Jordan is asked “Where did Zamboni come from and is it you?”

December, 31st, 2010.

Good question today, this comes from Luna from Lima, Peru.

About three years ago I was walking down Addison St. in Berkeley on a cold fall night, alone. I was pretty blue. Mairrage ended, kids traumatized by this fissure in their lives. Frankly, I was just frickin’ lonely as hell. I had my hands deep inside my jacket pockets, an old bomber jacket I lucked into at a thrift. Real patina from age, worn- in shearling lining. I started thinking of who might have worn this coat, a pilot, a sailor who travelled the world as a Merchant Marine? I started to travel a bit in my mind when a voice drifted into my head out of nowhere, “My name is the Baron Phillipe de Mouton Cadet Rothschild and I crashed my plane into the Baltic sea in 1925, was saved by making a deal with the Devil, and this is how my story begins.”

Now, I’m no Joan of Arc. When I “heard” this voice, I think it was a mix of what I needed to hear,  my imagination, and  the spirits and Muses in the ether. I needed guidance and wisdom, more than could be found in a book of philosophy. Maybe I just needed a friend.

This Baron with the long name morphed into The Great Zamboni, who has morphed into Zambones, or as he likes to be called now, simply the Zambonesman. (“‘Great‘ sounds rather silly” he explained yesterday to me “like I am going to pull rabbit from hat.”) Gradually it started to become less about my own problems. I started to perform this Zambones in front of others, and I found he made people laugh, and sometimes seemed to enlighten them a little, or at least lighten them up a bit.

So here I am, three years later and the Zambonesmen continues to be one way I navigate through this world.

As the year ends, I want to thank you for visiting this virtual place, and I hope that  it gives you some very non-virtual guidance, laughter, or something.

I wish you much joy this year, Zambonesman has flown private jet back to Estonia to be with special friend for the night at Estonian Hilton. They have New Years package with champagne and buffet breakfast, only 24 Estonian Kroons.

Today I turn forty-three, may the fates choose to keep me going, and you, a long time in health.

Zambonesman's "friend". Judge not, eh.

Z is asked, “will there be room for Hope this year.”

This question come from Farah in Oakland and Zamboni thank her.

The answer is No.

Zamboni is puzzled by all this buttons and posters and car stickers with “Hope” he see in United America over the past few years, especially when this Obama run for King. What this word mean here  exactly? Americans love this word, but when I grow up in Estonia  this word dangerous. After a series of Eeastern Bloc orphanages, I was being raised by poor cheese farmers in small hut, sleeping in same bed with four brothers and twelve sisters. Occasionally I would mutter under my breath, “I hope one day to have a bed”,  and  then I am beaten with a sheep blatter and given extra chores. So my relation to this word is one that, though it be  a pretty thought,  it bite you in ass mostly.

No running water either, but it was home.

Emily Dickinson, who at one time was a lover of Zamboni (only in sexual sense) write once that “Hope is the thing with feathers.” People have taken this to mean that it is pretty little songbird. No. What she mean is, but this was edited out of  poem, “hope is the thing with feathers -which my cat catch- and eat- and leave carcass- on snowy ground to freeze.”

So, why does Zamboni say all this about your precious bird Hope?

Because with the room we have left in this crazy life, there are better things to fill it with than a dead bird which does nothing. Here is a list of ten things better than Hope:

1. Write someone a real letter, on paper, and tell them something true.

2. Ask someone to dinner.

3. Run four miles. Even two ok.

4. Vote.

5. Work for something you believe in.

6. Help someone, then help them again. Accept help as well.

7. Call your mother. Or your child. Or someone you lost touch with.

8. Buy a pair of expensive but very well made shoes. They last. Often can find cheap at Goodwill.

9. Do one creative thing, each day.

10. Love the one you’re with.

You see Farah, saying “I hope for,” is like saying, “someday I will,” which identical to “never”. There is only will and won’t.

