Phantoms at the Card Table

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

Postby El Mystico » 06/03/03 10:21 AM

No one seems to be talking about this book - is it because it is only available in the UK?
A wonderful read - the story of Walter Scott, a history of cheating at cards, a sideline on Vernon, and tips on secobds and bottom dealing...unmissable!
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Postby Richard Hatch » 06/03/03 10:56 AM

The book is available currently from several dealers in the USA (including H & R Magic Books, though we are restocking, copies expected back in stock later this week). My guess is that it is still too new and not yet widely enough distributed to have generated much discussion. I agree that it is a terrific read. However, I was disappointed by the many factual errors in the chapter on Erdnase.
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Postby James Foster » 06/17/03 01:50 PM

As Richard points out, this book does have its scholarly shortcomings. More specifically, I would have liked to have seen more detailed documentation/comparison/refutation of existing published theories within both the Erdnase chapter as well as the material dealing with Scott's infamous demonstrations in New York.

However, the book does present Scott in Scott's words (as, I assume, taped by Gazzo). This is very interesting and valuable documentation. More importantly, the book inspires the reader to pick up the cards and continue to work on false dealing. Late last night, as I finished the book, I already had the cards out, alongside McGuire's original text, Laurie Ireland's "Lessons in Dishonesty" (what a great little booklet), "The Man Who Was Erdnase", and Ortiz's "The Annotated Erdnase".

Enjoy the read...

James
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/17/03 06:18 PM

Most of the books, particularly ones supposedly historical, usually suffer from a lack of true scholarship. There are a few exceptions (such as the work by Richard Hatch and Reinhard Mueller), but part of the problem is the paucity of documentation and other kinds of concrete evidence. Most stuff is buried or unavailable. I've talked to many professional biographers and have read books on how to conduct rigorous research and subsequent analysis. Trust me; the stuff in magicdom--including puff-pieces and articles--are deficient.

On the other hand, we have a curious oral tradition where all kinds of testimony passes muster with few challenges. Someone makes passionate utterances and their "word" is accepted. (Example: The "fiction" that Marlo pinched most, if not all of the ideas, he published in ESTIMATION from Steranko's unpublished book, THE ULTIMATE MOVE, is now a tenet of a consensual hallucination.) Also, most of the utterances of Dai Vernon, particularly since he was revered and beloved by many, were seldom challenged or tested or researched for their veracity.

Lately I've had a protracted time to closely examine much of Marlo's private papers, which offer many insights into what REALLY happened or where things originated. Marlo left a definite, large body of evidence.

Vernon, by comparison, left little. Most of his books, especially the great, enduring ones, were written by OTHERS.

David Britland's latest book on Walter Scott is a wonderful read and he was more conscientious than most in trying to "get things right."

Meanwhile, I hope there are budding scholars out there who will finally write definitive books on our famous celebrities, teachers, and performers.

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 06/17/03 08:07 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
(Example: The "fiction" that Marlo pinched most, if not all of the ideas, he published in ESTIMATION from Steranko's unpublished book, THE ULTIMATE MOVE, is now a tenet of a consensual hallucination.) Also, most of the utterances of Dai Vernon, particularly since he was revered and beloved by many, were seldom challenged or tested or researched for their veracity.

Lately I've had a protracted time to closely examine much of Marlo's private papers, which offer many insights into what REALLY happened or where things originated. Marlo left a definite, large body of evidence.

Vernon, by comparison, left little. Most of his books, especially the great, enduring ones, were written by OTHERS.
Oh Boy. Here we go. Jon, that was a great "Chicago Opener". Much implied, zero proved (or even plainly stated). Since you've just slung a raftload of insinuations and unverifiable, non-specific mud at Vernon without making a single particular or factually verifiable claim, mind if I ask you to clarify your statement?

FWIW, I'm a fan of both Marlo and Vernon, and of your contributions as well. But I'm very, very surprised to hear this sort of crap coming out of you.

Please, be more specific.

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/17/03 08:55 PM

I don't think he flung anything at Vernon other than the statement that Vernon didn't record his own material--that was left to others. Marlo kept his own assiduous records.
I thought Jon's phrasing was rather careful: of course it's true that Marlo did not filch all of the material in the Estimation booklet from Steranko's unpublished book, since Steranko's unpublished book contains only a limited number of items using estimation. The question is, how much of the material which DOES appear in Steranko's unpublished book LATER appears in Marlo's book? A side by side comparison is required.
It shouldn't be too hard since there are a number of bootlegs of the Steranko book out there.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/03 10:58 PM

I've known Gazzo a looooong time.

We met busking in Key West in '87.

I introduced him to Jim Krenz which resulted in his first for-magicians lecture at Magic Inc. (I videotaped the lecture, and have the only...as far as I know...shot-from-overhead tapes of his card work.)

If he tells you Walter Scott said such-and-such, or advocated this-or-that, then he did. Period. Gazzo was his apprentice in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and holds his memory sacred.

For all I know, he may be lying his ass off in the entire rest of the book, but the Scott stuff is pure.

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Postby James Foster » 06/18/03 05:46 AM

Originally posted by KevinBurke:
I've known Gazzo a looooong time.

