Friday, February 23, 2007

An American in Paris

Running back in my mind to an earlier time, the year 1975. . . I was 10 years old, living in Paris, France. By that time I had spent more than half of my young life in Europe. 2 years in Germany and 4 years in Paris. My father, an I.B.M. executive. . . my mom, mother of 4 kids, trying to keep up with the laundry.

I remember taking magic lessons from J.C. Catiller at the American School of Paris. I must have been 7 or 8. I learned how to make it look like I had a pencil stuck to the ends of my fingers. Strangely at an early age, anyone can tell you. . . I made up my mind, that I wanted to be a magician.

There was this Magic Shop I used to frequent beneath the Champs-Elysées in sort of an underground shopping area with the Metro stops. My father had instilled a good sense of adventure in me and my natural drive for individuality gave me run of one of the most wonderful cities in the world. To be 10 in Paris with a metro card.

I had a friend named Jeff Peppet who was my earliest magic buddy. We put on shows at the school and were probably awful. Occasionally I would perform privately for my family in my bedroom. I would have my table out with my plastic act ready to go. I can recall one such performance where my brother had fiendishly removed all the gimmicks from my tricks. It was during that show that bad comedy magic was thrust on me. . . and I've had a hard time shaking it ever since. . . but I wouldn't trade a day of it.

We lived in the heart of the city on Rue de Berrie off the Champs-Elysées, not two blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. There was a corner news stand that surprisingly carried a Magic magazine. I eagerly awaited each monthly issue. During that time I saved my allowance and did some mail order, with a company called Haines House Of Cards in Norwood, Ohio. Little did I know, that a few years later I would be working behind the counter and demoing at conventions for Haines House of Cards as a 12 year old.

My child hood memories of Europe are full of adventure, happiness and magic. I can't begin to describe how my exposure to so much history, art and rich experiences helped create the person that I am today. I will always be thankful to my father for providing those memories.

Tom Frank's first Magic Magazine

Tom Frank's first Magic Magazine

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pic du Jour • Future city

POTD 02/7/07 - Future city, originally uploaded by sparktography.

Cups and Balls

Vaudevillian Mikael Rudolph in "Swim Home"

Visit with Shawn Greer at the Riverside County Fair

I departed around noon with blue skies and sunshine, palm trees and cigar smoke, blowing in the wind. Off to see my old pal Shawn, with whom I share so many memories that span the course of time and good taste. It's interesting, that after all these years, we sit face to face as grown ups in the real world (whatever that means), discussing things like relationships, our kids, our careers, our dreams and aspirations.

Shawn Greer • Magician

It was a good visit. I watched him do a few shows over the course of a few hours. In between shows we hung out, caught up and talked about magic. Shawn and I grew up together in Cincinnati. We spent our formative years as young magicians getting into as much trouble as we could find. Hell, even when we weren't looking for it . . . it would find us instead.

One thing we both had was a passion for the art of magic. Our mentors Larry Pringle and Paul Swinford taught us from an early age how to approach the art with an academic sensibility.

Shawn Greer • Coin Manipulations

Later, at different times, we both studied with Cellini, a pivotal experience that would further shape and influence our understanding and performance styles. What a long strange trip it's been. Shawn and I both love the classics.


Here's a bit of Shawn's set list. For a couple of guys he performed Double Dazzling Triumph (an old Daryl routine, if I'm not mistaken). As he continued his crowd gathering he performed some card routines. Opening with a one handed faro and continuing into a peek control and mental revelation followed by an in the hands triumph (with a killer show that the cards are meshed face up into face down). He did an effect where four cards were pushed out by 4 spectators and they turned out to be the 4 aces. It seemed a bit cumbersome to me and I wasn't sure if it really needed all the heavy lifting. After that, he performed the David Williamson Torn and Restored Card. At this point he turned his sound system on and started his "Show" which consisted of The Three Card Monte, Misers Dream and Coin Manipulations into his Finale of the Cups and Balls.

Shawn Greer • Riverside County Fair

Shawn finished up at 5:30PM as the daredevil motorcycle show was about to start. He packed up his gear and we headed out of the fair to a restaurant across the street. More talk about the past, present, and future. We talked more about the state of our art, in a complex and changing world. We agreed that it was a gift to be able to do what we do. How lucky we were, to have made our livings from this dream for so many years.

Shawn Greer • Hat Load

After dinner we headed to his Hot Springs Resort a half hour away in the mountains. Stuffed from our dinner we took a nice cigar walk under a toenail sliver moon. After that, we continued our discussion in the sauna and as we soaked in the hot mineral springs. They closed up the hot springs at 10PM. We sessioned till 1AM when I got on the road. Polly would be getting up at 3:30AM for an early call time at the studio and I thought it might be nice to see her before she left for work. It worked out perfect and I finally went to sleep at 4:12AM

Shawn Greer • Riverside County Fair

To see the rest of the pics I shot of Shawn Click Here

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

End of a holiday weekend

The Presidents Day Weekend was filled with street shows, movie watching and lovemaking. . . rinse and repeat. All of the above inspired performances worthy of academy consideration. I love this camp!

We watched Blade Runner (the directors cut), A Very Long Engagement, The last Seduction and A Face in the Crowd. Polly and I had a dinner Saturday Night at the Arclight Cinema before watching Children of Men. Good movie.

Had really good sets at the City Walk. Worked pantomime to the Chaplin music I like so well. Did cards, coins and even the cups without ever uttering a word. Working on my reactions to the magic.

It rained over the weekend but cleared up for afternoon busking and deck pitching. I've been finding a good groove lately. It's relaxed, fun and full of love.

Today I'm going to Indio, California, to the Riverside County Fair. My oldest and dearest magic pal, Shawn Greer is performing there. I haven't seen Shawn in a while. I'm really looking forward to seeing him.

Nuff said, guess I'll get on the road