it weren’t for some of the great literary works of man.  Then I think how the majority of our population has completely discounted the act of reading for pleasure almost all together.  This fact saddens me deeply at the imbecilic future the masses are doomed to live.  If this is the case then it is a bleak future we all are to face.

For those of us who do still enjoy the written word and if you are reading this I would assume you must not hate it for this blog is still more content then visual or audio.  Every so often I like to share what I have been reading and what is worth your time.

Book XXXI: Fates Worse Then Death, Kurt Vonnegut, Putnam 1991, 240 pages.
“Why should they behave well, quite certain as they were that neither heaven nor hell awaited them? Virtue was its own reward.”  Kurt Vonnegut just may be one of the more important writers of the twentieth century.   Definitely one of the best to come out of the world wars camp. For myself this was actually my first reading of his and it so happened to be one of his last works.  It was enough to spark my interests.  Fates Worse Then Death was more of a collection of random thoughts and memoirs for the author looking back over his exceptional life and career then an actual novel.  The book reminded me of a more sophisticated and educated version of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Its a fast easy read and worth the time.

Book XXXII: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, 1859, Wordsworth Classics Edition, 1993, 321 Pages.
Ah yes what may have been Dickens’ greatest novel and one of my all time favorites has been inspiring audiences for years.  If I had to pick three novels to be stuck on an island with this would surely be one.  The plight of one of literature’s infamous anti heroes, Sydney Carton is presented.  A man one can’t help but to both love and despise at the same time.  A man who despite all evil manages to love better then every seemingly decent character in the story.    In the end he redeems himself beautifully.  I have read this work 10 times and have at least another ten in me.  “When you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love besides you.”
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Currently I am reading The Ambassadors by Henry James.  I am about half way through and at the moment have not had the most time for reading with all the usual distractions in my life.  Happy reading.

 

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Last night while shopping at Rite Aid I had a pleasant memory from my past; The Cadbury Egg.  When I was a kid I loved these mother fucking nougat filled eggs.  For years I have been enjoyably eating the shit out of them.  Last night I was floating around the popular pharmaceutical emporium waiting for Heather to get all the random beauty accessories she needs on a very regular basis.  To my credit I needed some bar soap and liquid hand soap for my kitchen since I have been mixing the old one with water for the past two weeks and now there pretty much isn’t any soap left.  It was time.

Anyway as I was meandering around the store like a creeper when I came across a display of Cadbury Eggs.  I thought why not relive a bit of confectionery nostalgia.  I grabbed an egg and brought it and my menagerie of soap products to the counter.  When the girl, who may or may not have been retarded (she thought Heather and I were brother and sister??? WTF) rang up my Cadbury Egg the fucker cost $1.19 plus tax!!!! 1.19!!!!! Are you fucking kiding me?  They used to be a quarter.  I bought one like three years ago and it was like seventy five cents.

At that moment I realized that inflation and the American economy had passed me by.  In the past five years my salary has only increased by 25% meanwhile the Cadbury Egg in just three years has increased 65%.  I find it a bit disturbing and very fucked up that a chocolate covered egg with a nougat inside that somewhat resembles dirty jizz has manged to make more money then I have, a skilled laborer.  Then I thought further into about how little the skilled laborer is worth to America.  There was a time in this country where everyone made a fair living wage and could buy all the tasty chocolate eggs they wanted.  Now 90 percent of us starve and work out asses off to do so while a very privileged 10% hold all the cards.

What is this the fucking middle ages?  Are we all really just serfs working the land for our rich lords and lady land owners.  Fuck, every year my rent goes up 100 bucks a month while all I get is a 15 cents raise for my efforts.  This shit is fucked.  I am not asking to be paid a million bucks or something.  All I would like is to be able to cover all my bills every month and to have a little fun money.  Fuck you Cadbury and your tasty over priced jizzy eggs.

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How is it that the month of March has already thus come upon us?  It seems to me like I was just getting finished with Bizarro’s and my birthday weekend, which happened the first week of February and now I turn around and it’s March.  Where did the time go? What happened?  Hmmmmm…..My friends and I used to always joke about how days would get away from us.  Now I guess I have moved on to entire months, maybe even years.

The Chris’ Birthday Bash

ChrisBday4It was suppose to be a one night drinkers take all kind of party of Feb 6th.  Instead it rolled into two solid nights of Wild Cat mayhem.  This was an important year for the two of us.  Bizarro was turning the big 30 and I had planned to announce my semi-retirement from the Santa Barbara party scene.  It has been a great run, but I am pretty sure there is more to life then partying, casual sex and getting completely obliterated and I feel it is time to find out just what that is.  I have had a long and fruitful run starting from when I was 13 years old back in Manasquan, New Jersey being held upside down for a keg stand by a dude twice my age to prove I could hang with the big boys.  Since then I have been mixing it up with both friends and randoms all over the world.

