THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO MY TWIN BROTHER, BILL DYKES (1943-1995). WE WERE NOT ONLY BROTHERS BUT PARTNERS IN BUSINESS AND BEST FRIENDS!AND TO ALL THE "BUTCHERS" THAT HAVE PASSED ON TO THE BIG LOT IN THE SKY!
Zing Zang Zoom: Circus adds the world of magic and illusion
By OTIS R. TAYLOR JR. When the circus comes to town, one expects three things: thrills, excitement and bumbling comedy provided by clowns. Seeing the circus is a magical experience for some. But if you go to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Zing Zang Zoom circus this week, you will really see magic. For the first time in its 126-year history, the circus, which will be at the Colonial Life Arena today through Sunday, will have a magician leading the affair. Meet Alex Ramon, the Zingmaster. "I never would've imagined being in a Ringling Bros. circus," he said. "I also take on the duties of a tradition ringmaster. "I have big boots to fill." But as a magician, he knows anything is possible - especially if a trick is played on the eyes and mind.
Magic in a venue the size of the Colonial Life Arena is a bit different, the Zingmaster said. There's no fourth wall, which refers to the imaginary "wall" in the front of a stage. In fact, the stage is a 360-degree environment. "It has to be seen by everybody for all people to enjoy," he said about the tricks. Ramon's specialty is illusions, and he worked with the "Steven Spielberg" of illusions, Jim Steinmeyer, who has worked with masterful magicians such as David Copperfield. Here's just two things you'll see - or won't see, depending on how you see it. (Tricky, huh?) - An elephant will disappear. - Kids randomly pulled from the audience will make their parents levitate. "You won't see these anywhere in the world," Ramon said.
Ramon, and his assistant, Levitytia, also have to defend the fantastical spirit they create against Mr. Gravity and his team of Heavies in a struggle of good versus evil under the big top. This isn't the first time Alex has been to Columbia. In 2006, he trained for five weeks at The Township for the production "Disney Live! Mickey's Magic Show." The show had its world premiere at the venue in April of that year. "I'm excited to come back," Ramon said, recalling Mellow Mushroom in the Vista and, of course, this city's love of the Gamecocks. "I still have a couple of friends that I met there." For Zing Zang Zoom, the Zingmaster trained for about a year. Is this a dream come true? "I never saw (a circus) growing up as a kid," he said. "The first one I saw was after the producer said I want you to be in it." The wow-worthy high-wire acts and clumsy clowns will still excite the crowd. And now the mystery of magical illusions have been added. Could the self-proclaimed "Greatest Show on Earth" be even greater? See - if you can follow the tricks - if it happens for yourself.
Nik Wallenda walks the cable some 200 feet high Thursday morning from One Watergate Condominium to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Sarasota on Thursday morning. Wallenda highwire walk
The breeze kicked up a few times as Wallenda walked across a high wire strung between a condo tower and the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton. Midway through the 10-minute crossing, Wallenda stretched out and laid down on his back on the one-inch thick wire, drawing a big applause. People put down their coffee and cell phones for another ovation as Wallenda reached the other side. Looking wind-blown and a little jittery, Wallenda smiled as he was introduced as the 'King of the High Wire' in the Ritz-Carlton courtyard. “I'm honored to be here. This is a very special event for me. I've walked high wires around the world; never in the town where I was born and raise,” he said. “Let me tell you, there's no view like that one up there.” Still riding an adrenaline high, Wallenda was brought back to Earth a moment later when a man in the audience pointed out the aerial artist's shoe was untied
Nik Wallenda is a Sarasota native. And while he was born and raised here on the Suncoast, surprisingly this tight rope walker never performed one of his daring stunts outside the big top in his hometown. But on Thursday that will change. "I started walking the wire at the age of 2." Nik is a 7th-generation circus performer. You could say he was destined for the life in the center ring. "The only bones I've ever broken in my life was playing football." The thrill-seeking superman currently holds the Guinness World Record for the highest and longest distance traveled by bicycle on a high wire. "My highest walk last year was 262 feet high, and it was about 900 feet across." A 5/8" inch thick galvanized cable is all that is between Nik's feet and the ground below. Nik and the crew of Circus Sarasota are getting the big top ready. Nik will be the featured performer in this year's show, and to get the show off on the right foot the crew will be setting up outside the circus tent for a stunt that will let everyone know Circus Sarasota is in town. This Thursday morning at 9am, Wallenda will take to a wire suspended from the top of the One Watergate condominium, 600 feet across to the Ritz Carlton...more than 200 feet above the ground. "I was born and raised here in Sarasota and I've done a lot of walks all over the world, and I've always wanted to do one here in Sarasota," say Wallenda. Now Nik will have his chance. And if it's like any of his other jaw dropping stunts, audiences will be wowed. "I'm really concentrating on what I'm doing. I'm staying extremely focused on the wire and what I'm doing. The world kind of goes away and it's just me at that point." Nik says the walk from One Watergate to the Ritz Carlton should take about 15 minutes to complete. The event is open to the public to watch.
If you would like more information on the stunt or on Circus Sarasota, which begins on February 12th, visit www.circussarasota.org/. ABC 7 will be airing Nik's high wire walk live starting at 9am Thursday. MySuncoast.com will also be streaming it live as well.
