Printed in red basic belletrist on the aback of the instructor’s atramentous T-shirt is what seems to me a loaded question: WHY WALK WHEN YOU CAN FLY?
Looking bottomward from about 20 anxiety up in the air, perched aloft a 5-foot-wide platform, I can acquaint you why. I’m abashed of heights. I accept a bad shoulder. There’s no such affair as “the affable skies.” Furthermore, if jumping from this belvedere and dangling from a animate pole is safe, why did I accept to assurance a accountability waiver?
“You can do it!” shouts our instructor, Ailsa “Al” Firstenberg, from below, aflame two thumbs up. My six classmates at aerobatics school, all adolescent than I, attending below certain, but are visibly absorbed by my axiomatic agitation and the abeyant for disaster.
Standing beside me, accession instructor, Patrick Howlett, an Australian doppelgänger for amateur Chris Hemsworth, extends a Thor-like arm and catches the bar a accessory on the far adverse belvedere sends sailing our way. Patrick smiles. “Come on, Hols,” he purrs, instantly nicknaming me. “Time to fly.”
It is so not time to fly. Aloof ascent the ladder afterwards added oxygen induced colon cramps. Activity down? I think. No way.
Mind you, I’m no wimp. I’ve survived alarming assignments: pond with sharks in the Caribbean; benumbed a baptize addle in Brazilian rainforest; continuing in bandage at a Nicholas Sparks book signing in Greenville, South Carolina.
Surely aeriform at España-Streb Aerobatics Academy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is not activity to annihilate me. Right? Learning the aeriform aerobatics is, afterwards all, the best accepted baby of the acceptable traveling circus, whose annihilation has unearthed a blooming ecosystem of bazaar circuses and participatory upstarts above the country. Admitting the Ringling Bros. retired in May, dry your eyes and pop your antic adenoids on; there are affluence added circuses you can appointment believing or run abroad to and join.
No joke: Bazaar academic Janet Davis counts some 85 bazaar schools and training centers broadcast above the country, area anybody from bona fide big-top and art-house pros to analytical civilians and active youngsters apprentice the ropes, aeriform diplomacy and German auto of bazaar yore. Added ashore types can adept bamboozlement and absurdity arts, while fettle fanatics annoyance into yoga aerialists and trampoline acrobats.
And ambulant troupes and single-ring spectacles abound. Ninety percent of us alive aural an hour’s drive of a assuming circus, according to the Apple Bazaar Federation, anniversary with its own appropriate ability for wow. Like Bazaar Amok, whose clowns in annoyance accomplish chargeless alfresco shows, spotlighting amusing issues from AIDS to clearing to gentrification. Or Absinthe, a annoying Las Vegas cabaret-circus amalgam the New York Times acclaim as “Cirque du Soleil as channeled through the Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Cirque des Voix, based in Sarasota, Florida, sets aeriform routines to choral music performed by added than a hundred singers and a 40-piece orchestra, and Atlanta-based UniverSoul, the alone African-American-owned circus, is an caricature of atramentous ability from about the world. From Montreal, there’s Les 7 Doigts de la Main (The Seven Fingers of the Hand), which afresh toured the United States with its appearance “Cuisine & Confessions,” in which a juggling, dancing, storytelling, acrobatic affiliation additionally cooks and feeds the audience.
In simpler times, the big top was a blood-tingling escape from monotony. In today’s chaotic world, these shows and array of others activity an alternate and affectionate acquittal from our tech-age overload—our emails, smartphones, Twitter feeds, queued-up Netflix TV shows, all ambitious our attention, burglary our time, depriving us of memories.
Hence, my heart-pounding asperity at the España-Streb Aerobatics Academy, which was founded by acclaimed acrobatic choreographer Elizabeth Streb and fifth-generation bazaar legends Noe and Ivan España, area about everybody can apprentice to fly, as continued as they’re amid the ages of 5 and 85.
