Wednesday, May 22, 2019

MIDWAY FLASH! ... California Senate Bans Performing Circus Animals ... Assembly Expected to Ditto ...Horses and Dogs May be Spared, Camels Not

Bye Bye Big Top, headlines the Sacramento Bee.

Another cold curtain close to crashing down on our disintegrating circus scene.  Remember the circus, anyone?

Sacramento, land of leftward politicians, is voting exotic animals off the lot. Next stop, the Assembly,  then likely onto a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.

Writes Andrew Sheeler in the Bee:

"The language initially could be interpreted as banning not just circuses, but also wildlife conservancy and education groups’ outreach efforts.

'These animal act bans are superfluous laws that will be selectively enforced, making criminals out of good people,' the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers said in a statement upon the bill’s introduction.

The bill also was opposed by groups including the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Discovery Valley Animal Hospital, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Southwest California Legislative Council. While the USARK has withdrawn its opposition, the other groups have not
In response to the criticism, the bill’s author, Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, tightened up the definition of the bill, specifically wording the ban so that only circuses would be affected."

Lions and tigers and elephants.  Camels, too, then why not horses while they're at it?

Dogs next? Don't rule that out in the State of Insanity.

Which makes me wonder, if one blunderful day, some genius doctor At UC-SF advocates gender reassignment for animals acting strange.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

My Letter to the Wall Street Journal, Re: Big Apple Circus Ad Fraud, New Arena Unit, Biz Claims ...

Actually, an e-mail I sent to  Charles Passy at the Wall Street Journal regarding his story, "For It's Next Act, Big Apple Circus Goes on the Road," reprinted in The Circus Report.  

UPDATE:  Read about Mr. Passy's reaction to my post below.

Dear Mr. Passy,

When last we met by e-mail, I shared my astonished reaction to a review by your paper of the Big Apple Circus -- as quoted by the Big Apple Circus.  You may recall they merely lifted from a story you did on them, quoting how they described their own show!  That you allow this ad fraud to continue (take a look at their website) suggests the Journal is a party to the brazen deception. No?  I wonder what really went on behind the scenes to allow for such. 

Strange, the Journal, whose Saturday edition I read regularly,  sometimes stresses its adherence to rigorous ethics.  Evidently, at the circus, this may not apply.  My guess is that somebody made a little easy  money on the side, or a huge stack of free tickets -- or maybe a free spinal adjustment -- in order for the Journal's good name to be nailed onto a fake review.  Does this not bother you?   Oh, that's right, it's only the circus.

Huge indoor arenas have become the morgue of the modern day circus, plagued with ever-declining attendance.  More than ever, the public seems to want small -- at least the illusion of a half way decent crowd around them.  BAC is a small show, no longer "produced" so costly as it was under Paul Binder, so the idea of their saving money on not having to "produce" the indoor trick, since it will be a carryover from last year, is a bit of a stretch. 

Their claim of skyrocketing ticket sales is impressive, if anywhere near the actual truth. I remember once being interviewed by Forbes, and questioning Kenneth Feld's claim that his circus played to 10 million people a year.  Forbes evidently did some intelligent fact checking of their own (rare for a circus story), and estimated the figure to be around five million.

Anyway,  I will be looking forward to the next review of the Big Apple Circus by the Wall Street Journal.

 From The Wall Street Journal story, High Wire Act for Big Apple Circus,  October 26,   2017

As quoted on the Big Apple Circus Website, featuring a string of excerpts from reviews.


I emailed Mr. Passy a link to my blog, and he responded, assuring me that  nobody at the Journal would have gained from any association with the Big Apple Circus.  I printed his full reply, believing it to be fair,  and sent him the link.  He was taken aback by my doing this, so I offered to remove his reply, and he gladly accepted.

In his e-mail which I deleted, he remembered my bringing the matter to his attention last year (In fact, I published his reply then), and he believes he forwarded the issue on to higher levels of management at the Journal.

