Financial Crisis

Post topics about the business side of magic.

Postby 000 » 09/18/08 01:44 AM

Abracadabra, the financial house of cards is collapsing around us.
According to many experts worse is to come and of course a recession would be bad news to the magic community with many Companies are already scaling back year end functions.
For years I have considered banks to be the ultimate sleight of hand artists, lending 'funny money' they dont own and no longer backed by the gold standard. Lets hope the system holds.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/18/08 02:21 AM

My grandfather sold apples on the streets of New York during the Great Depression. I might get there yet.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/18/08 10:16 AM

Um...000... that's not the most positive of expressions in this case as you may recall that "abracadabara" is the phonetic descendant of an expression which roughly translates to "With these words I create what is real".
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Postby 000 » 09/18/08 11:33 AM

Im looking forward to receiving in the post a book called MAGIC WORDS- A DICTIONARY, which Im sure will have a lot to say on this word.

What is interesting is a book I chanced upon the other day called HOCUS POCUS an A to Z of REDUPLICATIVE WORDS (by Jeremy Lawrence).

Reduplicatives are 'double-barrelled' words and phrases that rhyme or echo; examples are snail mail, rugger bugger, hocus pocus...I shall quote the entry under 'abra-cadabra'.

The 'magic' word intoned by conjurors to facilitate the performance of a trick; and hence a name for any other supposedly mystical charm. Its 'spell' lies perhaps partly in its spelling; the A to D alphabetical progression ABraCaDabra.
The nonsense word ( here hyphenated to emphasize the reduplicative form) was once thought to be able to relieve toothache and other ills. It has an ancient history; it is found in Latin verse of the 2nd cntury AD and according to one theory derives from the Greek 'Abraxas', another cabbalistic word which itself is said to derive from a Hebrew idiom, arba'kesa, referring to God.
None of which inhibits professional and amateur magicians the world over from employing this useful aid to prestiditation.'

Hocus-pocus reduplicates the now rare word 'hocus' from which comes 'hoax' and ( by combination with 'bunkum') 'hokum'. Though it once meant a juggler or trickster, today it has the general meaning of deception or trickery. Interestingly it is possible to use hocus-pocus as a verb - 'to juggle or play tricks on'.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/18/08 12:56 PM

If only a wand could transubstantiate the mean muggle into a wizard... or at least their Merriam Webster's latest into the OED.


As wizards we of course already know that the words we use to discuss a thing shape its social reality - and from our early education recall the lesson about how what we think about shapes our futures. The muggles know of "self fulfilling prophesy" yet thankfully little of what acts to make it such.

How about discussing how the last great depression was a boom time for entertainment and and the development of our craft? :)
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Postby 000 » 09/19/08 05:41 AM

Jonathan, kindly enlighten us how 'the last great depression was a boom time for entertainment and the development of our craft.'

People couldnt afford [censored], so I assume it wasnt for the $$$$$$$.
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Postby 000 » 09/19/08 05:46 AM

Even the Professor's work for the New York elite dried up during the Great Depression. ( according to Karl Johnson, The Magician and the Cardsharp)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/19/08 07:33 AM

Keep reading 000, there's more about the entertainment industry.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 09/19/08 07:38 AM

Back in the early 1970's a person by the name of A Noni Mouse contributed to The Magigram a possible interpretation of the word 'abracadabra':
A Bra, Cad, A Bra.

Perhaps that conclusion was reached after watching a performance of a well known version of the 20th Century Silks?
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Postby Ian Kendall » 09/19/08 07:48 AM

I remember Mac Wilson telling me that Abracadabra was a phonetic approximation of Latin (I think) that meant 'open mouths, open eyes'.

I wish I could remember the exact phrase.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/19/08 08:37 AM

If I recall correctly from a college ancient history course - ancient Egyptian medical/magical practice finds words copied onto strips of cloth or paper (papyrus) which would then be put into a drink - and a basic sympathetic spell "vanish as this word" used as induction/command.

The language base in that area at the time would have made this 'Alka Seltzer' or potions approach to medicine for the faithful (or desperate) popular so one might expect the basics of wishful thinking to be found propagated as the written tradition established itself in diverging cultures.

The short form, if don't mind self reference, is "so be it".

