Attention Magic Castle Members

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Rick Schulz » 01/20/04 11:31 AM

What, if anything, can the rest of the magic community (i.e., non-Castle members) do? I would hate to see the Castle, as we all know and love it, disappear or relocate - somehow I don't think it would be the same if it moved somewhere else. But even if it does relocate, will this solve the financial problems that have been alluded to in this and other threads on this forum?
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Postby Guest » 01/20/04 12:38 PM

Originally posted by Rick Schulz:
What, if anything, can the rest of the magic community (i.e., non-Castle members) do? I would hate to see the Castle, as we all know and love it, disappear or relocate - somehow I don't think it would be the same if it moved somewhere else. And even it it does relocate, will this solve the financial problems that have been alluded to in this and other threads on this forum?
The only financial problems that the Castle has are all related to the constantly increasing demands for more money from the landlords, and their refusal to grant us a long term lease.

The Castle is making more money than ever, and is in best physical condition it has ever been. Milt and the board have done wonders making the place an even greater showplace. The new look of the Close-Up Gallery, Parlor and Palace, as well as the easing of the bottleneck in the dining room by replacing the Victorian Festal Board with chairs for those waiting for their tables have all been incredible achievements. The grounds are improved, and the musical Bill Larsen Memorial Fountain is a wonderful addition.

The problem is that no matter how much we take in, the landlords want more, and continually raise our rent and refuse to give us the long term lease that we need to provide future security.

It is my understanding that a 28 year-old stepson of the Glovers is the prime motivator in these changes in the 40 year relationship between the Glovers and Milt Larsen.

He has made it clear that he wants to take over the restaurant and bar business at the Castle, as well as the entertainment, and run it "as a business" to generate more income. This would not be in the interests of the membership in my opinion, except that it would allow us to remain in the Castle as "guests in our own home."

Diana Zimmerman and the group she has put together have joined with this young man, and have gone to the Glovers with a proposal to push Milt Larsen's management group aside and deal directly with the AMA by granting the lease to the Castle Partners, rather than to Milt's company.

The AMA will have to sub-lease from Diana's group now, and in order to do that, they have to agree to many changes in the organization and by-laws of the AMA, and to give up control of the Food, Beverage, and Entertainment of the club to this group representing only themselves and the landlords.

This is the way it has been presented to me, and I think is a fairly good depiction of what is going on, but again I am only reporting what I have heard second-hand from very good sources.

The problem with this "hostile takeover" from Diana's group is, that no matter how high-minded and or well-intentioned this group may claim to be (I certainly have a great deal of respect for Diana and the others), they have gone around the backs of the Board, the membership, and Milt Larsen in a very arrogant and un-democratic way. This is a business takeover, not a reform movement.

They are using the threat of losing the lease in what seems to me to be an extortive way to get the board and membership to agree to changes that primarily benefit the landlords and this for-profit consortium.

Members and non-members alike can help preserve the nature and mission of the Magic Castle by publically voting their support for the Board of Directors and for Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen in whatever decision they decide to make--provided of course that they stand together.

It is possible, though I think very unlikely, that the board will sever its ties with Milt and concede to the demands of the new consortium. This would be a disaster, in my opinion.

Milt would be forced out, and would take with him the name "Magic Castle," all of those decorative items, furnishings, paintings, photos, and collectables that belong to the Larsens and not the AMA, the rights to Irma the haunted piano, the sinking stool, etc.

I and many other members would walk with him. I feel that we owe this kind of loyalty to Milt, who after all, pretty much built the current building with his own hands, and without him and Bill there would be no Castle.

Milt would most probably then set up a new "Magic Castle" somewhere else. It would be a fatal blow to the Castle as we know it.

My personal hope is that Milt and the Board will together decide to move, and install the Castle lock, stock, and barrel in a new, larger, and more secure location where we can continue to grow, build, and plan for the future.

