I came across a short piece on Carnivals.
I hate the idea of writing about Carnivals.
It has been 200 Years and a few 'Lost Winters' since I have been even near a bloody Carnival...
Which is exactly why I decided to make this attempt to fill in the dusty fragments of my memory by describing a park by the beach, with a circus and carnival rides.
I found this rant from an Anonymous member in 2015 from San Diego and the words which were spoken sounded identical to rants which I have heard or read from local artists in Melbourne, Sydney or any number of other cities that I have visited around the World.
It seems that the same or similar problems beset struggling artists who may be just starting out, in many Capitalist cities all over the World...
The unwaveringly toxic influence of Money...of 'filthy lucre' raises its cosmetically pretty plastic head once more!
“The establishment sees us as a threat because we’re not part of their small, tight circle of cronies,” Zogo says.
“We make them nervous because we’re telling the truth about what’s been going on in the San Diego art community.”
Zogo’s claims that a handful of elite, local arts organizations, not least among them San Diego Art Institute, keep philanthropic and government money away from struggling artists.
“The establishment groups are ignoring artists while taking money from philanthropists and the government in the name of art and doing nothing but making the establishment and companies that put on street fairs richer,” says Zogo.
“Meanwhile, artists are slaves to their day-jobs, and they’re forced to pay big money for booths at street fairs, where they’re lucky if they sell a single painting or sculpture.”
Street fairs, says Zogo, enjoyable as they may be to the public and as lucrative as they are for event producers, “keep artists in the dark ages.”
From this point on, they are my words...:
I know what you are thinking...you are wondering perhaps why the artist's statements above about a happening street festival in the local Park, why it sounded so wrong...so...counter-intuitive?
One would have surely expected that a Street Fair in places like San Diego, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, San Francisco or indeed anywhere along the West coast of the States would have contained the ideal ambience for staging a traditional type of Street Party with Street Artists and Entertainers and the customary attractions and rides.
Just think of the polychromatic Crowds!
And the colored streamers of...er, Color!
The squealing rides for the kids!
The rumbling of ancient rusting animal cages filled with forlorn dark shapes that seem to hide in the corners..
The mysterious bald hairless Swami from the ethereal misty mountain slopes of the exotic East, with his heavily-lacquered Sitar...
The Man who was half Woman, meets the Woman who was half Man!...and so on, and so on.
A colorful, musical pantomime atmosphere made up of clowns and revelry and the giddy magic of that first kiss...way up high on the Ferris Wheel.
Oh! The searing guilty pleasure of that first forbidden kiss and that first-ever under-age Beer...
Such wonderful aromas and otherworldly textures and forbidden sights were being enhanced through the kaleidoscopic lens of my eager, tenderly trembling pubescent emotional state.
The excitement in the air is palpable!
The adrenaline! and....those heavenly Girls...armfuls of beautiful looking, shyly giggling and cheekily disdainful girls would beam at us like we were the fresh kill being delivered to a pride of Amazonian lionesses, and then they would smile mysteriously and in an inscrutable kind of way, with an almost palpable force that held you frozen and weak at the knees...captivated like a butterfly on a board in the slow-motion silence when no-one was watching.
Dizzy with expectation, we climbed breathlessly into those round iron-barred cages to be flung and hurled violently through space, in fiery circular trails that seemingly ignited the air with a sickening lurch of centrifugal forces.
Oh how we screamed riotously at the crowds as we spun...at the blur of faces which rushed up before us, and then moved away from us even faster as we spun like pebbles in a jar...
For a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed pubescent kid, the atmosphere of curiosity was obsessive and heavy in the air this time of year, like Jasmine blooms in the Summer time.
It hits you as soon as you leave the People's sector of stalls and Art displays set up on the sandy footpath and set foot into the park, anywhere near the first tent-stall which is right next to the park's main entrance namely;
"The Doctor Jesus School of Chemical Vibrations and his little Friends of the Earth" stand.
In the park, conversation erupts as if people were releasing jars of fireflys to the tingling evening airs, where dark leathery bats wait patiently hissing in the trees...conversational curiosity abounds, is stimulated by bewildering tent shows and the rare aberrations and disfigured abominations which are common among Carny people.
Curiosity is fearless and it interrogates all without exception.
It pokes its head into every doorway...wants to look under every women's dress.
Often blended at the best of addresses with an obsessive taste for new experiences is a vibe as contagious as any rich man's drug at a Hollywood Party, and it quickly spread all the way to the orderly line of self-contained Beach changing-sheds from which would periodically emanate peals and squeals of urbane laughter along with random bouts of dry coughing, which seemed to coincide with those moments of darkness and despair whenever the NET went down again.
The atmosphere was thick with fairy-floss, and ping-pong balls and Clowns all in a row saying NO! over and over again, as a series of scratchy announcements bursts in the air around us, accompanied by the routine clanging of a prize fighter's bell, and in the background...
You can just make out the high-pitched squeals of young girls fighting off their vertigo, as an enormous Ferris Wheel climbs to its apogee disappearing from view behind a large painted billboard of boxing Kangaroos and Amazonian Lady-Jugglers with van Gogh beards.
Dark hints of distant lands with savage naked ladies and the exotic worlds of spices and bamboo spires.
Particularly at night a unique ambiance begins to inhabit our brains, swarming vividly through our senses and transforming a civic Ist World War memorial park into a Carnival Street Fair of New-Age Hippie Oddities and a Factory of Otherworldliness.
The old-fashioned local park with its Lamington Teas begrudgingly wore a fresh coating of New-Age ambience like a Day-Glow Face-lift, embracing its new image with bold and obscure civic signs which...it is rumored, could only be read or comprehended whilst tripping.
The Park squats neatly into the gap between the Highway and across the busy road to the warm rippling waters of the beach with it's fluid embroidery of foaming white edges.
The sandy strip of the beach has been painted electric-blue with a section of stars and stripes in one corner for the evening's celebrations.
But in order to get to the soft cobalt-blue sand of the Beach Disco catwalk you will need to cross the Park beside a row of dilapidated animal cages, where the hodge-podge chain of fading red and gold flecked cheeriness no longer masks the modern tragedy that is contained therein.
This is a greater feat, a far more difficult and tricky challenge than most would realize.
Take a patch of rivulets converging into streams of tears, mix this with the endless sighs of the lonely heart, add liberally with heartfelt disappointments found in Telephone booths, beneath arches and under bridges and the strangled regrets and strained recriminations of unrequited love which can often be recovered directly from handwritten love-letters.
Throw in some relatively wild, untamed Australian outback merry-making, some obligatory luke warm Fosters Lager and the saddest, weirdest motliest collection of starved, bedraggled, chained and tormented animals which I have ever seen for tonight's ringside Circus Show, and you will begin to understand how this rich tapestry of colorful sensations, sights and sounds managed to haunt me for most of that following year with their eyes...
The eyes of animals which had been tormented for our amusement...over and over...
And now the passage of some years has passed by beneath the bridge of my sighs, yet despite all my attempts during the interim, to wipe the ugliness and pain from my memory, these recollections have somehow become permanently disturbed, and in a kind of stasis remain frozen, locked forever more in a vacuum jar of memories.
My obsessive curiosity had eventually led me to uncover a puss-filled cancerous wound, which lay beneath the jolly frivolity, the alcohol-infused revelry and the merry-making...
And I suddenly understood why it had been 200 years since my last visit to a carnival.
It was as if it had taken just one glance at the sheer despair of these unfortunate imprisoned animals and my mind became suddenly overwhelmed, as if flooded with so much pain that it had stained my past remembrances with the bitter howls and deranged emotional stares of those tormented animals at the Fair.