Troubling thoughts

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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 07:12 PM

Folks:
I'm disappointed by a trend I've seen more of recently...both here and on other bulletin boards. It's the one where we bash another magician's qualifications.

I've seen, for instance, disparaging postings about Darwin Ortiz, Michael Ammar, P&T...and obviously, Brad Christian.

You know, I got involved in magic because of the joy it brings me. I am nowhere as talented as many of the folks who post here; I am in awe of you and your abilities.

But I do know when something is wrong. And I do know that slamming another guy's qualifications and his acknowledged expertise is wrong. For instance, there's another thread going on right now that questions whether Darwin is really a gambling consultant as he claims. What's the purpose of this post? Are we trying to denigrate his abilities, his honesty? Ammar is regularly slammed because he teaches so few of his own effects on his videos, and has been cheerfully dinged for the way the Professor treated him on the Revelations tapes. In doing so, we overlook the fact that Ortiz is one of the most accomplished card handlers of our generation, and that Ammar is responsible for responsibly teaching thousands of magicians, including me.

Why do we do this? Does it make us feel better that someone else is getting hammered? And if it does, what does that say about us, and our self-value?

Maybe I'm living in a fantasy world, but I have two daughters...and I try to live my life in such a way that I can look them in the face and tell them I've tried to treat people the way I'd want them to treat me.

I'd ask each and every one of us to rethink what and why we post what we do here. I have no problem with those of us who say of another magician, "I don't like his style..." or "I don't agree with her handling," or something of that ilk. But can we try to move away from the personal mudslinging? We accomplish absolutely nothing by doing so...and IMHO, we cheapen ourselves in the process.

My .02; YMMV.
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Postby Scott » 01/23/03 07:34 PM

Well said. I've never heard Ammar say a single bad thing about any magician. Shame he's the target of attacks. I've met him personally and found him to be one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. Not only did he take the time to speak with me, he took the time to help me become a better magician. Sure, it was only 15 minutes of his time after a lecture, but that's 15 more minutes than I've ever gotten a lot of lecturing magicians willing to give up to help teach someone.

It's far too negative and it breeds upon itself. How about posting great, helpful magician stories instead of tearing others down?

Thanks for taking the time to post the previous message.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/23/03 08:32 PM

Originally posted by Steve Friedberg:
...Why do we do this? Does it make us feel better that someone else is getting hammered? And if it does, what does that say about us, and our self-value?
Steve,

After about a fifteen year hiatus, I recently decided to visit with the NYC gang. This to see a few people who were really supportive back when. On Saturdays there they are.

If you don't mind a guess, it may be something like insecurity or lack of self worth that gets someone involved in commentary instead of creating material worthy of comment. It might even be that one person is trying to use another as a mirror of some value and gets frustrated and angry when the other person does not reflect the desired value.

When the art is 'front and center' there is not much to say about the artist. The plainest looking people have made some of the most beautiful and useful things. The works become the subject of discussion.

Getting back to the story... my agenda involved finding some folks from way back when named Fernando Roman and David Arthur. What I found was the core of the group was intact. And some new faces were there looking for inspiration and insight. Some brought their wants. Others brought their latest findings and questions.

For the durration of the visit there was no bashing or criticism of other magicians. If you get to NYC, get in touch with someone and visit the gang on Saturday.

If there is no group like this near you, then you may have to found one. This probably means setting your sights on what is virtuous and praising it and letting the stuff that could be improved wait until asked for options.

Also not amused by mean commentary

-Jonathan

PS Funny about Ammar. I saw his lecture in 83 and really liked the deck->cased deck trick. He said it was not his. His book credits the trick. And it looked really good when he did it. That's the image that comes to mind when I read his name.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 08:43 PM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
If there is no group like this near you, then you may have to found one. This probably means setting your sights on what is virtuous and praising it and letting the stuff that could be improved wait until asked for options..
Jonathan:
Thanks for the comments. I'm not suggesting that we pass over the opportunity to help others make their work better; Lord knows, my work can use all the help it can get.

But there are two ways to approach that kind of advice:

Way 1: "Your stuff stinks. Why you can't do thus-and-such, I don't understand."
Way 2: "It's okay, but I think you may have better success if you try thus-and-such."

Many of the magicians I've been fortunate enough to work with have been very good about sharing. I was incredibly lucky one night in LV to hook up at the Boomer's Wednesday night sessions. Folks like Scott Hitchcock, Joan DuKore, Allan Ackerman and Paul Vigil gave me tips I absolutely treasure. There was no reason for them to do it, other than their appreciation of the art, and (hopefully) their understanding that I wanted to take the opportunity to learn.