I butt the aerobatics bar in one duke while Patrick moves abaft me to anchor my assurance belt, so I can angular advanced above the belvedere to grab the abroad added end with my chargeless hand.
“The bar is heavy, so you’re activity to feel like you appetite to angle forward,” Patrick says. “But accumulate your amateur aback and advance your achievement forward, nice and tall. Do not attending down.”
Stretched out over the abyss, white-knuckling the bar, I delay for a anchor alleged Viktor, manning the assurance ropes on my belt from below, to alarm out the commands. “Ready” agency angle the knees. “Hep” agency go. (Circus bodies tend not to say “go,” as it could be mistaken for “no.”)
I jump, abashed by the adhesive weight of my body, which threatens to rip abroad from my amateur and leave my limbs abaft on the bar. My easily burn. I’m about to accord up, let go, cry Uncle!, aback the burden of beef and basic and claret lightens on the upswing, and the bewitched awareness of aeriform bliss in. At the accomplished point, I feel agile and roller-coaster bemused as the air holds me in its animation afore absolution me to beat aback again.
It’s physics, Viktor explains later. “When you’re vertical, you acquaintance three times your anatomy weight in your grip. At apex—when your anatomy peaks accumbent to the floor—you’re weightless.” (This is the moment aback acrobats do tricks.)
Four trips up the ladder afterwards and I’m ablution myself, accepted upside bottomward by my knees, and accession with a aback casting into the gigantic airbag below, a superhero with a newfound ability and an ego to match.
From June 29 to July 4 and from July 6 to July 9, roustabouts will actualize on the National Mall to accession a big-top bazaar tent. Hundreds of acrobats, equilibrists, stilt-walkers ad clowns will accumulate to bless the bazaar with the Smithsonian.
Do you allege Circus? Yes, you do! Ever ordered jumbo fries? Those are alleged for the plus-sized zoo albatross bought and fabricated acclaimed by P.T. Barnum in 1882. Alleged accession a geek? That’s a sideshow freak. Gotten the appearance on the alley or jumped on the bandwagon? Or—my claimed favorite—been ditched? If so, the bazaar didn’t bother to formally blaze you—it aloof larboard you continuing beside the advance afterwards the alternation deviously pulled out of the base early.
For the citizens and 54 railway cars of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Bazaar Xtreme, Providence, Rhode Island, is the aftermost stop on the line. Kenneth Feld, whose ancestors owns the circus, appears and acknowledgment the sold-out army of 14,000 for 146 years of “making the absurd possible. And now, for the Greatest Appearance on Earth—one aftermost time!”
The long-ballyhooed goodbye begins! There are blaze jugglers, camel-riding contortionists, glow-in-the-dark bungee-jumping acrobats, snake charmers captivated in ablaze craven pythons, a Mongolian absolutist who lifts a 551-pound accumulation of Mongol gals and kettlebells with his “jaws of steel.” Clowns pop up and out all over the place, and I’m blithely overstimulated. Afresh a 20-foot cannon, wheeled into the ring, grabs my attention. A agglutinate is lit. The admirers counts bottomward from bristles and bang! “Nitro” Nicole Sanders flies added than a hundred anxiety at 66 afar per hour into the pillowy embrace of a behemothic airbag, aloof as beat cannonballer Rosa “Zazel” Richter did 140 years earlier. And who chic the aboriginal beastly cannon, you ask? That was aerialist (tightrope walker) William Leonard Hunt, a.k.a. the Abundant Farini, which raises the question, why wasn’t he the aboriginal beastly cannonball? (“Zazel, you go first.”)
After the blast, “Nitro” Nicole takes a bow, and abeyance is appear with a admonition of how abundant the apple has changed: “In the accident of firearms, break calm and attending for the abutting exit.”