The AMA and Milt together own the interior of the Castle down to the studs in the walls. The stained glass, the antique tin ceilings, the moldings, the wood paneling, the carpets, the decorative columns, even the lighting fixtures would all go, possibly to be re-installed in a new building. The Lane mansion would return to what it was when Bill and Milt first took it over, a hollow shell of house suitable only for the wrecking ball.

All of the "grandfathered" exceptions to modern building codes would be nullified, and the owners would have to rebuild the whole place up to modern Los Angeles building, electrical, and plumbing codes. It would cost a fortune.

I don't know what the Glovers and their new partners are planning for the Castle, but they have created a situation which leaves our membership few good choices.

Perhaps something can be worked out. I think that it probably is too late.

If Milt is willing to re-build his dream somewhere else, I vote we help him.
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Postby Jim Riser » 01/20/04 02:14 PM

Certainly none of this trouble with the landlord can come as a surprise. This is the problem of renting - any thing any where. The owner will always raise prices. This is especially true once an enterprise begins to make money and younger greedier relatives sprout up. It happens all of the time. IMHO it's time to leave the old haunts.

It is my feeling that the group should locate another Victorian building in LA (with suitable space for parking), buy it, redo it, and move in. The parking situation is critical. Doing this would allow the organization to become stable and secure.

Heck, if the AMA decides to buy and move, I'd be willing to reinstate my old membership! It's a losing situation as things have been - and the situation will not improve. With the rising cost of real estate in the LA area, the sooner the better for this move.
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Postby Guest » 01/20/04 02:48 PM

I agree with Whit and Jim. Let's stand with Milt, give him our support (time and money), and the Magic Castle will continue to be what we treasure. The building is just a shell - it's the spirit of the members, and Milt Larsen in particular, who created the Castle and will continue the AMA for years to come! --Asrah
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Postby John McDonald » 01/20/04 03:49 PM

I loved the Gennii article on the castle and have just finished reading it again. I am amazed that the landlord's threatening such an American treasure with all the history of the Larsan family and American magic scene there. I agree with the posters that say that it is the people who give the Castle it's soul and heart that make it so loved. Wherever the Magic Castle is - there - will be that love of magic that will not flounder.

Although not a member of the magic circle I know they revamped and relocated a few years ago and by all accounts are happy with the results.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/20/04 04:26 PM

According to most polls, change ranks behind only death and public speaking as the most frightening things a human being can face. So clearly there will be some serious resistance to moving, but we have to play past that. The Magic Circle moved successfully. So can the AMA and The Magic Castle.

But what about the Magic Castle?

Is it just a building? Is the soul of the Castle fixed within its walls? I agree with Mr. Haydn: part of the soul of the Castle is in the fixtures, bar tops, paintings, ceilings, wall panels, etc.--all of which are movable: As are the members, and the performers--the other part of the Castles soul.

If the AMA stays in the building, unless Milt sides with the raiders, they will only be able to call it the Magic Mansion or some other hollow, bastardized version of the name. Only those fixtures sold off by Milt to the AMA to pay down his loan will stay: The rest will go with Milt. If the AMA sides with Milt (as Im sure it will), it all goes. Let the raiders have the hollow name and hollow building.

Yes, walking up that winding drive and looking up at the turret are certainly part of the mystique of that old place and just entering it brings back memories so thick (for those of us old enough to have them) that you have to beat them away. But what really elicits those memories? I think its seeing the bookcase opening upon command; the sight of the Professors couch and the feeling that the mans spirit is still sitting there; the sound of Irma playing in the background, mixed with the laughter of surprise from those who just knew she wouldnt know the song they just requested. I think that these are the types of things that bring back the wonderful memories, not the walls and the location. These things, memories and traditions will always be a part of the Magic Castle--no matter where they are--and many of us will share the memories and traditions associated with those things freely with those of a new generation and location. The building needs those things and, most importantly, it needs us, to be The Magic Castle, not the other way around.

