“Why are Italians having fewer babies?”

This question comes to Zamboni via Pope Francis, who is very concerned about this, rightfully so as he is a Pope and a friend to Zamboni when  couch surf across Europe on occasion.

Oh my Pope….. This has been puzzling people for a while and is true: Italians are not having many babies. It has been chalked up to this or that , either the fact that couples live with their parents in cramped houses. Also to the economy, jobs are scarce so both man and woman must work thereby delaying child bearing etc. Blah blah…All of these are errogenous. The real reason is quite simple and evident when you just step back and think of it.


It’s very tiring to be Italian. Like, really, really exhausting. Look at these guys! Do you know how hard it is to maintain the caloric surge of being so sprezzatura and effortlessly chic all fucking day? The pants are very tight, the shoes are chafing my bare feet. These men are worrying a lot about leaving their sunglasses at home and being laughed at. Ever wear white jeans? Of course you have not, neither have I- because THEY GET CRAZY DIRTY SO FAST! They literally just vacuum up stains from everywhere. With clothes so tight (not helping sperm count Pope!) much time must be spent at the gym just to fit them- is this making you anxious just reading? me too. Look at this beard guy far left- so tightly wound-  imagine him throwing a toddler in the air- I can’t either!

Look, I feel for them. Italian is like the last most cool nationality. Even I had to get my name from them. Sadly my Estonian birth name is Shuffleshitz. See! How cooler it is to say, “hey, Zamboni!”….Would George Clooney call me up on speakerphone so much if I was a Shuffleshitz?

With everything being universalized and globalized, there is so much sameness happening. “Italian” is just like a cinnamon for “cool” right? Lamborghinis, Giorgio Armani, Al Pacino, Parmaggiano, The Godfather, espresso for Pete’s sake, they are just so cool, like Dennis Hooper said in that movei to Dean Stockwell, ” you’re so FUCKIN’ sauve….”  And for a small country with not a whole lot else going on, corrupt government, the EU falling apart- they have to cling like hell to whatever identity they have. Even if it means when the men get home and peel off those suits they are exhausted from the smiling, laughing and their eyes hurt from too much shading. They must sleep a lot to get up and do this all over again. This= less babies.

The solution Pope?

Make babies cool! get Gucci to make a diaper with that cool green and red stripey pattern. Make Versace shades for the babies! Treat baby as accessory to coolness! It has been very hard for anyone to be cool with a baby for a long time as moms and dads have to wear strange Baby Bjorn strappy things everywhere, juggling rubber nipples and humongous strollers. In my day, I could merely carry my little Zamboni jr. like a football in  crook of my arm as I walked a runway in Milan or panned for gold in Chile.

So make babies cool, and those guys in the picture can wrap one in calfskin and carry it right in that little satchel thingee! Good luck Pope!




If we are lucky enough to survive the next 5.5 billion years and the sun expands enough to fry the earth, and we think we will be better off living further out in the solar system, and we can hope for cutting edge technology, like what that those boards tied together was to our intrepid early ancestors who shoved off and headed for their horizon, is there something we should be doing first? What I am wondering, G.Z., is should we take our wanderlust to Estonia before launching more space exploration? Starring into space in Louisiana,

Long question! from “Staring into space in Louisiana….”

Yes. And no.

The fact is, every day is a day you should set out to explore a new world. But there are new worlds right under your nose and around the corner. Such as:

-your feelings

-Grasses. There are like thousands of varieties even just right off the road or in an abandoned lot. Did you know they even have little flowers, many of the grasses? But they are small since they pollenate with wind and don’t need bees and such, hence no need for big petals and smell.

-Mustard. You can make it yourself, and flavor it with anything!

-Sunsets and sunrises, can literally be seen from anywhere!

-Take a walk, look closely at things at your feet and in the air. Watch.

Yes indeed the sun will fry the Earth like a doughnut somewhere way off in the future- but that’s a hill of beans. It’s our beans, yes, but still. Thinking about it won’t really change anything. Just explore the world that are already here. Not frying.

