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, 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.


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.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Carny Culture (Prejudice)

I ran across this awhile back, sound familiar?

The Gypsies also faced prejudices about their way of life. The Gypsies' travelling lifestyle aroused suspicion because of the common belief that "itinerancy served merely as a cloak for a deviant range of predatory, parasitic, and criminal activities" (Mayall, "British Gypsies" 8). People were distrustful of Gypsies simply because they moved around a lot. Accompanying this mistrust was "a belief in the superiority of the settled over the nomadic culture and the incompatibility between the two" (Mayall, "British Gypsies" 8).

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I hired a guy no one wanted, they said he had a habit of only showing up when he felt like it, I suspected what was really going on was that he only showed up when he had some kind of pain medication, the "Pain of life" kind.

He was great the first day, one of the best helpers I had, he did the job in half the time as my other helpers had.

Sure enough he didn't show up the next day. The day after that he did show up, but at the office looking to get paid for the one day he worked.

I pulled him aside and asked what was wrong.

" have bad legs, and a bad back and ......uh.....I was gonna come back but the pain was too I gotta quit, sorry"

I'll translate what he was really saying to me. ("I'm an opiate addict as well as an alcoholic, I can stay sober long enough to do the job but when I run out of my dope I have to go scrounging for more, so I can't work because I need this measley 70 bucks I'm getting to go see if I can find some, by the time I get back you will have hired someone else".)

Addicts are like that, they intend good things, they do want to work, their addiction just gets in the fucking way of everything, I know, I was one for a long time, I'm no better than him, just luckier.

His pain was deep inside him, it wasn't physical, it was emotional and spiritual, I knew that.

I needed him, he needed a paycheck, and he was on the street so he needed somewhere to sleep, but he also needed to be medicated or he couldn't function.

I will help any addict I can, if he wants to clean up, I will help him, if he doesn't and is suffering, I will medicate him, I know the pain, I felt it for a long time.

I told him I understood his pain, without going into detail. I asked him to wait for me, that I would be back shortly. He did.

When I returned I had what he needed, I asked if it would help with his pain, would he be able to work. His eyes lit up, his demeanor changed in an instant, I understood, and he knew it, the lights went on.

So I gave him his medication every morning, he worked the whole spot, never missed a day, never late from a break, he was the star employee.

When the spot ended, and he got paid, he thanked me and said he would be waiting for me to pull in next year.

He will be there, if the street or his addiction hasn't swallowed him yet.

Addicts die, they're dead long before their body dies, it's just a fact, most will never make it. If he is there this coming season I will be surprised.

Someday he won't be there, and I will know what happened to him.

The Rat Race

I've been chastised many times for not joining in. I've never seen the point, I never got it, maybe I'm fucked, or maybe I see things clearly.

Some people spend their lives building monuments to themselves, desiring to leave their mark, monuments the next generation will just tear down and shit apon anyway, never remembering or giving a fuck who slaved over them.

Or aquiring fortunes, fortunes they can leave to their children, and generations after them. So they can squander it. Some will use it wisely, but most will stick their dick in a gift horses mouth, it's human nature.

Do they really think the next generation will look at their old faded pictures with reverence?

I'm a grain of sand among billions in human history, no one will remember me in generations to come, and I could give a shit.

Death is the great equalizer, we all go to the same place, the dirt. It's not a negative perspective, it's a liberating one really. It aleviates a lot of the stress of life. We only have today, and our experiences really.

During the months that I'm working, I only worry about the coming winter, I save my money for the most part in the summer. I relax and enjoy my free time in the winter, writing drivel like this, or doing some of the other things I enjoy, then it's back to work.

We pay taxes like everyone else, so spare me the shit about the next generation taking care of us, we don't count on them, we live in today.

I know there are those of us who piss everything away, fools, they're the same no matter what they're doing.

As for me, I'm not going to waste my valuable time, full of self importance, leaving my mark on the world.

I have better things to do, like walking the Midway on a hot summer night.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lady Luck

I can't remember her real name, she told me once, but I forgot, we just called her Chance. She worked one of the wheels taking peoples money, and I'm sure that many a man lost it just to stand there and talk to her.

She was a beautiful little blonde thing, and what she saw in a road beaten fucker like me, I'll never know.

So I took my chance on the wheel girl, I knew better, what the fuck was I thinking? The fault was mine, she was so young.

We were close for most of the season that year, she was warm and everything a guy imagined she would be. She became more than a warm body.

We laughed a lot, made love a lot, shared everything it seemed.

But young women dream young dreams, and old guys just remember them, and so we started to drift apart and I tried to hang on.

Lady Luck never favours a desperate man.

I had plans, she had other places to be. We broke up. She got a better offer on another show and was gone.

So I returned to my lonely bunk, I felt empty for a long time.

Danny Boy

Everyone called him Danny Boy, he was hardly a boy at 60 something. A lot of people saw him as old and grizzled, mean even. He wasn't, all the miles jaded him sure, but I liked him, we had a lot of laughs.

Danny was slow as hell, and he seemed to take for fucking ever at anything he did, but he got it done right, and that's what counts in this world where everyones in a hurry.

Danny was an old Carny and had been around forever, he worked rides when he was young, then games for a long time. He loved to tell stories about the old days. He would sit in front of his bunk in a lawn chair half pissed, drinking beer, and talk to whoever would listen.

I was one of the few that would listen, ask questions, I guess that's why he liked me so much. The younger people on the crew couldn't be bothered, but then again, they were too busy making memories of their own to be bothered with someone elses.

30 years from now it will be them sitting in their lawn chairs, drunk, telling stories that no one gives a shit about.

Even old guys get laid on the road. Danny hooked up with some local lady that worked on the lot, she traveled for 2 more spots. He had his own car so he ferried her ass around and doted on her. He talked about "Marks" a lot in some of his stories and as it turned out, he was a "Mark" for her.

She ended up taking him for a few bucks and a lot of rides. I had to get in between them on the Midway finally, him screaming what a " Fucking cunt" she was and her calling him a "Little man", taunting him.

The "Boy-Girl" game go's on long after people have outgrown being a "Boy" or a "Girl" it seems.

Danny Boy ended up quitting a few days later, saying it was because the boss was "Too fucking cheap" to work for. He was drunk and I listened to him ramble for awhile as he packed his stuff.

She was the real reason he left though, I knew that, I guess our hearts get a lot softer as we age, I've seen it before. He had a place out on the west coast, or so he said. I called the number he gave me late one night, but there was no such listing, so who knows.

I never saw Danny Boy again after that season, I don't know what happened to him, no one does. The last time I saw him he was waddling down the Midway, headed towards the gate, with all his stuff, muttering to himself.

