Friday, December 19, 2008

Fri. Nite L’Amyx Light: Big Apple Circus to the Opera? ... John Ringling North II Shows His True Blood ... Well, Have You Anything Better?

Dot Dot Dot, cold out there. Dot dot dot, hot leafy flavored water in here. Sure it’s fun, dotting away Friday night under the tea tent, and welcome to the chaos of clashing opinions on parade! ...

Let’s see, here comes a red hot dot: He’s an “elitist snob,” claims solid source Neil Cockerline about outgoing Big Apple Circus founder and director Paul Binder. (Sorry, Mr. Binder, you via me are generating center ring discussion). And, why the charge? Backyard eye-opener: Notes Cockerline, under Binder’s direction a “blatant caste system reminiscent of culture from other corners of the world” flourishes. Ring artists and management wine and dine under luxury canvas. Workers get junk furniture in their own shabby tent. Reminds me of that story in the Wall Street Journal about snooty overpaid power clowns (Barry Lubin among them) that sent Binder nearly over the edge. No free haute cuisine for powerless prop hands. Haute hamburgers across the street .. “Get yourself some potato chips.” Hot hot hot off the grill! ...

There’s a dot hot theme here, even if another visitor, “Mark Felt-Deeper than Deep,” argues that this nasty caste stuff is status quo and it’s what we see when the show rolls that matters. "To some who have toiled there, it was/is a fantastic place to labor." I tend to agree with Deeper Than Deep. After briefly clowning for Wallace Bros Circus, I realized I preferred taking a fantasy view from the seats and keeping the ugly stuff out of my narrow vision, BUT ... dotting away, I must express surprise at the BAC junk tent. Both Binder and Michael Christensen spend so much lofty prose alluding to a touchy feely, ever so humane organization , that all along I just stupidly assumed they treated all mortals down to the popcorn machine technician like did the San Francisco Pickles of ‘yore in their egalitarian tepee tents who shunned capitalism, back before leftover Pickles became an elitist school that turns out virtually none of the artists good enough for “New York’s own circus.” Dot forward for more on this ...

... A theme, I said? Look here, people, no matter how much Paul and Michael want you to believe they are, first and last, “New York’s circus,” says I, not not not ... They are a High Class European imitation operating in the city of NY, period. Binder was is and will be to his dying day in love with old Europe, which is why he has favored the act over everything else. As for his touted elitism, guess I should not be surprised at all ... Perhaps his successor, one Guillaume Dufresnoy, will out-elite Binder... Dot on, all elitists, please ...

To a spate of mostly adoring questions posed in The New York Times (exempting the PETA crowd protesting on point), Dufresnoy of France selected a few to answer. First off, dotting hot, to a female admirer wondering if the guy is single, he answered no. “I am in a relationship, but there are many men with accents, so keep up the good work!” Yeah, lady, dot dot dot on .... Now, down to serious maters, Dufresnoy, addressing what his “artistic vision” might be, expresses a deference to eclectic circus-blind direction, “My dream is to bring our multi generational audience circus acts from a wide variety of cultures, and to attract directors and designers who have no previous experience with circus but have been very successful in theatre, opera, dance, music.” Now about that word OPERA. (That’s the O word I promised to drop.) This deserves small dots ... (a friend once treated me to an opera; I found the audience’s passion more engaging than the marathon song fest with scenery; I think we took sleeping bags)

Binder talks about the “virtuosity” of the artist. No disagreement here. His replacement, I suspect, because the French are now creatively dominant (well, away from France anyway) may by design or catastrophic accident bring off something truly breathtaking in the way of what I humbly (and crassly to some) call presentational pizazz (others need to call it trenchant narrative) ...

Do you feel lost in a vanishing mist of cirque meditation? Okay, we’re dotting back to earth, and to refreshingly basic John Ringling North II, he of Ringling stock and recently challenged by me (rhetorically speaking) to show the world what his blood is made of (I was riding high on Sawdust Kid Logan Jacot hinting away about K-M going three ring). Not only that, North is getting it from other directions, like from John Herriott on the subject of t-shirts versus t-spandex, opining that Kelly Miller does not get its costumes from Brooks Brothers and, further did you know, they are not likely to be spreading “fifty bags of sawdust or shavings on the lot each day.” ...

