Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Glory to the Big Top: Photo of Kelly Miller Tent in Storm by Ryan Easley Inspires Monte Carlo Judges



Especially in the days of Leaf -- real canvas then -- I loved the sway of the big top, a living breathing thing, an extension of the earth itself, and so right for the very real world of circus. Elephants belong on dirt and grass, not over cold alien concrete and white parking lot lines. There always was something a little messy about an older fashioned tent show that gave it that extra dose of distinctive atmosphere.

Even the newer plastic tops lend that certain magic we look for. How right and wonderful, then, that this Currier and Ives-like image of the Kelly Miller tent in a snow storm, snapped by the show's assistant Big Cage kid Ryan ("Radar") Easley, should nab a prize at the recent photo contest hosted by Monte Carlo's Princess Stephanie.

A beaut. It will show up along with the other winning images on a calendar you can buy somewhere. Margaret, from Circus Anonymous, and Don Covington both sent me images, thank you, after I complained about a strange Monte Carlo PR press release lacking any visuals.

55 amateur and professional photographers from 16 countries competed, each addressing the question "What makes a circus a circus?" Thirteen photos were selected, one for the calendar cover, the others for each of the 12 months. I'd vote December for Ryan's frosty gem.

When I walked onto Kelly Miller's lot in Brewster, New York last June (no snow that day), I could hear, as I once heard, a big Circus Clock ticking away. They came in that morning from another town, and the next would be rolling out for another. In transit. Tick. Tick. Tick. Mobile homes parked for lack of space on the road up to the midway, itself half-leaning onto a slight slope. Tick. Tick. Tick. Black cables here and there. TV saucer on the ground outside somebody's home on wheels. Tick. Tick. Tick.

There was that gypsy pulse in the air, troupers barely settled in but already, you could feel, casting their fluid attentions onto the next move to the next stop. Tick tick troupers.

This show seems to revel in bum weather. I know, I just can't resist saying that; something about all the mud they've faced and fought, pushed aside and paraded over, soldiered through in spangles and shaken off and cursed and laughed at and blogged about.

Cheers to Radar eyes under circus skies!

2 comments:

Harry Kingston said...

Dave,
The circus and the constant fight with mud.
My all time classic was with Carson and Barnes many years ago in Texas and Trucks buried to the trailer floors so D. R. Miller got our 4 elephants to pull the rucks.
Then the large bulldozer he hired was stuck in the mud with the tracks just spinning.
So Mr. Circus, D. R. Miller hooked the 4 elephants to the stuck truck and out it came.
What a show it was that day and they made the 4:30 show.
Harry Kingston

Radar said...

Thanks Dave.