Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The loss of a friend

I took a long walk on the beach this afternoon. Needed to clear my head. Had the headphones on listening to the Dead, Stella Blue.

“All the years combine, they melt into a dream,
A broken angel sings from a guitar.
In the end, there's just a song, comes cryin' up the night
Thru all the broken dreams and vanished years.
Stella blue”

Received the sad news that a friend of mine had died. About the time that the surf hit my knees, I realized that I was not going to mourn his death, but rather celebrate his life. I felt the same way when my mom passed. People that are dealing with deteriorating health, pain and loss of quality of life; it’s almost a relief. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh.

I prefer to think of Cellini as the guy I met when I was growing up. He was like out of a fairy tale and introduced me to the notion of personal adventure and showed me how a magician lived. It wasn’t just tricks and showmanship, technique and practice it was a crash course in life. I met him when I was 16 in New Orleans, then again when I was 18 in New York CIty; then I spent 9 months studying closely with him on a daily basis in 1984 when I was 19. That’s when our friendship became cemented. He was my mentor, teacher, friend and father figure. He had a work ethic and style all his own. “Be the first one out there in the morning, the last one to leave in the evening. . . . and never eat out.” That’s what he used to say. He was a work horse, grinding out show after show in the melting humidity of a New Orleans summer day.

I loved him, and liked to think that he loved me. He taught me so many things, like how to draw a crowd, a few people at first, then bring them in to unify them into an audience. He taught me about crowd mentality and how to use this to my advantage. So many years ago. . . a quarter century.

He will be missed and the stories he leaves behind legend. Those who knew him and called him a friend will cherish the time that he lavished on us.

His magic, his gift of time and education that he gave me. I can hardly imagine what my life would have been, had I not hooked up with him.

An orphan from New Hampshire, a door to door salesman, a Slydini student, lead singer in a rock band, street magician, teacher, world traveler, father, husband, friend. . . . he will be missed.

I feel lucky to have known such a man, to call him my friend and to call him on the phone when I wanted.

“When all the cards are down, there's nothing left to see,
There's just the pavement left and broken dreams.

In the end there's still that song comes cryin' like the wind.
Down every lonely street that's ever been
Stella blue”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that, Tom. I never met him, but I feel like I know him because of you. You passed those lessons on to me, and I've told you before: you're my Cellini.

I think my favorite Cellini tip was, "just being there with your shit is half the battle."

Thanks for sharing his life with me. And thanks for sharing your life with me, too.

love,
Scotty

Timmy Jimmy said...

Scotty, I couldn't have said it better, so I won't try, but I will add and echo, that Tom Frank... you are my Cellini as well. I never had the pleasure of meeting Cellini, but through you Tom, in some way, he is still alive, and I and others met Cellini in knowing you and your helping hand in teaching many of us magic!
Though the body perishes, the legend lives on!

salope62 said...

For some reason I missed this post. I am somewhere between feeling very sad and very honored. Cellini was an amazing person, a friend, a supporter of whatever it is that I did well (in my case, not magic). Jim encouraged me to sing at Busker's back in the day, I was humbled that he thought so highly of my singing ability. He gave everyone a fair chance. I am so sorry to have missed him the last many years, but he left an indelible legacy in those he mentored and who, in turn, mentor others.