Episode 79: Bright Orange Clowns

Aaron takes a clown-shoed stroll down Canada’s memory lane. Then talks smartishly to the patrons!

Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that doesn’t clown around…

I’m your host this week, Aaron, and with me are:

I’m Shea, and this week I learned that gonorrhea would have been a good name for a diarrhea medicine.

This weeks beer:

Green Chili Ale – Soulcraft Brewing

  • Style: Chile Beer
  • ABV:5.2%
  • Score: Needs more ratings
  • Aaron: 7
  • Shea: 8


Green Chile Ale captures all that you love about fresh roasted chiles. A deep, roasted aroma greets you and a wonderful chile flavor follows. Serrano chiles are added to create a bright flavor and heat. English hops provide light bitterness and floral notes that let the big chile flavor shine. The finish is crisp and slightly spicy. Many people know Colorado for it’s majestic beauty, but not many know of the deep affection for chilies. Of the most coveted are Pueblo Chiles, enjoy with breakfast, lunch, or dinner and taste the difference.

Beer Advocate… or the can… can’t remember… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

A Clown, a Firefighter, and a Policeman, walk into a brothel…

No, that’s not the start of a joke… but the start of a series of jokes that I cannot believe I haven’t made before.

I grew up not far from here. I’ve been to here.

So, I’m going to tell this epic Snyder style — that is, in too many, long, disjointed, nonsensical parts. And thanks to Shea, this show will also be in unsettling monochrome.

Part 1 – Ill-Fame

The year is 1855 — unless you’re a political history blogger on Medium — the place is Toronto, and the topic at hand is drinking, fighting, whoring, clowns.

But before we bring in the clowns, we need to talk about Toronto. I’ll assume most folks know it’s in southern Ontario, Canada. At least, when I talk about where I grew up most people seem to know where Toronto is, from local cowboys to colleagues in Taipei (I use it as a nearby landmark for the inevitable introduction-question “so, where are you from?”).

What you may not know is that it was settled in 1750 as Fort Rouillé, a French trading post. Established properly in 1793 it has a current population of 2.7m (6.5-ish if you count the surrounding area), sits a mighty 250 feet above sea level, is the capital of Ontario, has long been a hub of Canadian commerce, culture, and politics — and has Yonge Street.

Yonge St. is a major thoroughfare connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Simco. Which sounds impressive I suppose, Guinness Records certainly thought so, until 1999… The road is 56km, or 35mi, long but is known for being “the longest street in the world” at 1,896km (1,179mi) because it was confused with Highway 11.

And with that myth put to bed, let’s talk about Yonge Street circa 1855 and the bar our clowns are walking into.

Still a long way from being “Toronto The Good” — because of its Victorian sensibility and temperance — Toronto was then a thriving trade town with hundreds of bars and brothels, most conveniently located on Yonge Street. This is the bit that you won’t find on the board of tourism website but was the reason a bunch of ye-oldie, horny, clowns were checking it out.

S.B. Howes’ Star Troupe Menagerie and Circus had jumped in and lead Joey, the clown Meyers, just got his cut of the take. His oversized shoes plush with the kind of riches only a 19th-century clown could muster, he was out for a night on the town. And what better to put a big, red, smile on your face than to hop in your tiny wagon with 17 of your closest friends and take one of the fine beaver-women of Toronto down Clown Alley.

Also, as obviously smarmy as that string of jokes was if you know about clown stuff, it was berry punny!

Also, also, beaver-women wasn’t one of the clown-puns. That was just me tricking you with that noblest of creatures, the beaver-entendre.

Eventually, Meyers and his ye-oldie, and I’m sure terrifying, clown friends landed at House of Mary Ann Armstrong, a brothel and bar on Yonge Street described in newspapers at the time as a “house of ill-fame” and set out to pitch a few tints of their own…

Ok, I promise I’m done now.

Part 2 – We Didn’t Start The Fireballs.

