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The-Wedge

I have had many request from all of my of my friends that I get off my lazy ass and do a bit more writing.  Some wanted horrific tales from the vault of the Lisanti Past, others were looking for recipes, and then some just wanted some new adventure tales.  I hope over the coming weeks to make everyone happy and a bit disturbed by the content as usual.  I thought I would start with the tale of a recent Lisanti adventure, a common California adventure at that; Chasing a solid south swell.

Summertime in coastal California is not quite what all the songs, pictures, media, movies and television would have you believe. Most of the time the weather is foggy, damp and cold. The ocean cold and windy.   The surf, unless you live in San Diego or Orange county is less then amiable.  Up here in Santa Barbara unless you have a boat, access to the ranch or a plane ticket to Indo you might as well put your surf board away and take up lawn bowling.  Unfortunately for me I have none of the above and left my bocce set at home when I moved from NJ.

If one of you readers wants to send me a bocce kit I promise to drink one for you at the Wild Cat!

If one of you readers wants to send me a bocce kit I promise to drink one for you at the Wild Cat!

What do I do?  I fucking get in my car and I drive at least 45 miles a day to surf sub par surf in a frustrating crowd.  Wait, isn’t that what the California dream is?   Shit folks the California dream ceased to be a dream 60 years ago if it ever really existed.  Its more like the California nightmare now.  We all know I love to suffer.  Actually this season has not been as bad as usual.  We had a month of NW wind swell that gave consistent surf and even a few epic days with some south swell thrown in for good measure. Check out the May edition of the Surflog for more on that.  In my book there are few things sweeter then a late season NW.

When the Queen looks like this you would have to be crazy to go anyplace else...or would you?

When the Queen looks like this you would have to be crazy to go anyplace else…or would you?

This story begins on May 28th 2013 down near Antarctica.  Antarctica?!? WTF! Truth be told that is where most south swells that grace California with their loveliness begin.  Of course on the 28th a south swell was the last thing on my mind.   I was too busy capitalizing on local wind swell to even notice any action in the south pacific.  Then a few days later Surfline.com had a feature on this crazy swell that rocked Tahiti.  At that point my attention was grabbed and I knew it was only a matter of time before it would show here.  From Tahiti the swell traveled to Hawaii giving the boys on the South Shore some fun ones.  Once in Hawaii it was only a couple of days.

By June 6th front runners began to show up.  The morning was still a bit down thus I decided to sleep in hoping for some action in the afternoon.  Solimar Beach was the spot for me after a great deal of deliberation.  This time of year surf is hard to come by and the wrong decision is a fate worse then death.  Every wave squandered is a flat day you will be kicking yourself in the near future.  I really wanted to utilize this swell to its fullest extent.  The reef had some solid rights to be had with a very light crowd.  I always seem to surf Solimar on the beginning of  large south swell.  It is a cool wave that bends around a horse shoe cobble stone reef usually covered by sand.  From the beach it always looks pretty mushy which keeps the crowd down. Actually its a pretty fast bowly wave when your on it.  It sort of reminds me of Noosa a little bit.

I got a solid session in and felt although deeming it “the best of the worst” a rather fun session.  The next morning things really began to get big.  Unfortunately for me too big for my usual south swell jaunts in the area.  When I went to bed I was dreaming of all time Santa Clara.  Instead I was faced with walled close outs and strange wind.  I wanted to go to Malibu and most likely should have.  I let the fact that it was a Friday and the immense crowds that goes with it keep me at home.  Later I would find out that even though the crowd sucked there were still plenty of waves.  Once again after lots and lots of checking  I found myself settling for the “best of the worst” at Pitas Point.  Through my binoculars down the beach it looked like it was firing.  After paddling my boy Ryan and I would soon find things to be a bit more sectiony then we would have liked, not to mention very inconsistent.

The only really worthy session of September looked something like this only bigger!

