Wednesday, October 22, 2014

1955: In the Ringling Backyard ...

How I love this photograph.  There she sits, and how slyly ... one of my aerial idols, Pinito Del Orro (I assume),  relaxing in front of her "private" dressing room, in the back end of a Conecllo seat wagon.  To us then, such quarters seemed absolutely glamorous.  Gone are the days, yes.

I came across this image while moving through back posts as I assign each topics for my massive indexing underway.  

So, here it is, posted again for your charmed consideration. I wonder who took the picture?  Anybody care to make a guess? I would love to have it super-enlarged and framed for my yet-to-be Wall of Fame.

Enjoy the Greatness that was Ringling!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Morning with Don Marcks: When Getting Published Was Magical and Rare -- or Vainly Expensive

Before Amazon and the others, “self publishing” was called vanity publishing.  When somebody excitedly told you their book was getting published, that was cause for celebration.  It meant they had enough talent to land a real publisher willing to invest time and money -- not to mention maybe a dash of blind courage -- in bringing their book to market.  It was like getting cast in a Broadway show.  A publisher has accepted my book!

That world is gone.
From Don’s letter to me, dated November 6, 1983:

“She says she is having very difficult luck in trying to get someone to publish her book “One Night Only”  And that they don’t have the $5,000 it takes to have a book published on your own.  This is, of course, a novel about show people, based on the John Strong Circus.”.

Ah yes, five thousand dollars and more.  A vanity press took your money after telling you how wonderful your book was, and not long after, sent you a few hundred or thousand copies in boxes, and good luck trying to sell them.

Luckily for the millions who want to write, now there are respectable options, and some cost not a penny.

Two years ago, I tested self publishing, on Amazon’s Create Space, and did not spend a single penny.  I was determined to see if I really could bring out a book without spending a cent on it.  Used a different name, subject was not what you’d expect.  Surprisingly, the book has done decently well, nothing like what it would likely do with a well established royalty publisher, but not in any sense a flop, as sales were slow in starting, but book continues to sell.  So,  in July, I put it in the Kindle Store as an e-reader, charging less.  I’m in control of the whole thing.  That’s fun.

But in cases like this, of course, I can't call up friends to say "I FOUND A PUBLISHER!"

It’s a godsend for my being able to put out books I can’t find publishers for.   One, so far.  And maybe another.  Still, with each, I will first submit to the very very few publishers out there of reasonable size, still willing, as most are not, to accept a manuscript directly from the author.  Now, virtually all will only consider you through an agent, and so I feel little sympathy for them in the Amazon versus publisher wars.

“One thing she did ask is if I knew what your Russian circus book was doing.  Said she sure would like to know.

Circus Rings Around Russia sold only between 450 and 750 copies; contradictory royalty statements from the publisher point to both realities.  I have not a clue.  Three of my other books did much better.

“She also says that she has five novels written, but none published, and I gather she doesn't like agents and such, so I would guess it will be all the harder to get something published.”..

I had an agent once, a real New York agent named Bertha Klausner,  wonderful lady who lived on Park Avenue and represented, among others, Eleanor Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Fidel Castro, Basil Rathbone and a lovely dinner guest whom I would meet when she had me up to her suite for an evening meal: The guest at our small table was Clare Booth Luce.  Lovely lady.  I was young, and the young have an edge, right?  And nothing of mine (musicals and plays) that Bertha sent out got even optioned.

And now, in default, I have a very respectable agent, far from a vanity press, called Amazon.  One thing of which I feel fairly certain.   The royalty statements they keep are accurate, above board.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kelly Miller Circus Website to Runaway Clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs: Come Back, Please! .... Well, How Do You Read it? .... Hey, I've Got More Big Top Bits to Go -- Come Back, Please!

 Not 1, not 2 or 3 or 4, but 10 photos of Steve and Ryan appear on the Kelly Miller website

Something about Kelly Miller’s quirky website, capriciously out of sync with the PRESENT tense, that keeps me wondering why Hugo Central features photos of long-departed jesters Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs?  Hardly a space for the new replacement clown.  Here’s why, guessing:  They’re either falsely luring repeat customers into the tent by promising more antics from the dynamic duo, or this website is morphing into a picture gallery of  K-M performers, yesterday, today, and maybe tomorrow --- or none of the sideways.

