Remembering Louis Falanga

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Jim Sisti
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Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Jim Sisti » June 27th, 2020, 8:57 pm

The magic world lost a giant as Louis Falanga, founder and president of L&L Publishing, passed away peacefully Saturday morning after his courageous battle with a protracted illness.

Born in Brooklyn NY in 1955, Louis first became interested in magic by way of an uncle who would show him simple magic tricks during family dinners. Several years later, he became more serious about magic after seeing Mark Wilson perform at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York and he soon developed a profound love of close-up magic, particularly card magic. The future publisher consumed books like Wilfred Jonson’s Magic Tricks & Card Tricks and Scarne on Card Tricks, learning every trick in them. He also developed the same habit that many magic kids in the New York area had, that of hanging around Lou Tannen’s magic shop in the hope of being able to rub shoulders with the many legends passing through town.

Louis relocated to California in 1973, settling in Tahoma on the shores of Lake Tahoe. He got a job first as a ski lift operator and later as a staff trainer for the Squaw Valley Ski Resort but also soon found work as a close-up magician in the many exclusive restaurants that ring the lake. It was also during this period that Louis would first meet Larry Jennings, an encounter that would change his life forever.

They became fast friends and when Larry moved to Newport Beach to assume the position of entertainment director at Magic Island, he hired Louis to act as a host at the club. At Magic Island, Louis found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of Michael Ammar, Martin Lewis, John Carney, and Daryl, a period of his life that he always remembered fondly.

It was also during this time that Louis began to develop a significant number of his own effects. He decided to incorporate these original ideas and routines into print form and enlisted the aid of a local magic pal, Mike Maxwell, to write up the material for a book. Louis Falanga’s Lake Tahoe Card Magic made its debut in 1985. Not only did it offer fourteen of Louis’ items, but Larry Jennings contributed an entire chapter of unpublished material. The book was well received by cardmen and critics alike and continues to be a good seller to this day.

Louis suggested to Larry that he put out a comprehensive book of his own work and Larry, while resistant at first, finally warmed to the idea. Louis brought in Mike Maxwell as the writer, Tom Gagnon was enlisted as the illustrator, and finally, in 1986, The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings was ready for release.

What to call the company, though, became a dilemma but Larry had the answer. “It’s you and me, Louis. Larry and Louis. L & L Publishing.” And that’s the way it was until 1989, when Jennings signed over his interest in the company completely over to Louis.

L&L Publishing, with Louis at its helm, published many books now considered to be classics, including four volumes of The Vernon Chronicles, two volumes of The Collected Works of Alex Elmsley, Carneycopia, The Magic of Michael Ammar, The Commercial Magic of J.C. Wagner, and many other titles, including books by and about Ed Marlo, Harry Lorayne, Don Alan, John Cornelius, Roger Klause, and others. L&L Publishing also compiled many magic periodicals in hardcover for the first time, including The Pallbearers Review, Apocalpyse, The Chronicles, Stanyon’s Magic, and The Magic Menu.

In the early 1990s, Louis expanded the reach of L&L Publishing into instructional videos, beginning with three titles starring Bruce Cervon based on The Vernon Chronicles books. Then, in 1994, L&L Publishing released the first volumes of Easy-to-Master Card Miracles. These recordings, which featured Michael Ammar, are still, to this day, the best-selling instructional magic videos ever published.

Beginning in the very early 2000s, L&L Publishing was the first major magic producer to make the jump to DVD, and for the next decade, produced scores of instructional videos featuring such artists as Alex Elmsley, Daryl, Eugene Burger, Max Maven, Harry Lorayne, Jeff McBride, Richard Osterlind, David Regal, Joshua Jay, Simon Aronson, and many, many others.

In his personal life, Louis was a lifelong devotee of popular music (his collection of rock ‘n roll memorabilia, including signed album covers and guitars, was legendary) and he will be remembered by all who knew him as a gentle and generous man.

Louis leaves two sons, scores of grateful artists and authors, and an astounding legacy to the literature of magic that cannot be overstated.

Perhaps Jeff McBride summed it up best when he said of Louis Falanga: “He changed the way we learn magic.”

JHostler
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby JHostler » June 27th, 2020, 9:40 pm

Louis was apparently a pretty well-rounded guy. I just now made the connection that he was the same Falanga well-known in concert taping and Grateful Dead circles. RIP.
"Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong." H.L. Mencken

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Grippo's Wish
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Grippo's Wish » June 27th, 2020, 11:09 pm

Sad to hear. His contributions to magic are invaluable.

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erdnasephile
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby erdnasephile » June 28th, 2020, 2:04 am

Very sad, indeed. RIP, Mr. Falanga.

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Paco Nagata
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Paco Nagata » June 28th, 2020, 2:27 am

Thank you very much for the Post, Jim Sisti.
Very emotional tribute telling about his life.
I read it carefully.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Falanga.
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Matthew Field
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Matthew Field » June 28th, 2020, 6:13 am

I've got many L&L volumes gracing my bookshelves, lots of DVDs as well. Thank you all the magic, Louis. RIP.

