The REAL Story behind the Braue Notebooks

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 03/12/05 03:37 PM

Some of you who haven't been in Magic for more than a decade may
not be familiar with the scandal of "The Braue Notebooks". These
notebooks contained a large amount of historical information on
Card Magic AND a HUGE amount of excellent Card Magic.

Many years ago, a magic publisher claimed he had aquired all the
Braue Notebooks and was going to publish them on a subscription
basis. Ten years after taking hundreds of subscriptions it became
apparent that he did not have what he claimed to have.

The story that unraveled from there turned out to be one of the
largest scandals in the history of magic.

And now on Cogitations you'll learn the true story. For many years
it's been my secret that I played a small but pivotal role in this
story but I've never really told what I know. This week I will.

On Cogitations.

Steven Youell
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/12/05 07:04 PM

Are you going to give us our money back, too?
Or just tell us the story. :)
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Postby Guest » 03/13/05 02:09 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Are you going to give us our money back, too?
Or just tell us the story. :)
Just the story. Just to be clear my role in
this is and what I discovered is not favorable
to the person who has your money...! ;)

Steven Youell
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/05 09:26 AM

Oh, that's big news.
I suppose you're going to tell us about what happened in Lloyd Jones's basement and why Byron Walker has some of the notebooks while Busby has others.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 03/13/05 12:11 PM

I would think the extensive discussion we've seen about this in the past (much of it angry)would seem to indicate folks have an interest in this and would appreciate a well written article about it.

I'm willing to wait until after I've read the actual article before judging whether or not it's a good read.

I do suspect it'll be popular with the subscribers as this week's Darwin Ortiz article has been.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/05 01:30 PM

Unfortunately it is impossible to suggest what actually happened either in print or verbally without putting oneself in the position of being sued for libel or slander by Busby since what he most likely did cannot be proven at this late date.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 03/13/05 03:16 PM

How many lawsuits has Busby won lately? ;)
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Postby Guest » 03/13/05 05:52 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Unfortunately it is impossible to suggest what actually happened either in print or verbally without putting oneself in the position of being sued for libel or slander by Busby since what he most likely did cannot be proven at this late date.
I have no fear whatsoever of a lawsuit from
Mr. Busby. Period. In the state of California
we have statutes against frivolous lawsuits.

Since nothing I'm going to put in print will even come close to the definition of Slander or Libel, any lawsuit Mr. Busby initiates would fall under that category.

Steven Youell
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Postby NCMarsh » 03/13/05 08:56 PM

Incidentally, Cogitations is a tremendous value! This week's essay by Darwin Ortiz is incredibly important...and deserves attention

best,

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Postby Guest » 03/13/05 11:39 PM

Mr. Youell, i have nothing against you or your new magic subscription website (which i understand is outstanding and i do plan on subscribing to). This topic does not affect me but I have seen some discussions about it and it is not surrounded by happy people. I find it bothersome, that such controversial information that would be of interest to the entire magic community is being used to sell subscriptions. Magic is an art that you do have to pay for to gain the insider secrets but to have someone pay for a subscription to get knowledge of something that has affected them is something i am having a hard time swallowing. I think i would be a little upset if i would have dished out some money for these notebooks and now would have to dish out more money to find out what happened. As i rethink this I guess thats what all the great magazines do. They publish stories the public wants to read and make us buy the magazines. I hope you do not find this to be a personal attack on you for it is not intended to be. This is just my opinion.
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Postby magicam » 03/13/05 11:48 PM

To g garcia:

While I certainly understand your point, what is being "promoted" (which is, I think, your point) is nothing different than an ad for Genii offering readers the "inside scoop" on the last Houdini auction or an expose series in the New York Times regarding what the Bush administration knew and didn't know with respect to Iraq and WMD. As such, I see nothing wrong with it, IMHO.

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Postby Chris Aguilar » 03/14/05 12:06 AM

Controversial topics have been used to sell magazines, TV programs, newspaper articles, books, and movies as long as such media have existed. And while such may not be of interest to one personally, I'm pretty confident that plenty of others (myself included) enjoy reading a well written article whether it is controversial or not.

