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Archive for November, 2012

Book XX: Zadig, By Voltaire, 1747, 65 pages
“That the things of this world did not always answer the wishes of the wise and that men were in the wrong to judge of a whole, of which they understood the smallest part”. Ah satire and 18th century satire at that.  I must admit I have soft spot for this type of narrative.  From Gulliver’s travels, to the later Peer Gynt, to Voltaire’s own Candide I just cant get enough of them.  The funny thing is all of these stories are poking fun at the political and cultural environments of their time, yet are somewhat still appropriate today.  Times change, but people don’t and that is exactly what these stories show to me.  Like Candide  the story of Zadig is that of a promising good natured, honest, genuine, young man who is scorned in love, in knowledge and in moral.  despite all his hardships brought upon by following his heart he stays true to his own integrity of belief.  One must admire such.  I for one a lover of Candide may actually consider Zadig a better work.  It had me laughing out loud at times and out raged at others.  A definite read.

How about lets return to British Literature with the 20th century transcendentalist/stream of consciousness writing of Virginia Wolf and her ground breaking novel Mrs. Dalloway for book XXI.

With a mug like this I must say Voltaire had to be a pimp back in his time!

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I got overzealous on the size of the Turkey I was going to cook and it just barely fit in my oven. Some how I managed to get yams and the stuffing in there. To make the Pumpkin pies I had to drive them to my boy Tim’s house to cook them there. I had already filled the pies when I realized they would not fit in the oven and had to drive to his house both up and down steep hills. I ended up driving while holding two pies on what ever angle was opposite the slop. I somehow managed to spill very little.

“A trip here (Lisanti Land) really is an escape from reality, and I love how time or even loose conception of such doesn’t even exist.  Things just happen between day and night and it all sorts itself out in the morning”.  These were the words of my friend West, a relatively new member to the court at the Palace.  I was very surprised when I got a call from him back in September asking if he was welcome to come stay with me for Thanksgiving.  The first time I met West was when he innocently accepted an invitation from Kooky Kyle to come up here from San Diego and spend Christmas with him here in Santa Barbara.

I was suppose to go back to New Jersey to see my folks for the holiday and being that the two Jersey kids, West and Kooky were spending their first Christmas away from home I was glad they would find a comfort in one another.  By early December I had decided that I was just not in the right frame of mind to go home and deal with all the family stuff.  2011 was a really tough year for me and at the time I was not ready to answer all the redundant questions that follow.  “What happened?” “How did you blow it this tme?” “Whats your plan now?” And my favorite “You should have never let Sindia go”.

I was not nearly in the mind set for any of that.  I changed my plans, cashed in my ticket and hunkered down for a Holiday in the Barb.   What should have been a fun week vacation for West with an old friend turned into an experience of gnarl he would never forget that involved binge drinking, amazing waves, epic Rincon, good food, a healthy black out, a stabbing and an arrest.  Business as usual in Lisanti Land.  For the scoop on what happened read blogs: Christmas Dread Part I, Part II and Part III.  Most of my regular readers deemed it the most epic saga ever written here.

After all of that ridiculousness the idea that West would even entertain a trip back to the scene of the crime sounded preposterous to me.  When he actually booked his train ticket and was set to come I was flabbergasted.  It seemed round two was inevitable.  Then I was woken up a week before Thanksgiving very hungover, maybe even still drunk a little by a phone call from my friend Dave from Florida, another guy who spent about a month sleeping on my couch last season.  Turns out he just got into town a day or so before.  The stage was being set and the plot thickening for yet another adventure.

The usual turkey day plan for me the past four years was to go over my boy Ryan’s house and enjoy dinner with his lovely family and friends.  This year however his wife went back to work and was not feeling a big event.  Last year Ryan invited Dave, myself and Kooky Kyle and I do believe we all got a bit too inebriated at the table for his quaint mid-western wife.  With no place to go I needed to think fast.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am a chef, why not cook a feast for my usual Wednesday night dinner crew and all of our closest friends.  As I was mulling this idea over in my head I had a conversation with my new roommate JP and as it turns out being from Belgium he had never experienced a true American Thanksgiving.  That was all the motivation I needed.  I ordered a 22 lb turkey from one of our distributors at work and began promoting.