We met busking in Key West in '87.

I introduced him to Jim Krenz which resulted in his first for-magicians lecture at Magic Inc. (I videotaped the lecture, and have the only...as far as I know...shot-from-overhead tapes of his card work.)

If he tells you Walter Scott said such-and-such, or advocated this-or-that, then he did. Period. Gazzo was his apprentice in the old-fashioned sense of the word, and holds his memory sacred.

For all I know, he may be lying his ass off in the entire rest of the book, but the Scott stuff is pure.

Kevin Burke
Hi Kevin. I certainly wasn't implying any falsehoods on Gazzo's part. In fact, his recollections of his encounters with Scott as well as the technical information he conveys regarding his false deals and edge work are commendable.

However, the book does illustrate some of the shortcomings and, as Jon pointed out, difficulties of developing and presenting verifiable histories of close-up conjuring.

Thanks for your comments.

Regards,

James
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/18/03 09:36 AM

Yes, sometimes statements DO require nit-picked clarifications. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

First, let me make it crystal-clear: I'm a fervent student and fan of Vernon's work and every time I was in the Professor's company, he was civil, interesting, funny, and...well...professorial in an almost legendary way.

My recent comments were to simply (or not so simply) point out that over the past forty years I've never seen much evidence or documentation for many of the claims made by Vernon's "seconds." That being said, in my limited experience, I never heard Vernon claim ANYTHING.

My task is not to sling mud or besmirch, but to discover and verify.

BTW, I also respect most of Steranko's work. I cut my teeth on his first book. What puzzles me, however, is the circumstances surrounding Steranko's vociferous condemnation and loathing of Marlo--a man he met only once for a few hours. What the heck happened? What warrants such strong emotions?

Of course I've received open and anonymous "hostile threats" in the past because I publicly said that I did not like a certain book and when I ridiculed somebody's pet method for doing a card trick (such as Buzz Bee's "Back to Back").

Go figure...

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 06/18/03 02:36 PM

Jon,

Ok, on looking back, (and before you clarified your statement) I think I might have been a little quick on the draw. the comments seemed to me to imply (just imply, and that's what got my dander up since there's been so much of that in the apparently endless Marlo vs. Vernon mishegoss) that Vernon's claims or claims made in his behalf were specious, and that Marlo's claims would eventually vindicate him as being what he and his crew thought he was.

In another context I said to someone that when you consider the amount of magical information that was swirling around and made its way through these men's heads over the course of their lives, the idea that either of them, or anyone else for that matter, could keep every bit of it straight is a little nuts. That being said, I would guess that Vernon's apparent lack of interest in "the published record" (as opposed to Marlo, who was obviously very interested) kind of predisposes me to trust him more, for lack of a better way to put it. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with wanting your contributions recognized and acknowledged. What to do?

Anyway, I apologize if I was rude. I have a lot of respect for you, Jon. I've just been watching the Marlo vs. Vernon heavyweight bout for so long at this point that I get a bit twitchy when I think one of them has been awarded a unearned point.

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Gary » 06/18/03 07:30 PM

Getting back to the topic on hand.....

Here is a letter from a Mr. Don Romano..aka Eddie McGuire, to Charlie Miller. I think this letter will give some insite into Eddie McGuire. I have Eddie's letter to T. Nelson downs that includes his "hit list of magicians". If there is any interest I will include it later. Mrs. Frank Duffy was Eddie McGuires sister. Pay particular attention to the LAST paragraph....

Gary Plants

This letter was written on a letterhead from the Providence Biltmore in
Providence, R.I.


Address:
c/o Mrs. Frank Duffy
84 Elmdale Avenue
Providence, R.I.
March 3rd, 1936

Dear Mr. Miller:

I was in New York a short time ago, and met Dai Vernon.
During our several sessions together, he mentioned your name and how
greatly interested you were in cards especially card sharping. I am
greatly interested along this line, and I trust you will pardon the
liberty I am taking of writing you.

Before I met Dai Vernon, your name and address was
familiar to me thru a rather peculiar incident. A friend of mine
received a letter from a fellow at Scarsdale, New York, offering to
sell some of Walter Scott's exclusive ideas. The price asked was too
large to suit my friend so he turned over the letter to me. I was
greatly interested in the Scott manuscripts because a short time ago
during the racing season when the Narragansett track here was open I
met Scott at the Dreyfus Hotel in Providence. A fellow named McGuire
was with Scott at that time. I recognized McGuire as a performer I
saw at the Tic Toc Club in the Park Central Hotel, recognized him
as the performer just mentioned, and being a magic fan myself walked
up and introduced myself. I became very well acquainted with McGuire,
and thru him met Scott - a very hard fellow to meet, and much harder to
have him show you anything with cards. In fact, if it had not been for
McGuire, I would have never seen this genius work because he is
a genius with cards and no mistake. Positively the greatest card worker
I ever saw or ever hope to see - I can't see how it would be possible
for a human being to be any better.