Dotting back to Show Biz David Via Jim Royal, JRN II’s gutsy reply suggests he will not be looking to the opera for artistic salvation. “Having checked my army dog tags and jockey license my blood type is A.” A for Ringling! ... North the Sequel points to costume pro Carmen Rosales, she obviously removed from the blue jean racks at Sears (where I shop) ... Furthermore, North the Second reveals with a dot of relish, “No, we don’t have a standing order for 50 bags of shavings a day.”.. And Royal promises me “soon” an update on winter quarters activity. Which makes me laugh thinking back on John Herriott’s correct remark about all the Kelly Miller paper I "hang a lot." I’m a hangable sort of guy. Whatever floats my way, I’ll string it out for effect ...

Where are we on this dottery evening? I can’t bring on my fake Big cannon finale without giving another sharp tongue out there its due. Just too dramatic, and I’m a sucker for ballyhoo heat: Barks Alan Cabal about my SF Zoo tiger update, “It’s a damned shamed that Tatiana didn’t manage to kill the scumbag gang-fodder Dhaliwal brothers. Good enough that she got Souza.” ... Tis a heated story, tis it. Here’s the Cabal kicker: “Darwin in action."

I have a question, World, would Darwin in action have foreseen a European style circus on Big Apple asphalt evolving into a Wagnerian spectacle starring Domingo, Spears & Grandma modeling leather in a cage full of tigers on Ridlin?

Oh, heck, I’m all dotted out. Promise to go clean next time. Blame it on winter. Too many troubled big tops in hideaway barns ... SAGE, are you back there in Hugo, yet???

[illustrations from top down: "Power Clown" image by Adel, Wall Street Journal; Powerless clown Showbiz David on Wallace Bros. Circus, post Civil War era; Guillaume Dufresnoy in The New York Times; a Kelly-Miller Circus truck logo; L'Amyx tea tenders Will and Boyi]

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope the esteemed Mr. Dufresnoy will take the BAC to new levels of excellence and truly open the door to new ideas, performers and values. The caste system will likely never go away, but perhaps the line will soften somewhat. In reference to Senor Cockerline's two tent division of workers and artists, the only venue the show plays that allows for such seperation is the Boston stand, where few if any living trailers are spotted on the lot in downtown Beantown. And yes, the performers do have swanker rest areas compared to the workers...but the chow line is the same for one and all. Ah, for some good old Boston Baked Beans!

"Toot" Shor

Alan Cabal said...

I like opera, especially Rossini.

Of course there's a "caste system" at Big Apple. There are "caste systems" EVERYWHERE, from high school forward. So what?

Guillaume Dusfresnoy has been caught in the unenviable position of being the man in the middle between the lot and the office. Perhaps with a bit more power he can spread his wings and allow his creative side to blossom. He joined BAC as an artist, and he was a damned fine one. It'll be interesting to see what he does in the coming years. I wish him the very best in this perilous endeavor.

Anonymous said...

To echo Mr. Cabal's points, lets all hope Mr. G. gets to put his own imprint on this long running orgaization. But one still wonders where Mr. Paul and his particular ways will find a home away from home?

Frankie Morgan

Showbiz David said...

Well put, indeed, and potentially the most intriguing story line. I do, like you, hope that GD gets ample autonomy.

Wade G. Burck said...

Show Biz,
Great stuff. But I gotta wonder why know one was screaming "caste" system when Paul was over in Monaco glad handing, and and judging best 0 the best and then signing them up here, or sending then over to "earn" one. That's a bit of phony that it appears at least half the world is now getting.
I gotta tell Neil, with due respect it isn't so much a caste system, as just plumb the nature of the beast. Very few of those people doing that job are really conscientious and caring. If you bought nice stuff to use, with in a short time it would be trashed. No knock on them, I was one for a number of years. But like in a college dormitory, or any group situation, each one expects the other to clean it or take care of it. Police them. Right, who has time to tell adults to clean up or pick up after themselves. After years of seeing refrigerators trashed in a 3 months, stoves microwaves in in one month, and furniture in less time then that, the caste system you perceived is just one type of person caring more then the other. I was one for a number of years as I said, I wasn't born doing what I do, and it is hard to live like that, terrible hard, but you don't have to live like that forever, unless you chose to.
Wade Burck