This the sort of Santa Clara I was dreaming of…

I had always heard these rumors up here that El Capitan, one my favorite right hand point breaks actually will see surf on a large south swell.  Apparently it sneaks through the gap between the Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands.   I needed to see if the rumors were true and this swell seemed perfect for that.  I got up there a little later then I should have thanks to some chores that needed doing.  Afraid I had missed my window I was walking  to check it when a stoked older dude parked in front of me yelled “get your board and go dude, its on”.  Like that I found myself trotting down the trail.  When I emerged from the woods sure enough there were waves!  An older guy from Santa Barbara told me once while hanging out in the car park at Manu Bay in Raglan, New Zealand that one can tell a good point from a great point by how it holds its shape no matter what the swell angle.

El Capitan did just that.  It was only around chest to head high with a light crowd of local vets and very inconsistent, but my friends it was perfect.  I only caught 9 waves that session.  6 out of the 9 were wonderful keepers.  I can surf El Cap so well, I guess anyone can cause it is so perfect.  It is just one of those waves that makes anyone feel like Kelly Slater on it.  That is until you see Kelly Slater surf it…  Anyhow it was just one of those magical sessions that make you remember why it was you started surfing in the first place.  Later I would hear that the session of the day went down at C street that evening.  Fuck it, I hate that wave anyway.

God damn, why do all these swells have to fall on the weekend and a weekend where I had at least two party obligations to fill. A boys night on Friday with Bizarro and my boy Daniel’s going away party, which I was throwing for him at the Wild Cat.  As a result morning sessions were completely out of the question.  I know some surfers are reading this right now thinking “I can’t believe Lisanti is blowing it like that”, while I see it as a balance between the two worlds I exist in.  Balance my friends is everything in life.  It only took me 32 years to realize that.  Man cannot live by surfing alone.

Saturday I found myself a bit more hung over then I would have liked (still have not figured out that balance thing when it comes to alcohol consumption) causing a very late start.  I was still a bit sick to my stomach as I climbed the dunes at New Jetty where I heard the morning was near to all time.  There were long lines coming through, but overall things looked a bit soft and still very inconsistent.  My boy Pat hit me up that he was in Malibu all morning and was about to go back to surf Leo Carrillo.

I don’t go to Malibu on the weekend, ever!  He claimed the crowd was not bad and given I didn’t really have a better option I jumped in the car with him.  You know what it was a great call.  I got to surf the best Leo I have ever surfed.  By Leo standards and a weekend the crowd was not bad at all.  It was tough to get a set wave off the old guys and long boarders.  That was fine cause I enjoy the inside double ups better anyway, plus the sets were too big and most closing out.  I managed to put on a very strong backside performance holding it down for the goofy foot contingent.  Fuck, give me a wally lined up right any day.  That shit is my bread and butter.  Later Pat and I had a look at Hueneme Pier and he was frothing.  It looked decent enough.  I had to get back to the Barb for Daniel’s party.  It went down without a hitch.

By this point I was dead set on a Lower Trestles mission.  I had not been there since ’11 and I was thinking Monday would be the day.  I texted Trevor and planted the seed in his head.  My tires are bald on my car at the moment so the only way I was going to be able to partake in such an ordeal was if I had a driver.  Sunday I was in bad shape.   I cut down on the party and my body has totally lost its tolerance to take a beating and keep on.  I heard New Jetty was on again that morning.  I headed there for low tide.  Although very inconsistent there were a handful of decent lefts coming in.  I paddled it.   There were a few fun ones to be had among the lulls.  Later that night I returned home to a text from Trevor that he was in for Lowers.

The reality of surfing Lowers.

This is what a Lowers crowd looks like

Monday morning we made  the three hour drive south in high spirits.  We got there and it was way more crowded then I had hoped for.  As a matter of fact I can’t remember ever seeing that many cars parked on the San Clemente side.  It was decent Lowers in its own right.  The crowd was miserable and sets inconsistent.  That is a very bad combination.  My stoke was gone and part of me wanted to jump back in the car and just drive another 45 minutes south to Blacks Beach.  It was Trevor’s first time and who am I to rob him of a bad surf experience.  We paddled.  Despite a pack of annoying groms training for nationals next weekend we both found a few keepers.

Who can really hate on an entire day spend on the beach with your bud?  I fucking can.  I got sun burned.  My eyes hurt from all the sun and as of press time my back is sore from carrying all my shit down there, my neck stiff and my fucking knees hurt from too many really bad frontside air reverse attempts cause I suck at surfing.  In all seriousness it was a fun day and I am glad I went to remind me why I never go there.   At the moment it is flat with not much happening for at least a week.  Fiji just got some sick waves for the contest (congrats Kelly on another mind blowing victory) so its only a matter of days before we see the remnants of that swell. For more details on the surf sessions, party or swell visit the June Surflog.

