Thursday, March 23, 2017

Farewell to "The Greatest Show on Earth"!

It came as a sad shock in January when Ringling Bros.and  Barnum & Bailey Circus announced they were closing down after 146 years! Something akin to the world spinning off it's axis, to my way of thinking.

It also came as a shock when my crotchety old employer asked me to acquire six tickets to one of their last performances in Uniondale, New York. Honestly, I didn't know the old buzzard had any scintilla of sentimentality whatsoever, but apparently he does. I figured he and his guests would stay at the penthouse in Manhattan and take a limo out to Uniondale for the performance. But no, he asked me to book a three-bedroom suite at the Plaza. Which actually makes the whole thing more simple for me. I'll just dump it all in the Concierge's lap at the Plaza and let her take care of the tickets and limo arrangements. (Concierges always have the best tickets anyway, albeit triple/quadruple the cost.)

Nelda, our ancient Teutonic executive housekeeper, told me that as a child he used to stay at the Plaza with his parents when Ringling Brothers came to town, and actually saw the circus under the Big Top. Which would have been before 1957 when Ringling stopped bringing their own tents in favor of setting up in local venues like coliseums, sports stadiums and arenas. Personal memories are from seeing the shows in a coliseum where high wire acts were easily suspended from the rafters above.

But I get it, and understand why he wants to nourish and relive his memories. Ringling has been a part of American culture for almost a century and a half. When they arrived and set up their Big Top, schools would close and there would be a town holiday. Long before there were zoos in American cities, where else could children see exotic animals - lions, tigers, bears, and elephants! Not to mention all the wonderful old films about circus life, plus all the famous stars (like The Flying Wallendas and clowns like Emmett Kelly) who came from that extravaganza.

The cost of sustaining all the performers and maintaining those animals all year round, plus transporting them to a venue is mind boggling to begin with. With the pressures of animal rights activists nowadays (which I fully understand), pulling the elephants from the show was reportedly the last straw and resulted in declining sales. The Greatest Show on Earth had no choice but to shut down.

My thoughts now are with all the performers; what will they do in the future, and where will all the animals go? I suspect the animals will go to zoos, and the performers will stick together and go into retirement at Ringling Brothers' winter home in Florida. Why not? But I guess we'll hear more about this later, hopefully with some memoirs coming forth.

The thing is, Ringling Brothers has been around for over half the lifespan of the United States itself, and it's hard to say goodbye. Although we still have a three-ring circus going on in Washington these days, it's not really the same, is it? And never will be.

If you want to catch one of their last shows, here's a link to their schedule. And as always, thanks for dropping by this evening.

Andrew

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gatsby the Great!

Well crap! There's more trouble around here than you can shake a stick at! This afternoon Dame Garrett (one of our absolutely favorite Grand Dames of local high society) arrived just in time for happy hour the evening cocktails. When she got out of her beat-up old Bentley, one of the Great Danes grabbed her umbrella and ran off with it!

Not just any umbrella mind you, but a Monet print, acquired from a visit to the artist's hometown in Giverny, France. And from Dame Garrett's panic and tears there was no doubt sentimental attachment involved. Chasing the Dane as he lopped off to his secret burial ground, we were able to bribe him with a treat and he finally let go of the umbrella with only a few minor punctures. (In which case the umbrella becomes a parasol I suppose, rather than protection from rain.)

In any case, his full name on the vet's records is Gatsby the Great. But whereas his companion Darcy is gentle and well mannered, Gatsby is a total mess! Perhaps one of the dumbest dogs God ever put on the planet! Here's just a brief history:

- When he was a puppy we sent him off to a two-week boarding academy for training. Not only did he not graduate, but after six days the academy called us up and politely asked us to pick him up. "We'll send a private trainer to your home," they explained.

- He crawled under the Lexus SUV one night and chewed up a bunch of wires! Requiring a tow truck and ungodly expense to repair!

- When the Mister arrived home from the office one day, Gatsby grabbed his electronic car key and we never saw it again! ($500 to replace!)

- When contractors come, he grabs their tools and runs off to the burial ground! Which causes endless delays in needed repairs. (I try to warn them but they don't fully get it until it's too late!)

- At one cocktail event he grabbed a Senator by his Brooks Brothers tie and just hung there! The man (an elderly gentleman with a bad heart) was totally freaked! But Gatsby wouldn't let go until we got there with a treat.

- One elegant lady, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air at a cocktail event, screamed in alarm when Gatsby yanked her Neiman-Marcus scarf right off her neck! He ran around the grounds with the scarf trailing after him in the breeze, and just try to envision this woman in her red stilettos and diamond bracelets chasing after him!

- Then there was the lady doing her wedding photo shoot here on the grounds. To her horror Gatsby ran up and jumped on her gown with muddy paws! Needless to say screams, tears and re-scheduling!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that Gatsby is a mean dog, but he's definitely got issues! Dame Garrett said that, "With his affection for Brooks ties, NM scarves, Mercedes keys, and Monet umbrellas, at least the boy has good taste."

I guess I have to agree. Gatsby has never grabbed my umbrella from Wall-Marts.

Thanks for dropping in this evening and sharing my angst!

Andrew