Behind the scenes, Street Report

It makes Cranky cranky to have to repeat himself, Cranky is not a Clown!


Cranky will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are just too lazy to speak two extra words. You know how people tend to shorten names, calling somebody named Joseph, Joe, or a Jennifer, Jen, without considering if they prefer the longer name, their actual name. Or perhaps you never noticed Cranky’s full name to begin with. Maybe someone told you of Cranky and you had a preconceived notion, albeit a wrong notion. Cranky understands how ideas get stuck in the head. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Cranky’s talkin’ about those folks who refer to him as “Cranky the Clown,” rather than the correct cognomen, “Cranky the Clown School Dropout.” It may even be your intention to make Cranky cranky; if so then this is a good start. But, believe it or not, Cranky actually believes in your inherent kindliness, he believes that most of you Cranky the Clown reciters are just too friggin’ lazy to add the remaining two words “school dropout.” Two words which makes for a world of difference, in Cranky’s world.


Just consider this scenario: Someone tells to you that there is a clown playing the saxophone just down the street. You walk down the street and encounter Cranky. Your first thought is naturally gonna be, “That’s not a clown it’s just a guy wearing a bold colored sports jacket, madras plaid pants, mismatched Chucks and a straw boater hat.” And this instinctual observation would be the correct one. Anyone who’s ever seen a clown knows damn well that it takes a wig, makeup, way-over-large shoes, and standard circus clown attire, usually that puffy, pantaloons-like crap. Even the most minimal Clown will don that god-dammed red rubber-ball nose. Come on, we know what clowns looks like, in all their variations, and Cranky ain’t it. Cranky failed at all that stuff, quite pointedly failed.

Let’s overthink this a bit.

The beauty of a name like Cranky the Clown School Dropout is that it acknowledges a variety of concepts and states of being. It implies that Cranky did at one time want to be a clown, enough to enroll in a school for it. Unless it was something forced upon him by his parents, or perhaps there was a self-hatred motive… let’s just not go there. In any event, this attempt at clownhood is implied. So there’s that. Further parsing reveals that by proclaiming his dropout status Cranky is showing a kind of pride in failure. But how can you be proud of your failed accomplishments? To drop out is more nuanced than just failure. Sure, Cranky couldn’t hack it and was failing his classes, but the act of dropping out can be a form of rebellion. Not gonna play your clown games! Cranky is proud that he escaped the cult-like clutches of clownery. Dodged a bullet and dropped out, before the indoctrination. In the end Cranky learned just enough about clowns to distrust them. Some would analyze that his public persona is a working out of these anxieties. Cranky prefers to think that he’s raising awareness of the specter of clowns. So you see, by robbing Cranky of half of his moniker you are not only denying him of his mission you are placing him in the camp of the enemy.

The Sign

Back in the dark ages, when Cranky was part of a duo with the drummer Moische, a pal from the days at the Cleveland Clown College, they let the world know that they were only clowns in the sense of failed clowns, practically anti-clowns. The Clown School Dropouts banner was raised high at all of their shows. And post-duo, when Cranky pursued his solo busking career, he understood the need for product branding and accompanied all his outings with proper signage from the get-go. The early signs didn’t give enough emphasis to the word “Dropout,” even though “Clown School” featured prominently, but it was a concept that just didn’t register with a passerby’s glance. His awareness of the Cranky the Clown phenomena prompted Cranky to design a new sign last year wherein the word Dropout was the same type size as the name Cranky, with “the Clown School” much smaller in between. This seems to have tempered the rampant misnaming but nonetheless it stubbornly persists.


At the core of Cranky’s raison d’être is his fascination with the human condition, and being Cranky allows him to be out in the public observing it. In this frame of reference Cranky should just take note of being misnamed and chalk it up like a sociological statistic. Cranky is aware that only a small percentage of folks really “get’” Cranky. He can live with that, that’s just reality. But perhaps what causes Cranky dismay is that many of the folks who call him Cranky the Clown, seem to be doing so with an air of ‘getting’ Cranky. It’s unfortunate and it’s wrong — so very, very wrong.

Disclaimer: This post was not triggered by any one person who has referred to Cranky as a clown. So don’t go thinking it was you and giving yourself credit. This has been an accumulative thing and the thoughts expressed herein have been in the works for a while. The tipping point had more to do with Cranky observing more people noticing Cranky’s sign and mouthing the word “dropout.” A sign that the redesigned sign was doing its job, mostly.


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