Here's to the next good South swell and Go Slater for number 12!

Here’s to the next good South swell and Go Slater for number 12!

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Despite one of the worst summers of surfing in recent California history I still managed to bring my surfing back up to speed considering the crapper it took back in June (see blog: Oh That Summertime for more details).  In July I was determined to fall back in love with surfing again.  I found myself for the most part done with my whiny ass self pity and back to my roots: SURFING!!!  I had a few surfing adventures including a trip up north to Surf Beach (see blog: Return to Surf Beach for that story).  I battled the absurd crowds for a few days in Orange County surfing Lower Trestles (see blog: Orange County Can Keep Lowers for that story) and I experienced the adventure of the summer, maybe the year, sailing out with a buddy of mine to the Channel Islands (See blogs: A Sea Going Voyage, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 for that epic tale).

All I can say is that the surf gods gave me lemons and I not only made lemonade, but lemon meringue pie too.  Below are the stats and stand out sessions from July.  Oh, did I mention Rincon broke legit a few times as well?

Number of Session: 23
Days Surfed: 19

Time Spent in the Water: 44 hours
Number of Waves surfed: 634
Waves Surfed Per Hour: 14

 Spots Surfed:

New Jetty: 5
Emma Wood: 4
Rincon: 3
Lower Trestles: 3
Fruit Stands: 2
River Mouth: 2
Mesa Lane: 2
Surf Beach: 1
Channel Islands: 1

Top 3 Sessions:

3. 7/10/11 PM Session: 2-4+ft, Fruit Stands
Time in Water: 1.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 33
Fruits stands is sort of a secret spot on the Oxnard/Ventura border that everyone knows about but thanks to an inconvenient hike  and no easy way to check it the place is seldom surfed.  This was actually the first time I ever surfed the spot always opting for the more easy access waves.  My boy Ryan called me and said there were killable little bowls coming through and surf enough the place was a fucking chest to head high skate park.  It was a little windy but for a 45 minute window I had a blast.  Did I mention Ryan and I had he whole place to ourselves on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon?

2. 7/5/11 AM Session: 1-3+ft, Rincon
Time in Water: 1hr 45mins
Waves Surfed: 25
Rincon in July!?!???!! I know its crazy.  I heard rumors all weekend that there had been been waves at the ‘Con and not just the usual little long board waves typical of summer, but actual short board-able waves.  This morning with the near negative low tide and some time for a change I thought I would give it a look.  Sure enough there were really fun waist to chest high waves coming through.  I was pumped.  I always forget how good Rincon is, even on the bad days.  I spent the entire session up at Low Indicator and High River Mouth.  If it were winter I would not have even entertained the session but in summertime with near piss warm water and 80 degree sunny weather, why not.  I was burning up in my 4/3 and almost shedded it for the trunks I had in the car.   Have I mentioned how much I love Rincon on this blog yet?  One thing is that will always hold true is that she will never leave me for some unworthy dufuss.  Yeah she is a whore, but she always sets aside her best for me.

1. 7/29/11 AM Session: 4-6+ft, Some Where in the Channel Islands
Time In Water: 4 hrs
Waves Surfed: 39
See Blog: A Sea Going Voyage:  Part II; Quality Ocean Time for details and See Blog: A Sea Going Voyage Part III; I Didn’t Expect that to Happen. 

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I wrote this blog back on March 2nd 2009.  At the time I was living in an unofficial fraternity that I had started to enable myself to live rent free.  My ex-wife whom I wrote about last night in Feeling Awkward and I had split up only  a few months prior and I was for all extensive purposes drinking myself to death. This was initially published as a segment I used to call “Week in Review”, which is the equivalent of “News from Lisanti Land” now.  Initially it was a two parter, but I do not have part 2 currently at my disposal so you will just have to wait for it or got searching for it yourself.  I will tell you what, if you do find part 2 and are the first person to post the link in the comments it is worth 3 extra UCB points!  As always anything in red is added hindsight for this blog.

