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Circus Xtreme Hartford, CT - Repeat City

I rode the train again because the boys went to a baseball game. It was a short run, made longer than usual by some engine problems. But near the end of the day the weather was nice and we were moving at a good clip, so I took some video.

The Hartford yard is within walking distance of the arena. It's also extremely dusty. I'm talking DUNES of dust. One of these days when it's windy I'll take a picture.

On the day off I didn't do much, and in the evening Jameson and I went to one of our favorite spots, Agave Grill. Probably one of the best places to eat in the city and its right next to the arena, so there are always a few circus peeps in there :) This time I got the street tacos served in blue corn tortillas, and we both had fresh guac made right at the table. So good.

The next day, opening day, we had a short meeting and rehearsal. The show was well attended, a nice surprise since we just played here last year. And we got a visit from the famous Tom McDonough!! It was a good day!

Thursday there was only one show. I filled the time with a First Aid/CPR/AED class. Our trainmaster wants every safety officer to have this training but it hasn't happened yet, so I figured I'd do it myself, why not. I learned the basic information and processes via a two hour online course, and then drove to a classroom to take the applied learning part. On the way I happened to see this Google Street View car! Cool!

The class was fun, though I was pretty nervous. I got to assist my choking classmates and vice versa, and we practiced CPR on dummies while learning to operate the AED machines. Then we learned to bandage wounds. A few hours after the class was over I had my certificate! Yay! Now hopefully I'll never have to use any of what I've learned haha.

On Friday we had a split. After the morning show I got back to the train to prepare some food for the week and to take a nap. For the evening show we had a visit from Ben DeCastro and his wife Susan! Ben is a former circus musician and he likes to drop by when we're on his turf. He and Susan brought us some amazing baked goods from a local bakery. To repay their kindness Jameson inserted some accordion sound fx into the Camels act just for Ben! (Ben plays accordion). Nice!

Saturday was a normal three show day. Nothing to report.

Sunday, two shows. I was surprised at what great crowds we had here since a) we don't have elephants and b) we were here with the same show last year! Thank you Hartford for coming out to see the show!

After the last show Jameson and I paid one more visit to Agave...it's become kind of a tradition for us to have a nice dinner there while watching the wagons load out of the arena.

Next stop: Trenton NJ! Yay?

Other stuff:

A beautifully written article by Blue Unit Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson, about the recent departure of the elephants and the future of the circus. CLICK HERE to read.

Elephant art by Bernadette. She'll be opening an etsy shop soon. Dunno about you, but I can't wait!!

(photo courtesy Bernadette)

On the train run to Hartford we hit a little "bump"....as in, the train jerked very hard, sending various inanimate and living things flying. I lost a meal to the floor and broke a small plate, nothing major. But at the time I was annoyed, so (I'm embarrassed to admit) I took to facebook to rant a little. Well, Susan saw my little tantrum before I deleted it, and on Sunday she brought me a lovely "girly basket"! It was full of plastic dishware, as well as some really nice collectible plates, nail polish, tea, and other great stuff. Susan, you've rewarded me for being a bad person ;) And I really, really appreciate it!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 16th, 2016 04:11 am (UTC)
Thank You
Taz, not trying to wallow but you're other post of the last day was truly heartbreaking. I have copied my brief feelings on the elephants which should be published in the CIRCUS REPORT.

The Girls Final Curtain Call: A Reflection

It was 1990 I think, or maybe 1991, when I heard the following dismally prophetic statement from a friend: “The day will come, when there will no longer be animals in the circus. The writing is on the wall.” Just the notion of that cut into me, but then the words were hard to discredit when considering the source, the late Don Marcks, publisher of the Circus Report and perhaps the greatest circus fan ever. I was only 17 at the time but had the privilege of befriending Mr. Marcks who lived in my hometown and shared his love for the circus, and I respected his knowledge of its history. Still, I naively thought maybe he was overreacting.

