Getting the right sentence into printThe (expletive...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

July 16, 1995|By Rob Hiaasen

Getting the right sentence into print

The (expletive) media. Do they ever get anything write? Take Steven Landry's little story out of Bel Air:

Here's this 40-year-old chemical engineer, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, who is helping research how the Army can dispose safely of 1,500 tons of toxic mustard agent at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. Important stuff -- this business of finding environmentally acceptable ways to get rid of chemical weapons.

Mr. Landry then says the Associated Press writes an article about the program, but gets some facts wrong. Then, the man picks up his Sports Illustrated and reads a June 12 cover story about how the University of Miami should drop its disreputable football program.

Where does the media get off suggesting that? The hypocrites. Mr. Landry, a former college tailback, then writes a full-page letter to SI.

"At the time, I was disgusted with the media."

The man's been reading SI for 20 years, but this was the first letter he's lobbed at the venerable sports magazine. And last week, sure enough, his letter appeared. He was as surprised as anyone to see his three-piece name in the magazine.

So, in the July 10 issue of Sports Illustrated, a Steven M. Landry of Bel Air, Md., writes: Is SI willing to put its money where its mouth is and give up circulation and advertising revenue by refusing to publish any stories about Miami?

That's telling 'em!

"They chose to print only one sentence," Mr. Landry says. "I happen to agree with their suggestion."

Oh.

Lady Sandra Reed, legendary albino sword swallower, will soon appear in Artscape's literary arts tent on the cover of the city's newest publication. Shocked and Amazed: On and Off the Midway, a biannual journal created by local writer James Taylor, claims to be "The World's First And Only Periodical" devoted to interviews with sideshow performers and midway show people.

A joint publishing effort between Dolphin-Moon Press and Atomic Books, Shocked and Amazed combines sideshow lore with tales from the human blockheads, fire-eaters and "half-girls" who continue to sustain the field. (It's available at Atomic Books, 229 W. Read St., for $9.95.) The first issue offers a glossary of midway lingo (a grab joint, for instance, is an eating concession) and sideshow-inspired fiction as well as lengthy interviews with Lady Sandra Reed and World of Wonders impresario Ward Hall.

Co-founder and president of Dolphin-Moon Press, Mr. Taylor spent 2 1/2 years interviewing side show performers. He found a politically incorrect culture which is not only alive but thriving.

"Anyone who is predicting the death of sideshows is exaggerating the current state of affairs," he says. "Fire-breathers are everywhere. I couldn't begin to count the number of sword swallowers who are new, who are out there learning on their own. There's a lot of interest in the Generation X crowd."

Sideshow fans should consider trolling the summer fairgrounds in York, Pa., says Mr. Taylor. Last year's fair brought 700-pound Harold Huge, a sword swallower, a fire-eater, and a girl who turned into a gorilla.

"To me, the definition of a carnival is something that has a carousel, a game wheel and a two-headed cow," Mr. Taylor observes. "Without the freakish things, it kind of just ain't a carnival."

Linell Smith

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