The Magic Castle Is Broke

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 25th, 2005, 12:47 am

I have been a magician member of the Castle for over ten years and have watched in disgust over the past several years at how the current board of directors have run things. And now, to receive a letter informing members to shell out an extra $250 because of a "crisis" that they in no way are taking responsibility for or foresaw as coming? Anyone who visits the castle on a regular basis knows that it is usually packed Weds. - Sunday nights, with people paying high prices for drinks, parking, and dinner and the castle paying ridiculously low fees to the performing talent. How exactly can we be broke? How could the BOD not see this coming? We, as members, have been given no concrete answer but are expected to just cough up the assessment? For those who didn't get the letter, here is the excerpt that is incomprehensible:

"Because of the complicated nature of this work (performing an accounting review to be done by an outside firm)the Board has appointed our President, Dale Hindman, as a special consultant to assist the firm and will be paid for this work at the rate of $2,000 per month."

Give me a break! This is the very same source that has run the castle into the ground, and now we as members are supposed to support paying our President $2,000 per month to do exactly what? Watch over an accounting firm that we are also paying for? As President, if we as members are being assessed money, shouldn't he do this job, if you want to define it as such, for free?

Yes, I love the castle. Yes, I want to save it. But do I want to continue to keep an obviously incompetant board of idiots steering the ship?

If the castle continues to remain open after this ridiculous request and the appalling management over the past few years, I urge all members to carefully consider how our club has been run by the current BOD and vote accordingly to replace the incompetants that have run the club into the ground.

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Chris Aguilar » June 25th, 2005, 2:59 am

I'm with John. Dustin's ideas seem pretty reasonable to me and I'd certainly join under those conditions. Two visits a year would work out great for me as that's probably all I could manage. And the value would be better than paying full membership fees for limited use of the clubs resources. Getting the newsletter online is a good idea also.

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Terry
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Terry » June 25th, 2005, 7:18 am

I urge all members to carefully consider how our club has been run by the current BOD and vote accordingly to replace the incompetants that have run the club into the ground.
Tony Giorgio was saying the same thing over a year ago and everyone made fun of him. Now who is laughing?

The membership of this "exclusive" club voted the BOD in and now they suffer their own foolishness.

As far as the Castle being "exclusive" and the elitist attitude - your club, your problem.

John LeBlanc
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby John LeBlanc » June 25th, 2005, 9:31 am

Originally posted by Terry Terrell:
As far as the Castle being "exclusive" and the elitist attitude - your club, your problem.
"I told you so" is only four words, Terry.

John LeBlanc
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Tabman
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Tabman » June 25th, 2005, 9:56 am

Originally posted by Chris Aguilar:
I'm with John. Dustin's ideas seem pretty reasonable to me and I'd certainly join under those conditions.
I think so too. It seems like the perfect answer to me. I'd probably never get out there to visit again but I'd re-up under those circumstances.

-=tab

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 25th, 2005, 11:32 am

I think Dustin's idea is a marvelous one. Although I am unlikely to make it to L.A. for even two visits a year I think it would be a worthwhile investment.

And, Dustin, wan't the organization that included Genii subscribers the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences rather than The Academy of Magical Arts? I no longer have my membership card. I do know that as a consequence of that membership my number at the Academy of Magical Arts was extremely low. I was at the Castle on opening night -- and every night that it was open for the next three months after which I cut back to several times a week. Until 1967-70 when the only nights I missed were a few when I was sick.
6/25/05 1110 tonga

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Pete Biro
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Pete Biro » June 25th, 2005, 12:32 pm

Perhaps you could list it as a charitable donation?
Stay tooned.

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 25th, 2005, 12:50 pm

Lets see; I have a few questions to answer regarding my idea, so (in no particular order), Ill do my best:

Tonga: Yes, the words and Sciences were originally in the AMA name, but they were removed. Im not exactly sure when, perhaps when it became an officially (government) recognized nonprofit fraternal organization.