I think he died, somewhere alone, I just get that feeling.

The Rain

I love the rain. People bitch about it, but it's a godsend to me some days. When the weathers hot and the crowds are thick, and I've been busy every fucking day, it's a treat.

It's one of the few times we slow down. The crowd thins out, the Midway is is full of puddles, and the buildings become congested, only until people realize it's not going to stop, then they trickle off the lot and go wherever they go.

In the early spring, before I go on the road, we get a lot of rain, it washes what's left of the snow away. I leave my bedroom window open so I can listen to it as I'm dozing off, the sound puts me to sleep, and I dream.

I love the rain.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Thousand Miles From Nowhere

So I'm standing outside the truckstop, it's warm and the rain is trickling down my weather beaten face. The trucks are being fueled up and everybody's wandering in and out, cranky and tired, some still half asleep.

I'm watching the cars and trucks roll by on the highway, thinking about a warm bed, not a bunk, a real fucking bed, maybe a warm body in it too.

The rain doesn't bother me, I love the rain.

I'm smoking a cigarette and contemplating the fucked up universe, I come to the same conclusion I always do, I fit, we all do, or we wouldn't fucking be here.

A young woman walks up to me out of nowhere,she has a knapsack, she's soaked and scraggly looking, her dark hair dripping into a pretty face that looks like it's seen too much. She's not wearing a bra, I can see her nipples through her black t-shirt, she's shaking.

"Got an extra cigarette" she asks.

I give her one and a light and keep watching the traffic.

"How far are you guys going she asks"?

"A thousand miles that way" I tell her.

"Think I can catch a ride"? she asks.

"Only if you want a job" I say.

We talk about it for a bit and she ends up leaving with us, she has nowhere to go, she fits right in, she belongs with us.

Over the next hour she chats up a storm, then gets sleepy and quiet. She slowly inches closer to me, she looks up and askes if I mind, I say no, she cuddles up close, shivering, and falls asleep.

She's warm.

The Long Road Home

In 1992 I left my home town to go on the road, just like all the previous seasons. I had every intention of returning in the late fall, but I never did.

I've been banging around ever since out in the world, living here, living there, always landing somewhere but home in the off season. This year I'm going home, I have to go home, it's been 14 years.

I always intended on going home, I just never made it, something always came up, or I would get an idea about living in a certain town or city and I would land there. Not this time.

I have the strongest urge ever to go home.

Maybe it's a mid life crisis or something, maybe I'm just returning to the starting point, I haven't quite figured it out yet, but that's what I suspect.

My mother still lives there, I'll be staying with her for awhile. She's getting older now and not in the best of health, she'll be happy I'm home, I told her I was coming, she was thrilled.

I never hated my home town like some people I know. I didn't not return because I hated it, something else always seemed to come up, that's all.

I wonder what I'll find when I get there. My mother has kept me up to date on some things over the years, like so and so got married, such and such had a baby.......there's a new mall, that kind of stuff.

Most of my old friends I grew up with are all gone now, married, jobs, kids, life. My best friend Dave is still there, my Mom see's him and his wife and kids from time to time, he always asks about me of course.

We had a lot of fun when we were kids, me and Dave. We had a lot of "firsts" growing up together.....first time getting drunk...getting kicked out of school for smoking in the bathroom....I got laid for the first time at a party at his house....that kind of shit.

Dave saw me off in the spring of 1992 at the bus station. I shook his hand and told him I'd see him in the late fall.......and I never came back. We kept in touch by phone for awhile, but we drifted apart, lifes like that.

I talked to my Mom the other night. I told her to tell Dave I'll see him in the late fall.

Finally.....I'm going home.

Trite and Meaningless

That's how I feel about my life some days, when I'm not thinking clearly of course.

There have been times when I wondered if I was pissing my life away, I'm not, I'm doing what I want to do, so I can't bitch.

I hate being tied down anyway, I like to keep moving, always.

I have tried a normal life a few times though, the end result was always the same, I got bored, started fucking shit up, lost momentum.

In the off season I don't go out much. I'm pretty much a hermit. I spend my time reading, playing guitar, smoking, and writing meaningless shit.

I have a few friends off the road, not many though, I don't go out enough.

I have the odd girlfriend off the road, but it never lasts, they always get pissed off at me because of the way I live, and am.

I have no structure in the off season, so I could be up all night, and sleep all day, and then the next week turn it all around. This of course burns their ass, my world should revolve around them I guess.

If I start a book, or a website, or writing something, I can go for hours and hours, all fucking night, I don't stop until I'm done. I get up when I want, and sleep when I want, no structure.

I can't count the times I've heard "Honey, get your fucking ass into bed", but I can't, I'm in my zone, there's no place there for anyone else.

I'm an incredibly calm person, it takes a lot to rattle me, this also pisses them off. When they get all bent out of shape about something, especially to do with our relationship, they think I should be, but I can't.

I detatch in times of crisis, it's just the way I am, and it serves me well on the Carnival when everything is super busy and the boss is screaming his fucking head off.

I really don't think I've found my place in the world yet, I'm just on the road till I get there.

The "Public Hates Carnies" Myth

I think most are just indifferent toward us, some are curious, and some do look down on us.

The ones I've met that looked down on us usually looked down on others too. Mommy, or someone else told them they were special early on in life. Being the "niave fucks" they are, they believed it.

One such person is of course, Mr Derbyshire, ( You go to a carnival, you’re going to see carny people. Where do they come from? Is there some ranch out in the Mojave desert where they breed these surly, slack-eyed, pony-tailed, tattooed, nicotine-stained wretches?).Those are his words.

I wonder if he's looked in the mirror lately. I've seen pictures of the prick, and he's not exactly a chick magnet himself.

Only some people give the public a bad name, in my opinion, and only some people working at the Carnival give us a bad name.

Most people are just given the wrong impression of this industry and it's people due to stupid books that are full of shit and movies.

Thanks Hollywood.

We're just like other people, our lives are just a little more colorful.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I learned more on a Carnival lot than I ever learned in school I think. I was kicked out of school at a young age for not giving a shit.

I never did, not in school, I was too busy staring out the window, wondering what the fuck was going on out there.

I never did homework, ever, I was always in shit, I was some kind of anti-hero to the kids in my grade. They thought I was cool, but they didn't have to bear the consequences.

The teachers made no sense to me, maybe I was A.D.D.

Some counselor told me he thought I was, one time a few years back, whatever.

Finally one day, the principle told me to go, he said I needed to be out of school in the world, get a job, just get the fuck out, we don't want your kind here.