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Postby Wolfgang » 01/20/04 04:38 PM

I have been thinking about joining the magic castle as a member for a while (never really made it a priority so). I feel a new building could bring new blood in the magic castle. Think about the possibilities: When there is enough room maybe one of the major collectors could be convinced to house his collection in the castle who than has an attraction for non members and regular folks (a magic museum). Maybe a showroom could be constructed with a seperate entrance to allow for public shows once a while.
This would be a smart move. There is really no reason for the castle to occupy such a prime location as the Hollywood Hills.
:)
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/20/04 06:30 PM

From the "other thread"

I would hate to see ANYONE, hostile or otherwise, TAKE OVER the Magic Castle.

With property values going through the sky (thanks only for my property) the Castle as it is seems to be not making enough money for the landlords.

If they take over, I hear they want to make it into a DISCO NIGHTCLUB.

Triple ARGH...

On second thought now I really think the Acadamy should take its toys and re-locate.

Buy a property and forget landlords.

Milt could take all the fixtures, Irma, the new carpeting, everything, and re-create a bigger better castle.

Just think if we could "scratch build" a close up room that hold more than the 20 folks it now does. Just think if we had a stage with room for someone like Lance Burton or Coppperfield?

Just think if we had room for really good classrooms, lecture hall, etc.

Move now!

(but no farther than 12 minutes from my house) :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/20/04 06:31 PM

It just dawned on me.

Do you all know that there is ANOTHER house not too far away that was built from the SAME BLUEPRINTS as the Lane Mansion (Magic Castle).

I wonder just where it is and if it can be purchased?

That wold be ironic, eh?

:confused:
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Postby Guest » 01/20/04 06:54 PM

Are you talking about the original house in Redlands? That would be too far, I am afraid.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/20/04 07:16 PM

Yes - I'll bet that's the house Pete's talking about. It is also a mirror image, if memory serves (flip-flopped floor plan). Even if it were closer, as was pointed out, our current digs are really too small, and they have been expanded well past that of the original building!

No, a larger place with a facade that resembles the front of the old mansion is what I am fantasizing about.

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Postby Guest » 01/20/04 08:58 PM

My name is Michael Flint. As a member of Castle Partners, LLC, I am posting the following message from Tom Glover.


As the representative of the Landlords of the Magic Castle, I want to respond to incorrect information published in this forum.

Mr. Haydn's comment about “the constantly increasing demands for more money from the landlords” could not be further from the truth. The statement, “no matter how much we take in, the landlords want more, and continually raise our rent” is equally false.

For 40 years, the Landlords of the Magic Castle have had exactly the same lease terms for the Castle. Those terms, originally established by a handshake between Milt Larsen and my father, have always been a percentage of gross sales of food and beverages at the Castle. Such terms are the most common in the industry. The Landlords have never asked for more. In fact, when offered a higher percentage we declined because that is not our primary concern. The only change made in 40 years was the establishment of a very reachable “minimum” rent last year to encourage the Castle to revitalize.

To be completely accurate, our rent has never come directly from the Academy of Magical Arts. It has come from Milt Larsen who has had his own “sub-lease” with the AMA. If we had raised the rent - which we did not - it would have come from Milt. Milt has been the Landlord of the AMA, and whatever terms he has had for his sub-lease are what have affected the Academy and its members.

Representing the owners of the property, I can assure you that our primary concern is the survival, health, and success of the Magic Castle. We are extremely sensitive to the history of this wonderful institution, to Milt Larsen's place as the founder, to the AMA's presence at the Magic Castle, and to the home it has provided for the members of the AMA for four decades. It is our sincere hope that this relationship will continue long into the future.

Tom Glover
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Postby Guest » 01/20/04 09:29 PM

I apologize if I was in error on that issue. That is not what I had heard, but I have no reason to doubt Mr. Glover on this, and I naturally assume this is the truth.

I am certainly glad to get some specific information from the Castle Partners. It would be really valuable if we all had a better understanding of what the specific aims and long term goals of the Castle Partners were.

