What exactly is beauty?

Zambones snapped this on the set of Giant where I was James Dean's acting guru.

It is possibility. It is no line not even a fine one between danger and protection. It is the inexplicable pull of the one with dark hair and dark eyes when the fair haired ones are invisible to you. It isn’t hair or eyes at all but something in the eyes, not even the color of the eyes, it’s the look but not just the look. It’s a need the look reveals,  but not a need at all.

Beauty is truth, not always real, but always true.

Yesterday When I Bought Skinny Jeans

(Zambones is out today so Jordan will post)

Jorge said they were “tapered”. He was a nice kid, probably just shy of 21. I had been on my way out of the store and it was his one last effort to help me find some jeans.

They were certainly tapered. They bagged on top and hugged the calfs.  Looking in the mirror, I thought…cool (?) They definitely were a smile. Another clerk passed us with a stack of shirts and a  Chesire grin. I was at the shop at Levi’s World Central in San Francisco. Levi’s invented work clothes for gods sake. There must be some reason for this shape. This was a cool throwback to something that I just didn’t quite get because I wasn’t privy to all the archives and, stuff. The dressing room itself was built of redolent  raw pine, I propped my foot on a freshly chopped log and breathed it in.

I would blaze a new trail with these, like the guy on the video monitor above me shaping surfboards.

I left the store walking north towards the ocean. I could feel that denim wrapping my legs. Coeds on spring break passed me, doing a doubletake, diggin’ my style. They were from Ohio and they were checking out raw San Franciscan iconoclasm.I could see these jeans going everywhere with me. They’d  become my signature risk. Today would prove to be like the day Tom Wolfe first wore that white suit that he’d go on to wear every single day.  This was what Cailfornia, Levi’s, and everything was about, individualism.

I caught my reflection squarely in the window of a tourist store selling T- Shirts, “Never a Dull Memento”. I saw a man with chicken legs and shoes like canoes. I paused, against my will, and looked. I was wearing skinny jeans. My puffy parka and skinny jeans made me an ostrich. A clown. A buffoon tricked by his own misperceptions.

Moments later I’m running,  I’m gasping out this plea over and over to anyone within earshot, “help me, help me, I bought skinny jeans, someone…someone help me….” I’m averting my eyes when I pass my reflection which is every cruel second. I turn to get away from the reflection and lose my way back to the store. I am a man wearing skinny jeans and I am lost. I am running and muttering this same plea over and over . Jesus get me to Levi’s Plaza. Two women in black  pass me and wrinkle their brows at the sight of mumbling crazy guy in skinny jeans. Christ I was just there, where is it?

But then I pause. Am I overreacting? I look again in a window.

No I am not.  I start running again. I dreaded dissapointing Jorge because I dread dissapointing people more than anything else. So much so that sometimes I do it on purpose just to see what it’s like because I never do it, but I really I fear it.  As I speedwalked the last block I made sure I had the reciept and braced myself. I had sweat through my shirt.

No Jorge. On break. Yes! I could do this. His relief was an asian girl who I told feverishly. “501’s, please, exchange, 34/30”

“Hi can I help you?” She said warmly, slowly. I repeated it.

“Okay. Are you a true 34?”

“What? They should be already pulled. Iwas just here…I got these, jeans.”

“Okay, but are you a true 34 because they shrink.”

“Yes yes I know, just please, yes 34.”  I looked around warily.

She was right. The 34’s were like a house around my hips, I asked for the 33’s and waited nervously in  the damn pine box.  I put them on, said I’d wear them out and headed to the register. Just then Jorge popped through the front door rolling coardboard boxes on a dolly. “Hey, you’re back!” he said smiling. He didn’t care. He happily went-a-shelving some new bags with a co-worker. They were laughing because they couldn’t tell if they were baby slings or messenger bags.


Later I walked the same blocks with the 501’s. The familiar shape. That odd new denim smell  like soil and iodine.  The last time I got the unwashed Shrink-to-Fits I was 14. I took a shower with them on. I had another plan today.

I stopped and looked into the glass of a cafe. I bent down and carefully made a cuff. About an inch and a half. I wanted to be careful as this would be the crease, forever. You shouldn’t do something like that lightly. After a few washes it’d be harder to change  that crease than my personality.

I took off my shoes, shirt. After two jumps in the bay I lay on the sand outside the South End wrapped in a grey wool blanket, my head on the sand. I could feel them start to mold around my shape. An old guy took out a solo row boat, carefully he oared himself backward out into the bay, looking behind him, and soon disappeared.

Nothing’s important. Everything’s important.

Now they’ve dried, but are still crisp, rigid. They fit. I need clothes to be a mirror of the way I want to feel in the world, like I fit perfectly. I know not everyone needs this.

