Friday, November 24, 2006

There's no business like show business

I took a walk last night. I wanted to smoke a cigar while digesting my turkey, pie and Crown Royal. It must have been 10 PM or so. I walked up Victory and after a while crossed the street to double back. I looked in some store windows and was heading towards a storefront that I’ve wanted to peer into since moving in the neighborhood. It’s a toy train store. Took me back to my years in retail. I was looking at the Christmas Specials, on starter toy train sets, through the plate glass window of a dark store. Then I noticed some movement in the back of the store. There was a guy working . That took me back too. It took a toll on my marriage. She could never understand why after a nice Thanksgiving day with family, I would have to go down to my magic shop and toy store and make final last minute preparations for the busiest shopping day of the year.

That was then and this is now, and it wasn’t me working late on a holiday. My mind wanders in and out, then like a rubik’s cube being hit by a hammer, shatters with pieces flying.

My job is to spread the love and joy in my heart through the performance of my magic. “A magician is an actor playing the part of a magician” ain’t dat da truth. Acting happy when your heart is breaking can be a real challenge. I need to have a strong weekend and the increased pressure to produce while bogged down in my own head makes it uncomfortable. But that’s what makes me a pro. I do my best to create the illusion, take my audience on a little bit of a journey and deliver the home, safe and sound.

It’s going to be a great weekend for shows regardless of how I feel.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chet Baker in Tokyo ' 87 - My Funny Valentine

How do you spell relief?

He's back and we haven't really asked him about anything just yet. We just wanted to have a nice Thanksgiving. There will be plenty of time to work things out. . . like the rest of our lives.

It was a nice Thanksgiving. Words cannot describe the relief to know that he was safe, back home, taking a shower and getting ready for Thanksgiving Dinner. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders, shake him violently and say, "WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE LAST 80 HOURS!!!!!" I didn't, I tried not to project any negative vibes. I think he needs to talk to someone about what's going on in his head, and I'm going to to my best to see that that happens. . . but ultimately, it's up to him. What's that joke? How many psychiatrists does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one. . . but the light bulb has to want to change.

I'm thankful that Polly has stood by my side with love and compassion through these though episodes, early in our relationship. She loves me and Buster. I was always a package deal. This episode has brought us closer together and strengthened an already solid commitment. I'm so lucky, I feel like I've got a second lease on life. Now all I've got to do is make good.

Mama Tried • by Merle Haggard

The first I remember knowin was that lonesome whistle blowin
And a youngins dream of growin up to ride.
On a freight train leavin town, not knowin where I was bound
No one could steer me right, but mama tried.

Was the only rebel child from a family meek and mild
Mama seemed to know what lay in store
In spite of all my sunday learnin
For the bad I kept on turnin and mama couldnt hold me anymore.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin I denied
That leaves no one but me to blame cause mama tried.

Dear old daddy rest his soul, left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Workin hours without rest, wanted me to have the best
Oh she tried to raise me right, but I refused.

And I turned 21 in prison, doin life without parole
No one could steer me right, but mama tried, mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleadin I denied
That leaves no one but me to blame cause mama tried.

Ricky Jay in LA!!!

The Geffen Playhouse is honored to present the astonishing Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants for a limited run in the intimate Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre.

Long considered one of the world's greatest sleight of hand artists, his career is further distinguished by the remarkable variety of accomplishments as an author, actor, historian and film consultant.

"Enthralling ...

the most coveted tickets in town."

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"Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants is ... dazzling, sell-out crowds nightly ... it's the smartest show in town."

Don't miss this holiday gift to Los Angeles!

With only 84 seats, the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse is his most intimate venue ever.

Tuesday - Saturday $75 - $85
V.I.P. Packages available $115 (3 front rows)

... in consideration of the intimate nature of the performance late-comers will not be seated - no one under 17 admitted

Buster is back • Happy Thanksgiving


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


IM from his account to a girlfriend in Cincy

Trying to cover all bases I log onto Buster's AOL AIM Account as him. Here's what popped up.

NeddyTeddy: who is this?

BustaJohn: John's Dad

NeddyTeddy: I thought so

BustaJohn: really worried

NeddyTeddy: Me too

NeddyTeddy: I'm sorry you have to worry so much

BustaJohn: I know he's hurting, but this isn't a good way to go about things

NeddyTeddy: I told him this

NeddyTeddy: and he went and did it anyway

NeddyTeddy: I'm sorry, I love him very much, but this was a stupid move..

BustaJohn: how long had he been planning it?

NeddyTeddy: I don't know

NeddyTeddy: He had mentioned it lightly

BustaJohn: I think he just snapped the other night

NeddyTeddy: And I told him "That's a stupid idea"

NeddyTeddy: Yeah not coming back was.. a good snapper

BustaJohn: would he go to Seattle?

BustaJohn: he didn't take any money

NeddyTeddy: I dunno... he said he liked his friends in Seattle

NeddyTeddy: That's all I really know..

BustaJohn: well thanks

BustaJohn: If you hear from him please let me know

BustaJohn: just want to know that he's alright

BustaJohn: who is this?

