Ricky Jay & 'his' secrets...

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Postby Jeff Eline » 10/11/03 07:52 AM

In another thread, there was a link for an article written about Ricky Jay. He is, with a doubt, one of my favorite performers. And you have to respect his talent and skill.

However, after finishing the article, I was left with a portrait of man that is anything but admirable, maybe even repugnant. And while I know that great artist tend not to be great humans - it's still a bit disappointing.

The other thing that struck me was his fervent belief that the treasured secrets of magic (specifically, but not limited to, Vernon) be kept that way forever, or in his words "Why give tools to the Animals?"

I am not advocating that everybody have access to these techniques and theories - hell, I don't think I'm entitled to them at this point.

However, if it weren't for the kindness and generosity of great performers like Slydini, Vernon, Miller, etc... we wouldn't have a Ricky Jay.

It seems selfish and condescending to withhold this legacy in such a fashion. But then again, after reading that article, it's not surprising.
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Postby Guest » 10/11/03 08:23 AM

Jeff,

Astute observations...

Best, PSC
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/11/03 08:55 AM

Originally posted by Jeff Eline:
... "Why give tools to the Animals?" ...
Not so sure someone who would refer to fellow human beings and artists as 'animals' is the best judge of character.

People who make such statements tend to hold such a view of themselves, and live in a 'funhouse mirror' inner world where noble ideals justify such attitudes towards others.

Perhaps if the man had a good idea or result OF HIS OWN he might have some reason to consider the subject of offering or sharing material ... as opposed to using other people's material as some sort of capital to broker his self esteem.
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Postby Bob L » 10/11/03 09:30 AM

If you're talking about the New Yorker article, Jeff, please take another look.

That quote is credited to Persi Diaconis (said to Dai Vernon), NOT Ricky Jay.

Further (to be absolutely precise about it), the way you quote the line is not accurate either, according to the New Yorker article. According to this article, Diaconis said, "Why did you publish this, professor? We don't want the animals using tools." (I don't want to put too fine a point on it but, to be fair, a quote is either a quote or it isn't.)

Jay certainly comes across as a unique individual in this article; but it surely can't be appropriate to launch a thread questioning his character based on a misquote and a miscredit. Or on a single article written by an author who (like all of us) has his own set of goals and motives. (I'm a professional journalist, myself, and I know how much we can manipulate/interpret facts while still retaining their factual nature.)

And what's wrong with keeping magical secrets? I'd certainly feel more secure about the art form if the secrets of Dai Vernon weren't being hawked to the highest bidder on eBay.
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Postby Guest » 10/11/03 10:19 AM

Originally posted by Jeff Eline:
In another thread, there was a link for an article written about Ricky Jay. He is, with a doubt, one of my favorite performers. And you have to respect his talent and skill.

However, after finishing the article, I was left with a portrait of man that is anything but admirable, maybe even repugnant. And while I know that great artist tend not to be great humans - it's still a bit disappointing.

The other thing that struck me was his fervent belief that the treasured secrets of magic (specifically, but not limited to, Vernon) be kept that way forever, or in his words "Why give tools to the Animals?"

I am not advocating that everybody have access to these techniques and theories - hell, I don't think I'm entitled to them at this point.

However, if it weren't for the kindness and generosity of great performers like Slydini, Vernon, Miller, etc... we wouldn't have a Ricky Jay.

It seems selfish and condescending to withhold this legacy in such a fashion. But then again, after reading that article, it's not surprising.
Here I'm forced to jump in with my two cents worth.

Mr Jay is my favourite magical entertainer. It's not just because he has the chops, but for what he knows and the sheer love and respect that he has for his art. He is not the 'monster' that many ignorant people portray him to be. Indeed, he has been very kind to me in the past, but that's all I have to say on that.

He is a keeper of secrets. Whereas, as Eugene Burger once remarked, many magicians are the worst keeps of secrets of all. He comes across as a very private man, and why shouldn't he be? Just because he performs his art in public, doesn't mean to say that he is public property. This, in itself, if the crux of the matter.

