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January 24, 2006


Gene's a very funny man, but also a superb journalist. If you have a little time for a great read, click here.


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And he talks about Dave in his online chat "Below the Beltway" today!

Great article!


Good thing I didn't say it!!

There's also an online chat yesterday (Monday) where he answers questions about the article.

"The Great Zucchini pretends to be afraid of his own hand"

As well any great zucchini might....

What with you and Gene and Joel all promoting each other, why not let Marc Fisher into the circle, too--he's blogging about the Super Bowl flush:


Well, I coulda been first, but I read the whole article instead. Man, the dude can write -- but also think and feel. Put those together, and you've really got something.

Reminds me of some other folks I could mention...

That's the one. That's the article that's been driving me nuts all afternoon & evening.

Eric is so talented and has so much to give. I hope now he will get the help he needs. And by "help" I mean "counseling"--not another trip to Atlantic City.

I really disliked that his mother said, "If Eric ever grows up, his career might be over." Somehow, that seems enabling to me. At the least, not helpful.

Oh, fiddle. I don't want to be serious here; you guys are my escape from the heavy stuff going on in my head.

Good luck, Eric. There is more to you than you realize, and I hope you find it.

hmmm...Nice, normal human-interest story. Completely reasonable observations about the psychology of humor and children. But I'm not clear on why it's here.

Especially since, relative to the information it delivers, it's /so/ long. I dilligently read to the end, figuring that (as with, say, Dune) a long setup, especially recommended by a smart, entertaining writer, means some really spiffy finish to make it worthwhile.

I confess, I didn't find one. Perhaps I'm being obtuse today.

Hmmm...my little random tagline generator has produced a Dave Barry quote. I dunno if including that in a comment on his blog would be extra-nifty, or extra-lame.

Well, I'll just go with the next one, by an author less well-known to in this prestigous circle:


Words of the Sentient:

Life does not cease to be funny when people die and more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh. --George Bernard Shaw

I really liked that article, Dave, thanks for posting it!
I think the comment about Peter Pan was especially apropriate in this case. Part of me hopes that Eric never grows up, because then something will be lost. It's very sad he's so dysfunctional, and I do hope he gets over his gambling problems, but it would be tragic if he were to lose his connection with children.

Gene's history as the man who "discovered" Dave Barry is well known. The fact that the man can write like this is less well known, since he primarily does humor columns with a couple of these featured columns once a year. This column he wrote about the Native people living in Savoonga, Alaska was also very, very good.

hmmm...just read the big stupid bat/little smart bat article. And now, Dave compliments Gene's writing skills. I guess that explains why Gene is so attached to his "Tiffany."

Wow. I have nothing funny left in the well after that article. (very little change)

Lou - I also read the Savoonga, Alaska article back when it was published and it was equally fascinating. Weingarten IMO is a great writer, like our own DB (is it OK Dave that I think of you as "our own"?).

In Weingarten's online chat yesterday he said he can only do these serious pieces twice a year because they're just too exhausting because of all he puts into them - well worth it, IMO!

Thanks Dave,
That was touching. Nice human story, with insight into life and humor.

I pray Eric will get his life a bit more organized.

Thanks so much for pointing out that piece, which was duly forwarded to many. The paragraphs on humor were enlightening, as was the whole story, come to think of it. Didn't I see a picture of Gene W. lately looking like Kurt Vonnegut with an oosik? A young Kurt Vonnegut, of course. Kind of a middle-aged oosik. Great writing.

Thank you Dave, definitely one of the better reads. Wrenched the heart and made me laugh, it will stick with me for quite awhile.

And of course, Thanks to Gene too!

Man, post one serious story and the whole group sits back and genuflects. After that post, (as wonderful as it was) this place went silent. Great story though.

Thanks, Dave. That was a great article. Will you tell Gene we all liked it?


Gene is an observer.

Oh, and after you had posted pics of Gene with his fancy-boy capped oosik, I must admit I was hesitant to click on a link mentioning "Gene" and his "great piece".

Man. Gene is something else.

Not the point of the article, but what kind of person is capable of shooting a baby? I've gotten to be as bad (or good?) as my sister since my nephew was born; I can't abide any harm coming to children. When it comes to that boy, I'm Lily Potter. They'd have to kill me first. And would, no doubt. Horrifying. *sniff*

About halfway through that article I had forgotten that I had been browsing through the Dave Barry blog.

Wonderfully written article

It's a shame that some parents wreck kids lives, send them out to fend for themselves then are astonished when the kids cannot function in society.

Then the rest of us have to deal with these eternally immature people after their parents end up in a shoe box.


A must-listen:

Jonathan Coulton - "Millionaire Girlfriend"

Sorry, don't have a link to the song, but here are the lyrics. :)

Java, you said it.

An excellent piece. On Sunday morning, I forced it on my husband, who all but hates human-interest style journalism. And even he ate it up.

Gene's skill at this sort of stuff outstrips his humor-column abilities by about 384757382 million. Not that there's anything *wrong* with his humor columns. Er. Okay. They just don't make me laugh very often. I'm sorry! I'm sure this is simply because I am a bad person with poor taste.

But I've rarely seen journalism good enough to compare with the Great Zucchini story, anywhere.

stacy, I looked at Gene's humor stuff too. I feel the same way. Sometimes it seems like he tries hard, just can't find the button. I think it's because we are used to the "Jesus" of humor writing. (But just imagine what kind of column the Messiah would write! You'd actually die of laughter, but not care! Or what about HIS blog? We wouldn't have to send funny articles, he'd already know!)

Man, that was long. Good, but long.

Holy Moley!

The man can WRITE!

That, folks, is an extraordinary piece of writing. Insightful, compassionate, the compelling story of an amazing person well told.