Joe Lyons
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Joe Lyons » June 28th, 2020, 9:18 am

The books and videos he published are classics and brought magic to a higher level. They allowed an outsider like me to sit at the table with, for example, Max Maven and Tommy Wonder.

Rest In Peace.

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 28th, 2020, 10:55 am

Heartfelt condolences to Louis's family and friends - I was saddened to read this. Jim, thank you for sharing that wonderful tribute and bio. BTW, I have done a lot of restaurant magic over the years, and you have helped me greatly. To this day I still frequently perform a fabulous card trick of yours I learned off the Stevens Magic Restaurant video, featuring you, Bill Malone, Michael Close and Dan Fleshman. I believe it's called "The Camera Never Lies," which, as you know, creatively utilizes the late great John Cornelius's Film Flash. I always thought Louis made a great move basing himself and his enterprises in beautiful Lake Tahoe, and I remember that lovely home he had there, the interior of which provided a wonderful set design for many of the videos he produced. The "Easy To Master Card Miracles" series, featuring Michael Ammar, and produced by Louis, was beautifully done and contained fantastic material that was well-performed and lucidly explained. It highlights the value of entertaining plots and story-telling and that magic is about the audience. Along with Brad Burt's Card Flourish video, the Ammar offerings, especially the first 3 volumes, were perhaps the most influential card magic videos I've ever owned. I am sure that Louis is "working the room," in the next magical plane...

Edward Pungot
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Edward Pungot » June 28th, 2020, 2:23 pm

My first encounter with Dai Vernon was through L&L Publishing.
Thanks Mr. Falanga.

"L&L Publishing Presents Special Dai Vernon Issue." Genii. Vol. 52 #11.
May, 1989. 697-725.

Jim Sisti
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Jim Sisti » June 28th, 2020, 2:29 pm

Thank you, Alfred, for your kind words about Louis as well as everyone else on this thread. Incidentally, credit for "The Camera Never Lies" goes to David Acer.

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Heartfelt condolences to Louis's family and friends - I was saddened to read this. Jim, thank you for sharing that wonderful tribute and bio. BTW, I have done a lot of restaurant magic over the years, and you have helped me greatly. To this day I still frequently perform a fabulous card trick of yours I learned off the Stevens Magic Restaurant video, featuring you, Bill Malone, Michael Close and Dan Fleshman. I believe it's called "The Camera Never Lies," which, as you know, creatively utilizes the late great John Cornelius's Film Flash. I always thought Louis made a great move basing himself and his enterprises in beautiful Lake Tahoe, and I remember that lovely home he had there, the interior of which provided a wonderful set design for many of the videos he produced. The "Easy To Master Card Miracles" series, featuring Michael Ammar, and produced by Louis, was beautifully done and contained fantastic material that was well-performed and lucidly explained. It highlights the value of entertaining plots and story-telling and that magic is about the audience. Along with Brad Burt's Card Flourish video, the Ammar offerings, especially the first 3 volumes, were perhaps the most influential card magic videos I've ever owned. I am sure that Louis is "working the room," in the next magical plane...

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby MagicbyAlfred » June 28th, 2020, 4:56 pm

You are most welcome, Jim, and it was thoughtful of you to give David Acer that credit. (Thinking back now, I believe you did so on the video, as well). But your performance sold me, and if I am not mistaken (it's been eons since I've watched the video) I picked up a cool control you did in conjunction with the trick ("Spin Cut Control"?) and also came up with some variations I still use today. I noticed that the *#%!@&#*%^ auto-"correct" changed the word "FISM" in my post to the word "film." Well, at least film makes some sense in the context of the trick...

Bill Duncan
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Bill Duncan » June 28th, 2020, 10:28 pm

If all he ever gave us were the videos of Tommy Wonder, and Simon Aronson it would have been enough. That he gave us so much else makes adequate thanks impossible. We can only say that we owe him a debt.

Michael Close
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby Michael Close » June 29th, 2020, 1:21 pm

I am happy to have been a part of the historical legacy left by Louis Falanga and L&L Publishing. On both of my visits to Lake Tahoe to record videos, he was the perfect host, making every effort to ensure my comfort, during the recording sessions and during the down time.

I talked about recording those videos on one of my Facebook broadcasts. Here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/michaelclosema ... 083913958/

fkaps1
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Re: Remembering Louis Falanga

Postby fkaps1 » June 29th, 2020, 2:42 pm

I have wonderful memories of talking about magic as well as rock and roll memorabilia for a number of years. It was such a pleasure to be able to meet face to face and spend time hanging out and drooling over his signed guitar collection when I filmed my DVD set at his place. I will miss him and the magic world is smaller due to his loss. Aloha Louis.

Marc DeSouza


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