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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Where have I been you ask?  I really hope no one is posing this question.  There was a time when my life could have been like one of those “Where’s Waldo” books.  These days I am rather happily complacent (complacent is a stretch) at my quaint Santa Barbara home.  To be honest I am rather happy, at least the happiest version of Chris Lisanti I have yet to know.

For the last seven days I have been running amuck back in my old stomping grounds Manasquan, NJ and the East Village, NYC.  Life is funny, five months ago if you told me I would be sitting in an airport terminal at Newark, NJ in August writing a recap blog I would have made some strange PHSSSSST type sound effect and cruised.  Here I am.

Proximity

How did I get here?  It all started with a night of depression drinking followed by a series of parties.  That’s right every now and again my reckless lifestyle puts forth an opportunity.  I met this incredibly nice guy, Ken at a party of a mutual friend.  We got to talking and next thing I know he was calling me to work on some music with him for this original play he was looking to put on over the summer.

At first I was hesitant, but I read the script and fell in love with the play, well I think it is the last few lines that always get me all choked up being a hopeless romantic despite my cavalier façade of a womanizer.  Then Ken played me some of the music and I was sold.  He had written one of the most fun contemporary scores I have ever heard for a show.  Being rather burnt out on doing any work what so ever for musical theatre this was saying a great deal.  I signed on not quite knowing what I was getting myself into.

I showed up to this potluck dinner at this ridiculous mansion up in the hills of Montecito, immediately thinking I was in the wrong place.  As usual I arrived about a half hour late.  I find it easier to walk into a party with everyone already there so I can case out the situation and make a stealthy escape if I find the scenario to be one of agitation.  Upon walking in the door I found myself being hugged by eight different people.

That was almost enough to send me running for the hills, but they seemed harmless enough and they were after all theatre people.  It was an amazing evening and the passion these young people had for their craft was mesmerizing to me.  They ended up sucking me in to their “family”, the Proximity family.  Being on my own again for the first time in two years it felt nice to belong to a group so full of goodness and love.

We delved into work and next thing I knew I found myself learning dance steps for a music video, on the beach dressed in all black running through the ocean like a banshee, playing saxophone at a benefit event in a group who’s style was deemed “electro-pop-funk” where I took the stage for the first time in eight years.  Then there were exhaustingly frustrating eight-hour rehearsals, tantrums, disagreements and finally the formation of a remarkable piece of work.

We ran three shows in Santa Barbara for a packed house and were well received.  I had friends in the audience who never even knew I played the sax and were blown away.  From Santa Barbara we were rushed out to NYC to do the show all over again in the East Village, the first time I would play in the city in ten years.  Life can be amazing at times.

NJ

 I took full advantage to of the opportunity.  I usually only get to see my family once a year at Christmas time.  The last time I was at the Jersey shore in the summer time was when I lived there four years prior.  I decided to build a few extra days in before the show to go spend some quality time with my folks and sister.  Truth be told I had been feeling a little bit home sick the last few months and wanted to remind myself why I left.

All I can say is that NJ is a hellhole.  Its hot and sticky even at 2am in the summer and then in the winter you freeze your ass off.  No thank you, I will take the predictable moderate climate of Santa Barbara any day.  The surf was flat the entire time yet some how I managed to break my toe while fucking around in knee high surf finless.   If you want to know more about my Jersey surf sessions visit the surflog.

It rained nonstop for two whole days and was deemed by the weather service a record rain fall for that time of year.  Seriously?  Last time I was home for Christmas I got dumped on by five feet of snow and was stuck inside for three days.  The last time I surfed in NJ before this trip I cut my foot open requiring eight mattress stitches and severed a tendon that never really healed correctly.  That is what you get when you don’t have medical insurance boys and girls.  I am telling you New Jersey hates me.

