Friday, November 10, 2006

TGIF - Like it matters to me?

Pushing thoughts through my head, is sometimes like large solid crap through an asshole. I'm not sure what that means, guess sometimes I feel bogged down. This week has been OK. The Promenade has been wishy washy lately and I'm ready to spark the fuse of inspiration and explode the backup of creative energy.

It's been a good week for exercising and writing. Instead of hikes in the mountains this week, I mixed things up a bit with 2 hour walks on the beach ending with the sunset off the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.

Although the temperature shifted yesterday to chilly, the earlier part of the week was hot enough to do my nude sunbathing and walking on the beach in knee deep waves. As a boy from Cincinnati, all I can say is, "Far out dude, this LA Scene is totally rad." There were a few surfers out there and plenty of skin to gawk at.

I picked up a couple of art books that were on sale at Barnes and Noble the other day, and today I will start a new collage. I love doing collage work, there's really no way to fuck it up. Life is a collage, of people, places and things, of action and feelings. Textures and notions weave the movie of your life with you as the star.

Today I'm meeting Aye Jaye at the Castle for lunch as his guest. I will enjoy some of my creative pursuits this afternoon, work Hollywood and Highland tonight and the go back to the Magic Castle again to see Gazzo work the late parlor shows. Should be an excellent day.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All bets are off

Changes, everywhere changes. Every minute of every hour of every day; a baby is born, someone dies and magical things are occurring everywhere. What a mind boggling time to be a magician.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I’m a pod cast junkie. . . there I said it [weeping into my hanky]. I subscribe to about 20 pod casts and update my ipod daily, having enough programing to make drive times/hikes etc. more productive. I listen to the Creative Screen Writing Pod cast a very interesting show. Q & A’s and interviews with current screenwriters after a screening of their movie. I enjoyed the one with Chris Nolan screenwriter for the Prestige and Batman Begins. Giving me my daily dose of delusion. I’m beginning to understand the components of what makes a good story. What techniques are used, how characters are developed and plots progressed. I guess, I’ll have to actually start writing something. Give it a deadline and bang it out. Any ideas? No really. . . this could be a fun exercise, you give me the title and I’ll write a page on it. I’m writing daily trying to form a new habit.

My mind swerves, through fleeting thoughts, like a drunk on a slick street. Life is a collage, of humanity. Pain and pleasure collide, smashing like meteors. Fireworks and strangeness, hip hop music and low rider cars. Not sure why you would want to do that to a new VW Bug, but you see all sorts of things. Like people who stand out in a crowd of millions and grab your attention and make you ask, “What’s up with this guy”

Criss Angel has tapped the vibe of television viewers and is on the TV a lot. He’s in heavy rotation baby, and living LARGE in Las Vegas.

Another ground breaker is Marco Tempest. If you haven’t seen his video pod cast, a series of camera phone videos that are puzzling and very magical. A fresh and interesting approach to use the internet to create an audience for your work. FUCKING BRILLIANT! As I said, an exciting time to be a magician.

Magicians are quick to blame this or that for the rapidly diminishing attention span. It’s TV or the internet, or people not going to theater. Who cares what it is. Play the cards your dealt. That’s what Criss Angel and Marco Tempest are doing, forging new ground in a rapidly changing marketplace. And a fickle marketplace it is, the public is an uncertain entity. What they dig today, they might not tomorrow, so the pressure is on to continue to pursue excellence and innovation.

Where is our art going? I guess that’s really up to us. There has never been a better time to be alive. . . despite a lot of real nonsense. Another pod cast I have been enjoying is the magic interviews on Sleight Club with Chris Wilcox. Nice interviews with Harry Risern Mike Close, Richard Osterlind and more. Great stuff for traffic jams (of which there are many here in LA).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

California Sunset • by Neil Young

I remember long ago
How I wondered where I'd go
While the blizzards,
cold wind and snow
Pounded outside my window.

California sunset
Going down in the West
All the colors in the sky
Kiss another day goodbye.

Land of beauty,
space and light
Land of promise,
land of might
You're my home now
and it's true
California, here's to you.

California sunset
Going down in the West
All the colors in the sky
Kiss another day goodbye.

The golden state!


I took a hike yesterday, to the top of a mountain. I could see all of the San Fernando Valley, the Hollywood Hills and even downtown in the far distance and beyond. The air felt good. The sun shined down one me. It must have been in the upper 70’s as evening drew near. In shorts, a sleeveless t-shirt (been trying to even out that farmers tan), my black ipod nano, a bottle of water and sunglasses I climbed upward.

Winded, huffing and puffing I stopped. I looked up to where I wanted to go and thought, too far, need to turn around before the sun goes down. I came up with several more excuses why I should quit. . . but I knew I had to keep going. It seemed that the last 30 minutes, the closer I thought I was, the farther away I actually was.

This was the second time I’ve taken this hike. Both times were excellent opportunities to use the challenge as a metaphor for life. You got to keep climbing, even when your legs are tired. Sit down, chill, get centered, relax, then get back up and go all the way to the top.

