Sunday, June 23, 2019

Wallenda NY High Wire Walk a Washout ... While Nik Stays Safely Strapped to Safety Wires, Viewership Takes a Plunge ...

* UPDATES, 6/24: Fake daring-do just won't cut it anymore.  Turns out that Nik and sister Lijana were strapped to safety wires, looking more like injured patients re-learning how to walk.

* 5 million watched the stunt on ABC, down from the 10 million who followed Nik Wallenda's 2012 walk, also protected. (He has taken similar outdoor walks elsewhere in past years without mechanics.)

* About the safety harness, Wallenda told a reporter he was "totally cool" with it, giving as a reason his concern for his sister.  High wire walkers who work with mechanics are not true high wire walkers at all, and that is putting it politely.  What they should do is come down to earth and walk the low wire, and preserve the aura of integrity.

* I caught a clip of Nik strapped to an elaborate high-tech harness.  Pitiful.  A further smear on the vanishing mystique of great American circus , which comes off looking even more impotent compared to some TV reality shows. Karl Wallenda must be grieving in his grave.


Actually, I am putting this out the night before, having just discovered an ABC special I knew nothing about -- Nick Wallenda and sister about to take a  wire walk over Times Square.

Got to give it to these two: They make perfect personalities for this kind of stunt, somehow managing  to come off above and beyond the vulgarity sometimes attached to these old-fashioned exploits. She is a discrete looker, drawing a fashionable sympathy talking about not being totally secure with an ailing ankle.

He, cool guy still, says he cares more about his sister than his own balance aloft.

And I am already nervous, or should I say concerned?  But I will have no idea whether or not they make the crossing, for I will be sleeping through most of it.

Have a good night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Seeking Circus in a World Without Ringling: Two Years Later Feels More Like Twenty, as More Shows Shorten Routes, Shrink Big Tops, or Fold

      THESE DAYS, I am wanting something to be there that almost never is anymore. And so, I see it through and beyond other things that come my way.

    * WHITE SHAFTS  of light streaming through a TV commercial, and I see  sunlight pouring in through the sidewalls and down onto the hippodrome track of an old fashioned big top in halcyon days gone by.  Gave me a  short-lived tingle.  Was only a car commercial.  Above, a photo that matched my memory, not of Ringling, as I recalled, but of the smaller Daily Bros. Circus in 1949. Smaller then seems giant now.

    * CANADIAN BASKETBALL  stars cheering victory a few nights back in Oakland at Oracle Arena.  Watching it on TV, I saw in my mind's eye an older version of the same building, then called the Oakland Arena, when the Moscow Circus in 1967 packed ‘em in and even turned ‘em  away.  I saw Ringling the following year begin its nearly half-century run there.  Then, they kept the house lights on most of the time — shows seemed  sunnier, easier to watch.   Seasons came and seasons went, rose and rocked, fumbled and fell.  Crowed sizes shrank, until the house lights went dark, the Felds, I figured, wanting to hide thousands of empty chairs from view.  And then you know what happened.  

    * RADIANT GHOST-LIKE images of prancing horses, perfectly in step,  surreally circling a German ring, making Circus Roncalli an easier sell to a public losing faith in the ageless delight. The owner offering lovely  “holographic” stand-ins for the real thing. (look up the word.)  And I strain to imagine myself in the tent feeling any visceral connection to this synthetic substitution. Too perfect to appreciate. 

How can audiences claiming a moral high ground cheer such illusions that celebrate the very thing they find so onerous in the real world?

     SOMEDAY – SOMEONE may ask me,  why did you leave the circus?  And I will tell them no, I did not leave the circus. The circus left me.  Nothing is forever, they say.  Maybe not even what Philip Astley so brilliantly invented.  Can you imagine Astley atop a holographic horse?  I prefer my circus organic, weeds and all.

So close to the abyss?  Now, Kelly Miller, like Carson & Barnes has been doing and might still do, is going dark during the summer months.  Might we ponder the meaning of it all?