To concluding; HOPE is a rotten tooth that is paining ourselves in the mouth. We think we must live with this tooth, because, well, we cannot pull our own tooth righht? We need miracle dentist or King to pull this “tooth”? No. Video below makes quite clear.

Pull the tooth out is easy. Hope not required. Zambonesman thanks you for this question and wishes you a year filled with action and intention, not feathers.

Knowledge Dropping #3

I don't see anyone up there, you?

Once at a drama festival, I heard a woman giving criticism to student actors after a performance, for about twenty minutes. Maybe thirty. About everything: pace, gestures, motivation, blocking, breathing.  Finally, after they had absorbed all the blows, (which somehow fell lightly, due to a certain spark in her eyes) she said this to them and I have never forgotten it: “keep going, keep going, it’s not true what they say, there is actually plenty of room at the top. It’s the bottom that’s crowded.”

It wasn’t said like Gordon Gekko either. It was said the way the wisest things are always said, like simple and cool secrets you’re suddenly being let in on. -jw

(Zambonesman back tomorrow, leave questions for him by hitting “comment”)

Zambones is asked very Difficult Question

Today’s query comes from Ryan, and it is:  “My question is fairly broad, but it is this:
When you are feeling down in the dumps, and have low self-esteem based on recent occurrences, how do you find the spark again to re-kindle a passion to go forward?” So big a question that I cut and pasted it from comment box just to not write again.

Well Ryan, to abbreviate, you are asking how you can  get your mojo back, yes? But you use the word “spark.” Interesting. Fire. Heat. Lightning..inspiration…brilliance. “Spark it up,” as we used to say at Estonia University, many nights.

Let us for a moment look at this “low self-esteem” not so much as an absence of something, like a low tank of gas. Let us look at it as a full something. Let us look at this low self esteem as a loud fat man, a houseguest, who is planted on your couch and is saying bad things about you while eating your Pita Chips and watching your cable.

And next to him, sitting is your “spark”, a svelt woman that looks much like a young  Gloria Graham.  So it isn’t that your spark is gone, is just that the fat man obscures the spark, crowding her out of sofa, and being too  loud for you to hear.

So now our problem is less bad; it is merely how to remove fat man from equation and make loving time to “spark”.

There is a way to do this, but it is not easy. The fat man likes to talk.      So, Listen completely to what he has to say, (he is a houseguest after all, someone invited him) listen as if he is not talking about you, but merely someone you both know. Listen, perhaps he will say one or two things in his rant that you will find of value. Now, this fat man will leave when his food runs out. His “food” is not just the onion dip, but your own guilt, loathing for self concerning these “recent occurences”. So, let go of this. Would you forgive a friend for doing the same things you did, if he felt very bad about them? Yes. So why not forgive yourself?

Why are we so patient and forgiving of others, but not ourselves? If Zamboni accidentally drove Land Rover through your living room, due to excessive drinking- wouldn’t you forgive him, eventually? As long as I didn’t kill you or your dog? Yes. I know, again, from experience.

Trust me. The fat man of low self esteem will leave. He may come back next week to watch Rose Bowl with you, but he will be quieter because you heard him out, plus he will leave if the food runs out.

This guy's not too bad.

Now on to the spark.

To catch again that spark it is quite simple. The spark will come to you, but only if you DO. If you invoke a muse, a muse of poetry, cooking, wakeboarding, whatever, if you decide you will create something beautiful with your sweat and tears, than trust me, you yourself will create spark. A great man once told me, “inspiration is for amateurs.” What this means is that the friction and frustration of creation, THIS is what makes spark. Ask the muses, then work hard, then you have more sparks than 1906 fire.

Ryan, I wish you luck. Be a spark, then be a spark for someone else, then you can die happy.

Marilyn who?

Locker Room Wisdom #2 Jordan Posts (Zambones Day off)

It was Chrismas Eve, the place was mostly dark, but I knocked and someone let me in...
I'd mixed the days up...Dolphin Club has open use days M, W, F..South End the other days. It was Fri. but I wanted a boat so...