He wrote, “to be honest this happens all the time ... Broadway producers are legendary for ‘finding a quote’ and taking things out of context.”

To be honest, I find his last assertion more than a stretch and a bit wobbly, for while Broadway producers are known for quoting out of context, they quote from actual reviews, not from advance feature stories, as Big Apple Circus has done here.  This is what in my view makes the matter doubly astounding, and begs the question, why does the Journal allow such a blatant deception to continue?

Interesting story.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Mourning Midway: Shocking Evidence of Bogus Big Top Rip-Off in the Garden of Hell ...

Whose Garden?  There are, as most of you know, two Gardens putting on circus shows (and I often get them mixed up) -- one fairly respected, the other a shameless shyster who is now tarnishing yet another great old circus name -- Cole.    Was he not the one who  gave Toby Tyler a bum rap?

King-Cole is, or was, ripping and tearing through,among other victimized communities, parts of Utah, with a "show' from first hand accounts so terrible as to merit infamy in the Guinness Book of Records.  One patron, Stephanie Mair, who shelled out $82.09 to get her family in, reported, "It was lies. Promised were camel and pony rides, a kids' fun zone, acrobats and motor cycle stunts.  None of that happened."

She added, "It was completely bogus.  If you went to a high school to see a talent show, that's what you would have seen here."  I beg to differ. Based on a hula hoop work-out and one lone clown in the King Cole ring, as shown on local KTUV in its report, that's an insult to high school productions.

Even the old crooked shows in days gone by front-loaded with pick pockets and card sharks (Daily Bros comes to mind) delivered acceptable if not noteworthy entertainment.

Circus Report, upset over isolated media coverage of King-Cole's brazen con job, wrote.  "Our industry does not need this kind of press."  No it does not, but I would argue, Bill and Jan, that sometimes facing the truth can have positive long term benefits. And I do gratefully thank you for covering this sordid episode, which I followed all the way to the most despicably cheap set up -- seats and ring -- I have ever seen posing as a circus.   Hold your breath!

Is there anyway to shame the offending Garden off the road?  Does he hobnob with insiders at the Showfolks clubs in Sarasota?  I'd urge them to turn their backs on this traitor. Revoke his pass.  Deny him access to any lot.

One woman took her little boy, and he knew he was taken.  "My son told me he hates the circus."  Another nail in the cross?

Are we in the last days?  It feels like how, when a corpse rots, in come the maggots to suck up what's left of it. 

A customer seeking a refund shot a video of a staffer shouting him down and asking him to leave.  Yelled another staffer, "It's a freaking a circus, and it was cheap!" 

Okay, the bitter truth laid bare:  First, a King-Cole poster on its website:

And now, what spectators actually got.

Sometimes the bare truth is almost beyond belief. I could never have imagined anything as crummy as this.  So here, let us respect and ponder the words of one stunned patron, who was there to witness this wretchedly fraudulent operation.

"This was absolutely the worst circus I've ever been to in my life!  Even my 5 yr old daughter got bored and started resting her head on my knee before the 20 minute intermission came up.  After that we left.  It wasn't worth seeing the second act.  Total waste of money.  The concessions stand is ridiculously priced for such a horrible show.  Here's what we did see and it was not as advertised.  We saw two really bad clowns.  I mean bad.  Trying to act like mimes, but they give mimes a bad name.  There was an amateur acrobatic (Only one) who did some hula hoops and hung on a rope for 5 minutes.  Separately.  She hula hooping and the rope together might've been cool, but no.  We weren't that lucky.  Toward the end of the first half some dogs came out and did some tricks.  The kids play zone was cancelled for the day.  So no horse rides or camel rides as advertised.  No bounce house.  Just a tiny circus act on a tiny mat I can fit in my backyard by 6 people.  No lions, camels, horses or elephants.  The worst part is my daughter didn't like it.  Don't waste your time or money.  I wouldn't go see this show again if it were free.  Worst circus on Earth!"