I did have a grand old time on the party scene, getting to pre game with my boys Kiefer and Greg P at his pad in Asbury, met up with my old roommate and downtown SB partner in crime Cory Kisiel, which lead to a black out, old habits die hard.  Kooky Kyle brought me by the Porch to catch up with none other then Bojangles and Scotty B.  My friend Micheala took me to some fun bar in Asbury that had plastic sand pails full of rum (that was a mistake).  Kooky, Val and I went to some bar in Avon that had tiny little 8oz beers for a $1 where I ended up getting absolutely sloshed for $13.

Kooky and I hit on some random girls just to show my sister what a lurk was all about.  I pretended to be from California, but it went horribly wrong.  As it turned out they knew me from when I lived in NJ and call me out. “Your name is Chris Lisanti right? Weren’t you a pro surfer?”  We slunked away defeated into the corner and had a laugh and half about it.  They were ugly anyway and lucky I even talked to them.  It was only to entertain Val who was nice enough to be my designated driver.  I have a woman I am seeing back in Santa Barbara right now who as far as I am concerned is far better looking, intelligent and straight up more amazing then anything Jersey could even try and temp me with.

I even ran into former Jerseyite Beth Anne, now living in Laguna, but was in town visiting her family as well.  As usual we exchanged the same words “I hate this place, can’t wait to go back to California”.  I bumped into former Lisanti Land character Jiggles, who I barely recognized thanks to a major weight loss.  I guess we should not call him Jiggles anymore.

Catching up with my family was as good as it ever could be.  Besides a few tiny scuffles my mother and I got on famously.  We had some quality walks on the beach, I cooked a few scrumptious dinners, and breakfasts, including banana fosters waffles.  I think everyone gained a few extra pounds on my stay.  My parents and I played a round off golf at the course I used to be the assistant greens keeper at (I asked if the same horse’s ass owned it and I could immediately tell by the look in the girl’s eyes who took our fare that it was, look for an odd jobs on that job one of theses days).  Apparently they have been practicing cause they stomped my ass.  I was easily fifteen strokes behind.  I think it is just that I play better high and the chronic in NJ sucks, on top of being highly illegal.

On my last day I even got to catch up with my good old friend and one of my very first minions, Sorbo.  If you remember back to the myspace.com days he was almost killed in a horrific motorcycle accident.  Since then I guess he has been just floundering trying to figure out his next step in life.  We ended up bombing some hills in the Brielle Cemetery together.  I had not skated that since I was in high school.  I gave him a passport to Lisanti Land and an open invitation.  I really hope he takes me up on it.  A little time out in my world I think will do him a bit of good.

NYC

The last time I was in New York City was also four years ago and my time and a good deal of my money was spent at these gnarly ultra private clubs in the meatpacking district.  I am talking about places with no sign that look like an abandoned building, but then were super luxurious inside.  This time I was there on business to help tell the story of Shandy Wilkes through the melodic prowess of my soprano saxophone.

The show ran from Thursday the 18th to Saturday the 20th at the Robert Moss Theatre in the Village.  Initially I was far from impressed by the capacity of the small sound stage.  As soon as I pulled out my horn and began to blow I fell in love with the room.  By far one of the best sounding spaces I have played in.

Taking the train in everyday was quite the three-hour adventure, driving from my parents’ home in Manasquan to Metro Park, 45 minutes.  Taking the train from Metro Park to Penn Station another 45 minutes, then finally walking from 32nd street to 4th street in the village around another thirty minutes or so.  It was fun for the three days I had to do it.  If I had to commute into the city every day like most workers do I would kill myself.

Friday night’s show went down in front of a packed house, standing room only at times.  I felt in my opinion it was the best I had seen the actors perform the show.  I was blown away and that is saying a lot for me.  Saturday I went into the city with my parents, where we met up with my aunt and ejoyed a nice Italian dinner before heading over to theatre.  It was the first time my parents have heard me play live in ten years.  They really enjoyed the show, although no comment was made about my personal playing either way.  From my mother that means it must have sounded good cause although not apt to give a complement she is the first to criticize.

All in all I would have to say it was one of the more enjoyable trips I have had back to my childhood home.  Still it is very nice to be back in California, which really feels like home to me. One thing I will say and maybe this is me getting sentimental in my old age is that I felt a bit sad to be leaving my family behind for another six months till Christmas.

