This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Fair Blog: the Art of the Sideshow

Posted by: James Lileks under Minnesota History Updated: August 28, 2013 - 11:54 AM

The Freak Show is one of the Midway’s oldest traditions: hoochie-coochie allure and horrible deformities, just on the other side of the canvas wall. The barker stands out front and describes the marvels inside; a fire-eater swallows a bolus of flame and promises more exotic delights. You pay your admission and crowd inside, where the disappointment is swift and complete. I went inside a few years ago, and it was just pathetic. But it’s keeping a tradition alive, and there’s something to be said for that.

The best part is the pictures outside.


Losing one's head doesn't prevent the desire to look good in a little black dress and heels. The technician's look is priceless: dismayed that she can still carry it off.

The executioner is almost apologetic:



Yes, she exists. Of course. If there was such a creature you know she'd be working sideshows for a 50 cent admission fee:



Severed floating arm with prominent bone: of COURSE he's alive, and OF COURSE that's exactly what you're going to see inside:






"Hall" may be the artist's name. Whoever he or she was, the work is a marvelous update of the old signs, a few of which can be seen in Heritage Square.

Dead divas walking on glass wouldn't be much of a draw:



A true tradition:



There's an old Voltara chair in the train car museum in Heritage Square. What constitutes a lethal dose of electricity? A 60-watt bulb.





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