Clown for a New Day

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Slush Pile Treats & Trash: Out, Damn Items!

I have here before me a stack of papers, cumulative bits and pieces that need to be posted before a proper trip to the waste basket. Who knows, somebody out there may swoon to an item that did not grab me when it first crashed into my tent. So, here we go, in the absolute order in which these trifles appear:

"We have reached the chill winds of autumn, and there are rumors in the air that the circus will not survive many more. Are we to believe them?" That from an early draft of the chapter, "Cry, Clown, Cry" in my book, Behind the Big Top. Amazing, it made it all the way, word by word, into the final draft, and into page proofs. I think I kept it to demonstrate how we continually are predicting the Last Season, the Last Show, the Last Exit and the Last Load out for the Last Barn.

Yes, yes, at last, you are saying, move on! Okay, okay ...

A list before me of honorees at Peru's version of a Circus Ring of Fame, my notes at the top of names NOT on the list, among the insulted: Art Concello, Faye Alexander, Frank Braden (possibly the most gifted of all syntax spinners), Irving J. Polack and Louis Stern (giants who reinstated American respect for the one-ring circus). No further comment on this, Kids. You go figure. (Notice how I refrained from listing iffy honorees, I need to redeem my precariously questionable attitudes.)

What next, here: "Has Cirque lost its soul," asked one Janice Steinberg, penning a story in a periodical I failed to name. She remembering, and oh how I can relate, Cirque du Soleil's historic invastion of L.A. in 1987, of being, at the show's end, "moved to ears." Me, too.

Something about Teatro ZinZanni in San Francisco losing its lease at Pier 29, and I have little incentive to dig further. Think they are moving elsewhere in, as the locals call it, "The City." Yes, "The" in CAPS. Precious place over there, that, full of precious people the center of their own precious illusions.

Back of a page on which I wrote out scores I gave in rough notes, years gone by to the Carson & Barnes shows I saw, which won me over, some, that is. Out of 4 stars tops, here goes: 1975: 3-1/2 stars; 1978: 3 stars; 1984: 3 stars. During those years, on the few occasions when I saw Beaty-Cole (which I fondly remember for its operational professionalism, despite ...) I never gave the show more than 2-1/2 stars. Okay, go throw up if you wish. Some of the BEST circus shows I've seen in years past, before the coming of the Grand Carny Intermission Rape, were under Dorry Miller's Cracking Good Big Top, when a real live band, some of them cracking hot, played on ... I would like to sponsor a court order banning intermission over there, and requiring the Byrds, in order to get in deeper touch with their artistic sides, to wear berets and spend the off-season in Paris.

Okeedokee, or something like that: Some scribblings (I can't read my own writing, sorry) about John Ringling North II, about the risk of bringing back too much of the same year after year, but, you know what, I'm making that a Big One on this platform in the future. (Keep this note; get somebody to translate it for me)

"What do they fear" in my hand on another slice of paper. Under that, I wrote Ted Chapin (he of Rodgers and Hammerstein), Patricia Ringling Buck, about whom I will hold my testy tongue other than to say: We collided once at the Ringling Museum via letters over a wish of mine to use photos; this I will have fun detailing in book I intend to someday write about my adventures in and out of circus worlds and publishing houses.

Print outs of the fine stories about Kelly Miller and JRN II by Zoe Gorman for the Toledo Blade; no, not the trash can for these. File them in the stuffed metal draw in that old cabinet in my bedroom.

A piece about retired Russian circus bears living in "cramped, stinking cages" in a bus parked along a highway near St. Petersburg. Reprehensible!

Yeah, it's getting bleak down at the bottom here. But here's a nice handwritten note from Mr. North II, last June, sending me the program and inviting me to the show. Classy guy. He might only have seen me were he, whenever I happened to show up which I didn't, selling tickets at the front end. Unless I could risk a backyard walk up to The Jomar. I've grown so backyard shy over the years, and I don't have backyard get-even-with-that-pretentious-critic insurance.

What else, not much: Oh, this tickler. A print out I made of a comment left by Jeff Swanson (thanks, Jeff, for leaving your name, a class act) in which he said, "David, Oh no David, please do stop blogging."

Uh, well, uh, Jeff, I asked the doctor about that. He said I might need a pill if I stopped blogging.

Helplessly I'd rather not stop. I am a pill free "circus critic" freak. See that photo up to your right? That was of me on a brief break from my local nut house re-bonding with my beloved loyal Royal, circa the year Barbette told me that working on the Ringling show was like "a sex holiday."

End of slush pile. Anybody still there?

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