Locally, guys like Marc DeSouza and Francis Menotti have been tremendously helpful. Every bit of advice I've gotten has been positive...

Someone once defined "tact" as the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they looked forward to the journey.

It's been suggested that many who bash on the Internet lack that tact because we're not saying stuff to people's faces...that there's a once-removed quality that lets some feel they can criticize with impunity.

Let's see if we can move beyond that. Let's see if we get back to an atmosphere of cooperation and camaraderie. Sure, there will always be those who feel the need to slam others as a way of building up their own self-worth. But let them be the blatant exception.
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Postby Robert Kane » 01/23/03 09:52 PM

Bravo to Steve's first post! You have my support. Let's keep it civil. :)
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Postby Terry » 01/24/03 06:09 AM

Ammar is regularly slammed because he teaches so few of his own effects
Steve,

Michael addresses this, I believe, on one of his audio cassettes or maybe it was his book. Anyway, he states that he is not so much a creator of effects, but rather sees the possible development of anothers effect into a showpiece.

Michael, I'm sure, recognizes his limitations in one area and his strength in another. We should all be so lucky.
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Postby Jerry Harrell » 01/24/03 08:22 AM

Steve,

Bravo for your comments. Well said.

Whenever I read the bashing that appears on these sites, I am reminded of the remark a good friend of mine made many years ago.

This fellow is a long time professional magician who has also worked for many years in the circus world. I asked him why so many magicians feel the need to tear down their fellow performers, while everyone in the circus world supports the other acts, even those from the competing shows.

He smiled and said, "There are no amateur circus performers."
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Postby Dave Egleston » 01/24/03 09:10 AM

Because I don't perform for anyone other than friends and family - My interest in magic is just that - a purchaser and follower of magic.

I will not hesitate to criticize ANYONE who has "ripped me off" - I work very hard for my money and expect anyone who wants my money, make it worthwhile for me to give them some - My two favorite "targets" for criticism and ridicule is Ammar and Maxwell - If you go back and look at my posts - you'll never see a criticism of their abilites, that would be stupid, they make their living on their abilities in the field of magic - I repair xray equipment for a living -

It's interesting to see legitimate questions about performers - as you've pointed out - There is now a thread about one of my favorite guys - Mr Ortiz - I would never hesitate to spend money on any product put out by him (with the exception of the Maxwell produced book "Scams and Fantasies", and I'll probably end up buying that also)- However his job is an intersection of two of my favorite subjects - Gambling and Magic - I won't post an opinion of what I think his qualifications are - I'm not qualified - And Mr Ortiz will come out of this thread with at least the same credibilty he now has - or in my opinion, more.

When I first came to this board - I made a snide comment about a book I didn't think was worth the money - The producer of that book came on to tell me what was wrong with my assessment of his product - I thanked him for his input - but still feel like it's one of the weakest books in my collection.

Is this what you don't like?

I was also lucky enough to be part of a magic group that met every Saturday - and I agree with Mr Townsend - It is a very uplifting experience - and a heck of a lot of fun - We also used to host some of the brightest talent in the world for lectures - or sometimes they would just come around and shoot the breeze - A very unique situation for a magical hack like me - I have to tell you - We heard more gossip, rumor and criticism from our guests than anything that's been written on this board -

I agree with you Mr. Friedberg - it is disheartening sometimes to read some of the crap that is written - but on the whole - You'll see that most of here on the Genii forum are just like a Saturday morning group, that can't wait to show the rest of the group a new way to vanish a quarter.

Dave
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Postby Scott » 01/24/03 11:13 AM

Perhaps what is troubling is not the posts where people give their opinion on a product or performance, but when it crosses over from an objective review of the product/performance into a personal attack. Attacking character is disturbing. There are obviously people in magic who hate each other and, if left alone, would spend their entire days and nights going after people to tear them down. I suspect this isn't any different in any other topic matter.

I'm fine with people giving their honest opinions on a product or performance, but when it's not backed up, it's nothing more than a personal attack.

For instance, watching a performer or a video, one could easily say "I was very disappointed in this tape because I expected to learn something different than what was on the tape. I expected to learn something new, when this video is a collection of tricks that have been around for 50 years or more.". That's objective.

Saying "This is the worst tape I have ever seen, Mr. Magician should give me my money back and never perform again.The guy who produced it is a crook" is not objective. It's full of emotion and if you've got a wife or girlfriend, you know what emotion based discussions are like.

