Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Circus Vacations

A great bonus of traveling is, well, traveling. We cover about eleven states from the opening of the season to close. With nearly all one day stands, the most we see is a grassy lot (or mud or asphalt). Once a week trips for groceries and laundry, it reinfores the phrase, "You travel everywhere and see nothing." One of the biggest highlights for me has been to see a few zoos if we are close enough for a cab ride - National Zoo, Southwick's Zoo, Toledo Zoo, and Brookfield Zoo so far. If I did not already have friends that work there, I sure made some by the time I left. One place I was given a personalized tour of the entire zoo, two others of the elephant facilities. Hospitality is very generous among animal folk. Despite disagreements we may have with each other, if we are all making a living and animals are well cared for, that is what matters. Before Casey offered me a job, I had already seen four circuses and several zoos this year. I had planned on seeing eight more shows this season with many more zoos. No regrets though. Looking forward to Texas for the winter - zoos and elephants everywhere, along with many friends.
One of my favorite 'circus vacations' this year was our visit today to the Hawthorn Corporation, owned by John Cueno. Despite the controversy and history surrounding the place, it was great to experience that piece of circus history. Adam Burck and his lovely wife Elaine (both descendents of circus royalty) gave us a personalied tour of the facility and even practiced his act for us. As I stated earlier, before my recruitment into show business I had seen four tiger acts: Bruno on the Carden Show, Clayton Rosaire on Hanneford, Niche on Hamid and of course Casey. Following my education and experience regarding tigers since that time, I had a greater appreciation and understanding in watching another trainer work. Visiting Hawthorn and seeing so many tigers, barns, yards and general operations was similiar to my first visit to Riddle's Elephant Sanctuary when my dad was manager of their fifteen elephants (seven males included). Both last night and tonight the couple attended America's Own and brought slabs of smoked ribs which we heated and sauced on the grill. The night was filled with fun, laughter and story-telling, even including a fencing duel between Casey and Ryan.
The season is coming to a close but things are still great as can be. The cats are working well and my practicing the act is progressing every day. Gotta love this life.


Anonymous said...

When will we get Casey back? Sorry Radar, but his posts were way better.

mat said...

It's nice to have you writing, Radar. I like the change of view.

I always made a point to get myself into town, though it's much easier when you're a clown without a posse of creatures to look after. Also easier on CBCB and other multi-day stands.

On Hawthorne: I don't know the folks running it now, so can't speak to the current state of the place.
The people managing both the elephant and tiger barns when I worked there were also very good people.

I'll open myself to the flames and say I really cannot believe that Cuneo is allowed to have even a single animal. The guy is obviously irresponsible.


Radar said...

Sorry to disapoint Anonymous. If you aren't enjoying then leave us be. The opinion of one ashamed to be reading a circus blog does not mean much to those of us proud of our life and our business.

cwdancinfool said...

Radar - Ignore the anonymous coward who can't even leave a name. You are doing a wonderful job on the blog.

Rose said...

You're doing a great job with this blog, Radar. You right well, and your enthusiasim is infectious. (The one kind of infection one doesn't mind getting from someone else, is happiness like yours.)

You're living a great life, amoung others with great lives. It's a blessing to be able to look into your lives. Thank you to you, and Casey, for this blog.

Rose said...

That should be "write" well. Which proves, in another way, your superior skills.

adam said...

Dear Mat.

I would like to ask you a question. Being a clown on CBCB what qualifies you to determine if Mr Cuneo or hawthorn should have animals? Just wondering.


Jack Ryan said...

Doing a helluva job, Radar. Enjoying your posts.

And, yes, I sign my name to my comments.


Margaret said...

....Your doing a great job with the Blog Radar..I think you should make Mat drink from the dreaded "sock." He may need the liquid to put out the flames....

Tejano said...

Casey is Casey, Radar is Radar. Good to read your reply Radar. 1 negative remark out of 9 is not bad. :)

Have enjoyed your post to date, keep it up.


Crystal said...

Come to Texas...I miss circus! And hanging out at AOBG's would be great! People in school think I may be a bit off the wall...and they have no idea =)


Radar said...

There you go folks! From the writer of all writers, I have the compliments of Jack Ryan. To be honest, I would be very grateful for Casey to return to his rightful place, but I will do as I am told as a good groom should.
Adam, it is my understanding that Mat worked as a groom at Hawthorn for some time. I do not know any other details, just what the boss told me earlier today.

DanTheBooker said...

Matt, you worked for Mr. Cuneo, yet you make the very common mistake of calling his company HawthornE?

Also, that aside, good point Adam!

Wade G. Burck said...

Could I make that determination? I agree though, Mat use of "irresponsible" is not a suitable word.
Wade Burck

Wade G. Burck said...

Addendum to Radar,
You are doing a fine job. At least you are putting yourself out there, and that say's something.
Wade Burck

Radar said...

My impression by Mat's comments is that he is referring to management. He compliments (or at the very least does not discredit) those caring for the animals, but shows his discontent with management. And to be honest, isn't that a problem with many institutions? Management looking at the big picture, those with the day to day contact with animals solely concerned with the welfare of their charges. I wonder about the word 'obviously' though. Mat, do you base your statement on news articles and heresay or from personal experiences?
Again, thank you everyone for the compliments. A true debate's merits can be measured by sound arguments and facts, not mudslinging.

cwdancinfool said...

Very well said Radar. Some people don't work well with authority figures (myself included) and often place the blame on upper management (I would never do that). People move on for different reasons, whether they are not pleased with the way things are going, someone is not pleased with them or a better opportunity presents itself. The point is, move on and get over it. You and Wade seem to have a similar approach to the blog (as does Casey). You try to present both sides of the discussion and that is a good thing. It forces people to think a little more. Keep up the good work.

Wade G. Burck said...

You aren't even close, with this assumption in this case: "Management looking at the big picture", and I don't base it on news articles or hearsay. It's a horror story of horror stories.

cwdancinfool said...

Radar - I just found this quote on a friend's Facebook page and for some reason thought of the Blog World.

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." [Bertrand Russell]


mat said...

Hi Adam- I worked there for a year in about '92-93, maybe a year before that. I don't remember if I met your dad then, something tells me he was in Europe(?). Is a big white cat named Banff still around?

Margaret- I was lucky enough to be there for the sock. The funniest part was Mr. McCoy's delicate constitution.

Dan- you've made the similarly common mistake of spelling my name MatT.

Wade/Radar- I'll retract 'obviously', but I'm holding firm on 'irresponsible'.

Radar's last comment is pretty close, but John Cuneo never struck me as a big picture kind of guy. Or a detail guy, really.
I'm basing my statement on my time there, and there's no sour grapes. As crappy a job as it was, I'm really glad I worked there. It just ended up not being the job for me. You know, I'm no longer a busboy either, but I know a lousy restaurant when I see one.

I know few of you know me, but you've got a friend here. May I suggest that you don't shoot your friends. I love the circus, and I feel that exotic animals have a place in the circus.

I'd be happy to chat about this stuff with anyone. shoobedoobe 1000 at g mail dot com

Wade G. Burck said...

I didn't note obviously. But I still hold that "irresponsible" is a very weak word, that almost offers an alibi.
Wade Burck

mat said...

Wade- Ah, I see. You weren't saying I'd gone too far, but not far enough. Well, with my limited authority, I'm pulling punches.

Paul H. said...

Radar and Co.: Planning to catch the show in Vernon Hills on Sunday. Will try to remember to bring Casey some memorabilia of his youthful days w-Franzen Bros.

Radar said...

I did not mean that 'management looking at the big picture' was the only scenario or preferable to this situation, just an problem I have heard from some institutions. And to clarify my statement regarding Mat's problem with management, I meant Cuneo himself because of Mat's observations.
To those questioning his statement Mat makes a great analogy with the restaraunt. No one is shooting a friend; it is great to have an insight from one with first-hand knowledge and observations.
I will stand behind the statement that John Cuneo is one of the three groups/persons that destroyed the elephant industry in the last twenty to thirty years. Much more may have gone on behind the scenes, but he played part in airing dirty laundry and destroying public perception of our business.
Crystal, you better actually show up this time, not just telling us you will visit like you have been all season! ;)

Wade G. Burck said...

I don't agree that he was one main three. I would agree he was the largest, but there were a lot of folks responsible. Like the ones who looked away.
Wade Burck

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