As my one-eyed uncle Slippknot used to say back in Estonia, “Finish the plum brandy before you go to the liqour barn!” Wise.




I’ll stop the world and melt with you

Today I showed “easy A” to my freshman English class. We just read The Scarlet Letter.They got the Say Anything reference in the end,  when the guy stood on top of the lawn mower, they knew it was a Cusack move. All the girls in the class did that involuntary “awwww” thing like a curling up sigh.

“You get that reference?” I asked, incredulous.

“OF COURSE!” shouted back.

“And you’ve seen, like Breakfast Club too?”

The same reply.

So maybe some of them fell asleep listening to the 93 year old woman talk about surviving Auschwitz. They tried to listen, her accent was tough and it was hard for her to hold the mic up.. They heard some. They saw her tattoo’d number. They hugged her afterward.

They feel something. Things don’t change so much and it makes me feel good. They know why Bender throws his fist up.

Thomas Sterling, New Orleans

“Would you believe I’ve been up since 5 this morning paddling this boat?” Sterling asked.

Shirtless and tattooed, with one cigarette in his mouth and a spare on his ear, Sterling said he has been running a freelance maritime rescue operation since Hurricane Katrina sent water crashing through doors and windows.

“I ain’t never seen so many dead people, and I ain’t never saved so many people,” Sterling said. “I must have rescued over 200 people.”

As with much storytelling in New Orleans, it’s hard to know where truth tires out and imagination takes up the slack. But as we floated slowly through the ruined neighborhood, there was no denying the floating corpse that bobbed against the front of a faded blue duplex at 1728 Desire St.

It looked like a man. He was face-down, wearing a blue shirt, black pants and rubber boots. Sterling suspected he’d know him if he could see his face.

The former dockworker, 53, on disability with a nerve condition, had never given a thought to evacuating.

“I knew I would survive, so I wanted to stay here and help other people who wouldn’t leave or couldn’t get out,” said Sterling, whose chest tattoo says, “All Eyes on Me, Me Against the World.”

-LA Times, 9/6/05

i met the subject of that article. he was sitting, falling asleep, chin resting on his cane, in a little homemade park at the corner of mystery and esplanade, in new orleans three days ago. i’m jetlagged and falling asleep at this keyboard now, can’t be bothered to capitalize- but i want to tell you, if you ever lose hope for the human spirit or think we’ve lost our soul in 2012, you aint been to new orleans.

he said “how you doing sir, could i talk to you fo a second.. this here article is about me from the l.a.times” and to verify he showed me is photo i.d..

“and i’m trying to collect 90 dollars so i can pay my electric bill..” ever weary of a scam, but i stopped anyway, i read the article, and because he seemed soul-weary not drunk or desperate I believed him. I sat down with him. he told me about the floating bodies.. he told me how it came to be that he stayed-

“that morning i was shaving , and after I shaved I rubbed my eyes  and face with a towel, you know, like you do,  and as I did that” he told me slowly,”i had a vision from god and he said that if I stayed behind he would not let anything happen to me, and so i stayed, my momma said ‘boy you better get ready, we leaving’ but I stayed behind”

we sat in silence for as while as i did some reading, he dozed and continued to ask passerby for help. he never complained once, never said the city or anyone else owed him anything, didn’t guilt anyone and was very p0lite. I noticed sores of circular scars covered both arms, “what happened there?”I asked.  he said he had chicken pox as a kid.