Within two years I drifted away to Los Angeles and didn’t see a circus for another six years, until by chance I landed some free passes to Ringling Bros at the Sports Arena. I hadn’t been in so long, I wondered if it was still the same. I was surprised to see a great edition with the legendary Bello Nock that seemed better than when I had left it. But more importantly, was delighted even before entering the arena with the familiar smell. As described by Wall Street Journal reporter Robert Gardner, when covering Ringling in New Jersey last month “a synapse in my brain fired, and I was taken back to childhood when I attended the circus.” He’s referring to the smell of elephant dung, which hung in the air, mixed with feed, freshly popped popcorn and swirled racks of cotton candy. Whether in the lobby of a show that played buildings like the Bentleys, Circus Gatti, or on the midway of Circus Vargas, it was always the same. Unmistakable. And with it comes the anticipation of an exciting show and an awestriking, magical experience. Mr. Gardner also claims that his most visceral memory was actually outside Madison Square Gardens during the NBA playoffs while, simultaneously, the circus was in town. I can’t relate more. When the circus played the building near my father’s apartment, the show was fun, but I spent hours sneaking into the backyard and watching the elephants eat and sway between shows during the pleasant spring afternoons. And so, when I returned to the circus after an eight year absence, I took for granted that it would always be there, at least as I knew it.

But it was not to be much longer as the Shrine Circus, an LA institution, closed its doors for the last time in 2013. This show, that reminded me so much of the Bentley’s that played my hometown, was gone. Escalating so-called Animal Rights, which struck me more like terrorists in Los Angeles, threatening and succeeding in evicting Ringling Bros Circus and denying others lot permits. And through this, glimmers of hope that Don Marcks would be wrong, like Ringling Bros victorious 25 million dollar lawsuit against false abuse allegations, or the Ringling elephants arriving at Staples in the wee hours of the morning just prior to Michael Jackson’s highly televised memorial service, or the selling out of the Staples Center again and again, despite whichever celebrity showed up before the show for an anti-circus news bite in the name of animal rights.

Ultimately, change was in the air and Ringling Bros Circus announced they would phase out the elephants. I made sure when I happened to be in New York this past March no matter how jet lagged I was and despite the time change I caught the 11am Ringling Show in New
Jersey (Ironically, the same covered by Mr. Gardner) to see the girls. It didn’t resonate at the time the way it has now with the all the press that this era has ended. A visit to a circus lot this past weekend has softened the blow, at least there are still shows to attend. However in Los Angeles, the only animals that seem to be allowed on any circus are dogs. As CFA President Gary Payne stated; “I will mourn and it will take time to get over.” I am thankful that I caught the tail end. I saw the herds on Ringling and Vargas. I was also fortunate enough to get to know the three elephants and their trainer on the Gatti show. I hurt, but these memories live.

May. 18th, 2016 04:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank You
Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and feelings. It's a hard time for anyone who spent time with the elephants.

Ticket sales and sold out arenas unfortunately do not determine law. If those same people who bought tickets had voted against anti-elephant laws, the elephants might still be around. But what's done is done. If people do not want to see animals, that's ok. The circus will just have to adjust, and those who work with animals will have to find work elsewhere.

Feld is still continuing to fight legislation...currently they're fighting a proposal in Pittsburgh as you probably know. Meanwhile I'm sure the citizens of Pittsburgh are just sitting back and doing nothing. So they'll get whatever is fed to them in the end.

...still bitter over here.
Kristen Lutz
May. 18th, 2016 03:55 am (UTC)
Hello Megan,

I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I really enjoy your insight into the touring/traveling lifestyle! I’ve always found the circus to be fascinating and love being able to read/learn what it’s like for someone who works for one of the shows! I’ve applied for a couple a positions with Feld so maybe I’ll see you on the road one day! Thanks and keep on blogging!!!
May. 18th, 2016 04:05 pm (UTC)
Hi Kristen! Nice to meet you :)

Thank you for your kind words. Super cool that you're interested in touring/working in entertainment! Just so you know, my blog is very focused on the positive things that happen...I leave out a lot of the, um, grittier stuff ;) So just be aware when you're applying that this life is probably not as romantic as it sounds haha! But still, the good definitely outweighs the bad!

Thanks again! Best wishes <3
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )