I would like to comment on the recent article on the Magic Castle by Max Maven in the latest MAGIC. Not to take anything away from Steve Bryant's excellent piece (as well as Pete Biro's photos) in Genii, but there was something very special about Max's article.
It brought back memories of the period when I was there much more often than I am now. This was the early 1980s and though it was end of what some folks call "the good old days," they were at least still going on. The Professor was there every night, sitting on his couch next to the Close-up Gallery. It always astounded me when I would find him alone, and that's when I would approach him. He could never recall my name other than to say, "here's that polite young fellow again." That was good enough for me.
The "Hat & Hare" pub was in full steam in those days, with Bob Jardine behind the bar working the crowd. He was my first experience with a bar magician and I still feel he was one of the best I've seen. And there was always a game of 501 (darts) happening. Even I had to buy Jules Lenier a cocktail a few times after being "schooled" by him. Though there were always visitors down there (to see Jardine), the "Hat & Hare" was the "regulars" hang out, and I was privileged to be there.
Perhaps what I miss the most is the old library. It had more mystique about it in those days, being hidden high up in the "tower" (or so it seemed) of the Castle. I could feel the history when walking into it. Knowing that this is where Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller had worked with Ricky jay: Or Vernon with Larry Jennings or any one of his famous apprentices. And many times Jennings was there and he would be in a "discussion" with Bruce Cervon about something (usually predicated by some comment or challenge laid down by the Professor).
But most of all Max's article reminded me why I remain a member of the Magic Castle regardless of the "issues."
While it may not have its old mystique, Gordon Bean has helped bring the library something different: it feels like a true working research library with a knowledgeable and friendly curator who is ready to help. (This is in no way to meant to malign any of his predecessors--it's just a feeling that I now have about the library that I did not have after its move.)
Yes, the Professor is no longer there: his type only comes along once in a millennium. But there are other "heavies" there. Several, in fact: Most of whom are as, if not more, approachable than was the Professor. We just need to approach them and treat them with the respect they deserve.
The "good old days" are gone. But you know they weren't always perfect either, if you stop and really think about it. These times are what we choose to make of them. Max has reminded me of that simple, but often overlooked, fact. I pick "good."
Thank you Max.