Friday, November 17, 2006

Working on a new collage

As part of my creative recovery, I am spending time doing some things that I enjoy, but don't do enough. . . Like collage. I find it very relaxing to sit around, cut up books, use the scissors and xacto blade, finally spray adhesive to create something you might call art. I like where this one is heading. I only do colleges (most of them are theme collages) when the subject speaks to me. I love toys and have a long history with them. Not in the sense that I played with them when I was a kid, but having owned two speciality toy stores (FunKIDelic Toys & Carew Tower Toys) and a dear friend who has a world class toy soldier and vintage toy collection who taught me to appreciate the subtle beauty and simplicity that is the notion of "Play Value".

Toys are nostalgic, unless you a little kid. I remember playing with Lincoln Logs and Barrel of Monkeys, Operation and Clue. One of the things I like to do in my college work is stick in one element that just doesn't go. Something to give it a bit of contrast, maybe a handgun or something. I'm just in the preliminary stages of cutting out, haven't really even thought where anything is going to go yet. The pics were just a casual toss of my cut outs onto the dining room table. Guess we'll see where things head as I finish up my cutting.

Click on the pics if you want to blow them up. Some of my previous work includes Colleges of: Picasso, Dali, Photorealism, Playing Cards, Magic, Charlie Chaplin, Comic Books, Pop Art, Norman Rockwell, Ralph Steadman and more. It's always been a secret fantasy of mine to show my art in a gallery. Wouldn't that be cool. So many dreams and delusions. I just love it!

Quote du Jour

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans.

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

- William Hutchinson Murray

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dinner with Gazzo

While working the Promenade this evening, who should stop by but none other than Gazzo! He's flying out to Texas in the morning to work some big corporate gig with 25 other top notch magicians. I was happy to see him as we didn't really have too much time to just sit chat and catch up during his visit. I packed in my stuff, closed up shop and took the rest of the evening off to have dinner with him.

I know I said it before, but I'll say it again. . . I really like Gazzo. His talent, approach, timing and comedy is right on the money. My respect for him grows with each passing year.

Gazzo & Tom Frank

Ahhh the life of a street performer. It's been an interesting quarter century journey. We talked about the many significant changes in society and how they have effected the art of Busking. Gazzo is wise beyond his years and has lived a life so full and rich of adventures and dreams. I'm lucky to know him and even luckier to call him a friend.

He never fails to make me laugh.
falling cards

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fun @ Dean Dill's

I was a bit nervous about showing up at Dean Dill’s Barber Shop in Glendale. Pete Biro, who I had met last week, and was so friendly and helpful told me that there was a fun session at Dean Dill’s place on Wed. Sounded like a plan to me. The 170 to the 134 got me there in less than 15 minutes. I found parking right out in front of the place with no problem. I took a new deck, one last drag of my cigar; leaned it up against the wall for later and went in.

Interior Barber Shop

Session in Session

It’s a smaller room, but certainly big enough for everything that needs to be there. Barber chair, couch, book case, sink, mirrors, close up table, chairs, cup collection and magicians. My kind of place. I entered and was happy to see Pete’s smiling face. He introduced me to the gang. I recognized Dean and John Carney but didn’t know the other guys. One fellow was doing a coin routine and asked the guys for advice. I was impressed with the dialog that followed. We discussed some fundamentals about choosing material that has a clear plot and is easy to follow. Carney spoke the Professors words, “Confusion isn’t magic”. Examples and ideas were thrown around to try and fix the problem. Later we evaluated a new “any card at any number” effect.

I’ll tell you what, John Carney is as funny as he is good. VERY! He had us cracking up, he was doing impressions of his Dad visiting and seeing someone famous. He also did a nice coin routine he’s been working on.

Dean did a new coin penetration through a piece of glass. Like his Deans Box, it’s an elaborate ungimmicked prop that serves to create a table top arena for a triple penetration of 3 coins individually into a bowl. Very cool.

Glenn Farrington showed up a little later, another real nice guy, very warm with big smile. I asked him what he did here in LA and he said he was a screen writer, I found that interesting.

I did see something that afternoon that was completely new to me. All the guys were talking about this new thing (possibly a Matthew Bich thing, I think it was). Carney did a cool variation of it where he drew a witch tied to a steak in the ground on a smaller 3” x 3” piece of paper. He talked about in the days of burning witches when they would set the fire to them, he lit the piece of paper with a match. The flames get closer to the image of the witch and and the witch (on the paper) slowly dematerializes before the flames touch it. Far out. Very visual, very easy to follow. This might be something fun worth checking out and playing with!

I really enjoy hanging out with magicians. Thanks for being my friends. It feels good to be part of a community, so rich in interesting characters.