NeddyTeddy: Michelle

NeddyTeddy: Sorry

NeddyTeddy: lol

NeddyTeddy: I coulda said somethin

NeddyTeddy: >.<

BustaJohn: thanks

NeddyTeddy: No problem.. I'll keep my ears open for anything

BustaJohn: Call my cell number

BustaJohn: later

NeddyTeddy: All right, any time is a good time?

NeddyTeddy: No wait?

BustaJohn: ANYTIME

NeddyTeddy: Okay

NeddyTeddy: Later

Tick Tock

I though he might hang in the Burbank foothills. Not sure why I thought that, went on a hike to look for him in an area that we’ve hiked. An hour into it I realized how ridiculous this was and headed back, hoping, he might have returned.

My mind is going to plenty of worst case scenarios even though I’m trying to control negative thoughts. Last night a couple of cocktails, wings and Monday Night Football, was a good diversion for a few hours.

Tonight I’ll go on down to the Promenade and try and work. Need to keep my spirits up, Need to be optimistic that he just needs to cool off before returning.

I feel so empty and helpless. My boy is out there hurting, not knowing where to turn. I feel so bad my heart is breaking. I’m worried and pissed and hurt. I just want to help him.

He could be anywhere. I hope he’s OK.


It's been over 24 hours since Buster disappeared. Stomach in knots and wishing I had a valium to calm my nerves. This shit has been going on since he got here. Not running away, but the back story. The way he deflated in Cincinnati last summer when he was with his mom. The shit he's starting to piece together about his mothers ability and or desire to be a parent at all. It's painful shit, but at least she's consistent. I've had custody of him since he was two years old and I've done the best I could through the years. I'm his biggest fan and strongest advocate for a kid that just wants to be away from both his mother and myself.

To my dismay, my mind has chosen this time to attack all psyche weaknesses and prey on self doubt. I can't tell you how it feels to have 3 out of your 4 kids NOT want to talk to you. . . in person or on the phone. Good, now let me kick myself while I'm down. All I want is to do is show them how much I love them. Talk to them, laugh with them and be a part of their lives. Fuck, who and I kidding. At that age I saw my Dad twice a year. . . and that was probably too much for me at that time. Ahhhh perfect, now lets squeeze the balls of the past and try and make me feel even crappier.

Nope, not gonna happen. Need to get a grip. Can't afford to tailspin out of control into an all out tizzy or depressed funk. I am not the bad guy here. I was doing my job as I saw it important to do. Seeing 4 F's on his report card a week ago, getting his 3 week Christmas Vacation in Cincinnati yanked for not meeting the minimal requirements of a passing grade. Gimmee a fuck'en break! I try to engage him in discussions about making positive changes in his academic approach (magnet school, home school, vocational) as well as talk to him about his mom and his feelings. There have been points where we had very full conversations about all that but most of the time he withdraws into himself; goes into his room and reads a book. Polly and I have made beautiful home for him here in LA. He is a part of a loving family who thinks the world of him and just wants to see him do well.

I am not the bad guy here. There were consequences to his behavior. At the 5 week point, he had an opportunity to turn things around. He didn't. And it's not like I was taking valuable family time away from him, he wasn't even going to see his mom. He was going to stay with his Aunt Annie and her family. Truth be told, it wasn't about going back to see family, if he had his way he would spend the whole time hanging out with his friends there. But we all knew that. Minimum effort would have got him his free 3 week vacation with friends.

Now he's run away. Teaching me a real lesson I guess. What could he possible be thinking?

Here's the picture I took to the North Hollywood Police Department yesterday morning. I filed a missing persons report. Have contacted the School Police and talked to his school Counselor. We had all met last week to discuss his grades and put in place some communication tools like daily progress reports. Once again, he wasn't digg'en it. Talked to his Aunt Annie and Cricket's boyfriend Larry. Strangely or perhaps predictably I haven't heard from Cricket. Whatever, stay focused, keep my eye on the ball. I am worried about my boy. I love him so much, if anything bad happened to him. . . . Don't go there. He'll be fine, surface and. . . . . . who fucking knows what's going to happen? Tune in tomorrow to see if he shows up or hops a freight train to Tulsa.

Teen Runaway Statistics

Between 1.3 and 2.8 million runaway and homeless youth live on the streets of America each year.

One in seven youth youth will run away from home before the age of 18.

Parental substance abuse is the largest predictor of runaway behavior in youth.

Runaway/homeless youth are 50% male and 50% female, though females are more likely to seek help through shelters and hotlines.

Prior to leaving home, nearly half (43%) of youth reported being beaten by a caretaker.

Forty-one percent of youth who’ve run away had been abandoned by their parents or caretakers for at least 24 hours.

A little over a quarter of youth who’ve run from home have had parents or caretakers request sexual activity, and 32% have been forced to participate in sexual activity against their will.

Forty-one percent of females seeking shelter report being pregnant.

Seventy-five percent of runaway and homeless youth have dropped out or will drop out of school.

Twenty-six percent stay in unsupervised and possibly unsafe places for one or more nights.

Twelve percent spend at least one night outside in a park, on the street, under a bridge or overhang, or on a roof top.

