I received the December issue today (11/21) here in Southern California. I must confess that I was privileged to get a sneak preview of the issue from Richard earlier this month (yet another perk from attending the LA History Conference). As result of his generosity I can comment fully on its contents on this, the day I officially received it.
I can say, without hesitation, that the December 2001 Genii is the best magic magazine I've ever read. From its glorious cover to the reviews, it's as if everyone knew that this particular issue would be the crowning achievement of the year. Obviously, the centerpiece is the feature article. In my opinion, the Vernon material presented here is to be savored, not just lightly read.
My favorite piece is Defining the Professor by Max Maven. I found this insightful essay on the Professor (written by a man who knew him well) and the word most often used to define him; Genius, remindful of an essay titled Genius, written by John Russell (a New York Times Arts journalist). It appears in the book The Virtuoso (Stewart, Tabori & Chang - 1999) by Ken Carbone. A summary of both essays can be found in the final sentence of the Russell piece: "The world will never run out of discoveries...Nor will the word genius gather dust in the dictionary."
The reminiscences of Roger Klause and Jon Racherbaumer are terrific and the Karl Johnson piece on the Professor's search for Allen Kennedy and the center deal is fascinating reading. I cannot say enough about the photos; they are a wondrous treat.
One thing this issue has done is heighten my anticipation for the David Ben book on Vernon. I hope it appears soon!
Bravo, Richard, on a first class job - and thank you very much!
PS: Regarding the above mentioned book, The Virtuoso: I highly recommend finding a copy of this fine book. Of magical interest is a piece on Ricky Jay, however there are also short profiles on Michael Moschen and Robin Williams. The book is a collection of short profiles (focusing on what sets them apart) on 40 people who are considered virtuosos in their given fields. The subjects range from the arts, sports, culinary arts, science, pyrotechnics (the Grucci family) and even firefighting (Red Adair) among other interesting topics. There are also excellent essays on skill, mentors, vision and the above-mentioned genius.