I am not sure what encouraging "the Magic Castle to revitalize" might mean. Could Michael Flint or someone from the Castle Partners explain that for us?

What exactly needs to be revitalized, and what do the Castle Partners plan to do to bring this about?

What would "success" of the Magic Castle mean to the Castle Partners--how would that be judged?

What is it that you mean by survival? What do we need to do, in the opinion of the Castle Partners, to survive?

The "handshake" deal of a fixed percentage seems to have worked for 40 years, how is a new "minimum" rent not a very real change in that deal? How often can this minimum be raised?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/20/04 10:45 PM

I'm very grateful to Michael Flint and Tom Glover for establishing some facts amid the swirl of rumors. No one expects Castle Partners and Milt Larsen and the AMA to conduct their negotiations on a public forum like this one, however the greater the number of facts which are stated directly by those involved will decrease the number of rumors and misunderstandings which are bound to occur.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 01:13 AM

Here are the notices posted by Dale Hindman and Milt Larsen to all Castle Members:


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Members of the Academy

Rather than waiting for the Annual Meeting or the next Newsletter, I am writing to you now with information about recent developments in the negotiations concerning the Academys lease on The Magic Castle because I believe that the situation has taken a very significant turn in the last few days. After more than a year of ongoing discussions between the Glover family, Milt Larsen and representatives of the Board of the Academy, it now appears that there will be no long-term lease for the Academy unless certain organizational changes are made regarding the way in which the operations of The Magic Castle are managed. The Glover family has formed a new limited liability company, Castle Partners, LLC, and we have been told that this new entity may hold the long-term lease on The Magic Castle and may be negotiating tenancy arrangements with the Academy and with Milt. It is too early to determine the nature of future changes to the Castles operations, but I assure you, every effort will be made to ensure the impact upon the Academy membership is minimal.

As most of you know, Milt Larsen has been the Academys landlord since the beginning of the Magic Castle, and his company owns the U.S. Registered Trademark rights on the name, The Magic Castle. Milt is very much involved in these ongoing negotiations and he will have the final say on many of these lease issues.

Nevertheless, substantial organizational revisions to the Academys governing structure can be anticipated if the Academy is to continue to manage the food, beverage and entertainment functions of The Magic Castle. Other functions of The Magic Castle may be impacted, as well. It will likely be several weeks, at least, before I have more definitive news to give you. Many of the changes will be a result of future discussions and negotiations with Castle Partners, LLC, may require amendments to the Academys Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws and operating policies, and will be detailed for you when they are known.

I will provide you with as much information as I can, as it becomes available. Suffice it to say we are all pulling in the same direction the long-term security of The Magic Castle and the continuing health and prosperity of the Academy of Magical Arts and the magical family that founded and continues to nurture this remarkable organization.


Dale Hindman
President

----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
At the time I wrote my column for the December newsletter everything I said was true based on the facts at the time. As you have read in Dales message to the membership, a number of new ingredients have been thrown into the pot. As I have stated many times I have had a wonderful working relationship with the Glover family (our landlords).

They respect me and I respect them. For forty-one years I have paid the rent on time and turned an old house and parking garage into a major destination for magicians throughout the world. Now they have expressed concerns about the aging of the club. In part to deal with this issue, I suggested a concept wherein the AMA would become the tenant and lease the building directly from the landlords.

I felt we were getting along very well in our negotiations until we were notified, on January 8, 2004, that the landlord had made a new partnership agreement with a group of business orientated magicians which we believe would result in them assuming control of the Castle. This group had been dealing with the landlords without our knowledge and we still do not know much of the details of their agreements with the Glovers or what they propose to do. Obviously I was upset with the underhanded way this was done. Under the arrangement we think may under consideration by the landlords, the entire food, beverage and entertainment operations would be turned over to this new group. They, in effect, would own the building, run the operation and the AMA would have space for club activities. Their announced goal is to increase the quality of the food, beverage and entertainment functions. Sadly, in my opinion, we would lose the funky old club, nutty but very loyal employees, always complaining magicians and the old world charm that we have today Its much more than a physical building, the Castle is a magical place of which I am very proud.

