Football or Baseball, which is best?

Zamboni is asked this question by Chartruese Fockenstein of Denton TX. Chartruese Fockenstein is a very common name in Estonian Jewish circles so perhaps this writer to me is extracted from such stock.


Baseball is more like American life. Usually tomorrow and the day after you have another chance. Until you don’t. It dies in the fall, with the leaves. Things go up and down. We are all streaky. The grass is greener. Baseball is beautiful

Football is more like war. Higher stakes. Not many chances, just 13 games (in college) and there is much pain and people are more giant than me or you.

Coming from where I come from, there has been more war than peace. Football is more like mirror or life.

Take beauty, or truth- your choice.

But no one in baseball is named Plaxico! This remind me of my uncle, Plaxico the Magnificent, a  great man and third rate illusionist.

I have spoke!


Mr. Clark/Orvis/SF

Today I shook hands with someone who shook hands with veterans of the Civil War. I know because he told me while he was shaking my hand, and pretty damn well for someone about 91. He said as a small boy in Mississippi he’d chat with some old vets around the corner store.

I met him  at a fly fishing store, Orvis in downtown San Francisco. He was introduced to us as Clark, and that’s what his nametag said too, but we all seemed to call him Mr. Clark.

Said something about cooking breakfast once for a vice-president.

-“rain and wind- makes the fish come up”

“keep the wind behind ya, not in your face”

Crisp blue shirt not only with french cuffs but shiny silver fly reel cuff links. When have you seen someone in retail wear french cuffs?

Looked like the old grand dad on Old Grandad

“Oh and one last thing”, store manager warns, “don’t fish behind Clark.” He catches lots.

Camp Cazadero

“Encourage my soul, and let us journey on…though the night is dark, and I am far from home…” gospel tune

Man oh Manishevitz you  couldn’t hope for a better week of summer than  the one I just spent at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp. I went to camp with my two kids and my mom.

For one week my eyes didn’t look at a screen of any kind -TV, cell, computer-, I didn’t handle any money (except at Raymond’s Bakery across the street, man those Brownies) and nobody talked much about work. In fact, you didn’t know who anyone was- or rather you learned about who they were, just not what they did to make the rent. You talked about your classes, how Ukulele was going, or songwriting, maybe Joel Ben Izzy’s story at the campfire last night. (

I could be playing ping pong with a stockbroker, a brain surgeon, or someone still following whoever followed the Grateful Dead- everyone was equal in dusty jeans and unshowered hair.

An average day, I wake up, maybe do Yoga, maybe snooze until the wake-up band comes strollin along the tent cabins about 8:30 or so. The giant redwoods greet me, I stumble to the dining hall and have coffee. (Yes, for a week, no cooking or cleaning.)

First period I taught Playwrighting to a group that ranged in age from 9 to 71. The kids wrote about cowboys and aliens, the older folks learned conflict through scenes of parents and Children.

Second period I took East Coast Swing dancing, and man this year I really got it. For someone who twists in knots whenever I hear the word “choreography” I was out there and freed to just learn the moves and do them in any order I wanted. I Go You Go, inside turn, outside turn to dip, oh man I cant wait to get out on the floor, especially since last year I was still counting steps under my breath. It’s a great coach that gives you not just skills, but the confidence to use them for yourself. And Mark (also the Baker at Raymond’s) made it all so simple: “Ladies you have to let the man lead, lead and follow- so important- that way anything goes wrong it’s his fault… just grant him that illusion of control okay?”

Then lunch, quiet time, go read in the tent, nap.

Then Free time, slip down to the swimmin’ hole in Austin Creek and hope the Crawdads just skip over your feet and don’t snatch your toes. Watch the Boy laboriously get up nerve to climb the rock and jump in or see the Girl struggle with an old rope swing.

Third period I turned back into Mr. Hyde- yelling directions at my 19 beginners doing a 40 minute version of 12th Night. But in the end they had fun and damn it they did Shakespeare. Some of them even understood of what they spoke.

Fourth and final period, singing Gospel with Chelle. ( Oh man. This woman is just the real thing, feelin it so deep but making it so fun and easy- this woman is reason alone to check this camp out. Queen of New Orleans. We sang, we rocked, all of us. The majority being secular Jews from Berkeley but it didn’t matter, we had that room rockin.

Then you play some competitive or not ping pong, I found a guy who could throw a football a mile, ran me ragged, maybe you actually see your kids for a second- though this summer the Girl, now 13, spent a lot of time wearing some lanky blond boy’s sweatshirt and walking past me speedily.