There have been fun times, sad times, pathetic times and then the times I just can’t remember, mostly the latter.  At 34 I am starting to feel my age and I think my body is telling me to seriously give it a rest.  I always said that once my drinking began to affect my health and subsequently my surfing I would slow it down.  Plus I sort of liked some of the positive effects in my day to day not being drunk, sick and hungover had to offer.  Finally since Heather and I are giving things yet another go and a major part of our problems was my excessive social agenda stepping away made sense.  Of course Lisanti can’t live with all work and no play.  That being said I have limited my party appearances to just a handful of times a month and stay on the more sober side when I do.  So far so good.  Better to go out on top then found a bloated dead body lying face down on the sidewalk somewhere in a puddle of your own piss and vomit.

Surfing

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Photo: Christopher Dunlea

I don’t really know whats to be said here that hasn’t already been done in detail in the surflog. El Nino started out strong bringing heaps of perfect angled WNW swell that basically lit up everything in this area.  I even got a session at Sand Spit.  Unfortunately I was stuck working most of the time and was only able to half utilize the swell on offer.  Then it pretty much went flat for the back half of the month.  For a very thorough look at the month of February in my surfing life click here.

Some early month point action.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Some early month point action. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Work
I have come to the realization that I hate the act of working in general.  Sure, I especially hate my job, but I don’t believe that matters as much as the fact that I hate that I have a job.  More then anything I find it quite absurd that I have to strictly adhere to a schedule that has been forcefully imposed upon me against my will.  I don’t really feel like I need to be at work from 12-8:30 pm five days a week.  Honestly I could get the job done in like five hours.  Why can’t I come in at 1 some days or if the surf is going to be better mid day come in at like 10 am, prep out all my shit, leave and come back at like 3?  Its just asinine in my opinion.   Yes I understand that one has to have order and conformity in the work place.  Unfortunately my surfing schedule and my working schedule so rarely coincide with one another.  Fuck work!!!

Maybe I would be more jazzed if I actually made some real money and got to live the “good life” so to speak.  I don’t make shit.  I have way too many responsibilities for my pay grade and most days of the week am directly in charge of anywhere from 10-30 employees.  On the weekends I am the infallible boss.  I do all this for less money then my superior pays to get his car detailed each week.   I should just go get a second job so I can be less poor and then I wont have to worry about fitting in surfing cause there just won’t be anytime for it at all.  Then again the second job would put me in a higher tax bracket and in the end I would probably have less take home.

There was a time in this country about 50 years ago where almost everyone made a real living wage instead of just 25% of the population like it is now.  I swear one of these days I am either going to cash out and disappear to someplace with good waves, cheap living and no crowds or go postal and start taking heads.  Blaaaaaaah!!!!!  Fuck it, I will just commit kitchen seppuku with my 7″ boning knife.
SeppukuBesides that I don’t really know if there is anything more to really say about the month of February except that its fucking over.  Looks like El Nino has decided to quite on us along with the entire North Pacific.  With some luck there might just be a few fun wind swell days here and there.  For the most part I am looking at six months of shitty south swells, long gas and money burning drives to either Malibu or Jalama and of course absolutely terrible Emma Wood.  The only upside is with te coming of May and the end of the semester approaching I have only two more months till being laid off for the summer.  The downside to that: absolutely no money.  I may have to suck dick for crack and then sell that crack…happy March everybody!!!!

Whoot, Whoot,  small, shitty windblown Emma Wood for the next six months!!!!!  Photo: H.Rayburn

Whoot, Whoot, small, shitty windblown Emma Wood for the next six months!!!!! Photo: H.Rayburn

Its been quite some time since we have heard from our friend on the dark continent.  Truth be told I had thought he died from Ebola.  Holding true to his ridiculous ability to survive insane situations the kid is hanging in there and at this point I would say safe money is that he will come out of this whole Tanzania folly unscathed and better enriched from the experience.  He finally decided to share with us a little tale of a small adventure that was bestowed upon him during some of his down time.  Enjoy.  Oh and since we have no pictures to go along with the blog I thought I would throw in the occasional cat photo instead.  As per usual anything in the color red are my own personal dick head sarcastic comments…Lisanti

Kooky Kyle writes:

You never know when that sage bit of wisdom you have been given will pay off, or when your ignoring of that advice will bite you in the ass. This is a story of the later. Growing up as groms under the tutelage of Lisanti, we were privy to plenty of advice.  Some of it was questionable, but some pieces (still questionable) have stood the test of time. One of those is “always carry $40.00 in cash and a condom”.  After I blew my knee out I had this bullshit job managing this bullshit hole in the wall surf shop.  Kooky, Mauriello, Nick the Kook and a host f other kids would come in and just hang out all fucking day.  One time I was late to open the shop cause I drank to much the night before and I got a phone call from one of them wondering where I was.  If they were going to hang out all day then I was going to subject them to all of my words of wisdom, psychotics and delusions.  In a lot of ways one could say it may have been the live version of SurfingRuinedMyLife.net. 