Rather then compete with the dinners of others I decided to do mine on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, which was more appropriate since my dinners are always on Wednesdays anyhow.  I added my boy Pat another recent NJ transplant to the group rounding it out to a basically entire east coast crew considering my usual Californian invites all stood me up.  Two days out I began getting the menu together.

I decided to brine the turkey for twenty four hours to allow it to be both moist and flavorful. Learn how to do this yourself here.  I made two pumpkin pies from an actual pumpkin another recipe I have featured here on this site click here for that one. Then I did a meat lasagna because I am Italian and in my family there has never been an occasion where there was not some type of substantial pasta dish.  On Thanksgiving someone always made at least one lasagna when I was growing up.  I just had to keep with tradition, not to mention I make a dank ass lasagna, sorry no recipe for this one yet.  I am still at ends with whether or not to post my family’s Italian recipes that have been passed down orally for over a 100 years.  I will tell you what if you want to come visit me here at the Lisanti Palace with the sole purpose of learning I will teach it to you hands on just as it was taught to me by my grandmother, mother and so on and so forth. Of course after such you will have to come get shitty with me at the Wild Cat.

My co-worker Chantelle made a zucchini  potato casserole, cranberry chutney, and a pear upside down cake.  I also did my families Italian bread stuffing, a basic garden salad and roasted yams.  Of course there was plenty of good wine on hand as always.  Like I said it was a veritable feast.  I had expected 11 people, ended up with only nine.  They were nine of my closest friends and in my book if you are a close friend you are family.  Everyone pretty much gorged themselves with food and all were pleased.  As far as I was concerned the dinner was a success.

Even Alfie chowed down on some Turkey. What part of the turkey could that be??? Hmmm I wonder…..

After eating Mark, West, Pat, Dave and I rolled to the Wild Cat, but when we got there we found ourselves way too full to even try and consume anymore alcohol.   Minus watching Pat strike out with two decent looking chicks in town for the night and witnessing some poor schmuck get arrested for blowing coke in the bathroom, it was a pretty uneventful night at the club.

As per every Thanksgiving since I have lived out in Santa Barbara there were waves.  The boys and I woke up and cruised down to Rincon.  The crowd was its usual holiday circus.  I was in decent spirits and did not want a session there to ruin that for me.  Dave and Pat went for it while West and I cruised to Pitas and although not as good had almost 75% less crowd.  You can read the surf log for the details on my Thanksgiving weekend surfs.   I must say it was not the best I have ever seen it for the duration but it was fun.  West and I scored a bonus glassy Jalama session on Saturday the 24th that was about as good a surfing experience one could get after which we went for a fun romp through the valley that West considered a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Overall I found it to be a better then usual Thanksgiving holiday.  I had five solid days off from work.  The company of some really good friends.  I cooked and hosted my first ever Thanksgiving dinner that went down with out a hitch.  We all scored some good waves.  Despite a solid amount of drinking and partying no one got sick, blacked out, got injured, died, had regrettable sex with a mutant (thank you West) and West did not get arrested.  Thanksgiving 2012 may just have to go down as the best ever!  All that in the midst of the “Fall of My Malcontent”.

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I know its been a while my friends.  I must confess I have been really busy doing absolutely nothing.  Sometimes that is what bogs me down the most.  My mind and emotions have sort of been rather scattered the last few weeks.  Between the destruction back home courtesy of Sandy (see “Speechless“), some interesting developments at work, my new plan to race the Iditarod, the worst fall season of surf after coming off the worst summer of surf we have seen here in the 805 in years and the usual bull shit I just have not been able to sit down and compose a formulated thought.