RK has not shied away (to his credit) from printing the occasional controversial article or opinion in his publishing career. As do many others. See the Mike Close review of Oz Pearlman's newest DVD if you want to see some strong (and IMHO likely very accurate) commentary.

If the occasional bit of controversy offends one, I'd suggest they not read those articles or simply choose not to subscribe. Folks are in no way being coerced or forced into buying something they don't want. I would hope that folks, knowing their reading preferences, could choose to make informed/responsible purchasing decisions without seeing fit to blame publishers simply because they do not have a personal interest in a certain type of material. Do I like every single article every single month in Genii. Hell no! But do I subscribe and recommend Genii as a great overall value? Hell yes!

I am puzzled as to why anyone would see fit to apply a different standard to Mr. Youell's work here.
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Postby Guest » 03/14/05 12:13 AM

People think they can get writing for free? What, nobody spends time writing it? Nobody spends time putting up ont he Web? Nobody spends time chasing down the facts?

The only free writing is on the Internet, and its worth just about what you pay for it.
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Postby Temperance » 03/14/05 03:01 AM

What about libraries?

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Postby Chris Aguilar » 03/14/05 03:19 AM

Originally posted by Euan:
What about libraries?

Euan
Librarians must be paid salaries, materials purchased (books, periodicals, etc), buildings maintained, etc.

The last time I checked, all of that comes at a cost to taxpayers. So I would not call the library "free" in a strict sense. Taxpayers here in the U.S. pay a very tangible portion of their incomes to support these institutions. Here in California we'll even have the occasional ballot issue come up to allocate extra taxpayer money for libraries and I'm always happy to see my tax dollars spent in that manner.

That being said, Cogitations (as with Genii , Magic , etc.) is most assuredly not free, so all of that seems a bit off topic to me.

While I have no personal connection to events surrounding the Braue notebooks (as I know Richard and Steven do), I still see it as a little piece of magic history that interests me. I look forward to reading the article.

I can track how many times each article is accessed at Cogitations , and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see this one garner quite a bit of interest from actual subscribers.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/14/05 08:43 AM

I have no personal connection to the Braue Notebooks other than the fact that I, along with about 250 other people, paid Jeff Busby for full sets of 15 issues of which he delivered only 8. I also subscribed to Epoptica and Arcane and never received a single issue of either (since none were ever published after I subscribed).
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Postby Bill McFadden » 03/14/05 12:54 PM

And here I thought the Braue notebooks and the stories behind them would be featured in upcoming issues of Tom Cutts' AM/PM. Dang!
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Postby Pepka » 03/14/05 02:26 PM

I applaud Steve, RK and others who give the bad with the good. Magic has a rich and glorious history, but as with many arts it also has the occasional dark story filled with villians and scoundrels. I believe true lovers of the history of magic want to hear all interesting stories, the good, the bad and Jeff Busby. I anxiously await the article.
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Postby Guest » 03/14/05 03:51 PM

Finally! I can hardly wait to read this - I've always wondered what the real deal was...

Best, PSC
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/14/05 08:26 PM

Methinks Mr. Chosse is being sarcastic!
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Postby Guest » 03/15/05 09:23 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Methinks Mr. Chosse is being sarcastic!
Yep. In fact, Paul Chosse has the FUNNIEST
role in this story...

Steven Youell
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Postby David Regal » 03/15/05 11:40 AM

Come on, I can't be the only one who was sent every issue.
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Postby Randy DiMarco » 03/15/05 11:58 AM

No David you are not. And that bonus volume with the cumulative index and Persi Diaconis' annotations was great.
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Postby Guest » 03/15/05 02:39 PM

Originally posted by Randy DiMarco:
No David you are not. And that bonus volume with the cumulative index and Persi Diaconis' annotations was great.
You almost had me, but once you put Persi in print you blew it...

I don't know if Steve is going to reveal my little "prank" re: Braue Notebooks, but if he doesn't I will tell you all. It was a fun thing, and I still laugh out loud when I visualize the look on JB's face as he realized what was happening...