From observation, he is often abused in public, which further enforces his requirement for privacy. 'Abused' you ask? Well, with 'magicians' approaching him after a show and asking, in front of laymen, about the sleights utilised during the performance, it is little wonder that he becomes defensive? Wouldn't you? There have also been idiots who have told him to his face that they perform some of his pieces verbatim! Holy Moly!

Mr Jay is an individual who embodies my idea of a true magician. He has sacrificed much for that he truly loves. In return many see his professional attitude as elitism. They miss the point entirely. Besides, how do we know for sure that he isn't coaching a successor behind closed doors?

It's all too easy to snipe from our armchairs. Learn to enjoy the sheer beauty of his carefuly crafted art.

We owe him much for his talent and inspiration. For Ricky Jay performs magic, not tricks.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 10/11/03 10:28 AM

Bob, you are correct. The quote does belong to Mr. Diaconis. My mistake. However, the article certainly makes clear that Ricky Jay shares those stringent ideals.

Also, I do think it is appropriate to launch a thread questioning the hoarding of secrets with an almost fanatical zeal. I do not believe, as you as suggest, that they should be sold on ebay. That's ridiculous. However, I'm certain there are a few worthy recipients of such material somewhere out there. I repeat - if it weren't for the kindness and generosity of others, there would be no Ricky Jay.

The comments about Mr. Jay's character are simply my opinions based on the one article that does not paint him as the nicest of people. Plus, the article was written by a friend, so one could surmise that it was slanted toward Mr. Jay.
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Postby Steve V » 10/11/03 10:55 AM

Well, as I understand it Ricky Jay doesn't care much for magicians, other than those that can help him. Guess if I ever see him I won't buy him a beer. His loss.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/11/03 10:59 AM

Did Dai Vernon intend for his life's work and legacy (in their entirety) to be shared with his fellow magicians after he was gone? Or did he put qualifiers on those he felt should learn from this legacy after he was gone? Perhaps some of you who knew him could clarify this?

So now we hear that certain fellows (and keepers of such unpublished material) hoard it for their own reasons (and possibly against the Professors wishes), not wanting to "give tools to animals"? No matter who is responsible for that statement, it's a pretty repugnant view IMHO.

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Postby Pete Biro » 10/11/03 11:45 AM

Charlie Miller was that way. When he was to lecture in England, for Ken Brooke, magicians -- at great expense -- came from far and wide to see this "legendary" card man.

What did he lecture on?

Rice Bowls, Chinese Sticks, the Egg Bag (which alone, IMHO, would have been enough) just simple stuff that Charlie did in his act.

No inside stuff on cards at all.

To say the attendees were disappointed would be putting it mildly. They were PI**ED OFF big time.

Ken was disappointed as well and was very upset about.

Both Persi and Ricky are keepers of secrets. It is their chioce to not share, altho Persi was very, very helpful to me and held back nothing.

Perhaps you have to EARN YOUR WAY IN to them, then what they have to offer is priceless.
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/11/03 12:29 PM

IMHO - a person's secrets/methods in magic are the property of the individual. It is up to this individual to decide if sharing is appropriate or desirable. There are those who can and do create and there are some who think the world owes them these original creations. Still others of us are grateful for the crumbs which we receive. I certainly think no less of a creator who is not interested in sharing. It is a personal choice. Heck, I do not share most of the exclusive goodies that I make. Most people are not even aware of the existence of these special items. They certainly do not appear on my various web pages. Be glad to witness the creations performed by these creative individuals and use them as inspiration for creating on your own effects and methods.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 10/11/03 12:34 PM

Persi, Ricky, Charlie,

Very admirable that you want to keep secrets. And sure Vernon should never give away any of his secrets. The laitly or animals should figure it all out for themselves.

