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Archive for September, 2012

Today marks the official end of summer on the modern Calendar and if those Mayan dudes are correct we are just a few months till the end of the world and thank fucking  god cause I don’t really have a back up plan for 2013 if the world does not end.   With the end of this summer also concludes the SUMMER OF ALF!!! I know it feels like it only just began and now it is over :(.  Was it a success or failure?  You will just have to wait for my Summer of Alf index report blog to find out, although if you read the surf log you might have been able to speculate the answer to that one.  If not check back at June, July, August and September and you can make your own assumption.  Then read “Of Things to Come” and really see how well I did accomplishing some of those summer goals and if your completely lost on what the Summer of Alf is read “I declare this the Summer of Alf” blog.  Then answer the fun poll below.  Hooray!!!

The 21st of September does not just end the summer of 2012 or THE SUMMER OF ALF, but also the summer quarter of the UCB.  I know what your thinking, what quarter you only wrote like 2 UCB’s.  Whatever, sorry folks I was too busy living in the moment of the SUMMER OF ALF and getting drunk at the Wild Cat and fornicating with loose women.  Yeah for sluts at the bar.  Nothing says good times like waking up in the morning next to a person you have no idea ever meeting or how she got to be in your home, let alone why she is naked next to you.  Ahhh single living,thank you Ades for all you have done for me.  I am sure I will look back on all this someday and laugh…NOT!

Before I close out the summer UCB quarter I thought why no conclude it with one more Power of Ten list.  Mauriello takes the cake on this one.  I must say there were some really hefty lists posted.  Choosing one was a realy mental fight.  Ultimately I let Alfie choose.   John you can thank him for your two points.

The cat of cats Alfie making this months Power of Ten winner selection.

 

1. Die AntwoordDie Antwoord is this ridiculous house music group from South Africa.  Mauriello is currently obsessed with them and after watching way way way too many of their videos on YouTube.com I too have been a bit corrupted.  Who are we kidding I was already fucked to begin with.  You can make the decision for yourself. “Old enough to breed, old enough to bleed, old enough crack a brick in your teeth”.  Oh the shit that is out there in this world and then we wonder why our society is slowly falling apart.  Then again people thought Shakespeare was obscene in his time.

2. Interacting With Normal PeopleI think by now if you have been reading for a bit or even if you just read the intro to this blog you have figured out that I am not like everyone else.  The word “normal” is very subjective kind of like when one tries to judge surfing.  To me normal means behavior that comes natural to oneself.  In my mind everything I do is normal.  Unfortunately according to the standards of society I am actually very abnormal.  So that brings us to the question at hand, how do I interact with normal people.  Mostly they are appalled by my actions, speech and behavior.  Some are awestruck, others deeply impressed and the a small group slightly to very confused.  Most of the time I am not serious about anything and am very sarcastic.  I make a suicide joke on here at least once a week.  I find the taboo very amusing and like to play with those parameters.  This makes your run of the mill everyday American very uncomfortable.  More then that I do whatever I want, whenever I want, where ever I want regardless of the consequences. I am brutally honest and not afraid to make a complete ass of myself, which usually is the outcome for me 90% of the time.  Normal people just don’t understand me and therefore put on an uncomfortable smile and occasional awkward giggle biding their time till they can politely, but promptly take their leave of me and never come back.  Those of you out there who have witnessed this know exactly what I am talking about.

3. Nicholas CageI really like Nicholas Cage.  As a matter of fact I cannot think of a movie he has been in that I have not liked.  Sure he only has three looks, creepy happy, creepy angry and creepy pathetic, but he uses them well.  “Leaving Las Vegas” is one of my all time favorite tragic romances, “The Wickerman” is a gnarly ass suspense that has you guessing till the last second.  “Lord of War”  and “The Weatherman” will have you laughing your ass off.  “Gone in 60’s Seconds” is action packed and “8mm” is just plain heavy.  Just to name a few.

Sort of looks like when I go grocery shopping.

4. The Implications of Granny PantiesThis is a very good topic and one I have some experience sadly with.  When the granny panties come out you can kiss your sex life with your girl friend goodbye along with it.  Basically what cotton full cover panties means is “I don’t care about turning you on anymore”.  With this always comes the sweat pants, “Im too tired” and ultimately her sleeping next to you in full on pajamas.  It means your girlfriend, wife or whatever does not give a shit about sex with you except for that two times a month when she is horny.  Its a very sad predicament my friends.  I am not saying ladies that you have to be in thongs all the time, but there are plenty of sexy options out there in pantie design that will still offer comfort but drive us wild.  Yes you may not be comfortable sleeping naked, but there are also plenty of sexy sleep options that are comfortable as well.  That XXL t-shirt does not do shit for me.  I know, how bout if I gain thirty pounds grow a beer belly and sit around on the couch all day in a pair of stained tighty whities and a wife beater.  Sounds grotesque doesn’t it.  That is exactly what we think of the granny panties.  Its only ok if your a granny and I am so old that not even an entire bottle of Viagra could get my dick up. Let the hate mail begin!

5. RoommatesAhh roommates, the necessity of the poor.  Sure I could live with out a roommate if I wanted to go live in Goleta, Carpinteria, a shitty part of town and give up my ocean and mountain view.  Either that or I could rent a studio with one room, a bathroom a microwave and a hot plate.  Sorry I need a kitchen and love my view.  That being said the Lisanti Palace is not cheap and Alfie that lazy S.O.B wont go out and get a job.  Thus I have roommates.  Here at the Palace we have been through dozens.  Some were crazy, some sucked, some loved shooting heroin, others were great.  Overall my only goal in this life is to someday make enough money that I can support the Palace on my own.  That and get my Bentley of course.