What did I learn at Camp Caz?  (which by the way is the birthplace of Zamboni)

-Being around a lot of strangers can be wonderful, if you aint workin’

-the smaller the kid, the more they seem to love Great Zamboni (which is how I am greeted there several times daily by each small one)

-being inspired and creative is tiring in the best sort of way

-though I feel like a different person in that one week out of the year, that really may be who i’m supposed to be. It’s like me, just more.

-all you can eat food never gets old

-drink a lot of water

-in the real world we’ve got a major shortage of mojo

Thank you Joelle, (camp director)  thank you Redwoods, thank you stars and fires at night, smores and people, most of all, people. And thanks mom, you stole the spotlight with your stories, but i’m still so glad you came.


Zamboni what ya gonna do? go AWOL

Yes folks, Great Zamboni is gone. I came into the kitchen this morning and amidst a pile of Captain Morgan bottles, a loaded deck of cards and two sherpas passed out in each others arms, I found a note scribbled with invisible ink inside a matchbook for The Purple Cow, some breakfast place in Idaho Zamboni often flies to in his helicopter.

The note read simply,

Dear Jordan-

I almost have your answer. Seeking one more voice. Be back in a week. Feed your head, and my hamster.-Z

Zamboni is a man of his word so look forward to his reappearance here then. I myself am going back not to Cali, Cali- but to Cazadero. See you soon.


Great Zamboni appears live to explain all this In October, in The Tent, in Oakland- more on this in 7 days..

Be well, and as they say in Estonia: “May your goat be warm, your children rich, and your wife faithful.”

What if you died today?

This is my aunt Evelyn.                                                            She died Wednesday night, in Boca Raton Florida. They say Death is a natural part of it all and that we shouldn’t be afraid of it. Zamboni famously has revealed that death is a lot like Las Vegas,which of course is comforting. Nevertheless when people in your life and family die, it gets you thinking.

My mother’s side of the family is rich in women. Her mother had two sisters, Evelyn and Anne, and two brothers (one dying young) and they came to this country with their mother, and grandmother.

As you can imagine, visiting these folks in Florida when I was a kid, I was fawned over, petted and patted quite a bit. But when you’re ten, you want to be James Bond or Terry Bradshaw and not so much to hear, “what beautiful curls he has! Such adorable eyes!”

But Evelyn was special to me from the start. I feel trapped in a cliche right now, because there really was something angelic about her voice. I never heard it agitated or bothered. It was always sweeet, smoothed, patient and as comforting as… I honestly can’t think what. I wish you could have heard it.

This sweetness may have come from her being the spoiled, protected one..I don’t know. Her sister Anne had to be the driven business woman, in the garment business supporting a husband who couldn’t contribute, but I don’t know all the history. I  curse myself for not getting that voice on a tape recorder.

She lived a long time. She leaves behind two daughters, Arlene and Lana. Her husband, Bob,  passed away a while ago. He was a funny guy who for a time had a business immortalizing peoples baby shoes in porcelain.

If you died today, what would people say about you? Personally, I think about it all the time.

And I hope when I die, Evelyn and I can go see Barry Manilow at Cesar’s, I’m sure he’ll still be there.

Naked Crayon Speaks

From the beginning, I, GreatZamboni have said that my real magic is not just to shower brilliance on the earth like rain in Portland. Zamboni is at his best when YOU bring forth the genius in you.

Zamboni may not be like Houdini with chains and boxes and great escapes, but he does have ability to bring good wisdom from his flock. The following is answer to Jordan’s “thorny question” from reader on East Coast whose handle is “naked crayon”. I hope you are enjoying….

Ok, so while I am not an all knowing sage, I do have some experience with this topic. I am afterall the queen of reinvention. In my short 43 years, I have studied and or worked at being: a dancer, an actress/waitress, singer, travel agent, advertising , marine biology, psychology, reiki, nursing, law , paralegal, public relations and artist. people think I’m crazy or a “lost soul” I say they are wrong.My entire philosophy is based on the theory of reinvention. Said very simply- as far as we know this life may be it for us. Why would we NOT experience as much of it as we can? I’ll tell you why. Becuase Man has created a ton of crazy ass rules. For example: cars should be one color, people should be married before having children, only men and women can be married, we should work for five days and take two off and yes, we should decide what we want to be when we grow up and then BE IT until death do you part. Nonsense!

