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Posts Tagged ‘San Fransisco’

Tonight I am going to cover a subject that means quite a lot to me.  I am Italian and from New York thus I have a very deep rooted attachment to clothes and looking my best in them.  I see way to many people in today’s society discounting the role being well dressed plays in life.  What you wear is a direct reflection of you and you should be proud of every aspect of how you put yourself together.

I am going to share a small rant story.  I am at work finally at the end of my peak dinner rush.  Keep in mind that tonight I had both a catering event to help with and my own meal over at the Mexican restaurant.  I know, an Italian chef running a Mexican restaurant sounds a bit preposterous.  Then again so has been my entire life.  I get to sit down on a milk crate behind to kitchen and check my phone to see if any ladies are chomping at the bit to see me tonight.

As usual nothing of the kind, such is life.  I don’t blame them I guess.  I mean I was way more attractive when I was a failing professional surfer working at a gas station who barely had a pot to piss in.  I really don’t get that expression.  I mean if your poor there is always something to piss in and who pees in a pot anyway.  I would just take a piss in the bushes or behind a dumpster or something.  That is technically my guest bathroom at the palace.  Actually the pharse dates back to colonial times when there was not plumbing.  People had these little pot type things that they would do their business in at night and then dump them out in the morning.  Hence the phrase “pot to piss in”.  I love useless knowledge, don’t you.  We all know Kooky Kyle does.  He is like the fucking encyclopedia of that type of shit.

Where was I?  Oh, the text.  My new roommate whom has barely lived in my place for three weeks texts me “I borrowed your pea coat….bla bla”.  This particular coat is my favorite to wear when I dress up.  It is not cheap, although I got it for a deal and since I walk about a mile and half down town it is key to looking my best on said walk.  If I feel styling and put together on my way to the club it translates down to my demeanor in the club as well.

Dude takes the coat with out my permission and in my book that is very disrespectful.   Shoots if he asked I most likely would have lent it to him anyway.  More then one person has benefited from my extensive wardrobe.  I was at first furious.  It took some deep breathing and meditation to calm myself down.  Then I thought about it further.  Dan is a Californian and mostly besides LA and San Francisco the whole lot of them do not really know how to dress.  I mean the guy is always in khaki’s and shades of blue color button downs when I see him.  He looks like he should be on the Banana Republic catalog or something to that effect.

Realizing this I figured he just may not have understood just how much clothing means to fashion oriented people.  As a result did not fully understand the severity of the offense he was committing.  Shit maybe he got excited when he saw just how flashing my wardrobe is and was overwhelmed becoming light headed and not thinking “hey I should probably ask Chris before taking a jacket this sleek”.  Could have been worse.  He could have grabbed my custom made Armani suit or dabbled in my shoes.

I will reiterate, I am Italian.  Where do you think most fashion originates from?  That’s right Italy.  There is not any Milan in California. Sorry folks.  In the US the hub of high fashion is New York City.  Now I am not saying I am the most stylish person out there, but to be honest the only thing that keeps me from being just that is budget.  If I had rapper money believe me my wardrobe would be out of this world.  Heck I might just throw an outfit away after I wore it so that I would never have to be in re-runs.  I am also a bit insane.

Ever since I was a child having decent clothing was instilled into me by my parents.  My dad always wore nice shoes and explained a good pair of shoes said a lot about a man’s character.   When I made my first communion my mother had my suit custom tailored for me.  It took two days of measurements cause I was so hyperactive and I hated her for it.  I will tell you this I was one of the best dressed kids at that service.  At my conformation my sponsor and I coordinated purple suits,but in a classy way, not too guido.  When I go shopping for clothing it can take hours.  My friends have stopped going with me for that reason.  I think my mother is one of the few people I can shop with.  Italian men and their mothers is a topic I am not about to cover in this blog.

Now I need to mention that I am not saying that a well dressed person can’t be a creep.  What I am trying to say is that how you present yourself shows how you want to be perceived.  If I go out in stained clothing and torn up shoes it mainly says I do not give a fuck.  When you look put together people look at you with a sort of admiration.  “That guy has it going on”.  Most people say I over dress and I always reply, no you just under dress.  If we all went around naked it would not matter, but since that has yet to come to pass, and I admit I would be the first to jump on the all nude all the time band wagon.  It may not go to well with my current profession and the sanitation code, but in general I would have no problem giving up on clothing all together.