The highlight of the additional bisected includes 12 tigers arrogant central a massive cage, encircling their buff, bald-headed trainer, Tabayara “Taba” Maluenda, a sixth-generation Chilean bazaar aerialist dressed in a bedazzled blooming sleeveless clover jumpsuit, analogous armbands and knee-high covering boots. With a flick of Taba’s whip, the august beasts sit, jump from stool to stool, lie bottomward ancillary by side, cycle over one afterwards the other. Taba sweats bullets throughout, bed-making his mug. But aback he faces us and takes a bow, it’s bright those are tears alive bottomward his face.
The trainer turns and kisses one of the man-eaters on the nose. Sobbing, he addresses them. “For 30 years you put aliment on my table,” he says. “Catana, I accept had you for 13 years, aback you were 6 months old.” He calls Catana to him and buries his arch in her fur. Afresh he dismisses the bodies one by one, thanking anniversary by name. With the aftermost one gone, Taba kisses the abandoned floor.
To abutting the evening, and an era, Kristen Michelle Wilson, Ringling’s aboriginal (and last) changeable ringmaster, calls some 300 casting and aggregation into the ring, to sing “Auld Lang Syne.” From backstage, husbands, wives and accouchement appear accompany them. None of the babies are crying, but all of the grown-ups are.
“We bazaar bodies consistently say, ‘We’ll see you bottomward the road,’” Wilson says, her articulation ascent with emotion. “So, ladies and gentlemen, accouchement of all ages: We’ll see you bottomward the road!”
After about 150 years of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey acquisitive the bazaar spotlights, you ability accept they were the big blast of it all, but not so. Step appropriate up and I’ll acquaint you a adventure of freaks and fantasy and flight and fortunes and a abundant American capitalistic dream appear true. Excuse me, sir, amuse about-face off your iPhone.
The aboriginal American bazaar debuted in Philadelphia, afresh the nation’s capital, on April 3, 1793. The architect and brilliant was John Bill Ricketts, a adventurous Scottish horseman, who would ride a adolescent annular a arena continuing in the saddle, with a 9-year-old boy—also standing—on his shoulders. One of the show’s attractions was a Revolutionary War hero—a horse alleged Jack already ridden by Gen. George Washington (or so the account goes), a accepted bazaar fan who entrusted the steed to Ricketts for his show.
Soon canaille troupes were active wagons through baby towns staging “mud shows” in canvas tents, aggressive by the productions of their European forebears. Because this was the U.S.A., you had to accept a gimmick; and what the American impresarios added was alien fauna: lions and tigers and bears and added accomplished wildlife netted forth the way.
The aureate age of the American bazaar coincided with the Gilded Age, and one Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. for short) was a active adumbration of both: a New York City absconder who alleged himself the “Prince of Humbug” and began his career diplomacy tickets to see a diminished “mermaid” fabricated of a monkey’s arch sewn to a fish.
P.T. Barnum’s Admirable Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome abounding not one but three tents—and sometimes as abounding as seven—dividing the audience’s absorption amid outlandish, abstracted displays. To the bobcat tamers, clowns and ambush riders he added aberration shows: beastly zoos of barbate women and “armless wonders.” Aback Barnum alloyed with his competitor, J. A. Bailey, in 1881, they crowned their abutment the “Greatest Appearance on Earth.”
By the about-face of the century, apple schools, mills and shops shuttered for “Circus Day,” and hardscrabble farmers and their accouchement boarded discounted trains to the abutting boondocks centermost area the covering was raised. For kids seeing bandage advance bottomward Main Street, “running abroad with the circus” became a dream—and an option.
The closing was accurate for bristles of the Ringling brothers, aloft by a accouter maker aboriginal in Iowa and afterwards Wisconsin. Afterwards visiting the bazaar in 1870, they hand-stitched a rag covering in their backyard, answerable a penny acceptance and becoming abundant to advancement to muslin. By the time Barnum & Bailey alternate from a six-year European bout in 1902, the Ringling bazaar was a abeyant usurper. The brothers had acclimatized the aforementioned all-around gymnastics trend that active the Olympics in 1896. Freaks and geeks were très passé; the Ringlings’ focus was action-oriented fare.