We spoke more, then he said he was going elsewhere “i’ll see you mr. jordan, i’ll see you later”

I said my goodbye but wished we’d spoken more. and this morning at 6am we said our goodbye to N.O. and it broke my heart, for so many reasons. yes we had beignets and po boys and saw the Mississippi, and canoed right past some gators and all- but a city’s worth  is its people, and the kind of person it makes you when you’re there- and New Orleans is what an american city is supposed to be-

old, weathered, building, soulful, and above all about the future…

thanks to ed and susan for showing it to me-

(Zamboni I lost at the Voodoo museum but i expect he’ll turn up soon)

Moonshine Revelation #7 “Hot Cousin”

In this series of mystical sayings croaked out to me by the rusted hood ornament of an old Pontiac, the 7th is incestuous yet profound:

“So you have a crush on your hot cousin, think you’re the first?”

This at first does not sound like a nice philosophical crudite, but like all the musings revealed to me from the great spirit within this Indian, with further delectitude we can glean meaning. What is being said to us is exactly this: whatever weird desire you think you and you alone  have, whatever you think makes you inexcusably weird- I can guarantee a million other people share this. Okay, for what just popped into your mind perhaps not a million, but  a few hundred for sure.

Look, Zamboni is saying you can’t control your feelings right? Only your actions. Once I was holding hands on many consecutive nights with a toothless hag named Ramenskoff. Despite her toothlessness, she was very funny always telling off color jokes about amputees and she had a nice smell that was like a new leather jacket and butter. Being around her was nice. But one day she say to me, “Zamboni, we have been holding hands walking along the Baltic here for maybe three years, when are we taking this to next level?” And inside, my gut starts to churn, churn like I had four Long Island Ice Teas in dive bar. I want to say some love words, but I  do not feel them. I had to be honest and reveal the insides of my gut that I am not feeling loving acts toward her in deep way.

She yell and scream at me, throw my pet mink into the cold waves, and storm off. Maybe I led her on, perhaps, but in the end I had to face what I was feeling and not judge it, no?

Many people spend time inquisitioning what they want. Why do I always end up with this deadbeat guy/girl? etc. That’s fine, but what we want is what we want. Or like my friend David Mamet said to me once while we were hunting honey badgers: “we don’t always say what we want, but we always want what we want.”   I know right?!

I am not saying to bump uglies with your cousin, though up until only a century ago they were always doing such things without many people being born with two heads. Still, I don’t advise it, neither do my lawyers.

I am saying, be as patient and tolerant and non-judgmental with yourself as you would be with a best friend.

Moonshine Revelation #5 It’s What’s for Dinner

The number five pearl of wisdom revealed to the Swinegali myself great Zamboni is the following: (In the Indian’s creaky voice, he said:) “if you don’t know what you want for dinner, I really can’t help you”

>>>*&^%$?? was my first reaction, but then I realized that so far, this strange amber Indian that sprung forth with the rusted sedan had not so far steered me into any erroneous zones- he must be on to something. But Great Spirit,  what?

Then I thought about my ferret, Beulah. I once asked her, “what would you like for dinner?” And she responded, “i don’t know”. This was quite a shock to me! -, as one thing Zamboni is always sure of is what he would like to eat, usually many things are coming to my mind: burritos are nice in San Francisco, Goulash is good in Budapest, Perogi is delish in Poland, and Yak balls are surprisingly good anywhere, while in Vegas,  each night I  go to  Golden Steer. (http://goldensteersteakhouselasvegas.com/)

It seemed strange to me that someone could have not one clear desire for a food. Ah!

So perhaps this is what he is telling us- regardless of what you might have or get- you should always have an idea of what you might like to have. Ask yourself- what would you like for dinner? What do you want in a husband, a son, a job?

It’s not about the getting- its about the wanting. “But Zamboni” you might say, “don’t the buddhists teach us to not want so much? to get out of the cycle of desire/fulfillment/more desire?”

Perhaps, but Zamboni is only about 24% Buddhist, the rest just average Joe with Dreams of Carnegie Hall.

Is it not so? Thanks to the great one they call R.Black for this visage! Oh, and i'll take the Rueben with extra Russian dressing on the side, fries, cole slaw and an Arnold Palmer, thanks.

