In 2011, Canyon Country resident Michael Brisselli went viral and became Santa Clarita’s own “Where’s Waldo?” on Facebook.
A Facebook page titled, “The random guy everyone sees walking around Santa Clarita,” emerged then, and by Thursday had drawn more than 2,700 likes. Santa Clarita residents chronicled spotting the long-haired, peacefully smiling man around town.
Brisselli, 45, is diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, but he’s independent, pleasant and conversational, said his mother, Carmel Sizer.
“I’m proud of him,” she said. “He’s so gentle.”
The man formerly of viral fame is now looking for housing.
Brisselli has a month to move out of a residence on Forest Drive in Canyon Country, where he has lived for seven years. The landlord is moving out of Santa Clarita, and Brisselli has had trouble finding a new place to live.
Paying rent wouldn’t be an issue — Brisselli is living on disability income, and has paid his current rent on time, Sizer said. Housing in Santa Clarita is just at a shortage, she said.
“People keep moving in here, and we’re getting overpopulated,” she said. “Michael grew up here. It’s his home. He shouldn’t have to leave.”
Brisselli is a 1992 Canyon High School graduate, but he has plans to apply for colleges, where he hopes to major in performing arts at UCLA or CalArts, he said. He enjoys going to movies and to church on Sunday. He dreams of owning the Starbucks at the Westfield Valencia Town Center mall and doing acting on the side. His favorite genres are sitcoms, science fiction and musical theater.
After his brief rise to fame in 2011, Brisselli was surprised people still come up to him and say, “You’re the guy from Facebook!”
The page hasn’t had a new post since May 2011. Nevertheless, people keep recognizing him.
“People go up to me even now and say they think I’m a really nice person,” Brisselli said on Thursday. “Some teenagers at the mall the other day said they remembered seeing me in the news. That was really great.”
Brisselli still sports a similar style as when he rose to fame: black hair neatly slicked back, hiking sandals and baggy pants.
His recognition years ago led him to get free Los Angeles Dodgers tickets, and the experience of going to a game made him very happy, his mother said. Sizer said she worries about him, but that she is happy he’s able to be a well-received member of the community.
She hopes he will soon find a home and continue to live in Santa Clarita.
“Asperger’s has never slowed him down,” Sizer said. “He’s just like any other ordinary guy.”
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