6. Backside Barrel RidesI love backside barrel riding.  It is way gnarlier, looks sicker, is more technical and you can just get so much deeper in the tube.  When you come out of an acid drop drainer back hand with no grab and nothing but your hands on your testicles it’s legendary.  I am a goofy in the northern hemisphere which contributes to an inane backside tube ridding ability.  It also helps that I grew up in New Jersey known for either flat days or heaving right hand barrels.  Now I live in Santa Barbara home to two of the best right hand barrels in the world, Sand Spit and El Capitan.  Lets just say when a heavy one is bearing down on me backside I don’t even think twice about pulling in.

Slab Happy in South Australia

7. Bar FightsThere is something really invigorating about getting into a good old fashioned bar fight.  It seems these days I have been getting into way more of my share then I should be.  The main cause of it is when other guys girl friends decide they would rather hang out with myself or my buddies.  Then the other guy gets jealous and comes over all angry “What are you doing with my girl”.  Then I respond “hey guy if I were you instead of wasting your time getting all huffy with us you ought to check your bitch”.  Next thing you know punches get thrown.  In Australia and New Zealand guys will drag you out of the pub with the sole intention of fighting you just because.  You will rumble and then the winner buys the loser a beer and they are friends for life.  It happened to me when I was in NZ and that dude and I chilled all the time after that.  For a funny bar fight story involving yours truly at Fiesta last year read “Fiesta 2011 Ole!” Blog.  Basically I started a full on bar room brawl by accident.  Read it I promise you will laugh.

8. Fast FoodI know I am a very accomplished cook and purveyor of eating well, but there is just something about a juicy Big Mac that just gets my mouth watering.   I have this guilty passion for fast food.  There is just something about consuming a weeks worth of caloric intake in just a matter of minutes that fascinate me.  I am also dumbfounded on how they manage to charge so little money. All that sodium and grease, oh baby…YUM!  Top five national fast food places in order from least to greatest: 5. Taco Bell, 4. Wendy’s, 3. KFC 2. Mac Donalds, 1. Subway, fuck if its good enough for Happy Gilmore it is good enough for me and with $5 foot longs all month you bet your ass I am doing some damage there.

9. The Fountain Head: The Fountain Head is a master piece novel by Ayn Rand.  I was turned onto her by my ex-girlfriend who at the time passed it along to me.  It blew my mind and I could not put it down.  The Fountain Head pretty much sums up human integrity into a few stereo typical categories reflected from each of the main characters.  Be for warned you many not end up being the character you expected if you are a person who can look at yourself truthfully.  I saw who I was really fast and it helped me a bit to make certain alterations in my own life.  If you do read it or have read it I think you will clearly see which character reflects me the most as well.  More then anything the novel is a true testament to the human spirit and staying true to your own beliefs no matter what the cost.  First and fore most this has always been the driving force in my own life.  “All these years I had hoped to run into you so I could ask you just what you thought of me after all I have done to destroy you”…”Honestly I don’t think about you at all”-Howard Roark.

10. How to Meet Ms. PerfectThese days popular opinion keeps telling me that I am going to meet her on the internet on some online dating site.  I could not even stomach the idea.  I would be ok with meeting someone off Craigslist cause like I said before its a bit more sketchy on there.  Any chick who has the guts to post on there is a woman worthy of my esteem or at least a look.  I am sorry but I am a hopeless romantic at heart and our meet cute has to be something out of a story.  I have only seriously been with three woman and all there were such.  There was no internet involved, well maybe just a little bit in my most recent failure.  I guess that was not so recent anymore.  If you don’t have a romantic story early on than what is going to happen to your relationship years down the pike?  Maybe I am just old fashioned and a dreamer, but I think I will keep dreaming.
 

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In my last adventures up in the pacific north west I decided to get back to nature since after all it was all around me and being from the shallow, fake world that is southern California and the concrete jungle that is New Jersey I needed to take in more of these amazing vistas.  Besides I already had gotten my drunken party out of my system and my urban exploration.  There were two more stops that had to be made: a journey to the sea and a trip up to Mt. Hood.

Ahh the smell of the sea

I had been land locked for days and although I was right on the Columbia River I needed to see some beach.  Plus if there is a coast line in reasonable distance of a place I am visiting I have a need to see what might be there.  If your a surfer you are always doing recon.  Heck I was scouting up and down the Columbia and every other mountain stream or brook for the possibility of a standing wave.  Of course I had absolutely no access to a board or gear, but if I found something intriguing a return trip could be in my future and one never knows whats around the next bend on the path of life.

Fuck, my crazy mother had me married to some park ranger who worked at Mt. Saint Helens, with six kids and living in the quaint little mountain town of Castle Rock, Washington.  See part II of this saga for more about those adventures.  One must remember that my mother is out of her gourd.  Lets face it the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree folks.  My whole entire family for that matter is nothing more then a jar of mixed nuts you could buy for $1.99 at the supermarket.

The drive out took almost two hours where we passed all sorts of crazy things including a giant chicken on top of a fried chicken and pizza restaurant.  We cruised through this very industrialized logging town.  It was a Sunday and the town just had this feel of a despairing rest.  Everyone who was there was trapped in their unhappy mundane lives wishing for more, but with out an inkling of a way out.  Maybe I was just reading too much into the place.  The few people I saw walking around looked rather sad and dejected.  My guess was it was the kind of town who’s inhabitants spent the bulk of their money at the raunchy local strip joint stuffing grease stained dollar bills in the g-string of over weight, toothless strippers, before adjourning to the street corner to pick up an even worse looking prostitute.

