Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guest Writer: Brad Rose

Clown Art

I’d been driving around LA all day, the better part of Friday, aimless as a misfired starting pistol. Who wouldn’t? After the near-beating I took at Doogie’s, that Irish bar that’s so crowded on weeknights, nobody goes there anymore, not even Casey Stengel. I don’t like to drink and I can’t stand darts, but my buddy, Toby, enticed me into a “friendly” game there, last night. So I took him up on it. Hey, as it turns out, I have a talent for throwing sharply pointed metal objects, which, by the way, makes me really good at my job at Ringling Brothers. (I get paid a lot of money by ‘RingBros’, although I hate to wear that damn costume with the fuzzy orange hair and two-foot long clown shoes. The former is itchy and hurts my head, and the latter, hurt my feet—so, basically, I hurt at both ends whenever I’m dressed for work. But that’s another story)

Anyway, I threw those darts--one, two, three--and I’ll be damned if all of them didn’t land right in the middle of the bulls-eye. Toby said, “You are a cheater---nobody gets three bulls-eyes in one round. Nobody!” To which I replied, “Toby, I’m not just some nameless ‘nobody,’ I am ‘Blopo the Clown’, lest you forget.”

Toby is a dear friend, but I hate him, and his memory is not so good, so I sometimes have to remind him that I am not just your average, run-of-the-mill clown. I am “Blopo.” With or without the fright wig.

“Where did you learn to throw darts, like that?” Toby accused.

“I didn’t ‘learn’ to throw darts, it just comes naturally. It’s a talent”

“You expect me to believe that bunch of cowplop?”

“Well, yeah, it’s the truth”

“Everybody has to practice their art, even clowns—even fancy schmancy ‘famous’ clowns-- if they want to get good.”

“Oh, Toby, what do you know about art?”

“I’ve been to the MOMA once or twice. I saw a bunch of the modern masters there.”

“That doesn’t mean you know anything about art.”

“Well, I know what I like. And I don’t like that you just threw three bulls-eyes in a row, on your first try.”

It wasn’t a pretty picture. There we were, an off-duty clown and his inebriated friend, debating the necessity of artists perfecting their art through practice. Practice vs. raw, untrained talent. Chicken or egg, argument if you ask me. But don’t ask me, because you know what I’ll say. It’s talent, natural born talent. Pure and simple.

Anyway, Toby got so mad he picked up an unopened bottle of Guinness and started to charge at me like some kind of drunken matador, which is precisely when I realized that art and friendship are diametrically opposed to darts. I ducked and pivoted---just in time, I might add--and fled in an elegant canter toward Doogie’s exit. Toby was a little bit tipsy, so he was unable to keep up with my highly practiced clown pace. I ducked out the door, faster than 10 clowns can pile out of a little compact car, and before Toby could even dream of catching-up with me, I was out of there, like a shot out of a cannon. Which is why I started driving, aimlessly, all over LA. For the better part of Friday. I don’t know where I’m headed now in this white Bronco, but I sure as hell know I ain’t going back to that bar again. That place is a complete circus.

© Brad Rose 2010

Brad Rose was raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. His work has appeared in Third Wednesday, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, Tattoo Highway, Imagination and Place, Right Hand Pointing,, Six Sentences, Espresso Stories, Fiction at Work, Monkeybicycle, Staccato Fiction, Six Little Things, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at:


  1. This was a hugely colourful read, haring about in lunatic fashion with no indication of final destination, picking up ideas and amusements on the way - and thoroughly enjoyable

  2. I tried to picture you in the clown costume throughout. Even in the pub pitching darts. Funny! Especially, the last line.

  3. Blopo, sharply pointed metal objects, white Bronco, pure talent v. practice. Methinks there's quite a bit going on here that doesn't immediately meet the eye. More than clowning, for sure.

  4. Always been a big fan of Brad's stories. Great pick, mudjob.

  5. Thanks, all, for your lovely comments. I am genuinely flattered. And many thanks to Michael for publishing this.

  6. brad - read this earlier but couldn't get my comment in. i so didn't see that coming! love your dialogue and set-up. well-played.

  7. Brad's contribution came as a pleasant surprise. I've admired his Richard and Lola pieces for some time and never expected him to grace this site with this colorful story. I love it. Brief and enjoyably different as this is, though, if you have the time and you get into episodic series (just like television only much more edifying) you owe it to yourself to hop on over to his Lola Loves Richard site (link can be found in the list to the right), and dive in.