Kirk: The reciprocal arrangement with the SAM and the IBM might need to be addressed. However, at this time, SAM and IBM members must pay the door charge and have dinner. In my proposal, the AMA Supporters would not pay the door charge (so if they bring a party of four, the membership more than pays for itself right there) and are not required to have dinner (though I cannot imagine someone who only visits a couple of times a year not taking in the entire experience). There is also the benefit of the Castle site and its forums and the newsletter, etc. Also, SAM and IBM members do not get guest passes that they can give to their friends, family and clients, nor can they say that they are members of The Magic Castle. I am of the belief that those words should mean something again.

Ryan: Yes, regular members get to go everyday the Castle is open. Dinner is not requiredyou can just hang out. If I lived closer Id probably be divorced since when I was younger (and the long drive was easier) it was not unusual for me to be up there three or four times a week. These days my visits are limited to about six times a year. At least half of those I have dinner. Once a year I bring my gang up there for dinner. Its a group of eight and we make a night of it. Quite often, I consider that night alone worth my membership.

There is one thing Kirk and I disagree on; the exclusivity part. While I think that the Castle should have a screening process, I believe the same thing William Larsen, Sr. did; that the Academy is for all magicians. I do believe, as Pete Biro has said before, that there should be levels based on your skill and experience. People like Pete, Billy McComb and the like would be Inner Circle members (to steal a name) while folks like me might be at a slightly lower level, etc. Its supposed to be an academy and academies are supposed to be about learning and growth.

I understand Kirks wish that the dirty laundry should not be aired so publicly. Obviously we cannot stop public discussion and it is best that we members speak out publicly particularly when misinformation rears its ugly head. And besides, my idea is one that needs to be floated publicly so the target demographicnonmemberscan comment. Only then will it be considered seriously if its worth considering at all. Also, while I do go to the Castle Forums on occasion, this part-time job of moderating this site on this hunk of silicone chips takes up a lot of my spare time. Then I have my writing projects, a real day job and my family. Im sorry to say that I cannot spend as much time there as I do here.

Dustin

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Tabman » June 25th, 2005, 1:18 pm

Personally, I think everyone in magic benefits from the Magic Castle's very existance. We should all support it in whatever way we can. Certainly it begins with words but it has to go farther than that.

-=tabman

mwolfire
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby mwolfire » June 26th, 2005, 8:06 am

I was hoping that someone would suggest the
kind of membership that Dustin proposed. I would do
it in a second. I live in Baltimore but have the
opportunity to travel to Pasadena every so often.
I hope the board takes the suggestion seriously.
Mark

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Jacky Kahan » June 26th, 2005, 11:15 am

It's really sad what is happenening with the castle...
I believe we have to do everyhting to save the place, but i do have a small remark...

SO the magiccastle is broke... this is because of bad managament, i suppose... so all the incentives of raising some money is really nice, but don't you think there needs to be another management before raising money? If there is bad management now, there will be probably tomorrow too...

just my thoughts...

jacky
www.magicbooks.be

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 26th, 2005, 11:43 am

i don't see how anyone in their right mind can vote for Dale and Lew in the next election. i mean, tey've mismanaged the money and created an untenable situation for the membership. I mean, $250 per person?! Really now.

Not only that, but what kind of ridiculousness is it that they DON'T KNOW how the situation came to be? I mean, they do the books! Don't they? They oversee that area! The answer should be: "Just check your math, guys!"

In addition, the need for a forensic review, or audit, or whatever is gong tohappen, is stupendously ludicrous. How can an outside firm figure out what happened better than guys on the inside? This is like a Laurel & Hardy movie!

The idea that Dale Hindman should be paid $2,000 a month to help the auditors is stunning as well. Thi is well within his duties as president of the club. More than anything, this move points to Dale as the source of shenanigans.

Im posting here because if i post on the Magic Castle forum, i have to use my real name....

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Steve V » June 26th, 2005, 12:26 pm

Using the Erdnase methodology I've determined you are actually Ooh Monkey. Just admit it and lets fix the castle. As for the exclusive worrying about us riff raff visiting I've been to LA twice in the last 25 years.
Steve V
Steve V

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 26th, 2005, 2:43 pm

Why not get pro bono consulting instead? McKinsey & Company did if for the San Diego zoo; why not the Castle? Then one would have recommendations of how to fix the situation, not just identification of the problem.

