Saturday on the way home from Sabino Canyon (which was beautiful) we stopped off briefly at the Pima County Fair. It had all the attractions of most big fairs--lots of fried food and sweet food (sometimes both at once), rides, pig races, a demolition derby, elephants...and a sideshow.
Now, I've been around long enough to know that most sideshow attractions (except for some of the freakishly mutated animals, which just make me feel sad) are fake--constructed especially for that purpose. But that's okay. The point isn't their reality, it's the thought that went into them, and the slice of Americana that goes along with the idea that people did--and do--pay good American dollars to see the world's smallest horse and the albino turtle and the dog-faced boy.
I took a few pictures in the sideshow tent, although the light was terrible and I was shooting through glass. They're not technically perfect, but in some ways I think that enhances their charm, and gives the viewer a sense of walking through the tent making these same discoveries.
It all made me want to come home and listen to Tom Russell's brilliant CD Hotwalker (which is on now, as I write this), particularly the parts with the probably fictional Little Jack Horton. As Russell says, "Little Jack Horton was the king of the carnival, the voice of the great American midway, a voice that sounds like Ukulele Ike on laughing gas, the real thing. He's been shot out of cannons, he did the pass of death on a Shetland pony, he rode the Four Walls of Eternity on a motorcycle. He appeared in movies like The Terror of Tiny Town and One-Eyed Jacks with Marlon Brando. And he wrote poetry. This is a true American voice from the sawdust back lots of the Old World."