Oakland to DC: Strike up the Bella Band!

Oakland to DC:  Strike up the Bella Band!
One of the best scored circuses in America. Scroll down to see the full story.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Baraboo Shelters Fallen Big Tops ... Wild Animals Face New York Eviction ... Bloody Buffoons a Curse on Jolly Jesters ... It’s Not Been a Pretty Circus Season, Kids ... Cry, Clown, Cry! ...

Scott O'Donnell and Dave SaLoutos review documents received from Cole Bros. Circus

“Looks like the fat lady really sang for Cole Bros.  So sad!” e-mailed Barry Lipton.  Yes, Barry, so very very sad.   With the season over, now the question is, who will go out next year?   How close, I shudder to think, are the likes of Carson & Barnes and Kelly-Miller to the brink?

At least there is Baraboo, where old circuses go to die gracefully, their once vibrant wonders still wonderful to true blue fans of Hemingway’s Ageless Delight.  Remember when going to the circus was a GUILT-FREE amusement?  Go watch Ring of Fear or The Greatest Show on Earth.  Behold the audience un-ambivalent,  and savor their innocent engagement -- embracing believers, all, in Circus Day.

Into the protective barns of Circus Wold Museum went collections from Cole Bros. Circus and the Royal Hanneford shows, both now officially off the road.  The Cole treasure includes attendance records, marketing notes, press kits, 130 video tapes and blueprints, and “a lot more,” reported the Baraboo News Republic.

At the receiving end, museum director Scott O’Donnell delighted to be adding a significant trove of recent circus history to his holdings.  “It was a challenging year for some circuses,” he told the News, “but thankfully they didn’t toss everything in the dumpster.”  Scott has a gift of some 28 filing cabinets and nearly 40 boxes to open.  The catch spans a good 25 years, some of it extending back to 1978.

But the donation gives Cole’s long slow closing a  painful finality.  I can only hope that Johnny Pugh will talk to somebody about what he has had gone through the last difficult seasons.  Lane Talburt, where are you?  Please, get your camera down to DeLand!  Surely Johnny will talk to you? 

Ringling elephants en route to Madison Square Garden in the 1950s.

First, it was the elephants. Now, if the New York council has its way, other wild animals will be banned from circus rings as well.   New York Post none to tickled with a city council wanting “to run the circus. Strangely appropriate, isn’t it?” 

Egging the NY Council on to codify the proposed ban is a group, NYCLASS, that fought for a ban on horse carriages in Central Park!   Why do I have a feeling that I am back in Berkeley.

Back to the Post:  “Here’s hoping the more adult lawmakers find the spin to ignore the animals rights activists.  If the council insists on messing with the circus, it’s proving itself a pack of clowns.”

Ah yes, a pack of clowns, remember them?   Now tagged with the “C” word — CREEPY – many are being shunned from parades, losing out on clown bookings at kid parties, even accosted verbally by screaming hysterics.  “It's not funny being a clown these days,” said Gerald Herdegen (Cho Cho) to the Wall Street Journal.  Some risk arrest in the act of performing.  The mere sight of a funny-now-creepy face can cause a crowd to panic.  The very word “clown” on a poster can cause screaming reaction.


"I am a comedy character," says English Clown Alex Morley, in his sixth year with Russells International Circus.  He may be wearing less makeup, as, indeed, other jesters are doing in these dispiriting times.  He is hoping to reverse the public's negative attitude toward clowning in general.  "Killer clowns are making people afraid."

So, we have fewer animal acts.  And clowning is in peril.  What next?  Vulgar Human Daredevils?  Humans even?

An adult in the tent worth quoting:   Drama critic and perceptive circus fan and follower, Chris Jones, of the Chicago Tribune, whom I believe speaks for many of us: Often I've sat wondering if that tiger or that elephant is happy, musing to myself how you possibly judge animal happiness, especially given the Darwinian alternative of the wild. And what of those circus animals of a type that have centuries-old working relationships with humans? Would they really be happier put out to pasture? Who could say? They look like they're having fun. And since I'm recounting those justifications, there is the further question of when some kids would ever otherwise see a big cat. Is it not conceivable a conservationist could be nurtured right there at the Greatest Show on Earth?”

END RINGERS: Target to stop selling clown masks ... Are you afraid of the dark? That means you are more creative, so says a survey ... Allen awful, Woody's latest stillborn, Cafe Society, is so anemically bad, if you do rent, skip trying to watch, but play the hapless flick as music, and enjoy many great old Rodgers and Hart tunes in the background ... California banning bull hooks, the kill bill signed by Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown ... Garden Bros. Circus now retiring its elephants ...  The retreat goes on .. and on ... and on ...   What will next season hold? ...

Thanks to cyber courier Don Covington, for linking me to some of this information.

1 comment:

Douglas McPherson said...

My favourite clown, Danny Adams, has ditched clown make-up and in his latest show he and his father/straight man Clive Webb have swapped their circus trappings for a pantomime-style Hollywood-themed show. But they're doing the same slapstick routines that they did in a circus ring (such as the Titanic routine at about 48:29 in this video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5turItvx-I ) and a lot of the same British seaside humour jokes ("How do you get a fat girl into bed? Piece of cake!). So is he still a clown?
Happy Halloween (I write, in a darkened room with the curtains closed, in fear of a knock on the door from the trick or treating creepy clowns prowling up and down the street...)