As much as I love this wonderful old house we may have to face the fact that the commercial value of the property may have made it impractical for a club like ours to exist in our present location. I have been looking at other potential locations, all in Hollywood and all fascinating properties.

All, I might add, would love to have the Magic Castle as a tenant. Time will tell.

While I remain the worlds greatest optimist, I must now put many Castle projects on hold and investigate the alternatives. We won't know anything concrete for at least several weeks, and when we do know what is going to happen, appropriate announcements will be made. Thanks for a great forty-one years and heres to a great future.

Milt
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Postby Bizzaro » 01/21/04 02:55 AM

Every dark cloud has a silver lining but the brighter the picture the darker the negative.

We shall see...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/21/04 08:21 AM

Thanks, Whit, for bringing those messages from Dale and Milt to all the members of the Forum. We now have some detailed statements from both sides, however much is still unknown. Hopefully a clearer picture will emerge in the coming weeks.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 10:41 AM

It may not even get that far, that the membership will even have a vote. It is possible that the Board and Milt will have to make a decision to stay or go first.

The changes to the by-laws, BOD, etc. are being required by the Castle Partners, so they will only be relevant if the BOD decides to stay.

If Milt decides to leave, I strongly suspect, and certainly hope, that the AMA will go with him to open up a new clubhouse in the Hollywood area.

I am not only ready to move, I think it is essential for the future survival and continued growth of the AMA. We need room to improve member services, and to dream new things.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 11:06 AM

If y'all move I'll make a special trip to LA just to support the club.
Steve V <---has wand, will travel
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Postby Steve Bryant » 01/21/04 12:01 PM

Hey, move it to Las Vegas, where more of us could afford to move.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 02:03 PM

Landlords suck. I'd say it's time for a move. Even though I have LOTS of fond memories from the current location of the Castle, there's no reason that great things can't happen in a new and improved Magic Castle. Let's buy some property so we won't have to deal with any more red-haired, 28 year old, greedy step children ever again.

I wonder if guys like Copperfield, Lance Burton, and Siegfried and Roy would be willing to donate to the cause. They probably wouldn't miss a couple million dollars. :D
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/21/04 03:11 PM

Marrs, part of your post was just nasty and stupid.
Being red-haired has nothing to do with it.
Being 28 years old has nothing to do with it.
Being a step child has nothing to do with it.
Being greedy MAY have something to do with it, or not, depending upon what the facts really are.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 04:55 PM

Richard is right on this, and I think it is important. All of the people involved are--I am convinced--sincerely concerned about the fate of the Academy of Magical Arts. I know that Peter Reveen, the Glover family, and Diana Zimmerman all truly care about what happens to the Castle.

We can criticize or argue about the methods used, and whether there might have been more open ways to go about this, but even that is really pointless now. It is history.

The real question, and the only important one, is what is the best thing for the Castle in the long run?

Each of the parties involved have their own ideas of what the Castle is, and what it should be, and what is the best for it in the long run.

Let's talk about that.

Personally, I know what Bill and Milt's vision was and is, and I trust Milt to value and protect that. If he finally reaches an agreement with the Castle Partners, that satisfies him, I will go along with that.

I am not really sure what the Castle Partners see as their vision of what the Magic Castle and the Academy of Magical Arts should be. I would love to hear something from them on that, like a mission statement.

What I have heard so far, strikes me as a new and different direction for the Castle, one that I don't think I want to follow.

I can disagree with the Castle Partners, and fight for a different idea without name-calling or blame-finding. That is the way Milt is handling all this, and I think Richard is exactly right in calling us to such a standard.
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Postby Guest » 01/21/04 08:43 PM

In an effort to provide more information as requested by so many, here is our Mission Statement. We created it in our first meeting and it reflects our vision. Protocol dictates that we share information directly with Milt and the BOD.

