I like to collect interesting patches and put them on a vest I’ve had for a long time now. Some of the patches date back more than 20 years, and I even have one or two from my childhood.

Many years ago I found one that said, “Too many freaks, not enough circuses”.

I realize the creator of this patch was publicly lamenting the number of “weirdos” there are in the world today, but I took it another way.

A Fantastic Contraption

As a member of the Board of Directors for a real live circus – Circus Contraption – my life was filled with aerialists, jugglers, acrobats, clowns, and some particularly inspired musicians. The circus community in the Pacific Northwest is vast and brilliant, and Circus Contraption was dead center in the middle of it all.

So to me, I could never get enough circuses! Yes! The patch-maker was right! There totally weren’t enough circuses!

Circus Contraption was at the forefront of this neo-Vaudeville movement, and their influence on culture-defining artists across the US and Europe is patently obvious to this day.

Fly Away, Seeds

Since the demise of Circus Contraption after 11 years of bending people’s brains with their dark and twisted sense of humor, that group of artists have gone to the wind, and seeded amazing things around the world.

One of the local projects that had seen a lot of success was a band called God’s Favorite Beefcake. The name was an off-the-cuff name the bandleader, Drew Keriakades, made up at one of their early shows. He made a habit of naming the band something different for every show – and would even rename the band during¬†shows! – but it seemed that God’s Favorite Beefcake stuck more often than not, and so the band continued under than moniker, releasing several albums.

Sadly, while sitting at their favorite cafe last week, two of the band mates were killed by a crazed gunman. Drew and Joe were more than best friends, they were like those couples you see who have been married for 60 years, and when together they became two halves of a whole.

Remembering Aloud

With their musical personas being so prominent, the memorials and remembrances for them have been filled with music and singing. A day doesn’t go by that someone doesn’t pick out one of their songs on a banjo, accordion, or fiddle, and a group of people gather around to sing in remembrance of these amazing freaks.

When the Circus disbanded a few years ago, everyone carried on the best they could, and did whatever the next thing was to do. New bands formed, new theatrical productions were invented, old material was freshened up and presented to new audiences, and everyone moved at their own pace in their own direction.

This last week has rekindled friendships that had flagged in the intervening years, and any old animosities were forgotten as people joined together on their favorite songs, laughing and crying through the poignant lyrics and memories.

More like too few!

So. Are there too many freaks, and not enough circuses?

Hardly.

The edges are where the interesting things happen. What is edgy and alternative today is mainstream tomorrow. The people at the edge are the ones with their back to the “normal” world, eyes scanning the horizon for a new idea.

This week, there are two fewer freaks in my community. But I tell ya, the celestial band just got a lot more interesting.