State fair treats will test your tummy By JEFF HOUCK The Tampa Tribune Published: February 2, 2010 TAMPA - The Florida State Fair opens Thursday. The food being served during the following 10 days will be something only a cardiologist could love. New to the fair this year: chocolate-covered churros, spaghetti ice cream, and burgers with Krispy Kreme donuts for buns. And deep-fried butter. Yes, you read that correctly. The fair describes that heart-stopping treat thusly: "2 or 3 butter pats or balls wrapped in dough and deep-fried. Dipping flavors are optional." So is a will to live, apparently. You can find the delicacy at the fairgrounds' West Main Street. They'll be served at the deep-fried candy bar stand. Eating dangerously makes somewhat more sense at the fair, especially when you consider the grub is being served amid rides with names like Pharoh's Fury, the Freak Out and Tomb of Doom. This year's food offerings stretch the palate more than a little bit. They include: • Fair Squares: The fair's signature dish resembles a deep-fried beignet with pink powdered sugar sprinkled on top. This dessert has a purpose: A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure cancer charity. They'll be sold at a pink tent near the floating restaurant. • Over The Top Krispy Kreme Donut Burger: Imagine a fresh burger patty nestled between two glazed doughnuts and adorned with your favorite condiment. A serving of dignity is not available. They'll also be sold on West Main Street. • Spaghetti Ice Cream: Frisario's Italian Ice Cream presses ice cream through an extruder to create frozen ice cream "noodles" that are topped with fresh strawberries pureed to resemble marinara. The dessert is then adorned with shavings of white chocolate that resemble Parmesan cheese. You can buy this inside the Expo Hall at booth No. 428. • Twisted Taters on a Stick: Spiral-cut potato chips mounted on a stick and flavored with gourmet spices. These will be sold on North Main Street. And if your lips don't get chapped by all that sodium, sugar and crunchy goodness, you can soothe them with some Bacon Lip Balm. They sell it at the general store in Cracker Country. Right next to the baconnaise and bacon ranch salad dressing.
By Billy Cox, Sarasota Hearald Tribune Published: Monday, February 1, 2010 at 12:37 p.m. Last Modified: Monday, February 1, 2010 at 12:37 p.m.
SARASOTA - The public will get a rare glimpse of the Wallenda daredevil legend on Thursday morning when Nik Wallenda walks a high wire without a net in downtown Sarasota. Weather permitting, at 9 a.m., the great grandson of Karl Wallenda is scheduled to begin his famed balancing act from 200 feet up at One Watergate Condominium. From there, he'll head 600 feet west to the roof of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The 31-year-old Sarasota native estimates the tense journey will take 15 to 20 minutes. Wallenda holds two Guinness Book of Records high-wire marks: the greatest height (235 feet) and longest distance (128 feet) ever traveled on a bicycle. That 2008 milestone was covered live by NBC's Today show in Newark, N.J. Wallenda performed 15 skywalks last year of 100 feet or more, the highest of which was 262 feet. The longest was 1,100 feet. He has permits to forge the south end of the Grand Canyon, and has not yet embarked on that feat, and is pursuing negotiations to conquer Niagara Falls. Thursday will mark the first time the performance artist has staged a major public event in Sarasota. The exhibition is a warm up for his booking at Circus Sarasota, which runs under the Big Top on Feb. 12-28 across from Ed Smith Stadium.
Grashorn Building, April 19, 2003. Municipal Art Society
Get set for another year of competing Coney Island freak shows
Operator John Strong confirmed today that he has a new lease to return to the seaside district this summer, but in new digs – the ex-Grashorn’s Hardware site on Surf Ave, which dates back to the 1880s and is Coney Island’s oldest building. Strong, who leased part of the former Astroland site from developer Joe Sitt last season before it was sold to the city, also cut his new deal with Sitt. Sitt, who declined to confirm today if the deal had closed, brought Strong to Coney Island last year and renamed the Astroland property “Dreamland Park.” “I’m happy to be coming back to Coney Island,” said Strong, who said business was “great” there last year – even though most of the rest of the traveling amusements at the park last year were a huge flop. But Strong doesn’t boast being the only show in town. He’s up against the popular Coney Island USA Circus Sideshow, headed by Dick Zigun, the so-called Coney Island mayor. Strong says he’s so in love with Coney Island that he is trying to lease more Sitt-owned land on Stillwell Avenue. He said he wants to expand his freak show and also use the additional space for a circus and the return of go-cart tracks to the underused site. Strong claimed that he currently is the highest bidder for the site – even higher than Zamperla USA, which is expected to be tapped by the city to operate a six- acre amusement park in Coney Island on property that includes the old Astroland site. Sitt in November agreed to sell the Astroland site and some other Coney Island property he owns to the city, so it could go forward with plans to build a new amusement park and other attractions. Strong’s Coney Island freak show made national headlines last year by unsuccessfully trying to stop a five-legged puppy from getting corrective surgery. He infuriated animal-rights activists by getting into a legal fight with a Charlotte, NC, woman who swooped in and beat Strong to buying the five-legged puppy. Allyson Siegel had the deformed canine's extra limb removed to keep it from ending up in the freak show.