why, in all things, is “Bigger” considered “Better” ?
The above question comes from my reader named Harvey from San Francisco, and he specifically mentions two things, pigs and televisions, that folk wisdom say benefit from large size. I thought the easiest way to answer this, might be simply to make a list of those things that is BETTER BIG and those things BETTER SMALL.
-Hugs. Smiles. Russian novels. Slices of pie. Letters. Summers. First loves. First heartbreaks. Yes, TVs. Jackson Pollack canvases. Roads in the desert you drive on with best friend for road trip. Estonian weddings. Failures. (One doesn’t learn from small ones) Time for aging cheese.
SMALL/SHORT: Apologies. Scones. Coffees. (Stop for them more often. The average Italian has thirty-four espressos daily but they are four drips each.) Beards. Songs. Explanations. John Cheever stories. Estonian funerals. Jokes.
You see Harvey, size does matter, but in surprising ways. As you may know, the Rhinoceros has the largest penis in the animal kingdom. But if you are unlucky enough to have seen one very close, as Zamboni has during fraternity stunt, believe me you will not envy this beast. His member is strange in too many ways for me to detail here, legally. And I have seen the mating of these beasts as we had them as pets when I was a boarding school youth in Borneo, it was a joyless affair I can assure you.
Besides, as the wild Irish sage John O’ Flanagan has said, “it is not the size of the ship, but the motion in the ocean.” I leave it to you to interpret, while you are watching your bigger TV for the superbowl.
The above pondering comes from Jose Pisco, from Benecia.
Boredom, the final frontier. Among animals, only humans can laugh, cry in movies, or be bored.
One morning long ago, I awoke to a pink sunrise in a fishing shack on the island of Bermuda. I had spent the night with a Conch harvester of indeterminate sexuality but unquestionable beauty, a cross between between Bjork and Lawrence Taylor. As the flying fish gamboled over the water and the gulls picked apart shells on the rocks, I felt a supreme calm wash over me of utter content. A moment later, however, I felt bored.
As the lone orphan in my oversized family of cheese farmers, when I would complain to my parents.”I’m bored”, my mother would yell back, “bang your head against the wall.” After trying this and recieving only pain and jeers from my siblings, I had to find alternative ways to deal with boredom.
What is boredom exactly? Is it a feeling and a state, or merely the absence of something, an emptiness to be filled? Is it possible or desirable to never be bored?
Or is it somehow healthy and instructive?
Zamboni’s brother in law, Shempkin, is an Israeli businessman, quite rich, who claims never to be bored. He sleeps two hours a night, has a Blackberry for each hand, and can text on one device, speak on another, while doing Tai Chi in a sea kayak. He is always moving, wheeling, dealing and instead of stopping to eat, takes periodic sips from a Power Smoothie lodged in a tank attatched to his back. When I run fast enought to talk to Shempkin, I sometimes ask, “how do you keep this going Shempkin?” And he spit out something fast while geo-cashing like, “rest is for the dead. In the camps they could relax.” Shempkin lost much family in the camps in the war so he have fever to never stop.
There is actually less and less boredom in world today than once long ago. As children we would milk the sheep, dig the dirt, feed the pigs and do a million other chores, all before 11 am. Then we would watch the sky, listen to the wind and feel much boredom. The boredom taught us to climb trees, burn insects, defend ourselves from village drunks, and carve battle scenes in river stone. We might play football with a large ball of paper and tape, but if it rained we were inside listening to our parents stories about this or that, maybe the time a sheep mated with a pet dog, or the great Cheese Fire of 1898. Or reading the dictionary.
Where am I going with this? It is unclear, even to me, but i can say that I am asked things of this ilk often and can tell you how to best handle boredom so it becomes a friend and not an enemy.
First, when you are bored, acknowledge you are bored, and just sit for a moment being bored. Resist urge to quickly go to facebook or TV. Stare at wall and sigh to self, “this is so f%$king boring.” Be there.
Then ask yourself, not “what do I feel like doing” but “what is there that must be done?” You never call your mom. Call her. The toilet is stinky. Clean toilet. The carrots are going to badness, so eat a carrot.
See, once you start any activity, especially one that concerns reaching out to another person, you always forget boredom. Your mom will talk, cleaning the toilet you can turn on music loud and is fun, the carrots are healthy and dipped in mayonaise, quite nice- that was main dish at my first wedding to Sheena, a homely horseradish farmer who pulled me out of a quicksand pit…it brings back good memories, so suddenly I am in nice reverie and not bored. Now if your question was more about what I, Zambonesman, does when boredom strikes, I can simply tell you.