Even at work I try and keep a style about  me.  My chef coats are of an angled cut at the neck which suits my body type.  I picked a hat that enhances my out fit and I always, always wear pleated pants.  You may be reading this right now and be thinking “man this guys is one of the most vain people I have ever listened to ramble on about bull shit”.  In my opinion its not vanity my friends, but self respect and respect for others around me.

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Victory

About a two weeks ago I was running a muck all over the streets of San Francisco with my boy John Muariello.  We wreaked havoc doing the tourist thing, surfing shitty Ocean Beach, enjoying the nightlife (or just getting frustrated with it) and we also did some skateboarding.  I thought I had retired the skateboard once and for all about a year ago.  Every time I think I am out I just get pulled back in.  When I informed John of my intentions to come visit he said to bring my board and we would bomb some hills.

It quickly escalated from a few mellow grade 16 city block hills in the Ocean Beach area to me bombing Lombard Street Now Im not going to get into that bomb here because there is an entire detailed first hand account on it at “I Bombed Lombard Street” and then just hit the bread crumbs on the top left hand corner of the screen if you want to read about the rest of my SF adventuring.  John actually made a short little video of the pathetic attempts we made of fucking shit up skating all over the city.  There are also a few more photos from a skate we had at Fort Miley.  Enjoy.  Don’t mind the commentary, I was still feeling rather bitter about things.

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Lombard Street from the bottom. The difficulty level here is no joke folks.

If you’re not familiar with Lombard St it is this crazy windy street in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco completely made of bricks.  The street is a major tourist attraction and a major skate destination for hill bombing enthusiasts alike.  I have seen this street in skate videos, read about it in skate magazines and it was even used in the X-games a few times.  Ever since I was a kid I always thought it would be cool to go and bomb it.

Up until I was about 15 years old I spent the bulk of my time and efforts with skateboarding living about twenty miles in land from the nearest waves.  Once I moved to Manasquan, New Jersey I was only about two miles from the beach and redirected my focus onto surfing.  Leaving most of my skateboard dreams unsatisfied.   I practically gave up the sport till I was 23 and then thanks to a job managing a small surf shop got back into it.  I will save the history of Chris Lisanti skateboarding for another blog.

Due to my circumstance (see blogs, Bowing Out and One Last Perfect Day if your not up to speed) I found myself coming to San Francisco with a bit of a death wish.  No, I’m not suicidal or anything, although I did think of a great way to turn the trunk of my car into a make shift guillotine.  I just kind of showed up with a reckless abandoned not caring if I lived or died.  With this mentality surfing in heavily shark infested waters and bombing streets I would have never dreamed of became a very real possibility.

For that reason I found myself standing at the top of Lombard Street with a skateboard in my hand, fifty tourists pointing and taking pictures and my heart in my mouth (or what was left of my heart for that matter).  The funny thing is I really did not think I was ever going to go through with it.  Especially when I got face to face with the beast.  According to the books Lombard is a 17% grade.

When I had a look down at it I was rather intimidated.  I mean the street was nuts.  I had never seen anything like it before in my life. It was a man eater for sure.  Not to mention the fact that there were easily like 50 tourists all over the street taking pictures and a steady flow of cars driving down it. Lombard not only traversed like a slithering snake but on each side there was nothing but a sheer four foot drop off to a steep flight of steps.  Basically I was looking at getting hit by a car, taking a terrible spill due to lack of control or falling over the side and then tumbling down thirty flights of stairs.  Either way I was going to get very messed up.

John made many rational attempts to keep me from doing it and the bare truth was I really did not believe I had the skill level to complete the task.  Then I got a rush of adrenaline and remember that in order to achieve greatness one must take a leap into the unknown regardless of the consequences.  With that in mind I decided to give the bomb the green light.  I went back to my car and fully padded myself.  I’m talking helmet, elbows, and knees.  I wanted as much protection as I could get.

