Monday, October 13, 2008

Sarah

I have a small metal box of mementos of women I’ve known and been with along the way in my travels on the road. Pathetic I know, sentimental old me. I haven’t been through the stuff in that box in a long time.

Tonight I was looking in the closet for something else when I came across it on the top shelf. I pulled it down and looked at it, hesitant to open it because I knew I’d be heading down memory lane and probably spend too much time there when I had other stuff to do.

I get sidetracked easy and this was one of those times. Why did I open that damn box? Of course I forgot all about my main mission, which was looking for something else. I opened the box and inside were some old passes of former Carny women, each of their smiling faces forever frozen in time on a plastic card, their names printed underneath.

When I came to Sarah’s picture my gut knotted up and I regretted opening that fucking box. Why oh why must we torture ourselves with the past? It’s been said that time heals all wounds, that’s a bunch of bullshit someone made up to make someone else, or themselves feel better. I honestly hope it worked. It doesn’t work for me.

Time doesn’t heal anything, it just wears it away, that’s not healing really. It’s kind of like rain on concrete, it just breaks it down after years and years. The concretes gone eventually, it’s the same with wounds, time wears them away, we forget, they’re gone. The ones that do remain, we still feel.

I looked at Sarah’s picture. She was smiling , brunette, young and pretty, an “All American” girl look to her. A girl next door. She never needed or wore make up in her life. My god it hurt to look at her picture, her looking back at me. There was a watch in the box too, hers, left behind, the hands stuck at 3:30PM many years ago.

I hired Sarah to work for the company I was with at the time. She was young and just out of University, looking for adventure for the summer with the Carnies of all fucking people.

Sarah didn’t swear, smoke, drink, or have any bad habits. She was as far from a Carny as you could get. She came from a wealthy family on the east coast. I can tell you they were none to pleased she was on the road. She was one of the best workers I ever had.

How and why Sarah hooked up with me, I have no fucking idea to this day. No one else did either. But it happened. We were like night and day on the outside, I was the opposite of everything she was. We did have some things in common, core personality things.

We were together always, for two and a half years solid. We worked together in the summer and lived together in the winter. Initially I wasn’t into the idea at all. She was too young for me. I told her that a number of times and we argued over it. I broke up with her twice the first summer and she got us back together.

I loved her so much, and she loved me right back. We were the way men and women are meant to be. We never had a serious fight, little spats, but I can count those they were so few. We never hurt each other, Sarah was the first and only woman I never hurt. There were a lot of “Firsts” when I was with her. She was also the first woman I’d lived with in years up to that point.

We were wintering in a small town shortly after the season ended. It was our second year together. Sarah informed me one day that her oldest sister Maria was coming for a visit. I thought that was great as I’d never met any of her family in person yet. She was so excited and I was excited for her.

Maria showed up a few weeks later and was a lot like Sarah of course. I can tell you she didn’t approve of, or like me. I let it go as Sarah’s happiness was more important to me. I arranged a weekend away for them at a camp not far from where we lived at the time. I rented a cabin and off they went to spend some quality time together.

They had a great weekend. And when Maria left Sarah was never the same.
She was moody and unhappy after that weekend. She wasn’t the Sarah I knew. And spending a solid two years together I knew her pretty well. I’d ask her what was wrong and she’d say “Nothing, I’m fine, just PMS, I’ll get over it”.She never did.

One evening a few months later we were sitting out on the porch having coffee in silence, taking in the night air. It was quiet I remember, chilly, snow would come soon. That’s when she quietly told me she was leaving. I can tell you my fucking world was rocked.

I was shocked, hurt, shaken, fucking speechless to say the least. I begged for an explanation. Pleaded for her to stay....all that shit. I’ll summarize it.

She told me she wanted to go, to get on with life. She said she loved me but that she couldn’t do this forever. She knew I could, but said she couldn’t.
Sarah didn’t see a future for “Us” is they way it was explained to me. In the time we’d been together she had lived as I lived, in the moment, one day at a time. Marias visit had popped that bubble, and she was thinking of her future now, the gig was up.

What could I do? Or say? She was right. I was approaching middle age, she was 21 years old for christ sake. Did I really want her wasting her life following me around the countryside? Living in a fucking bunk house?What the fuck was I thinking? Did I really believe we were going to live happily ever after? Yeah, like an idiot I guess I did.

I had promised myself that if this day ever came, I would let her go. I wouldn’t struggle or try and hang onto her. And I didn’t. We spent the next 3 weeks as we had always been, happy. We didn’t dwell on her departure date, until the dreaded day came.I didn’t want her last days with me to be bad ones, and they weren’t.

Maria picked her up on a Saturday. We hugged for awhile and said our good byes,she cried, I didn’t, I can’t, I’m not like that. Maria was waiting. Sarah turned around and waved, got in the car, and they were gone.

I sat on the porch smoking for awhile, pondering this fucked up universe we live in, where things are given and things are taken away. I can tell you that apartment was lonely and crappy looking when I finally went back in. Sarah had made it a home.

Life was cold and empty, it was a long lonely winter let me tell you. We kept in touch for the first little while, phone calls, the odd letter. The world turned and life went on. Sarah went back to school and got her masters, I went back on the road in the spring, and the one after, and the next one, same old me. The letters and phone calls became fewer as life rolled on and the past faded one year after another, they finally stopped.

Sarah’s happily married last I heard, has kids, a nice husband, the white picket fence. I haven’t talked to her in years but I know she’s ok.

Everything is temporary, there is no forever. Enjoy what you have now. I never regretted my time with Sarah, I was lucky to have her period.

In the end we are who we are. No matter who we try to be or wish we were. I am left with me, I always am.Love alone isn’t enough some times.

So I put her picture and her watch back in the metal box , and back up on the shelf. I don’t know when I’ll open it again. I completely forgot what I was looking for and it doesn’t matter now. I just had to write this down, it’s helped. Time for bed, sweet dreams of Sarah.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tim Mclean

My heart goes out to Tim's immediate family and his Carny family. He had so many adventures, laughs, and good times ahead. His future seasons were robbed by a piece of shit who's name I won't even waste my breath on. Maybe Canada should take a look at their immigration policy.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Interview On Ballycast

I'd like to thank Wayne Keyser from Ballycast for interviewing me for his podcast. You can catch the podcast here, as well as many others on "Show" people and "Side Show" people.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The End

It's that time of year again, a week ago it was, I'm always on the greyhound the first week of May. Last season I was long gone by this time. It feels strange not going, I think I'll be fine though, my heart does ache some. I live near a highway in this tiny town I'm in. The other night it was hot in my apartment so I was sitting outside smoking and staring at the stars, watching the trucks and cars go by, swishing away into the night, down the highway, their red tail lights fading. It suddenly occurred to me that it didn't matter where they were going, I'd probably already been there in my travels. I don't have to wonder anymore. That little voice inside that always whispered to me, tugged at me, has gone to bug someone younger. Things are as they should be.

I smiled when I realized this, watching that highway. I had a good run, better and longer than most. So many ran out of steam years ago, got tied down,married, kids, but I just kept going until there was no where to go anymore. While a lot of the people, friends, others, gave it up because they thought they had too, I knew that was a lie, we make our own choices, I never let time squeeze me out. The industry changed, I'm the same, time to go in a different direction.

The things I'll miss? The people I've worked and lived, and partied, and hurt, and sweated with all these years.

The hot sun turning me a dark brown.

The early morning dawn as we finish tear down and all mill around the trucks, smoking, waiting to get paid, talking about the next city, excited to be the fuck out of this one.

Riding in the truck, my back killing me, my vision bleary, watching the city melt away as we get to the main highway and then start making time. Me leaning back, closing my eyes , drifting off, listening to the hum of the motor, unconscious...dreaming.