Oh, by the way, did anyone every ask Vernon if he was grateful for Erdnase releasing all those secrets in that crummy little book? That guy is probably the cause of this whole problem.

I know I would certainly be a better stamp collector if I had not read that book of secrets.

Don't you just hate when someone spoils the fun of a hobby by teaching you how to do it?
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Postby Bob L » 10/11/03 12:53 PM

Don't you just hate when someone spoils the fun of a hobby by teaching you how to do it?
I intend no disrespect to anyone here. I'm a hobbyist myself ... and not a highly skilled one, I admit.

However, I think it is sometimes worthwhile remembering that magic is not always a hobby. For some, it is a professional career. Each person has a right to tend and protect their profession and their livelihood in their own way.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/11/03 01:16 PM

Does anyone who knew Vernon have any actual insight on his expressed wishes for the dissemination of his legacy after his death?

Did he wish to share it with his fellow students of our craft in it's entirety?

Or did he want it zealously guarded and hidden away by others who refer to those not meeting their stringent standards as "animals"?

No matter what their (potential) justification could be for witholding Vernons legacy, the "animals" statement is inexcusable in my eyes.

For those who haven't seen it, here is the quote verbatim:

To their dismay, Vernon wrote a series of instruction books. When these began to appear in print, Diaconis said to Vernon, Why did you publish these, Professor? We dont want the animals using tools.
It seems to me (and it is just my personal opinion) that Vernons obvious willingness to share his material late in his life(via books and even video) seems to belie the attitude toward secrecy held held by Messrs. Jay and Diaconis. Here is the link to the complete article for those interested.

I note comments such as this one by Jim Riser
IMHO - a person's secrets/methods in magic are the property of the individual. It is up to this individual to decide if sharing is appropriate or desirable.
Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I think the primary thrust of this discussion is of Vernons legacy, not necessarily the work of Jay or Diaconis. As such, I agree with you that the dispersal of ones personal material is a decision best left to that individual. I would not put the onus on Jay or Diaconis to release their personal material if they do not wish to do so.

I would like to know if Vernon intended his to keep his legacy available only to those two and those they feel rise above the standards of "animals using tools". What were his plans for his legacy and how does that jibe with what Messrs. Jay and Diaconis are actually doing with it?

It's not about feeling entitled here. Rather, it's about questioning the standards and attitudes of those who have been given the responsibility of either furthering Vernons legacy (by respecting the manner in which Vernon wanted his legacy handled) or witholding access to said material on the basis of personal whim.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 10/11/03 05:14 PM

I agree with both Bob and Jim, that a performer has NO obligation to share his/her secrets that they have honed over time.

I guess what bothers me is the obvious contempt that he has for us - the unwashed masses. I'm not saying he owes us anything, like secrets or tips or theories... But a little common courtesies might be nice.

I appreciate Mr. Nichols comments. His personal experience with Mr. Jay is heartening. I'm probably an idiot and unrealistic, but I kinda like my heroes to be likable.
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Postby Sal Perrotta » 10/11/03 06:33 PM

Perhaps it might be useful in this thread to add two more quotes from that NEW YORKER article which my clarify things......

Firstly an actual qoute from Ricky Jay...."A guy comes up and starts telling me he's a fan. I say thank you, that's nice to hear. He says he used to see me perform in Boulder, Colorado. That's nice too, I say. Then he starts talking about this wonderful piece I did with a mechanical monkey - really one of the most bizarre routines I worked out - and I thank him, and he says, 'Yeah,I get a tremendous response when I do that. Audiences just love it.' And I say, 'Let me ask you something. Suppose I invite you over to my house for dinner. We have a pleasant meal, we talk about magic, it's an enjoyable evening. Then, as you're about to leave, you walk into my living room and pick up my television and walk out with it. You steal my television set. Would you do that?' He says, 'of course not.' And I say, 'But you already did.' He says, 'What are you talking about?'.......This guy doesn't even know what a metaphor is....."

