Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Fragments Flashing at Random: A Bio for Binder? Three Rings for Kelly Miller? ... Cirque Dogs and Favored Elephant Trainers ... Step Right Up!

It’s a smorgasbord out there, and most of it’s as tenuous as a tent show half pitched in a windstorm half matured ... You proceed at your own folly.

Paul Binder, now that’s he’s free of the life he likes the most, might think about penning his own bio. Man’s a scholar, say I, although, interviewed last week on NPR’s "On Point" by Tom Ashbrook, the Big Apple Circus man implied lack of faith in all bull men save for one named Bill Woodcock, whom you know, had his Anna May cavorting in the Big Apple Ring — until Ms. May seemed in the mood for retirement, at which time Bill told Paul, that’s it for me too. Now to NPR (national polite radio) said Binder, “He had a way with them [the bulls] that was wonderfully humane.... We felt there was nobody who was at the same wave with elephants as Bill Woodcock.” Yeah, that’s more than a fragment, and it leaves me feeling naggingly unimpressed ... One more fragment before we fly elsewhere. I can’t understand why BAC’s founder is so intent on proving that circus performers are not “super heroes’ but as average as the ticket holders, and of his desire for the public to see them as virtual next door neighbors. In this axis, we part affinities. I want mystery and mastery. Should a performer connect with the audience? Of course.

That was getting testy. Back to nice. Except that Baraboo is another not-so-nice at the moment, what with the Circus World Museum recently battered by Natzi artwork. Says the town’s default docent, Bob Dwell, who called up the police to give me an official reply, “I don’t think we have skinheads or any such thing here, but who knows, once in a while we are infected by crime fanning out from the cities.” Sleepy Baraboo is not exempt, evidently, from post-McCarthy Wisconsin ... Okay I said it ...

Walking around the midways out there in search of flashing fragments, I learn on Bill Strong’s Yesterdays Towns that Sonny Moore passed away. So did Lola Dobritch. I learn that Logan Jacot (Sawdust Nights) had a productive encounter turning the profane hostility of a circus animal hater into a convert for his side. “She actually apologized to me for being misinformed.” Logan’s patience may have paid off. Logan proposes making November “Change Somebody’s mind about circus animals month.” The kid is out there on the front lines of ignorance answering back with youthful reason ... Kudos, kid! He’s also asking, poll wise (I replied in the affirmative) should Kelly Miller go out as a three ringer? What a terrific question! Which makes me wonder if the “already buzzing” air at winter quarters that Jim Royal alludes to in an e-mail has anything to do with an expansionist minded John Ringling North II? Hey, I only promised you fragments of fact — or fiction ...

Onto other lots. I toured a few. Buckles Blog showing some neat post cards, one of Bring 'em Back Alive Frank Buck ... Wade Burck rolling forth a gorgeous photo panorama of exotics of various stripes and shapes ... Pat Cashin's Clown Alley -- love this guy’s admiration for some of the greats I glimpsed in my lucky boyhood, among them Paul Jung.... Balloon Man Dick Dykes sporting photos of Ford Bros. Circus '82 Alaska tour on his festive midway (my favorite blog for atmosphere) ... Dan the Booker touting Carson and Barnes for winning 19 votes, but for what I’m not sure ... Lots of polls going on. I should take one. Let’s see, should Carson and Barnes rename itself Cirque du Hugo Oklahoma? Cast your votes down at the runs! Well, people, they shucked aside rings, they're flirting with indoor venues. What next, the Byrds in berets?

...Oh, where else? What stunning photos under Buckles tent of Paul Kaye’s upcoming Evansville date. I ask you, does Kaye support himself merely on that one stint? What a dazzling three-ring spread clear up to the aerial heights ... Don’t count multiple rings out. Just when one tradition dies, it has a way of creeping back ... All the way over there in Italy, Raffaele De Ritis has up a great photo of the brothers Charlivels, sons of an act John Ringling North greatly admired but could never sign: Charlie Rivel.

