In Dothan, Alabama, it is 9 AM, and the temperature is already well over 90 degrees, and the humidity is close to saturated. That is the first reason why you may not want to be in Dothan's bombed over downtown, but there are many more: the empty lots that define the downtown of this once proud city now seem to be nothing more than masses of broken concrete, weeds, cockroaches and suspicious looking drifters. Someone would have to be insane to be out here. And someone definetly is.

HEY hey heyyy!!! People have always told me I was a little bit loooney!!! I suppose that is why I got in the line of work that I did! says Fubbly Bubble Twice-as-Tubbily, a 40 year old clown with a pie in one hand, and a bag of litter in an another.

Life has been hard for Dothan's clowns in the past few years. The economy hasn't been too good, and a hip, younger generation looks askew at the humor of yesteryear, when a twirling bowtie, lapel mounted squirting flower, and banana peel could provide top quality entertainment. But the clowns aren't taking this lying down: they are trying to make a positive difference. That is why Dothan's clowns, led by F.B.T.-a.-T. (who is considered the senior clown because his wig and shoes are the largest), are out cleaning up litter first thing in the morning. Around noon, they will break for a short lunch (consisting of cream pies licked off their faces), work on some comedy material, and then go off to their afternoon task: hauling off the branches of trees downed in one the area's frequent hurricanes.

We have to keep a positive spin!!! One of the Clowns, identified as Babble Apple Orange, added, spinning his bowtie to punctuate his point. The clowns all nod in agreement.

Across town, at the local Waffle House, there is another group of professionals also awake, but they weren't early risers: they have been up since getting off of swing shift at the accounting plant. These young accountants have been up all night, drinking endless refills of coffee while drawing obscene caricatures of the waitress on the napkins. When they finally stumble into the sun, eyes blurry from caffeine intoxication, the waitress will find that the degrading pictures aren't her only reward: she will also find a tip, a long with a note explaining in accounting term the mistakes she made that brought her short from the standard 15% tip.

If questioned about their ill behavior, the accountants might point out that they are much better than the local paralegals, who are probably sleeping off a Boone's Farm induced stupor behind the local CVS. The Houston County Sheriff will tell you what just about any small county sheriff will tell you: clowns are one of the most decent, law abiding, constructive elements in any town or city.

It's not just anecdotal evidence, however: The US Census has recently released figures that show that clowns, as a group, have less of a rate of alcoholism, drug abuse, impulsive behavior, sexual deviancy, indebtedness, public nudity and illiteracy than almost any other profession. And in recent years, despite high rates of unemployment in the clowning industry, these figures continue to go down, showing that Clowns may slip, but don't fall down.

Yet public stereotypes of out of work, alcoholic clowns continue. Why is this? Is it fear, laziness, refusal to think, people wanting to maintain an air of superiority, and all the other things that drive some people to categorize others. I think that it is time for all Americans to educate ourselves about the true state of Clowning, and get rid of their outmoded, hurtful stereotypes.

Or, as Woogawombo the Tumbling Fool would say (sic): "Why can't we all be friends? Is it because I through this pie in your face?"