Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Dog and Pony Show - "Live" from Love Street

"Horses and Hound" - digital mash-up - 2005 DS
(click to enlarge)

"Dog and pony show" is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends. Typically, the term is used in a pejorative sense to connote disdain, jocular lack of appreciation, or distrust of the message being presented or the efforts undertaken to present it."

Dog and Pony Show via Wiki

"Before multi-platinum recording artists and Oscar-winning films celebrated Bloomington, Indiana, the city already occupied an important position in entertainment history. Although these days the term “dog-and-pony show” is usually used ironically, in the late 1800s the Gentry brothers of Bloomington brought glory to their hometown with just such an act.

Having trained a few animals and corralled his three brothers, 17-year-old Henry B. Gentry bought a train car and got a show on the road in 1885. “Gentry’s Equine and Canine Paradox” soon came to feature 40 ponies and 80 dogs in each of two traveling units. Having bought out several of its competitors by 1900, the outfit that was then known as Gentry Brothers Famous Shows lived up to its name with four separate units boasting camels, sacred cows, monkeys, and elephants that entertained crowds as far away as Mexico City."

- via Gentry Brothers Circus, 2006, Yaël Ksander

"She lives on Love Street
Lingers long on Love Street
She has a house and garden
I would like to see what happens

She has robes and she has monkeys
Lazy diamond studded flunkies
She has wisdom and knows what to do
She has me and she has you

I see you live on Love Street
There's this store where the creatures meet
I wonder what they do in there
Summer Sunday and a year
I guess I like it fine, so far"

- from "Love Street" by The Doors, 1968 - (video)

I'd been spending a lot of time in my "black vault" a few months ago... when I first drafted this post; reacquainting myself with old documents from my previous websites: The ShadowBride (poetry), The Circle Zone (geometry), and Araqinta's Gallery of Transmutations (digital illustrations). And, it's specifically that period - from the late 90s to about 2007 - which I've come to recognize as the "good old days."

It was a time in internet history - and maybe you remember -  before the twin scourges of consumerism and commercialism grabbed the helm...  those blissfully private days before the advent of social media and "Smart" devices, when the cyberspace vista was gloriously free of NSA spooks, various trolls, hackers, blogsuckers, bullies, profilers, insidious retailers, and all the myriad other strains of cyberspace creeps. (Update: an example of a particularly virulent UK variety...)

Commerce was merely selling things in those days... now it's become a religion, a philosophy, the manufacturer of social trends... insinuating itself into your private life as a matter of course. Your retailers are now your very best friends; one is prompted to "Like" them on Facebook, waste time scanning their codes into your (Smart) phone, or text-messaging them for their latest promotional deal... all the while trying to convince you that you need them... when the reality is quite the opposite.

In the "good old days" going online was a matter of choice; one could explore a new frontier, create with a new medium, and, possibly, make new friends along the way. Now, however, one is forced to join a virtual viral circus; life under the big-top, with all the attending metaphors. Worse still, one's attendance in "The Greatest Show on Earth" is being monitored. Your private information is no longer your own; your correspondence is no longer private; your identity is no longer safe.

Which is the key word really: safety. One felt somewhat safe in the "good old days"... as I still feel "safe" inside the belly of my old (off-line) IMac... which is where I found the old images I've posted above & below.

"Horses and Hound" (circa 2005) was one of my first digital creations; a mash-up of photographic images found in old books and catalogues from my collection. The object of my experiment was to combine and assimilate fragments of ancient statuary into a common ground, using airbrushed stone patterns, to create a high relief. I guess "mashing things up" is a rite of passage into the digital method of art. My ode to Jim Morrison appears below. *

The "good old days" are gone, however, and, for those of you familiar with my blogs, and this one in particular, I've made it clear in recent months that my blogging days are limited... ostensibly, for all the reasons above.  And, since the Imbolc post, I've been trying to come up with the Official Last Post. It was slated to be this one; formerly - and, somewhat theatrically - entitled: The Death of a Blog. "Horses & Hound" was, originally, the image I chose. But that was months ago, and I didn't consciously have an agenda. That is, till the phrase "dog and pony show" came into my head. (see “Morris’ Equine and Canine Paradoxes”)

Ah, perfect! That's it, of course. A small, traveling circus act... amidst a millions others, where competition is fierce, but, somehow, the whole point becomes moot.

For instance, I no longer remember why I started this blog. Obviously, it was not to "sell" anything. I think had some sort of wacky, naive idea of sharing... images, techniques, information, experiences... though why I assumed for 5 minutes that these comprised any form of entertainment for anybody but myself, I can't say. But, I guess that's why I ultimately  became so disenchanted. I was getting caught up in the social media syndrome where quality is confused with quantity and one is judged - and made self-conscious - by back-links, blog-stats, "friends", "followers" and "circles". I was taking things personally because I was putting personal things "out there"... but, I wasn't so "personally" (or, commercially) motivated as to join the social media club. Oddly enough, many of us just don't have the time. (And, considering the blatant invasiveness - and ageism - of some club coordinators, I am wholly relieved to be off that radar!) (Update: and here's a related public service announcement...)

Happily, all things do pass... including dog & pony shows. But, surprise (!), I'm not (yet) pulling my "act" from the venue, I'm just putting it into perspective. Meaning: this is not the last post... nor is it necessarily leading to anything. I have a new scanner and a new digital camera... and I still enjoy posting images. So, I will... from time to time... till I get my real "show" on the road.

But, if you want significance and/or "deep" philosophical jargon, you'll have to go to the FB page of your local convenience store! ;-)

From the archives - an earlier mash-up - 2005, DS (aka Zindra)
(click to enlarge)

*  During the early stages of this post, I had The Door's song, "Love Street" going through my head non-stop... hence, the quote... and inclusion of the image. You might notice an inscription in the upper right hand corner - it was taken from Jim's gravestone. Translated form the Greek it means: “according to his own daimōn” and/or “true to his own spirit.”


  1. YAY! A new post...and a very intriguing one....far from the surface huzzah of a dog and pony show. Nay...this has depth and a message to impart.

    Well done!

    1. Nay? Or, is that "neigh"? ;-)

      You're a trip, BG, but, as always, thanks a bunch...