Another circus pun. I am killing these… just like I assume all clowns secretly do to anyone lost on the fairgrounds after lights out.

It’s not that I’m afraid of clowns, it’s that my sample set is Joker, Pennywise, and Ronald McDonald…

I just wanna point out that while they’re all mass-murdering monsters, Ronald is the only one actively working to outpace cancer…

A note on Fire Brigades back in the day.

Today, those of us privileged enough to live in developed areas can typically rely on some kind of state-funded, ever-ready, fire fighting/rescue/safety system.

Not so in 1855.

As it is in… and, just like… modern Libertarian wet-dreams, de-centralized and de-regulated fire brigades were basically useless.

In Toronto, at the time fire brigades were paid per fire extinguisher. Which, as you might imagine, lead to some stiff competition and, because it was ye-oldie times, a lot of split stiff upper lips.

On June 29th, 1855, there was a fire on Church Street and two competing companies of volunteer firefighters were looking for a payout. They were, apparently, tripping over themselves trying to out extinguish the blaze when it eventually devolved into a good, old-fashioned, fistfight. Dropping their hoses and buckets, the firefighters beat each other senseless while the city burned around them.

Ok, I don’t know if it was that dramatic, but they did stop fighting the fire to fight each other.

When the police arrived the embattled fire brigades found a common enemy and united to put a sound beating on the responding lawmen.

Not long after, the firefighters were gathered up — one at a time — and arrested for assault.

Though, this created a new problem because the police and most of the firefighters were members of the same secret organization, the Orange Order.

So when it came to trial the police intentionally gave conflicting testimony to avoid testifying against their fellow Orangemen.

Toronto was not impressed.

The Globe reported that

It is plainly asserted by those who have access to the best information that during the days which have been allowed to elapse since the fire, a compromise has been effected between the constables and the firemen, who are too much birds of a feather long to differ.”

From the Examiner:

Utterly disgraceful to the administration of civic justice, this case demands the reconstruction of the police force which thus proves itself utterly corrupt.”

Part 3 – The Fighting Funnies

Back to our story at the House of Mary Ann Armstrong, Meyers and his buddies are just … clowning around … when the previously embattled fire brigade: The Hook & Ladder Firefighting Company arrived at the brothel.

Details here aren’t rock solid but the story consistently goes that a bunch of drunk, horny, carnie-clowns and a bunch of drunk, horny, firefighters wanted the same beer, women, and hats. It went downhill from there in impressively short order.

The most agreed upon detail is that, either by accident or malice, a fireman named Fraser knocked Meyers the Clown’s hat to the floor then refused to apologize by picking it up. The clowns — who I should now note are not the soft, jolly, clowns you’re accustomed to. These guys are the manual labor who put up the tents and punch the lions to sleep — the clowns were thoroughly insulted absolutely beat the ever-loving hell out of Fraser and his fire—but not, clown—fighting fellows.

The firemen, having to drag two of their number out of the bar unconscious, retreated to the Orange lodge.

The clowns, for their part, spent the rest of the night drinking and screwing in whatever passes for peace in ye-oldie times.

Part 4 – Protesting The Orange Catholic Bible

Two die-hard Dune fans just laughed. The rest of you will have to settle for the joke-adjacentness of Orange Order actually being mostly Protestant.

According to Wikipedia the Orange Institution, aka, the Orange Order, commemorates the civil and religious privileges conferred on Protestants by William of Orange, the Dutch prince who became King of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1688. According to our story, they were a creepy, power-hungry, fraternity of shadowy elites who controlled local affairs, religious and secular, from deep, deep within the state…

Speaking of shadowy influence, the Wiki page for the Orange Order in Canada uses words like “benevolent” way, way too frequently for it to be true.

The Orange Lodge of Canada was founded in 1830 and by 1855 they basically ran things in Toronto, though the height of their power was still fifty years off. Still, being a Protestant man, even a peasant, in the area made you untouchable.