It is our hope that as we communicate with them, they will communicate with you. Our next meeeting with Milt and representatives of the BOD is scheduled for tomorrow evening.


Castle Partners, LLC

Mission Statement

To ensure a sound, financially prosperous future for The Magic Castle and The AMA that will:

Revitalize the reputation of the Club to its former elite glory and luster; allow it to step into today; and preserve the integrity of the original dream created by Milt, Bill and Irene Larsen and their father, Bill Larsen, Sr.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/21/04 09:56 PM

Can you address the comment heard that you want to change the Magic Castle to a disco type club?
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Postby Steve V » 01/21/04 10:33 PM

I just wonder how much they think it will cost them to pay off Milt to let them use the name, keep the material in place, and to make magicians think they did a good thing by Milt....if there is a price.
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Postby Guest » 01/22/04 12:54 AM

Richard, first of all, when I first heard the rumors that the Castle was perhaps in trouble due to a 28 year old step child's POSSIBLE greed, the common expression "treated like a red-haired step child at a family reunion" just popped into my head. Due to the apparent secretive way that things are being handled at my club (I am a dues paying member afterall), I'm starting to feel like the "red-haired step child" myself. I meant no undue disrespect by the combination of various pieces of information in my post. I don't know, nor care, what color hair the Glover child has or anything else about him.

Secondly, I wasn't referring to the Glover step child anyways. It's difficult, thanks to the way folks are dispersng information, to distinguish between facts and rumors. For all I know, the Glovers may not even have a step child.

I tried to express my feelings that getting away from ANY individual (especially a greedy one) who is in the position of placing personal financial gain over the well-being of a nonprofit organization's members would be a good thing.

So far most of what we, as MEMBERS, have been given as far as factual information has been extremely limited. This is especially disconcerting seeing how it looks like, if the rumors are true, the "hostile takeover" of the Castle has been planned for quite some time now. Things like this don't just pop up overnight.

Finally, if the mission statement's "financially prosperous" means that we'll be able to improve on a place that Dai Vernon called his home, then fine. But, if this means that the Castle is going to go through a revitalization like the one that Los Angeles' historic Farmer's Market (at 3rd and Fairfax) recently went through, then you can keep it. I want no part in a "Private Club" where the only thing that matters is the bottom line.

P.S. For what it's worth, for the first time ever, I recently noticed some "tagging" (graffiti) on some of the surfaces in the Castle, such as in the restrooms. Is this a coincidence, or is this because members are now giving out passes to folks who don't belong in the Castle? Are members giving out passes to undeserving individuals due to the constant reminders by the BOD in the newsletters that we've got to raise more money to keep the Castle alive since, for the first time in 40 years, we now have to pay rent in addition to a percentage of the food and beverage sales? Is this the direction we're heading?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/22/04 08:37 AM

Please don't get the two things which compose The Magic Castle confused.
The Academy of Magical Arts is a non-profit organization.
The Magic Castle is NOT a non-profit! It makes money for Milt Larsen. It appears that the Glover family seems to feel that they haven't been getting their fair share of that profit. That seems to be what has precipitated this.
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Postby Guest » 01/22/04 10:02 AM

Well then, it looks like we have a conflict of interest by having a non-profit club and a for profit business under the same roof.

Despite this conflict the Castle seems to have done just fine over the last forty years. It's too bad that we can't just leave well enough alone. I guess that the days of conducting business over a gentleman's handshake are long gone. :(
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/22/04 03:48 PM

Sorry, David, but the Glover family owns the land and building: THEY "hold the cards," to use your expression.
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Postby Guest » 01/22/04 07:06 PM

Here are some of my thoughts on the current situation that I have also expressed on the Magic Castle Forum:

I have been delighted at the tone of the discussions on the Castle Forum as well as on Genii. There has been little name-calling, blame-throwing, rancor, or hostility expressed, especially considering the deep divides we may have on these issues, as well as the deep feelings all of us share both for the Magic Castle and for the RB Lane Mansion.

