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"I've always wanted this...to be well known...to leave my mark"
December 6, 2006 5:47 PM   Subscribe

"YES! YES! YES!" He's got a website, 200+ photos on flickr, fans documenting their run-ins on youtube ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5]), is the subject of a documentary, and even has an inspiring backstory. (I won't mention the inevitable myspace page.) But life is not all red Santa hats and pushups for David "Zanta" Zancai, 36, of Toronto. A local TV station got him banned from downtown, Toronto's subway won't let him do his bare-knuckle schtick on trains, and now even the bitter pedants on Wikipedia wants him deleted. Pissed? Email him!
posted by docgonzo (52 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
god damn, i hate that asshole.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 5:52 PM on December 6, 2006


I can't help thinking that the Wikipedia people have recently decided that their project had become "too important" for the riff-raff (meaning, the general public, the people who made wikipedia relevant at all in the first place) to meddle with.
posted by clevershark at 5:55 PM on December 6, 2006


Kinda like a variation on Times Square's Naked Cowboy -- Robert John Burck.
posted by ericb at 5:56 PM on December 6, 2006


Oh -- Naked Cowboy also has a website.
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2006


You know, I enjoy wikipedia, but the people behind the scenes there seem to be exactly the same sort of self-important people any project or "club" attracts. It's an electronic encyclopedia. The total cost of entries like Zanta is miniscule, and I'm probably just too dumb to see the harm in entries like that.*

* I find all of these entries valuable. But the Fremont Troll is of little interest of Seattlites and of zero interest to anyone else, conceivably. Should it be deleted?
posted by maxwelton at 6:09 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Having read the TorontoSun article I see he compares himself to the Naked Cowboy (and that their resepective Wikipedia sites reference each other) -- a likely inspiration for Zanta. Burck is making quite a living outside of Times Square at special events, television appearances, etc. I suspect Zanta sees a similar future for his antics.
posted by ericb at 6:10 PM on December 6, 2006


Wikipedia's main value, may, in fact, be in demonstrating the inevitable descent into mean-spirited in-fighting and petty abuse of "power" that any group-think project seemingly succumbs to.

And more power to Zanta.
posted by maxwelton at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2006


Someone needs to tell this guy that Tom Green beat him to the punch on juvenile, in-your-face street humor 12 years ago. Except he did it a hundred times better and had more material than just doing push-ups half naked on the subway. Touching story or not, his character is only funny for about 30 seconds.
posted by saraswati at 6:12 PM on December 6, 2006


Holy shit. This guy was on the Keele bus late last winter, bare-knuckled pushups and all. I thought he was just a random nutter, but he was actually a nutter on a mission.
posted by rosemere at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2006


life in toronto IS dull, isn't it?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:20 PM on December 6, 2006


Not even 30 seconds, trust me.
posted by wfc123 at 6:21 PM on December 6, 2006


4 seconds of fame!

How lame.

(Rhyme unintentional.)
posted by blacklite at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2006


Don't feed the animals.
posted by unmake at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2006


so his idea for fighting for custody of his daughter was to dress stupidly and annoy the judge? Did he think adopting this character at all times would help his custody battle, or did he forsake the custody battle in favor of doing half naked pushups in the cold?

Am I the only one who feels completely bewildered by this?
posted by shmegegge at 6:29 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm convinced.

That he belongs nowhere near children.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:31 PM on December 6, 2006


I neither care or don't care about Zanta, but fuck CityTV. I say we ban their bullshit instead. I'm sick of them and their viewers taking over Queen and John whenever some shitass like Paris Hilton is in town. And fuck them and their "city as backdrop" and making pedestrians walk on the road or wait for them to finish a shot before continuing on the sidewalk.

In your ear, Moses!
posted by dobbs at 6:32 PM on December 6, 2006


Oh, and Zanta's got nothing on Flyerman. (movie trailer)
posted by dobbs at 6:34 PM on December 6, 2006


Can we please count this post as a double and delete it so as not to further encourage his delusional pursuit of marginal notoriety?
/bitter pedant

Now I know why I haven't seen him for a few months. Its been nice.
posted by Zetetics at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2006


That was my reaction, too, dobbs -- that it's telling MosesCo always trumpets their ear-to-the-ground, man-on-the-street cred, but it's just a marketing strategy.
posted by docgonzo at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2006


fuck CityTV

Amen. Fuck Muchmusic while we're at it.
posted by saraswati at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2006


Gawd yes, fuck MosesZ! He tried that CityTV shit here in Vancouver, but thank god we were too stupid and cosmopolitan to notice it even.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 6:44 PM on December 6, 2006


You know what? Zanta is an asshole, and deserves to be banned from the ttc and from downtown. I've seen him scream at old ladies on the subway and be so physically agressive (not violent, but screaming and gesturing wildly up close to people's faces) at people on the street that they look genuinely fearful. I cross the street to avoid him, I don't need to be screamed at when I go shopping.