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Big Tops Falling, Fumbling: Dumbo Gets Bumbo Reviews ... King-Cole Folds Early – Again ... Big Apple Tackles Dying Arena Market — Are They Kidding? ... Incredible Update to Candid Circus Report Review ...

DISNEY’S REMAKE of its 1940 classic is being savaged by the critics, Rotten Tomatoes  giving  it a whopping 47%, compared to The Greatest Showman’s 56%.  Film clip tease  shows period wagons and yet new age Ferris wheel on the midway, DUH?  Opened big at box office, but in third week,  looks to be sinking fast. If it's as lame as critics say, I can’t see it trumping the bad reviews like Showman was able to with its socko musical movie layout ... What next from Hollywreck? A remake of The Greatest Show on Earth starring Lady Gaga as Rosa, the Beauty Queen, Johnny Depp as The Great Sebastian?

BIG APPLE to launch a “national” indoor tour, first venue the 10,00 seat Times Union Center in Albany NY.  These big cement barns have become circus morgues, thousands of empty chairs mocking the commercial value and relevance of  what passes through the ring(s), however worthy it may be.   Only inside a smaller tent might a circus have much of a future these days.. “National” to the  man who runs Big Apple apparently means a date or two beyond New York city.

KING COLE’s website page of future dates is now blank, and should this surprise any of us?   I don’t know how or why he does it, unless he works many angles in raising money and selling on line tickets that are not refunded because buyers don’t make the effort to seek such.   Your guess, Processor Fate? ...  Here’s a raw review of one aggrieved customer: “Omg! I don't even have words for how awful it was. We were at the 4:30 show and left at intermission. That's how awful it was. My 4 year old asked if we could leave 3 times before intermission. It was a disgrace!”

CAN SOMETHING so bad be converted into Premium Camp and become the Next Big Thing?   I remember wishing that satirically wicked Circus Oz would take is inclinations all the way, and stage a complete comic collapse of the old circus they enjoy making fun of.  We’ve had tears.  How about some laughs?

ONLY PERFORMERS can review (shame on me!):  In his heated rebuttal to Herb Ueckert’s review  in Circus Report of  the Friesan riders in Cirque Ma' Ceo (see my last post down), trampoline veteran Jack. M. Beebe argues that only a select few have the right to discuss and argue the artistry of a particular performer’s work.  And who might they be?  “Only performers and show people have that privilege and right to argue that forever. ‘So called’ reviewers do not!” ...  So preposterous a notion is ill-deserving even of a rebuttal.

END RINGERS: Crowds and no crowds.  Kelly Miller you tubed in high speed by visiting Lunas Circus folk, best act being a  compelling rope jumping by the young Mongolians, and seen by all of, what – maybe 15 people in the tent, or am I being kind?... Over at Circus Vargas, Alex Smith in CR noting business in Burbank, slow at first, but building to full houses mid week ...
OKAY, WHEN my train pulls into Chicago tomorrow afternoon, I will try posting this in the Metro Lounge, assuming they still have Wi-Fi. How nice not be near media hysteria the last two days ...

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Morning Midway: Melha Shrine Hits the Dust ... Ringling's Last Show a Doc Obscurely In the Making ... Overweight Riders Outraged By Circus Report Review ... Take a Break From Fake Racial Attacks!

"The opening, when your heart beats like a drum ... The closing, when the customers don't come" - Irving Berlin

"DECLINING ATTENDANCE," the reason cited for the collapse by Melha Shrine Circus Chairman Allen Zippen, who made a valiant effort. He had removed the elephants a few years back, and patrons were outraged.So he reinstated them, but not all those patrons reinstated themselves. Melha will no longer be a "fixture" at the Eastern State Coliseum.  Now turning their attention to "other forms of fundraising." 