...and then an observation...." According to Micheal Weber...(Rickey Jay) has a particular aversion to the 'magic lumpen' - hoi polloi who congregate in magic clubs and at conventions, where they unabashedly seek to expropriate each others secrets, meanwhile failing to grasp the critical distinction between doing tricks and creating a sense of wonder...."
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/11/03 08:00 PM

Sal,

Does a bad experience (or two or three) give one the right to presumptively stereotype a whole group of people? In Mr. Jay's eyes, it seems that all (or a majority) of magicians can be dismissed as "'magic lumpen' or hoi polloi, not worthy of his time." Nice stereotyping eh? :rolleyes:

Here's another quote that is telling I think.

There was a time, within the past decade, when he seriously considered becoming a bookdealer himself. The main thing that dissuaded him, he says, is that I wouldnt want to sell a book to a philistine, which is what every bookseller has to do. Unlike a lot of collectors, he actually reads and rereads the books and other materials he buys, and puts them to scholarly and performing use.
Perhaps it's just me, but I think more than a few "philistines" out there actually appreciate and read the books they collect. I doubt such behaviour is the exclusive purview of Mr. Jay.

Mr. Jay disdains the company of magicians today, but the article makes it crystal clear that such was not the case when he eagerly sought a magicial education from Vernon, Slydini, and other magicians.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/11/03 08:53 PM

Originally posted by Chris Aguilar:
... it seems that all (or a majority) of magicians can be dismissed as "'magic lumpen' or hoi polloi, not worthy of his time." Nice stereotyping eh? :rolleyes: ...
Cliques need to have that exclusivity thing in order to function. Cool is a good fallback when you don't have the talent to create or the interpersonal skills to entertain.

Let's try to leave Persi Diaconis and Ricky as people out of this. The issue of refering to other members of this community as 'animals' or 'philistines' is more troublesome than the antics of a couple of misguided people.

If you want to help solve the problem... treat other folks better.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/11/03 09:08 PM

I really think we've gotten about as far as we're going to get with this, and since neither Ricky Jay nor Persi Diaconis are going to post their opinions on the Genii Forum, and their positions and opinions are already fairly well known--why don't we just give it a rest.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/12/03 02:33 AM

Well, even though this may hinder the delivery of a couple RJ items due me ( :D ), I have to add my few bucks worth (to heck with two cents) into this. Otherwise, I couldnt call myself a true Ricky Jay stalkererrrrFAN; yeah, its fan

I would first echo those things said by Graham Nichols as well as Sal Perrotta: But to them I will add that Ricky Jay sets an extremely high standard for himself in virtually everything he does. Moreover, I think he expects at least one of two (but preferably both) things from other magicians: set similar standards and/or respect his. Unfortunately, what he sees is neither. (And I think sees is a key point.)

I have personally witnessed, several times, the kind of behavior Graham speaks of at book signings and lectures. If its incredible to me that a magician would ask another magician to discuss, in a public forum, sleight-of-hand techniques and routines--particularly those of a proprietary nature--imagine what Ricky Jay thinks! And then there was the time when some moron, during intermission at a performance of 52 Assistants, went down to the front of the curtain and performed card tricks (while wearing his Penn & Teller T-shirt--it was good to see him get dressed up for a night at the theater)! I know for a fact that it was noticed back stage because I was told so by David Roth. Hell, I learned when I was a kid that this was considered bad form, but this guy must have missed that paragraph (because he skipped right to the trick descriptions).

But, this is the behavior Ricky Jay constantly sees from the general magic public. What he doesnt see are those of us who know better sitting there with our heads in our hands in quiet dismay. I like to think that we out number the yahoos, but how can anyone, least of all Ricky Jay, be sure? Its easier--much easier--to shut out the whole group and allow into your inner circle those who prove themselves worthy on an individual basis--which is exactly how Vernon did it. Not just any schmuck could toddle up to the Professor and get free lessons. Trust me on this one--I know of what I speak.

