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Blood and Circuses


Friday night I went to see a good triple bill: longtime local standouts Lou Ford, the melancholic Houston Brothers, and a newish band called The Talk, all at Tremont. The Talk -- nice guys all -- I mostly avoided speaking with, as I mistakenly identified their drummer last week (too many Jeremys!). Their show was a good one, however, tight in all the right spots and loose where it needed to be. The Houstons were at their usual hypnotic best, even though keyboardist (and drummer, and singer, all at the same time) Justin Faircloth was fighting a torn ACL. Lou Ford? Well, every time Lou Ford plays, violence seems to follow in their wake -- someone brandishing a gun, a couple of drunks being tossed out headfirst out the door, or my beating my head on the bar after realizing I left my money in my other jeans. This show was no different. Standing near the bar and chatting pleasantly with some folks, I heard a loud "thunk." Thinking for a bit, I quickly ran through all my previous life experiences with that kind of sound. A few nanoseconds later, I had it. Head hitting floor. A guy had been drinking, and hopelessly tried to hold on to the ticket/merchandising booth as he felt his equilibrium waver. I saw nothing but the result, which ought to make ANTiSEEN's Jeff Clayton envious. The guy was hustled outside for some air by the quick-acting Tremont staff while an ambulance was called. One gentleman behind him in line who helped the guy back to his feet asked (kidding, I think) if he could get in free since he had blood on his hands. At this point, there was still blood on the floor, which someone quickly wiped up, as a pool of blood on the floor greeting you as you walk in isn't all that good for business, I'd imagine. A few short minutes later, an ambulance and fire truck arrived, which was way quicker than I thought seeing what end of Tryon St. Tremont Music Hall's on. The guy's head was cleaned and bandaged, and he was placed on a stretcher. He was a pretty tough kid -- one fall like that and I'd likely be ensconced in one of those Road To Wellville places T.C. Boyle wrote about. After he was strapped to the gurney, and was being wheeled off, people started clapping -- cheering, even. A few of the rescue guys smiled, no doubt used to performing in private. Beer, it seems, makes everything a spectator sport. How else can you explain tennis and bowling?

Tottering around North Davidson St. Sunday night, I heard the sounds of a circus, and saw all manner of freaks walking the streets around Fat City. No big deal, right? This is North Davidson St., after all. This time, though, it was a circus. Well, sorta. Called the End of the World Circus, it was held in the alleyway behind Fat City Deli. It contained no elephants, tigers, or trapeze artists, but it did have kids under 10 dressed in old jester outfits and fighting with plastic hammers and swords. There were no "three rings." There was a man with six nipples, whose torso looked like the underside of a large hairless female dog. There was one very large black man dressed in a clown costume, just to keep some sort of semblance of a circus going. After a few minutes, I started to feel hallucinatory, like I was watching some weird absinthe-inspired mix of Roberto Benigni, a band of gypsies, and, well, Fat City's normal crowd. The big hit was a scantily clad gal who did the hula hoop. Ordinarily, that'd be enough for me and most others. However, this young lady lit the hula hoop on fire first. She initially started moving the hoop slowly around her body, which I couldn't understand. If I were twirling a flaming hula hoop, I'd be moving so fast it'd look like a giant Slinky coiled around my body. At one point, the girl almost got the hoop caught around her neck. Talk about going down in the proverbial ring of fire.

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