Might John Ringling North II rue his having nudged the guys to speak with Circo Hermanos Vazquez about work? That's where they ended up going.  Will be interesting to see if they stay the course next season, or giggle elsewhere.

Okay, so that didn't grab you?  So let me try harder: How deadly the naive assumptions of a school  teacher posing as an animal trainer? She, not named, while taking her students to the Monaco Circus in Cusco, Peru, dared to enter the big cage, intent on demonstrating that the lion in there was not aggressive. Oh, sure, teach!  A big NO. Demonstration turns into horror show when teacher, once inside, gets viciously grabbed by the not-mild beast, dragged out of the cage by its teeth, and dangled around the ring “like a rag doll,”as reported by Chuck Burnes in Circus Report.  Good grief!  A teacher that stupid?  The show's real trainer applied a rod against the overly flirtatious beast  and managed to subdue its terrifying courtship. If only Dr. Phil had been there, all parties might have behaved better. at least until Jerry Springer could intervene ...

Music is in the ear of the beholder, and the bigger the ear, the better.  These elephants are making it their own way, so maybe it's time to revive Johnny North's  whimsical elephant ballet?  This takes us to North Thailand, where sixteen mammoths who make up the Thai Elephant Orchestra play especially designed instruments.  Three CDs released so far.  What next for the prima pachyderms? A stint on Bangkok's Got Talent?  Dancing with the Stars?  Beethoven under the big top?

Big Apple’s date on big screens,  nationwide, is fast approaching.  A goggle search reveals the show will be seen in about 25 movie houses in and around the epi-center of entertainment, that being L.A.  Most venues tape delaying (a wise box office move) rather than streaming live, 9:30 PST.. This is a big excitement, and I can’t wait ...  But, maybe not quite unprecedented, as previously I poised.  In back checking some of my own more sobering work, sans the silly dots, I see that a complete performance of Ringling- Barnum was televised from the Garden in New York in 1948 (and why am I wondering if this really happened?), at the bonny dawn of television.  Most of those tuning in were likely New Yorkers boob tubing it inside bars, where the new magic screens were being shown around then, to jump start early patronage.

END RINGERS: Peter Peke, in exit mode from a visit to Cirque du Soulei’s terrific Varekai, being asked by a fellow, “So, how did you like the plot?”  Pausing, pickled, and by this posting pardoned, a thematically challenged Pepke piped,  “I wasn't aware there was one.”   Neither was anybody else, except for Cirque’s most  self-deluded fans, having to hallucinate in order to find and follow the Big Theme ... Billy Barton's first posting for Circus Report, back in October, 1975, reprinted by the same: “Greetings from the first column by the Rex Reed of the circus.  Nothing is sacred, kiddies, and inasmuch as we all love secrets, I promise not to keep any.”  When reading CR, I always save, for last, the best part, reprints from old Barton columns.

 Swinging singer, Franchesca Cavallini, sings "I am the circus."

...  Carson and Barnes, from reports, surely looks more than one notch higher in creative production, what with a singling aerialist Franchesca Cavallini, and dancers who look like dancers..  I wish the Byrd of Byrds would fly west next season.  I promise to buy peanuts!. ...  Don Stacey thumbs upping a new DVD that sounds divine.  Sixty three minutes of footage, World Circus, from visits by Moon Productions to eleven countries, following “five top international circus acts.”  Interviews, also included, feature the likes of Kenneth Fled, Paul Binder, Tim Roberts, and other big top luminaries.  Here’s a link to buy: 

OFF THE LOT, ACROSS THE STREET: Football Maximus, drop dead and let Big Bang Theory back on Monday Nights! I'll take Sheldon and his goofy friends any day over the sorry spectacle of young "athletes" prepping for a life of brain damage and pain. ... Did you read about those London tunnel thieves, digging holes to reach up into shops bearing ATMs and expensive loot?   They're even "digging" above ground ... .Ooops, there’s my bus!  See you next time! ...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Reading Planet Circus: Yes to Those Resilient Russians, Ring Wizards Who Flourish in Post-Soviet Times

   The Old Circus (aka: Nikulin Circus) in Moscow.

