Book & Music Reviews Vol. II, No. 6




Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion

by Paul Binder, with a foreword by Glenn Close, published by Author House, Bloomington, IN.  ISBN: 978-1-4817-3190-4

What this reminiscence by Paul Binder amounts to is a series of jackpots, approximately one hundred and fifty of them, some of which are as brief as a single page, but all have a punchy sense of delivery.  The most interesting are those that provide some insights into the adventures  that led Binder and Michael Christensen to found the Big Apple Circus and, of course, their encounters with the fascinating people, like Phillipe Petit, that  they met along the way  .

The section titled “Tales from the Ring” concludes with the fascinating inside stories involved in bringing the first troupe of Chinese acrobats to America for a season with the Big Apple Circus.

Most of the other pieces relate mildly amusing incidents  most of which the audience never saw during the  thirty-five years Binder was involved with the classic one-ring circus as co-founder, artistic director, performer and ringmaster.   Many of these provide privileged glimpses into what it means to be a performing artist of the highest rank in the circus.  Those featured in these stories include Francis Brunn, Buckles Woodcock, the Rios Bros., and the Flying Gaonas.


You Like It? I Do It Again

The Dieter Tasso Story as told to Ron Dentinger. Published by the author.  The book is available at

Ostensibly this book is a recounting of Dieter Tasso’s sixty-six years in show business, beginning with his center ring stint with Ringling, as a teenager juggling tea cups and saucers on his head while balancing on one foot on a slack wire, and continuing through his career as a stand-up comic, still juggling those cups and saucers, now on more solid terra ferma.

I loved Dieter Tasso’s act when I first saw him on Ringling in 1952, and  when I rediscovered him many years later when we were both adults, I enjoyed and admired him as a performer even more.  Surely he deserves a serious and thoughtful biography and not the sort of lame joke book and even lamer circus history than what Ron Dentinger has produced.    It really doesn’t take very long, but quite a bit of patience, to discover that that’s all there is to the book, whose subtitle should be “as told by,” for the author never hesitates to insert himself and his own jokes into the text.

Inside the Big Top

A CD featuring the music of Circus Flora by Janine Delarte

Janine Delarte has been the leader of the Circus Flora band since 1988.  Over the course of those years the music performed by the band has increasingly been her own compositions.  This eight track CD gives the listener a good idea of what it is like to be under the Flora big top when a performance is in progress.   The music is quite unlike that heard under any other big top in America.  There is, for instance, nary a single piece of brass in any of the orchestrations, and yet the sound is very much in keeping with circus music.  It has color, excitement and humor, all of it produced by a five person ensemble, of which Delarte is herself a prominent and versatile member.   There is hint of Irish dance, and Americana, some martial fanfares, musical jokes, and  a considerable amount of music that could be marked mysterioso, which is usually heard during the show’s aerial acts.

For more information about the composer and how to obtain a copy of this unique music contact www.delartemusic. com