HOW BETTER to lift our battered spirits than a footnote documentary from billionaire former circus lord, the strange Mr. Kenneth Feld,now working with ASTX TV to produce "The Final Farewell" (is he trying to rub it in?).  This one about the final edition of the circus--the one that nearly got lost on the moon.  I still believe it never found its way back ... Enough said.

REMEMBER FATSOS and bean poles?  I was called the latter.  As for " body mass" as doctors now call it, afraid, I suppose to use the F word around blubbery patients, and face lawsuits and questions from what passes for news reporters these tabloid times --- as for body mass, yes, I am getting to the point ... This issue reared its ugly head in, of all places, the Circus Report, when veteran reviewer Herb Ueckert, in writing up a review of Cirque Ma' Ceo, took the Friesan riders to task for excess poundage:  "At least one unnamed pundit noted that perhaps the horses were more attractive than the riders who might lose some weight and acquire new costumes." 

WELL, ALL HELL broke in the stable.  Keep in mind, kids, that a circus performer in this country can spend a lifetime away from critical scrutiny and never know the hurtful (and constructive) challenge of a truthful review.   Desiree Hermann, one of the riders, fired back, in a letter to CR, mortified over the review, shaming CR "for printing such a mean-spirited comment."  Granting that she and sisters are not "built like a Barbie doll," and asking for a "formal apology," predicting that letters like hers will follow from other offended readers.    

THE BIGGERSTAFFS, tactfully responded,noting how much audiences enjoyed the show, but making clear something we need to respect: "We do not censure articles that are opinions of our writers." Yes to that ... I can't wait for the next issue. Oh ... sigh ... and just when sparks are starting to fly out of Circus Report, and you really have to leave us, Bill and Jan?

Gotta go and feed my mass-less body.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ring Stoppers: Copeland & Combs Land Paris Spotlight ... Garden Bros. Lands "F" Ratting from BBB ... El Jacko's Pedophilia Paradise Exposed ... Kelly Miller Captivates in Video Tease ...

Remember the Copeland & Combs who once filled our days with Kelly Miller posting?  That was Steve, the tell-all one.  I have marveled over how they went totally under cover, their once thriving blog nearly now in the dirt and sadly fading away.  I walk the dirt of desertion these days.

Whatever happened?  My best guess:  Somebody told Steve, in order to protect their precarious career (we are talking "circus" career), that he had better stay clear of all social media ...  WELL, poking around in news bits from Baraboo (did I spell that right?) I learned they played --- are you ready? --- Cirque d"Hiver (yes, I know I did not spell that right)  last winter ... Mighty impressive!  Glad they are still cobbling together pay dates there and here ...  

Under  punishing North Carolina spotlights, Garden Bros, Circus ranked by the Grenville news "the worst circus." And ain't that a shocker! Like a veteran cockroach in stolen spangles, this creepy caravan just keeps slugging along.  Compared to which, maybe King-Cole, now in its second season (the first having "wrapped" in a week or two) is A OK? I'm hoping Circus Report puts out something on this show before CR goes under come December ...

So many icons and landmarks falling ...  Yes, I know there is a "Renaissance"  of circus arts underway in this country.  And are you referring to artsy stage shows?  Summer youth circuses?  Acro-dance troupes?  Pardon my asking.

Kelly Miller's website shows a performance lineup identical to last year's,  and on a video tease they have produced, the over all sheen and talent range makes me wish I could see this one   Might they be the new Ringling-Barnum?  ... Or would that be Big Apple, the latter a strange animal, apparently straining to find hospitable cities in which to play ... 

Michael Jackson's Neverland, the subject of a brilliantly believable doc now airing on HBO, should land a slew of awards ... A quietly escalating drama of how the singer skillfully charmed and seduced little boys into believing themselves to be in full-blow relationships with their freaky idol.  Blame it on the music, and oh what music it was.   I remember once joking with friends, was that a fake detachable nose he was wearing?   How much was real?...

