Monday, June 8, 2015

The Man Who Spoke Out-of-Turn

I never thought he’d have the cojones to show his bare face in print again. I was wrong, he did and bad-mouthed the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, as he did in 2011, the last time the Circus came to Albany.

He’s Steve Barnes, the former restaurant reviewer for the Albany Times-Union newspaper, a man whose sharp tongue earned him a pasting in a restaurant parking lot by two men allegedly hired by the owner of another restaurant he’d been unkind to in print. The men were arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault in Albany Police Court but acquitted at a trial. Apparently, the jury thought Barnes had deserved his ‘review’ in the parking lot.

At the Times-Union Center show most recently, Barnes reaffirmed being bored by the nine tigers: “…much less fun than even the laziest house cat; they sit on trapezoidal platforms, snarling and swatting at the trainer’s stick before rolling over on their backs or putting paws the size of snowshoes onto a pylon. One of them defecated in the middle of the act. That was my verdict, too.

“The sad fact is,” Barnes continues, “that tigers and elephants and their wild brethren simply aren’t entertaining. The elephants—big, sad lumberers—are as placid as a pond and about as interesting to watch. Ponies, donkeys and llamas trot in circles. Some jump over things. It’s stupefyingly retro.”

Sadly, this man doesn’t get that it’s a wonder, a delight, to simply witness these magnificent creatures close-up—the tigers as they leap, snarl and slap their great paws in the air; the elephants as they trumpet loudly, lumber and queue up in a Conga line, front legs up on the backs of their sisters. The poet nailed it:

“Breathes there the man,
With soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said:
“Look, daddy, the tigers!!!
Mommy, the elephants!!!”

In a spirit of Reconciliation (Mr. Barnes does write a decent theatre review and he said he likes dogs), a word of caution, friend. Elephants have historically long memories so if you notice a big lumbering one in your parking lot, stay indoors.

Robert Knightly


  1. Robert, DELIGHTFUL! I would have voted for acquittal. Is there any way we can get Barnes closer to the tiger action, say at their lunch time?

  2. Sounds like a familiar trumpet call - the guy is afraid of tigers... and hides behind his feelings and fears lest we find him out... tjs