The Professor

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000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 22nd, 2008, 3:07 am

I often wondered why Vernon was derogotary towards Michael Ammar, defenitely one of the greatest teachers, mentors and entertainers of our time. Was it because he felt threatened in his freebie in situ residency at the Castle? Fair enough, but enough is enough.

As I was the one who placed the original posting, I respectfully submit that this subject now be closed. The original posting was in response to a Genii article and Vernons supposed striving for excellence, warped as it may have been. My plea to those recording our annals of history is to present a balanced picture. Otherwise history has a funny way of doing it for you.

Now lets get back to the magic shall we? Did I show you this trick with.......................

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Re: The Professor

Postby Max Maven » April 22nd, 2008, 4:16 am

000 wrote:The man was a sadist. Abracadabra, and see, the icon is melting away.


And that is precisely the revisionism to which I was referring.

Whoever you are, "000", you have no idea what you're talking about.

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Re: The Professor

Postby JimChristianson » April 22nd, 2008, 4:36 am

Michael Kamen wrote:Anybody seen the Nova presentation on the life of Einstein? They make a womanizing ne'er do well out of him.


Off-topic, but still interesting: In Shelley Winter's autobiography, she tells of her days as a struggling young actress, and her friendship with another struggling young actress, Marilyn Monroe. As young people often do, they fantasized about whom they'd like to have sex with. Einstien was on Marilyn's list.

Years later, Shelley visited Marilyn, and on MM's piano was a framed picture of Albert on which he had written something along the lines of "Thanks for making an old man happy."

E=MacDaddy2!!!

000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 22nd, 2008, 5:46 am

Nope mate, these are the words uttered by the Chief Genii. ( in his thread) Know who he is? Also a revisionist perhaps?
Get over it and get on with it.

000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 22nd, 2008, 6:29 am

And one more thing Max....

Ive read that youve lived in walking distance of the Castle half your life....no doubt as a frequent visitor Vernon recognized your ( vast!...and I mean that sincerely) innovative talent and you were then one of his approved people..... Back in the threads, you can see that I did say sorry that it hurts, but you dont want to let it lie. Obviously didnt know how much it hurts.

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Re: The Professor

Postby Cugel » April 22nd, 2008, 7:23 am

Max: don't feed the trolls.

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Re: The Professor

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 22nd, 2008, 8:10 am

000- to be kindly about this and I hope not too blunt, the issue of Vernon as icon is not so much about his work as about those who seek icons.

There are those who cannot celebrate the works of another without recourse to infatuation. The person was. The works are recorded. The person is remembered by their peers, students and (sadly we are plagued with cultists) those who look to a person for more iconic reasons.

We have a social practice of devaluating the self in favor of creating fictions which can then be used for economic and political purposes. Addressing this issue by way of iconoclasm is about as useful as attempting to cure a smoker's cancer by explaining to them that smoking can lead to cancer.

Perhaps its enough to recognize that those who don't wish to see are hiding their eyes for what they feel are good reasons and until you know their reasons it's not so useful to tell them about what they work so hard to not see.

How about finding what you like in the guy's works and seeing how you can incorporate that into your own work. :)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 22nd, 2008, 8:44 am

Wise words Jonothan

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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 24th, 2008, 2:14 am

Just to reply further to you Jonathan. What has always struck me ( personally) from his teachings is the importance of routining. Take his 6 ring routine for example....every single move is nuanced, has a reason, to naturally take you to the next step in the routine. Perhaps others would like to share what positive influences Vernon has had on them and how they have incorporated that into their own work ?

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Re: The Professor

Postby El Mystico » April 24th, 2008, 10:43 am

OOO, you say you started this thread as a plea for the historians to present a balanced picture.But the book that details his biography is the Ben book, and that holds no punches on Vernon the man.
As for his performance, it is such a pity that most of the filmed material we have of him is of a fairly old man. When you go back to the earliest of these - and I'm thinking of the slow motion card vanish and such like, you really get a sense that the guy was probably a very good performer.

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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 24th, 2008, 12:09 pm

The thread was in response to the April Genii article. As for the book by Ben it was superb, Vol 2 most eagerly awaited

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Re: The Professor

Postby Brandon Hall » April 24th, 2008, 4:05 pm

Michael, They didn't make a "...womanizing ne'er do well out of him". he did that. They simply revealed a different side of the MAN. People are complicated.
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Re: The Professor

Postby John LeBlanc » April 24th, 2008, 4:53 pm

Max Maven wrote:Whoever you are, "000", you have no idea what you're talking about.


