Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Midweek Midway L’Amyx ... Pachyderms to Porcupines for the Savvy Feld? ... John Ringling North II Rides the Jomar His Way ... Step Right In! ...
Hold your horse (or nose) -- Here Comes the Porcupine! Kenneth Feld may be prepping Backup Plan A in case the elephant abuse charge against his circus ever goes to trial and he is found legally insensitive. Right now on his Over The Top unit, he’s got this show-off porcupine that rocked one Windy City critic. “Granted, the oversize rodent didn’t actually do a great deal,” reported Chris Jones in a very fav Chicago Tribune notice. “He stood there. A clown showed up with a balloon and, well, you can guess the rest. But it worked for me ... I’ve seen dogs, cats and parakeets do circus shtick. The porcupine bettered them all.” ... Wonder if the critter is a runaway from Cirque du Soleil’s long-discarded early-day menagerie, which once harbored a duck that waddled back and forth to the music? So impressed was the amused Jones with Over the Top’s show-stealing rodent who goes by the name of Percy, he believes the prima porc “is seeking representation.”
Heart-felt Hugo Happenings: They form an exclusive little privileged club whose membership changes glacially, it’s so hard for a newcomer to keep a tent show on the road. I’m talking that rare breed of American circus owner-producer. New kid on the lot John Ringling North II, now heading into his junior year as the real thing, rides and resides in “The Jomar” whenever he tours with the show, which he seems to enjoy (I see a lot of Charles Ringling in JRN II). The Jomar, you ask? Okay, I’m told this version is a motor home. Show manager Jim Royal, noting the bookend visits of Charles Ringling (son of Robert, himself son of Charles) and his wife Sarah at the opening and closing days (how poetically symmetrical), thinks that maybe their motor home, which they, pulling rank, park next to “the Jomar,” should be named "the Caledonia" — that’s what Charles Ringling named his own private car back when he and John Ringling were caught up in a brotherly war of egos ... Back in Hugo, the town bustles with pride over its big toppers and awaits a report from each at season end on how it fared or didn’t. This is the annual Circus Homecoming hosted by the Hugo Chamber of Commerce. Royal and North II, along with the Byrds, et all, are treated with respect as “Ambassadors of Hugo.” And for their candor (or feel-good reports in return), these invincible tanbark moguls are feted with “cake and coffee,” per Royal’s inside scoop. You read it here.
End Ringers: Some visitors to this blog express difficulty in leaving comments, which befuddles me. Promise I’ve not done anything to bar or discourage a soul from speaking her or his mind, and all opinions are welcome under this trembling little tent. I can only suggest you slip in under “anonymous” and leave your name at the end of your message, if you like ... Now over one-fourth of my traffic arrives from foreign shores, and I wonder what they are thinking ... A young Kelly-Miler patron allowed to shoot selected footage of the performance failed to produce much of a tease on You Tube, other than this: Two tigers side by side on their hind legs hopping forward in smooth creamy unison, under the impressive direction of cage master Casey McCoy. If that's the act, an act worth seeing it is ... For a far better, in fact powerful impression on the Kelly-Miller show, take a look at the sizzling still photos posted on Logan Jacot's Sawdust Nights blog ... Baraboo’s redoubtable man for all seasons, Bob Dewel, reminding us of how the town’s late native star Mark David was “a smash hit at the CWM with his heel-only trapeze act.” Boy oh boy, what pro praise from the otherwise mild mannered Doc, who might consider going out as an advance man. That is, after his long winter gig donning Wee Willie Dewel attire and sauntering off through frosty Ringling nights, tapping on windows and exhorting children to brush and floss and get into their wee little beds. Beware of a swaggering porcupine on the loose, Bob. And don’t dare offend the thing with a dental discount come-on; it may have an agent by now — or a lawyer. Blame it on PETA.
And that’s a prickly wrap ... Yuck! Gotta wash my hands, send my safari hat off to the dry cleaners, and fumigate this tent. Bring back those perfumed pachyderms!
[photo: Tom Dougherty; "Percy" and Jenny Vidbel]