-Pick apart crickets then reanimate them using cold fission.
-Shop at Goodwill, always searching for the ideal and elusive fez.
-Fly my helicopter to Peru and make snuggling with Anticucho, a comely dark haired farmer of beef hearts with a lovely smell and voice.
How do we sell out every show? I know from experience that crowds of people will push against each other and even riot to see you in person. How can my theatre company achieve some measure of the same level of success?
This comes from Melissa H, in the northern of California.
Dear you, this is a very good question, but be careful what you wish for. Once before a Zamboni Show in Ipswich Mass., a group of Lobstermen were fighting over the one scalper ticket left. After a melee in which not only epithets about their mothers were flying, but also fists and finally severed limbs, four of them were carted away in ambulance while one dissapperaed into clam bog screaming never to be seen again. The show was great, I nailed it, but still, do you want such craziness in front of your theatre each night?
Since time immemorable, man and wo-man have been fascinated with watching the same few things: girl on girl action, babies being juggled, violence of most kinds, sex, cute romantic comedy, and war stories. Basically, every majorly successful form of entertainment falls into one of these.
The View: Girl on Girl.
Bones and or The Office: Cute Romantic (yes I know Michael and Dwight are funny, but we keep watching year after year until Pam and Jim make nasty)
Medea: Babies juggled. Well, killed, but you see my point.
Great Zamboni: All combined plus abs of steel.
So you want to sell out every show? Your choice is either to pander incessently to these base yet indomitable hungers (the Roman Gladiator shows sold always quite well) Or you can sell your soul to the Devil like I did. This last option working out for me so far, since I am able to do what my life calling is, help people with my wisdom all over Earth, but of course one day this fiend will collect my soul and then sucks to be me. So I assume you’ll take the former notion.
Pander! As the saying goes, man needs only two things, bread and circus games. Give him the circus games! Cirque de Soleil has discovered way to sell out every of their 569 simultaneous shows in every corner of globe: small women who tie themselves in knots, clown who show us our fears, and giants who just look funny. They find every genius who can make us laugh, sigh and gasp, then work them to death in Las Vegas. Is not pretty business, but as the song says, “there’s no business….”
But your words say you wish to achieve “some measure” of same success. What is “some”? Can you be “some” pregnant? Either you wish or no, eh? My Estonian grandfather had a saying, “you want a goose for dinner, don’t hunt for meerkat”. First you must really ask yourself if what you want is to please and sell tickets, or make Art you believe in. Can you do both? Well, the Romans believed in having men fight to the death, three shows daily. Do you?
The greatest theatres of this millenia, Shakespeare’s The Kings men, Moscow Art, The Group, none lasted more than a decade or two in peak power. And yours is greater than these? Perhaps. The question is not “can I” sell out, but “should I?” Ruminate over this at length, and if, after long ponderbation, you answer yourself with “YES!” Then I suggest you find two very pretty girls, photo nude for publicity, and have an ending where true love overcomes obstacles, such as war, and your test audience makes sounds at end like, “no..ahhhh!...awwww.”
I, Zambonesman, can find beauty anywhere. In the leavings of a cow, the dying groan of a giant squid, in face of a toothless hag on cold night, or even in advertising.
Before last wednesday, my favorite short poem was:
Raid kills bugs dead.
No longer, since seeing this short poem from the CNN scribes which sums up all this zeitgeist of whole world in this new century from Estonia to Boise:
Texting woman falls in fountain, sues.
As you might imagine, this woman is upset that 2 million people laugh at her over and over on You Tube (you must open new window, go there, put magic poem in box of search – laughter is healthy) but that is the real tragedy. Is not that she falls, is that she not make something good from. I help.
Dear Woman Who Was Captured Texting Your Way into Fountain in Mall in Which You Yourself Works:
This has happened to Zamboni several times! Your mistake was not oblivious text walking. Your real fault is not to bust gut laughing at yourself doing this! And not to parlay this your 15 minutes of fame into something good. Make a T-Shirt and bumper sticker of your falling face, with “woops!” or “who moved the fountain?” and couple this with surveillance camera graphic and “SPLASH!”then you may land in a million dollars and maybe a slot on So You Think You Can Dance? Open Pay Pal account now! Don’t you think if you call The Price is Right RIGHT NOW and say, “hey, I’m the one fall in the fountain, put me on your game show!” they say yes? For their publicity. Right this minute you could be winning a boat and a new refridgerator, perhaps.