But these hang right. I could wear these in my own pine box.

“Great Zamboni, Why Do We Buy?”

“Someone told me a long time ago that people buy two things: Solutions to problems and good feelings.”-The Trad

This question comes from”Hortense.”

Once long ago, when I, Great Zamboni was a poor student at University of Krakow studying Electromagnetic Fields, Teleportation, Gender Studies and with a minor in Business- I coveted a pair of Paku skinned boots. The Paku is a pig-like creature, now extinct, native to Colombia with very shiny and leatherlike skin. The boots were in the window of Toloskovitski’s Emporium of Taste, a shiny store catering to the criminal elite. The Paku is not much bigger than a fat cat so it takes many to make a pair of boots.

I am ashamed to say I attained these boots through unholy and illegal ends, the only such time I, Zamboni, has partaken of a criminal activity. I ran a small subterranean cat fighting ring for three months until I had the money to purchase the boots. When I was finally able to wear these shiny purple boots, I realized it was not in the boots themselves that lay what I yearned for, it was an attempt to own the feeling of this yearning. I was trying to find permanently a feeling of belonging that can only be fleeting. I imagined being embraced by others such wearing these boots, that I would be protected, like I belonged to a special club. Like I would never be lonely again.  It was not boots, but the good feeling of love I sought.

I still buy things I don’t really need as bad as I need bread or ESPN. With Amazon, I buy many things with “one click buying” and this I enjoy. Growing up eating apple cores and weeds, it is hard not to revel in plenty.

But I try to remind myself, “what feeling is it that I need here, or what problem am I trying to solve?”

Hortense, I hope this gives you some answer. And remember, have your shopping sprees, but try Salvation Army or Thriftown- your money goes farther and endorphin rush is the same, without buyers hangover from 200$ jeans the next day.

Just wash the blankets before use.

Signs of the Times

I'm asleep.

I was recently asked, “Zamboni, what are some signs of the times?” I told  them this is quite simple. You need only look at cars to see the zeitgeist. Not just the designs but also names. Names of modern cars are soft, mushy like baby food. “Prius” is medical condition of old people.  “Allantra” sound also pharmaceutical. “Accord”Oh, that’s nice. Peace accord, Jimmy Carter.

The world started to die when cars lost their fins. When Zamboni was a boy reading discarded LIFE magazines salvaged from Estonian Palace Hotel dumpster, I see adds for cars of the 60s and 70s. “Fury”, “Fairlane”, “Dart”. “Valiant”, “Falcon”, these cars mirrored how America looked forward, pushing fast and far. The pictures make me dream to come here.

I'm awake.

Today even the vans have no open space, but rows of seats like school bus. As a child, my playpen was simply put in our old VW bus which had a wide open cab. As my gypsy parents traveled about selling cheese and playing accordion I was not tied into a bolted seat, but left open to bob around and move with the contours of the road. And even though the extremely hot heater under the one back bench set my prized binky on fire,  it also kept us warm on many a frosty Balkan night’s drive.

Since cars are designed knowing they won’t be pushed off the assembly line for another few years, they must be someone’s vision of the future. They wrote songs about the GTO and Cadillac.

But the Civic?

Getting Back to Basics

Great Zamboni often has trouble understanding American idioms, like “all you can eat” or “I know you are but what am I?”, and things of that ilk. In these cases he has to admit there are things he doesn’t know and ask me for translation.

One such slogan that preplexed him recently arose while we were watching TV. The narrator of a commercial spoke of America “getting back to basics” and Zamboni raised an eyebrow. It was harder than I thought to elucidate this, but I tried.

I said that we are working harder now than ever, carrying devices which make us always online and ready to e-mail and multitask. I explained that we are worrying so much about the future that even in educating our children we are not focusing on teaching them how to do things but rather on how to get into colleges so they can compete. Kids can send a mass text before they can boil an egg.

“So what are these ‘basics’ then you all wish to get back to?”, he asked between puffs of fine English Cavendish from his white Meershcaum pipe carved into the shape of a Merman. I told him for everyone they’re different. For me it’s my son winning his first little league baseball game, on his 10th birthday, when it came that close to being rained out and when the last two games were rained out.  And his cake-blowing-out wish the night before was that he could play his game, that the weather would hold.

It’s crazy college football fans rushing onto the field after a win and players taking the time to smile into the camera with some kid they never met.

It’s a  lot of things, I tried to explain to Zamboni. It’s sitting at a table eating with your whole damn extended family even if your mom is not speaking to your brother,  or everyone has been divorced several times and is still friends with everybody they’ve divorced because, well, just because.

It’s your grandfathers gold pen he got for retirement half a century ago and how you haven’t lost it and somehow it still writes because it was made a long time ago when we made things that last. It’s things that last, I told him.