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Pete Biro
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Pete Biro » June 26th, 2005, 6:11 pm

Maaybe we could get someone with a lot of money to BUY the AMA and start anew? :whack:
Stay tooned.

cgscpa
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby cgscpa » June 26th, 2005, 7:43 pm

As a CPA I have found this thread very interesting to read. I am not a Castle member (one day hopefully) but believe, like others, that all that can be done to save it should be. With that said, I do have a few general comments: The idea that the current president will assist in any kind of accounting review and be compensated is a bad one. The basic responsibilities of a board include, among others, ensuring adequate resources and managing resourses effectively. The board should have been receiving regular treasurer reports and financial reports and if they were not the first question is: why not. If the board and the president did not take this responsibility seriously an independent committee should be formed of Castle members to review where the accounting and reporting deficiencies took place. Also, if they are a non-profit organization then the tax returns are open to public inspection. By having the current President as a paid "consultant" to any review is in effect having him help review his own work and responsibilites and paying him to do it. The Board is thus failing another one of its basic responsibilities: maintaining integrity and accountability, something it must do, especially now.

BTW, as an aside, I believe that the Castle is set up as a non-profit member organization and not a qualified charitable organization. The difference is that any "donations" to the Castle would not be tax deductible.

I hope this all get worked out for the best.

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 26th, 2005, 11:39 pm

To CGSCPA:

What can the individual members do to force the board to set up an independent committee to investigate the causes? After all, they are elected and running the whle thing. In fact, we have very little say in anythin at the Castle.

We cant get anything in the newsletter, because its all written by authorized people towing the party li ne. Its quite a top-run organization.

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CraigMitchell
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby CraigMitchell » June 27th, 2005, 5:18 am

Its fascinating that a so highly regarded organisation such as The Magic Castle is able to find itself in this position ... and all so suddenly - which is even more worrying.

First there was the lease debacle and now this ...

What is happening ???

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 27th, 2005, 5:23 am

What kind of dinner/clubs are making good money these days?

What is the market for magic in person in a MODERN context?

Does the castle have to become a Goth rave hangout full of flashing lights, ecstasy users and motorcycle gangs? The Insane Clown Posse as an opening act for Lance Burton? A magic act based around the movie Seven? People do like magic, it's just a matter of making it available in a way that serves their entertainment interests. With all due respect I'm not gonna comment about the politics or finances of the club.

Surely the 1970's are long over, as are the 1980s with the tee shirt and dinner jacket dress code. Are we even looking at what makes sense in a contemporary setting? What does nostalgia from the late 1800s mean to folks?

The club and idea for the club seen sound. I hope it's still functioning when I get a chance to visit.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 27th, 2005, 7:48 am

I post this in part as a resonse to Jonathan Townsend who seems to suggest that the Castle "get whith it" and follow current trends. In the late sixties and early seventies there were a lot of dinner clubs that opened and followed local trends. I will mention only one -- The Playboy Club. When people started to kick about wearing coats and ties those clubs acceded to the demand. they didn't last long. The Castle remained adamant in its dress code -- I know as I was the one most charged with enforcing it for many of those years. The biggest problem was women in slacks. My judgment call was that if what she was wearing was appropriate for shopping at Safeway, it was for the Castle. My biggest independent decision was that Nehru jackets were absolutely okay. Those other clubs all faded away but the Castle remained. We figured that when people went out to a fancy club they wanted to feel that it was something special. They wanted to be dressy in a dressy bunch.

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 27th, 2005, 11:27 am

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
The Insane Clown Posse as an opening act for Lance Burton?
I would be so there.

Robert Allen
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Robert Allen » June 27th, 2005, 11:31 am

With all due respect, I think it's absurd to try to compare and contrast the Playboy Club, an international chain sponsored by a multi-million-dollar corporation, and one which featured scantily dressed women to attract the clientel to boot, with one private club for a fringe group of the entertainment industry. (I don't use the word "fringe" in a judgemental manner, more in a numerical manner here.)

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 27th, 2005, 12:06 pm

Oddly enough, I cited the Playboy Club because that was the venue that Bill Larsen always mentioned when this subject came up. That was one of the clubs, there were several others, that were in direct competition with the Castle for the evening out crowd.