I agreed, thought it was a wonderful suggestion, so I left.

(I'm writing this as I watch the kids walk by my window on their way to school, poor little bastards)

My parents weren't to thrilled, but they saw it coming for years.....I never did anything in school....ever.

I had already been on the road during the summer for two seasons, I didn't give a fuck about school anyway.

I pittied those poor pricks that had to go and sit in the classroom, listening to fat ass teacher that had the raunchiest breath, so I figured, "Fuck them".

Since then I've made one attempt at school, I went to University for a year (I got in as a mature student), that was enough, it was the same old bullshit to me, doesn't work for me, never will.

I have my own way of learning.

One season the boss pawned his girlfriends kid off on me,

"See if you can teach the little prick anything" he slurred, drink in hand.

He told me what a little attitude case he was and apologized for dumping him on me.

He was a great kid, just needed some attention, from a male that would teach him something, instead of just yelling at him.

He busted his ass for me because I treated him like a lot of the older guys on the lot treated me, they taught me a lot.

There's a lot to learn on a Carnival lot, and there are a lot of good teachers who will help you if you drop the attitude and listen.

There are a lot of different ways to get an education outside of the school system.

Listening is the first great skill, if you can't listen, you can't learn.

Crazy Carny Women

Not all Carny women are Crazy, but there's a few. Of course I seem to be some kind of fucking magnet for them.

I've been punched, bitten, slapped, screamed at, almost stabbed...twice....lucky I'm quick.

I'm a magnet for the nuttiest ones at times. If there's a crazy wacko Carny woman on the lot, you can bet your ass she'll make her way over to me sooner or later, the crazies love me, on and off the road......yippee.

They certainly are possesive little creatures. Me, being the friendly guy I am, can work them into a jealous frenzy in no time flat.

I had one a few years ago that used to let everything build up over the day. I would come back to the bunk at night and she would explode, I mean freak, over the stupidest shit.

"I saw the way you were talking to so and so".

Of course I would say,

"So what", "I've known her for years, she's just a friend"

Then she would say,


She'd get violent at times.

Finally I kicked her ass out, threw her and all her stuff out and told her to fuck off.

I had a hell of a time getting rid of that one.

That's one tiny example.

I think I'm just to nice at times, I think I have a soft heart and niavely think I can help them, dunno.

It happens a lot less often now that I'm older, I just don't have the patience for all the dysfuntional bullshit anymore, I have enough with my own ass to look after.

Getting laid is nice, but it's not worth going through hell for.

The psyhco's always move their shit right into my bunk too, every fucking time.

I'll be out workiing and come back to my bunk for something and there's all her shit piled in my bunk.

I'm not as nice as I used to be, I'll generally tell her to get it the fuck out, screwing once doe's not mean you can move in.

It doesn't happen as much as it used to when I was younger, but the odd time, I try to nip it in the butt right away.

"Sigh"....I'll probably always be single.

When I Die

If I never get off the road, and I die there, here are my wishes.

Just dig a big hole on the side of the highway somewhere out west, throw me in it and toss all my stuff out of the bunk on top of me, no marker, just fill it in with dirt.

Then I can rest in peace, listening to the cars and trucks drive by me, day and night, that's one of my favorite sounds.

My Biggest Ground Score

So I'm walking down the Midway a few seasons ago, there right in front of me is a thin black wallet.

I picked it up and looked inside, nothing, not even any I.D.

I almost chucked it, but it was a nice wallet, so I decided to keep it. I had it in my bunk for weeks.

On one of our jumps I took it to the truck with me and was transferring my stuff from my old wallet when I noticed another pocket in it.

I was going to put my credit card in their but couldn't because there were 10 american $100 dollar bills, ground laughed and laughed.

I Remember When.....

I remember a time, and it doesn't seem that long ago, everything was stick joints, there was no such thing as a "Roll Off".

Setup took for fucking ever it seemed. You had to put all the plumbing, sinks, electrical...etc in your joint once you got it framed.

Now everything is "Roll Offs", and the young guys bitch about that. I like to give them the old "I remember 18 hour teardowns" speech, and then tell them to "shut the fuck up" and quit whining.

I also remember when it wasn't that uncommon for a problem employee to get a punch in the mouth from the boss, or a boot in the ass.

Years ago, when I was a kid on the road, I saw an old Concessionare take his belt to a guy that had been caught stealing from him, he whipped him pretty bad, really gave him a lickin.

Those days are gone now of course, things are different in our politically correct world where all the "Lumps" in society are protected.

I also remember one time when I was a kid there were some older local guys going around causing trouble. They came by my joint and told me not to talk to a certain girl that was hanging around the lot.

Of course, being a smart mouth, I just had to tell them to go fuck themselves. They were on either side of the joint trying to grab me and I was waving my knife around like an idiot.

Some of the game guys saw what was going on and chased them off.

They came back later though and started shooting their mouths off to some ride jocks, the wrong ride jocks.

The ride jocks got a hold of them later and beat them with booster cables, I never saw them come back after that and the cops didn't do anything because they already knew they were assholes.

I remember when I could drink and fuck all night and still do my job the next day.

I remember when $150-200 a week was pretty big money, and draws were limited to $10 a day.

I also remember when the end of the season was a sad time, and girls cried and guys hugged, and people wrote stupid poems about the road.

Fuck I'm getting old.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Shitty Help

These are the people that give the rest of us a bad name. They are called "Bodies" or "Lumps".

This Industry attracts a lot of them, they never stay, they work a season or two and then they're off to make someone elses life and workplace miserable...good riddance.

These people will often self identify as "Carnies", they're not, they're "Lumps" and they give the rest of us a bad name.

They're the ones that always shirk their responsibilities, fucking off during setup/teardown, taking long breaks and not giving a shit, never stopping to think that it all falls onto someone else.

Real "Carnies" may play hard, but they work hard too, they are duty bound, they are company people and make good team members.

"Lumps" just play hard, that's why they are there, they're no fucking good at anything else, they don't like to work, they would rather you do it.

They always whine and bitch about everything, they suck, and I can't stand the "Lumps".

They are in every work place, but we get the worst of them out on the road.

"Lumps" are a fact of life on the road, they're sometimes thieves too.

Whenever I'm on the hunt for a thief in the company, I need go no further than the "Lumps".

Guess who got busted for dope on our crew? You guessed it, two "Lumps", proudly calling themselves Carnies.

Real Carnies usually have some sort of brain, and being fairly streetwise they know how to be discreet about their personal business after hours.

The "Lumps" almost always make specticles of themselves, at the expense of the rest of us.