“This makes very little sense to me,” Zamboni said. “Then again, my powerful DNA makes me too potent to have children with a mortal, I despise this boring baseball that has no timer to stop game, and no grandfather ever of mine could  retire or else they would starve.”

Well, I tried. -jw

How to Help Japan

Great Zamboni has a few ways you may help.

Text REDCROSS to 90999..a mere 10$ will be take from your phone bill , (or in Estonian Currency 56,456,789 Kronshites.) If you are Zamboni’s mother with no cell phone and very little confidence in the technology, give any  twelve year old a 10$ bill and have them do for you.

Also you can go to www.globalgiving.org, quite easily.

I was recently chatting with Poseidon and asked him why such destruction was visited on the earth in the forms of earthquakes and tidal waves. “Ask Charlie Sheen,” was his curt response. Nevertheless, our world is smaller than we think, and both karma and your happiness require you to help. Are you getting that warm sensation in the heart just thinking about being generous? Good for you.. now as Estonian EMTs say when you’re choking, Cough it Up Sheep Ass! I’m slapping you on back now.

Is the ground still on which you stand? Rejoice and smile.

I called him but he say, "Zamboni, i'm f%#*ing busy right now, do it yourself."

Charlie Sheen: Great Sage and Alien Experiment

“it’s easy, you just close your eyes and change your brain”.

Many people have asked me, the great Zambonesman, some version of this question, “Charlie Sheen, W.T.F.?” To alleviate your befuddlement in this matter of celebrity meltdown, I have consulted the inner mirror of my soul and have spent 12 hours with Charlie Sheen himself in a sweat lodge in a concealed location. Originally, Sheen’s handlers enlisted my help to drive out his demons and addictions, but I quickly discovered the real truth of his predicament. Charlie sheen is a misunderstood oracle and prophet to mankind and an alien-probed experiment as well as a vehicle for the restless spirit of Dennis Hopper.

Long ago, my friend William Blake wrote, in the Proverbs of Hell, “exuberance is beauty”, and “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” In this interview, Charlie Sheen is asked if he regrets great and endless crack and party binge. He flatly says no and this shocks interviewer. It also shocks interviewer that during the interview itself, Sheen is not on any drug despite his manic and crazy behavior… and this is affirmed by drug test immediately after. Admittedly this behavior is less shocking to me. In Estonian Air Force, our hazing included the forced snorting of fifteen lines of Borax, a grain alcohol enema, and the consumption of sheep testicals- and this was for officers.

Looking deeply at Charlie Sheen as we both sweated out toxins from our pores, I noticed a small incision behind his ear. In a flash of lucidity and vision brought on by the intense heat and eating nothing but Saltines for two weeks, I saw in a millisecond what ordeal had taken place in the soul of Charlie Sheen- Tiger Blood!

One year ago, an alien race visited him, probing his skull. Inside this skull they found a powerful energy- the restless ghost of Dennis Hopper. Inside the mind of this restless ghost, they saw the young Martin Sheen from Apocalypse Now, mistaking one Sheen for another, they immediately thought they had tapped into the very nerve center of the entire mojo-source of all Mankind. Loathe to take their probe out of such a prize specimen, they overloaded Charlie with source code from their own Universe called Zogrumperplatz. This source code made the Sheen feel invincible, thus his endless binge of crazymaking. You see, this Alien race does not desire our destruction. Au contraire, their goal is our liberation, and being much more advanced than us, they can help us achieve this, but only with the mind of Charlie Sheen. Through his exuberant overindulgence, they enabled him to spout this wisdom to us, but we are being too obtuse to recognize it.

So what can he do now?

It is difficlut to say, as even the Zamboni is powerless to remove the alien probe- but, since I can communicate with the ghost of Dennis Hopper, I will relay his message concerning this:

“Oh man, this bullshit with Charlie… the man is just being true to himself… real men don’t apologize for their behavior.. you think artists are saints man? No, they’re fucked up people like everyone else… shit man,  the set of Apocalypse Now makes 2011 look like fuckin Teletubbies- and the 50’s that were so squeaky clean? Ha! I drank Champagne from Natalie Woods–———————————————–…” There my connection broke up.

So the answer is clear. Only if we learn the lessons that Hopper and the aliens are trying to teach us through Sheen, will he be freed from  from his possession.  He’s high on a drug, yes, “the drug is called Charlie Sheen”. So, get high on yourself! It is the only drug that you will always be able to afford!

*Don’t apologize!

*Say what you think without thinking too much!

*Skip the drugs and prostitutes, you can learn these things without all that trouble!

Only with Tiger Blood, can you conquer the tiger!

Yes, notice he is speaking to the elder Sheen, Martin, imprisoned in Bamboo…a fact not lost on the Zagrumperplatzians.

