On any list of great magazine stories, you’ll find a few featuring the byline of Gene Weingarten.
He’s the guy who wrote the piece about violinist Joshua Bell playing for commuters at a Washington Metro stop. He’s the guy who explained why people sometimes leave their children in hot cars. He’s the guy who hired Dave Barry and helped make the Miami Herald Sunday magazine, Tropic, into the home of Pulitzer Prize winners. (That was back when major metropolitan newspapers had Sunday magazines.)
For some reason I was thinking about one of Weingarten’s most famous pieces. It’s about a children’s entertainer, the Great Zucchini. Back in 2006, when Weingarten published the story, the Great Zucchini was considered perhaps D.C.’s best preschool children’s party entertainer, a man who made $100,000 a year and only worked weekends — yet the rest of his life was incredibly disorganized, even sad. I won’t say why — you’ll have to dig into today’s Sunday read for that.
The Great Zucchini now has a website. He may be better organized than he used to be (though at least one 2014 reviewer thought he sucked at his job). Gene Weingarten, however, is still very much Gene Weingarten, even if these days he mainly does a humor column.
Long may he write.
You can read “The Peekaboo Paradox” here.