Well this week was a pretty big blur of a 6 day party fiasco, a ridiculous amount of surfing, a ton of visitors from the east coast and way, way, way, too much gnarl.  So I know I said I was going to take it easy on the party scene, but this week was a special exception.  Monday was my boy Brennan’s Birthday, Tuesday was Mardi Gras, then Scott got into town Wednesday and we had to celebrate, Thursday two friends of Cory’s came into town from Pennsylvania, and then it was Friday and Saturday so of course I had to keep on cruising.  Plus Pixie Rixon came up from San Diego to party on Saturday.  Rather then going day by day I’m just going to grab the highlights from the week.

Monday, Feb 23rd, afternoon:  After surfing some of the worst Rincon ever I was pretty much over surfing for the day and headed over to J7’s work shop to fix some boards.  3 hours later Brennan calls me and says he would be super amped  if he could surf a session on his birthday.  I tried to dissuade the guy knowing it was going to be on shore, super low tide and tiny.  Never a man to truly stomp on stoke we ended up cruising to C-street.

We get there and its like knee to waist high and side shore, but no one was out and there were a few lips that looked worthy.  We get out there and I soon realized wearing a 3/2 was a bad choice, the water was freezing and you know that once I get cold I just sit there.  Then there were these two little grommies who were constantly paddling me up the point add up all the adversities and I was pretty much over it.  Brennan got on my case about the whole little kids surfing circles around me thing so I made an effort in the last 30 minutes to school the kids which I did thanks to a 3 foot backside air on a knee high wave.

I got out of the water and my stomach was all cramped up.  These are not your average cramps.  Nope, these are those dreaded explosive diarrhea cramps.  Now I was surfing at the top of C-street and it was low tide leaving me a good 100 yards of rocks to walk over and then another 300 yard dash to the bathroom.  I charged that shit. I don’t think I have ever hustled that fast for anything in my life.  I get in the bathroom, the dirtiest public bathroom probably in all of Ventura County and rip my suit off as fast as humanly possible.  Of course I wore  the new Body Glove Vapor front zip, a very warm and comfortable suit but a bit on the difficult side to take on and off.  Not the sponsor plug, yeah I did my job back when I was a professional surfer.

I managed to get my suit down to my knees just in the nick of time before pissing out my asshole for a solid 15 minutes.  I mean I have had some pretty gnarly diarrhea before but this was crazy.   Straight up nothing but liquid was squirting out my hole.  To make matters worse I was dripping wet and freezing contributing to making this one of the top 3 worst bathroom experiences of my life (shit maybe I will write a blog about that on one of the free days).  Back in the myspace.com days I used to poorly attempt to adhere to a daily blog schedule.  It failed miserably.  I mean look how well I keep up with the UCB and that was suppose to be every Thursday.

Barley surviving I cleaned myself up, pulled back on my cold wet wet suit only to do a sorry walk of shame all the way to bottom free lot just above the pier.  I felt so violated and disgusted by the whole experience.  I got back to the car to a very jubilant Brennan ready to jive the shit out of me.  If it were not his birthday he definitely would have made it onto one of my lists.

I got dressed thinking the whole ordeal was over only to find out 5 minutes later as we are pulling out of the parking lot that the same dreaded cramps hit me again.  I was like dude we have to stop or I’m going to blow the seat out of my pants.  Luckily we were right across from the Habit Burger on Ventura Ave.  I got in there just as this haggard ass homeless lady was walking out.  I open the door and the bathroom is a mess, shit all over the place.

Clenching my ass closed with all my strength I quickly brought the toilet up to a bare bones level of cleanliness for me to sit on the seat.  Once again I took another ass piss.  While I’m in complete digestive agony this Mexican guy keeps banging on the door.  Finally after the 5th  time I scream at the dude that I was in the middle of the worst diarrhea of my life and to get off my fucken case.  Dude backed off.  Finally I guess I must have shitted all that was left in my stomach cause I was good to go, but the whole night out I was in constant fear of the shits coming back with a vengeance.  Luckily for me the whole ordeal was left behind in Ventura.