The Midway at night, sparkling, busy, hot, excitement, and knowing I live there, everyone else has to go home.

My bunk, small but roomy. Listening to the young guys party and talk shit late into the night while I lay there, the "old guy", smiling, remembering when I was their age, and just as dumb.

I could go on and on, I'll miss it all and I'll never forget any of the people I love out there. I have no regrets, just lots of memories. We all have eras in our lives, times we remember fondly, I have always recognized them when they were upon me, while they were happening, we can't hang onto them, time won't let us, they slip by. Be aware of these times and experiences while they're happening, savor them as they pass by. No regrets.

People will remember me for a number of years to come, time will take them too, new faces will take their place, and someday no one will know who I was, but I'll know, I'll always know who I am.

I will continue to rewrite stuff, fill in gaps etc. This Blog is done though. Thanks for reading and your comments, you've all been too kind.

("You may bury my body down by the highway side so my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound bus and ride.")

--Me And The Devil Blues by Robert Johnson

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Prediction

Carnies are born, they can't be made. The Carnival Industry has always been made up of a certain type of person. That personality is a transient by nature, not materialistic, existing for the moment. These people do it for the love of it, they need to keep moving, dreaming, living just for this day, tomorrow comes tomorrow.

As I said in earlier posts, the Industry has been changing, and it is now completely changed over for the most part, things as they were are no more. It has been announced publicly that the Carnival as it was is now done. The new company doesn't call it the Carnival on their site, they call it their "Traveling Amusement Park", "Carnival" is a bad word.

Here's the problem, a major one for the new guys that have bought the Carnival world. They require background checks on new employee's, drug testing, and valid government ID. Because the industry pays shit wages, they have had to ship in South Africans to fill the openings. These kids will work for the $450 a week because it's big money in their country, but they only last a season or two, that's it, they're not Carnies. They have their little adventure and then move on with life, the industry is not their life, it's fun for now.

For Carnies it's different, they don't care about the money, they do it for the reasons I've already stated, you can get longevity out of a Carny. The equipment cost's so much to move over a season that the industry can't make a profit paying top dollar, that's why the wages have always been shit, and always will be.

The new "Rules" the corporation has put in place lock Carnies out in the cold, most of them can't pass a drug test, or a background check, sad but true. Locking them out was the intention. The corporation wants to really "Clean" things up they say, like they're so much fucking better, spare me.

The South African kids will last for a couple years, they'll come and go. The new corporation will constantly be having to train newbies for their new "Cleaned" up show, year in and year out. I personally don't think the big wigs will look so smug in a few years, like they do now in their publicity photo's, they'll be fucked eventually

I had a couple of companies offer me a job for the upcoming season, I listened to their offers but passed in a nice friendly way. I'm too old to start at the bottom. I only speak for me though, it's my opinion, some of the other long timers are going to give it a go and see how it works out, I think I already know. The new corporation offered me a job too, yep, doing the exact same thing as I've been doing for years now, I'd be in charge of my department. I laughed, I'm a Carny, not one of them.

Some of the people from the old show are going to stick with the new corporation, a lot of them are gone now, all the power to them, you gotta do what you gotta do and I don't judge anyone of them. I can't do it though, I'll never allow myself to be in a position where I have to answer to someone that knows less than I do about my job...ever. In the old days the guy I answered to knew my job inside and out, because he had come up doing it. Now, you answer to an administrator, someone who "Thinks" they know your job, because they have a title. We all make our own bed in this life, whether we like to admit it or not. No one talks "down" to me, because I never talk "Up" to anyone. I don't need money, or status, or power,to be like that. I am me. I define me. that's all I need. I'm just a Carny though, what do I fucking know.

Friday, February 16, 2007

What's New Lately

About a month after I got off the road, and my visit home, I landed in a city close by and thought I may as well start adjusting to the real world and get a job, any job,just something to keep me occupied. Normally I don't work in the off season, but considering this off season was going to be forever I thought it a good idea to jump right in and start adjusting to my new life off the road.

I lived in a run down motel for about a month, staying up all night, drinking coffee, smoking, and playing the blues on my guitar, just generally feeling fucking sorry for myself.

During the day (When I finally got my ass out of bed at about one or two in the afternoon) I'd wander around the new neighborhood getting familiar and wondering what the fuck I was going to do next. It's not uncommon for me to spend a month doing fuck all when I first get off the road, I'm usually beat and need this time to recuperate.

One afternoon I said to myself, "Self....today you're going to apply for the first job you see, regardless of what it is". I reasoned that no matter what I took as a job, at least it would get my ass moving.

When I walked out of my motel room that, cool overcast day to go buy cigarettes at the closest convenience store, I was dreaming of hot summer days, not working at a fucking convenience store.

There was a help wanted sign on the double glass doors as I entered so I applied. The girl that interviewed me was half my age and nice enough, she hired me on the spot and asked if I would please work the night shift because everyone else was afraid to and I looked like I could take care of myself. "Looking like you can take care of yourself doesn't help if some asshole has a gun to your face though", I told her. She explained that they had never been robbed and that it was just the unruly bar crowd most people couldn't handle. I said sure, ok.

I've been dealing with unruly people as a Carny, and on my crew for most of my life, so how bad could it be?

Well fuck me! What a bunch of little bastards they were, not all of them, just the ones with their hats on sideways and their pants hanging down their ass. They were cautious at first, being the true wimps they are, I'm not exactly the friendliest looking guy, one of my girlfriends said i was an "Ugly hunk", though I don't know how you can be a hunk when you're ugly.

I was calm and quiet that first evening when they started rolling in from the bar, watching, waiting for the first challenge, I knew it was coming. I was wise enough to know that because none of these little assholes knew me, they would push to see what was behind the scary mug, and I would show them, or be forever walked on. I've dealt with these little pricks for years on the road, on my crew, on the Midway. It's total bullshit that you have to beat any of these little fuckers up to get their respect. People that act dangerous are not dangerous, if they're giving attitude just call their bluff, it works every time.

Here's one example.

As a large group of them were paying for their stuff one one of them stole a lighter, thinking I didn't see, snickering to his buddy. He was the last in line and I waited patiently. They were all filing out the door one by one into the parking lot after they paid. This little prick was just about to walk out when I finally spoke. I called him back and then walked around the counter to meet him. I told him nicely to put the lighter back. He started to deny he took it, staring me down, his hat sideways, a product of too much MTV.

We were the only ones in the store, his buddies all milling around out in the parking lot. I stopped him in mid sentence and told him nicely that I liked his pretty hat, and that I would knock it off his pretty head and then step on it while his buddies watched. Then I told him I'd take that nice gold chain off his neck and keep it in place of the lighter,the choice was his. He didn't like me or what I said, but he did respect me and handed over the lighter without anymore bullshit and apologized. His attitude was gone now and I saw the real guy, he thanked me for not confronting him in front of his buddies and left. I never had a problem with any of them again, yet no one else it seems could handle them.

I learned a lot being a Carny. One of the things I learned at a young age is that you cannot ask for respect, you must assume it, people who ask for it never get it.

I did that job for a couple months, then the area manager offered me a job as a territory manager. It was a very good job and payed well, I almost took it, but I declined, packed up my shit and headed down the road to another city, forever restless.

I'm set up in a small apartment overlooking main street, I have enough money to get me through till spring if I want. I have no idea what I'm going to do as of yet, I'll figure it out, I always do. I'm dreaming of Midway lights, crowds, and hot summer nights.

I'll probably go looking for a Carnival in the spring.

On With Life

Ok, I'm finally past the "Feeling sorry for myself" mode. Self pity is comfortable for awhile, then it's like "Who gives a fuck?", time to get up and move on, life is so much more fun that way.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

End of an Era

I find it ironic that my Carny life should end just as the curtain lowers on the Carny Culture of today, it's last dying exhale.

