Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Castle Notes

Mind a buzz still reveling in last nights activities. I've been wanting to report a tad more on my life in magic and more specifically my frequent trips toThe Magic Castle®

While still at work last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see Gary Plantsand his lovely wife Deborah in my audience. They were in for the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History over the previous few days. I've known Gary for 33 years. We met a The Columbus Magi-Fest Magic Conventionwhen I was but a young, teenage trouble maker. I've always been very impressed with Gary's card work. Even back in the day he was one of the most hard core in any session. His dealing work, exceptional and his trick "The Bottom Collectors" always one of my favorites. It was nice to have "Plant's" in my audience! Afterwards I asked him how my card work looked technically, (I asked him to, be blunt and honest). He said it all looked good. Made me happy.

Had a decent night at the Universal CityWalk Hollywood, for an off season Monday night. It was Veterans Day, and there was a good crowd. The Magic Castle does something unique for Veterans Day. Every performer in all the rooms are Veterans from the Armed Forces. A touching tribute to the magicians that served.

Sometimes I go to the Castle and try and see a lot of shows, other times it more about hanging with the gang and chatting the night away. Last night was more like that. I got a call from James Patton in the afternoon, saying he was going to be there in the evening. Always a treat to hang with him. We met at the Castle back in 1986. It was the first time I had worked there. I was 21 years old. Those sure were great days at the Castle. Hanging with the likes of Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, and Larry Jennings. I was part of a small crew that consisted of Me, Daniel Sylvester (who was my roommate for 2 years back then) and Paul Nathan. Jim Patton used to call us the "Young Turks". We were young, crazy and always wore hats. Seems like a different lifetime.

I got to the Castle around 10PM and ventured down to the Library to hook up with Jim. Saw Billy Goodwin, Alfonso and Lituo down there, as well as Jim and a fellow he introduced me to, Ron Wohl. We chatted down there till Billy closed up the Library for the evening. We decided to go see Jason England in the Close-Up Gallery. Out through the Inner Circle and a quick stop to the newly revamped smoking area. Jim lit his pipe, I lit my cigar and Ron Wohl joined us for some more discussions about The Man That was Erdnase.

Jason England does beautiful work. I've known him for a while, but had never seen him perform in a formal setting. I was not disappointed. He opened with Triumph which led into a Cutting the Aces Routine followed by a Two Card Selection with a nice kicker ending. To end his performance he launched into an expansive gambling demonstration that featured all the false deals: Seconds, Bottoms, Centers & Greek Bottoms. The finale was a poker demonstration that got me hook line and sinker. Didn't see it coming.

During the show I sat next to, new member, Robb Weinstock. After the show we discussed what we saw. We retreated to the new Vernon Corner whereHoward Hamburg was holding court as usual. We continued to discuss some of the technical aspects of Jason's show. I excused myself from the table to get a cocktail and was drawn to the end seats of there bar where Tony Picasso and Michael Rangel were chatting and fiddling with cards. Tony is an interesting character. Unique in both his approach to magic as well as his outlook in general. Up until last night I didn't think he talked. While I've known him since moving back to LA, 7 years ago; he's remained a mystery to me. Michael, I've only got to know a little more recently. We had a swell talk about about these sorts of posts on Facebook. We talked about the challenge of not sugar coating opinions about the magic we see, yet, try and be honest about technical aspects of the act. Lately when I am curious about why a performer made certain choices, I've just asked. I did this last night with Jason England. Asked him why he did something the way he did. While watching the performance (not trying to be overly critical) I saw something that was curious and sort of rubbed me the wrong way. I don't like feeling critical, but we feel the way we do. It was great to just flat out ask him why he did it that way. His answer was perfect and had me not fooled me with his closer, I might have answered my own question.

Back to the Vernon corner, where Jason joined us. Howard and Jason went over some shuffle work that was over my head. Jason fried me badly and was kind enough to tip the work. Jason England does beautiful work and is one hell of a nice guy. His act was polished, professional and a credit to the art. Well done sir!

Everyone went home as the place was closing. Everyone that is, except me and Jim Patton. Brian Elerding was very polite as he gently nudged us out the door. Jim and I spent another hour hanging in the parking lot, swapping stories of the old days and card moves.

Well done Jack Goldfinger! Booking a solid week of Veteran Performers!

Till next time. . . . .

Jim Patton & Ron Wohl

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