Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Flip Flops: Kelly-Miller Cookhouse, a Sizzler ... Octogenarian Student of Trapeze, a Dazzler ... The Kingdom of Feld, Why a Yawner?

Out of the past, randomly on parade ...


Kelly Miller grillmaster, Jeremiah Cook, posts upcoming menus
Cookhouse photos by Carol Guensburg/AFR

Have a seat, no, make that -- get in line at a cookhouse-to-remember,  it being Johnny North II’s designer meals for his Kelly-Miller Circus family.  As reported  a while back when the show was boating up to Kelly's Island, one Jeremiah Cook (perfect name for the job), having been hired to work the big grill in the backyard, was quoted,  “Mr. John Ringling North himself has told me he wants everyone to be fed — pleasantly.” And on this haute cuisine lot, pleasant means delicious — with a touch of nutritious ...


Rebecca Ostroff, with meals for her family, back to the RV

Chef Cook posts upcoming menus, great way to keep the staff happy and on the move, I’d venture ...”It’s my show time,” said he to the news scribe, who witnessed clown Steve Copeland waking off with “a plate of chicken, rice, mixed vegetables and an extra piece of cornbread.” ....

Story touted local edible delights favored by the troupe annually, from Texas tacos to, up Baltimore way, “Berger Cookies,” the beef adorned with a thick chocolate fudge frosting ... Mmmm, yes! .... Might a VIP ticket to the show get me into the cookhouse?   I want more than a bag of peanuts, Mr. North II  ... Cook is a modern guy, too, opting for the healthy stuff, “lean meats and sometimes fish,” produce at every meal.  Always for the taking, watermelon and popsicles ... And there's Stevie boy, accepting another great meal ...mmm, looks yummmy good, I'm jealous! ...

She’s not young and she’s not retired, no where near ... She’s an octogenarian with oomph to go,  now taking classes at Circus Harmony in St. Louis.   Cheers to the ungroundable Elizabeth “Bunny” Herring, who once appeared as a showgirl in Ringling  rings, but never, per her parents release orders, in the air. She rode elephants, high stepped in fancy frills, smiled a lot (I assume), waved and added luster to the 3-ring spectacles ...

You CAN go back:  Years later, make it six back, came Bunny’s 80th Big Day.  She appealed to Circus Harmony’s Jessica Hentoff. “I promised my parents I wouldn’t do aerial, but they are gone now ... do you think it is too late?”  No, of course not, said the Harmony mentor, and up went Bunny, at last, to grasp a trapeze bar and swing out.  ...


She continues honing her skills, learning more --- only problem being a hearing aid that keeps wanting to run away, can’t stand heights. ... Since then, our La Norma-come- lately has taught Shakespeare to men behind bars, penned a bio now on Amazon, Still Swinging In Wonderland, and wears a tattoo, the message in Latin reading: “To be rather than to seem” ... Ah, there, yes there, the true essence of circus! .. Bravo, Bunny,, Bravo! ... 
   
In the Kingdom of Feld, why am I yawning?  Promise, I respect and am abstractly fascinated by the  man’s genius, he could end up having run Ringling-Barnum a longer time than any of the lords who preceded him onto the lot.  Then why, when I read more about his ever-expanding empire of “shows,” do I feel, how to put this, so underwhelmed? Maybe it's  Monster Jam Truck Show division that fails to excite.

I’m an anti-vehicular nerd, you see, who, ironically, once throttled a Ford Bronco clear across the country and back, flacking for Sid Kellner’s James Bros. Circus.  Those Feldlings are now up to  something called Nuclear Cowboyz, another auto-maniac thrill show.   Now, here's maybe a real thriller for the Circus Division, which these days seems to favor asphalt over sawdust. 

Back down in average ordinary mud, but beautiful mud!  Let’s give John Ringling North II the last word -- assuming he actually spoke the Last Word.   Said he (promise, I am quoting somebody quoting him) “I didn’t really care so much about whether I owned it [Kelly Miller, which he bought in 2006], but I wanted there to be a circus like this — the kind that I remembered as a kid.  And that was pretty much the only way to make sure there was.”   Now, that one line merits an encore, so ...

“In the day and age where everybody watches screens all day long, this is real.”

Real, yes, like Medicare maverick Elizabeth “Bunny” Herring, for whom I have an idea:  Why not apply to Mr. North II for an "honorary"  place in next year's show, rumored to be populated with a number of new faces. You can make "old" "new" again.  Sounds good?  You would surely reaffirm the real magic of what the circus is and, let's hope, always will be.  They could ballyhoo your entrance, "Ladies and gentlemn, children of allllll ages --- A return to the House of Ringling! ..."


Here's a photo, only a week old, of Ms. Herring at her latest lesson with Circus Harmony.  Looks like she's prepping for an audition -- and "just a decent chance, Sir!" -- I can almost hear her saying.

First posted October 18, 2013

5 comments:

Harry Kingston said...

Dave,
If and when you venture out of the Golden West and go to the Kelly Miller Circus I am sure you will get invited to the cookhouse.
My wife and I and another local Circus Fan had a great meal and lots of great jackpots to go with it.
Steve the clown is learning how to cook as next year for him there is no cookhouse on Circus Vasquez.
John Ringling North II and Jim Royal sure take care of circus fans and I am sure you will get more than a bag of peanuts.
I am a tent show fan as I like the tent shows the best and that to me is the REAL circus.
When I visited in March Mr. North said can I set by you and I said a quick, yes Sir. It was a great thrill to me to have the owner next to me so I could ask my zillion questions.
So David venture East some times and go see as many shows as you can and have a blast.
And especially go and see Kelly Miller as you will enjoy it greatly.
Harry in Texas

Showbiz David said...

Thanks, Harry. Boy does this cookhouse sound and look appetizing, maybe because I remember the "Ptomaine Joint," as they called it, on Wallace Bros. when I traveled (and threw up one night) with the show many yeas ago. You should have written down all the answers JRN II gave to your zillion of questions, and sent them off to Baraboo or the Smithsonian.

Charles Hanson said...

Showbiz David....Who had the Cookhouse on Wallace Bros. Circus?I remember hearing on King Bros Circus, during the Floyd King era that the Cookhouse there was also called "Ptomaine Joint". During that time it was handled by Napoleon Reed, who allegedly went back as far back as Pawnee Bill days.

Showbiz David said...

Charles,
I only traveled with Wallace for six weeks, during a summer. Kidding aside, I recall it maybe being for the most part okay. It was certainly a novelty under a small tent on tables that usually felt slightly off kilter. Two words come vaguely to mind: tasty and greasy!

Charles Hanson said...

At least it was tasty and greasy...I actually had a meal on a small circus that consisted of a cup of coffee, cinnamon roll and Banana Soup (Hot water with sliced bananas). That show will remain nameless....I have had a meal or two on Carson Barnes that was outstanding......