Mauriello was going to film it so he went half way down to document my death.  I told John he was responsible to tell the world my story if I did not survive.  I really did believe that I might die. Now we had observed the street for about twenty minutes or so and realized that when a sight seeing trolley came by it blocked traffic at the top of the street giving a three-minute window or so to bomb it.

I was standing at the top with my board preparing for the bomb and waiting for the next trolley (apparently they ran every ten minutes) when there was a noticeable break in the traffic.  John signaled me to go and I was pretty antsy to get it over with.  I ran to the middle of the street to the delight of the many tourists, hopped on my board and began to descend into oblivion.  I got about ten feet down the first turn and fell flat on my face in an attempt to power slide it.  I heard ooos, ahhs and laughter from the crowd as I got up and dusted myself off.

Determined to make it down to the bottom at all costs I jumped back on my board and kept moving down hill.  I made it through another three turns or so before falling again, but not as dramatic this time.  The entire run is around 10 switch back turns.  I ended up falling four times.  With a grade that steep you get moving very fast in a very short interval of time.  The only way to really do it is to pull super big power slides.  Most of the slides I was doing slid for twenty feet.

When I got to the bottom there were around another 30 tourist cheering and taking pictures.  I guess I gave all of them a story to tell. I came out of the last turn, did a big power slide in the middle of the cross street and then spiked my skateboard on the ground.  I turned and looked back up at what I had just done and reveled in the feat I had performed.

Then John came running down the steps all stoked as well.  “I think you should do it again,” he said.  I had already decided I was before he even mentioned it.  The second time went a lot better.  As soon as I got to the top a trolley pulled up chuck full of more tourists, who began point and yell as I bomb dropped onto my board right in front of them.  I had my rhythm worlds better this time around and only sort of fell once, although I did not lose my board.  My back foot just came off while recovering from a big power slide.  I bet if I gave it a third run I may have made it down flawlessly.

I did not want to push my luck though.  Also I was not sure my wheels could handle another run.  They had already lost two years worth of life from the previous two runs as it was.  I guess I will have to save it for next time.  I was super pumped just for the fact that I actually did it.

So many people in this life think about doing things like this and then let rationality talk them out of it.  I am not a skater by any means and Lombard St. was with out a doubt way out of my ability range.  I had an opportunity to realize a dream, do something great.  Yeah bombing a crazy hill on a skateboard is not as great as helping starving orphans or something of that aperture, but for me at that moment it was a heck of an accomplishment.  It is another check off the list.

What I am trying to say is that when an opportunity comes your way you should seize it no matter how scary or difficult it may seem.  I have always believed that anyone can do anything if they wanted it bad enough and I meet and see other people all the time who prove this to be true.  Maybe this blog will inspire you to go out and take a chance, do something you always wanted to, but have been hesitant for whatever reason.  Life is short and we are only here for a limited amount of time.  I think we owe it to ourselves to get the most out of it we possibly can.  I have said it once and I will say it again “You miss 100% of the pitches you don’t swing at”.

Stay tuned for a video of my SF skate adventures and more photos from Lombard soon.  They are on John’s Camera and he left it in San Francisco.  Click here for the video of my Lombard Bomb.

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OB blowing it up.

After our shenanigans the previous night we were left to yet another late start.  I woke up and noticed the wind was rather light.  When I got out of bed the first thing John said to me was that we should check the surf.  Off to Ocean Beach we went.

Ocean Beach is this four mile long beach break at the western end of the city.  The place is pretty much a ghost town.  It is really weird to be at the beach looking back at a major metropolis.  Sure enough there were some less then perfect chest to head high waves coming in with rather light winds.  It looked a bit on the mushy side, but I was sort of interested to give it a paddle.

Of course we did about an hours worth of car surfing and another half hour milling around the parking lot before actually hitting the water.  We gave it just enough time for the wind to come up a bit harder making it even less desirable.  This was a relatively small day for OB and let me tell you what a bitch of a paddle out it was.  I could only imagine how much it sucks when it is double or triple overhead.  No thank you, I think I will just stick with Rincon.

