Philippe Petit or David Blaine?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 04/28/06 11:06 PM

I have never been to New York, except for a stop-over at La Guardia on the way home from Europe during the '70s.

I admit it, that's pitiful. :(

I CAN tell you where I WOULD go if I'm ever in that town: #1 (of course) The Statue of Liberty; then straight-away to the Waldorf for Mr. Cohen's Chamber Magic, "21", Tannen's, the Walter Scott statue in Central Park...Look, my birthday is the same day as Frank Sinatra's, get it?

But I've had to live in California most of my life. I admit, it has been brutal. :cool:

Since I was a kid in the '70s, the images of Philippe Petit tight-rope-walking between the brand-new towers of the World Trade Center have been etched in my mind.

To this day, I honestly STILL can't fathom the YOU KNOW WHAT it must have taken to, not ONLY sneak onto the site WAY-the-Hell up there; but, rig the rope; then actually step out on that wire, let alone stroll back and forth, recline for a snooze, etc...Are you kidding me? :eek:

30 years, and the horrendous destruction of the Twin Towers later, make the fact that "some guy" snatched that moment, all the MORE incredible.

As one with a fear of heights (when somebody ELSE is working on a roof I get panicky)I was recently struck, in the build-up to Mr. Blaine's latest stunt, by the poster for his previous performance, "Vertigo". The view is looking down, from over his shoulder, to the crowd far below: the sky-line looking very small...I was reminded of Mr. Petit.

Imagine what it must have taken to hop out on that little platform WAY up there; not to mention the endurance of not moving for a day and a half.
Imagine the "swirling sea of humanity" so damned far below you...
After conquering your fear of being up there for just one second, be sure not to take too deep a breath, and get a little head-rush, 'cause you've got to stand up there for over thirty hours! --After which, we won't be gently-lowering you down, you have to leap off and plummet for a bit--O.K.?

What was it like being in New York during those times?
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Postby Brian Marks » 04/29/06 10:43 PM

Well TImes Square wasn't so Disney back than.

I think nobody was picking the trash up.

The mob actually meant something.
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Postby Matthew Field » 04/30/06 03:40 AM

A somewhat related anecdote: I worked in radio for more than 25 years and in the '80s was the General Manager of a commercial classical music station (WNCN, now long gone) and for a year was chairman of the New York Market commercial radio trade group.

When the World Trade Center was built it cast a radio 'shadow' for the FM and television stations whose transmitters and antennas were atop the Empire State Building. The owners of the Trade Center wanted the FM stations to join the TV stations who had already moved to the Center, but that would cost the stations money, so there was resistance. They invited me to a meeting to pitch their plan.

We met over lunch at the famous Windows on the World restaurant (work, work, work!), nd then as we adjourned the fellow I was meeting with led me to a small door. Windows was on the top floor of the Center. The door led to a staircase that headed up. When he opened the door at the top we were on the roof of the World Trade Center!

I don't like heights. I get nervous standing on a chair. Here we were on the roof of the tallest buidling in New York, which had a slope away from the center (I guess so rain would drain off) and there was a very short fence around the perimiter -- I recall it as two-feet high, although that might have been an illusion because my eyes were watering so much.

The man I was with was expounding on how great the FM signals would be from way up there, look how far you can see, etcetera. All I could hear was my heart pounding. I thanked him and headed for that wonderful door to the stairs back down.

As I was up there I thought of Philippe Petit and what he must have been going through, walking on that wire. There was another fellow who walked up the side of one of the towers, whose name escapes me.

The FM stations did eventually move to the Trade Center, which forced them all off air (or to auxiliary transmitter sites) when the planes hit.

Ah, show business.

Matt Field
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Postby Guest » 04/30/06 06:18 AM

Matt, I got the same rumbly tumbly feeling reading your post that I got watching the last 20 minutes of Peter Jackson's King Kong! -Mitch Dutton
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Postby Guest » 04/30/06 10:33 AM

Mathew...they couldn't have gotten me into one of those bldgs with a gun. The tallest building I have been in was 16 floors and that was 14 floors too high for me.
Steve V
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Postby Guest » 05/01/06 08:49 PM

When I was just a kid in the early 70s, my family often took a Saturday night stroll around the Greenwich Village area. There was always something to do or see -- street performers, book sales, ice cream shops, etc. The best street performer we ever saw was Petit - I remember him working on a unicycle and doing some mindblowing pickpocket effects. At the time, people knew him as "that guy who walked between the Twin Towers." His street act was astounding. He had a reputation for being the one of the hottest street performer in NYC -- though there was a rumor that his main competitor was Robin Williams (who had just hit it big).

Having witnessed, firsthand, the destruction of the World Trade Center some three decades later, the memory of watching Petit perform on that warm summer night has become particularly important to me.

Gary Brown
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