Thirty-two percent have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

Monday, November 20, 2006

In my "In Box" • From my niece Nikki

Just wanted to let you know that John posted something on Myspace at 3:45 AM... dunno if that helps. Here is the post:

"I'm actually not going to Cincinnati for Chirstmas break because my dad is an ass basket who likes to play mind games....



To freak or not to freakout. . . that is the question

Eye twitching uneasiness as the afternoon rolls on. Buster is either skipping school or run away. I'm not freaking out, just worried. Polly left at 6AM and I checked in on him then. He appeared to be sleeping. I went back to bed for an hour and was puzzled why I didn't hear him getting ready for school. I checked his bed, but he was not there. His pillows were under the covers and made to look like him sleeping. My heart stopped, like he had vanished. It took me a moment to figure out what was going on. I looked around the house and couldn't find him anywhere. The cell phone was on the back lawn near the fire pit. That's odd. I checked the last number dialed was a Cincinnati number at 1:17AM Pacific Time. So, he left somewhere between 1:17 and 6:00AM. Where. . . who knows? Why?. . . I've got a pretty good idea.

The last words he said to me last night were "Fuck you, I hate you more than anyone else in the world". Now I sit here questioning my own parenting results. My poor son is getting so lost in a delusion that he can live with someone besides me; his reasoning has been skewed. There are rules, expectations and consequences and trust me, he ain't diggen'em. So here we go, the antics of a depressed teenager.

I flashed back to my own 16th year on this planet. It wasn't a happy memory to recall, but timely. I was a very independent and financially self sufficient teenager. I bought my own car at 16 and was performing 6 days a week at Kings Island Amusemant Park in my hometown of Cincinnati. I was making $300 a week for doing 6 twenty minute shows a day, this was back in 1982 with no expenses except pot and gas. Good bread for a punk. My mom must have made some comment and I decided to disappear for a couple of weeks. It was fun, me and this chick bounced around from friends house to friends house. It was in the summer, I worked everyday, just didn't go home. I was a total fuck to a mother who couldn't discipline worth a damn. There were no rules and I still broke them all. Where is my boy? I hope he shows up this afternoon or evening.

I can hear my mom saying to me, "I only hope I live long enough to see your kids as teenagers. . . and I hope that they are all as bad as you were". Well, I guess she would have liked this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday • Venice Beach

The marine layer rolled in and looked like I felt. Hazy and gloomy. There was a mild chill to the air as I struggled to get my shows off the ground. Issues with Buster, school, parenting and life weigh heavy on my mind.

I ran into Chris Korn and another magician from Illinois named Joe Dobson. We didn't chat too much, just caught up a bit. Chris invited me to his birthday party next week, so I guess well have some more fun then. It's wild in a city as big as LA, how many magicians I run into while I'm out and about.

I finished up my work day around 5PM, went home, had some pizza with Polly and Buster; then we all walked to the movie theater and saw the new James Bond movie that had excellent playing card theme opening graphics and animation.

View Trailer • Click Here

Friday • Lunch at the Magic Castle

This was the second week in a row that I went to the Magic Castle for lunch on Friday. It amazes me how close I live. In good traffic, as it was on Friday, it took me 10 minutes door to door. Although it was a lighter crowd than the previous week, I was not disappointed with who I saw. I saw Aye Jaye as I parked and we walked up together. He sang a little ditty and showed me the fresh blue chicken eggs that he had brought for Gay Blackstone. We entered the club and he continued singing for the hostess. I find Aye Jaye's attitude and personality refreshing and I think he's a lot of fun to be around.

While Mr. Jaye was schmoozing the staff, a fellow in the gift shop caught my eye as he looked very familiar. We both recognized each other about the same time. It was Alphonso! I have only seen him a couple times over the last 20 years, but when I lived here in the 80's, we were both fixtures at the Castle. He walked me outside and pointed to where he lived back in those days. A nice apartment, only a few blocks away from the Castle. For the last 17 years, he has, and still does, live in North Hollywood, less than a mile from where I live. I think we'll be seeing much more of each other. We talked about the old days hanging out in the corner with Vernon and Jennings. . . those were the days. Cigar smoke and cocktails, card tricks and the history of our lives being formed and molded at the feet of the masters. It really was a very exciting time.

We went upstairs and ran into Billy Goodwin, card man extrodinare, and librarian for the Castle's extensive research library. I had no idea that he commutes 5 days a week from Oxnard to Hollywood to do this.

After lunch he gave me the full tour of the library and told me about the current renovations going on. It's obvious that he takes this job seriously. Mr. Goodwin, in my opinion, could be one of the most underrated card me around. He is gifted in his ability to construct high power diabolical routines that are both entertaining and real foolers. I look forward to hanging out with him more as well!

Lunch was good. At the table were: Pete Biro, Ron Wilson, Joe Someone or other, Aye Jaye, Whit Haydn and myself. It was nice to finally meet Mr. Haydn after all these years of mutual friends. I am pleased that I am starting to plug into the magic community here in my new home of Los Angeles. It's odd, I asked both Alphonso and Billy if they get together with anyone and session regularly, they both said no. Why do I feel like this is about to change and things are about to get more fun? I know. . .