Well, I called on this fellow at Scarsdale in the hope
of buying the manuscripts for a smaller sum than he asked - he wanted
$100, I believe. When I talked with him he refused to sell for any
price. It seems that McGuire had just called on him and threatened to
have him arrested - these manuscripts had been stolen from McGuire's
room in New York and sold to the fellow at Scarsdale, and the fellow
at Scarsdale had been trying to sell them to different addresses he
had found among the manuscripts of persons who were interested in this
sort of material. Now, perhaps I did not do the right thing, but
I wanted those manuscripts of the worst kind as I sure was interested
having seen Scott work. The fellow at Scarsdale admitted he had kept
a copy but gave the originals back to McGuire. He was really scared
and said he did not want to get into any trouble, but intended to keep
the copy for his own use. Finally, I prevailed upon him to sell me
the copy for $75 after making several promises to him. I found your
name and address with the manuscript.

I just arrived here from Miami Beach where I lost plenty
on the races. Am trying to raise a few dollars, and the thought came
to me that I might be able to sell these manuscripts to three or four
persons, in fact, I doubt if I could sell them to more than this
number because all I have is exactly four names and addresses of
persons who might be interested - Dai Vernon, yourself, Zingone, John
Scarne.
I'll let you have a copy of the manuscripts for only Ten
Dollars which is a bargain. If you are at all interested in card
table work you will congratulate yourself upon obtaining these
manuscripts for such a rediculously low price. If you want them, it
will cost me about three dollars to have them typewritten by a
stenographer - so you see I'm not making much financially. If I did
not need the money so badly, I would not think of selling them as I
wish to keep them exclusive and prize them highly. The complete
collection of the Scott manuscripts are in the lost - his complete
description of his master second deal; his slick ace formula which
Cardini says is the greatest ever originated; his Bottom Deal; his
Blindfold Deal, and etc.

I might mention if you are interested in magic that Howard
Thurston is at Miami Beach recovering from his recent illness.

If interested in the above may I hear from you at
once.

New Years Eve I went by the Miami Paramount Theatre and I saw
a magician billed as Cortez presenting "A Fantasy In Cigarettes" - went
in - who walked out on the stage but McGuire. Later in the evening I
saw him work at the Floridian Hotel, and as I made the rounds of the
night clubs he seemed to follow me and I saw him work at the Royal
Palm Club and the Roney Plaza Hotel - he must have earned plenty New
Year's Eve. Saw his act four times in one evening and it was well
worth seeing that number of times - best cigarette act I ever saw.
During his act he must produce over 100 lit cigarettes - produces them
by the handfull all lit and burning - a fine act.

Sincerely yours,

Don Romano

Address:
c/o Mrs. Frank Duffy
84 Elmdale Ave.,
Providence, R.I.
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Postby James Foster » 06/19/03 05:44 AM

Gary,

I speak for many when I thank you for posting this letter. It certainly adds to the case for McGuire being a 'slight bit nutty' and very manipulative. Is he really writing under psuedonym (Romano) about seeing himself (McGuire) doing an act under a stage name (Cortez)?!

I, for one, would be most interested in hearing about the Downs letter you reference. Thanks again.

James
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Postby Pete McCabe » 06/19/03 09:48 AM

If nothing else, Gary's letter proves that the idea of pretending to be someone else so you can write positive things about yourself did not originate here on the Genii forum.
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Postby Gary » 06/19/03 12:36 PM

James,

McGuire was certainly a "shifty" kind of guy. He apparently wrote to many magicians trying to sell the manuscript. The letter to Downs is quite long but I will sit down and type it out asap....
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Postby Gary » 06/19/03 03:39 PM

Here is the Hit List letter from Eddie McGuire to T. Melson Downs:

10 Ellison St.
Artic, R.I.
June 17, 1926

My Dear Mr. Downs:

Just arrived back here from New York - came home about two weeks sooner than I expected. The reason that I'm back sooner than I expected is that I found out that I was not going about this matter of getting magical information and the pet effects of the various performers in the right way. Have been trying to do too many things at once or see too many persons at the same time, and the result was that I was not accomplishing much. I have come to the conclusion that the best way to go about getting the above information is to "get-in" with each of these performers one at a time - get all I can from this person and then go to the next. In New York, I was trying to see several parties the same day, spending a few minutes with each, hurrying away to keep an appointment with the next and never accomplishing anything really worth while. So I'm going to try and "get-in" and obtain the confidence of each of the fellows that you and I want to "get-next" too and obtain some unusual stuff.

Malini is my first objective. The reason Malini is my first objective is that no less than an authority in the person of Horowitz says, "Malini is the greatest of them all". Perhaps Horowitz is wrong - no doubt, he is - but, Malini has some good stuff. The reason I'm back here is that Malini goes to Newport on Friday for the summer - and I also go to Newport on Friday.

After Malini will come Horowitz, Manuel, Dai Vernon and the rest and as I have been introduced to these persons and the ice is sort of broken the sailing will be easier. Of course, you are to receive any good stuff that I get hold of - you will be the only person that I'll pass this along to.