The hard living, road happy people of yesterday are few and far between now, replaced with clean cut, drug free, South Africans or others the shows can import for cheap. Most of the big shows are owned by corporations now, not families anymore.

I met a guy this past summer who came over from South Africa to be a foreman on a big ride, he's some kind of engineer, he'd never even worked it before, now he's the foreman. Gone are the days when you worked your way up, season after season, sweating in the sun, setting up, tearing down, learning every inch of the ride until you got to the point you could "feel" when something was wrong. When you had "proved" yourself, you became the foreman.

All the Independents have been kicked off the show up in Canada so far, so the corporation can get all that action too, it's only the beginning, real carnies are becoming a people of the past.

I suppose it was the same at the turn of the century, when the industrial age came along and mechanical rides replaced the sideshow tents and girlie shows, fortune tellers, tattoo artists, and soon dominated the Midway. I'm sure the Carnies of that era felt much the same way.

Mark my words, the Carny world as it was...is over; I've seen it and felt it, watched my "family" of friends disappear over the last few years, replaced with clean cut people that "fit in" to the corporate mold.

We Carnies were what made the show fun for the public. As fucked up and neurotic as we were, we were unique, we were the heart and soul of the show. Now it's bland and tasteless, the public are bored with Carnivals, that's why.

I'm surprised no one has noticed, I guess you had to be there.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Place In The Sun

I’ve always had an incredible long term memory. Aunts and Uncles have commented on it, amazed that I could recall a certain event or place, considering I was 3 years old at the time.

In the early winter of 1969 I was a couple of months from my fourth birthday. My brother and I shared a room, his crib was across from me and I would wake him up in the middle of the night on occasion to chat, though he could barely talk yet. I’ve always been a night owl.

On this particular night I was explaining to him, as he sat on my bed listening attentively, that the lights we saw glittering out our bedroom window in the distance were a Circus, and that one day him and I would go there and live.

One day we did. He and I traveled the road together for a number of years, looking out for one and other, growing from boys to men on the Midway. When he became a man he left, he had another calling, and he became a husband and a father and moved on. I stayed, it was my calling, and my idea after all.

My mother says that when I was little she had to watch me like a hawk; I was always taking off; trying to run away, get out of the yard, or run down the road to who the fuck knows where. I’m still doing it to this day.

There’s a place in the sun, where all questions are answered, and everyone gets along, where there is no struggle. That’s where we’re all headed; I’m just taking a shortcut.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shauna (Do you wanna?)

I remember when Shauna was beautiful, back in the days when she turned every mans head.

You wouldn’t know it looking at her now though, the young beautiful Shauna replaced with the old worn out hag of a Shauna.

When I was a kid I used to follow her around, I had a crush on her and any little bit of attention she showed me made me feel fucking delirious with joy.

Shauna was always with some asshole, some fucking jerkoff that treated her like shit. Over the years she went from man to man, people eventually started calling her “Shauna do you wanna”.

A lot of the younger girls on the lot make fun of her, saying shit like “Oh my god, she is such an old bitch, and a hag, who would fuck that?” Then they laugh, thoroughly impressed with their own beauty.

I kindly say that none of them could have held a candle to Shauna in her day. I get looks of disbelief of course, it’s a fact I tell them, I was there, you weren’t even fucking born, and then I walk away.

A lot of people say Shauna fucked her life away, that she sucked too much Carny cock and it withered her away to an ugly old hag.

The truth of the matter is this….Shauna ate too much shit in life and it killed her spirit, like so many others, she’s only one example.

When a person let’s others walk on them, trades their dreams and ambitions in to please others, and to serve others interests, they die inside, and soon enough their outsides start to match their insides. They look old, beaten, and they are.

I see a number of the young girls who laugh at Shauna on the same path.

My advice.....don’t eat shit.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Sign

So I’m out for one of my late walks the other night…morning…about 2:00am. I walk up Main Street and the night is dead quiet, the air still, just the sound of the traffic lights blinking yellow.

I’m lost in thought as I walk along, thinking about a girl……a girl from a long time ago. I light a cigarette and my attention is suddenly caught by a familiar humming sound.

I look up and realize that I’m standing under the neon sign for the towns’ main hotel. It’s an eerie feeling. I worked at this hotel a long time when I was a kid and a teenager….during the off season, even before I was a Carny. I haven’t walked under it in many years.

The sign hums away…glowing… as I’m transported for a fraction of a second….back…before I was a Carny. The timing is perfect….this is exactly the time I used to get off work and walk under that exact sign…..timeless…humming for an eternity….while I get old.

It’s funny how smells and sounds can transport one back to a previous time, especially in autumn.

In that fraction of a second I realize that I would do it all again if given the chance….no regrets.

While all my friends were going to college…getting married…having kids…I was on the road…living in Carny land, seeing the country…living one day at a time.

The sign continues to hum and glow as I walk away, a lot older…disappearing into the night.

No regrets.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Where The Road Ends

This past summer was a frustrating one. The company downsized and my responsibilities diminished. There was a time when I was one of the few people that could do the job I do, not bragging, it’s just a fact.

I knew the company was downsizing this year, I had no idea it would affect my job the way it did. The industry is changing so fast, a lot of faces have disappeared over the last couple of years, and a lot more will in the very near future. A lot of us are becoming obsolete, we’re dinosaurs.

I’ve never said what my position is in the Carny world, there’s a reason for that. There are only a few of us that do it, if I specified, people would know who I am, and I would rather remain anonymous for my own reasons.

You see, I don’t have to work a joint or a ride, because of my position I had the freedom to wander the Midway day and night, and have for the last 17 years.

As a result of the industry changing, and the company downsizing, I’m not needed anymore, I can easily be replaced by a younger less experienced person that will work for less and take a lot more shit.

A lot of other people offered me jobs for next season, working in a joint mostly. But I can’t do it, I won’t, I’ve been free on the Midway too long. For me to go into a joint and make less money, and take orders from an idiot, would be a step down.

I’ve seen it with other people; I’ve watched what happens when they can’t accept that their time is up. They’ll take anything just to hang on, their pride disappears, one year they’re running stuff, and the next year they’re doing some shit job way beneath them, their pride gone.

I will not do that to myself, I refuse, I never forget who I am, even when others do. I paid my fucking dues in full; there isn’t a chance in hell I’m taking orders from someone that knows less than I.

So ends my 26 years on the road as a Carny….poof…..gone, where did the time go?

Sure I’m scared, so what, it’s a fact of life.

I’ve been working on my resume, it’s a little tough, and what do I write? “Professional Carny”.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, it’s scary. I’ll find a new profession I guess, if anyone’s hiring, let me know.

I’ll continue to post my stories and experiences from the road; it’ll just be “Diary of a Retired Carny” instead.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Home Is Where The Heart Is

The town looks the same, smaller.

My mother is thrilled I'm here.

Most of the people I knew are long gone now, time waits for no one, things look the same, but they're different.

I haven't seen my old friend Dave yet, he's working out of town, it'll be good to see him.

Late at night I go for walks, everywhere I look there are memories or ghosts from childhood, from someone elses life.

I'm an alien here, I don't belong, too many years, too many miles.

Home is where the heart is, mine is out there......somewhere.

We can't roll back time, we all become who we really want to be, whether we like it or not.

I blew in on the autumn wind, I'll drift out on a spring breeze.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Home

I hopped on the Greyhound and headed home, it would be the first time I saw my hometown in 14 years.

I didn’t talk to anyone on the bus for that 5 hour trip. I stayed to myself and stared out the window, thinking, wondering what in the fuck had kept me away for so long.

Life’s like that I guess, shit happens, time passes, one day we wake up and we’re a lot older and hopefully wiser, the years have passed and though we think we’re the same, we’re not.

I fell asleep and I dreamed, I dreamed of lazy summer afternoons, summer holidays away from the prison they call school, being free.