Best, PSC
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Postby Bill Palmer » 03/15/05 10:45 PM

Is there a "curse" on the Braue Notebooks? I subscribed to Cogitations over six hours ago, and haven't got my login information yet.

Actually, I'm not worried. Steve has always been reliable.

And I can't fault him for using scandal to sell subscriptions. It works for the Weekly World News, and it worked for MAGIC!

I may have posted this before. If you have read it, just skip to the next post.

Right after I had translated the second Punx book, Craige Snader was spending a week with me, and we had been going around to computer shops, purchasing items for him to trade to his printer and binder for work on the book. We got home, and there was a message on the answering machine.

"Hello, like, this is Jeff Busby, and I'm, like, having trouble getting hold of your books. Would you like, consider changing publishers? Call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX."

So I called him back and got his machine. "Hello Jeff, this is, like, Bill Palmer, and I wouldn't consider, like changing publishers until you, like get all those copies of the Braue Notebooks out to the people who like paid for them."

Craige snickered as I recorded the message.

About a half hour later, I got anothe call from Jeff. "Hey, like that was an insulting message, man."

"Like, Jeff, nothing gets by you, does it?"
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Postby Bill Palmer » 03/16/05 12:58 AM

Well, the curse of the Braue notebooks has been broken. I just received the password from Steve Youell. Seriously, it's a nice web site. There are some great downloads, including a set of notes that I paid more for than the subscription price to the site. But that's okay. There is other good stuff on the site as well.

I can't wait to see the real skivvy on the Braue notebooks!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/16/05 08:45 AM

And what makes you think you WILL read the real story behind the Braue notebooks?
If it doesn't tell what happened in Lloyd Jones's basement, then it's not going to be either the real OR whole story.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/16/05 10:31 AM

Folks, to an outsider this sounds like nobody has the balls to just take the material and publish.

Writing as a disinterested outsider on this one: What would it take to just ask the guy what he would accept in trade for the material and the right to publish it?

From what's been posted here, it sounds like we have four guys in a basement with some books of material taken without permission from the creators by a guy who thought nothing of taping conversations. Given the lack of results over the last 20+ years, perhaps we might just treat this as a remake of the movie "Saw".

David Roth used to tease us about that kind of story of missing and desirable material. It was fun then, inspiring for some of us to become inventive and also better storytellers.

I'd rather get the material from the folks who invented it, or their students as they see fit than squabble over stolen crumbs. This is so much like that old movie "The Dark Crystal".
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/16/05 11:28 PM

I don't recall the Notes being in Lloyd's basement, but in a box in the garage.

The "coupe" had the props and a life-size photo of a young Charlie Miller.

The basement wasn't really a basement, but the back room of the first floor. The famed Library was above it.

There was also another room Lloyd had that had his incredible collection of mystry novels.
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Postby Guest » 03/17/05 07:46 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
... Given the lack of results over the last 20+ years, perhaps we might just treat this as a remake of the movie "Saw"... This is so much like that old movie "The Dark Crystal".
Since when do Ihave to have seen obscure unlauded movies in order to underwtand a post?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/17/05 08:01 AM

Originally posted by hoo monkey:
Since when do Ihave to have seen obscure unlauded movies in order to underwtand a post?
Same as having to know about obscure (to lay audiences) and unlauded (for working performers) magical trivia to understand how folks get distracted by such things. You can find MOST of what you need about those films on www.IMDB.COM. The Dark Crystal is neither obscure or unlauded and was made by a guy who did much research on magic and magicians in NYC.

The sorry state of several fools unwilling to think outside their boxes... is something we might want to learn from. Such is a thing well worth understanding. Two folks, chained to opposite sides of a basement, with their tormentor just out of arms reach... and unwilling to communicate to solve their problems. How very typical in magic. Magician, fool thyself.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 03/17/05 08:08 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:

Writing as a disinterested outsider on this one: What would it take to just ask the guy what he would accept in trade for the material and the right to publish it?
I've read the article (well at least a draft of it) and it addresses why this likely would not be practical.
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Postby Guest » 03/18/05 01:03 AM

The article is out and my body armour on.