So please, woman who fell, turn this lemons to lemonade, because in one week, your spotlight will move on to other absurd thing. One way or another, all accomplishments and goofups fade from memory. But what matters is what we make of them.
I say you still have two days to take this action, Woman Who Splashed (even change your name to that, like Native American!) Good luck.
And by the way, Zambonesman spent much time criss crossing country in bus with Neal Cassidy and other Beats, in order to “dig” long hallucination of American night. There was a beat poet named Lew Welch. It was he who write the ad copy above for Raid. One day he seek to dig too much and set off wandering into forest and never come back. Is too bad, he would have liked the CNN line. He probably would not have guessed that his immortality would be this four words. We never know at what moment the genius of our life may appear. Be ready.
Glory and stupid You Tube videos do fade, beauty does not.
QUESTION FOR “Z” My house is always in a chaotic state. Does this mean my life will also be chaotic?
Actually it came for me three days ago but according to Jordan, my human conduit, I have been in a deep sleep under the couch for 72 hours. In reality, I chased a mouse under there and fell through a trap door leading me to a most amazing world in which I learned much from several old mice, who, being mice, had a very different perspective on things and being so small had no trouble traveling anywhere they wished or spying upon all forms of life. But I will try to stay on task now with this latest question since I have lost some time.
Harvey, you are correct, mostly. You know, science has proven that the best way to get to know someone deeply is not to spend a life knowing them, but merely to take a quick glance at their bookshelf. I can open your door, walk into your house, look, and walk right back out in 5 minutes and I will know about you. If I stay an hour, I will not. In a way it as as Oscar Wilde said, “only the most superficial of people do not judge by first impressions.” Yes I know this confusing but Zamboni has point to make.
Does a messy person have a messy life? Yes, of course. But there is many kind of mess. My great uncle, the Arch Duke Quinforshkin of Murmansk, lives in a castle crowded with stuffed animals, crumbling books, half drunk cups of Kvass, duelling pistols, ancient parchments containing recipes for long forgotten cheese and countless other ephemera. But, his mess is not a dirty, or smally mess..you see, it represents him; he is a scattered person of many passions but is still dignified and cares how he seems and smells to others. He is a collector of wonders and there is room in his place to see them.
On the other hand, my uncle Gripshank, lives in a small shack in the Black Forest which smells of garbage and maggot. But none of this is accident. Is not that he can’t be clean, or knows not what a broom is, it is that he wishes not to, he wishes to keep people away, and be left to his jam making. The Arch Duke has many friends and two lovers, ( a bearded woman named Shul, and her brother, a dwarf with mind-reading abilities named Fregula) and these people love to search through the miscellany of his adventured life.
So, Harvey.. the question is not does your chaotic house mean you have chaotic life, the real interesting thing is, look at your house, even one corner: this will reveal truth of you. What is your chaos showing?
I put this to the test, and took snapshot of random corner in Jordan’s house, see below.
So, just from this contents, this little chaos, I learn much.
-Ulysses, by James Joyce: He wish to read this, but is too difficult. Cover was dusty.
-Old baseball, and baskletball cards: He waiting to cash in, but these ghosts of childhood, he’ll never get rid of, those old dreams of being …?
-Shoebox: Filled with Great American Novel scribbled on napkins and matchbooks. Disorganized. He have dreams of being Hemingway, but to finish would risk failure, so it remains, “in process.”
-Arty old journal notebooks. He scribble much neurosis in these in hopes it make art because cover is pretty.
-Book without jacket is “A Guide to the Good Life” about Stoicism in everyday life. Shows signs of use.
So just from five things, I learn this person is a searching, thinking person, with many dreams in many directions, but perhaps weighed down by some things, who cares for beauty and learning and who will never sell these baseball cards or finish novel.
So Harvey, I believe that if you are honest with yourself, you see your house is exactly as you wish it to be, and it is like a signpost telling all those who visit, exactly who you are and what you want from them.
I once knew a man who lived in a trailer that was stuffed with stacks and stacks of newspapers, like the dense city skylines of a million metropoli, all crammed tightly. I wondered long and hard about what cause his mania, but noticed the main effect was, there was no room for people. This man, had lost his room for people in his life. Is your chaos saying “come into my chaos and play?” Or something else.
