Friday, May 25, 2012

I Hear Clown Music

Click on the video link and give it a few seconds. You will instantly recognize this song. It turns out that it is called Entrance of the Gladiators by composer Czech composer Julius Fucik ( whoever the hell he was). This classical song has morphed into a common anthem that we all know as "circus music", "clown music" or a variation thereof. It is also the song that frequently appears in Homer Simpson's surreal daydreams. It has also become part of the common social idiom and is usually associated with something perceived as ridiculous.

I don't recall ever having been to a circus, the whole concept holds no allure to me. The modern equivalent, Cirque du Soleil, seems to have an obsession with medieval themes, overly-dramatic dance moves, grown men in really tight suits, glittery fabrics and really shitty music. Every few years they set up camp in a vacant lot downtown. Every time I roll by I hear a tune in my head. Strangely enough it is not clown music, it is The Safety Dance.

There seems to be no shortage of clowns on city streets on any given day. Here are a few things that automatically trigger clown music in my head.

1. Bikes

I like bikes. It's a great way to get around, unless you happen to be in International Falls, MN in January. I like old Schwinn bikes and even own a couple of vintage ones. If you are to preserve even a modicum of coolness, a vintage bike is a good way to go. This is a bike friendly city, akin to Portland, OR, so I am often given the opportunity to observe many different people riding many different bikes. The results ain't pretty. I often wonder why some otherwise normal people turn in to complete goofs when riding bikes. I see them struggling to keep these demonic contraptions upright. Others seem to be 'rasslin with the bike and the bike seems to be winning. The most dangerous of these uncoordinated riders seem to be tourists who rent bikes downtown. I always stare in disbelief as I see these inept people attempt to straddle a bike. How can you not hear clown music when you see theses goofs lurching from side to side and either falling off or smack right into a tree a 2 miles per hour?

While seemingly practical, those little tiny folding bikes usually seem to elicit laughter and definitely cause clown music to play. To add to the hilarity, men wearing suits can often be seen riding them. Some people claim that they are practical for traveling, but why lug a bike with you while traveling when you could buy 10 bikes from crackheads in any given city for the price of one of these bikes. They are also quite unwieldy. I tried unfolding one of these engineering nightmares once and and the end result was a lot of cursing and an unfolded bike. I did ride a fully functional one once, and even though I was the one riding it, I still heard clown music as I attempted to ride this bike with freakishly small wheels.

There is a group of unicycle enthusiasts that meet down by the water every week. The head clown... I mean, unicyclist has a huge one that sports a 36 inch wheel. The first thought that always involuntarily pops up into my head is " fuckin' idiots!" which is immediately followed by really loud  clown music. I couldn't think of a more perfect way to disfigure, injure or otherwise maim yourself than riding a unicycle. I also ask myself philosophically " why?' Why indeed. This suspiciously seems like yet another hippie ploy aimed at garnering attention or simply aimed at annoying the general public. It's also a great way to get nowhere fast. Drum roll.......cue the clown music.

I have ranted about this many times before, but I still do not understand the allure of wearing tight-fitting brightly colored spandex to ride a bike. It must be some yuppie fantasy about racing in the Tour De France. Maybe it's some dudes' middle age crisis, the two-wheeled equivalent of a dude buying a Corvette when he turns 45. I suspect that it is mainly a complete lack of coolness ( as yuppies are known to possess). The brightly colored patterns on these hideous outfits are on par with even the most outrageous of clowns. The only difference is the lack of enormous shoes. The spandex people instead choose to firmly clip their shoes to the pedals as they ride city streets. Who is the clown I wonder. We can dance if you want to........

I have also ranted about "tall bikes" in the past. I think most folks have seen these rolling testaments to idiocy. This when a bunch of hippies get together and smoke a lot of weed and decided to weld 3 bikes one on top of another . By " weld"  I mean cheese together with some rusty bolts, zip ties and duct tape. During another weed smoking session it is then decided that it would be a good idea to ride these things in traffic. I definitely hear clown music as I see one these garishly attired hippies from afar, 10 feet higher than anything around it. I guess figuring out how to stop at an intersection has so far eluded these engineering-challenged buffoons. It would make for an interesting obituary. Maybe all his hippie friends could play Entrance of the Gladiators on their bongos at the wake.