A special thanks goes out to Micheala for filling Nick the Kook’s shoes in his absence, being in Chile, driving me to surf, lending me a board and helping me stay in the party.  Sorbo gets a salutation for helping me pack and ship some new threads I bought. For those of you who don’t know him, Sorbo is a master at the art of packing and shipping.  Kooky Kyle and Cory Kiesel for buying me one two many drinks and my folks for being decent to me.   And my boy Ryan back in California for holding down the fort.  Thanks everyone, with out you Lisanti Land would be not half as fun.

Here are some really terrible photos I took with my cell phone.  Enjoy and thanks for reading.

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*all the blogs linked in here are because they explain how I ended up where I am.

Maybe I should not put three exclamations in the title line.  Someone once told me that is the equivalent of shouting.  I could have put it in all caps too.  I’m not trying to shout at anyone in particular, but to shout out to all of you my faithful and truly loved readers, your friends, family and diverse spheres of influence.  I…well we, need your help.  Sit back, relax, read on and find out just what it is I ask of you.

Well it all started over a glass of port back in early April at a small little beatnik hole in the wall off State St.  It was right around when I wrote: “The House of Lisanti is in Disarray“, wow that seems so long ago now.  I went downtown with my friend Jules to pretty much cry about my desperate situation.  Early on in the evening she ended up bailing on me for one reason or another leaving me sitting all by my lonesome looking rather pathetic at this tiny little table in the corner.

While there weeping in my $8 glass of less then stellar port this group of four people came up and asked if they could join me.  There were plenty of available tables yet they were rather persistent.  The ringleader of the group, this strange looking Australian dude just would not take no for an answer.    Too distraught to put up any type of fight I agreed.

They asked what was a matter and my response was” you don’t want to know” To which they insisted to hear my story of deceit, heart ache, despair, destruction and ultimate heart break (although at that time I still believed I had a chance). You can read about that story in “Bowing Out.  They were pretty genuine people and all seemed like worthy and respectable individuals, traits very uncommon amongst many today.  With their careful prodding and fun input the story took on a life of its own and when all was said and done I had four new friends.

Turns out the Aussie, Nick was throwing a party at his house the following day and invited me to come.   Although my plans were to stay in bed for the next five days or so I decided to attend.  The party turned out to be a ton of fun where I met heaps of wonderful people.  About a month later right after “One Last Perfect Day” was dropped, Nick had another party, which I also attended.  Trust me if you ever have the opportunity to go to one of his events make sure you grab the bull by the horns and show up.  They are just about unsurpassed.

Since my life went down the crapper everyone loved to tell me that everything happens for a reason and other bullshit cliché stuff of that variety.  Up until now I did not believe them and just frankly wanted to bash skulls in each and every time I heard that type of stuff.  Now looking back I realize there may have been a lot of truth in that adage.

The thing about these parties is that I seldom know anyone at them because everyone is rather new to me.  It is a completely different circle then I am used to traveling in.  The majority of the attendees are really positive, hardworking, professional people all around my age, instead of the typical burnt out waste of space characters I usually choose to keep around me.  I must admit it is a very refreshing change.

At this particular event I began talking with this pretty chill guy Ken, who ended up with in the course of a few casual question most likely just to be polite and make conversation got wrapped up into a string of tales from Lisanti Land.  Poor guy.  As it turns out he is a musician as well and we had very similar musical roots.  Ken apparently runs this theatre company here in Santa Barbara with his lovely girl friend Kyra called Proximity.

Through the course of the evening Ken said he thought he could use me in the company.  We exchanged numbers and then I cruised out to meet up with some friends at the Wild Cat, after all is there any other way to end a perfectly good Saturday? I think not.  I was thinking it a 50/50 chance he would hit me up.  I was sort of hoping he would though, because I have just recently been wood shedding on my horns hardcore and would love to work my way back into the arts.