This is great, and I hope we keep it this way as the controversy heats up. This is just business, after all. Keeping personalities, personal histories, and emotions out of the mix are important, otherwise rash actions and words might produce unhappy results for everyone.

There is only one question that I think we members need to be debating, and that is what is best for the future of the AMA?

I am certain that everyone involved on all three sides has this in mind, and that we all love the Magic Castle equally. But we differ on what we believe is best for the club, and on our visions of what the club is supposed to be.

I have no doubt that the very talented group that make up the Castle Partners can do everything they say they want to do. I also believe Milt is capable of successfully rebuilding the Castle anew in another location.

Hopefully, something can be worked out among all the parties that will not cause a splintering of the membership of the AMA--that we should avoid for the sake of our own future as a club.

I only hope that the membership and the BOD recognize that both Milt and the Castle Partners need the AMA for their plans to be a success--neither side can create a new Magic Castle without us. This is very important.

The Board of Directors should not give up anything important to the future growth of the AMA, to our stated goals, or to the control of our own destiny.

We should use this as an opportunity to expand our autonomy and influence, not give it up.

Whatever deal we make, we should make sure it recognizes the importance of our organization in the success of any plan to build a "new" Magic Castle.

Now is the time for all members to start considering what the Magic Castle means to them, and what sort of future we want to see. We can have a voice in this discussion. Here is a good place to talk about it.

The main point I was trying to make is that the AMA is in a better bargaining position than it looked like at first glance. We need to sit back and count all our chips, and look at what is actually on the table carefully.

We own the library, as well as most of the stained glass, decorative items, furnishings, photos, paintings, magic collectables and memorabilia that decorate the place. All the phone numbers are ours. The domain name and website are ours as well. We also have the dues, loyalty, and customer base of our own membership. These are our bargaining chips.

Because of all these assets, both Milt and the Castle Partners need us for the success of whatever plans they may have together or separately. Neither can succeed easily without our acceptance and support. This gives us something to bargain with--we should try to extract the best possible deal for us.

The job of the Board is to look out for our interests. What are those interests?

I agree that the control of the entertainment and bookings is necessary for the club to maintain any control over the magic experience for our members and guests.

On the other hand, I can see why the Castle Partners would want a higher level of accountability on the bookings, and they naturally have an interest in how the dining guests are treated and accommodated.

I don't think it does much good to bandy around made-up figures, or to commit ourselves to any non-negotiable demands.

This is going to require compromise and co-operation from all three parties, and for our sakes, a BOD that takes a firm stand in negotiations looking after the interests of the members.

It is important for the members to talk about these long-term goals and interests, and the things we need the board to fight for in these negotiations, and to let the board know what we think and what we want on these forums.

I would like to see the BOD having control of the decor, the door, the entertainment, the showrooms, member benefits, and the house rules.

I also would like to see the AMA eventually become the owner of Milt's interests--Irma, the sinking stool, his portion of the furnishings and collectables, the ownership and all television and other rights to the trade name "Magic Castle," and to all the proceeds of the gift shop.

This would give us more independence and control over future situationssuch as the one we find ourselves in nowthat might arise.

Milt might be willing to lease these things to us with some eventual point in time at which they will then accrue to the AMA. I am sure Milt would be willing to discuss these things with the BoD.

We can talk about these, all the other things mentioned above, and any other possibilities that may come up among ourselves, and post them on the the Magic Castle Forum so the board will know what the members are thinking.

Those things which give us the most control over our club environment, the most security for our future, and contribute the most to our growing autonomy as a club--those are the things for which we should be encouraging our entire board to fight.

Whit Haydn
R-3959 AMA
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 01/23/04 06:55 AM

Rumors are indeed flying rampant. The last thing I heard was that the BOD and CP had already signed the papers and that the Castle will close on 2/1 to reopen afterwards as a public club. Existing waitstaff & bartenders gone, piano and stool to remain, and the deal is done. I certainly hope this rumor is dispelled quickly by the factual posts that I have seen here and on the Castle forum. The posts I see here indicate that the situation is still fluid. I'm checking here constantly to see any news. I want to have a factual answer ready when confronted with these rumors and rumors of rumors.

