Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun, Or So It Seems ...

Going Nuclear at Garden Bros. Circus Can Be Crazy Fun,  Or So It Seems ...
Kijome Hara with the World’s Smallest Man and Wini McCay

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Sunday Over Light ... Why I love my old Canon -- when it's in the mood ... The Mystsery of Photography Can Surprise

 Walking the streets of Piedmont, gazing at houses and trees sharing space.  Favoring lone objects. Looking up.  Looking down. 











 Okay, I'm not being shy about this lucky snap.  I think it deserves some kind of an award. I love you, Canon!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Risky Resurrection for The Greatest Show on Earth: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Owners Promise 2023 Return ... Radical Revamping Raises Deflating Questions ...

There were tears in my eyes when I read this  And there were tears in the eyes, too, of a "choked up" Juliette Feld Grossman, seen above, breaking the news to an applauding audience in Seattle that they are "casting for a new version of the Greatest Show on Earth." 

She was seated next to her father, Kenneth Feld, who shared a vision of renewal for the most famous name in the circus world.  They talked of a "reassessment of the operation with an eye toward doing things Feld Entertainment has been doing for decades, only better."

"We looked at our company like a 50-year-old startup," said Kenneth.

Juliette, who looks at the moment to be the heir apparent of the family throne, stressed  the perpetual value of live entertainment before families, of how for decades, many voices had been telling them that virtual reality and artificial intelligence would "replace what we do." 

But there was something conspicuously missing, however, from her following quote:  "There is nothing like going to an arena, theater or stadium and being part of that momentary community, to be swept up in the excitement and the action and the experience of it all."

The word "tent."  In fact, not the theater or the stadium or the arena are central to the still-operating circuses in the UK,  not even to the once, and maybe still, powerhouse on the lot, Cirque du Soleil, which once tried to sell its shows under hard tops and struck out.  They could fill up maybe 3,000 chairs. A whole arena?  Not even close.

But most conspicuously and ominously missing from the headline came through in two words I wanted to push back -- two words that instantly deflated the bright victorious balloon of this announcement:

"The circus is coming ... back.  Feld Entertainment plans an animal free relaunch of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in 2023." 

And how empty and impotent the occasion felt.

And by the morning after, the tears in my eyes have dried, as I am left wondering if they are not once again charting a major reboot with a built-in fatal flaw.  When four years ago, Kenneth Feld, in a concession to the animal rights movement, removed his elephants from the show, at the same time by not removing the big cage acts, he nullified the action, leaving the door open for PETA to stand firm at the front gates with placards and pamphlets in hand.

And now, "animal-free" feels like a rash sell out to modern culture -- a kind of pandering to the crowds that may or may not still fill up the tents of Cirque du Soleil and of, it would appear, the majority of circuses across the pond.

So, at the moment, to quote an old song, I guess I'll hang my tears out to dry.  One thing feels certain: This should be one heck of a story to follow.  The Felds have millions to spend. They have vast resources at hand to draw from.  Kenneth Feld is one of the smartest showmen who ever lived. But he, too, is human and prone to making wrong decisions, as all the mighty are. The next steps he takes may be the most critical in his career.  Pray he gets this one right.  Innovation will always be a big factor. So too, tradition. 

Thanks to Don Covington tor linking  the news release my way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Amtrak Sinks to Lowest Point Ever in Customer Service – Denys Coach Class Passengers Access to the Diner ... A Showbiz David On-the-Scene Exclusive ..

    DATELINE AMTRAK, en route on the California Zephyr behind mask — having both shots count for nothing. Yesterday through Colorado, my mask-free windows glowed with the blossoming yellows of fall, train now three and a half hours late on its way to Chicago.  My next train, the cozy Cardinal for family in Culpepper VA (who earlier appeared here in April), leaves 4 hours after this one arrives, when it’s on time, and I fear an overnightmare of boredom in this great big city that feels so alien to me, waiting to get out and back on the  tracks.  My Grade A car attendant, Greg, believes we will make it.  As you can see, we did.