Believe me I have a bunch of half started blogs just waiting for me to sit down and finish them with the right frame of mind.  Kooky Kyle posted a great Power of Ten list that totally inspired me.  He gets the first 2 points of the Fall UCB quarter.

1)OTBOTB stands for “off track betting” and it is the lowest of the low of legal gambling.  Basically they are at their best little clubs where people can bet on any type of racing going on that day including dog races in some venues.  At their worst they are little holes in the wall with a bullet proof glass counter for taking bets.  The clientele of an OTB are basically a collection of really sorry folk who have a serious gambling problem.  That being said some of the best Seinfeld episodes had scenes at the OTB and there is a great Richard Dreyfus movie called “Let it Ride” based on the horse race gambler’s life style.

2)A Free Case of Wine Every WeekI fucking wish.  Right now I spend way, way, way too much money on wine, being that I drink about a case a week.  I am talking a California case of six, not a dozen and always have help.  It would have to be good wine too.  I would really be pissed off if I was delivered a case of Charles Swab, Rex Goliath, Yellow Tail or Bare foot every week.  Yeah I am a pretentious prick although I prefer wine snob.

Just an average week here in Lisanti Land.

3)What if Prince Showed up at My Door as a Jehovah’s Witness?:  For starters I love when Jehovah witnesses show up at my house.  They are always good for at least an hour’s worth of entertainment.  Usually my course of action is to get them so fed up with what a piece of human trash I am that it is pointless to help me find salvation.  Last time one of those poor bastards spent nearly two hours with me and I think he was ready to cry by the time he walked out the door. If Prince showed up I would just make him sing “Wanna Be Your Lover” after which I would sign up and join in on the quest of the Jehovah witnesses.  Cause if its good enough for Prince then its good enough for me.

4)Why are the sous chefs the ones on top of everything and the chefs are usually fuck ups?: The goal of an aspiring chef whether in culinary school or starting at the bottom as a prep cook or garde manager is to one day become an executive chef at which point one can relinquish the bulk of the responsibility of running the actual kitchen to some other poor sap looking to move up in the world.  This slave to the kitchen is better known as the sous chef.  He is there  in order for the executive chef to have the freedom to better harness his creativity over the actual menu and organization of the kitchen.  If I were to ever open up my restaurant after I got things up and running I would look to train a very competent sous chef willing to kill himself so I would not have to.  Instead I could focus more on the actual product coming out of my kitchen, how customers view the place and that sort of thing.  I think mainly Exec chefs just get lazy when there is a very competent sous in the kitchen.  In respect to the sous he would rather not have the exec chef breathing down his neck all night either.  Its a give and take.  Fact of the matter is in most cases those “incompetent” chefs as you like to call them have paid their dues and are just reaping the benefits of such.   A good manager is smart enough to hire people  he knows can do the job to his standards with out constant supervision.  If I have to keep my eye on the sous all night then what was the point of having him?

5)What Country Parties the Hardest?I don’t really know if I can be an authority on this although I have traveled extensively in my day.  I know every country I have been to I have partied pretty hard.   Then again I always seem to find a party in even the most unlikely of places.  Overall though I think the Aussies go pretty nuts.  Any time I am partying and someone is going absolutely bat shit crazy it’s usually is an Aussie.  Everyone has their moments though I am sure.  If Lisanti Land ever gets recognized by the the United Nations then I guess I would have to say it would be in contention.

6)Best Toast I Have Ever HeardIts rare I hear any toasts that are not the same tired bull shit that is expected to be said.  Here at the Lisanti Palace I give a toast at just about every meal that is shared  between myself and anyone who is bold enough to join me.  Theses toasts can go anywhere from heart warming, to a brutal stroke to my narcissism, to nothing more then the usual gibberish that comes out of my mouth.  Two weeks ago my buddy Tim’s girl friend brought these two annoying hipster fucks to one of my Wednesday dinner parties.  This is fine cause I always enjoy new people at these shindigs.  Something about the two of them just rubbed me the wrong way from the get go.  Some body joked about who should say grace.  Being the arrogant, obnoxious prick that I am I stood up and said “we don’t say graced in my house cause I take no direct affiliation to any god and if we are going to say grace maybe it should be said to me since I maybe a type of god”.  Then I raised my glass.  My normal guest laughed at my insanity as always, the new comers stared at me appalled and my French-Belgium roommate had a look of fear in his eyes that could only be “how did I end up here?”.  Talk about creating an awkward situation.   Lucky in my house there is always plenty of alcohol to brighten up any uncomfortable scenario.