Overall it was rather poor quality.  I managed to snag 11 waves, which believe it or not is pretty good for the place.  Most waves were nothing more then a drop and cut back.  I had one or two that offered up a little bit more but overall it was far from killable.  The water was freezing.  I wore a hood and was still cold the entire session.  After an hour or so we were over it and retreated back to the warmth (or lack there of) of the beach.

I was pumped to surf in the heart of the city. For how terrible it was there were easily twenty guys out.  I guess surfers are frothy for garbage everywhere.  Straight from the surf it was grub time.  I noticed this all you can eat Indian lunch buffet not far from John’s pad for $9.95.  There is nothing better then gorging yourself with massive amounts of Indian cuisine after a vigorous surf, or paddle in this case.

John and I are big eaters so you can bet your ass we did some serious damage to the place.  He did three and half heaping plates and I ate four.  We definitely got our moneys worth. The food was rather decent to.  I must say eating wise I am so far very pleased with this trip.

Following all that food John was beat and went into an immediate food comma for two hours while I entertained myself with internet porn (no, I was writing yesterday’s blog).  Around six I woke his ass up cause I was bored and wanted to explore more of the city.  He took me to Golden Gate Park where they have a really cool art museum and a science museum as well.  They were closed but the architecture of the buildings was worth a look in it’s self.

The science museum had a self sustaining roof mad of dirt, grass and solar panels and the art museum was this crazy shape of twisted metal with lots of cool sculptures around its perimeter.  Then there was this cool walk with three complimentary fountains.  It was a chill place to cruise about.

I promised John’s little fifi Elise that I would cook a meal for all of us before I left and last night was the night.  She is a vegetarian (except she eats fish, since when have fish been considered a vegetable.  I mean I know they put halibut genes in strawberries so they can grow in colder climates, but that is a whole other can of worms not be opened in this blog) so I decided to make this new dish I am perfecting (stay tuned for a recipe soon) with the hearts of anise, and a creamy Bechmel sauce over linguine with artichoke hears, fresh basil leaves, mushrooms and tomatoes.  I had to leave out the tomatoes because apparently John doesn’t care for them.

The meal came out superb.  Fifi brought over a nice bottle of resling from Napa and dark chocolate and sugar covered ginger for dessert. All and all I would say it was a most splendid evening.  Since the last two nights had been so out of control we decided to kick it in with an early night.

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This town is freezing.  I was very grateful to have even woken up and not have died of hypothermia in my sleep.  We had a slow start after the previous night’s gallivanting about.  I love nothing better then a good breakfast.  John brought me to this quaint little crepe place in his neighbor hood that was absolutely to die for.  They made like 15 different crepes, and then an assortment of other breakfast items.

I got what they called a California crepe stuffed with egg, avocado, mushrooms, green peppers, tomato and green onions, served over freshly cut home fries and a side salad.  Everything was super fresh.  It tasted amazing.  Then my tea was brewed from the actual leaves, no tea bag and I had to use this tiny strainer to pour it into my glass.  It was a most splendid eating experience.

From there we decided to do a little good old-fashioned hill bombing and street skating.  After all San Francisco is one of the great skate cities in the world.  I personally would put it just second to Barcelona.  “When in Rome…”.  We cruised to Ocean Beach where there is less traffic and an agreeable number of very long hills.  I am talking easily 15-20 city block bombs that took around 5-8 minutes to get to the bottom of.

Before getting into the skate session we took a quick peak at the surf, which courtesy of 40-knot onshore wind was complete trash.  The wind was so strong we could not even stand on the dunes to look at it directly because of the sheer volume of sand blowing around.  Street surfing would have to do.

Now I have not skated since John was living at my place over the summer and I must say I was a bit apprehensive about getting wrecked or run over by a car for that matter.  John had a good handle on the situation.  We took the street trolley up the hill in between each run.  These hills were massive and would have taken way to much time and been too exhausting to walk up.  First bomb I took very conservative just feeling things out.  By the last one I was power sliding all over the place, hitting banks, ollieing gaps and just having a ball.

When all was said and done John had a broken bearing and I had just about completely worn out the bushings on my trucks.  I would say it was a successful day of skating.  Neither of us got hurt nor hit by cars.  John even saved the world from a renegade pink stripped Victoria Secret bag that was blowing all over the street.