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Steve Bryant
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Steve Bryant » June 27th, 2005, 12:38 pm

In the late 60s, I used to have dinner at the Castle ($5 for the prime rib dinner including festalboard), hang out until the last show, and then go to the Playboy Club for breakfast, where drinks and breakfast were $1.50 each. (Perhaps they saved money by using the world's smallest tables.) And of course some of the Castle magicians worked at the Playboy Club.

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Brian Morton
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Brian Morton » June 27th, 2005, 12:45 pm

Is anyone besides the poster "smmagic" bothered by the need to pay the head of the Board of Directors $2000 per month to oversee the accounting firm?

That this is the sum paid to the person who books the acts for the Castle rooms is bothersome enough, but shouldn't paying an accounting firm to do its job be enough?

Just wondering...

brian :cool:

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Rick Ruhl » June 27th, 2005, 12:57 pm

When my company ran into some tough times a few years ago, I didn't take a salary for over a year to give the company times to get past the rough spots.

That's what a good President/CEO does to save his company.

I would reccomend all board members and executives to go without any salary until this financial crisis is over.

I am now in my 17th year in business.

So would I do it if I had problems with my company? Yes, I already did, and would again.

Rick

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Jacky Kahan » June 27th, 2005, 2:06 pm

One night I drove into hollywood blvd...
A few seconds later I was pulled over by LAPD Police Officer...

I checked my rear mirror and First time in my life i saw a gun pointing at me... (by a second police officer)

I almost ... in my pants... anyway ...

The police officer asked me to pull down the window, i wanted to reach my passport in my inside jacket pocket, so i said i'm just a tourist from Belgium... pointing at my inside jacket pocket...

After seeing my passport, the officer said that i passed a red light...
I said oops... didn't see it... not like in Europe...

Then he asked me where i came from, i said : The MagicCasle ...

He said : Really ? with a giant smile on his face, and asked : if i had a good time?

and then said : ok you can go now...

This is when i understood TheMagicCastle is really a mythical place even for non magicians...

We should keep it that way... let's not loose it...

Jacky
www.magicbooks.be

Robert Allen
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Robert Allen » June 27th, 2005, 3:02 pm

I suppose I should quit while I'm ahead, but for the life of me I don't see how Bill Larsen could compare the Magic Castle to the Playboy Club in terms of them competing for customers. Memership in the Castle seems to require a demonstration of some degree of magical performance skill to gain membership, while getting a key to the Playboy Club just required payment of a fee. Or was there some greater degree of exclusivity required to gain access to the Playboy Club?

cgscpa
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby cgscpa » June 27th, 2005, 3:05 pm

Originally posted by Brian Wendell Morton:
[QB] Is anyone besides the poster "smmagic" bothered by the need to pay the head of the Board of Directors $2000 per month to oversee the accounting firm?
There are a few comments about this above including mine.

Hoo Monkey - Usually only the Board has the authority to form a committee, it depends what the by-laws say. With enough feedback to its current crisis this would go a long way for the current board to save face, IMO.

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Pete McCabe » June 27th, 2005, 3:19 pm

There are many things about the current Castle controversy that I do not understand. But the simplest is the idea of exclusivity.

Anyone can join the Magic Castle, right? The audition is only required to become a magician member. What exclusivity exists in being a Castle member?

What am I missing here?

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Pete Biro
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Pete Biro » June 27th, 2005, 4:10 pm

If you can do a trick or two it is cheaper to join and the dues are less.
Stay tooned.

KirkG
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby KirkG » June 28th, 2005, 11:38 am

The Magic Castle is the building and Restaurant and Bar. It is doing fine. The AMA does not share in ANY of the revenue earned by the F&B with the exception of the door charges.

THE AMA is the club and has an accounting problem that occurred in the first few months. That problem which created the drain on funds appears to be stopped even though it hasn't been fully identified yet. Each month thereafter, the AMA is meeting it's projected goals. The problem is the loss of the cash reserve necessary to keep them afloat over the next few months.

The Assessment is NOT $250, but varies depending on whether you are a local or non resident member, associate or regular member, with the local magician members paying the lions share which is $250.00.

I hope Dustin and I have an opportunity to get together to discuss his idea.

