Sorry for the delayed response, I had to go out and sing for my supper.
I certainly didn't intend to come across as a "deep" and "serious" performer. Those who have seen my work realize that I am as shallow and lackadaisical as the next guy.
While I try not to treat myself too seriously, I do take the work I do seriously. I hope that my audiences walk away with a deeper regard for magic as a result of my performances, but not because I am "deep" and "serious".
I am certainly not going to defend Harkey; no need. I expressed a question as to why some choose to denigrate the work.
I am still of the belief that, as a species, we have limited perception based on our current stage of experience. What works today may not work tomorrow and vice versa.
Performing is part art and part craft. Unfortunately, experiencing many magic performances is like eating too much chocolate cake. Very rich and tasty yet ultimately lacking in nutrition (and, in sufficient quantities, will make you ill).
I aspire to provide audiences with an experience that leaves them wanting more and hopefully gets them to consider more than simply "how".
I pay the mortgage and feed my family through performing (and have done so for almost twenty years). What works for me may not work for others, but I hope, for the long-term health and prestige of our craft, that performers use magic as a way to communicate with audiences a diverse variety of topics of deep interest to them. To share our perspective in a way that educates and entertains. To have a dialogue with audiences that results in an exploration of ideas that are relative and enrich their lives.
Oops, there I go again, being "deep" and "serious".
Forget about that, share your love with as many people as possible and try to avoid gorging on chocolate cake.
I have a different perspective than most because this is how I make a living. I am not necessarily looking for cool tricks that appeal to my magician side, I am looking for items that will appeal to my audiences. In regards to items from Simply Harkey that I have used (and continue to use) for paying audiences I can list several: Dirty Pool, Sitting Pretty, Pop Art, Transpasm, Sweet Talk (which I performed all the time in restaurants) and Kicker which I used to end formal close-up shows on a regular basis.
I will confess it has been a number of years since I have cracked the book and undoubtedly there are real clunkers in the book, but the signal to noise ratio for me was quite high...
I have found several books that were not to my taste when I read them initially, and several where I was enamored of the material at first and brutally dis-illusioned when I tried to perform the "clever" material for paying audiences and found it to play flat. Whether the authors are or are not my friends doesn't matter...
Ultimately *I* am responsible for the quality of my performances and denigrating a book simply because it is not to my taste or doesn't meet my requirements provides a disservice. Have I read any crap magic books? Sure, plenty. Often, I learn more from the pipe dreams...
I can understand Richard's reactions, as Harkey made what appears to be a deliberate effort to reproduce his illustrative style (which has since been adopted by most of the illustrators in the field) at a time when Richard was the top illustrator in the field. This should not diminish Richard's accomplishments in the least, but I understand having a negative emotional reaction... I also understand that the soda can shuttle pass probably didn't play at Fechter's for a large group of magicians (most of whom typically witness magic performances differently than laymen), but with appropriate misdirection for smaller groups it certainly can work...
Ultimately, it is the off-the-cuff, simplistic denigration of of a performer's work that I object to the most. I have been guilty of this myself. After I had performed the Anderson Newspaper Tear for a number of years I rotated it out of my repertoire (suffice to say the trick wasn't good/bad, it was simply not working as a performance piece for me at the time). A year or so after this I made a somewhat snide comment to another performer friend asking whether or not he was "still" using it. He replied, "of course, it is perfect". I felt appropriately guilty about my "superior" tone and it was only later that my mind filled in "for me". I realized that there is no point in being dismissive of another's work and I resolved to looking for material that works "for me" (to which I have later added "for my purposes").
Some may interpret Harkey's work as trivial, pretentious, egotistic pipe dreams, but others may see his work as unique, compelling, poetic, aspirational performance pieces.
Having different approaches broadens our appeal and increases public interest.
What's wrong with that?
(And no, David Harkey is not my friend...)
Off to learn a new card trick!