The police were all Protestant Orangemen. So were most of the firemen and other city or providential officials like. Of Toronto’s 10 Alderman of the time, six were Orange. Famously, John Diefenbaker was an Orangeman, and of course, our flogged fireman Fraser was as well.

Of 19th Century Toronto’s 23 mayors, 20 were Orangemen.

When they weren’t jealously grabbing power and money the Orange Lodge provided for any number of recreational activities and Orangemen were encouraged to pursue whatever interested them — as long as that interest was actively beating the hell out of Green Catholics.

Basically, everyone had a color and thing back them. The Royal Black Institution had academics and freemasons. The Green Catholics had guilt and bruising. The True Blue folks had sycophantic patriotism… though, now if you Google it all you’ll get is University of Toronto stuff, which is, in this story of depravity, violence, injustice, and strife, a little too close to explicit-tag requiring horrors like Jordan Peterson. So we’ll move on.

The take-away, as the Torontoist puts it, is:

The militant Orangemen took pride in their pugnacity and in their role as representatives of the embattled Protestant Ascendancy of Ireland. An ongoing influx of Catholic Irish fleeing famine at home had not diminished their belligerence, and fights and riots between Orange supporters and the new arrivals were commonplace. If you need a mob, the Orange Order could provide one.

And the firemen needed a mob.

Part 5 – Friends In Low Places

On Friday, July 13th of 1855, the Orange Order had a proper pitchforks-and-torches mob descend on the circus.

Police Chief Samuel Sherwood sent a dozen men to do… whatever 12 guys are supposed to do to a bloodthirsty mob, but since he was a huge toolbag, he sent a dozen Orangemen who proceed to get right down to the business of standing around and yelling “nothing to see here, please move along.”

The mob was after Meyers. Unfortunately, for the circus, he was just doing some last-minute whoring before heading on to the next stop, Brampton, some 20 miles away.

So the angry mob — and firefighters — spent the rest of the day, and well into the night, setting carnival wagons on fire, rolling them into nearby waters, and eventually using the fire-wagon to pull down the big top.

This, this is best. So the entire circus is on fire and the mob is beating everyone’s ass. So concerned citizens ring the nearby fire bell, summoning the Hook and Ladder fire brigade, who, upon arrival rode right past all that fire and immediately began using their hooks to help pull down the big top onto the carnies taking shelter inside. So helpful.

Realizing that this isn’t going to end until he’s got a town full of charred Tinkerer corpses, Mayor George William Allan — one of the three mayors who wasn’t an Orangeman — called in the freaking Army then went down there to handle the situation himself with a lil’ old-fashioned fisticuffs.

Apparently, his pleas for calm were all but useless, but he did manage to save one carnie from getting strung up by the mob by fighting them off until the Army arrived, so… not bad George. Not bad at all.

By morning, everything was ruined and everyone sucked.

Part 6 – The Circus Riot

After all the carnies were properly punished… and the soldering remains of their livelihoods were carted off to… wherever Toronto got down to the business of trying the rioters.

The Circus Riot
Newspaper Clipping

Unfortunately, as before, the police were unmotivated to testify against the other Orangemen. Instead, they claimed that it was dark, or they had “obstructed views” of events, or that they simply didn’t recognize defendants… even the ones they were related to.

Shockingly, in a way we would certainly never see now, the reports filed and recounted of the riots were glaringly lacking in the “equal protection under the law” bit of the exercise.

Add to the tensions the seemingly never-ending Catholic-Protestant street battles and the citizens of Toronto were fed up.

The Globe reported that one of the officers had just been sworn in the previous day “he receives a baton the next day, but no instruction whatever accompanying it.”

At trial it was made clear the Chief of Police commanded two things, bubble gum and nothing — and bubble gum was invented in 1928…

When asked “What charge have you over the force as Chief of Police?” Chief Sherwood replied, “A very small one indeed.” He went on to say, “I give orders and instructions to the force, but cannot get them obeyed. As soon as I am out of sight, the men do as they please.”

