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The Spider and His Web

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The fair is a place of wild and varied images, contrasts, drama. Even a tiny county fair like ours. It's getting smaller every year. The merry-go-round is shrinking, too. 

It used to have wooden horses. These are plastic, molded. I miss the wooden ones.

I also miss the days when we plopped the kids on them and took their pictures every year. This time, despite entreaties, my kids passed on going to the fair with me. At least I'm still in touch with my inner child, my kids having outgrown me.

The rides are, by any measure, sort of pitiful, and getting moreso year by year. Gone are the days of the huge honkin' rock'n'roll rides with their own music (snarly electric guitar solos) and flashing lights and truly dangerous moves. But these little rides still produce some powerful images. The carnival workers who man each of them remind me of lonely spiders sitting in their webs, hoping to snare people. 
Then they take the people in their clutches and shake them up and spin them around.

Have you ever seen a spider who, upon having an insect fall into its web, does a wild tarantella, bouncing up and down, shaking the net, hoping to throw it off balance and ensnare it more deeply?

There was one ride which, for whatever reason, was popular. It was the only one with a line.

As far as I could see, it was a human salad spinner, with three baskets that whirled perhaps eight people at high rates of speed in tight circles. Meanwhile, the whole thing was whirling in a circle. Which is enough to make my gorge rise, just thinking about it. My elderly inner ears are not made for such punishment, if they ever were.

However. Many, many people apparently wanted to put in the salad spinner, to be spun in tight circles within a larger circle. To be fair, this was the only remotely challenging ride in the dinky midway, so perhaps they selected it by default.

I had other reasons to select it.

Purely visual reasons. I loved the colors. I loved how the operator was still but the cars spun wildly, blurrily. 

But mostly I loved his face, his presence. Zow! The spiked wristlet only added to his dangerous mien. 

For me, he was out of a Renaissance painting. I always go there when I'm shooting the Fair.

That star-spun velvet blue behind him.

He seemed to like his job, cheerily checking on the people who sat, silent and perhaps a little stunned, after the ride quit spinning.

The spider and his web.


Was that a challenge? How about this:
There is an even better view of this in Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth series, but I can't find the segment online.
Great post--I love these small fairs. They were the highlights of the kids' year where I grew up.

I don't know, maybe it's because you hail from "Whipple," but all this nostalgic talk reminded me of the old Twilight Zone episode where a fellow is wistfully drawn back to an old-timey town called "Willoughby" (for those here old enough to remember Rod Serling classics):

I think you should start writing books which are sold in metaphysical book stores. There are always so many vague references how we are all connected. Nature, people,good,evil, the universe. Who would have thought a brief blog post about a small county fair in Ohio would make it all so clear.

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