Flaring high over the new issue of Planet Circus is a very fine account by Gregory Ostrowski — Russian Circus - The Long Way in 95 Years.  Ostrowski follows the birth of the Soviet Circus in 1919, and shows how it has managed to grow and flourish over the years, even into the difficult post-Soviet era, when massive government funding dried up, leaving artists to more or less fend for themselves.  Soyusgoscirk (circuses of the Soviet Union) now it calls itself Rosgoscirk, for Russian circuses.

Now, it struggles for other forms of funding.  But now, it still produces world class acts and programs of deft invention.   In many ways, competing principally with China, Russia still leads the way.   Where there were once some 60 plus permanent arenas (spread through the since-disbanded 15 Soviet republics), Russia alone now operates about three dozen venues, and keeps eight tents on hand for touring.  That’s a heartening achievement, given the economic turmoil in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse.  If you love circus art, you have to love these indomitable  Russians.

From Whence the Montreal Monster?

Ostrowski, it would appear, takes on the Cirque du Soleil’s claims of modern-day reinvention by tracing the birth of the modern circus we know today back to 1930s Russia.  He is essentially correct.  It should be no secret to insiders that  Cirque’s founding artistic director, Guy Caron, was swept away, found his muse and his way, at a performance of a touring Moscow Circus troupe in Canada in 1970.   For six years following, he studded circus art in communist block Hungary at the State Circus School.

When I first saw Cirque du Soleil, in its first away-from-Canada date, in Los Angeles in 1987, I knew that its roots were in Russia. 

Quoting Ostrowski

“It is possible to say that in the late 1920s, for the first time in the world, the whole state branch of circus arts was created in Russia.    Nowadays when we create a circus program in many ways we must remember that the origins of this part of circus activity are not the remote past, they arose in the mid 30s of the last century.”

“Then there were the first attempts to create programs with a single thematic content...”  Yes, true, as when they tried rendering revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Moscow is Burning” in circus action, only to discover how difficult such well-intended ventures can be, and still are.   But those bold new concepts, drawing from the collective contributions of artists from many spheres,  would come to influence alternative circus programming in venues of higher learning and creative endeavoring. 

Thus, a flavor of justifiable pride rightfully informs Ostrowski's article, though murky it may be on occasion, as when overplaying box office demands (not all the seats in all the outlying regions were ever so easy to fill as he would have us believe), or advancing contradictory stats, to wit, for example, he writes of there being “36 circuses all over Russia,” but he also writes of there being some 3,000 artists who “perform in 24 circus programs.”  What about the other half dozen, I wondered.

Still on Top 

Nonetheless, Ostrowski’s central thesis holds.  The Russians have managed to sustain their artistic dominance.  Consider their showing at the leading circus festivals, or in the rings of major world circuses.

I study the picture, posted above, of the Old Circus in Moscow, focusing in on the small area just below the bandstand, and how fondly I recall sitting there one night, 35 years ago this very month, with my interpreter, Tanya Matveeva, whom I had just met outside the building.   We were embarking on a series of interviews in Moscow for a book I was researching on the history of circus in Russia.  

The thrill of discovery that evening, and of the sharing souls in the days to come who would answer my many questions, would surely mark a high point in my circus-going adventures.

And I got to see the great Karandash!

Say what you may about Russian society and politics.  In rings of wonder around the world, they still take big bold moves.  They still push boundaries.  They sill thrill.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Bad Movies Drive Me Back to TV Land .... Call Me a Born Again Boob Tube Believer

 Judy Dench and Steve Coogan in Philomena, one of only two films nominated for Best Picture  of the year that fully impressed me.

Thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch all of the nine films that were nominated last year for Best Picture.  I could hardly believe how awful most of them are.  What were Academy voters thinking?  There were, to be sure, two outstanding exceptions, shown in these photos, each finely wrought.

Facing a first date:  Joaquin Phoenix in Her.

The two exceptions that won me completely over are Philomena, with Judy Dench, and Her, a brilliant and disturbing look into a future when human beings (what’s left of them) form virtual relationships with Operating Systems -- PC  voices interacting with desperate electronic addicts.  Given the astonishing evidence out there of a preference for digital interactions over in-the-flesh, I can actually see such a thing happening, and it turns my stomach.

Her is a scary, challenging, and provocative flick.