But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, the Chief was an Orangeman too — just not a high enough level one to be in charge of his own police force.

The obvious corruption of the Toronto Police became undeniable when Chief Sherwood unilaterally freed a bank robber because, you guessed it, he was a member of the Orange Order.

It was at this point that the government of Canada West (essentially ye-oldie Ontario) called for deep reforms of policing in the area.

Between the Mayor, new city councilmen, and the larger government’s intervention, the entire Toronto police force was fired. They would be replaced entirely with new peacekeepers unbeholden to the Orange Order, The Green Catholics, The True Blues, or the Black Order… wait… hmm.. yeah Black Order.

In 1858 the legislature of Upper Canada enacted the Municipal Institutions of Upper Canada Act, which established a Board of Commissioners of Police.

The Toronto Commissioners heavily revised who could be a constable, and how they were hired. A few of the old constables did get rehired, but the Orange Order’s hold was broken.

Broken, but not gone. It would take another 100 years for Policing in Toronto and the province to be freed entirely from the Orangemen. This is, generally, considered the start of the modern age of policing in the area, but whether that is a good or bad thing depends entirely on who you ask…


Today, the Toronto Circus Riot is a bit of fun historical lore. Unburdened by historical accuracy the story has been told and retold enough times to make finding facts a real task. You’re welcome.

The most current version I could find was the Toronto Lookup Theatre has produced “The Toronto Circus Riot”. That and… I suppose… this podcast.

Some actors actingSome actors acting

  • https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/infamous-clown-fight-in-brothel-gets-entire-toronto-police-force-fired-ceca014addc6
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonge_Street
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Order
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Order_in_Canada
  • http://spacing.ca/toronto/2012/10/02/the-toronto-circus-riot-of-1855-the-day-the-clowns-picked-the-wrong-toronto-brothel/
  • https://torontoist.com/2013/09/how-a-fight-with-clowns-led-to-the-birth-of-modern-policing-in-toronto/
  • http://www.russianbooks.org/crime/cph4.htm#_ftn36
  • https://saultonline.com/2021/12/peter-chow-the-infamous-toronto-brothel-clown-brawl-and-the-origins-of-the-toronto-police-department/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brampton
  • https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/infamous-clown-fight-in-brothel-gets-entire-toronto-police-force-fired-ceca014addc6
  • http://circushalloffame.com/glossary-of-circus-terminology/
  • https://thecircusdiaries.com/2019/06/18/dirty-rotten-clowns-a-brothel-and-a-riot-the-toronto-circus-riot-comes-to-life-164-years-later/

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The Smartest Man on The Cinder

Interested in what we have to say about this story?
Good news, it’s available right now to
subscribers at Patreon.com/iit!

Smarty McStupid Pants

After clowning around for the main story I thought I’d give the patrons something… smarter.

How much smarter, well, according to ABC’s 20/20, Christopher Longan’s IQ is between 195 and 200 causing the media to refer to him as “the smartest man in America” and sometimes “the world.”

Born in 1952 in San Fran. His mother, an exiled shipping heiress, and his father … is said to have died in Mexico.

His mother remarried 3 times, each husband dying in a more grisly fashion that the last until lucky number four, a drunk writer with a bullwhip and a penchant for skipping town, moved them to Bozeman Montana where their abject poverty had, at least, a nice view.

From an interview I read Chris, how I’m calling him now because it’s easier to type, he was too bright and therefore too prone to falling asleep in class. Doing poorly in school he would work odd jobs as a youth, helping to provide for the family of, as best as I can tell, six.

At 12 Chris began weight training as a means of dealing with bullies, but it had the added benefit of allowing him to eject his stepfather with a degree of roughness the man had surely earned.

From there it was odd jobs at farms, the Forrest Service, fire fighting, and most famously, a bouncer at a bar.