Now he may rest.

Zambones Video Archive, #1

In this time of needing much leadership to harness great democratic surge in Middle East, I offer this peace-themed video from Zamboni. It was answer to the question, why did Obama win Nobel?


Perhaps this is the year where he could really earn one of these, Zamboni prays for him and this. And I think best in the bathroom, that is why you see this my shower curtain.

Peter Gomes, World’s Best Christian, RIP

Man I will miss this dude.

I was at Harvard Extension School between 91′ and 94′, and graduated at age 28.  I was on the three-college-eight-year-plan. Being a bit older and on a foriegn coast,  I was a bit isolated. Without the normal trappings of undergrad life -dorm, frat, etc.- it was a lone wolf deal.

Planted in the middle of Harvard Yard is Memorial Church, and walking by it ten times daily I started to notice the posted sermon topics for the upcoming sunday, along with the name, “Peter J. Gomes”. Since I was raised as a Christmas Tree Jew, I was always curious about the other half and attended church one Sunday.

Waiting through the dry hymns and liturgy, finally this small but august man rose to the stained wood pulpit and preached. His spectacles balanced way down his nose, his cadence a rolling train somewhere between Tuskeegee and New Cannan, he talked about Jesus like a guy he knew well, admired, but didn’t -and shouldn’t- totally get.  His eyebrows arched way up, cracking a smile often, actually looking at the people he was talking to.

Where Gomes made the greatest mark on me was not at these somewhat grand and long sunday services, but in the back of this great church, in the little chapel that seated about 5o people on three sides with a space for a choir on the fourth. In this chapel were the weekday morning services for the busy student. They were condensed affairs running only from 8:40 to 9:00 am.

I’d have my coffee and corn muffin from Au Bon Pain, then enter a little back door, get a program for the morning, and sit. That little service was like a machiato shot of good vibes. In that svelt span of time, he would do a reading, there would be a song by  a small version of the big choir, and each day either Gomes or a visiting professor, sometimes a student, would do a 5 minute sermon. I remember one guy, a preacher from out of town saying, “my Daddy told me if you got an hour sermon, you need a day to prepare, if you’ve got a five minute talk, you need a week.” I learned something there about brevity, I hope.

all the way to the right side...

But it was being in that small space with Peter Gomes that was the highlight. It was his humor and sarcasm that I wish I could capture here. The way he’d look at a capacity crowd for Easter Sunday, arch an eyebrow and say “well, I see so many new faces today”,  as if to say, you know we do this every sunday right?

I was fascinated by his mixture of faith, skepticism, humor, wisdom. He was both funny and very intellectual. And when he came out as gay to a group of students protesting some homophobic taunts on campus, he added bravery into the mix.

This small clip will at least fill in some blanks from my poor descriptions, but since i’m at word 500, i’ll stop and let his own voice fill my five minutes.   -jw

Will I find my true love this year?

This question comes from the thoughtful reader and artist, R. Dario from Oakland Ca.

In short Dario, the answer is yes.

But we must be careful about using this word “true” with love. It sounds like “truth”, which sounds like “fact” and the one thing Zambonesman knows about love is that it feeds on very unfactful things like imagination, impulses, insticts, and feelings. Zambonesman himself is fatally in love with a white witch from the hills above Bellarus named Drachma. Drachma herself has no likewise feelings for Zamboni, which is me, and has let me know this in many ways, some kind (letters) some more direct (Interpol Restraining Order). My feelings for her are so great, that had I four lives to live with her in the bliss of a hillside dairy, I would without hesitation.Is my ardor due to her refusal? Perhaps. Love does like adversity. The great Chekhov knew this well.

Now, is she my “true” love? I don’t know, true for me maybe but not for her; though one day I trust she will see we are meant to make many children together. Dario, be careful what you wish for, because your true love might be a hurricane of emotion, or easy like Lionel Richie Sunday mornin’. Most likely both on alternate days. What you should focus on my friend, is something else. The Goddess of love, Aphrodite, likes to think of herself as doing at least some of the matchmaking.

Nevertheless, by all means pursue online dating immediately. This too has worked for Zamboni, but may I urge you that the fitst meeting is always better as a coffee date, NOT dinner. Easier to leave quickly if chemistry is not existing. Don’t like online dating? Too awkward? Suck it up, it works.  Remember, Zamboni knows all. And put good pictures on your profile, you on the beach happy, things like that.

Lastly, write down on a piece of paper what you actually want from a relationship, say it out loud to the sky. You can’t get what you want till you know what you want. Again, thank you Joe Jackson.

This  photo by Alice Olive shows that sometimes sunlight is being more profound when we don’t see  it directly- Like “love”. In lower Estonia, the gamblers sometimes say, “you want to roll a 7, think 18.”