May 25th, 2006
Ever wanted to operate Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? Well, now you can read up on some 1970s-era operating manuals and pretend to be a Loader! Or perhaps a wily Dispatcher! Or maybe you'll choose to live the nomadic life in the Utility section!
I will not be held responsible if you do choose to go over and try to be cool and start yammering on in internal language and whatnot, much like I am not responsible for your well-being if you stroll up to a carny and say "Hey Rube."
You think the carnies get more perturbed if you speak Imagineering to them, or Pirate?
Hah! I wonder if they're going to release the Mission: Space one next. >_>
1. PRES BUTAN
2. ROLE DISE
3. CALL 911
Or maybe they'll put out the Rocket Rods one. Only problem is the 'what to do in the event of a breakdown' section would make Les Miserables look like light summer reading in comparison.
I'd think "What To Do In The Event The Attraction Is Operating" would be more interesting.
1. Do not panic. The nature of this attraction is such that you may actually find it up and running on any given day. This is normal and expected to happen at least once a month.
2. Answer guest queries courteously; remember, the name of the attraction is "Rocket Rods", not "that thing up there" or "Downtime: The Ride."
3. Assure guests that the attraction's operational status is merely a fluke, and that rest assured, it will soon go back to its usual state of inoperativity.
So what *will* a carny do if you walk up and say "Hey Rube"?
(It's on my list of things to do to dig up some copies of "Amusement Business" and check out the current state of the culture compared to what I have on the bookshelf, but I still haven't gotten around to it.)
Actually, "Hey Rube" is a legendary carny call to arms. It was typically used to say "there's gonna be a mixup with the townies!" or "there's a mixup with the townies!" or "fight! fight! fight!"
There are always folks who aren't with it (connected with the carnival, or in the general carny biz) who like to try out the lingo they've learned on the folks who work the show. Those who loudly and prominently drop terms like marks (easily-fleecable victims) or gaff (how a game is rigged) or kayfabe (the code of silence, not disclosing the inner workings of the business to the public; also used in wrestling) are quickly identified as fakes, wannabes, etc. and either treated with derision or "taken care of" in other ways.
There's coaster enthusiasts who try to speak "park language" with the ride ops and stuff so they can sound cool an' tuff. Generally it's those who've actually worked in the biz who come off sounding knowledgable. The others are easily singled out as wannabes.
Yep, the usage was familiar; I was more curious whether carny culture has managed to retain some degree of homogeneity or if it's disintegrated into a mass of unconnected workers working low-paying jobs without any distinct identity as "carnies".
(I have a disorganized library of books about various aspects and cultures of con-artistry (the Rom, the Travelers/Tinkers, carnival cons, the modern grifter/pickpocket etc.) that I use for writing. Awhile back I was fooling around with a story set in a carnival so I spent a some time researching what I could about the history and culture. A lot of the reason why I haven't finished the story is the language still doesn't sound right to me; all my characters sound like outsiders trying to use the lingo.)
Well, there are certainly still very well-established travelling shows that still work certain regions. New England is served by the likes of Fiesta Shows (who do the regional parking lot carnivals and the Topsfield Fair) and Conklin Shows out of Toronto (who do larger midways, like The Big E in Springfield) and a variety of smaller, family-operated amusement companies. Whether or not they've retained that culture and in what forms, I'm not sure. The nature of the carny circuit has always been seasonal, but I don't know if it still attracts repeat workers year to year, or if the bulk of it is temporary hangers-on each season.
I would love to read some of those. Could you recommend?
And here I was, all proud of myself for knowing that, if you are at a circus and the band starts playing "Stars and Stripes Forever", it is time to Leave Promptly.
(I'm told that's the code for there being a fire in the tent. I have not done the research to find out if this is entirely true or what the origin of the tradition is, but I will continue to believe it until proven otherwise. Such may be the basis of a number of religions, actually.)