    DAMTRAK’S INFURIATING delays are caused partly by its kowtowing to freight trains barreling through as we wait on side tracks like old-school peasants accepting whatever will be. Now and then, a spectacular vista reminds me of  why I put up with our national railway.  Still, I am not ready to embrace a bullet train that blurs the landscape to nothingness.  Slow does have it advantages, does it not?  Service so far is exemplary.  Much easier these days to dine in your own compartment and not be made to feel like a snob or a difficult loner.

    HAVING SAMPLED on a few previous trips  the “bedroom” suites, I am happily for now, tucked back into the eminently doable economy compartments, where everything can be within arms reach, and where you will avoid the difficult-to maneuver shower and toilet combo.  The solo community restrooms are much easier to navigate and more comfortable.

   FOOD IS A MIXED plastic plate — the salmon divine, the baby potatoes for breakfast hard and clumpy.  Flat Iron was a tad tough The “garden salad,” an insulting joke, more aptly titled Dead Leaves of Wrath, some strands bearing odiously unhealthy colors.  Three or four small grape tomatoes, dry chicken breast pieces can be added. But other items satisfied, if overly rich.

    THE MORE MY sleeper rumbles and jerks about, the better, it seems, I sleep.  Sometimes.  Which makes me wonder if I was lullabied to sleep in a tilt-a-whirl crib.

   SO JOE BIDEN gave Amtrak a whole lot of play money. Then why does the diner, in a shocking and callous move, refuse to serve the coach set?  I ask them.  Covid is why.  Covid is so easy an excuse for any why.  The audacity of denying all coach passengers food in or from the diner, and ordering them to the hell pits of the sodium and sugar dispensary (aka: the lounge car café), is an outrage.

   THE COACH CLASS are doomed to a sentence of deprivation.  I have close up and with horror examined the glossy packages of these dastardly “café” offerings.  The lady at counter asked if she could help me.  I said I was looking for something on the low-sodium side. She said, “I don’t read the labels."  Okay, now my turn to toss around that nauseating word, Equity.  Joe, knock knock: Are you or one of your under-lords reading this?  Where is the equity in dining options on your pampered railroad?  How would you feel, Joe, setting out on a 3-day train trip and learning that your dining choices have been reduced to 7-ll junk food?  I would scream abuser of public health! You’d spend trillions on catastrophic nonsense, and leave stranded the people in coaches?

   WITH LUCK, there will be time between trains to type this out on my maddening Dell that features a wild jumping cursor, which not infrequently runs away from where I am and sneaks into something already typed ... At Union Station in savvy Windy City, there is a great subway style place that puts out the most fabulous sandwich, the  ingredients on a sheet of paper which contains info for this trip, the ONLY thing I forgot to take! ...  Maybe I can get them to pry it out of me with key words. I could use a break from Uncle Sam’s hit and miss menus. I'll wait for my subway-like moment upon my return through, and for now wallow in the thrill of having not been too late on Amtrak, again!  We don't ask much of it these days.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

The Yawn of Posting These Days ... The Vile of Anonymous, Alive At Least ... The Gore of Booming Brit Tops, Thrilling the Crowds, At Least ... Le Freak! -- Let's Dance! ...

                    The defining element of true circus? Risk

    LAZY OVER HERE. How can I make much out of not much?  I cover skimpy midways.  I wonder as I wander, how much longer a dry drill? ...  Even five years ago, I had stuff to knock around, laugh at and run with,  blow up or toss out ... Hardly anything left but scraps and peanut shells, even screwed-up documents in e-mail, such as, from Carson & Barnes to me, a print out I can' read that I am suppose to approve for my 'earnings" during 2021, under the name of Wang.  Did I tell you how dead it's getting out there? ... Tenting in the Twilight Zone ... Hugo, what were you thinking?