I find it interesting that some are surprised by the idea of humor writers being able to author a serious story. They have everyday human experiences - good, bad, and in-between - like the rest of us. And if they weren't able to think, organize and turn thoughts into coherent, expressive language, their humor wouldn't ever have made it into print. Dave, too, has written a few serious pieces that were knockouts. Again, this shouldn't be a surprise, but I believe that, oddly, it is to many.

I've been into journalism for the past 25+ years, as somewhat of a sideline and hobby. It is rare to find a piece that is so evenly balanced as this one. When you are trying to write a feature story which combines a mixture of both humor and pathos, it is often difficult not to come across as either flip or condescending. This piece has none of that. To take someone who was obviously a difficult person to interview, and then make the reader actually want to care about them takes a real talent indeed.

Well done, Gene!

Come to think of it, many serious writers can't be funny to save their lives, but I believe humor writers can usually write serious material pretty well.

Admittedly, I have only read the first page of what appears from the above comments to be a serious article with a serious point, but I could not help noticing a reference to me.

Then he produced what appeared to be a soiled diaper, wiped his cheek with it, and wore it like a hat as the kids ewwww-ed.

I'm not just for consenting adults anymore!

I'm outta here.....

Tremendous piece; excellent author; fine, but flawed, protagonist. I loved it.

That's an amazing piece of writing. Congratulations to Gene, and I wish the best of luck to the Great Zucchini.

That article was awesome! Thanks so much for giving us the link to it =)

Good Lord, how I miss Tropic Magazine.

man, that made me cry. i miss gene so much.

I've been pointed towards a couple of Gene's more serious things lately, and when I finish, I always find myself saying "How does someone that funny manage to be so incredibly deep and understanding as well?"

Well done, Gene.

I laughed and cried. Quite a story! As I read it, the little voice in my head (one of them anyway) kept saying, "Dr. Gregory House is doing kid's parties now?"

It's a great piece, but, Punkin Poo, LOL. Great blog, this.

It's a great piece, but, Punkin Poo, LOL. Great blog, this.

and Kaz, may your great (I'm using irony here) zucchini rot on the vine!

or, as Gene Weintgartner might say, eat my zucchini.

then again, please don't


That is all.

what a great piece. and a great writer. i nearly cried as well. holden caulfield, indeed. i hope zucchini never becomes really famous because he couldnt handle it. but gene needs a pulitzer for the article.

AlanBoss~ Heaven forbid. That's a great show though. Hugh Laurie is an exceptional actor. You'd never know he was a Brit when you hear him talk on that show. It's amazing.

This is a fabulous article. Gene also did a follow-up chat about in on Monday; you can read the transcript HERE

Guin - many thanks for posting that chat link. More extraordinary stuff, on many levels. It raised and answered a number of questions that had occurred to me after reading the article.

*The strange secrets of humor, fear and a guy who makes big money making little people laugh*

Upon reading that, I thought the piece was about Dave. Didn't realize until paragraph 2 that Dave was not, after all, the Great Zucchini.

I thought the "Great Zucchini" was a object of reverence, like the Great Pumpkin. I look forward to Gene's story on my higher power, the Great Wax Bean.

A really interesting character study.

I started off thinking Eric had a definite gift and talent, one he could have successfully used to be a child counselor for example, but instead squandered in an uncertain field simply because he was enamoured with greed and the possibility of being a child entertainer to the stars.

But by the time the article was over, I realized that things went a lot deeper than this, and overall the article did a nice job of showing just how complex, ironic, and most of all, contradictory people can be.

I read this article on Sunday when it came out in Washington Post Magazine. I can rarely make it through one of their entire-magazine-encompassing pieces, but this one had me hooked from beginning to end. Took me the whole day to get through it with the distractions of my own under-9-year-old crowd, but I consider it a day very well spent. Thanks much Gene!

Great story -- hope this exposure doesn't hurt his bookings. the posh crowd he's working for may be scared off by his "humanity".

As I got into the story, I forgot how I was linked to it, and clearly hadn't bothered to read the text associated with the link, either.

Because when I got to the end, and saw who had written it, I was really surprised. I've liked Gene's humor before, but now I really understand Dave's reverence.

If anyone reads this far down (and after the fact), here's my two bits.

Wonderful, touching story. It made my heart just ache because I think I know what plagues Eric. He has all the earmarks of ADHD. Look at this list of positive traits and see if you don't agree. He's self-medicating with the stimulation that comes from gambling.

I read the on-line chat session with Gene and some other people mentioned ADD as a possiblity. Kids don't outgrow ADD - adults can build coping skills, but still rank low in relationships.

Two resources I recommend are Dr. Ed Hallowell and Dr. Daniel Amen. I've also heard good things about Ed Welch, too.

Terrific story. I'd be curious to know The Great One's reaction.

Got it--turns out he's more than fine with it; his phone's been ringing off the hook!


I had't had time to read through the chat session till just now; thanks for mentioning it, GDogg.

Posting the big part here:

Bethesda, Md.: Hello, everyone -- This is The Great Zucchini. I realize I took a big chance with this article. The responses I have received from parents about this article have been very positive. Most parents tell me that everyone has issues, and that I was very brave to lay it on the line. What I can tell you with the utmost sincerity is that Gene Weingarten was completely honest and sincere every step of the way. There were no surprises when I read what was written. As the title of the article states, it has strangely inspired some people. I know where my heart is, and who I am, and I am going to a Gambling Anonymous meeting tonight. If I could have picked anyone to do my article, there is not a person in the world I would have chosen besides Gene Weingarten. I trust him, and this was all my choice. Eric Knaus.

Gene Weingarten: Ah. Here we go.
And thank you, Eric. I've never written about someone who was as open and trusting and willing to take risks. You're makin' me misty here, dude.



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