Sunday, July 26, 2020

Paranormal Circus May Grab and Spook Jaded Cirque Fans -- Masks Already in Place ...

This one's for you, Susan ...

This research, hastened by an e-mail this morning from my fun-loving L.A.friend, who wrote:  "Do you know of a circus, I heard about it when it was in Texas that was supposed to be scary or supernatural or something like that?"

Well, yes I do, Susan.  But not the Water Circus which I'm touting at the moment, one of the three units from Cirque Italy, and still hanging on to a July 30-August 9 date in St. Louis. For which, my sheltered-in best wishes.

Google directed me to a TV report from Round Rock, TX, last January, where Cirque's Paranormal unit showed horrifying promise, at least in the view of KVUE-ABC as reported by trendy young Brittany Flowers:

"This show has everything you would expect -- aerial skills, acrobats and illusionists.... Definitely a Cirque show but probably unlike any cirque show you've ever seen before."  In other words, more like an old fashioned real circus?

Hand picked photos, Susan, that I believe will play to your eerie expectations.  But don't try any of these things at home.

Chris Holt reincarnated?

In the New Big Cage, No Wild Animals.  Only Humans.

Oh, Otto, did they make you do this for another contract?
How sad what a clown has to do these days to stay current.

It looks like a gas, what with a high-tech freak show ("mini haunted house") that gave me a felling of being back on a gritty weedy midway.  Bring it on!  Yeah, pachyderm poo too.

Facial re-construction, painted on, for only five or ten bucks. At least if it doesn't get you a date, you can wash it off.

The acts? They looks strong, wheel of death, horizontal bars, silks, et all.

Not exactly for kids reports Flowers.  In fact, she says, "Don't bring your kids, basically."  Okay, there goes half your audience. 

Does Round Rock ring a bell with any of you? Are any of you there?

Birthplace of Barbette!

Truth is, these kinky "adult' circuses have been tried here and there, once in Tinseltown, but do not have long shelf lives.

However ... Declares the news person introducing Flowers' report, "you can catch a show that will excite you, thrill you, and scare you." 

And I believe her!  I want to go!  But I'd have to obtain a waiver from my governor Gruesome. And even then, half way through the program, he might rescind and order me out of the tent.

And how is your state doing?

Friday, July 24, 2020

Rare Circus Sighting Over Texas, Over Georgia ... Italian Big Top Takes on Corona Hysteria ...

Shhh!  Don't let word out.  They might shut it down before it can get a foothold in  the land of locked down dreams.  

This down the Covington Chute:  Cirque Italia slating shows, as of the tremulous moment, in Georgia and Texas. Arizona, too!  Routes posted promise a big Maybe.  We are living in the age of maybe you can, maybe you can't.

Longhorn state citizens may get to see some kind of a circus show soon, assuming the state has not banned everybody from leaving their homes.

A brief research blitz puts them as a circus from Italy, yet with a Sarasota address.

Glorious video teases promise riveting fare, but I have been fooled before.

Seems they are big on water.  And on the paranormal. Perhaps you can have your fortune told.  Show has been at it for ten or so years, IMPRESSIVE.  As you know, we are now going cold turkey without Circus Report. Even Spectacle seems to have sheltered-in.

More later.  I need to have my mask tuned up at the local Corona rehab drive through.

Hold your breath and keep a good thought! 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Music for Circuses in Peril: Forget “Original” Scoring, Give ‘Em Songs They Love Coming In

Update: 7.30.20: I just watched a video promo on Paulo Circus Facebook. The music is absolutely wonderful -- the kind of music I speak of  herein as a subset.   

Revised 7.25.20

If you can’t dazzle their eyes with your every act, maybe their ears?

     OVER IN BRITLAND, where industrious circus lords are feverishly at work  re-inventing formats to protect patrons from the curse of Corona, I’d say the element most likely to win over a crowd is to promise a score loaded with familiar songs.  Paulo Circus is doing just this by ballyhooing a focus on pop favorites from the 1980s.

     THE '80s GAVE us, among a great many hits grounded in rock, newer sounds that broke free of rock.  Sounds pulsed by the residual force of disco, deepened in soulful thought. Many marked by richly atmospheric arrangements.  Most of my favorites from this subset, listed below, reached #1 on Billboard charts.

       INDEED, THE BRITS were major if not prime contributors to music of the '80s that moves me the most. Heat Wave's composer and keyboardist Rod Temperton  (Boogie Nights) wrote three of  Michael Jackson's biggest hits -- Off the Wall, Rock With You, and Thriller.   Hated by musicians, if the music of Gloria Gaynor and the Bee Gees "died" in 1979,  as gleefully reported by its critics, I would argue that many of the best songs of the 80's owe their heritage to disco.