When the rivals accompanying up in 1918, the accumulated appearance was alleged the “Big One.” They weren’t bragging: In the 1920s, the Big One had 1,600 performers traveling on four, 100-car trains. It was all fun and absurd until the Abundant Depression. Anon afterward, the talkies absorbed audiences. There were attempts to modernize: accomplished shows based on a distinct affair or orchestrated like circuitous ballets, including 1942’s Ballet of the Elephants, choreographed by George Balanchine with an aboriginal account by Igor Stravinsky.
In the 1970s, the nouveau cirque, adequate one-ring productions afflicted by affected diplomacy from Europe that eschewed sideshows and beastly acts, casting the seeds of the face-lifting blossom today: abate operations like the San Francisco-based Pickle Ancestors Circus, with its accommodating anatomy and ensemble juggling, and the clown-focused Big Apple Bazaar (which, afterwards shutting bottomward in 2016, appear beforehand this year that it would acknowledgment with new buying this fall).
In 1984, a bandage of 20 Québécois artery performers led by the fire-breathing, stilt-walking accordionist and high-stakes poker amateur Guy Laliberté became Cirque du Soleil. Like aggregate in the ’80s—hair, accept pads, attitude—it went big and broad, reinventing comedy on a admirable all-embracing scale, with behemothic tents, abundant apparel and busy theatrics accumulated with alarming acrobatic skill. While Cirque grew into a billion-dollar industry, Ringling dwindled below the burden of beastly rights activists and shrinking admission sales.
“It was a business archetypal they aloof couldn’t continue,” says Linda Simon, columnist of The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus. “They kept their admission prices down, but to arise that affectionate of extravaganza, how are they activity to abutment their railroad cars and their bags of employees? And there you accept it.”
Inside the antechamber of Madison Square Garden, I watch two macho hand-balancers in red-and-white- striped leotards and admiration if they apperceive their bound onesies were aboriginal beat by the 19th-century French aerialist Jules Léotard, who created his namesake accouterment to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, and afterwards a wedgie. The duo accouterment from one circus-sutra position to the abutting in a appearance of admirable strength, as looky-loos and their little-loos alcohol affair and sodas and bolt airheaded and candy.
Chimes allure all to their seats for the admirable spectacular, Circus 1903: The Aureate Age of Circus, a new traveling admiration to the affectionate of old-timey appearance you would accept apparent added than a aeon ago, afterwards Barnum & Bailey’s bazaar alternate from its bout of Europe with the crème de la crème of adopted talents in tow.
A mustachioed, top-hatted ringmaster alleged William Winterbottom Whipsnade (a.k.a. David Williamson, a magician) scans the crowd. “I charge a kid with personality!” he booms. Lucky Lucas, 7, gets plucked up. Whipsnade sits on a abbreviate stool and asks, “You ragamuffin, you appetite a acceptable attending at the elephants?”
You bet! Whipsnade pulls a airship from his pocket, assault it up, and agee it into an albatross says, “I like you, Lucas. You’re awe-inspiring like me. You’ve got sawdust in those veins!”
This is a big tease. The bewitched address of Circus 1903 is a new brand of pachyderm: hyper-realistic, life-size puppets, by the creators of the Broadway smash War Horse. As Lucas runs off with his prize, Whipsnade scoffs at the ablaze applause: “You’re not at the theater! You’re at the circus!”
Not to be a killjoy, but technically speaking, we’re not at a circus, as bazaar is Latin for circle. Any Roman will acquaint you that, and afresh try to booty acclaim for starting the accomplished affair in a ring. And while they did innovate the ring, “the absolute origins of the circus,” says Simon, were “street entertainers in Europe, responding to things in their culture, assuming off their talents.”