What people will do, even with their kids the bait, to taste fame and fortune and Hollywood money ... So many love notes floating back and forth, and in clear sight, between Michael and his "lover" (of the year), and Mommy and Daddy did not realize what was going on in the bedroom, often far away from theirs?  The voices of two of the singer's subjects, clear and calm, recounting how wonderful and not coercive it seemed, and that makes the story both challenging and even more bizarre.  Except that, Mr. J was not after long-term love, which marks him as just another very average, horny predator jumping from one xxx to another ... 

First part ends with both boys having been pushed to the sidelines while younger darlings are charmed into the Neverland seduction compound... Can't wait for Part 2, to see what happened to these two fellows as they grew up to face a life without the man who swept them out of their diapers. He, at 34-ish in a private ceremony,  getting married to his latest one true love -- all of seven years old, and ominously close to seven-year-itch rejection ...Oh, whatever happened to monogamous pedophilia?

I'm outta here. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

On the Passing of Ringling Legend, Jeanne Sleeter

How did I know her?  On a tape of a Ringling show in the fifties,during one of the specs, as I recall,  ringmaster Harold Ronk sang "Happy Birthday dear Jeanne Sleeter!  Happy birthday to you!"

When I receive incoming news from Covington Connected, such as,  just now, of the passing of Jeanne Sleeter, I am once again magically connected to that one magical I day I got to spend at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey when they played Pt. Richmond, CA.   Of standing on the lot next to the big top -- the big top -- while the afternoon show proceeded, listening to the strains of the band from the other side of the canvas, while candy butchers dashed back and forth under a thick beating sun between the big tent and a small top stocked with coke.

I would take in the night show when they played to a full tent.  Now, I was getting an advance listen, and so many images came through. 

Only one day in my life, but one day can spell the difference between reading a book and experiencing the real thing, something that a thousand words over and over can never  convey.  The blue canvas containing a huge crowd and a spectacular three-ring spectacle was now in motion! And I was trying to picture what was going on in there through the muffled sounds of a blaring band tracking the action, drumming it in and out, softening down for an aerialist, racing up to match a juggler's thunder ... marching in parade with the great Holidays spec.  What a thrill just standing for the first time on the lot of the Big Show ... Big Bertha ... The Big One.

Jeanne Sleeter was a part  of it all, through the 1940s and 1950s. She doubled for both Betty Hutton and Gloria Graham in DeMille's monumental screen smash, The Greatest Show on Earth.  Her work drew flattering attention from Hollywood, but she resisted any calls to convert from sawdust to cinema.  "It's quite a temptation, and lots of young people would love it," she told columnist Vivian Brown,"but nothing can compare to the circus when you are born into it."  Her parents were flyers Henry Sleeter and Mitdzie-Belle Moore, Hagenbeck-Wallace staples.  Among her mentors, Art Concello and Tuffy Genders.  She was the niece of Emmet Kelly.

Jeanne Sleeter retired 60 years ago.  She got out well before the cultural wars against it commenced.  In 1959, she told a reporter, "The circus hasn't changed, and never will."  That was what many people once thought, what author Earl Chapin May once argued when he  coined perhaps the most memorable ever description of this particular magic: "the ever changing-never changing circus."

Once thought, once upon a season ...

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Side Show Follies: Cirque du Jacko in Peril? Horse-Killing Horse Racing the Next Circus to Fall?

From talk show buzz:  Seems an alarming number of race horses hit the turf and have to be "brought down."  Now, wonder some, is the sport in peril?  I suppose PETA may ride to the rescue. I've always wondered why such a sport can get away without public condemnation, where, yes, the poor old circus where animals suffer, I'd venture, far less stress/abuse, took the brunt of ugly animal protests.  Without the big top, they will be hungry for other venues to harass and take down. Welcome to the war, everybody else.

