Saturday, April 03, 2010
Big Top Blogging: Kelly-Miller Conundrum, Continued
This feels very personal, because it strikes me as unfortunate that the Kelly-Miller Circus goings-on, critically including day-to-day business, are covered by its blogging employees while virtually no other shows out there face the same sort of scrutiny. Once again, I raise the issue. But before any of you fly off, be assured this is not a criticism of you so much as an exploration of a situation unique to internet culture.
Bloggers, of course, have every right (constitutionally, that is) to blog; they have their fans, in fact many many more "followers" than I could ever dream of having. Somewhere on my blog, I see I have a total of 3, and I don't know who they are (Yeah, go ahead, the HaHaHa is on me). I've looked at three K-M blogs, of course Steve and Ryan's, and just this morning, almost by accident, that of a nice lady named Valerie Berta Torales (Mud Show Diaries, just added to my links to your right), a relative no doubt of the showmanly Friedman. She gives a more maternal feel, very different perspective.
However, since I shun ER drama (I gave up on All My Sluts, excuse me, All My Children, and the adorable Erica when this TV soap took up 24-7 residence in a hospital), and since I much prefer poetry over biology, I won't be touring much with Valerie. I am very impressed with the high marks she gives Kelly-Miller cookhouse chef Brian, "the best cook house food we've ever had at any circus." Well, if he can eat fire, I guess he can cook up a storm, ho ho. (Any of my three followers laughing? I'm hoping for a fourth somewhere out there ...)
One thing only is quite clear. These bloggers, wisely so, I imagine, have never to my knowledge revealed personal opinions on the quality of any of their fellow performers. At the most, you'll get something like tiger trainer Casey Cainan terming this year's show an "awesome line up." No doubt they wish to remain on good working terms while frolicking through the mud, so you have little chance of ever learning how the respective acts work on a given audience.
Business? Here is where I feel sorry for Kelly-Miller management. Imagine The Billboard, as it once was, reporting weekly on the business of only ONE circus. How would you feel? Now, before anybody takes out their b-b-gun to aim it west, I don't grudge the bloggers the right to report on house size, etc, even if they only give us vague benchmarks to mull over -- short of "packed" or "near full."
Here is the most significant issue at hand, as I see it. Can anybody out there point me in the direction of any other circus (yes, I know about Ben Tumble's reports on Culpepper & Merriweather) where crowd sizes are blogged by staff members? Where anything about the show, for that matter, is blogged? Why is it, I wonder as I wander, given the wide open cyber world where anybody can mouth off with a mouse and a keyboard, that NONE of other other shows are covered in this manner? Do the owners put out there word, Keep Quiet? Are all other circus folk save for the Kelly-Miller community shy of sharing such stuff?
I said this was personal. I could regularly report on general Kelly-Miler house size trends based upon Steven's day-to-day accounts. I won't for reasons stated, nor would I be responsible in doing so, since Steve's use of words "decent size crowd" and "average size crowd" could mean anything.
I like Steve and Ryan's blog, and I can kind of see why it is so popular. And I certainly like Valerie's voice. But, beyond doctor tent calls or ticket sales, the rest (cafe going, texture and depth of mud) does not interest me that much. Most of all, I am left totally clueless as to the effectiveness of the show on the public itself.
Here's what I will say: It's very clear that last season's turn-away Texas crowds did not reappear this year. Biz was way down from that early 2009 tour, promoted by James Judkins, as I assume this year's round was. Or maybe it wasn't. Why the drastic drop off in attendance? Could be the promoters; could be that last year's show was not strong enough to generate repeat patronage. Or that this year's show is not generating strong enough word of mouth. Or that a lot of wretched weather has kept people inside their houses.
But, oh, what a lovely scene above that is! I hear Irving Berlin; I see Courier and Ives. And I want to take a sleigh ride to the circus! Were I given the option, I'd much prefer Kelly-Miller in snow over mud. Snow even rather than grass, just for the novelty. What poetry! No business like snow business ...
Good lookers, they: Kelly-Miller troupers at a restaurant following a big biz day in Idabel, Oklahoma.
[photos from Steve and Ryan's blog, and Mud Show Diaries]