Tuesday evening in New York was spent at the home of Sam Horowitz at Jersey City. He has got a lot of novel, new ideas and I think I may be able to get them later including the effect that you want. He would only present an effect once for me and it's hard sometimes to "get" an effect when you only see it once. As soon as I'm thru with Malini I'm going to New York again to see Horowitz and I think I may be able to get some of his stuff. He used to be a good fellow, so I'm told, but is now kind of "up-stage" and has a slight touch of "swell-head", due to the fact that he is complimented so much by magicians on his skill. But he is not making any money from his magic, - I got this from his wife - his wife is disgusted, says he has only made $25 or $30 dollars from magic during the entire time he has devoted to it - on the other hand Horowitz blows about the number of dates he works - but his wife let the cat out of the bag to me.

Another reason why Malini is my first objective is that Newport is near here and I can go back and forth very easy.

So I'm going after Horowitz later, after Malini.

Was introduced to Vernon, but never got a good opportunity to have a heart to heart talk with him. He is cutting out silhouettes in a store around 59th street and Broadway. I understand this is his living - if he depended upon magic he would starve. Every time I called around to see him he was very busy, and I did not want to interrupt him in his livelihood. But, as I have already met him, it will be easier to talk with him the next time I see him n New York.

Elbert Morey is no longer registered a tthe Elks. I called many times trying to locate him. Also, tried to locate him at his girl's place, but never could get and answer to my ring. I'm writing him to tell him that I called and perhaps I can get his correct address. As I stated before I will be in New York again shortly, and by that time I will have his correct address and possibly will have no difficulty in seeing him.

Manuel was very busy around New York inverviewing the agents, and I never got an opportunity to talk to him. Was introduced to him that is all. Understand that he is coming to Boston, Mass., soon and if he does I will make a spcecial tricp to Boston to see him. As I stated before he has one or two wonderful moves, but they are very unnatural, and he makes a terrible hard job out of them.

Had a nice talk with Max Holden, and am neeting him shortly in Boston - his home. He is a great admirer of you. In fact all the New York magicians are great admirers of you, and they speak very highly of you.

As you can see from the above that on the whole I did not have very good luck in locating the various parties that I intended to look up, but better luck next time. The only one I have really connected with is Malini. To show you how I stand in with him just a few moments ago I received the following telegram from New York City - "Will arrive Newprot Friday stopping Nuenchinger King Hotel. Max Malini." Have been to see Malini at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, have gone the rounds of the various saloon with him, and sort of paled with him, and I'm sure I'll have some good stuff to send you. I'll tell you how I got in with him later.

Please do not breath to a living soul the methods I am using to get some of these performers best stuff. Malini thinks I'm a rank amaueur, and I'm letting him think so.

Malini thinks a geat deal of you. In fact, when I see him in Newport I am to write a letter to you offering you some sort of a proposition with him. Will remind him about this when I see him, and will get the letter off to you.

By the way, I forgot to tell you that I caught Allan Shaw's act on my way back home. Did not have the time to call on him as I had to catch the next train out - was greatly dissapointed in his work - expecially after seeing your work. Perhaps, if I had seen Shaw's act before I ever saw your work, I might have liked it better. Shaw seems to work in a sort of a half-hearted manner. This was the first time I ever saw Shaw's act. Under separate cover am sending you Shaw's letters. I intended to return these after I had read them, but never to the opportunity to look them over until today. Also, am returning Max Holden's letter which I have gone over carefully. You may want to answer this letter so I am sending it along.


TO BE CONTINUED..............
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Postby mark » 06/19/03 09:57 PM

Gary, thank you so much for your efforts in transcribing this correspondence. The is little chance that most of us would ever have an opportunity to read such magical history - the stuff we little people get access to is pretty much sanitized for public consumption. I appreciate all the effort to type up the letters, and would invite any of you historical heavy hitters to share what you feel comfortable sharing. Not inciting any wars, riots, or being a public nuisance, just a history buff trying to be a magic history buff.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/03 10:46 PM

The book is a wonderfu read, as I posted on Magic Cafe Forum. It is however, the most grammatically incorrect item of any sort that I have ever seen in print. Is this just Gallo speaking and somene writing it down; no editing? Britland signed off on this street grammar/language? It DOES, unfortuntely, get in the way.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/03 10:56 PM

Jon;
Steranko was here at Marc DeSouza's 30 seat theatre-in-the-basement and he told me that he dropped out of magic because Marlo stole all his stuff and when he tried to get credit for it ran into besmirchments of all kinds. It was just so terribly disheartening he gave up. He is a warm fellow, fantastically gifted as a comic-book artist, a dramatic presence, I think still angry but hey, as a Clinical Psychologist I can assure you, better angry than Depressed.
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Postby pduffie » 06/20/03 02:45 AM

Marty Kaplan said:

"It is however, the most grammatically incorrect item of any sort that I have ever seen in print. Is this just Gallo speaking and somene writing it down; no editing?"

I have just finished reading this excellent book and found no bad grammar. I think you have failed to spot the 'single quotation marks' that are prevalent throughout the book. Mr. Britland tells us at the start of the book that he worked from audio tapes received from Gazzo (not Gallo). These tapes contained interviews between Gazzo and Walter Scott. Quotations, by their very nature, must be transcribed verbatim. If one edits a quotation it can no longer be deemed true and, therefore, becomes a paraphrase (meaning: in other words). For Mr. Britland to have paraphrased the words of Scott and Gazzo, just to make the text grammatically correct, would have been disastrous in a book of this nature.

