thoughts for a friday.
as some of you may know, i come from circus blood. my great grandparents owned the downie brothers circus which traveled all over the country during the 1930’s. had they not sold the circus, i could be wearing this sparkly little number, walking on a tightrope or being blown out of a cannon right now. i do feel like i’m juggling a lot most of the time — so perhaps the reason i’m fairly adept at it is simply in my genes. my thoughts for a friday are veering under the big top this week. ever thought about running away with the circus? it seemed like a pretty colorful life, right?
• During its heyday, the American circus was the largest show-biz industry the world had ever seen. From the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, traveling American circuses performed for audiences of up to 14,000 per show and crisscrossed the country on 20,000 miles of railroad in one season alone. Taschen publishing has a beautiful coffee table book entitled circus chronicling the wild and woolly circus industry. i think i need this.
• I discovered this photograph by Walker Evans at the Library of Congress depicting Posters advertising my family’s downie bros. circus on a barnside near Lynchburg, South Carolina taken for the Farm Security Administration. Crazy, huh? It’s kind of cool to be a part of this strange bit of history, albeit via my ancestors.
• of course the circus, and carnivals — they have dark sides too. ray bradbury wrote something wicked this way comes, the story of two boys’ harrowing experience with a nightmarish traveling carnival that comes to their Midwestern town. geek love tells tales of a carny family whose families set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. and even mary ellen mark’s photographs of indian circuses share a less than cotton candy world. so there’s that side, too. but no matter how you view the madcap circus life, i do find it all quite fascinating. what about you?