Now, does this mean that I dont wish Ricky Jay could be a little more open to the magic community? No; I wish he would be. After all, the magic community has given him a lot of support. But I also dont believe its a requirement as some seem to feel. I have also been openly critical of him in the past. For example, his refusal (polite as it was) of the AMAs Magician of the Year award in 1993 or 94 (cant recall which right now) was a major snub and, in my opinion, an unnecessary one. But I have also said that I still hold out hope that he will change. Seeing more quality magicians (and I dont just mean from a skill standpoint; Im talking about general character) will help soften him. And I think there are signs it might be happening: his recent increase in web presence might be an example. Only time will tell if this is true, but I also wouldnt expect to see any how to books and/or DVDs from him any time soon.

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Postby Terry » 10/12/03 06:28 AM

With all due respect to the previous posters on this thread, I like Ricky Jay and can appreciate his opinion.

From various writings by Bruce Cervon and Larry Jennings, you had to prove yourself over time before the Professor would take you seriously and open up to you.

From what I have read, Mr. Jay made it a point to seek out Dai Vernon and attempt to learn from him. This practice dates back centuries in the various arts. A novice would seek out a master, prove their worth and then maybe the master would teach.

Mr Jay made a sacrifice and paid the price to study and learn his craft. He is under no obligation to give away what he has worked so hard to gain.

"Magicians" seem to be under the impression that once they obtain a few secrets, join the clubs, learn the "secret" handshake, etc., that they should be privy to everything and everyone. Sorry about your luck.

The question should be, "How do I prove myself worthy to be taught that which I seek"?

Mr. Jay's opinion is based on what he has experienced with the hackers in magic after his shows. Whether they represent all magicians is a moot point. Mr. Jay can only base his opinion on what he sees.

With all the available material in print, video and DVD, why would we need more secrets? To create Ricky Jay clones? To be able to sit at a show or video viewing with our smug "know it all" attitudes?

Get a life, get over it or get on.
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Postby Steve V » 10/12/03 11:59 AM

All things are not equal. One thing I like about magic is that the class lines are crossed. A doctor can be spotted listening intently to a kid in highschool because the kid has some bit of knowledge or an ability that elevates him in the art. A rocket scientist or university prof explaining some aspect to some fellow in matted hair and tie dye. It's a great thing.

What I've also noted is that the mear belief that one is a magician often makes an individual think they are equal in magic to other magicians. This is not at all true. There are those that have reached levels in ability and accomplishment that puts them above the normal run of the mill magician and they deserve to have that position recognized. I, for example, have a great deal of admiration for Max Maven/Phil Goldstien. I think that he's not only an extremely intelligent and thoughtful magician but also a charming gentleman. There is not a moment that I would consider walking up to Max and being too familiar with him because I happen to call myself a magician. I may ask him, in the right situation, a question, but never would I assume that he owes me an explanation or a response. Same goes with Ricky Jay, Lance Burton, or any number of men and women in the art. We are not all brothers in the art, that is just what often puts us in the same room.

I can see why a major player doesn't deal with the fraternity or sorority of magic, a lot of you are a pain in the arse. Unfortunately, you do not know who you are (I don't know if any of the members of this board fall into that catagory, I would think at least a couple do). Chose your moments and your timing and you'll do better when it comes to talking to these upper echeleon men and women. Let them offer to show you something rather than asking, with the belief it's owed to you as a magician, you'll get more out of it. Respect them for what they have accomplished and hopefully they will respect you for they were once where you are at now. The same thing with the craftsmen in magic. They have abilities that not only do most of us not have but will NEVER have. We are not all equal. If you do become the next Maven or Jay or [censored] then perhaps when someone approaches you and asks about how you do that sleight you never tipped, remember, you were there too.

I've been doing magic for 30 years and I don't have any right to expect anyone in magic to give me any help or be my pal because of that.