   BEAR WITH ME, or giggle in front of my back.  I'm scrambling around here, like poking in sticks under the old cedar of Lebanon in my boyhood front yard, looking for something to play around with ... Trying to kill time cobbling together a posty.  It's a drag when what you have to work with is the sad spectacle of the trouping wounded managing to keep their shrinking canvas in the air, smiling to the public and it smiling back, wanting to believe still in circus day. Can you hear the beat of Chic in the background ?... 

   A FEELING OF being stranded in a morgue ...  There was a rare streak of life from our beloved visitor, Anonymous, reveling in the darkness, declaring Big Apple Circus, yet to open, "garbage."  Well, it felt real, at least ... and I ponder about Big Apple Circus Comeback Season 3, to be produced by Nik Wallenda. Why do I already feel uneasy over its prospects? Stay with me here.

   NEW YORK PRESS  & MEDIA not turning even fake somersaults over the news, possibly worn down by resurrection fatigue ... What the Hook This Time? Comeback Producer 1 (the doctor) offered us stodgy, Comeback Producer Number 2-3, sleazy. And what from Nik?  Here's my queasy: Can the 7-high wire walk be really that much a pull, since it was performed in the first comeback, and anyway, as executed under so small a tent on a wire closer to low than to high, the feat may be unable to achieve maximum awe  ..  A trapeze act would be a better draw.   Production Values: Show's creative staff shows a composer and a sound engineer, but no musical director or band leader, which hints of money problems at the outset ... To Manage and Perform: Nik himself will still be walking the wire (his life). thus, his focus on managing (new to him?) may be severely compromised. Lean Line-Up  ... The solo-intense cast leaves me feeling a bit, what --recital-ish? ... Circuses for the most part thrive on the family or the partner(s) factor. Or animal friends.    

    MAKE 'EM SCREAM across the Big Pond!  Can you feel alive? Can you feel a crowd? Gore is the new freak show, and it's knocking 'em dead. Crowds so great at Circus of Horrors, producer's sending out a second tent, relays Douglas McPherson from dare-to-terrify Over There.  This may be good news, kids.  Hear me out: I do believe that the public, whether it knows it or not, is hankering for something far closer to what circuses where (as in sideshow kink and true daredevils) than to another recycled acro-ballet bore.  In other words, CIRCUS.  I saw a You Tube of another edgy UK offering that dares to call itself  "the daredevil circus," Circus eXtreme, giving acts of great skill and dangerous risk-raking.  The gall of it all!  Big crowd in the tent.  Yes, a mass of live bodies, some wearing masks.  While I'm not advocating  a Stephen King bloodbath, I do exult in the kind of authentic circus that can raise the pulse and hit a visceral nerve in the human spirit.  And when I see such a venture drawing a crowd, I can still see a future out there. We are still at least hanging on. God bless our dedicated troupers who endure against all odds ...

   FEW HOURS LATER.  Back at this whatever post, I'm now listening to Chic's 1978 disco hit, I want Your Love, and it feels good. No, no, I'm not going off my rocker, only grabbing a few vibrant bars of some of the best pop music ever composed, for inspiration. Monte Carlo is coming back in January, and that's good, right?  Who was big when Chic was big?  Cliff Vargas was in the early stages of his career, on the mad rise to something really big ... The Felds had Ringling riding high. So many solid American shows out there posting arrows, following arrows onto and off of grass and mud and weed and cracked cement. Crowds lining up to embrace the tattered magic.  The animal hysterics had not yet formed.   Some of the best tunes were composed pushing disco onto dance floors and kept it there for years ... I'd like to hear more of it under a tent ... It was always about the music for me.  And for you?  And where is this going? It's Saturday night, tomorrow is Sunday, and I may post this then ...Or maybe, NOW.  Yes, it's 9:06 pm PST. They want our love. So, let's give it back ...