Getting back to more recent history - the basic "message" of the times changed in the 1930s - have a good look at what works were offered and popular - educational.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/22/08 01:13 PM

Well, Sotheby's had great sale over the weekend. Breaking records all over. And this on crapola material.

For those feeling the pinch, I'm still buying Houdini, Herrmann, Kellar, Soo and other high-end magic ephemera. :)
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Postby Greg Edmonds » 09/22/08 08:05 PM

Many established workers (especially those who specialize in the lucrative college market) won't be touched by the economy. My old friend Warren Gibson (who owns, I believe, the top of the line magic bar/nightclub today) likely won't feel it either. Workers in Vegas and other gambling towns, currently under contract or not, will, if history is any indicator, do quite well also.

Take a look at movie sales in times of economic crisis. Sales never drop. People will give up a great deal, but most will not give up entertainment. The "average," if that word applies here, magician who works various venues every year may very well feel the crunch, I'm guessing. He or she, if professional, will likely do better even in this situation, though, than if (s)he applied soon for a "real job."

I was able to find work for three decades, in good financial periods and bad. None, to be fair, were as bad as what we're told we may be about to face. The poor sod who wins the US Presidential election in November will, no matter who he turns out to be, go down in history as a partial failure due to the problems his administration will inherit. The opposite, as we've clearly seen since World War II, has been an established fact as well.

We shall see what we see, but now is certainly the time for the creative performer to offer "add-ons" to the holiday packages, if not every show.
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Postby swamy » 09/26/08 04:08 AM

Magic is an independent demand not backed by desires. Therefore it will have the least impact.
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Postby hugmagic » 09/26/08 08:42 AM

Horace Marshall made more money during the depression than any other time. Everyone was buying his stuff trying to go out and pick up any kind of show for work and money. Hard to believe but I have the books.

Personally, I don't want to try that route in this day and age.

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Postby Jim Riser » 09/26/08 12:30 PM

I'm not so certain that Vegas will be a gold mine for entertainers. Have you been to Vegas lately? The city is not exactly crowded with tourists. I've been there twice in just the past month. There is big construction going on everywhere but I've noticed the scaling back by casinos. No tourists equals less money for entertainers. The casino/hotels are hurting. Even the LV Convention Center (funded by room taxes etc.) is holding off on updating/remodeling due to lack of money for the project. I receive probably 50 or more offers from casinos each week with room rates as low as $30 per night for decent casono rooms. I would not want to rely on Vegas as a lifeline during the current financial situation.

I was also in Atlantic City recently. The place is empty. The many Indian Casinos around the country, airline hassles, fuel costs etc. have all hurt these havens for entertainers.

My older son told us that yesterday a grocery store in Washington or Idaho (on the border) refused both credit and debit cards - accepting only cash or checks. It might pay to have some cash on hand. People were just leaving items at the checkout and walking out of the store.

I've talked with a number of other small manufacturers from around the country. With no exceptions all have more work than they can handle. The key in manufacturing is flexibility. Businesses which can make a wide variety of items seem to be doing well. You might well see a number of magic manufacturers devoting less manufacturing time to making magic and more time to other items.

I've always felt having a marketable skill or farm produce you have grown yourself to be the best way to survive a finabcial downturn. If things get real bad, barter will be king. Unfortunately many folk in this country have neither to offer. This does not bode well.

Magicians who can offer a variety of show formats will have something with which to barter. Those with only one act suitable for specific situations only will be hurting. Now is a good time for such people to expand their skills and entertainment offerings.

Jim
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Postby Pete McCabe » 09/26/08 12:45 PM

Who needs Vegas? I'm taking a huge gamble every month when I pay my mortgage.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/26/08 01:10 PM

When the datalines go out or the central financial center for a retail company has a problem - they sometimes (just for a few hours) have to stop taking credit/debit card transactions as they can't move the data. Happened at the local A&P one afternoon not so long ago.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/26/08 01:36 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:When the datalines go out or the central financial center for a retail company has a problem - they sometimes (just for a few hours) have to stop taking credit/debit card transactions as they can't move the data. Happened at the local A&P one afternoon not so long ago.


Jonathan;
I'm not talking about the common "computer's down" excuse for not taking cards. I would not have mentioned that. I'm talking "new policy" at the store. This is entirely different.
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Postby Jim Riser » 09/26/08 01:59 PM

Pete McCabe wrote:Who needs Vegas? I'm taking a huge gamble every month when I pay my mortgage.


