One of my earliest memories is that of Dad taking cousin Ricky and me just south of Las Vegas, New Mexico, to see a circus train. I remember that it was raining, and I could see the elephants tethered near the cars on the tracks. The elephants wore red cloths on their backs.
Later, after we had moved to 48th Street, a friend of Dad's, Chain Robbins, took me and his daughter, Pam, to a circus up on Horse Mesa. It was the first time I ever had cotton candy. Pam apparently had had it before, and really dug into it. I took a big bite. Nothing. I tried again. The cotton candy disappeared instantly, leaving only the faintest taste on my tongue.
The other thing I remember was a clown act. A clown was prancing around, and soon he found himself in front of a cannon. Another clown fired the cannon and blew the first clown's head off. The first clown then raced around headless while everyone in the crowd laughed. I, of course, thought it was real, and asked Mr. Robbins, "What's he going to tell his mom when he goes home without his head?"
The experience soured me on clowns. I'm not afraid of clowns. I just don't think most of them are very funny or cool. I'll eat cotton candy just to be polite if it's offered to me, but I don't really care for it.
Fast forward five or six years. We went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. In a parade of all the performers, everyone marched around the coliseum and through a canvas tunnel, where they changed costumes so it would look more magical, I guess, and be a feast for the eyes.
I decided to watch one person circling the arena, and picked out an Asian woman on an elephant. Every time she passed, she looked bored. She was riding an elephant, for crying out loud! In the circus! The hopes of every kid in the place were riding with her on that elephant, and she looked bored! I would have loved to ride that elephant, and I would have been smiling for all the world to see. (I still would like to ride an elephant, or just pet one or feed it something nice.) I was so disillusioned: riding an elephant was just a job for that woman.
And that experience mostly soured me on the circus.
Fast forward to last week, when I found this video clip from Broadway Rhythm 1944. I certainly appreciate the athleticism, strength, and artistry of the Ross Sisters, but I will not be watching women's gymnastics in the Olympics this summer.
10 months ago