All the other seven, for a variety of reasons, left me bored, exasperated, or thoroughly turned off.  A few, in fact, I did turn off.  Perhaps, it was just a matter of finding them a very difficult lot to sit through.

And the experience made me appreciate what TV has to offer.  Lately, I’ve finally given Big Bang Theory a chance, and what a blast.  Some of the best writing ever for a comedy sit com.  I love the very ordinary characters, even if Sheldon, were he not a sit com icon, would be under 24  hour psychiatric observation.  Will he end up married to the female nerd?  I doubt that.

I just discovered a big reality TV comedy contest called Wipe Out.  Talk about obstacle addicts making ragged Ann and Andy flop dolls of themselves, across a maze of amusing obstacles.   Just watching them, after missing a hurdle, getting tossed into water or mud,  for me, amounts to a howling good laugh.  No brains required.  There’s that big rubbery sledge hammer thing that smacks them good when they fail to avoid it.  And the two narrators sound like low key carnies in a shady penny arcade, providing a satire on sports casters in general.  It's a hoot!

Downton Abby:  Yes!  Finally, I have fallen for Masterpiece Theatre, and in a big way. I rented every episode up to the one that I first saw. I'm also enjoying The Paradise.  And as for Agatha Christie's  Poirot, even though I often get tangled up in trying to keep track of too many characters, David Suchet, above, has created one of the most memorable characters in the history of drama.  Just watching him carry on is a supreme pleasure. 

Jeopardy is kind of interesting, even if I can't answer the vast majority of the questions.  Alex Trevek  should shave his newly acquired mustache, either that, or audition for a role on Masterpiece Theatre.

I imagine that are many more shows I would enjoy, were I to take the time to check them out.  But I resist becoming a prisoner to TV.  And, after all, I still watch movies from NetFlix, even if last year's acclaimed gems left me dumbfounded.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

A revolutionary New Day for Watching Circuses: Big Apple Circus LIVE on Big Screens, Nationwide

I am waiting for Saturday morning, November 8,  at 9:30, when I will be inside a movie house in the Bay Area watching a live performance of the Big Apple Circus, from Lincoln Center in New York.

I can’t think of a precedent for this: A complete performance from start to finish, in real time.

We talk about watching a circus in person as being by far the best way to see it.  And, indeed, it is.  But what we are talking about is the very unpredictable nature of circus art itself, such that, sitting there in our seats, we know that at any moment danger or worse could visit the big top.

A missed triple.  A missed connection.  A wild animal going wild on its trainer.  Worse yet, getting lose and running away. 

Do you ever go to a play, a musical, a ballet, the opera, or a pop concert wondering who that day might stumble and fall, get hurt, or face the final curtain?  Do you ever fear for somebody's’ life watching great ballet dancers soaring over a stage? I do not.

And another thing:  The wow factor.  At a circus, we root for the juggler to keep all of the hoops and clubs in motion, the flyer to avoid the net.  Do you root for actors or singers in a like manner?

At a circus, we know of the darker potential realities that lurk in the shadows.  And so, watching circus performers prove their skills in the living present is what gives a circus performance a heightened power, each of the tricks the thrill of achievement before our eyes.   No second takes under the big top.  No editing before or after the act. There it is, in the beauty of indisputable raw truth. 

When Big Apple Circus, Hats off to them! --  hits the screens come November 8, another first for me: Two Big Apple shows in the same year!

Who could have ever guessed that such a day would come?

The crowds, will they come?  Have no idea.   I hope they do.  All of us who do not live in Big Apple’s limited touring range may be able to “go to” this wonderful circus every year.

Now, that’s revolutionary.   And to think, Paul Binder's troupe finally did make it out to the West Coast.


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

San Francisco in the Movies — Before the Tourists Came and the Families Fled

For me, I much prefer a San Francisco in memory. Real town.  Hard working people.  Families.  Sophisticated shopping for the rich and upwardly striving.  A real amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach, for the masses.  That gone, too.   Produce and plants and factories.  Ships of the world docking at dozens of mighty piers, offloading and on-loading.  Short line freight trains sharing space with city streets.