Pete;
Right. You can not help but wonder what institution holds the title to your place.

On another note...

One of the big things that caused the financial mess was people (I'm not referring to you Pete) buying places that they could not afford. Because a financial institution will lend you the money is no reason to take out the loan. Banks etc. are not your friends. If they were, they would tell you that you can not afford the purchase and would certainly not offer interest only loans. One really must wonder about people who signed up for such loans. The buyer must at some point assume responsibility for financial decisions.

Greed on the part of both lenders and buyers who wanted more than they could afford has created a real mess.

Couple this with the US car makers dumping SUVs on people rather than focusing on upcoming needs and energy concerns and you have a real mess.

Now all of these folk want a bail out.

No one is going to bail out magicians. So get going on developing a variety of acts/shows to be able to take advantage of all opportunities. Plant a garden. Save what you can for the even rainier day. This too will pass.
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Postby amp » 09/26/08 03:36 PM

Thanks for the advice Jim.
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Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 09/26/08 04:37 PM

Jim Riser wrote:
Pete McCabe wrote:Who needs Vegas? I'm taking a huge gamble every month when I pay my mortgage.


Pete;
Right. You can not help but wonder what institution holds the title to your place.

On another note...

One of the big things that caused the financial mess was people (I'm not referring to you Pete) buying places that they could not afford. Because a financial institution will lend you the money is no reason to take out the loan. Banks etc. are not your friends. If they were, they would tell you that you can not afford the purchase and would certainly not offer interest only loans. ......Jim


Not all banks are evil. I've worked for one of the top banks in Chicago for that past 23 years in the consumer lending business and we're doing just fine thank you (as are our customers)due to the fact we didn't jump on the bandwagon of profit over customer.

Not all magicians are Criss Angel....
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Postby bluespark » 09/27/08 01:13 AM

The way things are going, I'll end up needing a FICO score of 900 to borrow a spectator's quarter.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/27/08 11:07 AM

bluespark wrote:The way things are going, I'll end up needing a FICO score of 900 to borrow a spectator's quarter.


Thanks, that reads like half a setup or theme for a topical presentation for the magician's insurance (mortgage) policy or a confabulation setup prediction.
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Postby John B. Pyka » 09/27/08 06:11 PM

For the last 20 years I have focused on producing my own shows in theaters rather than work gig to gig waiting for the phone to ring. Nothing wrong with that, but it is not me. I want to be in complete control of my own opportunities and destiny. So I do it myself.

Guess what? When times get tough financially, my ticket revenues go up. The reason is a basic human principle. We all like to escape our reality, and the worse that reality seems to be, the more we try to escape it. PT Barnum said it best when he said "a person will spend their last nickle to have fun." This has certainly proved to be true for me. Right after 9-11 I took a show on a theater tour and made enough that year, that I didn't HAVE to work for another year!

Just recently we have seen not one, but 2 feature films shatter all previous box office records during a summer glutted with new movies and when the economy was percieved as bad.

So, if you are losing work because the companies who hire entertainment for events are cutting costs, go out and do it your self! I've even written a book to help you! It's called How To Produce Your Own Theater show and it is available at www.theatricalmagic.net.

Do not fear change, embrace it as a new opportunity!
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Postby 000 » 09/30/08 12:24 AM

This baby aint over yet...........................
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/30/08 08:20 AM

Anyone done the artwork for a Trillion dollar bill yet - can be a demand note ;)... topical - may as well print up some Monopoly Money type bills too.

So are bills now a holder of value or indebiture?
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Postby 000 » 10/01/08 12:43 AM

Zimbabwe has a BILLION dollar note.( no kiddin)...........buys you a few loaves of bread. But what with inflation at 6000% what does one expect?
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Postby John B. Pyka » 10/01/08 10:38 AM

Further,

I attended the TN Titans game last weekend. 70,000 fans. Tickets start at $58 and go up. Stadiums all across America were filled that day with similar sized crowds at similarly priced tickets. This after the sky fell on Wallstreet!

Here is my suggestion to all. Improve the quality of your product, and raise your rates to raise your perceived value. And take a more direct and active role in creating work.

John
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/01/08 12:49 PM

Before this subject veers into the political, which seems inevitable, I'm going to end it here.
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