      ONTO THE DISTANT PAST:  Until the advent  in recent times of original scoring — partly undertaken to avoid ASCAP and BMI royalty fees —  circuses gave the public wide ranging charts favoring mostly pop hits, a few classic refrains, and the expected thunder of marches and gallops — “circus music.”

     IN MY COPY of the Ringling program magazine for the year 1932, whomever purchased it obviously gave music a big part of his/her enjoyment, for over many displays are written in the titles of songs played, among them, Keep on Smiling, Indian Love Call, Just a Shanty in Old Shanty Town, Wash Board Blues,  Can We Talk it Over.  Bandmaster Maestro Merle Evans knew how to reach a crowd --- Although I'm not sure if the Beetles ever reached him.  Yesterday?  Norwegian Wood?

     AND HE STILL rode modern when I arrived on the scene years later.  How much more wonderful was it to watch Gina Lipkowska dancing in a circle of horses while the band played “A Stranger in Paradise.”  To hear “A Wonderful Day Like Today” as ballet girls in small white frosty roll-on carts were rolled into the arena for their aerial ballet, Winter Wonderland.  Suave tiger man Charlie Bauman was one season atypically serenaded by "The Shadow of Your Smile."  The Stephenson’s dogs were never more exciting than when Evans gave them “That’s Entertainment.”  For they -- still  the best damn dog act I ever saw -- were entertainment.  Cole Porter’s passionate "So in Love" drove the high-flying swings and dives of aerial thriller Gerard Soules.

     SPRINKLED THROUGH the show's 1956 score, John Ringling North featured the songs of Broadway and pop music king, Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls).  And North cast the elephants in a modern romp, Ringling Rock N' Roll

     OF COURSE, pop music is ever changing, so current or still radio-hot charts will no doubt thrill younger ears more than the older tykes.  No way of getting around it —  unless, as Evans and those of his school did, your musicians (or CDs)  draw from melody over time.

     HERE ARE SOME of my '80s favorites on a highly selective tape I made while then  living in L.A.: Sade's Smooth Operator (right); Pet Shop Boys Western Girls, Jackson's Billie Jean, Mr. Mister's Broken Wings, Paul Hardcastle's Rainforest, George Michael's Careless Whisper, Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World,  Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody, Billy Ocean, No More Love on the RunSome of the greatest pop music ever composed -- the tape still dazzles my ears.

     May those songs and others rock your park-around tent, Paulo people! 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Windows and Sidewalks Along Piedmont Avenue, USA, Early Saturday Morning

Let the pictures tell the story.  What moved me the most: the words "permanently closed"  I wonder how many more.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Hey, American Circus, Get Cracking and Get With It! They Over There Are Not Standing Still ...

Look at them Over There, circus companies of all sizes and kind reappearing everywhere.

And what about Us Over Here?

What an adapting pack of show-offs they are!   My Atlantic correspondent, Douglas McPherson, briefing  me with an outrageous onslaught of embarrassing evidence that keeps rolling in like a gathering tidal wave of success rolling up the red carpet.  Those sassy classy culprits are taking precautions to satisfy officials.  Look at that gloating nobody-can-stop-us-now poster up there!  The nerve of it all!  They are parading victory circles all around us.  If feels like after a great power outage when the lights are thrown back on. For them

Okay, I am envious.  They are running with the ball of innovation, inventing safer delivery systems. And not wasting a moment.  Pitching air-cooling  tents, re-staging so sight lines can reach circles of parked automobiles with families raring to reconnect with the ageless delight.

And they have just begun!  Waiting in the wings to stack the attack are other bigger names like Zippos, like Giffords. 

And what have we going on over here?  Websites for Big Apple,  Carson and Barnes and Universal show no sign of any specific dates in the works. Nothing.

Is Kenneth Feld still in the tent?   Is anybody there?

Hey, UK, thanks for making me jealous!  A very good sign from Over Here.

Friday, July 10, 2020

UK's First "Drive in Circus" Opens July 16 ... Screens, Stage, Rigging Go Up in Cornwall ... Gentlemen, Park Your Cars Six Feet Apart!

Hey, America, take a look at this ... Over there across the Big Pond, the circus is once again coming to town -- in a radically reshaped format fostered to preserve public safety during these days of Corona.  Paulo Circus, with roots back to 1816, producing. Cheers to their do-or-die genius.   First show uncorks in Newquay, Cornwall on July 16. And does that date ring a bell, fans of old? 'Twas on a July 16, in the year 1956, that Ringling Bros.and Barnum & Bailey played it's last show under canvas.