Although i don't really understand why his wikipedia page needs deleting.
posted by Kololo at 6:57 PM on December 6, 2006


I love reading the petty arguments of Wikipedia, and happened to read his earlier today.

Every locale musi t have their local eccentric that seems cute until you see the schtick a thousand times. When I lived in St. Louis I grew mighty tired of Beatle Bob and Baton Bob (who I see has moved to Atlanta).
posted by Bookhouse at 7:00 PM on December 6, 2006


Oh god, Beatle Bob is a fucking douchebag. He popped up occassionally at festivals in Austin when I lived there. Seeing him come on stage while watching your favorite band is like reaching into your stocking on Christmas morning and pulling out a dog turd. Total buzzkill.

I was going to ask why anyone would even give a damn about Zanta, because his whole bit seemed just dumb and inconsequential, but Kololo gave me a pretty good answer.
posted by papakwanz at 7:07 PM on December 6, 2006


A Wikipedia deletion that indirectly affects us here at Metafilter is their puzzling removal of the entry about the widespread "Im in ur base killin ur d00dz" meme. (talk page)
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2006


well ian, apparently someone was in their base killing more than just d00dz.

dammit I liked that meme.
posted by isopraxis at 7:35 PM on December 6, 2006


Wow, I saw this odd fellow at the St. Louis Tionol a couple years ago, dancing away in the corner at one of the sessions. I thought it was bit odd, but ignored him after a while. Didn't know he was regionally famous as Beatle Bob.

His constant smile was a bit off putting and his dancing didn't match the music.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:48 PM on December 6, 2006


Wikipedia also recently deleted the MonkeyFilter entry. WTF is up with those people?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:54 PM on December 6, 2006


Why does performance art freak people out so much?

True, I do not see him everyday, but you're really saying that some guy doing pushups in a santa hat merits him being banned from the area?

From the link above it reads like he was banned for messing up the desired background shots for the TV station.

If he assaults someone, then charge him with assault and throw him in jail. Otherwise, what's the problem?
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 PM on December 6, 2006


Holy shit, Alvy, that discussion makes me want to kick some nerds in the FACE. Jesus.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:29 PM on December 6, 2006


The fellow seems harmless enough - perhaps even a bit of a laugh. But then, I'm not from Toronto. It just seems like haters are the same everywhere.

Including Wikipedia! My word, do they take themselves seriously! I suppose I can see why - their community has proven themselves good judges of priorities.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:43 PM on December 6, 2006


when I first heard about this guy, I said to myself: there's a man crazy enough to arm wrestle me and strong enough to beat me.

So i spent a few weeks hunting him down, and finally found him in Yorkville - he refused my challenge, citing some concern about health insurance or something - he was pointing to his hands at the same time he was explaining this (they were full of massive blisters, from all those pushups no doubt).
posted by spacediver at 8:50 PM on December 6, 2006


Ynoxas, when i saw a huge muscled intimidatingly-sized shirtless man stick his face within 8 inches of a senior citizen's face and SCREAM "YES YES YES" at them, it took it out of the range of harmless 'performance art' to me. It was that kind of stuff that got him banned from downtown - the citytv thing just got him banned from 'near citytv'.

He's not a performance artist. He doesn't pretend to be. He's out to show off his brute strength and personal power, and that is in fact his goal.
posted by Kololo at 9:00 PM on December 6, 2006


Performance artist? Feh. Makes me think of Boston's Mr. Butch. He has an (unchallenged) Wikipedia entry, a website with videos, a Boston Phoenix "Best Neighborhood Character" award, Boston Globe coverage, shoutouts on record covers and liner notes, previous Ask coverage, a documentary and his 30 years of notoriety is prominently immortalized in community art. He may have less MySpace friends than Zanta, but the man is also homeless.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:15 PM on December 6, 2006


Kenny Hotz had him on 'replacing' Spenny a few episodes ago. He didn't last too long...
posted by jimmythefish at 10:27 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Zanta, I knew Mr. Butch, and you're no Mr. Butch."
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2006


best use of the DavidZancai tag, so far.
posted by shmegegge at 10:58 PM on December 6, 2006


and now even the bitter pedants on Wikipedia wants him deleted

Wrong.

One administrator speedy-deleted the article as non-notable. A community discussion on Deletion Review restored the article pending a full Articles for Deletion discussion. The AFD discussion is all-but-unanimously keep as of now (I'm not linking, you're not supposed to do that sort of thing). So WTF is it with "bitter pedants"? Kinda fucks with your thesis.

The article was alleged to fail to meet Wikipedia notability guidelines, which is a reasonable question. It certainly appears on review that he fully meets the WP:BIO guideline, so a keep is entirely appropriate.

