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Face in the SCV’s crowd

Local enjoys regional fame thanks to citings, social networking

Posted: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Michael Brisselli, of Canyon Country, points to his facebook page that has received 2,000 views as of Tuesday.

 

Canyon Country resident Michael Brisselli was surprised when a Ralphs grocery clerk made a beeline toward Brisselli and told him something that made no sense at the time.

“He walked up to me and said, ‘It’s you! You’re on Facebook. Everybody in Canyon Country is talking about it!’” Brisselli recalled. “It was news to me. I looked it up with my mom, and there I was.”

Unbeknownst to him, Brisselli had become the Santa Clarita Valley’s own “Where’s Waldo?”

A Facebook page, titled “The random guy everyone sees walking around Santa Clarita,” had been created in his honor.

The page has several hundred posts chronicling where people have spotted the mild-mannered and soft-spoken 37-year-old man around town: on the bus, at coffee shops, at Valencia Library and Westfield Valencia Town Center mall.

As of Tuesday, 1,986 people had liked the page.

Brisselli, who said he doesn’t have a personal Facebook page, discovered his newfound notoriety about two weeks ago. He said he checks the page almost daily to see what pictures or comments about him are posted.

“I guess people like me and they think I’m an interesting person,” Brisselli said. “It makes me feel happy and very wonderful. It was very exciting to see myself on the electronic Internet.”

Brisselli’s distinct appearance makes him easy to spot: thick dark eyebrows, hair neatly slicked back to his shoulders, Teva-style hiking sandals and loosely slung over his shoulders, a black backpack that he takes with him everywhere he goes.

Inside the backpack, Brisselli carries his books and a notepad he uses to jot down his goals for the future.

Brisselli said that writing out his thoughts helps him think more clearly. Brisselli is diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder similar to autism.

Social interactions can sometimes be a challenge for him. But Brisselli is independent, friendly and highly intelligent, said his mother, Carmel Sizer. The two live together in Royal Oaks Mobile Park.

Brisselli attends St. Clare of Assisi Roman Catholic Church every Sunday, and has dedicated himself to studying theology, including the literature of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the life of Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant reformation.

“Christianity is a big deal to me,” Brisselli said. “I’ve read five pocket Bibles cover-to-cover.”

Sizer said she was thrilled to hear of her son’s local celebrity.

“Asperger’s has never slowed him down,” Sizer said. “He’s very sweet. That’s why you seem him alone a lot — he’s content.”

Brisselli’s jotted-down goals include attending a Los Angeles Dodgers game, buying a University of Southern California hat or T-shirt and visiting Disneyland.

Brisselli gets to check that last one off his list: he planned to set out today on public transportation for a three-day excursion to Anaheim. He hasn’t been to Disnelyand since graduating from Canyon High School in 1992.

“It’s going to be three wonderful days,” Brisselli said. “I’m going to see Mickey, Donald and all the wonderful characters.”

Brisselli said people often honk and wave as he’s walking down the street, and some have even surreptitously snapped pictures of him and posted them on the facebook page.

But Brisselli said he wouldn’t mind if friendly folks approached him to strike up a conversation.

“If (people) want to walk up to me and say ‘Hi,’ I think that would be excellent,” he said.

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