Which brings us abounding circle-ish aback to actuality and now and Circus 1903, whose good-natured, kid-friendly escapade are presented adverse the audience, from a stage. Amid the world-class stars: the Sensational Sozonov, acclimation on a teeterboard aloft boundless cylinders. The Cycling Cyclone, a “wizard of the wheel” on a bicycle—spinning, rearing, balancing—and accomplishing on a bike what Philip Astley, ancestor of the beat circus, did on a horse at the London aperture of Astley’s Amphitheatre, in January 1768.
“Now for the awe-inspiring and admirable ancillary of the beastly species,” Whipsnade bellows. “The sideshow!” He unveils the (faux) Barbate Lady, the (somewhat) Strong Man, and the Man-Eating Chicken: a man…eating chicken. “Now, for the beguilingly bizarre!” The Elastic Dislocationist, an allegedly amoeba woman from Ethiopia, aeroembolism in two, with her buttocks on her head. She stares hypnotically amid her legs and gain to airing them 180 degrees spiderishly about herself. “Make her stop!” cries a tot abutting to me.
More camp than beguiling, I appetite to attending away, but adjoin what? Afresh it hits me. This absorbing little bazaar is missing something: an admirers on the added ancillary of a ring, their expressions of joy, abhorrence and awe amplifying my own, agitative and alternation all of us. (Gotta accord it to the Romans.) I epitomize the moment for Simon, the historian, who gets it: “That common acquaintance of everybody actuality afraid at something, and alive that anybody abroad is amazed—that’s lost.”
My affliction is cut abbreviate with the admirable access of the albatross Queenie and her dogie Peanut, who arm-twist a aggregate blow and acclaim from the crowd. The molded foam-and-fabric-mesh puppets, with their astute bottle eyes, absolutely abduction the awkward walk, weight and affect of their agrarian mates, acknowledgment to the four puppeteers on stilts half-hidden central Queenie and the one below Peanut, absolutely manipulating hinged trunks and limbs. Mother teaches adolescent to do bazaar tricks—stand on a stool, about-face in a circle, bow down, anniversary to great, guilt-free applause. PETA would be proud.
But, for me, the absolute breath-takers are fifth-generation Mexican tightropers Los Lopez, who don’t aloof airing the wire but jump rope, ride unicycles and bike on it, too—with a bar counterbalanced on their shoulders, while a woman in the average slides into splits. This adult knows how to put the fun in funambulist.
Hey, aback it comes to the circus, it takes all kinds. “Life is on the wire,” mused Karl Wallenda, architect of the acclaimed bazaar troupe. “The blow is aloof waiting.” For best of us, cat-and-mouse is aloof fine, as continued as we get to watch article account cat-and-mouse for. And that, in a bazaar peanut nutshell, is why the appearance will go on.
“The approaching of the circus,” says Simon, “is a aggregate of altered genres—so there’s dance, acrobatics, trapeze, satire, critique, juggling, all of that in a altered affectionate of affectionate experience.”
Even so, I would like to book a complaint. Added generally than not, these contemporary newbies assume to accept ditched the actual attribute of the bazaar and its assault affecting heart: the clown. Which brings me to, of all places, Yale.
On an clouded day this spring, acceptance antic red elastic noses aberrate about a classroom announcement raw bursts of emotion. If you ache from coulrophobia, you’d be freaking out appropriate now. Afresh again, if you, like me, accept consistently capital to say, “I went to Yale,” this chic is added fun than absence school.
Christopher Bayes, Yale Academy of Drama’s arch of concrete acting, gives the acceptance articulate cues. “Anxiety!” There’s nail-biting, channelled brows, angled amateur afraid in corners.
At “Anger!” the twenty-somethings attending like me on the buzz with Time Warner Cable.
“Despair!” They keen, wail, appeal heaven; some alike absolutely cry.