Kayaked down to Pier 39. The bay is funny, always looks like a calm lake from land.

Out there it’s surprisingly  rough, like some huge barge had just come through but there  was no barge. I wanted to go to Alcatraz.

Maybe next time.

After a steam, shower and shave (there's a big jar marked "razors" with about 100 community ones) I roamed the locker room a bit. It was empty. There were distant shouts from an intense Handball game. There was an old Japanese guy who'd been showering for 30 minutes and was going strong.
Wonder who JR is?
I have to say I don't wanna know too much about this one. But i'm fascinated. Urologist and woodworking hobbyist? Cock doc? Wonder whats in Dr. Schwantz's locker.

The bay was lovely dark and deep, but I had a Christmas eve party to go to at my brothers. Stopped by a bar (The Bus Stop, on Union st) to have a beer with strangers, something that always gets me in the Christmas mood, then went on my way. I love to be in the middle of a bunch of loud people that know each other, the regulars, the bartenders, and just listen, add the choral comment about the interception or touchdown.

Forever fixing former follies. There are worse ways to live. Like having none to fix.

Zamboni is asked long question about boyfriend

Today, Sue from Mobile, Alabama, asks, ” is it a blessing that my boyfriend who wanted  kids with me, has suddenly changed his mind?!”. Sue also tells me she is 40 plus, and wishes to have kids if she can.

Interesting question Sue, and also interesting punctuation. You use a “!” and a “?” side by side, which says to Zamboni (because I myself have a 12 year old daughter so I am knowing something about texting syntax) that this new feeling from your boyfriend has more than one side for you.

As does having the children. In Estonia we have a saying, which translates roughly as,  “if you have no of children, may you have many several sheep, for your bed will be cold.” Children are a great comfort. When they come into your life, as a blessing, what you thought was your number 1 purpose and goal in the universe gets bumped to number 2.  You always know at any given time, what your life is about: caring for these kids.

And of course, on the “?” side- there is much difficulty. It is also a great weight, a great responsibility that we are not always prepared for. As Jerry Seinfeld says, “make no mistake, they are here to replace us.” They make us see our own mortality quite clear. Plus, as with daughter of Zamboni, they can ruin vacation by crying in uncontrollable fit and screaming in public place like you are trying to murder them, until you finally try spanking which only makes it worse by increasing crying volume and making you feel like monster. It aint easy and there is no handbook.

But to answer your question, is it “blessing”….?

Yes, and I’ll tell you why.

Your boyfriend has changed his mind because you alone are enough for him. He no has need for kids to make your love complete. But also perhaps because he is scared; kids make us men grow up, and we very deep wish never to grow up. This why we buy Corvette and try to date 18 year old when we are in Mannopause.

The real blessing here is not his decision, but the love you have. Accept his “sudden” decision with total tranquility. Show no signs of disappointment. This will shock him, but show him that it is him you love, not the future child he might procreate. We men are also insecure in this way.

At the end of the day, when your love is healthy, a child may come of it. We all know, Zamboni most of all, it is easy to make a child. Making a home of love, into which a child would be blessed to enter, that is other thing- and  greater. Make that home Sue, the best you can, and if child is meant to be, it will be.

I sincerely hope answer Zamboni has given helps in some way -even a small smile is a blessing- and I wish you luck.

Who Taught Zamboni? #1

I once made love to an Italian peasant woman with a face of your most loved leather shoe. Though she was not young, she had the lightest heart of any woman I have ever met. Her smile was innocent and seemed to have its own life and moods. Standing next to Mona Lisa you would have asked, “oh, she is your sister?”

After one of our embraces in the hay barn, she saw my soul was troubled like a boiling pot of Minestrone, restless, jumpy. She led me to the edge of the vineyard, and told me:

Walk. Just walk..

I started to walk through the vines, and three days later many truths were hanging before me like grape cluster.

