“The Chief”

Chief Taka Zeis and Andy Blumenthal
So swimming in Florida last week, I couldn’t help but think about my years back at Eagle Day Camp.



First as a camper, then counselor, and finally lifeguard at this fairly large Orthodox Jewish children’s camp in Rockland County, New York. 



As a camper, I hated swimming and the smelly, musty, and overcrowded locker rooms.



When I was only about 6-7 already, I told my parents, I would only go to camp, if I didn’t have to swim–after a lot of fuss, I got them to agree.



But years later, I learned to love swimming–the gorgeous outdoors, calming water, and health and therapeutic effects. 



I worked with “The Chief” (Norman Garfield, pictured at left) for many years…he was a radio talk show host and actor, and in camp played the starring role of Chief Taka Zeis, last of the Gutta Neshamah (Yiddish for Good Soul) Tribe.



He entertained the children like no one else could–with made up chants of “Tzitsamagoo!”, his silly outfits (notice the unmatched socks in addition to the feather hat), and to songs like “Let the Sun Shine In,” he was always someone that could be counted on to safely watch the children swim, teach them, and make them laugh. 



One Summer, The Chief, encouraged us (the other lifeguards) to sign up for the Red Cross Swim and Stay Fit program, and I think I swam 20-30 miles in between lifeguarding over about 6-8 weeks. 



Those were some fun times with The Chief and some of my old friends like Mark Stadtmauer, Elissa Rothman (Brodsky), and many others. 



Today, just a few months post hip surgery, I once again appreciate the swimming, and try to go as often as possible for health reasons. 



I am thankful for those years and for the ones granted now. 😉



(Source Photo: Who The Heck Remembers)

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

Andy Blumenthal With Harry Basil From The Laugh Factory

So Harry Basil was great at The Laugh Factory.

His costumes, impersonations, and audience involvement in his act was well done.

In the course of about half an hour, Harry spanned the gamut from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Leonardo DiCaprio, Eminem to Michael Jackson, and from Batman to Superman.

He was very animated and played with the people in the audience–so quick, spontaneous, and always in control.

This morning, I took this photo with Harry Basil at Starbucks.

As we started to walk away down the hall, my wife (who is wont not to take the greatest photos) says “Oh, I don’t think the picture came out, it was too close.”

And as we were going to start bickering, it was so funny…Harry pops up right behind us, and goes “Was it too close–let’s take it again.”

Another thing that happened that was interesting at The Laugh Factory, was when we were about to be seated, I said sincerely to the host “How are you doing this evening? Happy holidays!”

He goes to me, “No one ever asks me that. You know what? I’m going to give you seats right up by the front,” and he did.

It was a lesson for all of us about talking and treating people nicely–what goes around, comes around. 😉