So let us separate ourselves from the "Lumps".

I don't stand for them calling themselves "Carnies" around me, I call em as I see em.

On Being Prepared

It never ceases to amaze me how many people walk around in the rain soaking wet, and freezing their asses off, setting up.

Here's what I take on the road.

1. Three pairs of pants, two good ones (There will be the odd night off) and one for setup/teardown, there will be the odd day it's cold.

2. Ten pairs of shorts, most days will be hot, or shorts weather.

3. Three shirts, Two good ones, (most of the time you will be wearing a company shirt anyway), one for setup/teardown. I don't know how many times I've listened to people bitch that they wreck their good clothes setting up or tearing down.

4. A rain suit, not a flimsy one, get one from Costco, their $50 bucks and will last the whole season. I've had my latest one for two seasons now.

5. A pair of rubber boots, for those rainy muddy days you're wearing your rain suit, if your feet are wet you'll freeze your ass off. If you are prepared in this area ( rubber boots, rain suit) you'll be warm and able to do your job while all the idiots are freezing their asses off and bitching. Also, two pair of runners, prefferably "Nike Air" or some kind of air sole, One pair of steel toed boots for setup/teardown.

6. Socks, you can never have too many of these.

7. My bathroom stuff.

8. Sleeping bag, two pillows.

9. Cell phone, even a "Pay as you go" one is good.

10. Three towels.

11. One Credit Card, most motels and hotels require them now. If you can't get one, do a search on the web for the new "Prepaid Mastercard". It cost's you $30-40 and then you can add money to it, they are invaluable on the road yet most people don't know about them. Or get a secured one through "Capitol One".

Every modern Carny with a brain should take my advice on this. When you're traveling a credit card is good to have and almost a necessity. Also, it means you will have to depend on others less, which is good.

12. My guitar, I get up early in the morning, (Because I don't party all fucking night) have my coffee, and play for awhile, having some kind of hobby or expression of my own helps me to keep my sanity.

I pack as light as I possibly can, there's no point in bringing your whole fucking house on the road so you can jam it in a bunk and your bunkmate can trip over all it all season.

Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is all the stupid fucking shit the new people bring on the road, then they piss and moan when their expensive stuff gets stolen or wrecked.

Why the fuck would someone bring their TV on the road??? When will you ever get the chance to watch it??? Or their play station??? Fuck me, I've seen it all I think. No doubt I will go out this season and some new person will surprise me with something even dumber.

The more prepared I am, the less I have to depend on others. (Life lesson #One).

Pack light, pack smart.....think think think, don't be a fucking idiot.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wear and Tear

My back is giving out, I'm faced with the reality of getting older, my body is not what it once was.

I've got my wits though, and I use my head a lot more than I use my back as I get older.

I am faced with the reality that I will have to give it up within the next few years, or sooner perhaps.

As much as I hate being a Carny, at times I still love it, and it will be a sad day when I have to go.

One day, I'll be one of those people that shows up at the lot to say hi and see how everyone's doing. We'll talk about the old days, me and my buddie's, we'll laugh, then I'll leave and go back to my boring life in the regular world. I'll be sad I can't leave with them.

I've seen this happen to other people, watched them walk off the lot, knowing they really wanted to stay, envying me.

And at some level I knew that my time would come too, I can feel it drawing nearer, it makes me shiver.

Being tied down.

Our Industry Is No Worse Than any Other

We're no worse than anybody else, we're a legitimate Industry.

There are Sales Agents in a lot of sectors selling in society, our Game Agents are called "Hucksters" or "Cons", why? They're selling, where's the fucking crime?

Our Concession people are no different, you eat in dirty fucking restaurants all the time, we have health codes to you know, and for your information they are enforced more on us than a lot of the resaurants you patronize, so spare me the shit.

Our rides are inspected also, and regulations enforced, they are safe. Sure there is the odd accident, where isn't there the odd accident when you're dealing with large machinary.

You have no problem getting into your own vehicle which probably hasn't had a safety on it in how long, or driving your kids around in it, or other unsafe public transportation.

A bit of a double standard I would say.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Happens To Old Carnies?

They fade away, that's what. I've seen it happen before, time and again.

When you reach a certain age, and you're not physically capable of doing the job, making money, you're ignored, and you fade away.

Old Jack worked in the cookhouse for years, he was there long before I came on the scene. Finally a few years back he was too old anymore and had to retire.

A couple seasons later he showed up at the cookhouse for a visit, to see the old crowd and say hi. He told everyone he was doing fine but he wasn't really, he was lonely and felt useless you could tell, he had no place in the world and it showed.

He hung around for a couple days, he told me he was going to get back on working in the cookhouse, it was sad really, watching him hang around like that, basically ignored.

His hands shook bad all the time now and he couldn't do much, it was obvious no one really gave a shit about him anymore.

I had coffee with him a few times in that two day period. We talked about that time he walked into my motel room years ago and my buddies and me butt naked, playing strip poker with some Carny women.

We laughed it up each time we had coffee, he really missed it all.

The guy that owned the cookhouse just ignored his request for a job. Told me he wouldn't hire him to peel potatoes even, didn't want him dying in one of his bunks.

Jack never came back after that day, and no one ever saw him again or knows what happened to him.

I remember when he was a real popular guy. He's dead now I'm sure.

That's what happens to old Carnies.

Fooling Myself

I met a woman a number of years ago. She was perfect in so many ways. Her name was Cindy and she was a beautiful "Girl next door" type.

She had a lot going for her, what she saw in me I have no idea to this day.

Anyway, our romance progressed, she was they type a guy marries, the type their Mom loves. What the fuck was she doing with me?

We had all kinds of plans, like couples make in the real world. We were totally committed to each other in every way.

I started fooling myself, not facing reality, thinking I was just like regular people, then it happened, as it always does. I got the urge to go.

It over powers anything and everything, I am a transient by nature, I cannot settle down, a lot of us can't.

I made a couple calls and had a job and a spot to be at.

I called her from a bar and broke the news that I was fucking off, and there was no explanation, she was heartbroken, so was I.

She's married now.

I haven't seen her in years. I still think of her sometimes, and what never could have been.

When I was A Little Kid

Before I was on the road, when I was a small child, I could see the highway from my bedroom window.

I used to sit and stare out it on warm summer nights, listening to the cars and trucks whisper as they went by, watching their red tail lights fade away down the dark highway.

I used to wonder where they were going, who they were, and what was down that highway, I always wanted to go to.

I imagined great sparkling cities, and wild adventures.

I was a kid, what the fuck did I know, yet that feeling has never left me to this day.