Fact is that negative breeds negative. Positive breeds positive. One way to change the "tone" of the board is to post positive posts. Something I will try and start doing more of, myself.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 11:22 AM

Hi Dave:
Thanks for the comments. I have absolutely no problem with critical remarks about a magician's body of work...be it Darwin's latest book, or a new DVD, or even my performance.

But I guess my concern...and apparently the concern of others, judging from the responses above...is that we shouldn't make it personal. I can say I don't agree with your attitude about something, or can say I've seen magicians who perform an effect far better, without calling you an ignorant fool, or something like that. And vice versa.

Gotta remember...every time we open ourselves to public scrutiny, we're opening a little bit of our psyche up as well. And there will be some who say, "well, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Yeah. I know...but as performers, we're all looking for that "attaboy." Let he who is without ego vanish the first silk. :cool:

I'm not trying to set myself up as holier-than-thou...I've certainly had my share of comments along the way. My earlier post, though, was meant to suggest that maybe we can all scale back the vitriol...and get back to the fun and wonder that's associated with the joy of learning that new way to vanish a quarter.
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 11:34 AM

If you think magicians are bad in this department, you have never spent time with classicalmusicians. A good friend of mine in college was a classical musician studying at Juilliard. when classialmusicians are in a social environment from first to last it is vicious rumors, libel, posturing, personal attacks and name calling.

while I agree with the sentiments,magicians are quite tame in the grand scheme f things.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/24/03 12:38 PM

Originally posted by Stohan:
...when classialmusicians are in a social environment from first to last it is vicious rumors, libel, posturing, personal attacks and name calling...
My father is a classical musicologist. Half the New York Philharmonic used to come over to our little apartment on the lower east side to rehearse works. Twice a month there were cellos and violins and sometimes tubas though not any posturing or name calling.

Perhaps those who feel nothing good about themselves like to say such of others?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 02:36 PM

Magic is no different than any of the other arts. Alot of comments made by people on this forum (and other forums) that are disparaging are most often done out of jealousy.

A worse reason that I have come across are those people that don't like someone else or something else because someone they admire in magic doesn't like them.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 01/24/03 03:52 PM

If possible, it's useful to examine motive. WHY is someone making a comment that challenges another's reputation?

Regarding the question of Darwin's credentials, what difference does it make? He is not being vetted for anything. Darwin is a card expert, which has been proven in person and in print. He can skillfully perform everything he writes about and he is a working professional. The only ones who might be interested in questioning other claims on his resume would be those in positions to hire him on THE BASIS of what's claimed on his resume.

Furthermore, if he entertains his clients and spectators and THEY are happy, shouldn't we applaud his success and celebrate the fact that he ably represents our field as an exemplar?
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Postby Edward » 01/24/03 08:38 PM

The circus quote from Mr.Harrel is quite wonderful.
Mr Friedberg is quite right and I agree with him entirely.

I think the problems are due mainly to jealousy.

The sort of people who are attracted to magic, by and large are social misfits and inadequates.

Sorry if this offends anybody but it happens to be true from my own observations.Magic is just about the only performance art form where these inadequates can get some sort of praise from audiences fairly quickly without too much work.
This of course boosts their self esteem.

When their self esteem is threatened by other performers they tend to lash out a little without realising why they are doing it.

Furthermore there is a large gulf in thinking and attitude between the professional performer and the hobbyist. This is bound to create division and friction by itself.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/24/03 09:00 PM

Originally posted by Edward:

The sort of people who are attracted to magic, by and large are social misfits and inadequates.

Magic is just about the only performance art form where these inadequates can get some sort of praise from audiences fairly quickly without too much work. This of course boosts their self esteem.

When their self esteem is threatened by other performers they tend to lash out a little without realising why they are doing it.
The voyage of self discovery indeed.

The validation issue is part of our consumer society. You are your posessions etc.

The issue of feeling threatened by the accomplishments of others is also very real for some folks.

I'm not so sure about the attraction of magic to the awkward and insecure. Our society does not reward the clever and reserves its greatest punishments for those who offer new and useful things like fire.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Guest » 01/25/03 05:55 AM

Originally posted by Edward:
The sort of people who are attracted to magic, by and large are social misfits and inadequates.
Hey...I resemble that remark!

I will agree that a lot of people who practice magic tend to be more creative in their thinking, and a fair share are associated with the performing arts in some way. And when they "perform the act in front of paying customers" (thank you, Richard Nixon), they want the approval...they want the applause. So, in that respect, we actively seek the love of others, more than folks who avoid the spotlight. That doesn't make us social misfits and inadequates.

