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.