So  my friends, find this place, or any straight line, maybe 5th avenue, the beach, a traintrack, and begin.  The Greeks had a whole school of philosophy called the Peripatetics, which translates as, “guys who walk.”

And if it is cold, rainy, it is even better, as this makes glass of Scotch tastes niiice.

Yountville, Ca. (Do you know this "LL Bean"? He make good boots for this mud.)

Zamboni is asked, “when were the’good old days'”?

This question is  difficult for me, for you see, Zamboni is timeless agelss spirit so there are many “good old days” to choose from for me. I might say talking with Socrates in 398 B.C., or backstage with Sinatra at the Sands, teasing Sammy Davis.

I ask this question of  my human vessel, Jordan Winer. He shows me picture from his album of family photos and says, “1961.”

In memory, is always sunny day

I ask him why this represents the “good old days” to him, in hopes it helps us define that term. It is strange because he was not even alive when picture is taken. The baby is his oldest brother. He explains:

“My parents had just moved to San Francisco. That’s a cable car going up their hill. They’d come 3,000 miles from Miami, a place of flatness, homogeniety. They land in San Francisco, a sunny city of seven hills,  of the Jefferson Airplane, Allen Ginsberg, Jazz. That car you see in the corner, real wood, a Morris Minor- that was theirs. I’d give my left arm for that car.”

His eyes get sort of misty as he looks at photo  with frayed edges. He continue.

“See the man on the end of the cable car, that tie, that thin tie? That style. It all still made sense in 1961. Men wore suits, ties. Mothers looked happy. Kennedy was alive. Even below the guy with the tie, a simple almost beautiful Pepsi ad. Just a red, white and blue cap… a caption I can’t read, but probably a hopeful sounding one.”

In answer to your question, Anonymous, the good old days are now, always now, but perhaps only when now is looked back on from great distance.

Tennessee Williams said that the past is all we have, that the present is too, too ..something… I forget how he put it- fleeting?

I apologize. I was drunk when he said this to me.

You are in the middle of the best of days. Strange, no?

I have heard  a great Pirate captain said once that what kept him going was his desire to possess the horizon.

What is a, “Miscarriage of Justice?”

It's all here...

Todays question comes from reader named Siobhan, and I thank you for this question. And though it might seem that this is too difficult for Great Zamboni,  I can assure you it is not- the only difficulty was finding internet cafe open, to which I had to walk 47 miles through frozen Estonian pasture to where I am sitting now drinking hot brown water.

But why do we use this strange, “miscarriage” word in this context? We do not say when we accidentally break yoke in making breakfast, “oh I miscarried your egg I’m sorry.” When we drop something, we do not say, “excuse me, I miscarried my pencil, can you hand to me please”

This is why: Justice, virtue, or “the good” as Plato would call it, is something we “carry” within us. It is the burden of being human, if you will. When something goes awry, when fairness is perverted, then we as a society have “mis-carried”, or  carried wrongly, let collapse this very justice that should be always living- you see Siobhan? Because Justice is the highest goal of society, we use this sad image, a miscarriage, to symbolize its loss.

To define by example, the internment of Japanese Americans here during World War II, Clarence Thomas, invention of flavored coffee like Hazlenut Creme Brulee, and Titanic winning best picture. Zamboni realize these not all of equal gravitas, but you get the idea.

Zamboni spent a few years building houses in nearby Estonian village with my father Shnorvillst, before he was eaten by a feral dog, orphaning the young Zamboni.  When you do carpentry, you use a Level. This level is nothing more than a straight piece of steel with a small glass vial implanted in it. When Level is on something straight, when the Level is “level”, the little bubble in the vial is exactly in center.  So too it is with us humans, we have a Level in ourselves that is always telling us “this is wrong, this is right.”  We may choose to ignore, but we always carry this around.

By the way, if you ask, “well then Gene Shalit-Zamboni since you are now movie critic, what should have won?”

The Sweet Hereafter. It wasn’t even nominated.