.

 

Heffalumps/Too much TotT

The elephants on their way through the tunnel.

The potential elephants excited my gathered friends, who cheered in anticipation as they stared into the empty tunnel, awaiting trunks. Soon the elephants would emerge from Queens, take a right down 34th, and head to Madison Square Garden.

I was glad to be there, but didn't fully empathize with the enthusiasm. I've lost my excitement in simple things, like elephants marching past the Empire State Building. Concerned by this, I tried to figure out the source, and I realized: I've been on a major New Yorker kick lately, and I've begun to see the city through the eyes of “The Talk of the Town.” I didn't experience the elephants; I experienced TotT observing the elephants; I've taken on the detachment of E.B. White and his editorial progeny as my own, coming up just short of hallucinating tiny accompanying ink sketches.

Trunk Show

The circus is in town, so the other night the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey elephants came into Manhattan through the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Their march continues a tradition that goes back to the days of Fiorella LaGuardia, who once led the midnight parade wearing a silk hat and wielding a silver-tipped cane. A group of 300 or so enthusiasts huddled in the snow at the tunnel's exit, observed by a small team of sighing police assigned to “the zoo watch.”

It was patrolman David Crain's fifth year on elephant duty. He sat inside one of the NYPD's golf-cart-sized cars, as other officers kept the crowd on the sidewalk. “It's a long night,” he said. “The elephants are always late.” But his concern is for a human stampede: “Most of the job is in keeping people off the street when the elephants arrive. You get them wanting to touch the elephants, running right up to their feet.” He demurred as a clown in sweatpants offered him a rubber nose.

The Ringling Bros. elephants are the most famous in the world, and the most scrutinized. Far from the circus, in Hartford, Connecticut, Jacob Grames, the head of the ASCPA's large animal division, explained his reasons for boycotting that night's parade. “Where to start? Eight of the Ringling elephants have tuberculosis, but still will be marched through the snow. They pull the nursing calves from their mothers. They train them with bullhooks.”

Regardless, the crowd gave a great cheer as the first pachyderm, handler astride, emerged from the tunnel, naked save for some promotional headgear. It was followed by seven others, each trunk wrapped neatly around the tail before, an arrangement that kept order but ruled out the possibility of trumpeting.

The police geared up their carts, and a half-dozen or so clowns piled into a large, decorated bus (gone are the days of tiny cars) and turned onto 34th St. Then the elephants, unphased by flashbulbs, snow, and lusty accolades from the throng, trudged past in barely a minute, followed, inevitably, by a whirring, electric-broomed street sweeper.

(All fabricated, save that the elephants are trained with bullhooks and removed from their mothers, and do have tuberculosis.)


[Top]

Ftrain.com

PEEK

Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.

FACEBOOK

There is a Facebook group.

TWITTER

You will regret following me on Twitter here.

EMAIL

Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.

POKE


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0

Contact

© 1974-2011 Paul Ford

Recent

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

The Moral Superiority of the Streetcar. (1) Long-form journalism fixes everything. (2) The moral superiority of the streetcar. (3) I like big bus and I cannot lie. (May 4)

More...
Tables of Contents