Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

Fun on the Fourth

Thanks to the wonderful zokah, we were able to see the circus in Phoenix today. It was a great way to spend Kim's birthday. I'm not sure we have it in us to tolerate a red-white-and-blue crowd in the Bay Area, much less Arizona. As Kim pointed out tonight, when I asked her whether she was sad to have missed fireworks again, "No, I hate crowds. The only place I like seeing fireworks is on the beach in Point Arena." While I'm more tolerant than she -- I'd brave the masses to see the spectacular display on the Mall in Washington D.C., for example -- I was only mildly disappointed at the absence of our Independence Day ritual. Besides, there were plenty of explosions at the circus, not to mention a panoply of exaggerated colors.

While the aerial acts were not as good as in previous years -- since when did the flying trapeze get transformed into the lame concept of "sky surfing"? -- the mood was welcoming. The MC even announced that this year's incarnation of the circus would be dedicated to answering questions. Circus folk roamed through the crowd collecting conundra -- or at least pretending to do so -- which the MC later repeated and went on to answer. "We're going to break down the wall between you and the circus," he explained. And the effect of all the interruptions for demystificatory work was mildly Brechtian. Unfortunately, that also meant that it was harder for us to become absorbed in the spectacle. Although the chorus to this year's circus theme song goes, "We're saving the day from the everyday," the tone of the proceedings was perhaps a little too mundane. On the other hand, there was almost no patriotic fervor of the sort that dominated the event when we saw the circus in Tucson back in 2002. And our collective lack of engagement made for a more relaxing experience overall.

This is not to imply that the day was devoid of bliss. Highlights included the main clown, who reminded me of Kim and Sami's form of slapstick and the Windy City Acrobats, who are inner-city black youth from the south side of Chicago, as the MC -- also African-American -- pointedly informed us. Skylar, of course, liked the tigers best. On the way in she saw a protester holding one of those signs decrying the cruelty of the circus. "Look at that cool picture, dad!" I didn't have the heart to explain the message it was being used to convey. Besides, there are plenty of things worse than the circus. And the company that puts on the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey extravaganza does tons of good work in the community. As Obi-Wan informs the fallen Anakin Skywalker, "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes." Frankly, I'll take this circus over the Bush Administration any day and every day.
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