@ Dean Dill's 11/15/06


Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Words by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, Music by Charlie Chaplin

Max, Hope & Liam 2002 • Cincinnati, Ohio


Last night while working the Promenade, the focus of the evening was working with music. The nice thing about working with the ipod (nano), and my amp with two inputs, I can turn on and off my music and talk over music, if I wish. The mic and music sound good.

There is a strange dynamic of performing. I have a better chance of getting someone to watch by acting like I don’t care if they watch or not. I don’t get it, they’ll watch if they think I don’t know they’re there. So last night, I went into Jazz mode with some nice Diana Krall. I was getting into the music and started my own improvised magic riffs. I started out with some pretty flourishes with cards and coins. People seem to love the rapid coin rolls with 1,2,3 & 4 coins over the revolving hands.

My mind shot back an hour and I was back on the beach, walking for a couple of hours waiting for the sunset. It did set, as I knew it would. I listened to some Charlie Chaplin music. Some, may not know, that Chaplin, in addition to Writing, Directing, Acting in and Producing his own movies; also wrote the score and arranged the the music for the soundtracks. Amazing man and amazing music.

Sand slipping between my toes as a wave sneaks up and gets me up to the knees. I wait till the sun is just about to start vanishing to light my cigar. Although it’s illegal to smoke on the beaches of Santa Monica, I can’t resist the temptation to enjoy a good sunset cigar walk on the beach. Besides if a magician can’t manipulate and conceal a lit cigar while talking to the police. . . well what good is he.

Chaplin’s music cuts me right to the bone. Passionate, longing, sincere. Evoking an exact emotion of beauty, pain, resolution and comedy. How can I use this feeling. Can it translate to my magic? It was written to accompany human movement and tell the story in an era with no sound dialog. Listening to VIOLETERA from "CITY LIGHTS" as the weight of the sun pulled itself beneath the covers of the world and said goodnight, I closed one eye and extended my arm. With my forefinger and thumb I framed the last visible portion of the sun between them and as the music rose to a crescendo made it disappear. I turned around to take a bow and there were at least 100 seagulls watching me. I took my bow and overheard one seagull say that he saw the sun on the back of my hand, and that he knew how it was done.

Back at the Promenade on a quiet Tuesday evening after my walk, I was centered, focused, happy and ready to work. I spent 3 hours making people happy, creating good art and honing my craft. There is no substitute to getting out there in front of people. It’s were the rubber meets the road and character is formed.

A five year old girl and her father walk by, she couldn't take her eyes off me. I reach out into the air and try and find something that’s not there. I look confused and disappointed. I try again, nothing. On the third try, I pluck a silver dollar out of the air. I smile and I’m proud of myself. I look at the silver dollar as though I had never seen one like it. I slowly place it in my other hand, take the cigar out of my mouth. I raise the hand with the coin in it up to my face. I blow a thick ball of smoke at my hand and sloooowly open my hand revealing that it is gone. I register surprise and happiness on my face. She smiles so big her face turns inside out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In my "In Box"

Click pic to enlarge


Sorry it's taken me so long, but here's one of the many, many photos I took in August of you performing in Santa Monica. Enjoy.


Middle of November in Sunny California 70 degrees

In my "In Box"

Thanks Tom for your interest in China. I have forwarded your info to my associates in China. They review all of the interested performers we get and chose those that they feel will work in their market. If they get back to me with a positive review, I will be back in touch, likely to request a cd/video and pictures for China for promotion purposes. Thanks again for your interest.

Norman Sharpe

Norm Sharpe Artist Management

Phoenix II Cups and Balls by Ring n Things II

I've been using these cups for three months now and they seem to be hanging in there very nicely. All of their cups rock!!

Phoenix II Cups by RnT II




I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared this in my writing, but here is, yet another glimpse, of a facet, of my personality. Simplicity. I’m about a simple a person as I know.

I’ve always been a bit oblivious, living in my own little world. For decades I have proudly told people that I live in a bubble. And for the most part, that is very true. Reality does have way of waking you up with a dick in your ass though, but hey; that’s real life. What’cha gonna do?

The best part of being simple is that I can go to sleep at the drop of a hat. It’s really wonderful. Rarely to the sneakers, rolling around in the dryer of my mind, keep me up at night. I sleep like a baby every night. . . even when something’s bothering me.

It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. Lately I feel so lucky and loved. Shit, my bubble’s gonna burst I’m so happy! A hedonistic streak, fills my days and nights in the pursuit of a good time. Long walks on the beach, or the mountains, ocean sun sets or the taste of my sweetie’s lips. As far as that goes, things couldn’t be better. We are both very much in love with each other. I think she likes that I’m simple. The only problem is, sometimes she’ll ask me, what I’m thinking; and I feel like, if I tell her, I’ll end up sounding like Homer Simpson.