Today, I go over there and feel crushed under noise, obnoxious congestion,  and tourism, crushed by more high rise condos going up, still, over land fill by the bay, down there where the wrong earthquake could reap a tragic outcome.  Jackhammers pound incessantly away.  People, struggling to pay rent, are run out of their rent-controlled spaces (evicted) their buildings being converted over for office or retail rising on new technology, or more high rises to favor the rich. Digital dough is swamping this town. Sure, a beautiful city.  But I like it less and less.  Not at all sure, had I the money, that I would even want to live over there. 

Some remarkable photography of the city that was comes through, unexpectedly, in movies made way back when.  Other night, I saw The Lineup, and marveled at black and white images, snapped  off my screen.  This is may give you as flavor of how the city looked and felt before Oakland's deeper water ports stole away San Francisco's shipping trade to containerized ships,  Before Pier 39 turned the place into a Disneyland. 

The Ferry building is now a thriving food arcade, pricey and fashionable.

Ships of commerce once docked along the Embarcadero.  

Some forty-plus piers thrived with shipping activity. Now, they house amusements and museums and offices,  or have been demolished to make way for a ballpark and condos.

A short line railroad once used these tracks.  Now,  they run a collection of old city street cars, loaded with tourists, headed for Pier 39's trivial attractions.  Slow as snails.   If you go, walk.

It was a working class town, believe it or not.  In my youth, I was employed for a time as a clerk for Planters Peanuts.

I love this shot, showing the Cow Palace in the background, about ten years after it was built. Ringling packed the arena the first year.  Turnaways.   

The iconic Golden Bridge retains its majesty, but soon, its famed architecture will be compromised by the installation, just under the deck of nets designed to catch and thwart mortals seeking to bring their lives to an end.  

The Palace of the Legion of Honor, intact.

Sutros Baths, just above Playland, was a great place to go, full of atmosphere, penny arcade amusements, old Barnumesque exhibits, model circus wagons by Bill Taggart, an ice rink, and. in its glory days, several giant swimming pools.  It burned down in 1966, the cause highly suspicious.

By the time The Lineup was filmed, the pools had been shut down.  Sutros was nearing its end.  The ice rink was about the only major draw.

One of the best scenes from the film.  The chief gangster, in a wheel chair, left, comes to collect a stolen treasure.   Little does  he know he's about to go ice skating, but on wheels rather than blades

 Oops! Bye, bye!

The Bay Bridge and Treasure Island form one fabulous backdrop.

When asphalt assaulted the city's beauty.  This is probably the Embarcadero freeway.  Below, a rare view of it, still under construction when the film was shot, around 1957.  It was a monstrosity, perhaps, fatefully speaking, the driving reason for the 1989 earthquake, which effectively rendered it inoperable.  And so it was taken down.     

Another thing about going to San Francisco.  And here, you need to listen to me!  I used to love to walk across the city, from the Ferry Building out to Ocean Beach, nearly every week.  But I came close twice to being hit by a car, and learned that San Francisco was the most dangerous city for pedestrians in California (evidently, no longer true).  Still ...

If you go there to walk, revise what I said above -- don't!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Carny Rides To Die For ... Check Out This Wacko Showing Off His Firm's Monster Midway Death-a-Whirls

Centrifuge Brain Project

If you want a good laugh, the Centrifuge Brain Project is a satire on the ultimate lunacy in EXTREME carnival ride design.  These horrific screamers make your common wood roller coaster look like a horse-drawn buggy ride in Amish country.

Sent to me by new nephew, Jeff, at first, I took the thing on face value, wondering where in the world these rides were in actual operation, and wondering if the narrator had spent some quality time in a nut house.   

Second visit, now in on the joke, I laughed my head off!!!!

Fasten your seat belts and sign your wills; you may never return.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Ringling Magic," At Last, Under Kelly Miller Canvas

Tonight, just now, seconds ago, I re-watched the Kelly Miller DVD that John Ringling North II had sent me a while back, wanting to take a second look at the sensationally captivating young ball bounce juggler from Ethiopia, Abrham Gebre, making a  "first time in America" appearance on the show.

I was even more impressed, thinking I might have slightly overreacted when first I saw him on the video, his presence lifting the show truly into Ringling territory, far beyond the normal fare of a pleasant JRN II circus program.   He is a fair sensation,  somersaulting into the ring (I hadn't noticed that the first time), grabbing the audience's attention with an ingratiating charm full of a sharing energy, and proceeding to dazzle with his routine, ending up atop a ladder on a table, to produce a neat payoff.  This is the stuff of Gold.