Man, I feel pretty helpless here in Atlanta just sitting around watching to see what happens...


JMT
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 01/23/04 09:36 AM

Originally posted by Joe M. Turner:
Rumors are indeed flying rampant. The last thing I heard was that the BOD and CP had already signed the papers and that the Castle will close on 2/1 to reopen afterwards as a public club.
I've only been to the Castle 5-10 times and have seriously considered joining as a non resident member. I sincerely hope that this rumour is incorrect. While I can see how opening the Castle as a public venue might increase overall revenue, I ask myself "At what cost?" If the Castle becomes a public venue, would visiting still mean as much to me personally? Likely not.

Of course, that's just my view, your mileage may vary.

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Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/04 10:38 AM

I will be at the Castle for lunch today and will try to find out what is really done or not done.

PRAY :help:
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 01/23/04 10:47 AM

Thanks, Pete. I hope you bring some good news!

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/23/04 10:48 AM

I have just contacted Dale Hindman and asked him the simple question brought up by Joe's post: will the Castle close on February 1.
Dale's response was that this is simply not true, and that negotiations between the board, Milt, and Castle Partners are ongoing.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/04 10:55 AM

The company I work for was sold in 1989. I came to work that morning and watched them take our sign down and put up a new one with the name of the company that bought us (a great company by the way), went into my office and read about the sale in the SF Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury, and the Wall Street Journal. My director came in and not only denied that we had been sold but denied that we were even being looked at to be purchased. He had not yet been officially told he could admit not only the obvious but the truth. So much for what anyone tells you.....
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Postby Jeff Eline » 01/23/04 10:58 AM

I'm not a member, so I hope you don't mind of I ask this...

Whit, what does "...higher level of accountability on the bookings." mean? Have there been problems with bookings?

And "...interest in how the dining guests are treated and accommodated." Again, has there been problems in this area?

Also, who are the Castle Partners? Are they members? Long standing members?

Thank you,
Jeff
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Postby Guest » 01/23/04 12:21 PM

Just thought I would make a couple of observations.

First, Tom Glover states that the lease terms have been the same for 40 years: a percentage of gross sales of food and beverages at the Castle. When offered a higher percentage, the landlords declined. It is certainly understandable for the landlords to wish to optimize those revenues by providing a higher quality product an services. It also appears that Mr. Larsen does not want an upscale restaurant for fear of the loss the funky old club charm.

Second, one of the seemingly unfair principles of real property law is that while personal property like paintings, furniture, drapes, etc. remain the property of the tenant, fixtures wood paneling, the bar, stained glass windows, wall-to-wall carpeting, etc. even if installed by the tenant at the tenants expense, become part of the real property. That means that all of the improvements to the building and grounds will be surrendered to the landlord at the end of the lease. Now, there may be other factors at play here (e.g., local laws, express agreements, etc.) that lead to the conclusion that the AMA and Milt together own the . . . stained glass, the antique tin ceilings, the moldings, the wood paneling, the carpets, the decorative columns, even the lighting fixtures, we should not be so sure that that is so.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/04 12:35 PM

Re: Opus question about fixtures. I owned several California businesses. CA code used to cover this question in the following way: If the improvements were permanent they stayed when the tenant moved, if they were not permanent then they belonged to the tenant and could be taken upon vacancy. Permanent had several definitions, one of which was (for instance): If the fixture was nailed to the wall, it was permanent, if it was attached to the wall by screws, it was removable! How's that for screwy (pun intended...)!

So, the point is, Opus may be correct, that the waters are murky regarding ownership of things like the tin ceilings, columns, etc. Even the Bar Stool, if consider a "permanent" installation, may revert to the landlord, not the tenant...

Best, PSC
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