Zamboni has spoken.
I will now continue my own spring cleaning. (Personal rule, If I haven’t looked at or used it in 3 months, it goes.)
Tim was an English teacher and baseball coach of many years service at Berkeley High School, where I also teach. He lost a battle with cancer, this evening. He had super bright red hair, red face too, and proudly wore his team baseball jacket and hat often, even in the off season. (Wouldn’t ya know it, team color, red.)
I trust there is a big apple waiting for him on a nice desk up there, and plenty of time to do all that reading he couldn’t do, grading Great Gatsby essays and all. He loved is job, and that’s some luck right there.
Jordan sneaks this in while the Zambonesman sleeps off last night- too much Fernet Branca and too many flaming cheese shots with the visiting Estonian Weightlifting team:
So you know how some days google does a little custom job on it’s logo that greets you. On Holloween the “oo” become a couple of pumpkins, etc. So this morning she’s lurking behind me as I crank this thing up, my daughter, Bird, age 12, and I notice today, on Dr.MLK Jr.s day, there are four kids playing hopscotch through the google, two black, two white, just like in the speech, the Dream.
“I don’t get that” she says, “why do they just have some kids playing, it’s so random.”
First I think she’s being a bit dense. “Don’t you get it?”I say, “It’s for MLK day.”
But it was me missing the point, as usual.
“You just see some kids playing, huh?”
“That’s what it is, I guess that’s all it is.”
It’s a small thing. But it’s a pretty nice small thing.
I, the Zambonesman, am often asked, in some shape way or form, some version of the question, “what the hell is going on with this guy/girl/husband/wife/yak that I am in love with, and who does not do to me exactly like I wish her/him/yak to be doing- and how can I fix this man/woman/yak to be perfect love to me?”
This has been adressed by me already and so I post this veedeo from my archive for your endorsement. I hope it gives some thought and inspiration to you. And as you can see, since it take five minute for me to speak on this, I struggle with this subject myself…But the scenery and birdsound is nice because I was in Italy. Enjoy.
“It’s funny how you just answer any question people ask you.”
“So… Zamboni is you right?”
“Aren’t you worried you’ll give someone the wrong advice?”
Yes. Not really. Yes.
I’m not a total idiot.* I see that the subtext behind these questions, which have all come from close friends, is “who the hell are you to give people advice?” I have no advanced degrees in Philosophy or Psychology, and I’ve not weathered war or the thousand natural shocks that could earn for someone the gravitas from which they could offer wisdom. But remember, I didn’t ask to be Zamboni.
On the other hand, I have loved. I have lost. I’ve had moments where I felt I could die quite happily now, thanks, and others where I wanted to die, or at least thought it might not be the worst idea. Don’t know that I’d really trust someone who got to 40 without visiting both places and a lot in between. I have read a bunch of philosophy, from Aristotle to Xenophon, and I’ve noticed that Ecclesiastes is right, there aint a whole lotta new under the sun. So many wise folk seem to be pointing in the same direction, toward a destination that the Stoics call “tranquility” and the Buddhists call Nirvana.
Montaigne said, “All I’m sure of is that I know nothing, and I’m not even sure of that.” We all know it’s a hell of a lot easier to give people advice than it is to take your own. As a high school teacher I’ve dispensed lots of advice, both explicity and implicity, but I know all the time that kids are paying a lot more attention to how I’m saying it, and what I actually do in my interactions with them. Words are cheap, and yes, opinions are a bit like assholes.
I don’t ask Zambonesman a question because, as his alter ego, I know what he’ll say. Zambonesman is harsh, a tough love sort of character. He doesn’t suffer fools and focuses people on actions, not feelings or words. If I ask him why I don’t have this or that, he’s just gonna say, “because you don’t want it enough…you want? Then take!” Then again, I might be short changing him. Many a time has he surprised me, and the questioner, with something a little absurd but profound as well.
When I give advice to you as Zambonesman, I’m also giving it to me. The way when you encourage your friend to desperately try to keep that messed up relationship together it may be more about what went wrong in your own. It’s true, the next time you are giving advice, ask really who is it you’re talking to, him or you?
Then again, it’s not like I’m charging 140.00$ an hour.
*And yes, I realize I can’t be sure about the, “not a total idiot” thing.