I’m simple in my magic too. I’m not looking for the latest trick to fool you with. I’m into the classics; the cups, the rings, cards and coins. I’m looking to bring the audience down to my level. Lets make it simple. If I could make their problems disappear if even for only a minute or two. . . now that would be magic. As magicians, we say that’s what we want. To suspend disbelief and make someone forget all their worldly problems. Are we doing this? I don’t want a new trick, I want to do THAT. How can we measure the results of this quest? Or at least feel that the performance is addressing this through a light hypnotic trance or NLP. Oh I’m gushing now, the shit is about to get deep.

Never mind, my point here, is that I have no point. But as I’ve said, I’m OK with that.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gazzo at the Magic Castle

I first saw Gazzo work 20 years ago in Boston. Our paths did not cross many times through the years, but over the last few years I've got to know him well enough to call him a friend. What a long strange trip it's been. Gazzo is a unique character, an excellent magician and a very funny guy.

I was glad to see him work the late Parlor on Friday night. I caught his first show at 10:20PM. I have to say that I learned a lot. Gazzo has wonderful comedic timing and instincts. What can I say, the crowd loved him and so did I. I take my hat off to one of the Greatest Street Magicians of our time! Bravo!

Friday • Hollywood & Highland

Miracles of miracles, Buster took me up on my long standing offer to come to work with me. I was very happy about that for several reasons. The first of which was, he doesn't get out of the house enough. I was happy that he wanted to explore his new city a little and experience the freak show that is Hollywood and Highland. I was also happy that he didn't mind shooting a few pics of me working. These are the very first pictures I have of myself working here in LA. I have been rotating various days and evenings at the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, Hollywood and Highland and now Venice Beach.

My shows were good. Really starting to feel as though I'm getting into some sort of an LA groove. As I've commented in the past these LA pitches are sometimes very tough and often humbling.

I banged out several shows and deck pitches one after the other. Buster was surprised how quickly I was building my crowd. I assured him it wasn't always that way, and that he must be my good luck charm. I've been working on slowing down. . . again. Also trying to milk the moment of astonishment for an extra second or two. I want the audiences to have the, time in they're own mind, to chew on what they just experienced. Too often I step on my own applause or reactions. I need to continue to work on this.

I love my job. Since I was a little kid, all I ever wanted to to was to make people happy with my magic. Although life has it's way of getting complicated, I have been true to that dream my entire life. I like to think that in my own little insignificant way. . . I'm making the world a better place. . . one smile at a time.

I'm feeling the urge to script in some material that makes the performance more relevant. I struggle with the question, does the audience want content with it's entertainment, or just fun and games. I like to think that the combination of good magical entertainment and a well crafted message using techniques of neuro-linguistic programming could have a profound effect on all involved. Maybe I'm just dreaming. . . but I don't think so.

Buster got some interesting shots from a variety of angles.

Click Pics to Enlarge

Friday • Lunch at the Magic Castle

Had lunch at the Magic Castle Friday afternoon. I arrived a bit after noon and was enjoying the rest of my cigar as I waited for Aye Jaye. While waiting, Gazzo and Billie arrived and we went inside. We gave the place the once over and sat down. I purposely sat in Vernon's seat and remembered the many chats we had while filling that corner with a hefty cloud of cigar smoke. Those were different days. The host asked if we wanted to catch Richard Turner's performance in the close-up room. Sounded like a treat to me! BONUS-!!

While I had heard his name many times through the years, I had never had a chance to see him work. We were ushered in at the last minute and I was pleased to finally meet Mr. Pete Biro in the chair next to me. The show started and Mr. Turner came out with a distinct Riverboat Gambler look. His performance was exciting to watch. It's rare to see a performance with such off beat methods of card handling. It was also interesting to watch Gazzo watch Richard. Few have mastered the esoteric techniques of these demonstrations but both Richard Turner and Gazzo know the work.

I've always been an enthusiastic student of dealing and shuffling. It was a real pleasure to see Richard Turner work with a deck of cards. With his charming character and easy going way, he disarms you with his wit while carving you out from the inside.

After the show we went upstairs where we met up with Aye Jaye. Always bursting at the seams with joyful silliness, he works the room, wherever he is. We sat down for lunch and John Lovick joined us for a while. Had the fish and chips and enjoyed the company. I guess a bunch of regulars/ members get together this way for lunch every Friday. How cool is that! I'd like to come again. You can say what you want about the Magical Castle, but I've always thought of it as a very magical place and never had a bad time there. I was happy that later that very same evening I would be back after working Hollywood and Highland to see Gazzo perform in the Parlor at 10:30PM. I love this town!


Thursday night at the Promenade a young (20 year old) magician from Colorado showed me an interesting trick. I thought it was cool. The trick was Fraud by Daniel Garcia. Click his name to go to demo video.