    “TOO NEGATIVE are you!” you may cry.  Go ahead, yes, there is still plenty out there to see, you will claim    Sure, there is – in bits and pieces, in ever-smaller servings under ever-smaller tents.  American circus is devolving down closer to the six-hundred seats that the Ringling Bros. offered Baraboo when they opened in 1884, not to mention discarding half or more of its defining features.

    A FINE LANE TALBURT  video update on Carson and Barnes follows their new European style one-ring tent being hydraulically raised, resembling a high-tech construction project -- so far a cry from Dory Miller's messy five-ring smorgasbord.  But how can you not admire these Byrds, still refusing not to fly.
TINY TENT, the new normal?  Take a gentle, supporting visit to the Venardos Circus. Reviewed with embracing flexibly by Herb Ueckert in the Circus Repor, he found much to enjoy:   “At times, words are inadequate to accurately describe a circus performance such as the case with Vernados.”  (I would love to know what Herb honestly thinks of the entire circus scene, in words inadequate or otherwise.)

      IT ALSO HELPS to downsize your expectations going in.  These days, I’m going in with my mind gratefully set on the John Strong scale.  John may have taught me at the county fair  decades ago how to savor a home-cooked little circus show.  Cozy and close.  Neighborly.  Less can be, must  be also entertaining. Maybe Mr. Sanders on the campaign trails can figure out how to have government fund  our circuses, too.  Free shows for all, but even then, how many people would come?  (Yes, that was a bit cruel – I have shed enough to tears to earn my observations)

Got a big hand, John!

   ALL AROUND us near and far, larger realities deliver what I can’t refrain from reporting:  Dare I mention that Switzerland’s  Circus Nock is now calling it quits?   I read about this in the circus Report, which itself is calling it quits end of the year. “The deficits have grown,” writes someone for the Nock family.   Animal rights pressures, the key reason.  You aren’t surprised, are you? 

Similar problems said to be facing and maybe dooming Circus Knie, too. Yes, I typed Circus Knie (1803-?).

    LET'S FACE IT, Kids.  Okay, I’ll kindly skip what I  was about to say.  Let me default to my good friend Kenny Dodd. We were chatting on our old land lines quite a few years back about the  state of the circus, and Kenny, as if I needed a gentle nudge  away from my functional optimism of the moment, said: “David, ah, remember vaudeville?  And .. what, David ... happened     to     vaudeville? ... Remember?”

    “NOBODY WANTS to be in a circus tent” under the heat of summer, said the unnamed  Knock family source quoted in Circus Report.  Maybe our friends on summer hiatus in Hugo can relate to this curious development.

    BACK TO THE CELEBRATION at Oracle, where the legendary Warriors played their last game of the season, ending up in shreds. “A Shakespearean  tragedy,” a local sportscaster called it.  Oakland got the dream team’s golden years — never having seen a game, yet I have followed a touching story of these hoop wizards and their forever-loyal fans with respect. But now, the city of insatiable greed and self-glory across the bay, where the team is headed to play in a new luxury arena fit for fickle billionaires,  may be stuck with the leftovers.  Oh, how sweet can be the instructive hand of fate!

    PEOPLE ARE WONDERING, now what will happen to Oracle, still a quite attractive arena, thank you. The ice shows, I imagine, will still come, and sporadic rock concerts will draw rockheads and preen and blast away.  Another circus, ever?  One came so close, maybe,  but based on recent  news out of New York, I guess I won’t be going to Oracle anytime soon to see the new “indoor” version of the Big Apple Circus.

It closed before it opened.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Big Top Aftershocks: Big Apple Circus Arena Tour Crashes Before it Opens ... All Dates Cancelled

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The Big Apple Circus said it has canceled its shows in Albany next month.

The Albany Civic Center announced the shows back in April.

The circus was set to do an arena tour this summer, performing in Albany during the first week of July.

The civic center posted on Facebook that the circus cancelled its arena shows to “reconceive the tour.”

The civic center said that if you’ve already bought tickets, you will get a full refund.