In the midst of reading this post about a grievance at the Magic Castle, I'm trying to figure what the purpose of the grievance is and why it escalated to this.
As a Castle member, it would seem the primary goal of any action of the AMA is the benefit of the AMA and the magic community. And that is only accomplished by its staff and volunteers willing to contribute to the organization. So from that perspective, I read this thread.
Some points I've taken from this:
1) Jim Riser, Bill McIlhany and Rich Cowley have been and do volunteer their time to the AMA, specifically to Castle video library, with or without compensation to do so, and to the point where , as the saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished". It is also clear that more than these three have contributed to the health and maintenance of the Castle archives. Just like Rich Cowley is, as Bill and several people voice, a "small man", no one person can claim any responsibility for the vast archives at the Castle: it has been years in the making.
2) Rich Cowley is not the Magic Castle. Seems a rather obvious statement, but based of the exhaustive back story Bill wrote, there are more players in this play than Bill and Rich. It involves Milt Larsen, Jim Riser, Diana Zimmerman, CBS studios, Tim Holly, Mark Felicetti a whole cast of characters, and these are just a few of the ones Bill mentions. They all had a part in the escalation to bringing a grievance to the AMA's grievance committee, which Rich Cowley does not serve on. This is the AMA's rules and regulations to address disputes and I can assume these rules were part of the Castle way before any of this took place. It is impartial and is used for the benefit of the AMA.
4. Bill McIlhany, as a member of the Castle, has every right to argue his case. If he feels it is best for his case to argue to forums, fight for a grievance date he can actually attend, submit his side to people who can make a difference, clear his good name, restore order to the magic kingdom, he should. Considering his post here, and the quality of his case, it would be something that I would think he would put priority in. He could quickly solve this matter in 5 minutes, and Rich will be banished to magic purgatory to rethink his crimes to humanity. But for that to happen, he needs to argue his case to people who can can help. That's the AMA, and any decision made will be from the AMA and for the AMA.
5. And what is that goal? In this case, to track and maintain all Castle video archives. It seems the power to do so lies not in just Rich's hands, but Jim's and Bill's and anyone who has a part of the video archives. It's a big task, as Bill attests to.
6. This is a non-magic issue. It's a preservation issue. People can have varied opinions about the importance of these fellows in the world of magic, but the preservation of magic footage can be argued as more important. As long as this thread has spilled out to the Genii forum and/or other forums, the call to other magicians to help the AMA maintain their archives may be worthwhile.
Bill has posted this link from Rich (See, they can work together):
(A list of these missing tapes and disks can be found at www.Rich-Cowley.com/VaultDVD_FullCatalog.xls
And perhaps other people can help find a decent copy of missing footage, if it footage doesn't show up. Because if the point is to archive footage for the benefit of the magic community, one Bill acknowledges:
(We have similarly preserved the magic film collections of the Society of American Magicians, The Magic Circle and other private collections. Our contentment and reward comes, not from any praise or public recognition, but by that gift we could only give ourselves. In the future, if this rich film and video legacy survives for future generations, we will know that we made it possible.)
Then it would seem we have a mighty tool, the Internet, to do so.
7. Bill does not have to work with Rich Cowley. The number of people involved with magic footage preservation is more than two or even three. Currently, the Multimedia Committee at the Castle is fact run by man named Jim Yoder, with a volunteer staff of seven and growing, and that's only one group of people Bill can work with. If Bill feels he cannot work with "that idiot coward Cowley", then I would suggest he contact people he can work with: more agreeable folk for the benefit of his love of magic, and the community at large.
I don't deny this all sounds very naive and pie-in-the-sky, but the rewards in working together outweigh petty grievances of a couple.