I love  those contrasts.  The town just before this one was a tiny little spot with cute Victorian houses on the river.  Kids playing in the front yard of their homes and grandma and grandpa swaying to and fro in a rocking chair on the porch.  Unfortunately in this world one extreme cannot exist with out the other.  I guess it comes down to how to best play the hand you were dealt.  Did I mention it was a long car ride.  Between my Sister and her fiance getting all snugly in the back seat next to me and my parents banter to one another I needed to get lost in my own thought.

That’s one giant cock right there.

From there we crossed a series of bridges yet nothing yet resembled signs that we were getting close to the sea.  Then the mouth of the Columbia River got very wide.  The ships on it became ocean liners and the air had the smell of the sea.  I took in a deep breath of relief.  Like a fish out of water finally returned I felt at ease.

The plan, cause everything on this trip had to have a plan was to go up to Fort Clatsop, the final ending point on the Lewis and Clark expedition.  As it turns out this spot was where they spent the winter before heading back east to report their findings.  There was a little museum and a replica of the actual fort the boys built back in the day.  The replica had in character period actors.  It was kind of interesting, but I hate all that Disney type shit.  As I was meandering around this fort one of these farce people came over and began talking to me like it was the early 1800’s.

I was about to fuck with the dude a bit when some other guy shows up wearing a Lewis and Clark t-shirt.  From there it was on.  Him and costume guy got into a giant debate over who was the best Lewis and Clark historian. Then some other woman also wearing a different Lewis and Clark t-shirt got involved while I slipped out the back of the fort before a heated game of dungeons and dragons broke out.  I was only wearing a Kramer style button down and there was not anyone there dressed like the cast of Seinfeld.

There were some cool looking hiking trails all along the park.  My mom really wanted to see the sun set over the ocean.  For us west coasters that is not big deal since it happens everyday but if you live on the east coast your shit out of luck.  There was a few hours to kill so why not go for a hike.  I love nature, who doesn’t?  The march began.  At first it was a mellow trail along the river passing by old logging drop spots and just greenery.  Walking through the woods up there is just so enchanting.  One gets the feeling of being in some fairly tale or fantasy movie.
As we were on this hike we began to hear what sounded like passing cars.  It was not long before we realized that our blissful solitary stroll through the woods was actually right along side a rather busy through way.  Over it I noticed another trail head that appeared to allow us to go deeper into the wilderness yet still circle back to where the car was parked.  Using my great powers of persuasion I convinced my party to stray from the plan and see what might come of us.

It did not take long for this trail to engulf us in the midst of a thick old pine forest with little streams running through it.  I straight up felt like I was in Lord of the Rings.  All this time in nature really had me wishing I had some pot.  I am not a big smoker or anything, but there is something just surreal about the way I interact with nature when I have some of its offerings inside my lungs.  As of yet I could not get my hands on even an eight.  Everyone at the wedding was a square and my day running around Portland proved rather fruitless as well.

By this point I was resolved on the fact that I just was going to have to enjoy nature with out the bud.  Then about half way through the trail it happened.  I noticed an orange prescription canister typical of the cannabis clubs.  I figured it was empty but at the same time thought it a terrible place for litter to be left and picked it up to throw it away later.  Just for shits and giggles I took a peak inside.  Sure enough it was full.  There had to be at least three grams in there and it smelled pretty good.

Talk about a gift from the gods.  Someone told me once a long time ago if I really wanted something bad enough and then focus my energy on its accomplishment things would materialize.  Its about fucking time that held true.  Now I was faced with a serious conundrum.  How the fuck was I going to smoke this stuff.  As we were coming into the park I remembered seeing a Rite Aid, boom papers and a lighter coming right up.

Myself, Larry, Val and my mother on this crazy little bridge we came across on the hike.

My evening was made.  A beach sunset with a fatty.   Soon a new problem presented itself.  Turns out we must have missed a trail marker and were completely lost in the woods.  The other issue was that the park locked it’s gates at 6pm and it was steadily closing in on that time.  My argument for not staying with the plan at this time had become very unpopular.  Panic began to set in upon my father, sister and her fiance.  My mother and I on the other hand were just cruising around taking it all in.  It was not until she pointed out that if we got locked in then I would have now way to smoke my weed.

All of a sudden I got very motivated to find a way out.  I thought  we should keep on our current heading till we made it back to the road then follow the road back to the fort.  I luckily assumed right and we just made it before lock down.  I stopped and got my papers, light and a green Cadburry Egg.  I love those things but usual can only find them around Easter.  I don’t know if this was a new product or just left over, but it was gone, down my stomach before I had a chance to contemplate it.

With everyone happy it was off to the beach to see the sunset.  We ended up in the town of Sea Side Oregon, which I thought was rather fitting for a car load of people from the Jersey shore.  Seaside ended up being a typical American beach town with hotels and bungalows, a beach walk and the rest of that jazz.  The beach itself was very large with big vast dunes.  It looked like there was some type of river mouth on the north end of the beach and a giant head land to south.  It was very cold with a stiff onshore wind.

The surf was very Ocean Beach, San Francisco looking and uninviting.  Given the biting chill of the air I once again being the voice of insanity was able to convince everyone to build a beach fire out of this giant piece of drift wood we were sitting near by collecting small kindling.  While this was going on I took to rolling my jay.  By the time I was lit and puffing away so was their fire.  Being from New Jersey where it is illegal to even listen to a radio on the beach the idea of building a fire and smoking was very novel to all of them.

Lets just say I was felling pretty good by the time this fireside picture was taken…

There we all sat the five us warmed by the heat of the fire watching the sun set on yet another successful day of adventuring.  At this point our time together was coming to a close.  As I sat there and looked over my family I could not help but notice how much all of us had changed over the last few years.  My parents although a bit older seemed more relaxed and happy not that they are retired.  My sister and Larry, soon to be husband and wife were holding one another near excited on the new chapter their lives are about to embark on.  Myself  at the moment caught in limbo waiting to see what life will unfold for me next.  For that moment nothing else mattered except the fact that we were all there on that beach enjoying the fire and the sunset together.

