Oct 1, 2008

FERRIS WHEEL OPERATOR

I don't know what it is I'm trying to say about circuses and carnivals.

I think it has something to with the contradictions, the internal contrasts. It's the jarred juxtapositions: Shiny and grimy, showy and laborious, traditional and rootless, venerable and suspect.

The tattooed man with the Oakie voice, attaching seats to the Ferris wheel, he says there's always somebody comes to take pictures when they're setting up, but sometimes it's the local paper and sometimes it's suspicious cops. He says, You know what I mean?

But I don't exactly know ... I just know I'm here again, not wanting to go to the show but wanting to see it set up. I come here again -- wanting to find out the obvious, the secret. I'm here wanting to understand the quotes from the Ferris wheel operator, who only rasps out numbers as instructions, from behind eye-surgery glasses, and the quotes from the fried dough man, who says he didn't really mean to do this with his life. I want to think, maybe, that they're somehow answers to questions I feel but can't say.

I just stay with safe questions, uninteresting ones. I just say, So when did you start doing this? Say, So what're you doing?

But I read the answers, as they come out in scribbled, wrinkled notes, like they're forecasts for interpretations of something serious.