This is the most informative and entertaining book I've read in years. The book arrived in the mail yesterday and I finished reading it this morning. I couldn't put it down.

Best Wishes

Peter
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/20/03 02:52 AM

One of the more famous Scottish poets was called Hugh MacDiarmid. His real name was Christopher Murray Grieve, but he thought it did not sound Scottish enough.

He would publish his poems as MacDiarmid, and then review them as CM Grieve, just so people knew what he was talking about.

I used to know his grandson, who told me this. And I'm not going to fix the grammatical error above as the correct version is almost unreadable :)

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 06/20/03 07:50 AM

BTW, I also respect most of Steranko's work. I cut my teeth on his first book. What puzzles me, however, is the circumstances surrounding Steranko's vociferous condemnation and loathing of Marlo--a man he met only once for a few hours. What the heck happened? What warrants such strong emotions?
In a related story, Johnny Cochran remains puzzled by Fred Goldman's vociferous condemnation and loathing of O.J. -- a man he met only once in court after the savage slaying of his son. What the heck happened? What warrants such strong emotions? :rolleyes:

While Steranko's is clearly the lesser injury, it should still be obvious why theft of intellectual property followed by an orchestrated effort by the thief's disciples to discredit the victim would provoke hostility and resentment.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/20/03 08:49 AM

One of the reasons that there is much confusion about situations like Steranko's is that so much more is said ABOUT the contentions than is said BY the principals. I've heard ever since I got serious about magic that Steranko, who once was clearly a force in the field (as he has been in comics and publishing, and just about everything else he has done), dropped out because someone stole his manuscript. Everything else is nebulous. What was THE ULTIMATE MOVE about? What were the circumstances of the "theft"? (and most importantly, if underground copies are so available, how do I get one :) ?)

I've learned more details about this situation from the Forum than anywhere else, but unfortunately, even this is second-hand and perhaps colored by the prejudices of those who report it.
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Postby Gary » 06/20/03 01:00 PM

"Lately I've had a protracted time to closely examine much of Marlo's private papers, which offer many insights into what REALLY happened or where things originated. Marlo left a definite, large body of evidence."

Jon,

It seems to me that you could use some of these "private papers" to at least give Marlo's side of the story. It is interesting to me that stories are told, for example, the Al Baker collusion story by Jeff Busby in the Palmetto book, but there is no evidence to that story? The only known article (which Busby read, but as far as I know does not have) is supposedly in Persi Diaconis's hands. So, everything is hearsay.

Now you say you have examined these "private papers" that explains what "really happened" (at least according to Marlo). Why not publish this evidence in some fashion so that Marlo's side of the story can be heard by the masses (or is it asses). I have heard Steranko's side (from Steranko, not hearsay) and he certainly seems to have some reason to be angry. How would you like to be waiting for your "Ultimate Move" to be published and then while visiting California have someone come up and show you a "copy" of the book...I won't mention whose name was on the cover of this copy!

It has also been said that Marlo never made a copy of the "Ultimate Move"....he let someone else copy it for him.

I have no idea what this has to do with the Phantom's of the Card Table book....
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Postby pduffie » 06/20/03 02:03 PM

Marlo's in the Phantoms at the Card Table!
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/20/03 02:17 PM

Gary, et all:

I plan to publish most of the private stuff from Marlo on my Website in the future. In THE LEGENDARY HIEROPHANT, I added an annotation regarding the Steranko business (pp. 141-145).

Leaking the unpublished Steranko book was a terrible, regrettable thing. Jay Marshall leaked it to Marlo, who, without reading it, leaked it to me. I leaked it to Roger Klause, who leaked it to Scotty York, who...

In the end, I took the heat and the blows...However, when I found out about it "getting out of hand," I telephoned Steranko and confessed my part, apologizing...I also published a PUBLIC apology in Kabbala...

Perhaps the best thing that could happen is for Steranko's book to be published?

Otherwise, the onus remains on me...

BTW, Gary, I appreciate the publication of the letters you've posted. Like I've said over and over, much of magicdom's most interesting "history" is buried in correspondence and private papers.

Onward...
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/20/03 02:33 PM

Re Ed Lopez's remark:

"While Steranko's is clearly the lesser injury, it should still be obvious why theft of intellectual property followed by an orchestrated effort by the thief's disciples to discredit the victim would provoke hostility and resentment."

First, there was not any theft of intellectual property. That is, nobody plagiarized anything from THE ULTIMATE MOVE.

Second, there was no "orchestrated effort" to discredit Steranko or his book. There were responses to ALLEGATIONS by Fulves (public), Liuso (anonymous), and others.

What EXACTLY is the nature of the "injury" that warrants Steranko to be THAT aggrieved?

What still puzzles me is why Steranko dropped out (of magic) rather than defend himself (at the time) and simply publish his book, along with his arguments, cogent and otherwise, on his behalf? (I'm told he has suffered greater injuries and mistreatment from colleagues in the Comic Book World.)

Also, why did he wait 30 years to finally vent his anger and then submit his one-sided "case" to a select group of magicians--doing so AFTER Marlo was dead and without any of the other principal parties present to rebut, debate, or concur?