Sometimes when I'm on a long jump to another city, and my back is killing me from the last teardown, and I need a fucking shower, those memories of me when I was little come floating back.

I go to sleep feeling good, knowing that I'm in one of those vehicles heading down the highway, my tail lights fading as someone else watches, wondering who I am and where I'm going....what's down that highway.

Letter From A Carny

I read this letter a couple years ago actually, now I will tear it apart.

(Dear Mr. Derbyshire,As a big fan of your work, it pains me to have to complain. However, as I was reading the latest National Review, I was deeply distraught by some rather bigoted, ignorant remarks you made about an already much maligned group of professionals: the carnies.

Your comments suggested to me that you do not have an adequate understanding of what it means to be a carny. As a former carny (now a political science student interning in D.C.), I feel that you are in need of enlightenment.

Carnies live in an insular civilization all their own. They are very much cut off from the outside world. In fact, if a man wished to escape from mainstream American society and live the rest of his life off the grid, the carnival would be a good option.

Carnies do not pay taxes, most do not have an address and they do not stay in the same city for more than a week or two.That unusual odor that one detects around carnies is mostly B.O. and cigarettes. I will not deny that this scent is rather unattractive.

I spent a week working with a very large carny woman who did not change her shirt once that entire period. The fact that she worked next to hot grease all day and had a tendency to perspire heavily apparently did not impact that decision. To be fair, halfway through the week she decided to start wearing the shirt inside out. She reasoned that by doing so she could go twice as long without washing it.

Needless to say, I did not agree with that assessment.However, there are practical reasons for poor carny hygiene. Carnies have few opportunities to shower, brush their teeth or change their clothes. They often work seventeen-hour days and then retire to their trailers. At the end of the week, they must spend a day tearing down all the rides and packing up the various Elephant Ear stands and obviously rigged games.

They then travel incredibly long distances in order to reach their next locale. What little free time carnies have is typically spent in an alcohol or drug induced stupor. However, every once in a while, a carny will use that time to scrape off the diverse collections of crud that have gathered in all of the nooks and crannies of his body.Though it depends on the carnival, many carnies are paid under the table. In fact, although most carnies are paid pitifully low wages, a man could find himself with a rather ample bank account after a single season.

Consider for a moment that a carny will work at least seventy hours a week, pay no taxes, and only spend money on Jim Beam and whatever nicotine product he prefers. Most carnies also have a second source of income. Please realize that when you purchase anything from a carny, it is more likely than not that the part of the money will end up in your carny's pocket.

The management must realize this, but seem not to care. Every couple of weeks someone is caught in the act and fired. But no sustained effort is made to crack down on this practice. Instead, carnivals make up the lost revenue by charging $5 for eight ounces of soda.Most carnies eat for free.

Unfortunately, their diet consists exclusively of carnival food (corn dogs, nachos, cotton candy, etc.). This explains the physique of your average carny. Women carnies usually work in the food booths. And, although these booths are not know for their sanitation, no one is allowed to smoke inside. After a period of time, all women carnies develop a particular body type.

For the sake of civility, let us just describe it as "ample." Carny men typically work outside. They have the luxury of being able to chain-smoke their appetites away. A carny man usually has the diminished physique normally only seen in infomercials for the Christian Children s Fund. The smoking, the sugary diet and the poor dental habits account for the rotten baked beans your average carny man calls his teeth.One should also note that the distinct lack of physical attractiveness that has become a carny trademark does not hinder their sex lives.

Because carnies typically do not romantically interact with non-carnies (aside from occasional cat-calls uttered by ride operators), they develop an entirely different set of standards. For example, obese carny women usually do not have a problem finding someone to share their shack with at night.OK, I realize that I have not given a very impassioned defense of the carny way of life.

When I began writing this I had planned on sending you a vigorous defense of my former co-workers. But maybe, now that I think about it, "surly, slack-eyed, pony-tailed, tattooed, nicotine-stained wretches" is a pretty fair description.

Still, in my experience, carnies are decent people. And, as much fondness as I still have for them, there is very little else most of them could do. We can thank the nation's carnivals for taking literally thousands of prospective bums, and giving them a place to live and work.I am thankful to have left the carny life behind.

I think I have finally rid myself of that despicable smell (although I remain tattooed). I also realize that I may be the only former carny in America studying for the GREs. But still, I think carnies are not deserving of the contempt you have shown them.

Your Loyal Reader,George S. Hawley)

First off Mr Derbyshire, you can kiss my Carny ass.

I wouldn't be surprised if Mr Derbyshire who writes for (National Review) wrote this himself and passed it off as a reader.

This letter is so ludicrous, I find it hard to believe otherwise, how stupid do you think we are Mr Derbyshire?

Whoever wrote it was not a Carny, that much I know, there's nothing factual in it, it's too full of sterotypical shit, and I personally believe Mr Derbyshire wrote it himself.

I've got some news for you Mr (Smarty Pants) Derbyshire, we're not as stupid as you think we are.

Once when I was younger and dumber, I thought I was a smarty pants too, so I went to University where all the fucking smart people were.....or so I thought.

I was sorely disappointed. What I found were a bunch of Idealists and theorists, their heads jammed in their asses so deep they were convinced they were smart.

They had long winded debates that went nowhere and solved nothing.

My Philosophy Prof gave a lecture one day on the merits of Philosophy, and why learning it was important. It took her a whole two fucking hours to tell us one little thing, the purpose of her course was to learn to think critically.....too fucking late......I had already learned that on the road as a kid.

So I left the halls of Academia and returned to the real people, the ones who know how to survive.

I've met more smart people on a Carnival lot than I ever met at University.

So keep talking out of your ass Derbyshire, that's what makes you a shitty writer anyway.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Telling It Like It Is

I'm not going to censor my thoughts or memories for anybody. Someone is not happy with some things I've written.

I write this for me first, that was the whole purpose in the first place.

I didn't expect that anyone would actually read it, I am just getting shit out of my head that's been banging around in there for years.

If you have a link to this blog from your site just put a disclaimer on it, simple.

To sterilize what I have to say wouldn't be right in my mind, I mays as well not say it then.

I can assure you that nobody censors their language on the lot, so I don't know what lot you have been working on and I don't really give a shit to be honest, no time, life is too short.

I keep a lot of things vague here for a reason, these things here are just my thoughts, memories, or opinions.

Take what you want, and leave the rest.

Dirty Tail

There's a lot of dirty tail on the road, a guy has to be careful, of course I wasn't when I was younger, now I'm older and a little wiser and can think with more than my dick.

I don't get laid much on the lot anymore, I guess I'm not as needy as I was when I was younger.