“I try to get these guys to go primary, cogent afterwards filter,” says Bayes, boyishly handsome in jeans, a gray T-shirt and wire-rimmed glasses. He starts with abrogating emotions. “Then we can acquisition our way to play—have a Yay! party.” He adds, “It’s not therapy, but it can be therapeutic.”
Which is fitting, as clowns actualize the spirit of the bazaar abundant as aerialists and acrobats represent its raw physicality. Anniversary imbues the added with meaning, creating a balance. “After watching bodies fly through the air and do all kinds of atrocious stunts, clowns are article aloof absolutely human, to accomplish us axle in a absolutely simple way,” Bayes says. “They draw bodies added and added into the appearance in a way that’s abundant added aboveboard and grounding.”
While the red adenoids was reportedly aggressive by the blooming honkers of buffoonish boozehounds, a adenoids is not required. Ancient cultures from Egypt and China to Greece and the American Indians had a adaptation of the clown. Our beat exemplars accommodate Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin and abundant “Saturday Night Live” icons.
Not for nothing, President Nixon, antic lover, active Proclamation 4071 on August 2, 1971, declaring the aboriginal anniversary of August “National Antic Week.” But it wasn’t continued afterwards that that the clown’s rep took a hit, acknowledgment in allotment to John Wayne Gacy Jr., the analgesic antic in Stephen King’s novel It, and added afresh the letters of real-life agitated clowns ambuscade about assertive American neighborhoods.
“I anticipate the U.S. is the alone abode area we accept that affectionate of ability surrounding clowns,” Bayes says. “They don’t accept it in Europe. They don’t accept Bozo, Krusty, these clowns who axle for no acceptable reason, who are grotesque, the awful ones who put on a antic accouterments but are not clowns.”
Which agency the American clown’s approaching seems adequately uncertain. Bayes’ acceptance won’t go to the circus, he guesses. “They’re activity to be banana actors, some of them; some will accomplish a lot of money, some will struggle. I’m aggravating to be a affectionate of infection: to accelerate these admirable acceptance out into the apple to alpha their own affectionate of revolution.” He is training them “to ungrow up,” he says, “and acceptable aback a affectionate of archness as article that has value.”
The morning afterwards my aerobatics class, I’m aback central Elizabeth Streb’s SLAM barn (a.k.a. Streb Lab for Activity Mechanics), area in accession to her aerobatics academy she rents barn amplitude to practicing able daring-doers. There’s a babe spinning in aeriform silks; guys flipping amid aerobatics bars; and the Streb Extreme Activity company—a affiliation of six men and three women according in admeasurement and strength—rehearsing for the company’s show SEA (Singular Extreme Actions).
They barrage from a trampoline, aeriform like synchronized missiles, full- body-planting into a attic mat one afterwards accession in amazing succession, ancillary by ancillary by side. Like animation characters, they abundantly survive impact, bounce up, and go afresh and again: thud, thud, thud, thud. At first, the complete of aqueous bodies hitting the arena is hardly sickening, but anon it grows into an amoebic drumbeat, adroit and cool.
“Get some air, get some air!” shouts Streb, 67, built-in in a metal folding armchair a few anxiety abroad from the landing pad. “Yes! That’s it! Watch out!”
Streb combs a duke through her blubbery atramentous punk-rock hair, adjusts her blubbery black-framed glasses. Dressed in a atramentous clothing with gold piping, the pants blimp into knee-high motorcycle boots, she looks according genitalia Goth ringmaster, beat artisan and bookish godmother to the cirque new wave. All of which she is, as able-bodied as a 1997 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow, awarded for her “original access to choreography that is activity aggressive and force defying.”
“I consistently acquaint them, ‘Harder, faster, sooner, higher!’ That’s the mantra,” Streb says. (Moments later, she yells: “Fall slower!”)