I awoke realizing that I’d got my wish, no regrets.

I looked out the window at the familiar landscape and buildings as we pulled into town.

The bus pulled into the small depot and I got off, I was the only one getting off in this small town.

It was late afternoon.

I grabbed my duffel bag from the driver. I sat on the bench on the sidewalk and watched the bus pull away and head down the street, back to the highway.

I lit a cigarette and looked around, nobody in sight, just the gold leaves of autumn blanketing the ground around me.

The town looked smaller than I remembered.

I sat there a long time before I called a cab to take me to my mothers.

The Invisible Man

I'm invisible on the Midway most of the time, a wallflower so to speak. I wander and watch, mostly you people, the ones that come to play on the Carnival.

You don't notice me, but I see you.

I'll sit and smoke, watching, wondering what your life is like, if you're happy with the choices you've made.

I watch you women, wondering if that's your boyfriend, husband, or just a friend. Does he make you happy? Is he a "play it safe" kind of guy? Does he bore you? Does he excite you? Or do you wonder if there's more out there?

My guess is the "latter" for a lot of you. The look in your eyes gives you away, he's too wrapped up in himself to see though, or too childlike to comprehend.

The boyishness in a man is cute, but it soon becomes tiresome.

Where I Fit In

We fit where we want to fit I think, in this country anyway. We have it good here compared to other parts of the world.

To say that all I can ever be is a "Carny", would be bullshit. I do know some people who will only ever be "Carnies" though, they don't really fit anywhere else.

The "Carny" life did "choose me" at a young age, in a manner of speaking, I was naturally wired for it though, some are not.

My brothers tried it, they were given the opportunity, or curse if you will, they weren't built for it though. They went on to lead normal lives, get married, have kids, nice houses, white picket fences, then there's me.

No one in the family says it, but they all think it, I'm a waste, I could have done better. I see it on their faces when I roll into whatever city they're in to play a fair. They pick me up at the lot and take me home for a couple days, to visit nephews and nieces that barely know me, that might see me once a year, briefly.

Do I regret it? No.

I'll tell you why.

I'm on my own path in life, we all have our own roads to go down. If you truly want to be unhappy, try doing what other people think you should be doing.

We all have an inner voice that whispers to us, all people have it I think, mine tells me not to worry about tomorrow, "things will be what they will be".

So I don't waste a lot of time worrying about stupid shit.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Contemplating

So here I sit, the dawn creeping in the window of my hotel room, contemplating.

The end of the season is a confusing time.

Time moves differently in the Carny bubble, it's more compressed, you live a lot in a short period where the pace of life is so much faster

The people that come to the Carnival seem to be going in slow motion, we're speeding along, always rushing, fitting a life into so many half hour breaks a day, a trip to the bathroom is a fucking excursion.

Suddenly the end comes, we're thrust into the normal world again and it seems as if everything comes to a stop, but it's only going slower, the mind is still rushing but the body has no where to go.

In the old days I was drunk for a month afterward, alone, talking to my self in a hotel room, who the fuck was I talking to?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Silence

I'm sitting in a darkened motel room as I write this, looking out the window at the carpet of lights that are the last city we play for the season.

The silence is deafening, the big "Merry Go Round" has finally stopped.

I have a lot of stories to tell, but they'll go in the big pot of memories I have and come out this winter among the rest of the tales I'll write here.

I can't go in chronological order, my scattered mind doesn't work like that. Everything will come out as it should, let the chips fall where they may.

I have no idea where I'm going next, where I'm going to winter that is. I am going home for a bit, for the first time in 14 years, I don't know if I'll stay though.

My woman's sleeping.

I can see her sexy shape under the covers, unmoving, dreaming, catching up on all those late nights of screwing we did this summer, when we should have been sleeping, resting for the next days grind on the Midway.

Why she was screwing this "old guy" is beyond me, I won't look a gift horse in the mouth though.

Everything is so fucking quiet and still, except me, the Midway is still ringing in my head, I haven't adjusted yet, but I will.

The girlfriend has been getting pissed off at me these last couple of nights, telling me to come to bed. I can't sleep though, my brain is still in high gear and will be for a couple weeks yet, it's the way I am.

She finally resigns herself to the fact that I'm not coming to bed and go's back to her dreams.

Me? I"ll just sit here in the dark watching the lights of the city, smoking, wondering where the fuck the summer went.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Boss

My boss, the owner of the company, is a fucking asshole. He can't help it though, he comes from a long line of pricks, he was born into this business and his dad was a bigger prick.

Old timers remember his mom and dad, and everyone from this generation will remember him and his jagoff ways.

They don't have the insight into him that I do though, they don't know he can't help the way he is, it's passed on.

I've worked for every kind of prick you can imagine, they're all the same, about as much class as a fucking outhouse.

They have no social skills, yet they think they're a charming lot.

They have no fucking clue that they're the idiots, not the rest of the world.

They are big shots in the "Carny Bubble", Lowbrows" when they step off the lot.

Some of the younger crew members don't know how to deal with the prickish boss, I do, here's a few pointers.

1. "DO NOT" try to be the bosses friend, he has none, what makes you think you will be the first?

2. "DO NOT" try to have a conversation with the boss, he could give two fucks about you or your opinion, or your personal life.

3. "DO NOT" try to win brownie points in any way whatsoever, don't jump in and trash someone when he's bitching about them to you, he's doing the same thing to you behind your back to fool. Now he thinks you're a bag licker.

4. "DO" your job, show up on time.

5. "DO" tell him to "GO FUCK HIMSELF" if he unjustly gives you shit, or tries to blame his own mistake on you, he's probably testing you to see if you're a doormat.

Just do your job, don't acknowledge him unless he does you.

In time he'll come to respect you and let you into his graces.

Most never make it, they're baglickers, the world is full of them, weaklings.

My Initiation

Freezing rain. I'm 14 years old and soaked to the bone, the wind is blowing through my wet clothes, my teeth are chattering, every part of my body moves stiff and slow I'm so cold.

I'm kneeling beside the big tent we just finished putting up, the canvas flaps are being whipped by the wind and hitting me in the face. I'm holding a stake upright on the cold cement, waiting for the sledge hammer and that dull metalic "thud" as metal meets metal.

I'm scared, terrified, the boss tells me not flinch, or look. He yells above the howl of the wind that if I do he'll end up "shattering my fucking hands". That's exactly the way he puts it.

I hold the stake straight and look away, in that moment I learn to focus, the ability never leaves me, to this day I can still focus in any crisis while I watch others fall apart.

From that day forward I held the stakes while the boss windmilled that sledge hammer, I never flinched and he never missed.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Out in the Cold

I've been kicked to the top bunk, the equivalent of the couch. My woman and I had a little disagreement over.....you guessed it, sex.

I was actually quite mature about the whole thing, I shut up and moved to the top bunk.

Not so many years ago I would have booted her cute ass right out the fucking door in a heart beat.

I'm older now, sober, clean, and a lot more docile in some ways, I just don't have the jam to scrap about that stuff anymore.

I'm still pissed off though, maybe I'll torture her tomorrow for awhile.

Sorry I haven't written, I couldn't, no time, zip. I work my ass off every day, plus there's always some fucking crisis I have to deal with.

I have a lot to say and write when the end of the season finally get's here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Circles Of Life - 2 (A Secret)

A long time ago, when I was a kid, I was friends with an old Romanian woman that traveled with the show, as a psychic. She was nice to me and told me some things. She was from a real Gypsy family and community in Romania, she came to this country some years before.

She read cards and tealeaves and even had a crystal ball. People just ate that shit up; they were so desperate for any insight into their confused lives. She made a lot of money. She passed away years ago and most on the show have long since forgotten her, I haven’t.

