On the Ringling Midway, 1898

On the Ringling Midway, 1898
and on their way to guilt-free amusement. They did not enter the big top with "issues."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Out of the Past: How Quickly Does Today Become Yesterday


That's the only bummer in life, you can't stop the clock. Tick tick tick. Day after day after day.

Already, the year will soon be half over, and, yes it just began -- yesterday.

Like an old railroad circus teasing a new town everyday, onto the lot and while the tents were going up you could almost feel the troupers edging in their minds toward tomorrow's town. You could almost hear a Big Circus Clock ticking away. During the evening show, after each act they'd strike the props and lug 'em out of the tent, and it felt like they were already deserting you in spirit. Packing up down there in the spangled shadows to make a fast exit back to the runs, up onto the flats and down the rails for some other place in a darkening void.

The tented city that moves by night, F. Beverly Kelly called it. A phrase that enchanted my entire boyhood. The tented city that moves by night.

Perhaps not so different from life. Go to bed we do. Dream we might. Wake up the next morning to face another day as the Big Clock keeps ticking away.

Looking back at past posts, I see people no longer with us, shows still struggling but still out there aiming to recapture lost glories. Aiming for the full houses that seem to get harder and harder to talk into tents.

I read reviews I've put out of circuses that are doing better, of circuses that are barely getting by. And the Big Clock keeps ticking. Another season comes. Another season goes.

I read about ring stars fading, ring stars rising. The comments are much less. I stopped letting anybody into the tent. Anonymous is too anonymous for me. Anonymous only enlarges a cold alien world of strangers too afraid of themselves to face each other. Was the circus ever about that? Sometimes, silence is better than a faceless coward. Sorry I said that, but I did.

Tomorrow comes too soon. Tomorrow stays too soon. They add up, one upon each other, like an oppressive pile of dueling memories, challenging us to make feel-good sense of them all. Grateful we should live to be, for "memories," said the late Beverly Dvorett, the wonderful lady from Ohio who followed the stars out to Beverly Hills and years later produced my musical Circus Kings in a small equity-waiver playhouse on Vermont north of Wilshire -- "memories are all we end up with." Such a wise outlook she shared with me one evening in Norm's restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. I often think back upon that moment. Save up as many good memories as you are lucky to collect, was Beverly's philosophy.

Here, starting tomorrow, are some out-of-the-past realities, or so they felt at the time. I'm riding the rails for a spell, following the arrows into a tent or two, to enjoy a little more of tomorrow's yesterdays.

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