Clown for a New Day

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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Three Rings of This & That ...

Sunday Morning, Looking Back: First posted September 29, 2007
. A cool Baraboo air over Oakland, and in New York that spells the beginning of a new circus season. Come November, three shows compete -- Big Apple, Cirque's Wintuk, and the new Get Your Circus On! at the Apollo Theatre. New Yorkers, you have choices! ... Back in Baraboo where the town nearly slips into a Brigadoon-like trance, late-blooming Ringlingphile Bob Dewel, who monitors my every word concerning the town’s most famous family, checks in with this about notoriously self-serving John Ringling, mentioned here in unflattering terms a while back: “Only John failed to show for the Al Ringling Theatre opening in 1915, with Al dying.” True to form, and how sad; I’ve sometimes wondered, was John the Yoko Ono of the group? (Beatles fans will understand.) And am I getting carried away? Bob, see you a little later for more dissing ... Okay, how about somewhere else, like oh, say Sarasota ....

Down there in circus city, Joan Griffith, a close personal friend of the late John Ringling North, whom she dated for a number of years, pens a column for the magazine Attitudes, and ruefully she reports on the recent passing of Allan Hill, who once briefly dated Joan’s daughter. Joan's preparing a tribute for Hill (past owner of the Great American Circus), who back in the late '80s, she amusingly reminds us, "had Tiny Tim starring in the show!" Hill also helped raise money for the American Cancer Society. “An above average Good Samaritan,” writes Joan, “quietly helping others.” And only 58.

Only whatever age we are.Only whatever circuses we are lucky to see. Run before cities like Minneapolis try 86-ing the wild animals
off the lot. Yep, almost happened up there. City Council, smarting with PETA ire, nearly toppled Jumbo’s tent ... Big Apple Circus(here's Cong Tian), premiering its latest opus in DC to a sunny notice in the Washington Post, heads for New York in late October with cats and horses ... I don’t expect a big cage in the Apple ring, but why not a flying act? They’ve featured the greatest in seasons past — Vazquez and Gaona, to drop golden names ...

Who had more artistic discretion, John or Charles Ringling? Bob Dewel returns to favor Charles, believing that Charles showed better taste in both his home and yacht. Gosh, I find myself in provisional agreement, having never quite known what to make of the fascinatingly outlandish Ca’d’Zan. A grand clash of styles. Charles, by the way, would be my choice of the brothers to meet and interview. In one of the early group photos, he shows a more open heart, and I think he would be more expressive of what really went on ... He was the soul of the enterprise...

Soulfully we rank the circus web sites, and soon! My sister, “Honorable Judge Kathy” in Omaha, as she calls herself, has sent me her scores. Mine are set, and we await the numbers from "Sazzie" Jon Pult, who lives way down Dixie in New Orleans, a grad student in creative writing. He’s putting the polish to his prose. Once I’ve got everybody’s ordinals, I add ‘em up and we list in order, best to ....

Anybody ever see The Dark Tower, an English film made in 1943, with the help of one Reco Bros circus? Neat flick. Held my interest. Central character is a demented hypnotist who uses his powers to remove a romantic rival from his path. A few good acts, a suspenseful story.

You who may be heading east to the upcoming Gotham circus festival, here’s a travel tip from Showbiz David. A great economy hotel (you can get a decent room with very good bed, clean if tiny bathroom -- okay, I spotted only one lone cockroach -- for around $130.00 a night) is the bohemian Gershwin near the Empire State. Superb round-the-clock deli around the corner, CafĂ© 29, a park only blocks away, and easy access to those ever rattling subways that give the big town a pulse all its own. Ah, I can almost smell the ancient grease down there in the holes. New York, New York!

And that’s a cool sunny Autumn wrap here in Oakland Oakland.

9.29.2007

1 comment:

Harry Kingston said...

Dave,
My vote goes also to Charles Ringling.
Some fan wrote to Charles when they moved from Baraboo to Bridgeport.
Charles told him so in so was the guard at the gate in Baraboo and tell him I said it was ok for you to get what you want.
Many of all those letterheads in collections that man got and Fred Pfening told me there was bushel baskets full of them.
WOW what a chance of a lifetime that must have been all thanks to Charles.
Dorey Miller did the same thing for me and a friend many years ago and we helped our selves to a pile of it as we went into a semi half full of old posters large and small.
Gone are the days.
Harry in Texas