How I met her was through my boss at the time, he was friends with her husband, our trailers were usually parked close to theirs.

Her and I would sit and talk the night away sometimes, usually after a setup, and while all the other crew were at the bar, I was still too young to get in so I was stuck at the lot, I was a kid.

She was the one that taught me about the “Circles of Life”. No ones life goes in a straight line, the past always intersects with the future. If we leave a loose end, we will return to tie it up; fate will make damn sure of it.

Our lives will be a series of circles, some small, some large, spanning many years in some cases, making great loops, and sometimes-small ones, spanning days, weeks, or months.

Pay attention to those things you leave unfinished my son, you will return one day to complete them, perhaps when you’re young, perhaps when you’re old, fate is not bound by time like we are.” She said, smiling at me over her cup of tea.

Those were her words to me on that warm summer night so many years ago.

I’ve completed a few circles in my day, and have more to go. This is one of the secrets to telling the future, look at your circles, they cosmically bind you, and you can plot your life by them. Your circles are like a vague map, spooky, but true.

Her mother taught her this, her mothers mother taught her….and so on, for generations, and she taught me.

She taught me some other things too, but those are other stories, maybe I’ll tell them someday, maybe I won’t.

I’m tired, good night.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Circles Of Life

I'll miss the town I've been spending the last three off seasons in. It's quiet and out of the way, far from the busy Midway, and a number of miles off the main highway.

As I was leaving on the bus, it struck me that I would never be back. There's no reason for me to ever go back, I ended up there quite by chance and I know I'll never pass through that way again.

I watched the tree's go by out the bus window, thinking back over the last three winters. I met some good people there, but I'll never see them again, such is my life, always moving on.

I had all my bags by the door that evening, it was beautiful outside. It just rained, the sun had come out, and everything was a dark green. I called a cab and went upstairs to say goodbye to my roommates 4 year old daughter.

Her and I have spent a lot of time together these last three winters, I watched her grow from a baby into a bright, creative little girl. I got to her doorway and just watched, she was playing with her Barbie’s, engrossed in her own little world. I just watched for a while until she noticed me.

I hugged her and said goodbye, she tells everyone that I live at the Circus, and that some day she’ll come to the Circus and live there too. It was hard to see her waving goodbye as we pulled out if the driveway, I had to look away, I do that a lot.

I love kids, not having any is my only real regret in life I think.

When I left my hometown years ago, I left loose ends untied. When I finally go home this fall, that circle will be complete. I left no loose ends here, there is no circle to complete, that’s how I know I won’t be back.

The Carny House

The Carny house is a beehive of activity. It’s hard to get any time alone, even though I have my own room. We’re just getting some equipment ready for an upcoming show, there’s nothing really interesting to tell. There are only five of us at the house right now.

We talk and laugh late into the night, remembering people and experiences from seasons past. We meet here every spring, usually the same people; we go our separate ways in winter.

Martins back, we call him “Smarty” because he’s ….well…not all that smart. He has a good heart and he’s a hell of a worker and a friend.

He’s been trying to quit the Carny life for the past few years, dreaming of living a normal persons life. His wife has finally had with him though and told him she’s done with him, this time for good. Smarty’s only real sin in life is that he doesn’t fit.

He’s pretty lost right now, I see it in his eyes, the blue of the TV screen on his face in the dark, staring past the screen, at nothing. He won’t talk about it, but he’s deeply wounded. He only fits here. Smarty will never be the man his wife want’s him to be.

Larry is here, he’s bigger than ever, and he looks older than ever. His drinking has really escalated over the years and there are whispers that he’ll be found dead in his bunk sooner or later. Larry has never fit anywhere else either, he’s spent his entire adult life out here, we’ve known each other for 20 years.

Larry was supposed to be looking after his health this winter, I lectured him several times last year. Larry just works and works, he doesn’t take care of himself. I remember years ago he had a wife, I was standing close by the pay phone when she told him not to ever come home again, he never did, he’s been here ever since.

Teddy Bear’s here too, we’ve known each other since we were kids. Teddy Bear has a “father son dynamic” going with our alcoholic fucked up boss, which means he’s an emotional whipping post.

The boss is constantly yelling at him, then getting drunk and singing his praises. Teddy Bear and I’ve talked about it a number of times, I’ve advised him to tell the boss to go fuck himself and quit. This would establish a line, the Teddy Bear is a third generation Carny, he can get a job anywhere, on any show, anytime.

He knows all that, at some level he needs to be abused though, these types always do, men and women alike.

Trina is back, this is only her second season. Trina is a young pretty thing, somewhat sheltered, but learning fast. She’s trying desperately to find her place here, she doesn’t belong, I’ve told her that. We’ve had a lot of late night talks in the time I’ve known her. Trina is too sweet to ever make it here, she has too much virtue in her. I doubt she will last this next season, and that’s a good thing.
Me, I’m just me. People say I’ve been around forever, and it sure fucking feels like it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

What Matters To Me

Character matters the most to me. It’s one of those things no one can take from you. I’ve met a lot of people that had nothing in this world, but they had character, experiences, they were interesting.

I’ve also met people that had a lot going for them in the material sense, and they were the dullest fucks, no story.

Life is about experiences to me. I can save them up and pull them out anytime I want, no one can ever take them, I can share them though.

I’ve never been interested in chasing money, not more than I need anyway, what a boring life that would be. I’ve lived out of a duffel bag for a long time, I can pick up and go wherever I want, no material ties, that’s freedom to me.

People with kids can’t do that, and I wouldn’t either if I had kids, but I don’t, so I can do what I want. I don’t let people give me negative opinions on my lifestyle, I tell them to shove it up their ass generally. As long as I don’t hurt anybody else I can do what I want, and I do.

Right now, as I sit on this bus, rolling along, I have nothing but what’s in front of me, down this highway.

I have a couple grand in my pocket, a guitar and two duffel bags packed away under the bus.

Life’s pretty good, no worries for today.

I hope I get laid soon.

The Greyhound

I’m on the Greyhound right now, how many times have I made this trip this time of year? Everything is dark except for a light on above the seat near the front, a woman’s reading.

I’ve just been sitting here staring out the window at the blackness, thinking. I’ve been thinking about past seasons, when I was excited to be on the Greyhound, now I could give a fuck.

I’m just like a plumber or a construction worker, just a guy going to work. I’m sure they don’t get all giddy and excited when they're heading to their job.

It’s funny when you’re sitting on a Greyhound, you have so much time to think, replay previous conversations, ponder your life, ask yourself questions. I’ve been on this damn bus so many times.

I hate flying, it scares me, when I get scared I get mad, when I get mad I’m like a bull in a china shop and I don’t give a fuck about anything or anybody.

I flew to a spot one time, it was storming, lightning, shit, the plane was bouncing around, and I was fucking mad. I was hanging onto the seat and my fucking hands were white. I was incredibly rude to the flight attendant and a couple other people.

I can be an intimidating person, I’m not the handsomest guy, and I look rather mean and get a dark expression when I’m pissed off , and I have a rather sharp tongue, people usually don’t bother me.

Just when I thought I was going to blow my fucking lid this nice looking woman comes down the aisle out of nowhere, a passenger. She takes the empty seat next to me, puts her hand on mine, looks at me with the bluest eyes, and says in the softest voice,

“Don’t be afraid, I don’t like flying either, let’s ride it out together.”

She knew what was wrong with me; everyone else thought I was an asshole. I calmed right down and fell asleep on her shoulder, I felt like a fucking baby after. Mr Macho man, fuck.

I like the Greyhound though. It kind of moans, crawling along the highway, I sleep easy on a bus, any vehicle, always have.

So I sit here, writing, watching the blackness outside the window, the lights of the towns as they go by. Fuck, I need a cigarette.