7)Favorite Thanksgiving Food: Considering Thanksgiving just passed and now that I don’t spend it with my paternal family it has really come into its own for me as a holiday.  For me it would have to be lasagna, yeah that’s right lasagna.  In an Italian family it doesn’t matter what the occasion there has to always be some type of pasta course. On Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember there was always lasagna.  To this day I uphold this family tradition.

8) Favorite SRML AvatarWell I have to be honest my regular readers with the exception of Kiefer and myself it seems most of you just use the little monsters Word Press assigns to you.  I have to say Kiefer’s is pretty awesome.  Mine, well shit that a picture of Alfie all jacked up on an over dose of flea medication, pre-heroin days is classic

9) Is Parko Going to Win at PipeI don’t really know what to expect.  The ASP WCT has basically become as valid as professional wrestling where judging is concerned.  Historically we have seen Parko blow the title race more times then once at Pipe Line  then again he does surf the place rather well and has a pretty good track record for getting into the final rounds.  At this point the only guy who can stop him is Slater and I believe in order for that to happen Parko would need to go down before the quarters and Slater win the entire event.  Slater winning at Pipe is not out of the question. He seems more motivated this year in Hawaii then we have seen in a long time.   The reason why Parko is your current ratings leader is because he has been Mr. Consistent all season.  At this point my prediction is Slater will take Pipe but Parko will win the world title.  Like I said I have little faith in the ASP judges so your guess is as good as mine. Never discount the Champ, he comes out of a tube at around 1:34 in the video below that is absurd…

10) The Evolution of the Wild CatMy tenure at the Wild Cat started in March 2008.  Back then it was pretty much a full on gay bar on some nights or a gnarly Mexican gang hang out on others.  Consequently being a homophobic New Jersey guy I stayed away.  My friend Julie brought my boy Brennan and I in there for a crazy night of partying.  It was then that we realized the potential of the place for partying and picking up chicks alike.  By mid 2009 I was going there pretty exclusively with the occasional stop at Sharkeez, Sand Bar, James Joyce and O’Malley’s because Corey was in love with the bar tender there.  I met Adrienne there in the summer of 2009 and ironically as a result of her my time at the Kitty was decreased to one night a week about twice a month.  By 2011 when we broke up and I returned to the Cat I was nearly forgotten by most of the regulars and staff.  Sara still tended bar there and remembered all the money Corey and I used to blow.  Amber was still working as a waitress, the entire security staff was basically the same and Sharon a bar tender I greased up a ton back in the day had just began working there again.  The place had become my comfort zone and I pretty much found myself there most nights of the week.  These days I am very well taken care of and one can find me at the Wild Cat any time I step out downtown which is always Friday through Sunday with occasional odd days mixed in for good measure.  It’s my Cheers, just bit more gnarly.  At the moment I have some really tight friends I roll with who have become my own little rat pack so to speak.  In the end I would really like to see my relationship with the Wild Cat dissolve into almost never.  For now it fills a certain void in my life and I will leave it at that.

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Book XVIII is Tuesdays with Murray, by  Mitch Albom, 1997: 192 pages

“Once you learn how to die you learn how to live”.  Like I said I have been blowing through books lately and at times have not even had chance to write about what I am reading when I am reading it.  Tuesdays with Murray is not a book I would normally pick up.  For one thing it is late 20th century American Literature where I am more of a fan of 17th-19th classics  and mainly British Literature.  An anonymous person, maybe a guardian angel even,  had sent it to me in the mail.  As I said in an earlier blog if someone is going to go through all the trouble to send me a book and even fold pages in it they thought were important for me to grasp, finally inscribing the cover, well then I certainly will not ignore.  To my mysterious benefactor I thank you for your kindness.  I found the text to be very heart warming and I think I am pretty sure I get the point you were trying to make.  Its nice to know that someone out there cares enough about me to take an interest in helping me get back on track with my life.