As for MonkeyFilter, it failed the WP:WEB guideline for website notability in that very few (read "no") outside sources had ever written about it. I personally abstained, but it was pretty unanimous outside of the MonkeyFiltrian who was defending the article.

As for the "in ur base" meme, it was considered less notable than the many, many, many internet memes that are kept, partly because again no outside, reputable sources had ever written about it. It only takes a couple to allow an article to stay.

Now, really. There are delete-happy Wikipedians, but while I may disagree with their principles, I at least grok their argument. The tenor on Wikipedia has certainly changed in the last two years, battered by the Seigenthaler episode and numerous comparable problems with living persons articles. Jimbo Wales has publicly said that Wikipedia needs to stop concentrating on sheer volume of articles (thus the 1.5 millionth article got little fanfare, versus the millionth), and move efforts toward quality. This has emboldened some to the point where there's even a proposal that new articles without sources can be all but automatically deleted. That's going too far for me but again I see the point.

No, this year's Wikipedia is not 2004's, where being "interesting" was almost always enough to let an article stay. But it isn't about personalities (mostly).
posted by dhartung at 12:18 AM on December 7, 2006


Thank you, dhartung, for setting the record straight on the Wikipedia situation. I was about to come here and do the same thing. Wikipedia has seemed to fall victim to the idea that a one-time grassroots project that takes itself seriously is somehow a bad thing. I take part in AFD and DRV discussions on a quasi-regular basis, and I see a lot of arguments that go something along the lines of "come on, this is the Internet, let's keep this article, you're not a real encyclopedia, nerds, get a job or a real hobby". It makes me sad. If Wikipedia was founded by Grolier's or some such, people wouldn't be so surprised that it has standards (and in a few cases, rigorous and detailed but lax policies). So why can't it have standards and policies as a public GFDL project?
posted by Plutor at 5:00 AM on December 7, 2006


dhartung: Like I said on this talk page, I don't see how or why Wikipedia can deny MoFi its 'stamp of legitimacy' yet link to MonkeyFilter content in this entry.

I know a quid pro quo linking policy is no way to run any sort of reference site, but it seems incongruous to say site X isn't valid/worthy/notable, but their content is still worth using.

Jimbo Wales has publicly said that Wikipedia needs to stop concentrating on sheer volume of articles (thus the 1.5 millionth article got little fanfare, versus the millionth), and move efforts toward quality.

Kind of goes towards what Eat The Week said; if they keep this shit up, in a few years it'll be "The Episode Guide Anyone Can Edit!", simply because even the lamest Wikipedia contributor has seen The Contest and can cobble together a couple of sentences about it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2006


Alvy Ampersand: "I know a quid pro quo linking policy is no way to run any sort of reference site, but it seems incongruous to say site X isn't valid/worthy/notable, but their content is still worth using."

The Encyclopedia Britannica article on Aldous Huxley cites a V.M. Clark book called "Aldous Huxley and Film (1987)". Yet, I can't seem to find an entry on V.M. Clark himself. Outrageous!
posted by Plutor at 7:39 AM on December 7, 2006


You're right Plutor, the line has to be drawn somewhere I suppose. There's only so much space, right?

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to read the 213 entries synopsizing every episode of Naruto.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:03 AM on December 7, 2006


After reading through the Wikipedia entry on Metalpocalyspe, and related pages (which cover in detail every character which has appeared in more than a single episode, and detailed bios of each of the show's main characters, I have become firmly convinced that Wikipedia does itself a disservice by trying to pretend it's not a depository of pop culture lore.
posted by drezdn at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2006


dhartung and Plutor: Wikipedia does not relate to any other traditional reference source because size/scope is not an issue.

The amount of time and effort expended over whether or not to delete a single web page on a 1.5 million entry site is ABSURD. Reading some of those deletion discussions is almost like viewing an alternate universe. Some have absolute cascades of comments.

If the information is accurate, I see no reason anything should ever be culled. There are hundreds of thousands of entries that whether it is "relevant" or "noteworthy" would come down to a simple matter of personal opinion.

It's like suddenly Wikipedia thinks that breadth is a bad thing. Wasn't breadth at least one of the primary goals in the very beginning?

Comparing to Grolier's or Brittanica... wouldn't it be grand if those authorities had the resources to create 7,000 volume sets instead of 35 volume sets?

Further, Wikipedia is what it is. You can't have it both ways. You can't have community-directed-and-contributed content while issuing dictums from atop a far-away mountaintop. Guidelines? Sure. I particularly am in favor of the style guidelines, and want to see them enforced draconianly. But the entire concept of if something "belongs" or not seems like a metaphysical one.