End of act, during moments when I heard a drum roll, and saw blue canvas, I felt almost as if I were back in De Mille's The Greatest Show on Earth under that gorgeous big top.

When North bought the show back in around  2007, he or Jim Royal issued a statement to a press person about wanting to bring a "little Ringling magic" to the show

Well, this is that magic.  Gebre is probably the best act  North & Royal have ever signed, the Poema family coming in a solid second.  There were some African tumblers, I believe, whom some thought were the high point of the edition, one of the first,  in which they appeared.

Perhaps Johnny Come Lately has a way of finding and signing newer talent on the rise, at good terms.  A flair for the foreign.

Here, in the charismatic attack of a great performer and  entertainer (like Brunn, Gebre's body is in constant motion, too, complimenting his diverse repertoire),  North II presents the genuine article.

I could almost hear  Merle Evans' men thundering through, "Sing Hallelujah!" ... the ringmaster shouting high and wide ... the Greaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat Sebastian!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sunday Morning with Don Marcks: Concello Gets “Kicked Out” of the Ringling Show... All About that Strange Ill-fated European Tour

 Photos from the program magazine

The recollections of it, depending upon whom to believe, are so wildly variable as to leave one in a complete muddle.  Was it that bad?   Or, no, you say it was quite good, really?  When John Ringling North took Ringling-Barnum  to Europe in 1963, banking on continental acclaim, great business, and  a regular annual our of major Old World capitals, he left virtually all of the planning and delivery to Arthur Concello.  The two had, what would become, a legendary history, something like Barnum & Bailey.

We know the show may have opened in shambles — director Richard Barstow curiously not called over to begin his work until the show was well into rehearsals, under the default direction of Concello’s girl friend, Maggie Smith.  The reviews were good, business fairly good and building.

From Don’s letter to me dated November 13, 1963, when I was in Scotland at the time:

You’ll be interested to learn some information I picked up while visiting James Bros.  Everyone was talking about the fact that North has kicked Concello out of the Ringling organization.  He is reportedly suing Concello for something like $2 million.  As I understand things Concello will manage the New York World’s Fair circus and then his connection with the Ringling show ceases completely.  What has happened or why the sudden outburst I don’t know.  In fact I’m most anxious to learn about this myself, so will surely keep you posted.”

A page from the program magazine. I do not see a dearth of talent.
About the “sudden outburst,” years later, while interviewing Mr. Concello, indoor pool side, in his Sarasota home (he was kind to me, always) when the subject of the European tour came up, at one point in the disintegrating relationship between AMC and JRN abroad, Mr. Concello motioned me to follow him around the pool to a closet.  In it, he reached up to retrieve his diary for the year 1963. He thumbed through it to a page, and held it up for me to read;

“North raising hell”.

He stood there looking a little amused by my serious reaction.  But, in fact, I got a distinct feeling that he had felt very very uncomfortable being around North at the time.  He did not know, although he may have suspected, that, upon returning to the states to work on the World's Fair unit, he was about to be fired.

The two men were equally strong willed, from my observations. Concello’s handling of Ringling in Europe seemed engineered to favor choreographer Margaret Smith (the two later married) over the director of record, Dick Barstow.  And here is the strangest part of the story: Barstow kept waiting to be called over to begin his work, and kept being put off.  Finally, he was notified to come, and when he arrived, the show had already opened. Flabbergasted at the chaotic state of the program that he claimed to have found, Barstow bolted up to JRN and demanded that his name be taken off the program, that he was going back to the states.  North talked Barstow out of it. 

Henry Ringling North, in an interview he gave me at the Yale Club in NY, some years later, called the Paris opening “an absolute disgrace.”  Meaning, I think, the program was a mess, as sometimes they can be the first few performances out.   Based on the program lineup, no way can anybody claim that the roster of performers was not generally top drawer.  But, of course, it’s all in how the whole thing is put together. 

They played a few cities.  Photos show most of the seats filled.  Ken Dodd, who has seen a video of the show, thought it looked very good.

John Ringling North let go of his dream, in my opinion, not wishing to harm his high reputation over there, as he had already done in the states when he struck the big top.  He wished more, I believe, to sustain the peace and respect he had found in the Old World.