And "without too much work?" Ouch!

Ok. Moving on.
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Postby Terry » 01/25/03 07:21 AM

One of the things overlooked in our new PC brainwashed society is that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees everyone the freedom of speech. Period.

If someone doesn't like what another has to say, they have 3 options:

1. Listen to it.
2. Listen to it and be willing to debate the issue.
3. Walk away.

If you don't like the content of a post, don't read it. You have a free will choice to do so. No offense intended, but no one should try to shame, bluff or otherwise impose your "ideas" of a perfect world on anyone.

Diversity of ideas and opinions are what makes the conversation worthwhile.
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Postby MaxNY » 01/25/03 10:34 AM

Please don't compare me to circus clowns. My friend Bobcat (Shakes the Clown) has reported plenty of rumblings between the circus clowns, and the rodeo clowns.
---There is a hierarchy even at the New York tables...gotta sit with the scrubs before you get invited up to the big boy's table. But, they are all very nice to all person's interested in the art.
---About seven years ago I started to compete in the Boomerang Nationals. It was the first time I was enlighten to just how magicians are... I guess I had some new group to compare against. The Boomerang guys were all so friendly, & artistic guys. It was refreshing to have someone give you a boost-up. There were all kinds of pointers, helping me get through the day. OK, so the national group couldn't be more than 80 guys or gals, and most time they are out in a field throwing to themselves...a friend to throw with can be appreciated...
---The stakes are high. (I've said this before) There are a dozen guys making millions...and a million guys making dozens. In a "secretive society" this just complicates the equation. I would like to see those making millions do it in an honest way...no "levitating" by hanging off fire escapes...no stealing another's product, or gigs...no padding your resume...
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Postby Guest » 01/25/03 11:47 PM

Hey, Max! I competed in the 1992 Boomerang Nationals. My standing in the competition was so low that they ran out of room at the bottom of the blackboard to list my score. No matter, I was still a thrower in a community of throwers, and I had a blast. Some of the world's top-ranked throwers were more than happy to give advice, share tips, provide encouragement.

Of course, there's really no such thing as a professional boomerang thrower. And there's no correlate in boomerang throwing to disputes over who has the more beautiful split-fan routine or the most invisible pass. Your score in the 20-meter fast catch is what it is. It's a simpler universe than magic -- though no less beautiful when the winds are moderate and consistent, and your 70-meter distance hook returns from its journey for a gentle, one-handed catch.

r
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Postby Guest » 01/26/03 04:13 AM

Magic is certainly home to many a social misfit. A peer of mine once said to be "isn't magic just for geeks not smart enough to understand star trek"

:p
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Postby Guest » 01/26/03 06:45 AM

Max,
How come no matter how hard we try, we seem to keep coming back to this topic of the Boomerang Nationals? :rolleyes:
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Postby Guest » 01/26/03 07:16 AM

An Australian calls boomerang throwing a sport for social misfits?? Something's more upside-down here than just your hemisphere. :cool:

As an aside to this tangent, I want to point out that boomerangs gave rise to my favorite-ever organizational name: the (long-defunct) British group, "The Society for the Promotion and Avoidance of Boomerangs."
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Postby Ian Kendall » 01/26/03 04:08 PM

It's not only on the web. I've known one prominent magician for coming up on fifteen years, and in that time I have never had a conversation where he has not passed negative comment about someone. What made it more unpalateable over the years was that a lot of the people he was insulting are now his best buddies, and a lot of people who used to be his best buddies are now the ones he insults.

I spent a couple of years not talking to magicians, and I'm sad to say they were some of the less stressful times of late. It's a sad fact that backstabbers are here to stay, and I'm pretty sure I've done it myself more than once.

On well, take care.

Ian
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Postby Guest » 01/27/03 04:09 AM

An Australian calls boomerang throwing a sport for social misfits?? Something's more upside-down here than just your hemisphere

I said magicians are the social misfits not boomerang throwers. My hemisphere might be upside down, but at least I can read!!! ;)

Now kangaroo racing, that is the sport of kings! I have several prize roos which I race out the back of the local pub on weekends and we never fight at the roo racing.

The winner gets his weight in beer.

:D :D :D
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/27/03 10:46 AM

Go see Kangaroo Jack... not as bad as some reviewers say. The kids in the audience roared at the camels letting wind scene! :D :D
Stay tooned.
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