Magic Castle Melody

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Postby Lisa Cousins » 10/29/10 04:45 PM

Every time I step into the Magic Castle library and see the painting of Bill Larsen with the Magic Castle looming behind him and an issue of Genii Magazine before him, I rue the breakdown of this once-vital connection. I know so many people who eagerly followed the Magic Castle doings from afar through the pages of Genii, and who longed to be a part of it, and who now are a part of it. But now I'm afraid that the only things that magicians-at-large hear about the Castle are the political problems and head-butting and us vs. them troubles that spill onto the Genii Forum due to the heavy censorship currently in place over at yonder Castle Forum.

While it's true that these things are going on and that they're irksome, it is just as (if not more) true that those of us who are actively engaged in Magic Castle right here and right now are totally having a blast. There's been a real burst of creativity, and we're seeing people grow and bloom before our eyes. There's a fresh young batch of new enthusiasts who simply can't stay away - a huge group of new Castle Juniors this year. The neighborhood is full of magicians, and we run into each other all the time. Out-of-town magicians stay in the neighborhood too, and we run into them as well, and hang around with them, and go to Disneyland with them. We have brilliant minds such as David Minkin coming up with ingenious new ways to get good-paying magic work for all of us - allelujah, David - and the Magic Castle is a great place to congregate after our good-paying magic work. We have both old-timers and newcomers, and it is interesting and familiar and new every single night of the week.

So whatever happens - if politics and head-butting have the power to send a Magic Castle crashing to the ground - I am deeply, deeply glad and grateful to be participating in it today, and will remain glad and grateful for it, for as long as it may last.
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Postby JohnCox » 10/29/10 05:53 PM

I absolutely agree with your sentiments, Lisa. The Castle has always been a wonderful place, but it has become especially dynamic of late. Also, its reputation among the lay-folk out there has never been stronger. People light up when you offer them a pass. In this town of "exclusive places", the Castle truly remains uniquely special. I really don't know much about the politics of the place, but I know I love it as a member. And there's nothing like going up for Friday lunch and spending the afternoon hanging out with the regulars and talking magic. A true magicians clubhouse.
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 10/30/10 06:21 PM

I would say that the heart of my Magic Castle fascination lies in the magical experimentation that's constantly going forth there. It's one thing to buy a ticket to a magic show and see the perfect, polished, finished product - and another to watch something that could wobble and fall flat, or soar. The Magic Castle shows are so alive and unpredictable.

Some of the Magic Castle performers have a perfect, polished, finished show, and I admit that there are times when I have guests with me and I'm relieved to see one of those names on the schedule. But personally, I like the risky ones better. For me, that's where the life and growth and action are.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/30/10 08:12 PM

Lisa, you're making us very jealous.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/30/10 08:35 PM

Yeah, she looks so much better in a sparkly dress than I do.

(And she takes me back to the time when I could go up to the Castle three or more times a week...[sigh].)
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 10/30/10 11:51 PM

Maybe in the days when Genii reported on the Magic Castle scene it incited out-of-towners to feel "jealous" as well, but I mostly hear people talk about how happy it made them - more like a "letters from home" feeling. But then, I'm talking to people who ended up being a part of it.

I really wish that a rich magic person would buy the property and put it into the hands of the AMA; at least that would take away those recurrent "it might go away any minute" threats that seem to flare up every year or two.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/31/10 12:08 AM

Lisa's "wish" begs a lot of questions, the answers to which are well known among many, but spoken aloud by few.
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 10/31/10 03:16 PM

Richard, since I find your remark very cryptic I take it that I am not one of the many who know the answers of which you speak. So feel free to be one of the few who speak it aloud.

And while I'm waiting for my enlightenment, I'll add another factor that I love about the Magic Castle: the way that there are always - and I do mean ALWAYS - magicians in the audience. In some cases magicians even comprise the majority of the audience - for example, I was in a Bill Goodwin close-up show and counted 17 magicians occupying the available 22 seats. Sometimes the performer will say "Who's here for the first time?" in order to locate a layperson to assist, or sometimes they'll be more subtle, make a magic-world in-joke, and select the assisting spectator from the non-laughers.

On the surface it might seem like a bad thing - or an intimidating thing, anyhow - to have an audience full of magicians, but my own observation is that the magicians in the seats really help the show - yell "yippee yippee" when the performer is introduced, get the clapping going when the laypeople aren't sure if they're supposed to applaud, and in general raise the energy of the show and assist in connecting the performer with the audience.

I know that magicians have a reputation for being hyper-competitive and sabotaging each other (as depicted in the movie "The Prestige") but my own experience is quite the opposite. I see the Magic Castle magicians as not only raising the level of the magic itself, but as helping to create better audiences for magic. Without a quality audience to comprehend and appreciate it, magic is meaningless, and the magicians of the Magic Castle have done (and are daily doing) a world of good in terms enriching and inspiring that side of the magical equation.
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