He went to Reed College but was ejected after a string of bad luck left him unable to pay tuition and because America simultaneously hates the poor but also desperately needs them for labor and, as Noah pointed out this week, making the Church look like it gives a fuck.

Frustratingly, this lack of capital also cost him his scholarships, casting him out of academics entirely and leaving a palpable disdain for academia that would linger for the rest of his life… I mean, I assume. He’s still alive and also still has some rough stuff to say about the ol’ ivory towers, so, safe bet.

Distrustful of academics Chris returned to various forms of labor styling himself as a misunderstood genius.

If by misunderstood one means racist, conspiratorial, and prone to lashing out with ad homonyms anyway.

Like all “miss-understood geniuses” Chris’ next step was to formulate and propagate a smart-sounding theory of the world, write a… we’ll call it “book” and launch a foundation to help spread his fantabulous word.

Chris is the founder of CTMU or the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe. The prodigal brainchild of his genius… and a lack of formal education.

Why talk about CTMU and Chris? Because like “Dr. Pyramids are grain storage”, or “Dr. Women should be distributed to incels”, it is entirely possible to be very intelligent, and very stupid, at the same time. The combination of which often produces a confidently wrong (white) man who uses big words to say hateful, demonstrably incorrect, and often dangerous bullshit.


To Chris CTMU “explains the connection between mind and reality, therefore the presence of cognition and universe in the same phrase.”

Which is a heck of a sentence.

Of course, he calls it “a true ’Theory of Everything’, a cross between John Archibald Wheeler’s ‘Participatory Universe’ and Stephen Hawking’s ‘Imaginary Time’ theory of cosmology” but, you know, with a bunch of nondescript theology tossed in for good measure.

Luckily for us, the spark notes version of that is that he “can prove the existence of God, the soul, and an afterlife, using mathematics.” But, since he isn’t a Nobel Prize-winning household name, I’m guessing he forgot to carry the One… Power…

Or, as Jack Fraser, Masters in Physics, Oxford, explained”

This is, quite simply, horseshit.

If that doesn’t make a ton of sense, the rest of the “explanation” I’m going to provide won’t help. Though, I would suggest that’s probably a good thing for you, me, and really all of us.

But, so I don’t get accused of burying definitions… per Chris:

In fact, the CTMU can be characterized as a THEORY of how the mind DEFINES and IS DEFINED by the universe.


So there ya go, circular reasoning with a dash of all caps. Enjoy.

The theory seems to hold that “you think, therefore it is” or something to that effect but on a galactic scale.

CTMU tries to be a metatheory, that is, suitably convoluted to defy any attempts to test or explain it by Borging bits of physics, Biblical Literalism, and some kind of maths.

CTMU holds that, on some level, intelligence is responsible for evolution. Which, itself, isn’t a problematic statement. Surely, human’s increased intelligence leads to our dominance of the world. But it starts going downhill when he explains the ultimate level of being “GOD” or the Global Operator Definor (or Designer, in some cases). This ensures his theories’ compatibility with monotheistic beliefs, most notably, the Christian god.

Perhaps, a quote?