About a month passed and I figured that Ken was no longer interested.  It was no worries I was not sure if was ready to play in that capacity anyway.  Then I got a call from him that he was having a potluck dinner meeting with the group and if I would like to join.  I still sort of thought he was just trying to get me over so I would cook a banging dish for his group (I did my usual go to pot luck dish: Baked Ziti, it feeds a large number and is absolutely scrumptious, don’t worry I promise to post some new recipes soon).  Turns out he was pumped to have me and so was everyone else there.

What an amazing group of people he had assembled for Proximity.  With out even seeing them in action I could tell these artists were very talented (after experiencing their capabilities, I can vouch for the entire group).  They were all so passionate about what they have going on.  I had not seen passion like that since my early Berklee days and it was refreshing.  It’s not about the money or the accolade, but just about the pure love of putting on an incredible performance and that warmed my heart more then anything has in some time.

Important!  Read Here:

Why have I wasted your time with this pointless boring story you ask.  First off you should all know by now I am rather long winded much like Hawthorne, except I am not paid by the word.  Second I, we at Proximity need your help.

We are a very small group who are doing this for the love and not the money.  Proximity is also a nonprofit organization (its legit and tax deductible!)  This summer we are putting on a pretty big production of an original show written by group member Karina Richardson entitled Shandy Wilkes.  It’s a pretty cool story that I will not get into here but will furnish a link to it at the end of this blog.   All I can say is that it is guaranteed to be an excellent show.  The plan is to run it here in Santa Barbara from August 10-12 at The Center Stage Theater and take it to New York City from August 18-20at The Robert Moses Theater.

To put on a performance of this magnitude it is not going to be cheap and this is where I am personally reaching out to each and every one of you.  We are looking for donations (like I said before whatever you give can be used as a tax write off) from anybody looking to support something great. You can give as little as $1 or as much as you wish.

It’s not like me to go soliciting for money or I would have a donation button here on my site. Considering that, you have to think I must really have high hopes for this project.  All I can say is that this group has given me something to believe in again, has helped me get my life back on track and allowed me to once again enter into the music world, a place I once swore I would never take part in again.  I am very excited for this, but we can’t do it with out your help.  So if you have anything to spare even if it is just $1, throw it in the pot cause every little bit helps.

You can donate and learn more about the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kenurbina/proximitys-shandy-wilkes-in-sb-and-ny

Check out Proximity and what we are all about here: http://www.proximitytheatre.org/

Support this cause for no other reason then to get me back on the sax.

Thank you for listening.

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As a teen on Long Island like most other places in America Halloween shifts from getting candy to seeing how much and to what degree of senseless acts of vandalism  you can perform before the cops are called.  Also on Long Island you and your crew would be armed with shaving cream and eggs so that if you encountered another crew you could have a pseudo gang fight.  From there most of my Halloween nights cosisted of getting doused in eggs and shaving cream (we would stick a pin in the nosil of the shaving cream lid, melt it, pull ou the pin and it would shoot up to 8 feet)  and ended with atleast one Kenyan track star run from the police.

I think my favorite tale from this era was when I was 14.  My boys Peter, Tom, Vinny, Frank, John, Eddie and I were cruising around the streets since like 3pm causing trouble and reeking havoc on the neighborhood.  We thought we were a pretty bad ass crew and could take on anyone.  Earlier before we all crewed up Tom Vinny and I ran into this smaller crew of seniors and ambushed them with cream and eggs, retreating quick enough as to not get the wrath of their retaliation. They most likely would have beat the shit out of us had we been caught.  Even though we thought so the three of us were not all that tough.

Later on that night we were chilling in the front yard of Tom’s house waiting for another crew that might dare pass by our “turf”.  We were kicking it when these three cars loaded with dudes come racing around the corner and slam on the breaks in the middle of the street in from of our camp.  12 guys jump out of the cars armed with eggs, shaving cream and paint ball guns.  Turns out it those seniors we hit earlier regrouped and spent the night hunting us down.