Time moves fast and it had never been so evident to me until this trip happened.  I have been caught up in the rapture of my own despair for so long I had almost forgot how great my family and spending time with them is.  Life can have a really steep learning curve at times.  Maybe I am finally getting around the bend.

Stay tuned for the finale, part V adventures from Mt. hood soon. In the mean time here is a cool picture I took of a bunch of shamrocks I found growing on the forest floor.  I once knew this chick who grew shamrocks.  She claimed she was Irish but I would later find out she was more like 1/8 Irish and 3/4’s Mexican and finally 100% cold hearted bitch.

Where is that Leprechaun, oh wait it’s Oregon not Ireland. Instead of a pot of gold I found a canister of green…he he

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Jalama when its not pathetic

I thought I would take a brief break from the Pacific Northwest saga and write about the ten hour retard mission I went on today in search of ride-able surf.  In case you were teetering on the edge of your seat for the very exciting conclusion don’t fall off, you will just have to wait.  Part four may just be the best of the whole darn thing.  That whole trip was sort of the cause of today’s events.

Before leaving for Portland there had been in a serious drought of surf  here in the 805.  The summer was atrocious as it was and then the last few weeks of August just gave up on us all together.  At the time I was working like crazy at Westmont helping our very short staffed kitchen keep running.  Every time I leave town one can bet his life on the fact that there will be waves.  Holding true to this theorem before leaving all the forecasts were calling for a solid little south swell to hit California.

A lot of fucking good that did me in Portland.  At least my friends were going to score.  Its one thing to miss a week of surf if there has been swell, but its quite another when you cant even remember the last time you paddled.  I took it like a good sport, a very rare feat for me.  I figured when I got back it would be September all the weather folk are predicting a return of El Nino.  No worries there will be plenty of surf.

Well I watched the swell materialize from my computer in Portland, peak and die.  Then I looked at a forecast as far as the 14 day out look and it showed no better then 1-2ft.  At that point I may have screamed a few profanities while smacking the wall with the sole of my shoe.  Things were looking grim.  I need to surf.  It’s  not a hobby for me but a necessity of life similar to that of breathing air.  For me there are only two modes of action, surf mode and non-surf mode.

Surf mode is chill.  I wake up every morning and find some waves to shred before work and my days are spent for the most part mellow and stoked.  I mean sure there are some frustrating sessions and still a bit of drinking and partying but overall I feel really good and that I have a reason for living.  Then there is non-surf mode.  This kicks in after I have not surfed for a period of more then 5 days.

Non-surf mode for me is the complete absence of enjoyment out of life.  I become a zombie just going through the motions of my everyday not caring.  I feel out of shape and very lackadaisical.  My mood becomes somber.  I drink more and the partying gets out of hand.  By 8-10 days I barely remember what surfing is all about.  I sleep till the absolute last moment I can before work then come home and pass out after work.  I become a total ball of dog shit.

That was exactly where I found myself when I woke up Monday morning, dog shit.  A solution needed to be formulated to this downward spiral I was falling into.  I checked all the forecasts for all of California.  It looked as though Jalama might be the call with favorable looking wind conditions and some NW wind swell.  Monday night I called a few of my surfing cohorts to see who would be the lucky passenger on my excursion up north.

First one to respond gets the seat in my car since whenever I got up north I strictly follow the rule of two.  My boy Kevin Angers jumped at the chance with in minutes.  Then towards evening he unexpectantly dropped out leaving me in a scramble to find a number two.  North county is shark country and if you bring a buddy at least you cut your chances of being munched on in half or have someone around to witness your death.   I always tell my friends if I get eaten feel free to loot my life, just make an anonymous call to my parents to let them know I have perished.

“Hi Mr and Mrs Lisanti you don’t know me but your son Chris has been eaten by a great white.  Too bad, so sad.  But remember he is not really gone if we find a way to remember him.  I am doing that by taking all his stuff, keeping what I like then selling the rest on craigslist.  Bye now.””

I hit up this dude Pat who used to go to college with both Nick the Kook and Alex No Friends back in Melbourne Florida. Turns out he recently moved to Port Hueneme in Oxnard County.  He hit me up a few weeks ago for the skinny on the surf scene and as usual I was happy to oblige.  Anyone who wants to come move up here and suffer through terrible surfing 90% of the time is more then welcome to my advice, which is always “Have you considered moving some place else”.  Never being up that far north he was stoked to go.

We convened at the Lisanti Palace  at 6am and cruised northward with high spirits and lots of stoke. I love the drive up there it is very peaceful going through Gaviota and then onto route 1 through the ranch.   Then you turn off onto the Jalama road which is this twisting snake of fun banked turns with cliffs and rolling hills.  It is very scenic.  When we got in sight of the ocean it was offshore and from up on the bluff looked around chest to head high.  Stoked we drove into the camp ground and got ready for the walk to cracks.

It was not until we started walking that we realized that a vantage up high usually will tell you a lie.  All we kept seeing was knee to waist high G.I. Joe waves with a crowd of twelve on one peak with poor shape.  We sat down on a piece of drift wood to contemplate our current situation.  I had to surf.  Besides the long over due need for a score it was 9/11 and I have always surfed on 9/11 including the day it all went down.  It has been a standard for me.  If the entire world is falling apart and all is going to end I want to be out in the water when it all goes down.

I decided the best course of action courtesy of more miss information from Surfline.com was to run up to Surf Beach.  I think they should send a check for $2 to anyone who writes them that they got screwed by a poorly produced forecast.  Surf beach is more exposed to open ocean swell, but also to wind as well.  I was desperate and Pat was game so we cruised.