This does not apply to the magical dealer types out there lecturing their brains out. They are vendors and you are their customer, treat them like you always do.
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Postby Sal Perrotta » 10/12/03 12:35 PM

.....just for the record.....

I did not venture to give MY opinion of Ricky Jay in my previous post. In fact, I am a big fan of his and I have a great deal of respect for the high standard that he sets. I wish that all magicians had that standard. And, he like everyone else is entitled to their opinion especially if it is based on what they see....

I posted the quotes from the article only because I felt that any discussion was best served by having his own words instead of the somewhat general notions of what he might have said .......

In general, I really enjoy this forum because it has been a great educational experience! I am truely greatful to all those individuals who have taken the time to write about magic history, books, apparatus etc., etc. This kind of thread is not generally my favorite....but once in a while I am sure that everyone has come across a magician who has to know the latest secret, buys the latest video and puts the trick in his show an hour after he gets it, with patter and all word for word from the instructions.....so little practice, so little thought on making it his own performance! I was hoping this thread was going to take the high road and focus on the importance of originality etc.

.....just for the record......
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Postby Jeff Eline » 10/12/03 01:04 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Let's try to leave Persi Diaconis and Ricky as people out of this. The issue of referring to other members of this community as 'animals' or 'philistines' is more troublesome than the antics of a couple of misguided people.

If you want to help solve the problem... treat other folks better.
Jonathan?? The names 'animal', 'lumpen', 'hoi polloi', etc... to describe magicians came from Mr. Dianconis and Mr. Jay. NOT me or Chris or others on this board. I"m confuses by your comments.

PS - I have never suggested, nor has anyone so far, that every secret should be made readily available to anyone that wants them, or sold on ebay or handed out at the supermarket. We got it. Everyone agrees. And thank you, but I have a life!
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Postby mark » 10/12/03 03:55 PM

This brings to mind a recent experience. I was speaking to one of those elevated few in the art about something that he had showed me. I had done some work overnight, and wished clarification, and I got it in a private manner. This elevated one then proceeded to tell me that he did not wish to open up to people quite so much in the future. I didn't want to pry, but he seemed to want to talk about it, so I asked the question - what was the problem? He told me that he shared it with another elevated one who will remain nameless, and soon after saw this person tipping the work in an extremely public high traffic area, practically putting on a clinic. He pulled him aside, and gently reminded him of ethical considerations, hoping that it might make the difference. The man continued with his clinic, barely missing a beat. I understand that no one wishes to be thought of as an animal, or one of the unwashed masses, or as a friend of mine put it, like a monkey with a machine gun. One of the best ways to avoid that is to avoid such conduct that would lead to the label. I read the quote attributed to the two men in question. I wasn't offended, because I chose not to wear the label. I am not a secret monger, and I am curious enough to try variations on my own moves, write new stories for my effects, etc..The offended person that I wrote about was not only offended, he was hurt. Now lets talk about a guy like Ricky Jay, and wonder how many times he has bumped up against rude or crude 'magicians.' I'll not defend or attack here, I don't know either man. I am a real fan of Mr. Jay's work, but I have never met him.
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Postby Randy DiMarco » 10/13/03 06:00 AM

If someone wants to keep secrets, that is fine. However, in these cases people are choosing not to share other people's material. If Vernon did not want this material shared, that is fine. I don't know if he wanted this material shared or not but from what I hear about the history of the "Revelations" project I have the opinion that secrets were, and are, kept against Mr. Vernon's wishes. A similar thing is happening with Jack Birnman's material. A book of his material is being withheld despite a promise made to him that the book would be published. I respect a creator's right to keep his work a secret. I don't respect when others go against the creator's wishes.
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Postby Randy DiMarco » 10/13/03 06:06 AM

As an addition to my post above. I also don't respect someone who shares secrets that the creator wanted kept secret. If nothing is said as to whether something should be kept secret, I assume that it should not be shared.
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Postby Guest » 10/13/03 07:31 AM

According to this article, Diaconis said, "Why did you publish this, professor? We don't want the animals using tools."
As I do not know the entire context, my thoughts here may just be simply wrong; however, I read this quote quite differently. "Animals" in this quote does not seem to refer to other "Magicians" (humans), but to the lay public or audience (e.g., chimpanzees). Like I said, I could be wrong, but that is the anthropomorphic context that I read.