Bits big and small for take out: Those brothers who got mauled by the San Francisco tiger going to court, and not happy about the smears against them by zoo operatives ... Here’s a random revelation: Since Cirque du Soleil is now using puppets to imitate performing dogs, does that not constitute their condoning performing animal by fostering the imagery? Just wondering as the French are known to do ... By way of Covington Connected: BAC landing Big Apple publicity galore: Grandma joining the clowns on Wall Street, trying to break the new depression jinx; Glowing notices in Gotham dailies; Visits to the Binder top by our nation’s most notorious Celebes, included but not limited to: Britney Spears (she’s out of rehab or jail again?) Tom Cruise (good guy, I suppose), David Beckman and wife-of-the-moment Victoria ... Circus-David (no, not me) talking up Carson and Barnes menegerie, and then: “I have caught PETA lying and distorting the truth in an effort to raise money to funnel to the Animal Liberation Front (a terrorist organization)” I take heart in voices like yours and the Sawdudst kid, David. When I walked the C&B lot, I noticed happy looking animals on tour. And I don’t think they were Cirque puppets...

Wrap it up, World, and have another cup of tea. And wrap it out, John Ringling North II, and show the world what your blood is made of!

4 comments:

henry edgar said...

david -- on the idea of circus stars as ordinary people. i can't believe anyone would try to sell that idea! Look at Hollywood and Broadway -- when big stars were veiled in mystique, people flocked to see them and they still do for the ones who are left. did anyone know, or care, if bette davis or annie miller or ethel merman did their own grocery shopping or washed their own dishes? they might have -- but their publicists never admitted it unless there was a special superstar is a housewife promo. i personally know that merman always typed her own letters herself -- but it was never publicized; the biggest star on broadway typing a letter? nobody would have ever believed it. that's why stars had secretaries. (merman learned secretarial skills at teh same time she was learning to perform. she never had a secretary because she could do the job herself -- just as nobody ever wnted to be her understudy because they knew performing was another job she did herself) lauren bacall or ann miller pushing a cart around a grocery store? probably -- but nobody would believe it. they were real stars living in a veil of mystique. even the circus greats of the past. the art of creating a star, whether for a circus, a theater or a film, is to create an illusion that defies reality. a mystique that sells tickets when hollywood stopping traing actors to be stars, the movies lost the magic. stars need the illusion of being special. it sells tickets. listen to the "bankable stars" song in forbidden broawdway! the star system worked whether it was a temptress taking milk baths or lillian leitzel with a carpeted dressing tent with a grand piano. bringing back the star system would put the show back in show business. and that would help circuses as well as broadway and hollywood. we need larger than life superstars. we live next door to ordinary people. audiences will pay to see a big star but they won't play to see the actress -- or the aerialist -- they follow in the check-out line at the grocery store.

on a calmer note, the future of the circus rests on the young people like logan, peole who dare to ask why and why not without accepting the answer that says that's the way we have always done it. his youthful enthisiasm reminds me of the way so many of us thought 40 years ago when we thought we could make the circus a better place just as the kennedys were making the world a better place. we need people like logan to survive the new battles today. we can no longer ignore animal rights issues and the problems will only be solved by communication.

Showbiz David said...

Henry, I'm delighted to hear from you, and thanks for your input on this issue, which merits further discussion right here. I was wondering if you were okay. Belated HT!

Wade G. Burck said...

Henry,
Stars would cost a pretty penny, and that will not float anymore. Have you noticed how the owners/producers have become the stars. Irvin Feld was the only owner/producer I ever saw smile, and step back, when people brushed past him to shake GGW's hand. And yes, they do believe, really they do, that the public(who isn't coming anymore) comes to see them.
Wade

john herriott said...

The new country western performers and the hard rock musicians in their T shirts and torn jeans for wardrobe and their scruffy look have been a disaster for so many forms of entertainment. It seems that they have brainwashed the public in appearing as the public does. But Cher, Dolly Parton and some of the male CW stars still maintain the rich showbiz traditions. I am always amazed at the elaborate sets [scenery, lights, etc.] for their shows and then they appears in T shirts and jeans. The Dancing with the stars with their wardrobe have been a big hit. I believe thats one of the reasons, but then I get deflated when the Master of Ceremonies appears in all this glamour and glitter in a business suit. [calls for a tuxedo on him and the band leader. I always felt as a performer and director that that meeting and greeting crap was demeaning and did not show off the performers as someone special. We are seeing some circus acts in T shirts and its awful. Its like liberty horses without nice harness and plumes because the bottom line is that they are too cheap to have them and suggest they are doing something different. In regard to the North 2 KM circus of which you hang alot of paper. I doubt if you will see any "show wardrobe" and certainly not from Brooks-Van Horn. Barbara Byrd seems like the only one left that has an elaborate wardrobe dept. I doubt if KM has a standing order from the 24 hour man to have fifty bags of sawdust or shavings on the lot each day. So it seems there is a big difference between Mud Shows and the others. So be it. I have been in both scenarios and feel qualified to comment.