It all happened so fast that we had no time to escaped.  I ended up jumping into a bunch of hedges and as luck would have it found a piece of plywood to use as a sheild from the paint balls.  I could only sit their and watch in horror as my boys got pelted with eggs, shot with paint balls and forced to eat shaving cream.  When the seniors finally cleared out Vinny (who had also took to hiding) and I came out unscathed only to unbelievingly behold the carnage of our friends terrible misfortune.  Tom got the brunt of the paint balls, which left welts all over his body.  Peter was covered in shaving cream in the middle of the street and Eddie completely in shock by the whole orccurance jumped on his bike and rode home nearly in tears.

Turned out Frank and John whom had left our company earlier got jumped by a few of the guys we thought we so craftily ambushed and were forced to sell us out or be beaten.  I dont blame them I dont think I would have held out either.  We were 14 year old pampered rich kids not Israli green berays.

After that tramatic experience we all decided it best to call it a night. Vinny and I lived near each other so we decided to walk home together.  I guess we were about half way there when we saw a car that looked to be one of the ones in the convoy that hit us not long ago. Thinking we were just paranoid we picked up our pace but stayed on the road.  When the car came up next to us our fears were realized.

It was the same car paint balls in hand.  Basically we got hit by a drive by paint balling.  I got hit twice in the side and once in the leg.  Vinny took two in the back.  That shit hurts fucken pretty bad.  The welts lasted for like 2 weeks.  We figured we were in the clear and afterall it was only fair since our boys got the brunt of it ear;ier.  We sat there on the ground for a moment to gather ourselves on what just happend but before we had the chance the car pulled a U-turn and was coming back for a second round.  Deciding not to stick around to see what was in store for us next we bolted.

Vinny and I took off down the street in the oppisite direction with car hot on our tail.  We had like a good mile lead on them and then we came to a fork in the road.  It was here that we made the call to split up allowing one of us to get away safely.  Ofcourse who do you think they followed.  You guessed it; Yours truely.

At this point dude is out the window shooting paint balls on almost rapid fire.  He must have had that double pump thing down.  Some how though matrix style I managed to avoid the shells and ran into the woods unharmed.  I knew the a short cut through this vacant spell of pine trees and then trough one of my neighbors back yards which would bring me only a few houses from mine.  When I get in the woods I thought I was sitting pretty (keep in mind there is nothing more scary then being in the middle of the woods in the gloom of the night on Halloween.) and slowed my pace all out of breath from the previous chase.

All of a sudden I hear foot steps behind me and I bolt into the darkness running full speed through pine branchs, jumping over under brush.  I had not been back in the woods in a few years and it was pretty dark so I was kind of winging it.  Some how my spidy sense got me to my neighbors backyard and ofcourse he had just recently put up one of those wood fences that are impossible to climb.

You know how people say that in moments of extreme adversity the human body can perform rediculous feats of strength, like a man lifting a car off a child sort of thing.  Well I was hoping that this was one of those moments and ran full speed at the fence and went for the jump.  I jumped grabed onto the post which was a solid 6 feet up and attempted to catapult myself over it parking meter style (when you jump a parking meter with nothing but your arms pushing you over it).  As I was coming over somthing hit me square in the back of the head.  It was an egg from the seniors.  As it exploded all over my hair (which was long, actually it was the first year I grew my hair long) it threw off my momentum and as I as about to clear the fince my left foot got hung up and I went down on the otherside of the fence head over heels

God must have been shining a light on me that night folks cause some how I managed to not break my neck although I did manage to tear the leg nearly clean off my jeans form getting snagged on the fence post. I took a minute to take stock in my current situation, paint balls welts, egg all over my hair, cuts, scraps and bruises all over my face and body from the woods run, but I was alive and how alive I felt too.  I took a deep breath and took a victory lap home.  Sure I got the shit knocked out of me, but I survived and at that moment felt like I could do anything.

Turns out one of the other cars caught up with Vinny too and he was forced to endure 10 minutes of getting pelted by eggs and shaving cream before ultimately getting sent home beaten and dejected.  All and all one of the most exciting Halloweens ever.

 

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