:cool:
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Postby Guest » 10/13/03 07:41 AM

There was a time, within the past decade, when he seriously considered becoming a bookdealer himself. The main thing that dissuaded him, he says, is that I wouldnt want to sell a book to a philistine, which is what every bookseller has to do. Unlike a lot of collectors, he actually reads and rereads the books and other materials he buys, and puts them to scholarly and performing use.
Another point slightly off topic: who is paying the bills?

With the exception of the likes of Ricky Jay, a lot of income in magic would dry up if books and tricks were not sold. Or other patronage provided by the likes of those who may not be professionals (and may not even be performers at all), but who do love magic and are willing to put a lot of cash back into it.

Without the philistines, the "chosen" would have a much rougher time, if able to survive at all.

:cool:
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Postby Michael Kamen » 10/13/03 08:35 AM

. . .hoi polloi, etc. . .
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have all said things in private that we may prefer not be repeated in a public forum, have we not?

Now that the shoe is out of the box, if it fits wear it -- if not, you have no problem.
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Postby Guest » 10/13/03 09:15 AM

Originally posted by WarlockDrummer:
There was a time, within the past decade, when he seriously considered becoming a bookdealer himself. The main thing that dissuaded him, he says, is that I wouldnt want to sell a book to a philistine, which is what every bookseller has to do. Unlike a lot of collectors, he actually reads and rereads the books and other materials he buys, and puts them to scholarly and performing use.
Without the philistines, the "chosen" would have a much rougher time, if able to survive at all.

:cool:
On the contrary. The real workers would make a better living, if it were not for the herd of wannabees working for $50 an evening.
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Postby Guest » 10/13/03 11:56 AM

When I was a kid living in California I wrote to Dai Vernon, he then sent me an invitation to the Magic Castle. Although I never met him (missed him by ten minutes when I went to the Castle) I always remembered his kindness. Kindness and courtesy seem to be in short supply, when it comes to some in magic today.
I do not know Mr. Jay, but this is not the first time I've heard the sentiments posted here. My hero's are human beings first. People like Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger and Jay Marshall have always been kind to me "Philistine" though I may be.
I can't help but think of The Twilight Zone episode, where Burgess Meridith, just wanted to be left alone with his books.

Dan Mindo

P.S. Houdini only liked dead magicians.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 10/13/03 12:36 PM

P.S. Houdini only liked dead magicians. [/QB][/QUOTE]


Houdini liked magicians. He even supplied free illusions to some and found jobs for others.

What he didn't like was imitators. ;)
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby Guest » 10/13/03 12:41 PM

I have this image that right now, somewhere, Ricky Jay is being chased by a 16 year old yelling "Come on Rick! I thought you were a magician, let's see your manip act! We are BOTH magicians ya know"
Steve V
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/13/03 12:49 PM

Originally posted by Jeff Eline:
"Why give tools to the Animals?".
Well, from a mythalogical perspective it does bring great misfortune to the giver.

Though such a perspective presumes tremendous hubris on the part of the speaker.

I would have expected far better from those guys. I am disappointed.

Writing as an average john... i do believe in giving tools to animals... see what they do. see how they paint pictures of the world.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/13/03 01:13 PM

I'm just speculating, but isn't it possible that one or two very serious and dedicated magicians have already approached Mr. Jay and are learning from him in a private and non-publicized fashion? This is how Ricky learned himself, after all, and it may well be how he chooses to pass on this magical tradition which he obviously respects very dearly.

If he did, none of us would know about it, would we?