After the skate we just sort of kicked it the rest of the afternoon.  Did a little moseying around town.  That night one of John’s friends from school was having a party.  We planned to make an appearance.  When we got there the host had already passed out.  Turns out the event had started at 1pm.  There were still a hand full of good time seeking enthusiast about the place and John’s boy Whiter this crazy dude from New England, whom was drunk as a skunk, just brought three 12 packs.

Phone calls were made and a new venue was quickly acquired.  Whitter shows up out front of the building with this red 80’s ford pick-up truck.  The truck was suppose to usher eight of us to the new spot.  Being the gentlemen we are the girls got to ride in the cab while John, myself and one other dude laid down in the dirty, rusted bed with all the beer.  My first thought was this is a very bad idea then my adventurous spirit kicked in and I jumped in and held on tight.

Now we had no idea where we were going or how far it was.  All I know is we were getting bounced around in the back of the truck being operated by a very inebriated driver for what felt close to ten minutes.  The tuck comes to a stop and we get out in the middle of one of the swankier neighborhoods in the area.  I am talking fancy high rise apartments with door men.

Immediately I am under the idea that there is no way we are going to be let into any of these places.  Sure enough we walked right into the lobby of this gorgeous building that the rent had to be at least $4,000 a month, got in the elevator and went up to the top floor.  The apartment our group ended up at was a luxury one bedroom.  Expensive kitchen appliances, big flat screen TV.  The dude had an electric drum kit, 88 key electric piano, and two really decent guitars in his bedroom.  This kid was loaded.

The party was your standard house party.  Everyone there was super nice and I found it pleasure to make all their acquaintances.  Upon seeing the keyboard this chick visiting from Idaho claims she is a classically trained concert pianist.  Our host put her to task.  “Im a little drunk so don’t expect much” she said.  As soon as she sat down on the keys she started wailing Bach and Mozart.  It was rather impressive to say the least.  After that a group of us had a little jam session that was terrible, but with a few cocktails in us I guess it was an adequate jam.

On the tenth floor of the building was this outside lounge area that gave a 360 degree view of the entire city.  I went out there to check it out and it was exhilarating.  You could see everything.  The tall buildings of downtown, the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean.  Must be nice to have that kind of money.

By about midnight the party was done.  John and I not quite ready to call it a night hailed a cab.  I get in and tell the driver “Take me some place we can meet pretty girls”.  The driver was an Indian guy and did not have the best grasp on English or just misinterpreted what I had in mind. Next thing we know we found ourselves in the middle of the XXX district of San Francisco.  The cabby looks back at me with a shit eating grin and says “There are very many pretty girls here”.

I almost died laughing.  Not wanting to spend any more money on that cab we got out.  At the very least there was probably some rat hole dive bar we could drink a beer.  As John and I are walking around this gaudy neon light driven block he mentions to me that he had never been to a strip club before.  I personally am not a fan of such places, although they can be rather entertaining more for the actual patrons then the girls.

I told him to pick one.  Every man aught to visit a nudie bar at least once in his life.  It is sort of a right of passage.  I always thought it was something everyone did when they turned 18.  We walk into this trashy little place called the I Club.  There was a $15 cover but being it was late and a Monday night the bouncer let us cruise.

Just as I expected it was a sleazy dirty bar with average looking and in some cases over weight strippers.  Luckily for us it was just a topless club or I think it would have traumatized the poor kid.  I went and cashed in $10 for singles and gave John six.  That is how those girls earn their money, ugly or not I was not going to cheat them out of their bread.

We stayed for three acts and then bailed.  I must say although not the hottest strippers I have ever experienced they were some of the best dancers.  The place had an eight foot high pole and two of the girls managed to climb all the way to the top and then slide down it upside down with out breaking their necks.  After 15 minutes we had seen enough and bailed.

John looked at me and said I will never go in one of those places again.  I patted him on the back and said that was a very good idea.  I think that may have been the lowest level of human degradation he had ever been exposed to.  I know I always walk out of such venues with a little less respect for mankind on a whole.  All I can say is I have been in San Francisco for less then 48 hours and already have had a crazy series of adventures.