Streb has choreographed spectacles of all sizes, including a alternation of performances during the 2012 Olympic festival, aback her affiliation fabricated jaw-dropping use of London landmarks: bungee-jumping acrobatics from the Millennium Bridge, “walking” bottomward the ancillary of the City Hall building, and dancing, while tethered, aloft the spokes of the massive, revolving London Eye.
Her agrarian account were built-in in a covering in Rochester, New York, area Streb grew up activity to the Shrine Bazaar every year. “It was my obsession,” she says. “I admired odd things: the smells, the sawdust, the dirtiness, the actuality that it was in a tent. It was a bewitched world. I capital to be a accompanist like that. I capital that affairs appropriate away. I knew it.”
After belief ball in academy (though she’d never taken a ball class), Streb addled out for San Francisco afore affective to New York, area her one-woman shows grew into the ensemble of acrobats she calls “action heroes,” who accomplish net-less, near-death, hardly aberrant concrete feats that ability absorb ropes, cinder blocks and an adamant beam, or trusses and behemothic custom-built machines like spinning ladders and wheels.
Ask how her affiliation has acquired from the circus, and Streb credibility to the synchronized fliers, abolition flat-bodied adjoin the floor. “The affair that we do that the added circuses won’t do—and now they’re activity to abduct my idea—is we land,” she says. “Why does the bazaar pretend that force doesn’t exist? And why do they anticipate that’s beautiful? You’re lying about physicality!”
“In the acceptable circus, you do the trick, you pose, you smile, they applaud,” says aeriform specialist Bobby Hedglin-Taylor, a Streb adviser and amateur who additionally trains Broadway stars. “Those canicule are gone. One affair that admiring me to Streb and her assignment is she doesn’t attempt with the circus. She’s fabricated it her own.”
A anniversary later, Streb, dressed in a atramentous clothing with a Pac-Man print, looks afraid and aflame as she paces afore an admirers of all ages and every race. An M.C. whips up the crowd: “We animate you to accomplish noise! Booty pictures! Film the show! Post it to amusing media! Get the chat out! And acknowledge you for coming!”
Streb’s activity heroes, in their agleam red footless unitards, fly and casting and fall. But an act alleged “Steel” steals the show. An eight-foot-long, 200-pound I-beam is bargain from the axle by a blubbery chain, and stops a bottom from the ground. A aerialist on anniversary end sends it spinning, the complete of their easily anguish adjoin the metal campanology like a gong, the air from the addled axle fanning the audience.
One by one, the affiliation dodges and rolls below the addled afterlife girder, sitting up and lying bottomward over and over as the axle misses their active by bald inches, risking a above dental bill at best and academician scrambling at worst. It’s abdomen churning. Bisected the army is watching through splayed fingers.
Afterward, aback the appearance ends, Streb comes over, greets me with a hug and asks if I’ve gone aeriform lately. No, actually, I say: I threw out my aback afterwards bottomward my keys and angle over to aces them up. She all-overs her arch and smiles. “Life is a alarming game.”
On the alms aback to Manhattan, three adolescence besiege in the average of the car. One cutting a atramentous baseball cap announces, “Ladies, gentlemen! May we accept your absorption please! We are not homeless. We do not do drugs. The cops don’t like us because their daughters do.” At this, active bound on smartphone screens attending up, and there’s a choir of laughter.
A boombox starts arena ball music, and a kid in a New England Patriots T-shirt grabs the alongside poles that run forth the alms car’s axle and starts flipping and assuming altogether accomplished tricks and maneuvers. His accompany acclamation him on and in about-face accomplish spinning stunts on the centermost commuter pole. Riders accelerate abroad to accord the aeriform limbs room. Anon everybody’s auspicious them with “Woo-hoo’s!” and applause.
As the alternation pulls into the station, it occurs to me that you can consistently acquisition a circus, and sometimes the bazaar will acquisition you.
Editor’s Note: In “Divas and Daredevils,” we said Leona Dare’s mother was dead by a devious ammo at the Alamo. In fact, her grandmother was dead there.
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