Friday, January 16, 2009

Sunday Morning, Looking Back: Friday First Draft Fangless, I Think -- Therapy Parrots to Seat Wagon Sightings ... L'Amyxed Up for Take Out ...

This originally appeared on January 16, 2009

World, come in! Now and then, a peep from foreign shores, and it's about time. About thirty percent of the traffic on this here midway comes in accented, and I wonder as I wander what they are thinking. So, how nice to hear from a real Aussie, Barry Nixon, who chirps, “Know your cribbing is read and appreciated." Fond memories have I for the Aussies (we will table Circus Oz for the moment -- but what a stunner, Oz under a tent!). In their Outdoor Showman, once edited by the gentlemanly Richard Holden, when I was once young and full of myself (as if I no longer am), I got published many times, leading up to my big break in the pages of Variety. And during that period taken for granted (blame it on my youth), a Japanese scholar, Dr. Shigi Yajima, who also scribbled for OS, writing knowledgeably on world circuses, and I think teaching kids on one of the Australian shows, struck up a congenial correspondence with me. Had I only been more internationally grateful and sustained the good vibes into my more prolific times. We might have met, and what a pleasure it would have been to compare views on circus with a soul so far away from my own world. From what I have been able to gather, this kind and knowing man who so graciously reached out to me is no longer with us: How sad, the many chances that pass us by ...

Zoo’s in session, kids: (Me, a zookeeper, what a laugh; I tell friends “give me poetry, not biology”). Over there, somewhere near the Indian Ocean, animal trainer Patricia White floats her faithfully certain views on animal emotions my way, causing a whole lot of mostly constructive debate. (My regrets, Ms. White, over your getting unfairly battered around in here.) Now, fully aware that the views of say, a Casey McCoy are in rational sync with the majority of scientific opinion on the subject (no evidence whatever that animals have feelings), still, it’s what Ms. White has to say that plays to my romantic side: "Have I 'loved' some of my animals? Absolutely. Have they 'loved' me back? In some cases, in their own language, in their own lion-tiger-dog-horse- animal way, I'm sure of it." ... Others have added smart insights, among them Ben Trumble: “We’re hardwired to look for emotion in every human nuance, it’s hard to imagine that other animals don’t share the same schematic ... Animals learn through play and its’ enjoyable.” And Alan as in Cabal, somewhere up there in Maine, I presume, reports a wry sense of humor from his Coon cat Scooter: “He steals things and hides them around the house. Occasionally he returns them by dropping them in front of me. And laughs. He also quite obviously adores me, as I do him.” You heard it here, folks ...

Concessions to Concessions: I caused a few brain cells to work overtime with my recent rant. Says Henry of Edgar, making a point I had overlooked but kind of sort of agree with: I, too, can tolerate candy butchers working the seats AS LONG AS THE SHOW DOES NOT STOP, THANK YOU. “What makes our business look bad is the unexpected cost — the huge adult ticket necessary to use the free kid ticket. But the worst is the constant interruption of the show for pitches” Yes, Henry, let the popcorn pushers push so long as a stream of action streams thrillingly by ... And another high thinker, elevated balloon man Dick Dykes, points the finger of blame at a major culprit: “The trouble with the Ringling show they want it all! And when it gets right down to it, they are keeping a lot of people from attending any circus after they get done with them! I’m sorry but that’s the way I see it.” Dick, those Ringling designer snow cones are Exhibit A in your favor. Exhibit B: When I purchased a $3.00 reserved seat ticket in 1955, the cost of the program magazine was 25 cents. Compare that modest ratio to today's cost.

Seat wagon addicts (all three of us), this one’s for US: In the current issue of Bandwagon, Bill (Buckles) Woodcock mentions the ingeniously designed Art Concello seat wagons, remarking that they might not have saved that much labor time. In their favor? “Knowing they would not fall down as I have seen some seats do.” ... Years ago, good friend and fellow seat-wagon addict Bob Mitchell drove me miles south of Sarasota, down past an open field, and there in the distance, half mired in dirt, was an emblem of a lost golden age, fading away, and I thought I’d found a shred of the promised land. Through high grass this wimp walked (not being told that rattle snakes lurked about), and when at last he touched the frame of the wagon, into the rear compartment he climbed, imagining it to be where Unus or Del Oro, Tonito or La Norma had once costumed up and rested between shows. Is anybody still with me?