When we arrived at Surf Beach it looked really fun actually, by Surf Beach standards of course.  There was no one out for scale but having spent a number of surfs out there now I assumed it was over head.  Why was there no one out you ask?  Surf Beach is fucking closed till September 30th as a result of too many violations of the beach rules set by the Air Force since the spot is technically on their property.  As it turns out 50 infractions is the magic number to close the place down.

At this point I had just about lost it and was ready to have a freak out Lisanti style.  Then I remembered that Pat is new to Lisanti Land and may not be able to handle such a scene.  I took a few deep breaths while pacing in circles around the parking lot.  I was up the creek with out a paddle.  I opened the trunk of my car and pulled out my leash as I scanned the parking lot for a spot high and strong enough to hang myself from.  The light at the far end of the train station looked more then adequate.

As I was constructing a noose it hit me, what about further north?  There was Pismo but a surf there was about as bad if not worse then not surfing at all.  Then I thought back to the protests against the county charging for parking at select beach parks and there was a place just outside of Guadalupe that was on that list.  I though heck if there was a beach there why wouldn’t there be waves.  Killing myself would have to wait about 30 minutes till we got there.  Guadalupe is know for its giant dunes so I figured at the very worst I could try and bury myself alive.

We traversed this sketchy little road through the dunes before coming out to the ocean where to our pleasant surprise there were waves.  It was not perfect.  There was a slight texture on it and it looked a bit shifty and hard to read.  There were two guys leaving as we were pulling up.  After all that effort you can bet your ass we were suited up and were in the water in no time flat. I just got a new Excel 4/3 for a steal off the internet and was warm as hell.  Pat on the other hand had this very old O’Neill that looked like Swiss cheese.

We got out there and right off that bat I had a nice right.  I felt very rusty and out of shape the entire session.  For three hours we traded waves in the very tricky conditions stoked.  It was far from good by any means but when you have been wave starved as long as I have or come from Florida like Pat it was good enough.   There were some really fun sections.  We had an entire line up to ourselves, a pod of dolphins decided to join us for a bit.  The seals even seemed to be chilling. It was not the score I had intended, but I definitely made lemonade out of lemons.

Fuck surfing I’m over it.  I think this is the new course my life is going take.  I am going Gangnam Style, whooot!:

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Sorry this is the only picture I got from my urban adventure since I left my camera at home this day and my phone is all messed up at the moment. As usual here is one I shot while driving to wine country a previous day.

Pardon the short interruption from part 2.  All I must say in my defense is that I partied like a mother fucking maniac over the weekend thus leaving me utterly a mess. I am mostly recovered now through and through I will proceed where I left off.  If your lost check out Part I and Part II by clicking each one’s respective link.

Running a muck around the city of Portland for a day

I woke up on my new friend Lily’s couch feeling rather alright all things considered.  I had set aside the entire day to explore around the city, plus after three full days of hanging out with just my parents, as much as I love spending time with them, I just needed a break.  I was beginning to feel like I was 16 and living at home again.  The only difference being this time they could not take away my booze.  A well deserved free day as I like to call it was a foot.  My parents or at least my dad, are very locked in to a set plan.  Everything is on some kind of itinerary and if an opportunity happens to present itself, but it is not on said schedule they get all bend out of shape.

Personally when I am not a work I do not really have a set plan minus the tide/wind/swell patterns for surfing.  Other then that I’m pretty wide open to just about anything and everything.  My mantra to at times my dismay is that “I will try anything once” and “whats the worst that can happen”.  There are plenty of other dumb little sayings I subscribe to but these two fit this case the best.  There are plenty of times in my life where I never do anything I set out to because other occurrences happened to change my plan.  That is why I always use the term adventuring when I go out and about cause everyday can be an adventure if you keep an open mind and are flexible.

Do understand though this philosophy has cost me a wife, a serious girl friend, countless friends and many, many, many a job.  Such is life.   I woke up and initially I thought I would hit up my old friend Grant who lived in the area and as a result of conflicting schedules and his Casanova like love life had yet to link up.  The girls got up and had a plan on us all doing brunch.  Being a chef they asked what I was feeling.  In my usual fashion I asked to be taken to the jankiest place in town with the best comfort food ever.

Sure enough they did not let me down.  They had a few places in mind one a place called “The Screen Door” looked and smelled just right, but it had a wait and a half for a table.  While waiting Melissa mentioned something about biscuits and a place that only serves just that.  This I had to see.  The establishment was called “Pine State Biscuits”  I must say I was blown away.  There was a line down the block to even place an order, but there was a bar next door that had no problem pouring you a beer at 11am while you waited.  Apparently there was no problem with drinking on the street as well there.

If I was a fan of day drinking it would have been on.  We ended up ordering three contrasting dishes so that all of us could get a feel for the place, a savory dish, sweet dish and their house special.  The savory dish was sort of a take on eggs benedict over a biscuit but with bacon,  The sweet was fruit and yogurt over a sweet dough biscuit and the house special was a giant biscuit tower encompassing eggs, bacon and a giant piece of chicken.  Let me just say I almost want to make another trip up to Portland just to eat at this joint again and it was fucking cheap too.

After this amazing breakfast it was back to Lily’s apartment where I needed to figure you just how the fuck I was going to get back to Vancouver.  As it turns out public transportation with in the city works rather well, but getting across the river is a headache at best Monday thru Friday and nearly impossible on a Saturday.  SOL at the moment Lily decided we should go on a bike tour of the city, while running some errands she needed to get done.

All this seemed fine and dandy except for the fact that I was still wearing my out clothes from the night before, rather expensive dress shoes, dress pants and decent shirt.  Since I got it all at a thrift shop for next to nothing anyway I figured what the heck.  I couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike.  Just like that I found myself riding all over town.  In Santa Barbara I would have looked a bit out of place riding about dressed as such but in a more urban city I think it went over well.