Clip from Zamboni Show, 2011

Herein I answer 3 questions from studio audience.. One about tennis, “Why is the backhand a weaker stroke?”,  one about Estonia Independance Day celebration, and one “why do people play golf?” To you people, put the mousie on that purple line below here and click!

Enjoy! And please hit the word “comment” below and ask me one of your own.

A Sentence About a Not so Lazy Day of Summer

q: "What is it? a:"the stuff dreams are made of "

I woke up and said today is gonna be a fun day, and Dash said why and I said, I don’t know I just feel like it is, and it was and maybe that had something to do with it, saying that, or it could have been the actual records-stacked-side-by-side jukebox in the Peninsula Fountain and Grill in Palo Alto, that actually works, green and red buttons lit up I can’t believe it works, yes if you hit the letter and the number buttons and hold them down at exactly the same time- and hearing “Shout!” a little bit louder now, “Shout!” as we ate our trio of pies Chocolate Pecan, Blueberry and Chocolate Cream, this after seeing Maltese Falcon at the Stanford Theatre, a 194o’s  little town movie palace complete with chandeliers and Wurlitzer organ, but we were hungry as hell so we didn’t stay around for, I know I  know, yes we skipped out on Casablanca which  was part 2 of the double bill,  we were hungry (short ribs with mash, turkey Pot pie, even Dash who’s the King of Blase says, “this is my favorite restaurant ever!” but as we paid the check the kids said “why not go back and see the end of it?” and we did, though it’d been a long day, and earlier laying flat on the ground outside Stanford Practice Football field where in a knothole in the fence we watched a coach dwarved against a defensive line of giants putting them through  some stamp on the ground flip over then stamp on the ground and flip back over again drill, yelling, “it’s not so fuckin hard is it? You wanna get the hell outta there on third down right?” and we all felt right at home then,  back on our couch plowing through all five seasons of Friday Night Lights, and then we’d tossed the pigskin around ourselves in the sun on the grass and buzzed over to the theatre for Maltese Falcon which isn’t one tenth what Casablanca is, sorry Dashiell Hammet, but now we’re in the balcony, about as high as that chandelier watching Casblanca and i’m filling the kids in where I can, whispering (“see, I told you we’d probably come in right at the flashback to their week in Paris” and “those are the Nazis who are kind of in control but the french are sort of too”) and we watched until the end and Faye laughed when Rick said don’t forget  i’ve got the gun pointed at your heart and Louis responds, “that is my least vulnerable part” and the fog rolls in so fast as that movie steams to it’s conclusion and the propellers start spinning, I notice the kids aren’t fidgeting and  when Louis says, “captain Strasser’s been shot…round up the usual suspects” I could tell they understood that some sticky situations  can work out alright with friendship thrown into it and when the two walk off into the fog and, “this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and the applause rises from the crowd and in the car on the way home you hear them tell their mom on the phone, “it was such a cool movie” and I know that the first time they saw it was there, with me-  and maybe three people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this life but this is us three and it’s our damn beans, and Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, but we’ll  always have this night, walking out as the mighty Wurlitzer plays it again Sam and fades away.


Can Women Pee Standing Up?

This question comes to Zambones from Howard in “Tuscaloosa,” somewhere.

Howard, Zambones has seen this feat, and I can assure you it take me many months to recover. So yes, it can be done, but should it? No.

Gender equality shouldn’t mean that we the sexes are the same, rather that we have equal rights and powers.

I was going to marry this sheperdess named Phillipaskova, she was very dear to me. Getting home late one night from mushroom foraging I come upon her doing this act like a football player in the backyard. Ripping open big stream with one leg propped on  rusty tractor. Like Flock of Seagulls, I ran, believe me I ran so very far away.

Yes, women can rise and hold door open for you. A man can join a book club, read Jane Austen and drink white wine in discussion, but these things should not be. Let us celebrate and tolerate all types of diversity- and this is part of it.

I wish you prosperousness and that you not see what I saw-

Thank you writing to Zambones!