Clown for a New Day

Clown for a New Day
Dagwood might make it in today's emasculated circus

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Midway Mad: Aussies Give Millions to Circus Oz; Paris Gives Boot to Roma Gypsies; Vazquez Bros. Give History Gold to Milner Library


First Draft Netless: Those Circus Ozzies, clever little subversive big top deconstructionists just keep subverting along. Latest handout (a government gift) for Australia’s most famous touring big top is, can you count over a million dollars, kids? — $10 Million. Go ahead, American big top survivors struggling on peanuts, eat your starving hearts out! ... The Big Bucks to refurbish and fancy up the former TAFE College in Collingwood, to serve as home base ... “This is a remarkable bunch of people,” chirps millionaire administrator to be, Oz Chair Wendy McCarthy, “and a remarkable affirmation by the state government of Circus Oz and the role it plays in the Australian, and particularly Victorian arts, community." Oz, a Victorian art form? Boy, what a weird sense of humor these Ozzies have ...

Let’s hurry over to Paris before its talented gypsies are all homeless jugglers having been 86d across the border. Paris hot shots not to fond of the free-roaming set, fuming over low wages dolled out to musicians, dancers, and acrobats, in hissy fits over young kids dawning spangles to dazzle crowds. European Union, none to happy either, by a callous French eviction crusisade to rid the precious landscape of these traditional entertainers, calling the campaign “a disgrace” and threatening legal action. A thousand Romanian and Bulgarian “migrants” forced out so far, thousands more slated for expulsion. EU considers the act a violation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights ... Okay, not so much fun in France. So back we fly to America, remember America? I say, Tarp Money for our distressed big tops!

Little Top Bits: Zerbini Family Circus hiring UniverSoul’s founding ringmaster, Calvin “Casual Cal" DuPree to blow the whistle, and that could shake things up over there. Dupre’s talent pack is loaded with contrasts, bombast to soft sermonly admonitions, prayerfully down to a hush. I’ve only seen him once, and was mighty impressed — up until he turned pastorly. I did not convert. He and a stable circus deserve each other, so long as they can agree on who passes the plate ... Ringmasters of caliber are not easily found. Tendency nowadays to overplay bombast in the new one-ring format. Already, tho, Casual Cal and another Zerbini operative taking opposite sides to the press about the animals — Cal glad show has no elephants, while local event coordinator Andrea Murray claiming that in 12 years under the big tops, never once did she spot a mistreated pachyderm. IS THERE A PRESS AGENT IN THE HOUSE?????!!!! ...

Star Trapeze Mementos to Milner Library: This is a big one for Illinois State U, which seems to be growing up as impressively as did the once young and future quad prince, Miguel Vazquez. He and brother, Juan, graciously giving a gold mine of their assorted stuff over to The Circus and Allied Arts Collection in that up and coming Milner Library. Previously, I waxed exuberantly rational about the unit's staggering stash of photos by the brilliant Sverre Braathen. Now, they're getting from the greatest flyers of all -- hand grips, trap bars, news articles, wardrobe, and more. A heart-warming legacy. Says Steve Gossard, Circus Collections curator, "I can't think of a more significant acquisition than the trapeze bar donation." Twas here in Blomington-Normal, you experts may know, where countless American flyers were trained for the air.

The brothers, notes librarian Maureen Brunsdale correctly, "will forever be remembered as the first pair to successfully and consistently catch the quadruple somersault."

And maybe, sad to say, the last. But oh, just to have lived through it ...


[photos, from top: A pair of Circus Ozzies; Miguel Vazquez, in 2009, back into the air for old time's sake, photo courtesy of Philip Weyland]

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