Kirk Grodske

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Pete Biro
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Pete Biro » June 28th, 2005, 1:20 pm

Do you think they "blew" the negotiations by not charging the F&B outfit a % OFF THE TOP?
Stay tooned.

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 28th, 2005, 2:21 pm

Face it, everyone. The word 'Enron' comes to mind, though obviously on a vastly smaller scale. The BOD may be corrupt crooks, using our common love of magic as a smokescreen.

Legal action may be needed here. The Magic Castle may possibly collapse if we don't act quickly to save it.

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby shaena engle » June 29th, 2005, 10:57 am

As a weekly visitor and a magician member, but not a performing magician at the Castle, I have no concerns with voicing my opinion and using my real name to do so (I strongly believe that those who contribute to this forum who are performing magicians at the Castle are afraid to comment, in fear that the current board will blacklist them and not hire them in the future). I completely agree with the above comments from cgscpa (an accountant).

My question is, can someone from the board explain why our president is being paid $2,000 a month to oversee the outside accounting firm? Who decided this? Why is he involved at all? It is the job of the board of directors to oversee the funds, so if they did not do this adequately they should in no way have their hand in the outside review process. Additionally, if we, as members, are being asked to pitch in $250, shouldn't our president do this "job," if you want to call it that, for free? When the outside accounting firm releases the findings as to why this happened, what are the repercussions for those in charge? Members on the board read this forum, so please, can someone answer these questions?

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby KirkG » June 29th, 2005, 12:16 pm

The official answer to your question, along with some side speculation or possible reasons can all be found on the Castle Forums.

I again raise my suggestion, that other than newsworthy items, we refrain from posting on this subject.

Kirk

Jeff Stubb
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Jeff Stubb » June 29th, 2005, 1:15 pm

All this stuff IS NEWS to those of us who are not members. I was going to join as a non resident magician in Aug, but now I think I will wait.

Big Jeff

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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 29th, 2005, 1:44 pm

Originally posted by Kirk the Magician:
I again raise my suggestion, that other than newsworthy items, we refrain from posting on this subject.

Kirk
If we hav followed this suggestion, we would not have received the fin advice from cgscpa. Squealching discussion has no good effects in this society.

Guest

Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Guest » June 29th, 2005, 1:55 pm

Only know what little I've read about the situation, but while the money paid to Mr. Hindman, is miniscule, considering his career,(experience) in banking, his wanting to help, should offset being paid to HELP The Castle, which is why he is there...even if regarded as a token payment.(Easy for me to say that, from where I'm sitting, I know.)

If The Castle could actually not be in a position to meet it's payroll, than that $2,000 could be greatly used to help pay the maintence. kitchen, and service staff, who work at these jobs to support their families.
(A very successful restaurant owner said, "The one person we cannot function without, is the dishwasher.")

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Brian Morton
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Re: The Magic Castle Is Broke

Postby Brian Morton » June 29th, 2005, 2:44 pm

Kirk wrote:
I again raise my suggestion, that other than newsworthy items, we refrain from posting on this subject.
Sadly, too many of the castle's financial affairs have been conducted in the dark, hidden from the membership. That the AMA (as opposed to "The Castle" -- let's keep our terms correct) suddenly and out of nowhere tells the membership that they have enough money to go six weeks before closing is a disturbing bit of news.

The last time membership dues were raised due to a financial need, the membership was dunned, but once again, the books were not opened. During the financial controversy that arose due to the lawsuit, as I recall, the meeting to discuss financial matters was limited to something like ten minutes of questioning -- an absurdly small amount of time given the arrears the AMA has found itself in over the last nine years.

Now the president of the board of directors finds it necessary to "oversee" the outside auditors when he himself is a bank vice-president, and to the tune of $2000 a month is questionable to say the very least.

The Castle may be a private membership club, but like all membership clubs, if it does not get an influx of new membership, it will die. Were I someone contemplating joining, or a brand-new member and I was kept in the dark about all the fiscal problems, I would be slightly unhappy.

Better to be upfront about it to all the prospective members (like those on this magician's forum) rather than keep putting a lid on the problems. Especially since there's already been a precedent for these problems before -- more than once.

brian :cool:


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