What is that one bizarre thing you find escape?
Music has become my entire life...from guitar building, to historical research, marketing...it's all music all the time. It sounds like a dream until it becomes a focus that has your attention 24/7.
Lately, I've been finding total escapism in my antique circus giant ring collection. It's such a bizarre quest, my brain gets carjacked to a new world.
Are you stuck in a rut like me? Let's have some fun. (There's nothing for sale in this email.)
I've always loved circuses. It's a simple pleasure dating back to childhood. They're all awesome...from Ringling Brothers to the small outfits with forgettable names. They're old-time entertainment and hearken back to a simpler time.
The freakshows at the circus were always my guilty pleasure. I've paid to see dog-sized rats, sword swallowers and the Fiji Mermaid. I even went to the county fair one slow afternoon and had a 45 minute conversation in the freak tent with "Howard Huge - the 600lb man." (Real name: Bruce Snowden. He was a delightful fellow who later had a bit role as the fat man in the movie, Big Fish. I'll treasure our talk forever, Bruce. Rest in peace...)
Searching circus freakshow history has become a great diversion for me when things get stressful.
It was during one of these searches that I discovered the tradition of sideshow "tall men" selling cheap metal souvenir rings for extra cash. These have become my guilty pleasure. I scour the internet looking for one by each giant.
The rings are huge, as big as napkin rings and made from pot metal, lead and other cheap materials. They're so big, I'm sure they were even a bit loose on the goliath fingers of the 8 foot tall men.
It's not about the rings, though. It's about the quest and the magic along the way.
* Did you know Jack Earle would sell his for 25¢ and would guarantee them for good luck? If he saw somebody later in public who mentioned the ring, he'd offer a shiny quarter to them if that ring proved to be unlucky.
* Johann Petursson's rings were always bigger than the competition and sported a plain JP on the front. He later switched to a cheaper plastic ring in the 1970s.
* Ted Evans created his own rings in his garage, using the same mold thousands of times, pouring cheap pot metal and lead into them and hand finishing them on a grinder.
As I type this newsletter, not one bit of my existence is thinking about music, workload or deadlines. My mind has transformed to that of a 5 year old with eyes as big as saucers, gazing at wonders in the circus tent.
I'm lost in joy.
So what is the one thing that takes your mind on an Alice in Wonderland journey? What do you consider your "guilty pleasure?" Find your own quest.
My friend, Rod Goelz tells me that there are no guilty pleasures. Only pleasures. Personally, I'm gonna go seek more plunder in the land of giants.
Find some peace today.
Below: A Ted Evans ring dwarfs a common quarter. You can see the molten lines in the inner part of the ring... from when Evans cast it in his amateur setup located in his garage.