I'm Wireless

So I got my wireless for my laptop. I’ll be online this summer and won’t have to go seeking Internet cafĂ©’s in various cities, though I know where most of them are now.

I still won’t be able to post as often as I would like because of the hours I work, but I will be able to post more often than if I didn’t have wireless.

I love my laptop. I remember a time when it was a bitch to find a payphone to call home when I was younger, now I have a connection to a world wide web, technology, who knew.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

On the Road:Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac was a self destructive drunk and a good enough writer I think. His book "On the Road" was a fictional story. As a fictional story I think it's good.

So why then did a generation accept it as true and set out "On the Road?" Because they were fucking idiots, that's why.

Most of them were fairly "Well to Do" little snobs that watched too many movies and read too many stupid books and thought it would be cool. Then reality set in.

Jack was a bit of a fraud in some ways. Reading the book and living "On the Road" in some form or fashion for many years of my life I can tell you it's not near as exciting or romantic as he portrayed. That tells me he was full of shit.

It was a fictional story and I believe that's what he intended in the beginning. But a restless generation accepted a lot of it as fact and created a Jack that never really was.

You wouldn't believe some of the morons I've met in "This" generation that embrace that book as the "Real Thing".

We are the real thing, us Carnies. We are the real "Road Dogs". We are tough, and resourceful, "We" know how to survive.

Over the years I have met so many "Pseudo Road Travelers" pretending to be something they're not. Running home to mommy and daddy when reality sets in and they realize it's not the grand romantic adventure they read it would be.

I can survive on fuckall, I've done it. I've traveled, hitchhiked, two thousand miles without a dime in my fucking pocket. I can tell you it wasn't too romantic. But I can do it if need be. I am the real thing.

I met a number of them with guitars on their backs too, imagining they could sing for their supper I suppose, fucking fools. They sucked on the guitar as well, I know, I can play for real.

Go home to mom and dad fools, it's where you belong. They paid for you to get that degree you have, use the fucking thing, I would. Leave the road to those better equipt for it.

Do you think any of these fools ever listened to any advice I gave them? No. Why would they, I didn't paint a romantic picture, I told them to go the fuck home and quit being stupid.

Do you think they were interested in the "Real Thing?" No. Why would they be, they wouldn't know it if it jumped up and bit them in the fucking ass.

Survivors are born, they see the world from a different perspective and this allows them to see loopholes, scams, ways to get by that others don't see. That's what Carnies are, they're survivors in a sense.

We have real stories to tell. The media, hollywood, and book publishers aren't interested in us though, they want shlock, bullshit. Ask Barbara bamberger Scott, writer of a supposed Carny book with a bunch of made up contrived characters and stories.

The funny thing is that the true stories are far more interesting than the romantisized, contrived shit that get's published and passed off as truth. Funny fucked up world.

It's the same thing with music I find. People are more interested in the image than the actual music.

Speaking of music, as I said, I play. The most interesting music to me is blues, simply because it's the sexiest and most earthy I guess.

I play a lot of slide type stuff and record some once in awhile. When I get a feeling I make it into an instrumental on my guitar and record all the parts myself in the winter when I have a few months off.

I have to play everyday, and I do on the road too, in the morning before the lot wakes up.

The song I will leave a link for you to go listen to was one of many I've put together. I made it up when we were busted down on the side of the highway and I was on my way home, so I was a little depressed and it seemed I'd never get there.

The recording is a little shitty but I thought I would just give you an idea of what I like to play, and another glimpse into me.

Heres the link. Just click on the "Music" link in my profile when you get there.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Back To Carnyland

I'm heading back out on the road and don't know when I'll be able to post again. I'll post as often as I can but my posts will be few and far between until late fall.

Here I go again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So You Wanna Be A Carny

Why? You can run, but you cannot hide. People have fantasies of running away, dropping out, leaving all the bullshit behind. I've met lots of people over the years that were running away.

A Carnival is a good place to hide, no one really gives a shit who you "really" are. You can give a fake name, fake SSN, I know all the tricks. No one will find you if you don't want to be found, and no one in Carny land will ask too many questions.

But again, why?

Life has a funny way of following us no matter where we go, because we have to bring ourselves along. We can't leave ourselves behind with all the other shit. No matter where I go, there I am, fuck.

The Carnival lot is like a little self contained society that travels around, it's easy to disappear there. You can live and travel for years at a time off the radar if you do things right, and keep your mouth shut.

I can't count the times I've told people to go home and face their shit. It's the same thing with a lot of the younger people I meet on the lot, or on my own crew, the ones with some kind of promise......."Go the fuck Home".


There are "True Carnies", and then there are the "Runaways", and they're not all young by the way. "True Carnies" are transient by nature, "Runaways" are just doing it because they think they have no other option.

There's always another option..."Grow the fuck up" it's called.

Even if I weren't a Carny, I would be some kind of transient drifter. I would be on the road in some form or fashion.

Years ago, when I was young, I said "Fuck the Carnies". I went drifting around by myself. I hitchhiked here and there, worked for a bit, moved on, and did it again. I met every kind of weirdo you can fucking imagine that summer.

I found it interesting how some seemingly "Normal People" act when they think they will never see you again and that no one gives a shit about you.

I had "seemingly nice" old guys wanting to suck my cock, wanting me to suck their cock, all the while showing me pictures of their wife and kids, talking about what a good life they had. I spent a lot of hours riding in vehicles with "normal looking" fucking weirdos.

I returned to the Carnival after that summer. It's a lot safer, and it's home.

Things That Haunt me

In the early summer of 1985 we pulled into a small city out west to do a show, I was 19 that summer. We had a whole day off after setup. I wanted to spend that day by myself and explore a little bit, rather than get shit face drunk with the rest of the clowns and waste it.

I took a cab downtown and walked around, it really was a nice place, and then I saw her. She was a dark skinned beauty close to my age. She was sitting outside on a bench just beside the mall doors. Being young and full of myself I went and sat down by her and we started talking.

I told her why I was in town, we talked awhile and I asked her if she wanted to smoke a joint. She said ok and we went for a little walk and puffed one. She really was something to look at though. It turned out she was born in Greece and her parents had immigrated when she was a baby.

It was a warm beautiful summer day and we just strolled around downtown and chatted. I still remember her name, it was Christina. I asked her if she knew a place we could go for a drink and so we walked to a nearby Pub and had a few drinks.

We eventually ended up at a motel fucking the night away. In the wee hours of the morning I told her I needed to go get cigarettes, and I never went back. Once I had what I wanted I didn't give a shit about her. That's the way I was in those days, a fucking prick.

I'd like to apologize to her, and countless others, for being a rotten fucking prick, not that they hadn't already figured that out, but just so they could hear me say it, admit it.

I did a lot of fucking in the "Pre Aids era", before it became a big scare, with Carnies and locals. I never gave a shit about any of them. As long as I got what I wanted I could fucking care less. I treated a lot of them like animals. I knew what they wanted to hear and I said it to get what I wanted.

I can't count the women I've slept with, and I don't say that with any fucking pride. How many of them did I know for one day and never see again? I can't count. Their faces come back to me sometimes.

How many of them had kids by me? I will never know. Maybe somewhere out in this world, there is a young woman with a kid of her own, struggling, with no one to help her. Or a young guy, always in some sort of shit, banging around in the world, both, or either of them, wondering where the fuck they fit.

There's a good chance they're my kids, that I'm the transient Carny asshole their mother knew for a night, the prick that treated her like a fucking dog. Maybe she tells them they wouldn't have wanted to know me anyway, that I was a no good prick.

Theses are the things that haunt me sometimes late at night, when I'm alone with my thoughts. The faces of those young men or women, the ghosts of children I may or may not have helped to bring into this world. We will never know each other, even if we were to cross paths in this life I will never know them.