Watching my step as I climbed up, the narrow trail on soft earth and rock. My hiking boot sinking a bit as I try to get a foot hold. Up and up as the trail snakes back and forth in a steep and angry way. Can I just be done I thought again. Who says I have to go to the top, I can turn around anytime I want to. No, too close to quit now. I don't care about the sun, I’ll go back in the dark if I have to.

I got to the top and surveyed the vast panorama that is Los Angeles. I thought to myself, I’ll own you bitch, this city will be mine. Dreams!? I got your fucking dreams hanging. I felt good, like I had accomplished something. I took a drink of water, then turned around. I needed to pick up the pace a bit as the sun was going down behind the mountains. This was not hard to do, because steep goes both ways. It was tough climbing, but now I was having trouble slowing down. A wipe out in this jagged jungle could prove disasters. There were points where a gentle downward stretch would turn upward. It was then that I opened up, running full speed down the trail with the upward slope to slow me down. I stretched out my legs as I ran and it felt good.

As I trudged down the slope, life started to go in slow motion. The sun was setting, leaving a palette of colors ranging from yellow, to orange, to purple, to blue and white streaking the sky. I was at peace. My head was where it was supposed to be. . . right on my neck. I walked and walked and slipped and slide and went down that mountain side all the while enjoying the most fantastic of sun sets .

I will take more of these hikes in an attempt to clear my thinking, get in tune and exercise. I want to figure it out. I will figure it out.

Quote du Jour

"Life does not accomodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn't do it better. Every seed desstroys its container or else there would be no fruition."

- Florida Scott-Maxwell

Monday, November 06, 2006

The life of a street magician

Friday night worked Hollywood & Highland. Nice sets, nice people. . . real freak scene. Costumed characters take pictures with tourists for tips. So it's not uncommon to have The "Terminator" with half his face ripped off revealing the machine beneath, carrying a shotgun in my audience or the "Grim Reaper" or "Luke Skywalker".

The new sound system works great. These are LOUD places I work, often with another amplified act right next to me. I'm not competing with these acts, rather; I understand that there is an audience for every act and it's part of my job to enlist them.

It's hard to not feel intimidated when the act next to you draws 10 times as may people. It might be a a break-dancing / acrobatic troupe, or a magician / juggler. You have to feel good about what you do. I do a good show but don't gather huge audiences. It's the way I was taught. Bang'em out. I did 4 shows to his one. Who made more money. . . who cares.

Got a nice tip from a young man who watched a couple of my shows. He works security at a nightclub and said he would pass my card on to someone who wouldn't call me. He didn't really say that, but that's what I heard. It didn't matter anyway cause he gave me a nice cigar to enjoy and a couple bucks. A real fan of magic I guess.

You never know what your going to see. While queuing up for a 2-4PM slot on the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, I saw a bunch of storm troopers. Nutty huh? The promenade is a much more relaxed pitch than Hollywood and Highland. You don't have traffic at your back, but it can be backed up with street acts every 40 feet. Once again, LOUD as you weave in and out of pedestrian traffic. Another picture perfect day in LA.

Here is the sunset from the 9th floor of my parking garage in Santa Monica. I love this view and always relax for a few minutes before getting out of the car and unloading my stuff. Brought Buster out here last week to take a sunset walk on the beach. It was Halloween night. I blew off working so that we could spend some time together. It was a beautiful evening, a super sunset, where the sun just fell off the edge of the earth. Nice walk. . . he was unimpressed.


Sunday I headed out to Venice Beach. I hadn't worked there in over 20 years and was a little nervous. I didn't have a permit and the spot I had picked out didn't really feel legal. It was just too good. I banged out my first show a little after 11AM. It was early in the day and the traffic was light. It would pick up nicely. The show went well and afterwards a French magician/juggler introduced himself to me. He was visiting and doing shows at Venice Beach for the the last couple of weeks. He confirmed that the spot was not a legal spot. I was going to pack up and find a new spot when an old homeless drunk talked me into staying. He assured me that he would speak on my behalf to the authorities if that situation arose. I stayed and agreed with the Frenchman that I would not start at the same time as him. Staggered shows make it easier for crowd gathering. He ended up getting a HUGE crowd! I study the patience that is involved in the gathering of a crowd this size, but find it hard to waste a lot of time in my own work. Get the crowd, Keep the crowd, Get the money, turn it over, do it again. that's just what I was taught. I need to slow down and really look at the other approach. I would like to work for bigger crowds.


It was interesting to talk to him. When I told him how humbling it's been working in LA, he was glad to hear it wasn't just him. We both agreed that this is about as tough an environment as we had EVER worked, and we both are well traveled. While he was glad to be leaving for San Diego today, I explained how I really wanted to figure out this city and by doing that and conquering the obstacles of human nature here in LA, everywhere else I go. . . should be a lot easier.


A lot of things can shut you down in the business of busking. A cop, a store owner, a fist fight. There are lots of spontaneous events that just occur and make you call it a day. Here is one of those instances. A car backs up into a fire hydrant and sends a jet of water shooting up in the air. I'm glad that I had just finished my show. You can't compete with that. I packed up my act, just in time. Hundreds and hundreds gallons hitting the street and heading my way. A lot of the arts and crafts people displaced.

I called it a day, went home and cooked steak and potatoes for Polly and the boy.