Ricky Jay, it seems obvious, believes that you should earn the secrets. Simply being "a magician" does not qualify in his mind.

And for god's sake, is it just possible that Persi Diaconis was making a joke? I might have said the same exact thing myself, as a joke. (It would have been a different joke had I said it!)
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/13/03 02:44 PM

Having been around both Messrs. Jay and Diaconis, I can tell you if you earn their respect they will share.

Ricky's friends include Steve Freeman and Michael Weber in magic... he does respect the secrets and that is his right.

Diaconis, when he was living in the San Francisco bay area and I was performing regularly there, came to many of my shows and helped me tremendously, giving me inside material and new ideas and helped me to develop my signature closing piece.

Many of you may not know of the "old days" when theh "back room boys" were privvy to the good stuff. Places like Jack Chanin's, Flosso's, Golden Gate Magic and many others, had the "front" stores for the hobbyists, and the pro's and serious amateurs would "hang out" in the back rooms, swapping information, techniques and trying things out on one another.

Secrets were HARD TO COME BY.

Then there was the underground, with letters from Fawcett Ross, Vernon, Ross Bertram, etc., then Roger Klause and his list... the Marlo gang, then the folks like Jennings, Cervon, Skinner, Jay, Freeman -- and others -- that followed Vernon to Calfornia to learn.

Then the EXPLOSION.... hundres, if not thousands of books with inventions, thievery, re-inventions, new stuff from new guys (which if you study you would find better ways in the older books)... and magic went "Rotarian" with clubs popping up everywhre.

The serious guys and many of the old pro's didn't participate in this explosion... going about their business but suffered with interuptions from "wannabees" hammering at them for their SECRETS and stealing their material right and left.

Right now, there seems to be a new load of sharp, original guys... guys like Armondo, Dean Dill, McClintock and many others... some are not tipping, which is good.

Armando in particular has material that is knocking the brains out of many who think they know what's going on but are clueless... and he's keeping it to himself.

Thank god.

See next post.
Stay tooned.
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/13/03 02:46 PM

Last night one of those I was doing a few bits of magic for was a theater and film director.

After closing with BLIZZARD... he said, "You know you just don't want to know how that is done. You have put us in a 'suspension of belief' mode and that is wonderful.

"I would think that anyone that treats what you do as a puzzle and wants to know how you did it is hurting themselves... I just want to enjoy the state you put us into..."
Stay tooned.
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Postby Jeremy Greystoke » 10/13/03 04:04 PM

Thanks Pete for the "Blizzard" story.

I remember when I first witnessed the work of David Roth and I was deeply impressed. Some time later, I saw him at another convention and he was performing (though not explaining) the Tuning Fork routine. It looked like pure magic and I had not a clue what was going on.

I chatted with a friend about this, and he had seen David work as well, and he was also equally impressed with the material. And we both felt that we almost didn't want to know how the effect was accomplished...it just looked so pure and magical that to learn the actual methodology (no matter how ingenious) would take away that wonderful sense of magic.

And indeed, I put off purchasing Expert Coin Magic for a while, just for that reason. But, being all too human, curiosity finally got the better of me and I bought the book.

And the handlings and methods and thinking were just as ingenious as I had hoped....and one bit of magic was removed, but replaced with other feelings of wonder and gratitude.

I'm grateful for the explosion of material I've seen during my lifetime....when I look around my collection, I realize that right this moment I have enough performance material to last me for several lifetimes....and if there are those who create material and wish to keep it to themselves, more power to them. It's a wonderful feeling to be utterly befuddled.....


Jeremy
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Postby John Smetana » 10/13/03 07:24 PM

Mr.Biro's post says it all...."those were the days my friends...we thought they'd never end" and for some of us..they haven't... and for that I'm grateful.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/13/03 09:05 PM

Knock off the Mr.... OK? (Don't need to be reminded I am a geezer.... :D
Stay tooned.
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