These are the the things that haunt me. In the end I have to stuff it all, this is how I deal with it. There is nothing else I can do, it's the only way I can live with it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Moment Of Clarity

The rain is beating against the windsheild, I can't see it though, I'm too high. Dale is driving, he's my best buddy on the road, I've known him for years. He's giving me a lecture and I'm trying to listen but I want to nod off, it takes everything I have to keep my head up. I took too many fucking Perc's again.

I stop trying to focus on him or the beads of rain on the windsheild. What started out as a conversation has turned into a fucking rant by Dale, I'm getting mad.

"It's one thing to party and have a good time, look at you? You're fucking killing yourself!" He says.

I tell him to "Go fuck himself!", I try to point out that he's no fucking better but my arguments are weak and I know it, Dale does his job, I've been dead weight for awhile now. I'm only around because the boss likes me, and believes I'll straighten up, but that's quickly fading, people talk, I'm a fuckup.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" I don't even know you anymore, and other people say the same thing, you don't give a fuck about anybody, and everyone has to do your fucking job for you!"

His voice is bouncing around in my head, echoing, and he's right, I don't give a fuck, I'm about to pass out. My head falls against the window and I can barely make out the landscape through the side window, I can feel drool running down the side of my face, I wipe it away with my sleeve.

He ends his lecture quietly with "Somebodys gonna find you dead in your fucking bunk, or on the lot somewhere"

My mind goes back about 600 miles and two stops ago. Stacey and I are behind one of the trailers and she's yelling at me about not caring, about my being high "All the fucking time!", destroying myself, and not giving a fuck about her or us. I smile at her, I can't feel what she wants me to feel, I get nervous and smile, she smacks me hard in the mouth twice and turns and walks away crying. I'm numb.

There's blood coming from my lip and I wipe it away as I watch her get in the van with the rest of the crew. I know I love her but I can't feel anything most of the time anymore, I'm to high. I can't stop.

The truck hits a bump on the highway and my head bangs against the window, it snaps me back to the present. The window feels cold. I grab my jacket and use it as a pillow. The last thoughts I have as I lose consciousness are questions.

Is "Everybody" wrong? Am I really that fucked up? Deep down I know the answers though.

Two Worlds

When I'm on the road, the regular world seems a distant memory, and when I'm off the road, the Carny world seems a distant memory.

The "Normal world", as I and many others call it, is a quieter more stable enviroment. Workers have rights and get paid decently, they get breaks, there are labour laws, attitudes are better, and people aren't treated like dogs. People work 40 hour weeks and have benefits, well....in most cases.

The Carny world is a harsh, dysfuncional, fucked up world in a lot of ways. It's dog eat dog, though the normal world can be like that too in some instances. A majority of the people that are workers on a Carnival lot are generally the highest form of incompetence society has to offer.

I'm not talking about the owners or the long time Carnies, I'm talking about the people who last a half or maybe two seasons. The people who piss anything and everything they have in life away, no matter where they are. There is an incredible turnover in staff on any Carnival lot.

Life on a traveling Carnival is fast paced and stressfull; living and working with the same people for 15 hours a day and months at a time really wears on a person. The negativity and attitudes can become unbearable at times, even my own.

When I was younger and the season ended, I'd be drunk or pilled up for a whole month trying to adjust to the quiet and slower pace of the normal world. People I knew, friends, family, thought I was fucked, and I was.

The end of the season is like being on a "Merry Go Round" that suddenly comes to a dead stop, it's hard to adjust. Now that I'm older and clean and sober, I deal with the adjustment in a different way. I'm a recluse for the first month, I decompress, I spend a month away from people, as much as I can anyway.

My attitude is incredibly harsh and I'm not fit to be around regular people for the first little while, so I stay away.

On the road I am constantly prepared for a fight, an argument, a crisis of some kind. I can be just as big a prick as I have to be, only the mean dogs last. If I interact with the normal world to soon, people look at me funny, like there's something wrong with me, because there is.......I'm fucked in the head from the road.

When the "Merry Go Round" stops, and all is still and quiet, there I am, standing on an empty lot, different colored leaves swirling around on the ground, the summer gone, replaced by autumn.

It's time to go home, wherever that may be.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Forecasting And Predictability

People are generally predictable. We follow patterns and programming within us. Most people will simply follow the crowd, this is called the "Herd Instinct."

It's also the reason a "Pitchman" will call a couple people in and ask them to hang around while he does his pitch. Of course others in the "Herd" see these people watching and follow suit, either wondering what's so interesting, or just doing what they see others doing, that's human nature, and so a crowd gathers. A crowd always starts with one or two people.

I have my own way of looking at things and breaking them down, I put the majority of people in three catagories. "Leaders" "Followers" and "Followers that think they're leaders"

"Followers that think they're leaders" seem to be the easiest to manipulate in my opinion. All you have to do is pretend to follow them, acknowledge their leadership, and then make subtle suggestions in a way that they think it was their idea, then back them up on that idea and they will follow through on it.

"Followers" on the other hand need to be lead directly, they will always gravitate to the strongest person. You must be blunt and to the point with them, you must "tell" them, not "suggest". Also, you must be unwavering, confident, if you waver, they will follow someone else.

"Leaders" cannot be lead, that's why they're leaders, but they can be persuaded. It must be put forth as a collaberative effort though, or they won't do it, "leaders" collaberate, they don't follow.
Again, confidence is important, one cannot waver, you must be straight and to the point, and strong.

These are things I've learned about human nature on the road, working with the public, and working with Carnies on a crew.

Midways are set up in such a way as to direct the "Herd". It works the same way with Casinios. The Midway is setup so that the public will move in a certain manner and direction.

People can be predictable at a personal level too. I liken it to predicting the weather though, you can learn to give an accurate forcast but unforseen circumstances can change certain variables and throw things off.

I learned a lot over the years from the old guys, some Game Agents, some Pitchmen, and a couple Sideshow people.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Reason I Started This Blog

I didn't know people would actually find it, I didn't know anything about Blogs a month ago. I am learning a little now. The reason I started writing here was because I kept losing shit I wrote on my computer.

I would write something and file it in a folder and then either delete it or lose it somehow. My computer is full of shit, programs, downloads, folders, folders in folders, there's a lot of stuff. I'm a packrat and save every little thing, then when I try to clean it I end up deleting a folder that had a folder in it with something I wrote.

So, a friend suggested that I just put all my stuff on a Blog and told me where to go to sign up. Everything I write stays here, I don't delete it by accident, cool.

The reason I write this stuff isn't because it's important, it's not really, only to me. I write mostly to myself and that keeps me honest, and that's what's important. If people like reading it, if they get something out of it, I think that's a bonus.

All the stories or thoughts I write here are rough outlines of what the story will eventually be. I find writing very difficult and only started doing it this past winter. There is so much more I could write into each thought or story but it takes everything I've got to get that little bit out. Hopefully I will get better with practice. You don't know how often I sit here with a fucking dictionary looking up a word...I had to look up dictionary for christ sakes.

My plan is to eventually get it all written, and then rewritten, and rewritten, until I get it out the way it is in my head. Then I will go to a Vanity Publisher and publish one copy of a book, it will be something for me to look at when I'm old and remembering being a Carny.

I know my days are numbered in this industry, the end is in site, a long chapter of my life is drawing to a close in the next couple years. All I have to show for it are my memories and my experiences, I decided I would write them before they fade with age, and they will.

When I die, they can put that book in the ground with me.

Jackie Brown

I can't remember Jackie's last name, I haven't seen her in a decade or more. I just remember she hated it, so I called her Jackie Brown.

She was short and well built, attractive in an odd way, and had an explosive temper. Her parents were hardcore bikers and she had grown up in an incredibly fucked up enviroment. Jackie was very hard to get to know, she didn't trust people and her walls were thick.

I don't know why she let me in, but she did, and we got to be good friends. We spent a lot of nights drinking until the break of dawn, when the birds start singing.