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Kooky got that piece of advice wrong. You should always carry at least two condoms…

A few weeks back I went into town to run my usual errands for the morning. When I got to my mini bus (Kooky has had lots of practice riding the short bus) to return to my village it was packed. As it turned out the all girls boarding school 7 km up the road from me was resuming session and all the students were returning. By the time I was on the bus there were 40 people on it. It only has seats for 26.  The bus was so packed that the driver had hired two taxi’s to take some of the girls and their luggage. After we got moving and were about a mile past the police check point I realized why they had hired the taxis. The cabs got the luggage and excess passengers past the police check point to avoid paying a hefty “fine”.

By this point I had girls sitting on my shoulders and was squeezed so tight I could barely breath. I had enough and asked the driver if I could ride on top. “Sorry no roof rack today” was his reply.  Over it I told him I would come back tomorrow. He said that was fine and even got me on his friends bus going back to town for free.

Once in town I checked into my usual hotel and went off to the internet cafe to take care of more paper work ( and caught up on pornography). When I returned to the hotel, I sat down with a nice elderly lady and had a wonderful conversation with her in Swahili as she ate her dinner. She like many Africans are amazed that I live by myself and can cook. As she finished her meal I excused myself and went to the bar to order a beer. When I came back there was a group of white people sitting down with the local Lutheran Bishop. Figuring they were missionaries and that they could be of use to me in my current line of work, I greeted the bishop in the tribal language and had a conversation with him entirely in Swahili. This greatly impressed the missionaries and they insisted on making my introduction. After a few pleasantries I pardoned myself and went back to the lounge. There I began talking with a new group of Africans.
ProperCatOne was quite pretty and she began heavily flirting with me. This isn’t unusual. I’m exotic here, (Fuck, Kooky is exotic everywhere. when we used to chill at the Wild Cat he would attract chicks to him just by making crazy faces at them) also white people have this rumor about us that we are all rich and smart. She was trying to use her feminine wiles to get her green card.  That bitch was deluded, the HIV rate in my region is about 25% for women in the age group of 18-30. I played along though, it would at least be entertaining.  Shit it’s not like he was going to get HIV from her sucking his dick a little. 

That is when she walked in. Out of all the nice but affordable hotels in this country, she walked into mine. She was checking in with her friend and I could see them from where I was sitting. Like a mirage she vanished. I knew I could bide my time and they would come to me I mean where else were they going to go?  When you are this far off the beaten track, the only thing impressive to other white people is nonchalance.   I kicked it while listening to this African man telling me his tales of being in the merchant marine and sailing to Asia and Europe.

finally the girls reappeared. She was a lithe, blonde.  Her English accent stuck out strongly against the voices of the American missionaries she was conversing with in the dinning room. This lit a fire under the African lady whom was by now sitting on the arm of my chair playing with my hair. She knew she couldn’t deal with the competition, thus made sure I had her 3 phone numbers, Skype and email. Soon the British girls came into the lounge. The friend was a gregarious homely girl. Both had clearly been on the road for days and my conversation with them soon confirmed this.
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My food came out shortly after their arrival the departure of the Africans. I ordered grilled cheese. I know, I hate Americans who go abroad and eat something they could get back home. I live in a small local village and have been eating local food almost exclusively, so the rare treat of something from back home is a thing I relish (check out my Kooky’s Korner entry “Grubbing Down in Tanzania” to understand what the local cuisine here is all about) . The girls were captivated.   “What is that? We should have checked the menu before ordering”.  Their plates of chicken and rice came out and we talked over dinner.

The friend, Elise,had backpacked through Africa last year and this year she was returning to visit the friends she had made here. On this trip her friend, Hannah (the hot one) decided to join her. As soon as their plates were cleared the homely friend pardoned herself saying she was exhausted and needed to retire for the evening. Hannah on the other hand was still full of energy, one of the perks of being able to fall asleep on African buses.

Hannah and I chilled and we clicked. Both of us are young and adventurous, neither of us were materialistic, anit-pop culture and not to mention we are both beautiful examples of the human body (sounds like a fucking match made in heaven, and then she died of an extreme case of instant EBOLA!). Everything was in my favor, a empty hotel room yards away, no friend cock blocking, a young beautiful lady  who was as interested in me as I was her. One thing led to another, and to make a long story short, always carry a condom. So kids the moral of the story is when travelling, cash, passport, condom because  blue balls suck.  Shit Kooky she was white and probably didn’t have AIDS .  Next time be a man, suck it up and raw dog her.  Oh wait, maybe that is more of questionable advice from the wrong side of the tracks courtesy of Chris Lisanti!
PizzaCatGoat

 

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