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Thursday, August 14, 2008 

August 14th, 2008. Port Austin, MI. 38 miles. Mowed field. Partly cloudy. Cool.

We are on the shores of Lake Huron now – in many ways the least accessible of the Great Lakes, from the American side. Standing on a rock jetty at the end of Main Street I try to imagine what it must have been like for the first French explorers, fur traders, and Jesuits who discovered these inland fresh water seas and their connection rivers. It must have been a magnificent, primitive, harsh world. It’s hard for me not to think about literature in northern Michigan. Detroit as all Motown sounds, or Iggy Pop or Bob Seger or MC5 and rock and roll., but northern Michigan and the even more remote Upper Peninsula is the land of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories.. This is the place where Jim Harrison tells his stories. If Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion was the great sprawling failed American novel examining modern man in the shadow of the forest, Harrison’s Legends of Fall takes a stab at a similar story – the torment of family – and comes closer to the mark. The novelist Lucius Shepard paid his dues in Michigan too.

Once a long time ago in the late 1970’s I hitch-hiked back and forth across America a dozen times. For years I could remember every ride. I thought, in those days, that I knew my country and loved my country from Leadville, to the top of Tijeras Canyon, to New Orleans, or Key West, or midtown Manhattan. I could sing the song of my country as Whitman sand his song. Then I lived in Florida, and New York, and I lived in Honduras, and I moved to California. I forgot the words to the song and in the mudshow seasons I tried to rediscover them, but even now I find myself mostly confused as what American’s lyric is currently about. It’s an election year, but there seems to be no great passion for it. It’s as though many of the people whether in Missouri or Michigan no longer believe that politics in any flavor can improve on things. They remain unpersuaded.

What does any of that have to do with circus? Increasing in reading local news stories about Kelly Miller on the internet in the “comments” section there are nice things said about the show with off-the-cuff remarks stating, “Oh, but the elephants are probably abused.” Nobody references seeing the elephants abused in any way. And in fact the elephants most certainly are not abused. But just as the messages that politicians are not to be trusted has seeped into our core, so it seems that the notion that elephants are circus “victims” has also become a widely held belief even amongst people who come to and enjoy the circus. Changing that widely held perception is a tall order and almost certainly must be a priority over the next several years on any show that carries “bulls.” Somehow we aren’t selling the message. We talk about animals as “members of our family” and people clearly aren’t buying it. Maybe we need a new slogan.

Maybe you could enlist Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs to travel with you for a few days. Would let the world see the truth about the AR people. Lots of folks watch the Discovery Channel.
P.J.Holmes

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About me

  • I'm B.E.Trumble
  • From Everywhere, United States
  • Ben Trumble works in circus, carnival, and media relations
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