Jackie was reserved, but not shy, always watching, distrusful, I suspect she lived in some kind of personal hell, demons everywhere, I could tell her insides didn't match the outside.

When she drank she got mean, violent mean, but she had to be provoked. She fought like a man and she hit hard and didn't miss. None of the girls fucked around with her, and I only ever saw her fight men, a couple times.

One night we were drinking and made our way to someones hotel room. Some ride jock said something to her, I can't remember what, she was a blur as she rammed the side of his head into the corner of a dresser, there was blood everywhere and his eyes were rolling back in his head.

Everybody was screaming and she was screaming, "Fuck him, he should watch what he fucking says....fucking cunt."

We left. Hotel securiy came and he went to the hospital for a concussion. The cops showed up on the lot but no charges were pressed, they chalked it up to Carnies fighting amongst themselves. The hotel didn't care, as long as everyone left. That was Jackie.

Sometimes at night she would fall asleep on my bunk with me. We never had sex though, that's not what she needed anyway, just someone there beside her that she trusted.

She told me once that it wouldn't be a good idea for us to become a couple, she said she knew I'd eventually fuck around and that she would end up killing me. I believed her. We stayed friends.

She ended up leaving after getting fired for punching a customer that was drunk and insulting. That was Jackie.

I didn't see her for about five years. I ended up in a Detox in a city I landed in. I was seriously fucked up from a summer of working my ass off and smoking crack. I was a real mess that year.

Guess who was there? Jackie Brown. We did some catching up, she looked as bad as I did. Jackie was in horrible shape and looked like death. Her walls were thicker, I couldn't get in, she was like a familiar stranger, things weren't the same.

One morning she got into a verbal argument with one of the Detox staff, she called her a "Cunt" and stormed out. I don't know what happened to Jackie after that.

I still think about her though.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Late At Night

Sometimes late at night, when I'm laying in my bunk and can't sleep, I open my window a crack and listen to the young guys and girls on our crew partying.

I chuckle to myself when I'm listening to them, all their shit talk, laughing, music. They say youth is wasted on the young. I don't think so. I'm not jealous of them, it's there time, I had mine, I want them to have fun.

I get a kick out of their attitudes though, they are me, 20 years ago. Sometimes they like to give me a hard time....the young ones.

"Hey Dad, you sure you don't wanna beer?"

And I say, "Fuck, I've spilled more beer than you've had the time to drink yet, you little bitch."

Tim and Donny are two brothers on the road, we've kind of adopted each other in a way. When we're traveling to a new spot and pull in at a truckstop, I'm always introducing them to the waitress as "My two asshole sons". I then remind them in front of the waitress that they're both "The loads there Mamma should have swallowed".

I've yet to meet a waitress that didn't crack up when I say that. They all think the boys are my kids. I guess they and some of the other young ones are the closest I'll ever come to having kids.

I'm always there for them as best I can be. I'm usually a buffer between a lot of the younger Carnies and the boss. He doesn't seem to remember being young and stupid and has very little patience with the younger ones among us.

He constantly mistakes fear for respect, this is a mistake, fear is not loyal, it works in the short term. Respect is built on caring, people know when you really care for them or not. Even when I lose my temper the odd time, and am extremely harsh, the young ones know I care. I remember being their age so well, like it was yesterday.

So I lay there listening to them, and I fall asleep to their laughter, it's music to me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lot Lizards

They exist on every Carnival lot in the world I'm sure. We've all had our turns with them, well....most of us. I haven't touched one in years.

They're easy, they take no work or effort, they'll fuck anybody. "Rode hard and put away wet" is the term. They're rough looking and it's not hard to tell they've been fucked a hundred times.

When I was young I was mean to them, treating them like shit, throwing them out of my bunk into the rain when I was done. I told more than one to go crawl back in her hole.

I'm older now and see them for what they really are, just deeply wounded human beings that no one ever gave a shit about. Most of them are runaways or girls that bounced around in the fucked up system their whole lives.


Lisa was one I met a few years ago. She was working on a ride, getting paid shit, and trying to survive off shake. The guys on the ride were getting most of it though. Lisa was trying to live off four dollars a day in change.

Lisa wouldn't take charity though, she had a fierce pride about her in some ways, it was all she had I guess. She'd fucked and sucked her way across the country on the Carnival, that's how she survived, that and shake.

I'd be sitting in the cookhouse when it was raining, drinking coffee, and pondering the universe. Lisa would come in soaked, looking like a drowned rat, counting her change, rarely having enough to get what she wanted.

She knew I was an easy mark for a cigarette and would eventually make her way over to me and bum one. We'd sit there under the bare light bulbs and shoot the shit about whatever, small talk usually.

Finally one cold rainy night I said to her, "Why don't you just let me feed you?"

She started in whith her "I don't take charity" attitude. I told her to cut the shit, told her she looked like a fucking ethiopian, she relented, dropping her guard.

She was also sleeping in a possum belly at night, which sucks by the way. So after that, whenever it was wet and cold I'd let her sleep in my trailer on the top bunk.

All the guys thought I was fucking her but I wasn't. I don't know what happened to her, she just didn't come out one year and I never saw her again.

I see a lot of them on the road, they come from broken fucked up homes, and with all the screwing I did out there years ago, who knows, one of them could be my kid.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Cincinnati Kid

His real name was Trevor, but no one called him that, just "kid", or "Cincinnati". He wasn't a kid at 32, and he would be the first to tell you he'd never even been to Ohio.

He got that name from an old Carny years ago that he hustled in a pool game, he was always in shit for that, he was a pro.

He was good looking and knew it, and he could out think most people in his sleep, he was sharp. he could talk you into anything, and you never saw it coming.

A lot of woman bitched about his conceit, but then they'd be the first to fuck him if they got the chance. I never met a woman he couldn't manipulate, or bend to his own will.

I learned a lot about human nature from him. He always knew what to say, who to say it to, and when to say it.

"People always want what they can't have" he'd say, "And that's how you hook them"

"Give them a little taste, then pull it away, women included"

"Women put nice boys on a shelf so they can chase the bad ones, if you aint bad, you're fucking boring."

I can't count the times or towns a fight broke out because of him, and someones girlfriend. Locals didn't like us as it was, and really didn't like us when he was in the bar. He punched a lot of locals out due to the fact that he was a boxer.

We'd end up in jail, and the boss would come and get us, no lecture, just told us to get our fucking asses back to work, "And stay out of the fucking bar" he'd yell at us.

The "Kid" always took it as a compliment when someone didn't like him, "It means they see you as a threat at some level" he'd say, it's the truth in most cases.

I think about him sometimes, and I miss him. He went to prison for three years for pulling a gun in public. Nobody's ever seen him on the road since.

Maybe he settled down somewhere, but I doubt it, I just hope he's still alive.

Riding In The Van

It's 2:00 am somewhere on a long stretch of highway. Everythings quiet except for the drone of the wheels on the road.

The inside of the van is dark and everyones asleep. I can faintly hear a walkman playing music near the front, I'm way in the back smoking a cigarette and staring out the window at the blackness.

Shawna, one of the girls that works for us is awake too, she's giving me a blowjob in the dark, fuck I hate the Carny life somedays.

Changes

As you can see, I've changed a few things. Ok, I figured out the "Comments" thing.....duh. They're the zero's at the top of each post.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lines On My Face

While having a piss this morning, lost in thought, I happened to glance in the mirror, it was like a stranger was looking back at me. Where did the young guy go?

It's funny how I often remember myself as I was, younger, fresher, I think a lot of people do it. But I'm not, I am my age and it shows, right from the white in the stubble on my face to the lines and creases emerging.

I remember a fortune teller on the lot told me when I was young that I would live to be 84. If that's the case, then I'm not middle aged yet.