Layout a far cry from the old six pole big top, this one designed in default to put the health of patrons first and foremost, which means that cars will observe social distancing.
The new mix combines stage, screen, rigging, set to a soundtrack of '80s pop.  It feels odd and strained and tentative, but who knows what kind of a new circus it may create that will, in part, endure into the future.  A second circus revolution in the land of Philip Astley?

This from their Facebook page:

We are back for 2020 !! But we ain’t staying here!! We are heading back to the ”Bodacious” 80’s!! This year we are going to be throwing you back to the tubular 80’s !! The music, the hair styles and all the awesomeness that came with it !!

Ah, ingenuity. Ah, adaptation!  You can read more about it on the Circus Mania blog, with a link to the right.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Malls Go to the Movies ... You Tube Revives Past Glories ... TV News Goes Berserk Riding Corona Hysteria ...

      MALLS ARE are now movie-lands, Walmart having  thrown up drive-in sized screens on 330 of its parking lots, running to meet America’s hunger for entertainment away from home.  Happy families, in kind, flocking to “cinema under the stars” — or, as the case may be, under hovering storm clouds — or cinders from nearby riots. ...

.     SELLOUTS JAMMING Walmart screens make it feel like the fifties all over again. Pardon me for dropping the fifties, that reviled decade dammed mostly by people who did not live through it. I will not apologize for too many things about the era that prove their value over and over again on current-day profit-making platforms prone to push whatever still works with the public.  Like The  Twilight Zone on MeTV.  Like great musical concerts on You Tube.

     GRAINY BLACK and white revelations: Other night, I ran into Leonard Bernstein on You Tube introducing pianist giant Glen Gould for the first time on national TV. The fantastically long, nimble fingers of Gould's were as sure and strong as lighting. On the same bill, Igor Stravinsky visited the podium to direct the final segment from his powerful Firebird suite.  And now I love Leonard Bernstein.  My memories of his Young Peoples Concerts on TV in the fifties are fuzzy, but now, all the yeas later from my adult eyes, they are a brilliant achievement.  What a great and gifted educator he was, so easy to understand, and so interesting!  I now regard  him as the greatest figure in American music history.  He had it all.

     ON MeTV,  Rod Serling’s eerie, ever- provocative Twilight Zone was running in marathon over the July 4th weekend.  Between episodes, I broke away to watch a dreadful flick on HBO, Requiem for a Dream.  The characters were so repellent, the subject —  drug addiction, a drag addiction I had no patience for — wore me down in 15 dreary minutes, and I bailed back for more Twilight Zones. 
     BEFORE TELEVISION news got drunk on its own power to fabricate and favor, the boob tube, as they called it, gave you everything, I Love Lucy to Jack Paar.  Best of all, it gave you the news in daily briefings lasting a half hour, max. Such a sane way to keep the public informed without its going insane on broadcast overkill. At the moment, TV newscasters are working overtime to keep us riveted to what next they might drum up on the racist watch.  Lately, I feel like I am being bombarded by that one word over and over and over.  And so I run — anywhere away from news outlets.   Into some kind of a hell hole, we seem to be sinking, literally into mass hysteria?  It feels like an old episode from The Twilight Zone. Read on.

     GOOD CORONA news gets shoved aside. No relief from the media whores, who refuse to give  headline coverage to a drastic drop in the daily number of new Corona-related deaths.  Let me explain: You may hear a TV pundit conceding it to be down “somewhat”  No, not somewhat, idiot.  Down by as  much as 75% from highs in April, and no, I am not quoting either Fox or CNN, but from a CDC graph. Or are they, too, no longer to be trusted?  From a high of 2,700 a day on May 6, down to more in a range of 600 per day now. Only 212 deaths yesterday.   How can I not believe that the media is biased, whatever the reasons?  Have they no shame?  No, they haven’t. 

     WHERE WAS I?  Oh, yes in a Walmart parking lot drive-in under the stars.  Back in 1918, thousands of U.S. film palaces were shut down in the fall of 1918, due to the Spanish flu pandemic making a comeback.  But by spring the following year, most of them were back up and running.  May we be so lucky.  May there be a vaccine soon. May Amtrak still be on the tracks.  And may a real circus somewhere find a return of crowds ready to re-embrace its down to earth appeal. Most of all, may I get to take off this damn mask for good?  Heck, I might be wearing it right now, as once or twice happened in my cozy Corona cave.  And you?