Cruising around definitely gave a different perspective on things.  Usually I pack a skate board and view the city that way cause lets face it city’s are the best playground a skater could ask for.  I wish had packed a skate since Burnside is right there in the heart of Portland, one of the better gorilla concrete skate parks in existence.   We meandered about town with an ultimate destination being the water front.  I must say the architectural lay out of things was very enjoyable with new and old styles all over.  There were cobble stoned streets in some areas, street cars, a giant street festival that apparently happens monthly, and a farmers market all going down.

At the water front we were to reconvene with Melissa for a little out door picnic.  While exploring the water front we came to a break dance off.  I guess these kids do it at the end of the summer every year.  They had a great little 8’x8′ cardboard floor taped up and a dude spinning off a boom box.  It was a sick little competition to watch.  Then they asked if anyone wanted to join the battle and I figured why the fuck not.  I used to throw down back in my younger days.  Long story short I got served pretty hard.  Hey I was still the best dressed.

The picnic was nice.  We had a bit of Sake, and other little snacks.  The weather was as good as anyone could ask for.  The view was great.  The river was bustling with activity and so was the river walk.  Dudes cruising on skate boards, freaks walking about.  Bums doing the bum thing.  As we were enjoying this evening all of a sudden these sprinkler heads came up out of the ground and began dousing us with water.  We made a mad dash for safety and poor Melissa took the brunt of the water.  Someone had to jump on the grenade.

From there it was a ride back to Lily’s where I managed to not get hit by a car.  Not used to riding a bike or a bike in such a busy setting I must say I was proud to have survived with out any major incident.  Once again the painstaking task of figuring out how to get home ensued.  I called my dad and figured out that I could take a train all the way to the airport which was right across the river from where we were staying and he would pick me up.

The Wedding

My lovely family with our soon to be new member my sister’s fiance Larry.

The reason I ended up in Portland in the first place was because I was there for a wedding, my cousin’s wedding.  I guess the gal he was marrying was from that way and thus that was where the wedding took place even though they both live in DC now.  To be honest if it was in DC I most likely would not have went, but I had never been up to the pacific northwest and figured what the hell.

This was the first wedding I had decided to attend since my own marriage failed over five years ago.  I thought I could handle it but as time to leave got closer I found myself pouring rum and coke after rum and coke till I had a nice little buzz.  The ceremony was the usual.  The bride was really happy.  I tried to get a drink at the start of it but the bar tender said it was disrespectful.

Finally the ceremony was done and the bar opened.  The house wine was cheap trash but the bride’s parents supplied some cases of pinot noir and pinot gris from a local vineyard that were amazing.  The food on the other hand was far from spectactular most everything with the exception of the tuna tar tar bites I am sure were previously frozen out of a box.  I use the same stuff for catering gigs at Westmont.  I expected more of the caterer.

The reception was held on a boat which was to take us on a three hour river tour.  All Gilligan jokes aside at my level of intoxication that by the time I was on board was very high I was definitely at a high risk of falling over board.  I just realized I had not commented in the outfits of the bridal party.  The bride and groom were very well dressed.     My cousin’s tux was solid, I could not have picked a better one myself.

The brides maids wore very elegant blue gowns that flattered them all well, even the bigger ones.  The groomsmen had matching black suits that looked nice enough.  Not everyone could wear a custom made off white Armani suit with designer Italian shoes like I was.  Person for person I would have to say my family were some of the best dressed.  Woman wise well its a long way from Santa Barbara and there were very slim pickings aboard that ship.  I think the wedding planner had the best ass in whole place, which I grabbed while making my way to the bathroom and told her we ought to make shit happen after the wedding.

I was really shocked she did not come find me at the end.  The food at the reception was average at best.  The steak was over cooked, the salmon poorly presented and I don’t know if it was just that I was way too hammered at this point but I had a really hard time working the buffet utensils to put food into my plate.  Not surprising the wedding cake was nothing to write home about either.  Dancing kicked off, but there was no one on the floor besides a few brides maids and the flower girl.

My mother provoked me to hit the floor.  I talked the DJ into playing “September” by Earth Wind and Fire for my entrance.  I danced a few tunes before finding my way to the top deck where I some how was given a cigar and was puffing away till the boat came to dock.  Apparently there was an after party that I guess I was not A-list enough to get invited to.  How you could have an after party and even call it a party with out Chris Lisanti is beyond me.  Maybe they were just jealous cause I was the best dressed there.

Click here for part four and the conclusion of my pacific northwest excursion.


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Whats left of the once picturesque mountain type.

When I travel I am not one to sit around get a sun tan, especially in a place I have never been.  For me its all about adventuring and true to the source my parents are the same way.  I guess that is where I must get it from.  We all had a serious urge to go check out Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington the site of one of the most violent volcanic eruptions ever recorded in north America back in 1980.  Although the explosion took place a year before I was born I picked up a picture book on the incident at a yard sale and it was one of my favorite books as a young-in.

The barren volcano among the green pine filled landscape.

My parents and I cruised up to the site of the blast and I must say it is a very impressive sight to behold for a number of reasons.  First the blast itself ripped off the entire top of the mountain.  Then the shock wave from it ripped down every tree within a 17 mile radius and scorched others with in 30 miles.  57 people were killed including the scientists studying the seismic activity at the time.  Now thirty years later there is actually some life beginning to take shape in not only the surrounding areas but even around the area just at the foot of the mountain.