Commented one talk show voice, "You know how quickly things turned on the Ringling Bros. Circus"  No, not quickly, sir.  Public disapproval was growing over decades. All the while, rodeo and horse racing were just too damn popular to run off the lot.

Oh, yes, Jacko, overly affectionate with kids pimped to him by adult parents, may lead to Cirque's Michael Jackson Vegas unit falling out of favor, some are predicting.  If this relentless theme continues, the entire entertainment industry may be run off the lot.

What goes around comes around.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Belated Happy 250th Birthday, UK Circus of Philip Astley!

Why did it take me so long?  All through last year, the Brits were celebrating  the 250th anniversary of the founding of our modern circus --- created by English horseman  and showman Philip Astley.
A gift to the world.  

Why was I a no-show in the parade?   Blame it on the fall of Ringling.  Blame it on my funk, caused by the Feld of Felds turning into the Flake of Flakes.  Going through some old drafts on my blog, I was surprised to discover that I had started a post, quite a while back, to honor UK circus history. I had meant to share my own brief experience under British big tops.
Here are notes on three circuses I was lucky to see, in and around gritty, entertainment-rich Glasgow in the mid-1960s.  I scribbled down raw first impressions in the programs as the shows were proceeding.  These program magazine pages bearing them would not be on display here if they had veered too much toward the negative. Trumpets, please ...  They do not!  I am very impressed with what I saw, based now upon what I noted.

Remembering back ...

I had forgotten the staggering array of animals acts that were featured on  Chipperfield's Circus. And to think that Martin Lacy, Jr. who just won a Gold Clown at Monte Carlo,  can't perform in his own country.  At Monte Carlo, he represented Germany's Circus Krone

This gentleman, who worked on props, took me on a tour of the lot.

Up goes the tent -- Roberts Bros, I think.  What a setting.

My favorite circus was the one at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow, over the holidays.  Fine acts, and great music by the "Circus Grand Orchestra" led by Billy Rose.

Me on wheels.  The warm gentle countryside can feel like  life is floating.   You have to be there to experience Scotland's subtle beauty.

Belated Happy Circus Birthday, Great Britain!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Morning Fun

(Chromebook update, see below)

Seems that King-Cole Circus, a great forever new title, that can never get any farther than putting up tix sales, is back at it again.  Promising a three ring world of wonders beyond belief, offering even the world's largest elephant, and where might this mighty marvel come from, the Circus 1903 puppet shop?

A garden is in  charge, and we are talking garden with weeds and potholes, with banners that may reach a lot, only to draw a paltry crowd, disappoint mostly the show staff, and cause a few taken circus fans another good sad laugh.

On more profitable, it is all relative, right?, lots. Today is a major victory, it seems, when Big Apple Circus can just talk somebody in some town near Boston, where they used to play but no longer do, into letting them raise their tents.

Even then, PETA is making a stink over BAC animals not being properly certified.  When, I ask, will PETA gain constitutional authority to barge in at any time, into any ring, to determine if animals have been certified by these psychotics?  Poor Jenny, she may be fearing ending up before a mock sub-committee in 'DC to answer charges of undue stress to the dogs.

And I am typing this in e-mail on a new Chromebook, to see if I can actually send this post to my blog.

I hope to make opening day.  Then, I'll call off ticket sales, and hope that everybody (all three) does not go for a credit refund. That's money in my pocket, right?
Here's goes SEND!!

Update: Chromebook. to my horror, comes without a delete key!!!  And the reviews focusing on best laptops for writers do not even mention this.  What were they thinking?  I refuse to hold the Alt key down while I press the backspace key.  Would be like going cross-country via stagecoach. And so, I deleted my purchase back to Acer, started to order from Dell a Latitude laptop with top keyboard, but, knowing it would come with Windows 10, which I hate, I suffered pre-buyer's remorse somewhere between here and call center hell in India, and  I  found what looks like a good used Dell laptop with Windows 7, "certified" by Amazon, and went with it.

I am a happy retro shopper.