Where is the evidence?
Why hasn't THE ULTIMATE MOVE been published?
Why hasn't Steranko pleaded his case to a larger audience?

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 06/20/03 02:49 PM

OK, here's the story as I witnessed it.

Back in '54, I was drinking with Hemingway in a little fisherman's cafe in Havana. We were having a grand time arguing over the Chicago Cub's new acquisitions, when in walks Steranko! (It seems he and Papa had been working on an illustrated edition of "To Have and Have Not" that was due out the next Spring.)

Steranko ordered up rum--neat--and showed us some pornographic cartoons he'd drawn involving Houdini and Conan-Doyle engaged in improbable, but nonetheless hilarious, "activities". Papa, with his usual brevity, took one look, laughed, and commented "[censored]!" as he signaled for another round.

Upon his return to our table, the waiter, a young net-mender named Manolo, stumbled over the leg of Steranko's chair and spilled a full shot of good Cuban rum down the front of Steranko's shirt. He mumbled an apology, but Steranko wasn't mollified. He called Manolo something unflattering in Spanish, whereupon Manolo bitch-slapped him with his towel. Hemingway, as usual, was itching for a fight, so he jumped up and laid the waiter out with one quick uppercut. He then sat down, drained his glass, and jotted down the outline of what was to become "A Moveable Feast" before passing out on the table. (THAT was a man!)

Fast-forward to the early 60's...In a steel mill in the suburbs of Chicago, Steranko was spending a few hours making sketches for a project he'd been working on, when a crane operator stepped down from his machine, walked over to Steranko, and said "Remember me?" through clenched teeth. "Should I?" asked the artist. Uttering an unflattering-yet-familiar Spanish phrase, the crane operator launched a devastating right cross directly at Steranko's chin. "MANO..." was all Steranko managed to blurt before the lights went out.

Dusting off his hands, the crane operator spit at Steranko's feet and returned to work. Yes, friends, that young net-mender from that Havana cafe sooooo long ago had escaped the rising tide of Communism, moved to Chicago, and changed his name to none other than...Ed Marlo!

...and now you know the REST of the story.

Burke
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Postby James Foster » 06/20/03 03:48 PM

Busby's "Secrets of the Palmettos" has been mentioned in this thread. I was re-reading the first few chapters last night and noticed that Busby mentions being contacted in 1990 regarding a book being written on the methods of Scott. This, I assume, is the now-published Gazzo book? Or are there yet more stories to be told?

The letter from McGuire which Gary kindly shared is informative. The more widely known correspondence between McGuire and Downs is dominated by letters from Downs to McGuire, with very little known (i.e. published) from McGuire to Downs. Thanks again, Gary.

As Gary points out, there are some stories (i.e. Al Baker's collusion in the Blindfold Poker Deal) presented in Busby's book which are difficult to verify without reference to any source material. Busby's book is entertaining and informative, but it has it share of selective history and speculation couched in Busby's distinctive style.

I'm enjoying this thread. Thanks to everyone who is reading and contributing.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/20/03 04:01 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
First, there was not any theft of intellectual property.
How could the unauthorized reproduction of an unpublished manuscript be anything but????
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/20/03 10:48 PM

To Bill:

The said property should be correctly copyrighted.
The "copy" must be sold and published under another name.
It also must be distributed publicly and sold.

I'm told that everybody owns their e-mails. If I "copy" an e-mail sent to me, sending it to another to read, have I stolen the originator's intellectual property?

Copyright issues got complicated when technology (such as Xerography and the Internet) changed the way documents can be reproduced, distributed, and policed.

Napster was shut down, but piracy abounds. Videos, books, and other media are ripped off to an alarming degree.

I'm not necessarily an advocate of the notion that "information wants to be free," but the phenomenon of copying and piracy is ubiquitous...and the debate goes on...

Onward...
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/21/03 06:06 AM

Jon said:

The said property should be correctly copyrighted.
The "copy" must be sold and published under another name.
It also must be distributed publicly and sold.

Er, not sure about this. It may be very different in the YooEss, but certainly over here copyright exists as soon as word becomes readable. The problem is proving the time of the writing. The National Libraries exist so that every book published in the UK is held, and it is part of the Copyright Act that makes it _compulsary_ for publishers to send a copy of every book to the seven Libraries. (In the NLS we have at least one of _every_ flyer printed for the Fringe. All of them...)

The cheaper option is to mail a copy to yourself in a registered parcel and then never open it. Then in the case of a dispute you can prove exactly when it was written. Only once, unfortunately...

This happens all the time is the scriptwriting world. Writers send themselves a copy of the script that has not been sold or published, to protect their ideas from being copied by Studios.

To say that copyright exists only when something is sold is incorrect. If any copyright lawyers out there can correct me please do and I will defer, and I'll ask the copyright bods at the Library on Monday to check (we get a lot of stuff from America too, so they should be up to speed on the legal aspects).

Take care, Ian
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/21/03 11:38 AM

Thanks for the input, Ian...

Yes, inquiring minds want to desperately know. Here's a few more questions I've yet to have answered, legal-wise and otherwise.

Here goes...

