Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Flip Flops: Endangered Elephant Rides ... Banned from White Tops Land? ... Cirque du Soleil Might Be Soaring Over Tokyo ...

As one after another U.S. business or banking entity tumbles or stumbles, circuses are likely to suffer even more. A Wall Street statistic, Lehman Brothers, into bankruptcy courts September, has not the $50,000 to spare that it so easily handed Big Apple Circus last season to spring for youth groups getting in free ... Turns out BAC relies on a whopping $7 million per year from private funding to produce a $22 million annual budget. .. No more hiring for a while and no salary raises, says BAC ... The times they are a hurting ...

New York bars the elephant rides that seem to be keeping some shows clinging to life support. And who stronger to the defense than the CFA, which spells Circus Fans Association of America. Since when was the CFA a defender of the carny aspects of a midway? Since at least now. This is what I read in the July-August issue of The White Tops. Struck me as sadly odd or oddly sad that the CFA should be concerned about the ring-intrusive commerce that has both prolonged the careers of some under performing tent shows while further tarnishing the art of circus. But then again, as I have learned to see it, anything with the world “Circus” on it is guaranteed CFA adulation -- well, almost everything. Read on for my personal reverse payoff. I’m not sure if they are still striving to publish serious “reviews. In this issue at hand, every show mentioned seems to be featuring great acts, if not the greatest. I also read that “nearly all the time” all three Carson & Barnes rings were occupied. Funny, that’s not what I saw when the show played S.F.

What inspired me to purchase that particular issue of The White Tops? It was a momentary illusion (stress illusion), that, having heard they were covering circus books published in 2007-2008, my latest might be given at least a wee mention. So I wanted to get my hands on a copy. They are, indeed, covering circus books, in list form that recognizes 134 tomes, and many of them far afield of the big top. And, guess what? Surprise! Mine did not even make the list ... Have I been banned from white tops land?

My checkered history dealing with WT editors has gone from courageous acceptance to total indifference. Started on a high note when, barely in my teens, I got published by the late Walter H. Hohenadel to whom my Fall of the Big Top is gratefully dedicated. Sad irony here, isn’t it. After Mr. H came his son, who also put some of my efforts into print. Mel Olsen, who edited later, was a great guy. Then came Jim Foster, who puzzled me, putting it politely. Around 1990 I submitted to him a big article "Circus in America; The New Golden Age." He called me with word that the overly long piece would need to be cut by one third and how would I feel about that? I said, sure, I was used to dealing with editors, so go ahead and let me see. A week or so later, article returned with not even a note. Cold.

But cold can be the nourishing hand of fate, thank you, Mr. Foster. I vowed never again. Since The White Tops was both the first magazine to publish me and the last to reject me (such symbiotic symmetry), that would be it. Now I felt a total liberation to spread my creative energies elsewhere. I went out and penned three non-circus tomes. One about roller skating sold like clamp-on skates in a disco rink. But a couple about musical theatre have done very well. Now back under the big top, I know who the current WT editors are -- that is, by their names. And that’s about all. Seems they don’t answer pres release submissions or follow-up e-mails; not mine, anyway.

Big Top Bits: Disney reports a 10 percent drop in reservations and plunging profits ... Cirque du Soleil’s Zed, set up at Disneyland Tokyo, might restore the faith of embittered disbelieving cirque fans, if we are to believe Richard Oozounian, Canadian theatre critic for The Toronto Star, terming Zed a masterpiece and summing up “they manage to astonish us once again” (more, I hope, than this photo). Only problem, you’ll need to book flight to Japan ... What next -- Cirque Du Soleil Presents Disney Under Water? Or Feld Entertainment Presents Cirque du Soleil? ... And what’s happening with the touring tent show planned by cirque founding genius Franco Dragon, Circus McGurkus? Suddenly, cyberspace is vacant of buzz ... BAC’s clever ad copy promising “Debt-Defying Prices!" ... World ambitious jugglers convening in Vegas this December 17 to compete for top honors at their 2008 World Juggling Federation Convention ... Maybe Guy Laliberte will snag a few of them to help Criss Angel survive Believe ... E mails come from far and wide: Here’s one from a Circus Mongolia Khadgaa , photos from which featured here ...

I’m not sure whether to send The White Tops back or not. On principle that is. Call it ego if you wish. When I look at that extravagantly long list of current circus books, I think more of the late editor Hohenadel than myself. We share a mutual snub, and I feel even closer to the man whom I never met. Had he not published me, in effect validating the critical instincts of a brash 14-year old rather than suppressing them, who knows. Just as likely I would not be here at L’Amyx blogging away. Indeed, just as likely I would never have written Behind the Big Top, Circus Rings Around Russia, and Big Top Boss: John Ringling North and the Circus, not to mention my latest literary pretension that dares not show its face in The White Tops. Oh, heck, if only it had come out with an elephant ride ...

2 comments:

Logan Jacot said...

Dragone's new productions is still (at the moment) going to be produced. Rehearsals have been pushed back to March due to the economy.

Logan

Showbiz David said...

Thanks, Logan. And I hope you are feelng okay. I enjoy all the news and various items you post on your blog. Most informative!