On a side note this whore I was seeing at the time ended up going home with my boy Brennan. Her excuse “It was his birthday Chris, everyone should get laid on their birthday”.  Somehow that did not make me feel much better.  At least I sort of had a hand in getting my boy laid.

 Wednesday Feb 24th 9pm:  While pre-gaming to go to the bar Face manages to pound 8 beers in a matter of 45 minutes.  Drunk as shit Scott, my Swedish neighbors and I persuade him to table dive through the pyramid of empties he build on the coffee table.  He goes for it belly flopping flat on the table after which I proceeded to poor beer all over his head.  From there he put on his dirt bike helmet while Scott and I hit him over the head with these two broken surfboards that I was going to hang on the wall.  Needless to say he was even more fun at the bar where I’m pretty sure he managed to hit on and aggravate every girl there.   I think one girl even slapped him across the face.  It was classic.

 

 

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This Week’s UCB, the first one of the Spring Quarter was won by Nick the Kook.  He will claim 3 points since I promised that I would double the first blog.  Don’t worry though every week from here till the end of the quarter there will be a double point bonus floating UCB if a topic worthy of such accolade is asked.  There are plenty of opportunities to take the lead.

Kook asked me to write about my favorite parking lot story.  Now this at first did not make sense to me.  Initially I thought maybe he wanted a story about me in a parking lot, sort of like that Sienfeld episode where Jerry and the gang got lost in the parking garage. Then I realized he was talking about the surf parking lot or at least that is what I am going to assume.  I cant think of one particular story at the moment, although there have been many.  What I would love is to use this topic as a forum to explain to the non surfing population just what we are talking about.

By now if you’re an avid non-surfing reader you have learned of many of the mystiques and fallacies of surfing exposed here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  If you have been reading since the myspace days then you are just about an expert.  When you think about it this blog is sort of like stereo instructions (or the handbook of the recently dead from “Beatle Juice”) on the surfing sub culture.

The actual physical act of riding waves is the shortest denomination in the surfing life style.  If you must have a true break down it goes something like this:

10% riding the actual waves (and that is still being generous for the average surfer)

25% travel time to and from the break (may be larger depending on proximity to a ride able wave)

35% Paddling, waiting in the line up, walking back up the beach
30% parking lot

I mean it may work out differently for other folks I don’t really know, but generally I think the above percentages represent most surfers surfing experience well.  So what is all this time that is spent in the parking lot all about?

Every single surf spot on the planet with the exception of remote islands has some kind of parking area near or right on the break.  Depending on the visibility from the lot to the waves depends on the amount of time spent there.  The better the view from the lot the more hanging out that goes on.  Take C-street as a perfect example.  You can sit in your car and watch the action all day, and some people do.  At Rincon on the other hand the parking lot is out of view of the break, thus less stragglers.

Basically a surfer hangs out in the lot before each session from anywhere upward of 5-30 minutes depending on the surf.  If its firing everyone is tearing their suits on as fast as possible.  If it’s tiny then most of us hang around watching for motivation or just trying to kill time by shooting the shit with who ever shows up.  Other times guys will be waiting out the tide or the wind.  I have sat in the parking lot at Emma Wood for over two hours before waiting for a tide push that never came.

Then you have the vets and surf reps who always seem to just hang in the lot all day talking shop, yet only surf like twice a year at best.  After the surf you hang out and recap the session with your bros and other fellow surfers.  Sometimes even enjoy a victory beer or smoke, which happens before the surf as well at times.  I personally think the parking lot is about as much fun as actually being in the water.

Parking lots at surf spots are full of all sorts of characters both the surfers and bystanders.  Here in California you can almost always count on some type of entertainment from either a crazy homeless person, tweaker or a combination of the two.  Good old-fashioned agro localism fights will go down in the lot.  Cars get vandalized and robbed.  Oblivious passer byes walking will ask stupid questions like “is the water cold” or “How is the surfing today?”.

The parking lot is the true celebration of surfing and surf culture.  Im sure the ancient Polynesians hung out in front of their huts doing the same shit we do now while watching the action.  There is heckling, jeers, cheers, grom abuse and everything in between.  Next time your at a surf spot take a moment to observe all the action going on in the parking lot.  I can on most days assure you it is more exciting then what is going on in the water.

There is a parking lot view for you.

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