Suppose I have an unpublished manuscript. Somebody borrows it and makes a copy for himself. However, he lets someone else borrow it and this person makes five, unauthorized, Xerox copies, which he sends to five other people. These five people scan their copies and store the info in their computers and then send them to 100 others via the Internet. At this point, the subsequent distribution is exponential and very difficult to track.

My questions are:

Since there are a number of people involved in these "transactions," each doing something unauthorized and possibily illegal, who is the guilty party? Are they all guilty? Or can all of them be prosecuted? Since the "content" was ultimately electronically digitized and each recipient then reconstituted this "content," using their OWN machines, paper, and labor, do they then own the concrete product THEY made?

I'm thinking now of an ambitious fellow who borrowed a copy of Marlo's RIFFLE SHUFFLE SYSTEMS years ago (pre-Xerox days) and then copied every word in his own scripted hand. Was he guilty of theft?

Of course, not being a legal-eagle or even a well-informed person regarding these issues, I'm at a lost to provide any answers to these questions. I only have more questions, which, alas, increase exponentially, as well...

Any experts "out there"?
Or is this topic drifting off the topic, which was about the Phantoms?

Onward...
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Postby Bob Coyne » 06/21/03 01:03 PM

I just received Phantoms...one thing I noticed skipping around was the statement at the beginning of the technique section that more magicians do a push off second deal rather than a strike. From what I've seen it's exactly the opposite. I've rarely seen the push-off second performed, but I've seen many necktied strike deals. I think the explanation is that it's rather easy to do a mediocre strike, but a push off (at least the Erdnase technique) takes much more control and practice. I don't know why Britland/Gazzo claim otherwise (about the popularity of the two techniques). Maybe I just haven't run into the push-off crowd yet.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/21/03 01:33 PM

Jon; An interesting point. I'll check with the Library people on Monday, but my understanding (based on my script experiences) is that the _original_ authour of the piece retains the copyright. If the document is copied, it is the original copier that is commiting the offence, the others are, bizarrely, recieving stolen property (!). This is an indication of just how silly this can get, and I'm not being facecious here. As you have said, with the onset of digital media things can get very complicated, and taking the letter of the law too far can result in a lot of wasted time.

Electronic publications are still covered by copyright, however, and by quoting your post above I have technically abused your copyright of the post (this was covered in another post a few weeks ago about how much material you can quote in a review...). The NLS has a department called Legal Deposits which accepts all the books, and there is an mailbox into which people mail their e-publications (I had to set it up, Fertilizer Weekly was a gripping read. And no, I'm not making that up).

My long departed point is that there are simple rules, and then _really_ complicated sub rules that make more mess than is truely neccessary. The person that transcribed the Riffle book broke copyright, as did the person who photocopied the pamphlet.

I admit I know little of the story in hand. The only Marlo book I own, or have read, is Arcade Dreams, so I have no axe to grind. Coincidentally a couple of days ago I was quoting Tom Lehrer to some of the Cataloguers;

Plagarise, plagarise,
Let no man's work evade your eyes,
Remember why god gave you eyes
But be sure, please, to call it research.

Bob; I look forward to reading the book, but your statement has piqued my curiosity. In the very early days of my street time I spent a rainy lunchtime with Gazzo in a bar where he showed me the most amazing second deals I have not seen. He was doing a strike though, not a push off. The only person I've seen do a push off is Iain Girdwood and I think you nailed the reason on the head; it's a lot easier to get by with a mediocre strike than a mediocre push off (and I should know...)

Take care, one and all.

Ian
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Postby David Britland » 06/21/03 02:49 PM

Re Bob Coyne's question:

>>I've rarely seen the push-off second performed, but I've seen many necktied strike deals. I think the explanation is that it's rather easy to do a mediocre strike, but a push off (at least the Erdnase technique) takes much more control and practice. I don't know why Britland/Gazzo claim otherwise (about the popularity of the two techniques). Maybe I just haven't run into the push-off crowd yet.<<

Dai Vernon said Scarne's push off deal was the best for magic. "It is the best there is for magic and can be dealt slowly and convincingly." This was in a letter to Sam Horowitz in 1932. Of the strike second he said, "Scott's is the finest for alternative dealing as there is no change whatsoever as you know. With the fine second a la Scott I can defy anyone to tell when I deal it and when I don't."

On the other hand Roy Walton, among others, certainly takes the view that the strike deal is more suited to conjuring. In The Complete Walton, Volume 1, he writes, "I used both types od deal, and have concluded for general conjuring applications that the 'strike' technique is the better one to use." He goes on to say that one major advantage of the strike is that it can be performed with a deck that is not in the best of the condition.

In my experience the strike tends to be used by those giving gambling demonstrations, for which it is ideally suited. But I've watched more people use the push off in the context of magic routines, with no gambling theme, where perhaps only a few cards, possibly only one, is taken from the deck.

But that's just my observation, maybe all the strikers are over your way!

David
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Postby Pete McCabe » 06/21/03 03:56 PM

Re: Copyrights

I'm not a lawyer, but I've researched this subject moderately thoroughly, and this is what I've found: Here in the US copyright is established the instant a work is fixed in any medium. This has been taken to include computer memory; this post is copyrighted to me as I type it into my computer; it does not need to be posted to the forum for protection to take effect.