It got me thinking about how life will prevail even in the darkest of places.  I took it further to symbolize how life goes on despite occurrences no matter how adverse.  As it turns out ground hogs who had been hibernating when the eruption took place and were then buried by up wards of 75 feet of ash managed to claw their way to the surface and helped to bring plant life back to area. Imagine how fucking pissed off they were to have to do all that extra digging only to pop up and find their home completely trashed.  Insects and bacteria did as well.  In a way it was like miniature model of how life came to Earth.

These tree stumps are all that is left of an old forest torn to pieces by the blast. If you look closely at the surrounding hills you can see hundreds of downed trees. Yet around all this death and destruction new life is starting to take shape.

After leaving Mount St. Helens we heard that in the town of Castle Rock there was a giant Rock that stuck out over 100 feet into the air.  We drove all over the place trying to find this thing only later to find out that it was in the center of the town but that trees have all grown over it.  I guess the Indians used it for navigation back in the day but hundreds of years later it is  nothing more then a hill covered in foliage. Talk about the tour book blowing it.  The town itself was this really quaint little mountain town one would expect of the area.  I think they should rename the town Tree Covered Rock so as to stop any future confusion.   That night I cooked us up a nice steak dinner over orzo pasta in a lemon basil olive oil sauce.

Oregon Wine Tasting

I have been as of late enjoying all different blends and varietals from both Oregon and Washington.  Being a wine enthusiast I just had to make my way out to the wine country for a tasting.  According to most sources it seemed like Mc Minnville, Oregon was the closest center for local wines to where I was staying.  We cruised out to do some tasting but as a result of heavy holiday traffic my parents and I did not arrive in town till well after 3pm and most tasting rooms in the area closed at 5pm.  My dad had highlighted a tasting room which his tour book said represented the broader spectrum of the area’s varietals.

It turns out that part of the world is know for their Burgundy like reds and pinot noir. Being from Santa Barbara I happen to come from a place that grows some of the better pinot noir I just had to indulge.  I started chatting it up with the sommelier and next thing you know she is pulling out vintages and blends not on the tasting menu.  Let me say I was very impressed.  So much so I spent a bit more there then I had expected to and joined the wine club.  Time was of the essence considering everything was about to close.

The sommelier recommended two more tasting rooms to check out one a personal friend of hers who specialized in Italian varietals,  barbera, sangiovese  and a blend.  My Italian pedigree made this one a must stop for me.  The wine maker was a total bitch to me the entire time I was there thus ruining my tasting experience.  I must say though her barbera was very good. Given her attitude I was not about to spend a penny at her place. I got one more tasting in that was average before the day was over.

The town on the whole was pretty cool.  It reminded me a lot of Red Bank New Jersey, this little artsy town near where I grew up.  I would have liked to have hung out there a bit longer but my parents were over it so back to Portland we went.

A Night on the Town

Initially when I booked my trip I was told that Vancouver, Washington was just “steps away” from the city of Portland.  I know people in the pacific northwest on the whole are taller then much of the majority of America but even for them the route to Portland needed some big steps and many of them.  I suppose it was about time I got a taste of my own medicine, “yeah guys its just down the street”.  The fact of the matter is in order to get to the city from where I was staying it took at least a twenty minute car ride and the crossing of two bridges.  Forget about public transportation. There were a total of three buses that got over the river.  Out of that only one ran on weekends and none past 9pm.

Basically I was trapped stuck at the whim of my parents.  I felt like I was 15 again except I did not have a bike or high school sluts to sneak around with.  After 72 hours of nothing but the folks and the sleepy town of Vancouver I needed to get out.  I needed to party.  My friend Grant from back in the day had too much  going on for us to link up for some debauchery.   About to solo it my good friend and UCB hero Mauriello said I should hit up his friend Lily from college who happened to just recently move up to Portland for work.

This is what I have been constantly preaching here people, the coconut wireless, friends of friends of friends.  My whole life I have benefited from the loose connections I have with others and in return have offered up the same hospitality.  Fact of the matter is if you were to hit me up in Santa Barbara and mentioned you got my info from a friend of mine as far as I am concerned you are now a friend of mine and I will do what I can for you.  Lily in this case really came through for me.

My parents and I were going out to dinner at this fancy over priced steakhouse Morton’s in the heart of the city.  I hit Lily up and told her I was in town.  She just happened to be hitting the scene that night too and clued me in to a hot spot her and a friend were at.  Morton’s by the way was terrible.  My filet mignon was over cooked and poorly cut and so were my parents’.  I could have made a better meal myself for half the price at least.  The wine was good.

From Morton’s I left my parents with the reassurance “I have no idea whats going to happen, if I’m coming home tonight, tomorrow, or if I will even survive.  I love you.” and cruised to the club.  The place was called Blitz and from the outside it looked like my kind of place.  Neon lights, sick music and I mean sick music.  The DJ was this black dude with dreads and he was fucking killing it.  I literally danced all night.  The bar was packed shoulder to shoulder making ordering a drink very difficult.  At first I was being all polite waiting my turn and in the process getting pushed and shoved by everyone in attendance.  Finally I put on my boxing gloves and fought my way to the bar.

Everything was so cheap compared to Santa Barbara.  A tall rum and coke and a shot ran me $10.25.  I know whats with the fucking 25 cents.  I left at the end of the night with a pocket full of fucking quarters.  I met up with Lily and her friend Melissa  and lots and lots of dancing ensued.  Melissa bowed out early.  Lily asked me if I was over it and I just looked at her and replied “who do think your talking to?”.  The club ran till two am.  There was in impromptu limbo contest that this Asian kid owned,  I got into a dance off with this random chick but then somehow lost her in the crowd.

