Monday, December 13, 2021

‘There are a lot of bad clowns out there’

A scary clown mask on display at the paper during the Great Clown Panic of 2016.

     Clowns don’t terrify me. Not the way they do others. But I understand the fear. Clowns have a way of popping out when you least expect them.
     For instance. I had just begun to grind my way through The Economist’s special “The World Ahead 2022” issue, with articles like “Ensuring a fair future of work,” and “Calendar: Our selection of events around the world.”
     The events of world importance move from France becoming head of the European Council in January, to Queen Elizabeth marking the 70th anniversary of her reign in February, when the winter Olympics also opened in Beijing.
     Then bam, clowns, and close to home, too. This March: “Coultrophobics should avoid Northbrook, Illinois, as participants converge for the World Clown Association’s annual convention.” It was the first occurrence of note in North America.
     Did not see that coming. How is that happening in my own leafy suburban paradise?
     “We’re looking forward to it; can hardly wait to get together,” said Leslie Ann Akin, marketing director of the World Clown Association, who estimated that up to 300 clowns will attend. “There are competitions, classes, all sorts of educational opportunities. Vendors— people coming that sell costuming, props, rubber noses, floppy shoes, baggy pants, all the things that clowns love.”
     The public is welcome. How’d they settle on Northbrook?
     “We had it there a couple of years ago,” Akin said. “They loved it and are thrilled to come back.”
      In 2014, though it galls me to admit. Here Chicago politicians can’t have an impure thought without the Sun-Times watchdogs stopping whatever they’re doing and freezing, heads cocked, sniffing the air, sensing something afoot.
     Meanwhile hundred of clowns can slip into my own backyard and hold a big party, and I don’t find out for years. Sorry, chief.

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  1. I was never afraid of clowns & when I saw the remake of "It", I actually laughed at the entire movie, it was so absurd.

  2. I don't suffer from Coultrophobia, but I'm no particular fan of clowns, either. I would only offer the hope (not suggestion, because this is not a democracy, of course) that when this column heads for the EGD archives tonight, the picture atop the blog replaces the one that's part of the post itself. The top one seems LOL fun to me, while the scary one has no personality!

    I'm not sure if The Great Zucchini is even referred to as a clown in this wonderful piece by 2-time Pulitzer-winner Gene Weingarten, but it seems apropos for today's topic:

  3. A bit of insider baseball. Originally, the photo atop the blog, of Leslie Ann Akin's character Flower T. Clown, WAS the main one I placed with the story. But then I considered the nice 70-year-old lady I spoke to, and wedding her beloved clown character forever with the headline, "There are a lot of bad clowns out there," and I couldn't do it, so I dug up the scary mask photo. As a rule, I try not to write the thing to benefit one person. But I try not to gratuitously hurt people either.

    1. Well, that's interesting. I love the glance behind the scenes, thanks.

  4. Years ago, I was drinking at one of the bars across from Wrigley, in the dead of winter. It was fairly crowded for a Saturday night in February. The Winter Olympics were on. I ran into a woman I knew from the bleachers, who kept whining about her out-of-town boyfriend.

    At least three times, she said: "My boyfriend is a real clown." Finally, I asked her why. Then she pulled out the photograph. Taken at the Ringling Clown College, in Florida.


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