End Ringers: Cyber courier Don Covington forwards news of a big PBS TV documentary to be set in and around Big Apple Circus. I only hope it’s more exiting than this press release promise: Cameras to be aimed “not just under the big top, but far behind it — into what circus folk call 'the backyard,' the place where the trailers are parked and the real heart of the circus beats.” Not in the ring? ... Guy Laliberte, profiled by a Brit reporter over in Vegas for the Independent to check out Believe. She, one Alice Jones is fairly dazzled by the king's boast of being "The No. 1 entertainment company in the world," but not by his latest offering, starring illusionist Criss Angel. Although she found some elements to her liking, “the show never really takes off.” Post premiere, Laliberte’s concession of non-success pointed to an off-course misfire. “Cirque doesn’t work with stars,” said he, “It’s not an easy thing to do. We are a collective.” ... Circus animals are evidently emotional enough to calm the jittery among us. Here’s "service animal" Sadie, a parrot profiled in The New York Times (you just have to read the story; in last Sundays magazine), who moves about on the shoulder of troubled Jim Eggers, sensing his every mood, and issuing warnings: “It’s okay, Jim. Calm down, Jim. You’re alright, Jim. I’m here, Jim.” Oh, I had so much more stuff, and I'm just getting warmed up, but Gerti, my service turtle just whispered, “Fangs, David, fangs. Time for your daily dose of meditation?”

Alan, have you and yours yet tried off-Broadway? ...

[photo above of Sadie and Jim3 Eggers, by Jeff Riedel/The New York Times]

1.16.09

7 comments:

p. white said...

No need to apologize, Showbiz Dave. The "battering" was mild and tame. I do appreciate, however, your insistence that exchanges remain civil on your blog.

On candy floss and light-up swords:
The shows I've been with in Europe and Japan did not sell concessions during the performance, or in the tent at all. The marquis/entrance tent or midway held the food, drink and toy items for sale. The show was not interrupted. I don't remember any concession people howling that sales were poor. Maybe that approach should be looked in to at home?

Showbiz David said...

Dear Patricia, I believe in fate, and its many messages and events inviting change come to us in unexpected ways. Thank you.

p. white said...

As one of the great theologians of our time once said:

"Be who you are and say what you feel; those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."

-Theodore Giesel a.k.a. 'Dr. Suess'

Anonymous said...

Hello Showbiz Dave: Re: Art Concello's Seat Wagon Design... You should check out the new Autobiography of Aerialist Tiny Kline, "Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Memoir of Tiny Kline" by Tiny Kline with Nancy Davis. In it, Tiny Kline relates that the design which Concello adopted, i.e. stole, was an original design by Cap Curtis, who pioneered many advances to circus equipment including this seat design long before Concello was even around. Ernest Albrecht, noted "new" circus author, circus historian and editor of "Spectacle", while visiting our humble home in August, could hardly put the book down and when he read Kline's account of the "modern" seat wagon design, exclaimed, "This will change Circus History!" You might want to check it out...
Neil Cockerline
Minneapolis, MN

Showbiz David said...

Thanks, Neil. I am utterly fascinated! I have seen photos of the Curtis wagons, which are structurally very different from what Concello did and do not, to my eyes, suggest a pattern he followed. I wonder if Ms. Kline is/was confused, if she indeed ever saw the Curtis wagons? She must have seen some actual design drawings, for what AMC came along with had never before existed anywhere. Anyway, I must get my hands on that book. Appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Where can we find this "battering" that ensued such a controversy?

Showbiz David said...

This I believe, though can not be sure,came out of a posting you can pull up by typing in the bloger search box above, "My trip to the San Francisco Zoo."

Evidently, subsequent to the posting I discovered how I could "monitor" incoming comments, and so I have to suppose I deleted the offending comments which I felt were unfair to Patricia.

That's the best answer I can give you. I thought those comments could still be found with some post around that time. I can't find them.