Lily offered me up her couch for the night, which was way better then my initial plan to go home with a fat girl if all else failed rather then spend over $80 on a cab home.  Unfortunately Lily gave her keys to Melissa leaving us locked out hanging on the steps of her apartment building waiting for someone to hopefully show up.  At 2:30am it was rather unlikely.  Eventually Melissa called Lily to see if she was alright and as it turned out she was in Lily’s apartment all along and she passed us down the key.  It was good cause I was starting to get hypothermia out there as my alcohol blanket wore off.  All and all I would say it was a solid night of party.

Click here for par 3 where I will discuss my day of urban exploration in the city of Portland and the wedding.

My Dad and I in front of some new pine tree growth less then a few miles from the base of the volcano.

This is some Mexican guy with one arm in a cowboy hat. I like to imagine he lost his arm bull fighting but most likely it was due to a logging accident. Yeah, I’m an idiot but a romantic idiot…

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The Columbia River from the Washington side looking up stream.

I awoke face to face with nothing but scenic vistas in all directions and gigantic evergreens in my vantage.  The air sort of had this extra freshness to it as I stepped out on the balcony of the house I a was staying at and gazed out over the river.  Im not used to looking at a body of water that ends so abruptly.   Still though the veiw there was rather breathtaking.  If  you were to throw in a point break I would be set.  I can’t remember if ever, the last time I saw so many trees.

The baller house I have been staying in. Nothing but the lap of luxury in Lisanti Land folks even on the road.  Lets just call this Lisanti Pacific Northwest HQ for this series.

To think less then ten hours ago I was in Santa Barbara who beautiful in her own right is like a completely different world.  Its been a long time since I had to do the whole travel thing, at least a year.  Besides the usual hassle of travel I also had the headache of a new roommate moving in while I’m out of town, a transition I would have really liked to have been there for.  I had family business in the form of my cousin’s wedding and since he did come to my now defunct marriage I figured I owed him the same favor.  No; I did not sleep with the bride. (everyone I told I was coming up for this wedding had warned me about such including my own mother.  Even I’m not that encouragable.)

I arrived super late with no major travel problems besides some over booked seating problems in San Francisco that caused a minor ten minute delay.  My new roommate dropped me off at the airport. I gave her a hug handed her the keys, told her please don’t wreck my car, kill my cat or burn down my apartment.  If I return and she has managed all three of these feats, completely destroying everything I have worked so hard to accomplish in the last few years I think then I am just going to cash out and get on a plane with nothing more then the clothes on my back and start a new.  The irony in that the remainder of my life I secured on my own to be completely destroyed by a woman is priceless in a literary sense.

One thing I must commend having short hair on is the ease through airport security.  What used to be a real nuisance of double security and full body checks now is a smile and “have a nice flight”.  Not traveling with a coffin chuck full of surfboards makes life much easier as well.  Having no checked luggage for that matter. I had the last fight out of the night and got into Portland after midnight.

My mother and I stayed up late catching up on things.  It was really nice to see my parents after the long time apart.  Next morning I cooked up a nice breakfast of omelets, toast, home fries and sausage. From there we decided to explore the bit of the up river portion of the Columbia River on the Washington side.  The goal was to work our way to the Bonneville dam to see the fish ladders.

This little guy only had about twenty more steps to go!

The Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River is riddled with dams.  In this area Salmon need to swim up stream in order to spawn.  These dams make getting to their breeding grounds near impossible.  In order to save the species and thank god by the way cause those guys are tasty mother fuckers all of the dams in the the area are build with a intricate system of steps and switch back so these fish can get past the dam.  I have always read and seen pictures of the system but now with it right in striking distance I had to go.

The fish ladders on the Bonneville Dam. They have to climb 75 of these against the current. If I had to do that just to get laid I think I would not even bother.

On the way to the dam we past this giant wood carving of Sasquatch that I made my dad  stop for a picture.  I mean how could I let that not happen? It turns out this was the entrance to the actual town of North Bonneville.  I would later find out as a result of an expansion project on the dam the town was moved about ten miles or so down river cause its original location was right on the plain that needed to be flooded.  Isn’t progress grand.  The poor fish have to bust their ass climbing countless steps against the current and an entire town had to pick up and move.  God bless America! Hey everyone gets cheap electricity. This town had this cute little park with all of these life sized wooden carvings of Sasquatch and I must say I got a kick and a half out of it.  Which meant lots of stupid pictures.

This is my Dad and I. He was not about the showing his sasquatch claws.

After losing an hour playing around with the wooden sasquatch we continued on to the dam.  Although it was far from the biggest dam I have ever seen the spill ways were going, which I have never seen before.  There was tons of water shooting all over the place.  I was sort of enticed on the notion of getting in a little boat and paddling around but none were to be found.  Turns out the dam was open for tours.  I could not turn down such an offer.  I had a choice of the turbine room or the fish ladders.

The Bonneville Dam spill ways in action!

Being my dad used to build power plants for a living I had a very good idea how turbines worked but have never seen fish swimming up stairs.  Inside the dam they have built these windows where visitors can actually view the fish swimming up the stairs.  It was pretty entertaining and then I found another job I need to work before I die.  In the fish room there was a lady hired whose sole job was to count the fish as they went through the dam.  Her job title: fish counter.  New life goal, become a fish counter.

We horsed around the dam, my dad got cut by some of the dam barbed wire (sorry couldn’t help myself) before we were thrown out at 5pm for closing time.  All that fish watching made me hungry for some salmon.  Before getting some fish we decided to visit a lake in the town of Camas.  Being from the ocean we find all these rivers and lakes rather novel.  It was nothing really to write home about, just your basic lake.   From there we procured some salmon and went back to Lisanti Pacific Northwest HQ.  I cooked up a nice grilled salmon dinner over risotto with roasted corn on the cob.  I don’t think one could ask for a more full day. Click here for part II.

Here is a slide show with some of the other photos I took from Day 1:

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