What does this say about God? First, if God is real, then God inheres in the comprehensive reality syntax, and this syntax inheres in matter. Ergo, God inheres in matter, and indeed in its space-time substrate as defined on material and supramaterial levels. This amounts to pantheism, the thesis that God is omnipresent with respect to the material universe. Now, if the universe were pluralistic or reducible to its parts, this would make God, who coincides with the universe itself, a pluralistic entity with no internal cohesion. But because the mutual syntactic consistency of parts is enforced by a unitary holistic manifold with logical ascendancy over the parts themselves — because the universe is a dual-aspected monic entity consisting of essentially homogeneous, self-consistent infocognition — God retains monotheistic unity despite being distributed over reality at large. Thus, we have a new kind of theology that might be called mono-pantheism, or even more descriptively, holo-pantheism. Second, God is indeed real, for a coherent entity identified with a self-perceptual universe is self-perceptual in nature, and this endows it with various levels of self-awareness and sentience, or constructive, creative intelligence. […] Unfortunately, most human brains, which comprise a particular highly-evolved subset of the set of all reality-subsystems, do not fire in strict S-isomorphism much above the object level. Where we define one aspect of “intelligence” as the amount of global structure functionally represented by a given [global reality], brains of low intelligence are generally out of accord with the global syntax D([global reality]). This limits their capacity to form true representations of [global reality] by syntactic autology and make rational ethical calculations. In this sense, the vast majority of men are not well-enough equipped, conceptually speaking, to form perfectly rational worldviews and societies; they are deficient in education and intellect, albeit remediably so in most cases. This is why force has ruled in the world of man…why might has always made right, despite its marked tendency to violate the optimization of global utility derived by summing over the sentient agents of S with respect to space and time.”

So… there ya go. God is god because brain god is brain and if you don’t brain-god then you’re too dumb to thinkie-god-brain space-time.

Maybe next week we can have Depac Chopra on to explain what the fuck I just read.

He goes on to explain thought, the world, and a bunch of other junk with equally meaningless pros which is what has led most actual thinkie people to dismiss his screeds as little more than semantic attempts to bury substance beneath meaningless jargon.

When asked to clarify his ravings, Chris is known for immediately jumping to hostility. Making ad hominem attacks or simply dismissing confused physicists and theologians alike as dullards.

Having done nothing meaningful with his Theory of Everything (despite the fact that, if it were, he’d be able to do things like explaining why electrons have mass or achieve FTL, making him outlandishly rich) Chris formed the Mega Foundation, for those with IQs — a measure of intellect he’s roundly rejected btw — over 164 to talk about… whatever super smarties talk about I guess.

These days he’s running a ranch in Missouri and working full time to with the Mega Foundation to help spread his good word.

What good word is that?

Well, fortunately for him, CTMU doesn’t just prove god but does seem to support some of his other alt-right viewpoints. Shocking.

He is, for example, a 9/11 truther. He claims that George W. did 9/11 to hide the truth of CTMU from the world… because I guess September of 2001 is when the proofy-proof was gonna poof into reality.

He opposes mixed-race relationships, supporting the White Genocide theory that claims “pure” Caucasians are being bread out of the world by race-mixing, immigration, multiculturalism, and of course Critical Race Theory. A sentence so abundantly absurd Grammarly, my Mac, and WordPress all, individually, underlined it. Coined by avowed racist and ex-Reagan appointee (Office of Personnel Management no less) Bob Whitaker, White genocide arguments are typically used to frame racist violence, hate, and other forms of white supremacy as actually being self-defense. It is, obviously, just hateful, racist, nonsense.

In 2018 he wrote an obituary on Facebook for Koko the gorilla arguing that we should be accepting gorillas as immigrants instead of Somalis, claiming, of course, gorillas are smarter.

Thanks to espoused views like these he’s developed a strong following in the alt-right. His posts are popular in neo-Nazi forms like the Daily Stormer, Stormfront, and Vanguard News. Like his ideological ilk, Chris’ IQ often serves as the basis for his popularity and the acceptance of his beliefs. Can’t imagine where else we’d find that… [cough] Toronto [cough].

His supports also, of course, hold him up as a genius who doesn’t need none of them thar Ivory Tower learnings to be super-duper smart. Oh and an anti-Semite. There’s an amount of that too.

So, when someone tells you they have all the answers and the physics of the world that provided you the means to watch their bullshit on YouTube, over the internet science and math created, maybe tell them to fuck right off. because they’re at least full of bad ideas, but also probably, hate.


I’m Aaron and this week I learned that Orange is a clown’s only natural predator and I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-hosts.

Find out more about the show, social links, and contact information at InterestingIfTrue.com.

Music for this episode was created by Wayne Jones and was used with permission.

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