Since reading this book I am making a serious effort to control my excessive drinking habits. I am far from there yet but you know what I am taking baby steps towards something.  I am really trying to love myself.  A good friend told me after Adrienne and I split up “how could you have ever expected to love anyone when you don’t even know how to love yourself”.  This is a really hard one for me.  I have spent the better portion of my life thriving in self loathing.  I know that seems like an oxymoron cause my ego and arrogance are so prevalent.  I assume I use them as an easy defense mechanism to hide my rampant low self esteem, awkwardness and insecurities.

Albom wrote this thing about self pity “I thought of all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves.  How useful it would have been to put a daily limit on self-pity.  Just a few tearful minutes and on with the day”.  Honestly I really try and do this.  I only give myself very short windows of self-pity when it comes on then I shake it off and get “on with my day”, my life for that matter.  I am still pretty lost in life at the moment, but at least I know where I have been, where I don’t want to be and where I do not want to return.

This book is about a beautiful man on his last months of life and his seemingly simple yet ingenious realizations that I feel many of us forsake never to realize the errors of our ways till it is too late.  One thing I really have to give Tuesdays with Murray credit for is that I was about to take this Sous Chef job at a new restaurant downtown.  They had offered me a substantial raise, and a chance to really spread my wings as a chef.  The hours and hardships were to be long and hard.  At the moment I really love my job and everyone I work with.  Next to surfing it is the second happiest place I spend my time at.  Sure I am not making very much money, but if I made more I would just spend more and my situation would still be same.  One thing I can say with the utmost certainty all the wonderful people in my life love me for me and not my money and that my friends is priceless.

Tuesdays with Murray is good beach reading.  It’s written at a very philistine level.  At first I was put off by such.  Being a Literature snob and all I like to be challenged with my reading.   Maybe Albom wrote it that way so it could be enjoyed and learned from by the masses.  Its with out a doubt worth picking up.

Book IXX: The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1905: 176 pages

“Mercy didn’t exist in the primordial life, It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death.  Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate down out of the depths of time he obeyed”. What a book my friends.  I was at the Ventura swap last fall with Kooky Kyle looking through a pile of junk marked “Everything $1” for something hideous to buy Mauriello for his Birthday when I came across this book.  Kooky found some piece of trash he wanted so we bargained with the guy to get the whole lot for a buck.  Since he was some toothless meth head who probably found all that stuff in the trash anyway he complied.

I finally got a chance to sit down and read it, a book that supposedly people have read by 8th grade.  I am glad I didn’t cause I would have missed so much.  In 8th grade I would have thought it nothing more then a story about a dog instead of a struggle for survival and acceptance.  Basic plot is a Southern Californian pet dog circa late 1890’s is kidnapped and sent up to Alaska to be used as a sled dog for gold rushers.  The book outlines his trials and tribulations with such.  After reading the previous book it was very refreshing to read really good writing. I laughed, I cried and in the end held my head up high.  Read it I promise it is better then anything on the boob tube.

I read the signet edition which also included short stories Diable-A Dog; An Odyssey of the North; To the Man on Trail; To Build a Fire; Love of Life; all of which I also found riveting. London has found his way into my heart and favorite authors.  I think I am going to move to Alaska, get a sled team and train for the Iditarod.  I already started training by spending more and more time each day in the walk-in freezer at work.  Oh and I forgot to mention Alfie is going to be lead cat…

For our next book lets read some Voltaire and enjoy Zadig for book XX.  Happy reading.

This is going to be me and my dogs some day!!!

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