SEY
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Postby Bob Walder » 03/18/05 02:56 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
The sorry state of several fools unwilling to think outside their boxes... is something we might want to learn from. Such is a thing well worth understanding. Two folks, chained to opposite sides of a basement, with their tormentor just out of arms reach... and unwilling to communicate to solve their problems. How very typical in magic. Magician, fool thyself.
Quote from imdb.com:

Plot Summary for
The Dark Crystal (1982)

Another planet, another time. 1000 years ago the Dark Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos began. Now the time of the great conjunction of the three suns is near. If the crystal is not healed now the control of the evil Skekses will last forever. Jen the last of the Gelfings nearly exterminated by monsters controlled by the Skekses starts his dangerous journey to find the missing shard of the crystal. Will he be able to heal the crystal and restore order on the planet?
Still don't see how that helps us to decipher Jonathan's posts..... is the Urskek in question supposed to be Jeff Busby? Or was he the tormentor?

And which two people were chained to the walls of Lloyd Jones' basement? I can understand how they might be upset at having their notebooks stolen while they were chained.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 03/18/05 06:06 AM

Originally posted by Bob Walder:
...I can understand how they might be upset at having their notebooks stolen while they were chained.
The images I was suggesting included;

The Skexis (sp) fighting over junk (stuff they can't use to do anything useful beyond hold as prized possessions etc) in their castle all dressed up and nothing productive from them.

The folks chained in that basement... are chained by their need to be right and their pride. Look at the results.

We've already discussed Braue's habit of taking material. What we're looking at is a sort of pirates plunder in card magic. Interesting that this stuff just sits as a reminder of how little integrity and will exists in this community.

Guess nobody has the balls to simply scan and process the stuff so it gets saved for the historians.

<sarcasm>
Then again there is nothing like some suspense over a new version of twisting the aces where
they are shown to be kings at the end.
</sarcasm>

* updated to clarify comment about Braue and his habit of taking notes and writing up OTHER people's material. Funny guy, he was gonna put is OWN stuff in another book outside of ECT. Amazing. Not a book to take pride in owning folks. Perhaps PCH might annotate it for us one day.
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Postby Bob Walder » 03/18/05 08:04 AM

Actually, I wasn't being that serious..... :rolleyes:

But obscurity for the sake of it simply gets tedious - not all of us have followed this stuff from the beginning, nor are we all privy to the inside scoop

Is it worth knowing? Well I have no way of knowing that without knowing it.

And no, I have no objection to Steven using his knowledge of the situation to sell subscriptions - it's called business.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 03/18/05 02:36 PM

Having read the article, and now knowing why "Nimbus" did not publish "the rest of the Braue Notebooks," I feel not only appointed, but gruntled.
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/19/05 04:02 AM

A great tale by Steven about the Braue Notebooks on Cogitations, along with Darwin Ortiz's erudite and insightful article on the lure of the next big magic book.

As for Steven posting it on his subscription site -- does g garcia believe all information should be made available for free? The reports in the New York Times, articles in the New Yorker, tricks printed in books, important news in Channel One?

OK -- forget the Channel One reference. But, as Jon Racherbaumer has written elsewhere, the myth of "information wants to be free" is that free information is often worth what you paid for it.

I am grateful to Steven (and Chjris) for the information on the Cogitations site -- grateful enough to feel that I'm getting my money's worth. That is the ultimate criterion, I think, by which one judges one's purchases.

Nice work, Steven!

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Postby Pete Biro » 03/19/05 11:04 AM

Now that you've solved that mystery, Steven, it is time you tackle the Erdnase identity.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 03/19/05 11:22 AM

Mike Rose sold his set of the 8 published "Braue Notebooks" on eBay not long ago where it fetched $291 plus shipping to the buyer in Spain. Here's a link for those interested:
Braue Notebooks on eBay

My recollection of the planned Busby publishing schedule differs a bit from that described on COGITATIONS. I believe subscribers were promised they would receive a Notebook every two months and not quarterly. I also believe there was to be a pro-rated refund if the material was exhausted before the projected 15 Notebooks were issued. If it exceeded 15 Notebooks, subscribers would have the option of completing their file on a pro-rated basis. Something like that. Probably moot now, in any case...
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