The only thing that a proper copyright notice does is change the penalties if someone breaks your copyright -- your rights are the same whether you include such a notice or not.


Re: the re-xeroxed book:

If someone hands you a xerox of a book, you know immediately that this is a violation of both copyright and ethics. If you then copy it and give it to someone you are guilty both of violating this copyright and of violating the most basic principles of ethics. This is true whether it is a magic book or any other kind.

If you wrote a book and someone xeroxed it (or wrote it out longhand) and then distributed it, you would feel wronged, and you would be right.

I can hardly believe that anyone on this board wouldn't immediately know this.
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Postby Bob Coyne » 06/21/03 04:54 PM

I agree with Vernon/Scarne that the push-off is superior to the strike deal for magic since it can be done more slowly and naturally. Has Scarne's technique for the push-off second been published? Or is Vernon's remark all that is known about it? I saw him on TV many years ago and remember him doing exhibition seconds (turning the top card face up and dealing continuous seconds with the top card remaining the same the whole time). I thought at the time that he was doing a strike second. In Scarne on Cards/Gambling he shows a strike second. So maybe he used the push-off for magic rather than gambling demonstrations.

btw, I've read more of the Phantoms book since my last posting. Fantastic information in there! Thank you for writing it!!
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Postby David Britland » 06/21/03 05:29 PM

Hi Bob

Glad you're enjoying the book.

>>Has Scarne's technique for the push-off second been published? Or is Vernon's remark all that is known about it? <<

The letter to Horowitz asked Scarne to get in touch with Vernon so that Vernon could pass on some tips about the handling. Horowitz knew Scarne. I suppose it is possible that Horowitz told Vernon of Scarne's handling.

I presume from this that Scarne's handling differed from the one Vernon subsequently published in Further Inner Secrets of Card Magic. But as to how, I have no idea.

It's a real shame that there isn't a more detailed book on Scarne's life and work. I was really enthused by his biography many years ago.

David
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Postby Bob Coyne » 06/22/03 02:37 PM

David,

I'm trying to understand what was unique about Scott's second. Was it the fact that he did a strike second at all and magicians at the time were not familiar with it, or was it the fine points of the technique that were new? Or was it the skill he performed it with? I realize there was much more in his arsenal (e.g. edge marking, punched deck) but it seems as though his skill and technique with the second deal was the foundation for the rest of it. Reading the technique section now, it doesn't seem that much different than the strike seconds I'm familiar with (in fact I think it is mentioned in Phantoms that the version in ECT is basically the same).

It was very tantalizing reading about the (remote?) prospect that there is a film of Scott (taken by Cardini) still in existence somewhere.

I also enjoyed reading in the chapter on Erdnase about the theory (based on writing style) that Robert Frederick Foster wrote EATCT as well as a book on card games and cheating five years earlier. I hadn't heard this theory before and am anxious to learn more.

I haven't been this glued to a book in a long time. It leaves me wanting more!!

And, yes, it's too bad there's not more on Scarne's life and work (though Karl Fulves publishes some of his stuff in dribs and drabs). I saw him on TV when I was a kid and then read his autobiography which led to discovering Erdnase and the rest. He was amazing and strangely neglected these days.

- Bob
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Postby David Britland » 06/22/03 04:36 PM

Hi Bob

>I'm trying to understand what was unique about Scott's second. Was it the fact that he did a strike second at all and magicians at the time were not familiar with it, or was it the fine points of the technique that were new? Or was it the skill he performed it with?<

I think the answer to that one is "all of the above." Vernon certainly puzzled over why all his friends were raving about Scott. Elliott had already explained his version of the strike second in Mahatma magazine. But as Scott himself said, it's one thing to know the technique but it's another to do it well, and as you'll see from the book Scott was a perfectionist.

I had no agenda regarding Scott when beginning work on the book but the more I looked into the history the more it seemed to me that Scott's position in it had been forgotten. I've come to believe that he was an inspiration for many other magicians who went on to specialise in dealing and gambling routines by bringing a little used technique to their attention. Once they saw just how good the strike second could look, many magicians adopted it.

Having said that, I wonder how many of them managed to achieve his high standard when performing it. Vernon, Marlo, Miller and many others were amazed at Scott's facility with the deal and how he managed to make it fit perfectly into ordinary game play.

Perhaps that is the key to really mastering these techniques. It's a dead giveaway if the magician has to sit bolt upright at the table and lock the deck into his hand before he begins a routine. When Scott dealt he didn't suddenly adopt a different personality or attitude.

I'd recommend studying the practise techniques and Gazzo's observations of Scott's deal, particularly the take.

I believe that copies of the films that Cardini took are still in circulation on video tape. I haven't seen any myself so can't say for sure whether Scott is on them.

Richard Hatch knows far more about Erdnase than I do and I've had some correspondence with him re Foster. He doesn't see the voice of Erdnase in those extracts and he has other good reasons for not believing Foster was the author. But when Jerry Sadowitz first showed me the Foster book I was pretty impressed and think he should definitely be added to the list of suspects.

David
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