good ol’ boys and 100 shows on planet circus

August 16, 2008

Days in Jackson Hole are spent sitting with Michael at the table rewriting and editing the text of Truth in Translation and trying to find more solid character arcs and revisit moment which we know we are getting away with because of the ensemble and that in fact the writing doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. We make a fair amount of progress and end up with a not half bad new draft. This in between watching deer come down to the pond, humming birds check us out through the window, forest runs and training, visits to the hot tub, the steam room, short evenings with Irish whiskey and long thoroughly slept nights. All this interspersed with flagrantly flourished hospitality and generosity.

The trip away is recorded as a kind of wordless video record of the road; camera switched on every ten minutes or so with a shot of the road and scenery to whatever music was playing on the radio. Quite boring actually until you run fast forward but then the sound not as interesting.

Went to a rodeo in Jackson Hole. A real little blast of very specific culture; good ol’ boys and breathtaking horsemanship. Plus the nature of it is strangely kind of non combative. Well at the same time it is a practical celebration of humanity in conflict with nature. Demonstrating man’s need to dominate, control and show dominion over natural forces. Survival skills too I suppose; despite the aggressive and highly destructive power of nature, the show celebrates humanity’s ability to survive and overcome. On the other hand there is a strange complicite in the show between human and animal. Easier to see when the women are working with horses rather than the men who are fighting to stay on the bull or bronco. But even then each performer is always working with an animal, even if in controlled opposition/contest of strength, technique and will. This working together with nature in a controlled competitive encounter makes for very engaging performance to spectate. Man rides a bull. Bulls trained to buck. Woman rides horse round barrels very fast. Very sexy. Man rides bucking bronco. Men chase and lasso a running steer. In pairs, alone, catching them, then, by hand, lifting them and putting them on their backs/sides so that their legs can by tied together with a knot from which the steer be held for at least 6 seconds. These events drawn from the everyday lives and habits of working men is fascinating and authentic and somehow so wholesome that you could almost forgive the announcer’s self consciously sexist ‘wife’ jokes.

Male competitors in the sport show mostly great courage, resistance to pain, determination and sheer force of will as well as finely honed and developed technique. Women show breathtaking technique and style and attitude.

I decide to have a conversation with Babs about it. She expressed some reservations about going. Apart from the sexist jokes and general good ol’ boy chauvinism, there is a voice which asks whether or not the calves actually enjoy being roped, thrown to the ground and have their legs hog tied, all for the sake of a good show and entertainment. Its one thing if the act is functional as would happen at some stage of a ‘round up’ or whatever. But as a piece of entertainment/sport? When released the calves stagger up and head straight for the exit gate. A route they know well to the ‘chill’ pen. They have these funny little head protection pads around their head and horns like scrum caps which make them look a little wussy as they sheepishly trot out of the arena. Before being chased again. Then back in the truck and the long trip back to the farm.

The crowd is very well behaved and respectful. No drunk people. Announcer has to invite the crowd to be more vocal to encourage the cowboys and the bulls and broncos who respond to loud crowd. Heightens stakes. Really enjoyed it. What else? Saw a concert by Keb Mo’; a blues guitarist and songwriter and his band. Oh sweet mother of blues music thank you for Kevin Moore and his band. The band is cooking but the venue is a bit ‘proper’; the auditorium of the Centre for the Arts. Almost totally white audience, but then as Keb says in the show… ‘You have a very clean town.’ I could have done with a more convivial venue and some space to dance. But outstanding concert.

The drive back to Vegas I do in one stretch. Well in one day. It takes about 12 hours but the roads are very good and traffic not too bad. I give myself a day before getting back into work and arrange to fetch Daniel from the airport. Much better off the interstate highways. Captivating landscapes. Shoot it with video camera. Don’t know how interesting it will ever be. But there it is.

It’s later and we are back from the airport. Daniel unpacking and listening to his new music from Luke and me in here scrabbling away at the keyboard. We start work again tomorrow. Both savouring the last few hours of holiday. Then we go to Nate and Keisha’s later for a snack and share pics and say welcome back. Am feeling kind of neutral about going back to work. I know it has to come and just resign myself to the routine we must very quickly reassume. But this time has renewed my desire to plan weekends well in advance and always be doing something on them. I loved driving and there are so many places which are within striking distance over the two day weekends we have. Also want to see more shows. We need to plan an itinerary for Luke and Casha. Shows and trips. They are here for two weekends. So some planning required.

Back to work. We learned tonight that Guy La Liberte has sold 20% of Cirque du Soleil to a couple of investment firms in Dubai. The same consortium which owns 10% of MGM Mirage which owns the Hotel in which LOVE plays. (here follows a short and somewhat pompous diatribe, thankfully deleted, on the dangers of corporate ownership, quickly followed by a loud fart from The Fool.)

Second night after the dark. Two good shows. Well better anyway. And also some cardio work on my own on the elliptical and then a session with Jeff who uses the time to treat the tendonitis in my left elbow with ultrasound and massage, rather than continue with the strength and conditioning work we have been doing. Also spent time on the hand stand. Getting better, more control and becoming at home upside down. Then stilt training with Coach Dan. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m looking forward to my next plateau. Stepped into the dreaded pants, strapped up, spent some time with Tim from wardrobe marking my Sgt Pepper boots where they need to be worked on to remove some of the sole so that the boot can sit squarely on the footplate. That way I won’t feel as if all my weight keeps going onto my toes… maybe. But either way, with the boots in the same way as always, I launch out onto the floor of the west wing and stride around as if I’ve been doing this for centuries. Relaxed rhythm, plenty of time on each leg, easy stride, plenty of foot lift, confident placement, stops and still stands longer than ever before. Mostly I think about mental attitude which was majorly affected by The Dark. And rest and time to recover. And re focus. Much better. Some time on the stage tomorrow from 2.15. We’ll see how that goes.

Tonight was my first century. 100 shows second show and only remembered tonight when I got home., only 370 or so to go.

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One Response to “good ol’ boys and 100 shows on planet circus”


  1. Drew, thx for putting Truth in Transision up. spent yesterday going thru all the videos. wow, so powerful.
    cant believe you’ve done 100 shows. cant wait to find it on DVD sometime.
    warm lo0ve
    Kate


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