In hindsight, I think it was always more than just about getting laid, I think it was loneliness too, or sometimes just too much booze.

I always tell my guys, "wear a fucking condom" not that that will always keep you from getting some kind of creepy crawly.

There's a lot of clean women on the road too, just too young for this guy.

I had one that wanted to move into my bunk with me last season, a cute 18 year old. I gave her a big lecture of course.

I explained that I was old enough to be her father and that she needed to find a young pretty guy like herself, not some chewed up fucker old enough to be her dad like me.

There's a lot of them out there, young girls with a daddy complex, I see them for what they are, and treat them accordingly.

Some of the other older guys don't get it though..."duh.....she's in love with me". No she's not, you dumb fuck, she's looking for a father figure, she didn't have one growing up obviously, and now she is confused and mixing sex up with finding someone she feels safe with.

Guys are stupid though, especially some Carny guys.

Some Owners Piss Me Off.

Some of the owners on the lot are real pricks, period. They've been on the lot too long I think, and it warped their thinking, they're convinced they are God.

Only some though, others are pretty good to work for. The guy I work for now is pretty good. I've worked for a few different people over the years, and some were real pricks. They treat their help like shit and pay them shit and expect a whole lot. I've got a message for you dickheads, without us you have and are nothing.

I'd like to see your fat ass out there setting up in the rain, oh right, you can't, you're too fucking drunk.

You can sit in your cozy trailer pissed out of your mind flapping your lips all you want, making others miserable, I've got a job to do.

Maybe you forgot what it was like out here, maybe you've been sitting on your big ass for too long and now your brain has somehow dislodged and is stuck there, I don't know, and I don't really give a fuck.

I'm here to make you money, that's what I do, so if you aren't going to help, shut up and stay out of the fucking way.

Oh, and by the way, the reason most of your crew are a bunch of lumps is because you're the fucking boss.

Addiction and Alcoholism in The Carny World

There's a lot of alcoholism and addiction on the road, no doubt. A lot of the people I worked for over the years would fall into the category of "functional alcoholic" for lack of a better term.

It's a high pressure environment, especially for the owners and those running the show. People blow out at their weakest points I guess and their only relief is complete inebriation.

I don't think it's any different than any other high pressure environment in those respects.

I was different. I was a full blown alcoholic by the age of 19. Drugs took the edge off for me, they kept me away from alcohol. But alcohol was my favorite drug of choice. There was something deeply wrong at some level and I knew it. To the people who surrounded me though I was just one of the crew doing his thing.

It was easy to carry on like that for years and never get called out on it. I mean hey.....I was a Carny. What the fuck did you expect?

Deep down inside I knew something was terribly wrong with me. I didn't know what to do, and people around me didn't think there was anything that needed to be done. That was just Kevin, he drank a lot and snorted a lot and took anything you gave him. But he was fun.

I wasn't fun, I was fucked. Yes I got the job done in those days, barely. I had a lot of people to cover for me. Bosses, girls, friends.

I'd get dumped off in a detox near the end of the season during the slow spots and dry out. People would bring the things I needed. Cigarettes, magazines, clothes....etc.

After a week or two it was back to the lot to white knuckle it until I fell off the wagon again.

Many a winter I sat holed up in some shitty hotel room waiting for things to start up again in a couple months drunk the whole time. I usually had a woman with me who would naturally fall into the role of taking care of me and putting up with my shit and drunken rants about imaginary things only I could conceive of.

In 1992 I'd had it, and the bosses had had it with me. Our companies inventory was so fucked up no one knew what we had and what we didn't have. The paperwork was fucked.

There were piles of paperwork that said we had stock we didn't have. There were piles of stock with no paperwork. It was all on me and I didn't have clue. I couldn't answer any questions because I didn't know. I was the best at my job. Everybody said I was the best. Maybe I had been at one time. But the truth was I was a complete mental and physical mess with no clue where anything was or belonged.

The boss and I had a big heart to heart after he ripped me a new asshole several times over. He finally calmed down and acknowledged that my problem was far deeper then he'd even realized.

I told him I had to go, I was done. I'd went and seen a couple of Dr's and they both told me the same thing. My organs were shutting down. I was developing liver problems and I'd never see 30.

Long story short I got dropped off in a city near the end of the season with a duffel bag, a guitar and the clothes on my back. The show rolled on without me and it hurt so bad.

I ended up going into a halfway house for recovering men after my 10 day detox stint. It was a scary lonely ride in the van over to that place. I was out of my element. I was there for a year and half. It worked on the 12 step model that a lot of people these days brush aside as cultist, but it worked.

I worked a lot of bumfuck jobs in that time. Laboring, cooking, sweeping shop floors. You name it and I did it. I didn't like it. But I did it. I made some good friends there. I'm still friends with them to this day.

Life was a lot different being clean and sober though. My strength came back and I could see clearly again. I longed for my old Carny life minus all the bullshit I'd put myself and others through. I hated all the jobs I'd done in that year and a half. Part of me was happy and part of me was miserable.

The show finally rolled back into town that next season. I hadn't went down to the lot to see anyone yet. I wanted too. I was just scared I'd fuck off out of town with them and end up in the same mess as before.

Even though I didn't like living off the road, all the predictability and routine. I did have a stability I didn't remember ever having. Did I really want to lose that. I was so torn. All the people that had been my surrogate family those many years were 10 blocks away setting up.

It was a warm July evening when I got back to the halfway house. I'd just finished a shift working with some drywaller's in a building downtown.

Big Bob was working the nighshift as counselor that night. Him and I had spent many a night in that office talking about life and whatever else came to mind. He was an ex footballer and he always told it straight.

That night we had a long talk and I poured everything I was feeling out to him and he laughed at me.

"Of course you want to go back to the Carny life!" "You're a fucking Carny!" He said.

"You think I haven't watched you this past year and a half?" He chuckled.

"I honestly didn't think you'd make it this long here, and yet here you are! You did it! You did what needed to be done. You put in the work. You recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body as the big book of A.A. tells us we will if we work the program!" He got quiet and looked at me.

"This isn't your home Kevin! This was a stopping off point where you got help. And you did! That Carnival and those people are your home, that's where you belong!" He went on.

"Your problems are inside you. You didn't get the way you were when we got you because of the Carny life.....sure it helped.....but you were the catalyst for it all, or something inside you!" He said.

"Your time here is done. There's nothing left for us to teach you and you have nothing vested in this city. It's time to go home my friend and at some level you know that, you were just looking for permission, and you don't need it!" He finished with a smile.

He was right. He knew I was right before I knew I was right.