But please know this young paduan. Choosing the road less traveled is not without sacrafice. My resume will always be scattered, I do not have a two car garage, or a fat 401k and I have not taken my children on the 5k plus trek to Disneyland that is a status mandate for East Coast families. We all make choices and much like High School most people follow the status quo and when they do, they are rewarded with things and feeling like they belong. I never belong but I am rewarded by knowing that I follow my heart and my life map is much richer than my neighbors. (Even though she never has to trudge her groceries through the snow, like I do, because she pullls into her fancy garage)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I believe that one day because I have experieced so much my life will all make sense to the outside world and my light will shine brighter than most. So yes, follow your passion, and your heart and lead an authentic life. Just have a really good plan, so that your kids don’t starve in the mean time.

To this I add only  Dicky Fox:


Thorny Question

Dear Great Zamboni- I find myself very often fantasizing about doing jobs that are very different from my own. I am not young, I do not have “my whole life before me” but being in my early 40’s, gods willing, I have some life before me, and I can’t help feeling that if I don’t change my course in life I will wake up tomorrow and I will be 65 saying, “what happened?” For the past 14 years I’ve been a  teacher, and though I get much enjoyment and my daily bread from this noble calling, lately I have been seeing myself doing other things- being a football coach, working in the business world, etc. What do you think about someone like me making a radical shift this late in life, maybe to a field that I have little or no experience in? Is passion to learn something new enough to carry one into a new livelyhood?Thank you for considering this Great Z man. -JW

Zamboni will take time to contemplate this question, which is obviously coming from the human vessel which carries Zamboni into these times. Since this is a thorny one (this “JW” is the human body which the  great spirits have chosen for Zamboni to use for  spreading my wonder and wisdom slowly over the Globe like Sherwin-Williams paint) I must ruminate on this over night and consult my own great sages like the one below.

Zamboni is asked about “Levitra”

Someone with the strange name of “@#$#%$generic/viagra/levitra/erection%$bargain-no.prescription-meds” asks me very kindly if I need “cheap generic Levitra.”

Dear kind stranger asking Zamboni personal question: I am fine, thank you. I use the natural remedies for this: good sleep, 12 oysters for breakfast, wearing Ostrich skin boots, caressing a Rhino horn while speaking French. I will keep your strange complicated e-mail for use in a decade or so.

Thank you!

my ace in the hole

What The Hell is the Stock Market? (Zamboni Book Club#2)

Thank you for this question, and it has come to Zamboni many times in many ways over the past few years. People ask me for tips and advice because everyone want to get rich quick and is waiting for the i.p.o. of Zamboni Inc Llc, etc.

First I  should say that Great Zamboni not put money in stock market but only in Estonian Goat Futures. This is complicated system of betting on how much milk goats of different colored spots will yield. I do this until I lose 10,000 Krons last Monday. So now I just keep cash in suitcase. Not being American I do not hunger for riches in the Stock Market but I can explain this to you because on recent flight to Istanbul I read book by Suzanne Mcgee, “Chasing Goldman Sachs.”

better than pirate story!!

You see, the Stock market is like a public utility, like a power company. When you get home, you flip on switch and light come on. You turn faucet and water come. You no think about it. Stock Market is like this too. You want your city to build a bridge or hospital, it use stock market. You want to retire or borrow money to buy house, you use stock market grid of vast money- you don’t think about this sea of money, it just always seems to be there.

So a person puts money into this sea, the money goes to work building bridges or supporting new companies, and then when the money grows a little bit with those companies, the person takes back their money plus a little bit to reward their risk.

But for a while now, the big banks start to say “hey, forget about this little guy who wants to grow some money, lets start making some indecipherable’financial products’ made up of piles and piles of bad loans to people and sell this bad juju to other companies and make piles of money when no hospital is being built or company actually growing except our own company which is only growing fat because we are selling these piles of bad juju”. See, simple!

It didn’t help that in the 1970’s, the minimum fee to buy a stock, like 40 cents a share, is got rid of. Now people can buy stock for a penny on internet. Stockbroker must now be creative to make paycheck.  Greed+Creativity=EVIL.

Here’s how crazy it get: The investment bankers give a little thank you fee to the people lending homeowners money to buy houses who probably won’t be able to pay these loans back- they need lots of these loans to bundle up!- they even can make money betting on all of us people not paying our loans. This like betting money on you getting hit by brick, then yelling “hooray” when you get hit by brick, and “ka-ching” sound of money. Maybe they throw brick too.

So this Stock Market, which once served people on Main St, now is serving people working in investment banks, on Wall St. But when house of cards come crashing down, we had to bail them out (Ha!) because, yes we’ll always need hospitals, houses and to retire, and they know this.

If you are still confused, perhaps buy  the book, or just reflect of this old Estonian jargon, “if your town only has one butcher, and he grabs you by the testicles, either smile or become a vegetarian.”

Clear, no? Then get yourself a financial advisor, they still do the serving Main Street thing. It makes the world go round.