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Running away from your problems never really solves anything.  Originally when I conceived this trip over a month ago the premise was for me to go celebrate my old surf shop minion turned good friend’s John Mauriello’s recent graduation from design school.  The kid earned BA for industrial design, that shit is pretty hard. I have seen John’s work and its super tight.  I would say the dude is borderline genius.

I’m really proud of him. I wanted to come up for his graduation and subsequent gallery show, but unfortunately it coincided with my final exam schedule at culinary school. The plan was set for me to travel there for a few days after finals and just run wild all over the city.  I had not been up to San Francisco since I was a little kid and my recollection was hazy at best.  I was looking forward to quite an adventure.

Then my relationship with Adrienne fell apart and going to San Francisco took on a whole new meaning for me.  It became an escape even if for a short while.  At the very least I can leave the bulk of my pain behind.  That did not really happen, but its all good cause the adventuring has already started.

The drive up was rather uneventful although breathtaking nonetheless. I always forget how beautiful open space is.  I ended up stopping at some random highway side vineyard in Paso Robles for a tasting.  I tasted about seven wines for free and then bought a 2008 vintage of a so so Cabernet Sauvignon for $5 bucks that I guess they were trying to move.  For the money they bottle was more then worth it.

I got into town around sevenish and completely got off at the wrong exit getting lost in the city.  It was chill though cause I got to take in some of the scenery.  San Francisco is a big city.  The lay out is crazy with really steep hills, electric buses and trolley cars running all over the place. I was full of awe.  Luckily John was able to talk me through the chaos back to his apartment.

I must say the kid lives in a really nice place with a chill ass room.  He was even able to return the kindness I showed him over the summer with my very own ghetto futon couch to sleep on.  He already had the night all planned out.  Apparently there was this club Matrix that goes off on a Sunday.

We cruised down there by bus and besides some slice bread with almond butter and sugar cookies we really had not eaten anything.  Luckily for us the bus dropped us right in front of a KFC.  As we walked in a group walking out said they were closed.  I look at the lady behind the counter and asked if she had any garbage she could feed us.  She ended up filling a bag up with old potato wedges and some popcorn chicken that were definitely time and temperature abused.

When I reached in my pocket to pay for it the lady behind the counter was like no charge.  I threw her a $5 tip for the effort.  I was fucking starving and housed that shit.  From there it was off to the club, but we were coming down from our wine buzz rather quickly. Thank god for a corner liquor store/frozen yogurt place (I know what a ridiculous combination) and mini shots.  I love those tiny airplane bottles they are so much fun.

This particular joint had Patron mini-shots so it was on.  We got to the club and the bouncer forced us to wait outside for like over 30 minutes claiming a bad ratio, meanwhile letting in packs of other guys, whom were not nearly as well dressed and definitely not helping the ratio out at all.  Maybe it was John’s asshole face that kept us from being garnished with immediate entry.

Finally these two random chicks grabbed us off the street and were going to let us walk in with them and yet still the douche bag bouncers would not let us in and made the girls wait with us also.  It was ridiculous and some real heinous political bullshit if you ask me.  That pretty much set a negative tone for the rest of my night.

When I finally got in, the place was a tiny little spot with a 7 guys to one girl ratio and out of that I think there were maybe a dozen unattached.  Of that population maybe four worthwhile of any effort.  Santa Barbara and its high concentration of beautiful women and over abundance of them really skews a person’s out look on things.  Whatever, I got a free drink off some friend of John’s and spent the rest of the night attempting to break it down on the dance floor despite the fact that the DJ was the worst I have ever had the anguish to listen to.

After maybe two hours of that we cruised out of there.  John’s friend gave us a ride home and took us across the Golden Gate Bridge since I had not been across it.  It seemed a lot smaller then I would have expected.  It was still really cool and then when we got to the other side we parked for a minute and got to over look the entire city skyline.  That was in my opinion the best moment of the entire evening.  I have not really seen a city skyline since I went home for Christmas and had forgotten just how extraordinary the accomplishments of man can be.   Moral of the story: if you’re ever in San Francisco don’t waste your time on the club Matrix.

Patron shots at the bus stop.

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