I went down to the lot that night and saw everybody and it was the greatest feeling in the world. If you've never had the feeling that you actually belonged somewhere well then I envy you. It's the greatest feeling in the world.

The boss being the low key guy he was never came out of his office. He was waiting for me to come to him. I climbed up into the office trailer and he turned around in his chair and smiled and we shook hands and he told me how great I looked, clear eyed, were the words he used.

"So you coming home?" He asked. But he knew the answer.

I was moved back into my old bunk the next morning and had bid farewell to all at the halfway house earlier before I left.

We set up, did the show, tore down and hit the road and put those cities lights behind us. It felt good. I never drank again.

Every year we hit that city I'd head up to that halfway house to see Bob and be reminded of the time I'd spent under his and some other counselors wings! I never forgot the lessons I learned there. The knowledge I learned and carried with me was alien to the Carny world.

I was a different guy when I returned back to the Carny world. Some people didn't like it. It bothered them at a level they didn't understand.

One indecent comes to mind. Carol Anne was a girl I'd bunked with before. She'd put up with so  much of my shit, being drunk, so high I couldn't dress myself. The many times she couldn't wake me because I was so deeply out of it she thought I might be dead. The beer bottles and whiskey bottles and pill bottles all over the fucking floor and bed.

All the cleaning up she'd done and me just making a mess everywhere. Never respecting her or her wishes or maybe what she'd like to do on a day off. I was never funny to the women. I was an asshole. The guys thought I was funny. But then a lot of them were dicks like me.

"I don't understand you anymore!" She said one night as we were sitting quietly in the bunk after hours.

"It's like you're you but you're not you!" She said in her deep southern drawl.

"I mean I like this "You", I just don't recognize this "you", I feel like I'm going crazy trying to explain it!" She said wiping a tear from her eye.

"It's because I'm not a "Tragic figure" anymore." I explained to her.

"You don't have to be my Mama and look after me all the fucking time and worry I might die or be dead when you come back from your game for the night!" I explained further.

Her pretty green eyes lit up as she got what I was saying. She realized that was exactly it.

 She let me look out for her for a change that season.

Everyone loves a tragic figure. I'm not one today and never want to be again. Tragic figures are fucking babies that need a Mama. I'm a man.

A Message To The Public

Contrary to what you may believe, or what impressions you may be under, the Carnival lot is also someones home. We bust our asses to accommodate you in every possible way.

So please stick to the Midway and other public places.

Washrooms are provided, so please use them.

I don't know how many times I've caught someone pissing by my bunk. Please fuck off and use the washroom! I'm sure you would be a little bitchy if I was pissing or shitting on your doorstep.

Stay on the fucking Midway, don't be snooping around behind the rides where people live, that's their yard. If someone did that to you you'd be on the horn to the cops.

Our yards are not public washrooms for you or your children, or garbage dumps, or short cuts.

Have a little fucking respect.

You (The Public), the ones who look down on us! Are we pissing and shitting in your yard or on your doorstep?

We use washrooms, we are civilized, why the fuck can't you be?

When you walk onto the lot you are walking into a community also. We cater to you so give us some respect, thank you.

Bad Habits I've Picked Up Being On The Road

I like to sleep in my clothes. Even off the road I do it often. I guess I've slept a lot of places you just don't take your clothes off. I don't know.

I've slept outside, in bunks with roaches, under trucks...etc.

Sometimes when I'm working, and the day is over, and I worked my ass off, I'll just fall asleep with all my clothes on and even my boots.

In the winter, during the few months I'm not working, I'll be watching TV or playing on the computer and I'll get tired and just lay on the floor with my clothes on and fall asleep.

Previous girlfriends that were not Carnies, asked me what the fuck was wrong with me, why I lived like some "old hippy" flopped out on the floor with my clothes on. I would just laugh. They would never understand. What normal person would?

Only Carny women understand.

Another bad habit I have is I hate commitments. Like signing a lease, or anything that will tie me down. I hate obligations or having to be anywhere at a specific time. I've been free far too long I fear.

I can be packed up and gone in 6 hours, no matter where I am, anytime.

This can cause serious problems in the real world, especially with women. They want roots and stability, I doubt I will ever have it or be able to give it to a regular woman.

My dream girl would be a road chick I guess, one that didn't start the old...."lets quit the road and setup house" bullshit.

Life Is Not a Journey!

Life is not a journey. It's about the "now" not the destination. The destination is the grave! Whoever came up with that shit must have been the same one that invented the "Rat race!"

The Carny world is about "the moment!" We live in the here and now. I've never witnessed depression or anxiety in the Carny World. Those are alien terms to a Carny! We're always moving. We move constantly. Not just the show picking up and moving to a new spot. "Us!" We move constantly.

Depression is an epidemic in society, and no fucking wonder. Look at the way people live. Tethered to one tiny locale. Spending most of their time indoors. Their whole lives lived and burned away trying to reach a destination they never want to reach anyway. Working and saving for a retirement that may never come and yet never able to save enough to truly enjoy it anyway.

They busted their asses all those years living in the future and fearing it at the same time. No wonder they're on prozac and whatever other shit helps them deal with the rat race no one wins.

I always tell the young people who work for me to live for today. Tomorrow will never come. It's always today. There is no tomorrow.

I had a young woman working for us many years ago that comes to mind. She was physically breaking down. Her body just couldn't handle it. She didn't have the endurance. We were talking late one night just her and I in the dark by the trailers and she told me she didn't want to quit. That she'd listened to what I said and wanted to keep moving. She didn't want the rat race.

I explained to her that it wasn't quitting in her case. She wasn't giving up. She was moving on to something better suited to her. That there were other ways to live, and occupations she would be better suited to physically. I hated seeing her young body breaking down, her getting sick all the time. Some people were not cut out for the Carny life.

I even stayed behind one jump with her overnight at the hospital and we hopped a bus to the spot the next day. I put her in a motel room to recover for a few days while we all set up.

Long story short, she finished the season, she was a trooper. Then she headed off to Thailand that next spring and then on to India and many other places teaching english and doing whatever else she could. That girl had a strong spirit. As far as I know she's still out there wandering today, and I hope she is.

You only live once. Live it on your own terms. Collect experiences. Forget all the trappings of so called success. There is no real security that's really worth it in the end. By the time you get it you're too old and tired to do anything. Do it when you're young and strong.

Work. Live. Fuck. Party. 

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Corporate America and The Carnies

Corporate America has taken over the show in North America. A lot of independents have been kicked off as a result, they can't have anything on the show now. The Carny family is breaking apart. Big paces of the community leaving.