Also, the Macroeconomics versus The Wrath of Khan above by EattheWeak is the most succinct assessment of the disconnect between what the New Wikipedia "wants" to be and what it "is".
posted by Ynoxas at 8:47 AM on December 7, 2006


Interestingly enough there doesn't seem to be a category for 'local semi-crazy colorful street...performer types" in Wikipedia. It would be neat to have a place to catalogue all of them, if you could figure out what to call them. Toronto used to have one on Yonge St. that used to sell his own books - Craig something.

Y'know, this dude's (the Ali G. knock-off) is doing no service to Toronto simply for the fact he's perpetrating the whole 'we just copy NYC' - the whole "ooh, he's Canada's Naked Cowboy" schtick. And inspiring backstory or no, being an asshole on the subway is not necessary. Besides, Frank Chu has more flair than this guy ever could muster. Freakin' put on a shirt already dude - no one needs to see your body, kay?
posted by rmm at 9:01 AM on December 7, 2006


Toronto used to have one on Yonge St. that used to sell his own books - Craig something. Was that the same guy that used to sell poetry out of a camper-van on Bloor St. in the Annex? In front of Book City?

And yes, Zander Claus is a HUGE pain. It's not witty public space performance art. Ezna the Supermodel is witty public performance art. The buskers, drummers and breakdancers at Dundas Square are public performance art. The massive Bulgarian strongman who works with a shopping cart for the Annex Street fair is public performance art.

Zander Claus is a random 'roid-riddled psycho, doing handstand pushups while his pants fall down. Not what you want to deal with on your morning commute.
posted by jrochest at 12:34 PM on December 7, 2006


Not to derail, but...

CITY-TV was an originator of using streetscapes as backdrop to live news programming. It has become a staple of the medium -- including morning shows on U.S. networks.

Nice try, losers. Today was doing the street-level studio thing before City was even a gleam in Znaimer's eye.
posted by evilcolonel at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2006


So why can't it have standards and policies as a public GFDL project?

There are standards, and then there is constipation.

A fine line that Wikipedia sometimes manages to straddle, but perhaps more frequently does not.
posted by blucevalo at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2006


Nice try, losers. Today was doing the street-level studio thing before City was even a gleam in Znaimer's eye.

Exactly. The set for the 'Today Show' when it launched in 1955 (with Dave Garroway as principal anchor) was a "street-level set at the old RCA Exhibition Hall."
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on December 7, 2006


it seems incongruous to say site X isn't valid/worthy/notable, but their content is still worth using

Alvy, obviously no editor on any article is required to only use external links to sites that already have Wikipedia entries, nor write them if they do.* But the AFD, and the notability issue in general, is tied closely to whether it is possible to write a proper, neutral-point-of-view, verifiable article cited with material from reliable sources. I would love it if somebody could defend the article with just a couple of paragraph profiles or top-ten listings in a magazine or the Mercury-News, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen anytime soon.

The amount of time and effort expended over whether or not to delete a single web page on a 1.5 million entry site is ABSURD.

I agree. That's why uncontroversial deletions are handled as "speedies" by administrators, or by "proposed deletions" that any editor can make happen (as long as nobody objects). I don't know of a better way to handle it; if you have ideas, speak up.

If the information is accurate, I see no reason anything should ever be culled

And how do you verify that it is accurate? With sources. If an article cannot be sourced, how can Wikipedia be sure it is hosting an accurate article? Notability is, roughly, something somebody else wrote about so that Wikipedia can cite what they wrote.

It's like suddenly Wikipedia thinks that breadth is a bad thing. Wasn't breadth at least one of the primary goals in the very beginning?

Yes, yes it was. The concern about breadth today is that there are too many bad articles that -- as comments in this thread show -- reflect poorly on Wikipedia. (At least pop culture references can be sourced.) Bad biographical articles in particular open the site up to legal liability that, some legitimately fear, could shut the entire project down in an instant. The goals have changed as Wikipedia now isn't just a fun project off in the corner of the web, but a Top 20 website that:
* companies and individuals use to promote themselves or raise their pagerank
* niche points of view are presented as major and get undeserved airings
* companies, politicians, and countries dispatch (even hire) people to distort the neutrality of the project in their favor

You can't have community-directed-and-contributed content while issuing dictums from atop a far-away mountaintop

Well, there's every evidence that if it were just community directed, it would long since have been shut down. The Board elections are contentious and they've been searching for ways to make it more responsive, but ultimately the Board is concerned with the project as a whole, not with individual parts of it. Wales has even stepped back from the board chairmanship, although obviously he retains nearly unvetoable powers. If you have a better idea ...

And if anyone finds an area they feel is neglected, they'd best do something about it.
posted by dhartung at 1:40 PM on December 7, 2006


I fucking hate Zanta. Get him the medication and therapy he needs and get him the fuck out of my face.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2006


I saw him in person for the first time in Yonge-Dundas station, and was immediately compelled to run away. He is intimidating in the way of a drooling mental patient with an assault rifle.
posted by tehloki at 10:41 PM on December 7, 2006


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