2. Hippie Games.

Some people like toss around a Frisbee in the park on a nice sunny afternoon. This seems innocuous enough but I don't participate, mainly because it causes me to spill my drink. Hippies, and their sarcastic, mustachioed brethren the Hipsters, on the other hand seem to spend a lot of time indulging in outdoor activities designed to enrage the average passer-by. Hackey sack seems to be one the time worn hippie pastimes. I guess it must seem like fun if you're tripping out on cheap drugs, but I don't even find that amusing when I'm completely ripped. Some clueless hippie once asked me if I wanted to join them to " kick the sack". I was left speechless as I wondered what it was about my demeanor that would make this hippie think that I would want to do that, I politely declined, but I would have gladly kicked him in the sack. Nut shot at the circus....cue the pies in the face and the music.

The so-called sport of bike polo seems to another favorite. Polo seems dumb enough in it's own right, but downright ludicrous when combined with bikes . In their pot-addled logic, hippies tend to forget the laws of physics: bikes fall over once they stop moving.Their lack of coordination also makes for lots of busted spokes as the other hippies wildly swing their mallets at anything that moves. I always hear clown music as I see them trudge down the street with road rash and a trashed bike.

In their on-going quest to annoy people, hippies enjoy pointlessly tossing various objects around. It is a prerequisite that these objects have macrame ,bits of rope and Buddhist prayer flags on them . They can be seen in the park tossing large hoops at each other. Some play around with those flip flop sticks or whatever the proper term is in hippie vernacular. Some of the really stoned ones like to light these objects on fire before tossing them around, scaring small children and dogs in the process. If we could get hippies to balance beach balls on their noses then we might have some interesting entertainment. Although if we were to toss them a fish as a reward we would have to endure a stern lecture about eating meat. Cue the clown music on an out -of-tune banjo.

3. Critters.

Of all the retarded things to indulge in in this world, putting clothing on animals has got to be one of the strangest. I wonder what would possess someone to want to do that. It certainly wasn't the animal's idea. I once saw two women struggling with what I assumed to be a small child. My curiosity got the better of me and I went in for a closer look. It turns out that they were trying in vain to put a sweater on a dog. The dog was squirming like an average two year old and wanted no part of it. The dog knew what was up and that all his dog buddies would make fun of him. As I walked a way I was left wondering who had more sense, the women or the dog.

Some claim that a sweater keeps a dog warm which I find difficult to believe because they are equipped with a natural fur coat. Maybe if you're running the Iditarod it might be a good idea to protect the sled dogs ' feet from the sub-zero cold temperatures, but that's about it.

People who dress chihuahuas in tiny little cowboy outfits are destined to end up in a rubber room. Did you ever notice the forlorn expression on the hapless dog's face ? It seems to be saying " Oh man, I feel like a tool". The poor little bugger only weighs four pounds and is in no position to fight back. This is probably the reason that you never see a tutu on a Rottweiler, you will be missing some fingers if you even try it.

Some of these slightly deranged pet owners enter their animals in shows. They parade them around in costumes for the whole world to see. The animals all have the same expression on their faces " get me outta here!" It seems slightly inhumane in a way and this is one of the reasons why circuses don't force bears to drive little go-karts or train monkeys to smoke cigarettes anymore.

An even stranger group are the ones who dress up cats. Cats are not too bright to begin with, but they always have a stunned look wondering where that stupid hat that magically appeared on their heads came from. The people who do it seem to have too much time on their hands. and cute as they may think it looks, the cat is thinking of ways to kill them in their sleep.

I wonder what would happen if the tables were turned and the pet owners would be forced to wear ridiculous outfits, dumb hats, ugly blankets, and wildly-colored pants that reek of urine. Oh yeah, that is actually happening and we call them hippies. Bring on the clown music!

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