The Carnival life is changing fast.

The Carnival was always run by Carnies, that's what made it exciting and unpredictable. The entertainment world as a whole has changed as well as society.

Carnies are replaced with clean cut kids who take drug tests. Carnies as flawed as they are have always been the heart and soul of the show. Now it's becoming your average corporate traveling amusement park. Nothing new or unique. You can get that anywhere.

That's how progress happens though, even if it isn't really progress, that's what it's called and you can't stop it.

I guess I'm just grateful I had the chance to see it and live it as it was, before it fades away into the history books, a bygone era. Just like all the "show people" of yesteryear. The freaks and  the sword swallower's and the animal acts and the peep shows. Before it changed over to the more industrial incarnation all about rides and games. I'm sure those people......and I met quite a few of the old old timers when I was young.....all felt the same way as I do now, watching their era come to a close.

Such is life. The world just keeps turning.

Stewart Brown A.K.A. (Stuge)

I took a friend with me on the road one year, he fit in perfectly, his name was Stewart, we all just called him "Stuge" because he was so funny. I met him in a big city on the west coast, we met in a hostel actually.

He was a total drifter like me. We had a lot of fun that spring with no cares in the world.

He knew I was a Carny and when it came time for me to go I asked him to come with me. Stewart was into it and excited that I would take him. So off we went to meet up with the Boss and the rest of the crew.

As I said, he fit in perfectly and we had a great time that summer of 1986.

The guy was a natural in a joint and always had the customers in stitches he was so funny, he was truly a gifted person and I learned a lot from him about life, I will never forget him. He was a "born Carny!"

The last time I saw him in person was near the end of that season. We had both been fired for not showing up to work on opening day that spot because we met some girls and went partying and to their place for the night.

Anyway, we finally showed up that afternoon all fucked out and hung over. The boss screamed at us and told us to fuck off. We were at the bunk packing our shit when he came by and said he wasn't really going to fire us and told us to get in our fuckin joint's.

Stewart decided he was heading east to see his folks instead, that was his plan for the end of the season anyway, so he took the early exit.

I saw him off in a cab at the gates. We exchanged addresses where we could write each other and he said "You won't write" and I knew neither of us would, guys like us never do.

I wondered for years what happened to him and where he was.

One night in 1998 I was flicking through the channels late and I saw him, a home video of him on a Human Interest program about families that were fighting offenders being paroled.

I watched it, and I learned what happened to him.

He was beat to death in a bar in 1993 by some assholes that were bothering a girl he was with, it was his birthday, it was his 29th and last. The guy got 5 years, Stewart got six feet. Stewart's family was fighting the guys early parole.

Stewart was tough, I knew that about him, it took a few guys to hold him while another guy kicked him in the head again and again....till he died.

I finally tracked his family down a year and a half ago. I sent them a letter telling them how sorry I was and what a great guy he was even though they knew that already.

I told some of our adventures in it too, I can only hope I gave them some small piece of their Son back.

His Father called me and both he and his wife thanked me.

Even though Stewart was only out one season, he was a born Carny, I miss him to this day.

Wanna See My Pecker?

There used to be this old guy that worked games when I was a kid, I can't remember his name, it was a long time ago.

He had been on the road 50 years when I was a kid.

He used to ask the girls, walking the Midway, and girls that worked the lot, if they wanted to see his pecker. Of course they'd be all "eeeewwwww". Then he would pull up his pant leg and there would be an old faded tattoo of a Wood Pecker.

I was a kid then and thought this was the funniest thing, I'd laugh and laugh and he'd wink at me and do it again to another girl.

I'd go sit by his joint on my breaks just to watch.

The Bullshit Media and Carnies!

Here's the review on it, I'll tear it apart shortly.

(This groundbreaking work based on the author's time living the carnival life is stupendous. Step right up to the podium and have a good read, folks, the one the only thrilling tale of “carny” life. Make your acquaintance with a world filled with people and a language that until now has been carefully reserved for those “in the know.”)

Barbara Bamberger Scott is full of shit. She traveled one season on the road and to hear her tell it she was traveling the road circa 1935.

Sensationalized bullshit.

I've read a few Carny books and many articles over the years. But never by Carnies....always by people who wanted to write about the life and the Carny world and thought they'd hop on the show and "be a Carny!" or how when the local media will show up at a Carnival lot and interview the first people they see setting up and figure they're talking to

Real Carnies rarely if ever talk to the media. Just because someone is working on the lot for that spot or even a season or two doesn't make them a Show person!

Usually who the media are really talking to are "Lumps" or what we call "Bodies", green people who are seconds in a joint and don't know their ass from their hat. Hence the term "Asshat!"

The media doesn't care. They need to write something so they'll find the dumbest "asshat" on the lot and write up a story making us all look like "asshats" and go on their merry way to their next made up bullshit story resembling anything but the truth.

Real Carnies don't like the media, and for good reason.

I Saw Her - The Cheating Wife

She was carrying her heels and straightening her dress as she crept out of the bunkhouse. For her it was late, me, early. This wasn't the first time I'd witnessed such a scenario . She was a bosses wife and though that meant she wouldn't fuck one of her own crew it didn't mean she wouldn't do the deed with someone else's crew member .

The sun had just risen and everything was covered in dew. She sat on the steps of the bunkhouse and looked at me and then lit a cigarette. “You’re not going to tell Tommy are you?” She asked. She didn't look worried. It seemed like more of a rhetorical question. One she asked because she didn't know what else to say sitting there in the cool early morning, smoking, looking around to see if anyone else was up.

I didn't say anything. There was nothing to say.

Truth be told I really didn't give shit nor did I ever make a practice of worrying about the fucked up shit anyone else was doing. I always minded my own business and it always served me well.
She looked really beautiful in the early morning light all dishevelled like she was, smoking and biting her lip. 

I came to the conclusion long ago that everyone's just banging around in this world and doing the best they can. I stopped trying to figure love or life out somewhere along the way. Eileen and I'd known each other for years but we'd never slept together. Not because I wasn't attracted to her. I didn't know a man that wasn't attracted to her. I can't say I wouldn't have had the occasion arisen. It didn't.

There's a certain kind of woman that has a sexuality to her, a power over men. I don't know if it has something to do with pheromones or what it is. But once you get sucked in it is very difficult to get out, even after she is done with you and you're on the scrap heap.

Tommy knew she fucked around. Everybody knew she fucked around. The world is full of people who fuck around. It's just none of my business!

I got up to go get my guys up. We had a lot to do that day inventory wise. 

"Later hun!" she said as I walked away. Just another day in the Carny World.