Another reason to regret Black Thursday .

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Re: The Professor

Postby Robert Allen » April 25th, 2008, 1:05 am

Tearing down ones idols seems to be part and parcel with magicians. Houdini did it to Robert Houdin, Randi did it to Geller (which I always thought strange given that Randi seemed to do his best to relieve Houdini's life.) Now people are doing it to Vernon. I have not followed the whole debacle closely since I don't care for National Enquirer-levels of scholarship or writing, but I sincerely believe it's some inherent trait of loathed humanity that we make ourselves feel better about ourselves by tearing down our former heroes.

I met Vernon once, for about 5 minutes. I was probably about 16. In those few moments I was invigorated to continue studying magic and he made me feel very welcome even though I was intruding on his lunch at the Castle. Maybe he wasn't the greatest role model in the world in some ways (or, maybe he was, since I personally have no firsthand knowledge to gainsay his ways). But that doesn't mean he wasn't good at what he did. Or that he wasn't a lot better at it than most of us around here.

We can have our accurate history with adding to it our personal efforts to tear down the historical figures.

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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 25th, 2008, 1:51 am

Randi had every right to expose Geller for the skilled magician that he is.....along with the fake psychic healers and dealers.

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Re: The Professor

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 25th, 2008, 7:34 am

I believe Robert hit the nail and the nerve with those two words "loathed humanity".

Robert Allen wrote:Tearing down ones idols seems to be part and parcel with magicians. ...I sincerely believe it's some inherent trait of loathed humanity that we make ourselves feel better about ourselves by tearing down our former heroes...


Such is IMHO exactly the opposite of magic - and even if done in private as part of ones early education in the practice such behavior serves neither the magician nor the craft.

At some point it serves to simply accept that ones elders are human, that the revered ones of times long past were human and it is that very humanity which makes them worthy of the respect for all they've accomplished. Their actions had consequences and knowing more about their choices and actions can lead to a greater understanding of them in their context from which one may learn and so perhaps make informed choices and take effective action in ones own context.

This "tear down idols" thing is a double edged sword working against us. First, to forget that the statues we make have feet of clay loses the connection to that which we aspire. Second, to destroy that which serves us and others diminishes us and others.

If you really believe you are what you eat just say moo and watch out for the mint jelly.
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Re: The Professor

Postby El Mystico » April 25th, 2008, 7:40 am

ooo - where was Vernon derogatory towards Ammar? - I'm aware of his criticism of Ammar's Triumph handling on Revelations - but there he also praises his Shadow Coins. Was he critical elsewhere too?

000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » April 29th, 2008, 12:58 am

El Mystico..apologies for the delay. I remember Vernon being critical of Ammars early instructional videos as a teaching/learning tool , not referring to specifics.
On an unrelated note I am sad to have learnt of the death of a colleague, Prof Kevin Rochford of Cape Town,South Africa, 63 years old, a native Australian who had been married for 3 weeks, member of The Cape Magicians Society and supporter of the College of Magic....senselessy murdered outside his home one week ago..... Mandelas magic has sadly dissipated. RIP.

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Re: The Professor

Postby El Mystico » April 29th, 2008, 3:51 am

That's awful! I was in Cape Town last autumn, such a beautiful place, it seemed far safer than Johannesburg.

000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » June 24th, 2008, 2:17 am

Thanks El Mystico
Im a bit surprised by the lack of condolences for a slain colleague. His murderers are still at large and no arrests have been made.

Regarding the Professor I have a question
According to Karl Johnson, in his book The Magician and the Cardsharp Vernon enjoyed hookers, or what he liked to call 'ladies of negotiable affections' and that these were probably arranged by magicians from the Castle. Question
Which magician/s were these?

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Re: The Professor

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 24th, 2008, 8:44 am

South Africa's social struggle toward stability - Vernon's visitors... not usually a good idea to stir the embers with ones wand.
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000
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » June 24th, 2008, 8:55 am

Ok

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Re: The Professor

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 24th, 2008, 9:58 am

Jonathan--don't squash the conversation.

Yes, Vernon was fond of hookers.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 24th, 2008, 10:33 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Jonathan--don't squash the conversation.

Yes, Vernon was fond of hookers.


Cool - so maybe we have a new book about Vernon's tricks in the works?

Might be a story in there of a guy in a castle kept happy by his acolytes who traded ... Thanks. Filed for presentation frames to explore.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 24th, 2008, 11:26 am

You may recall Ricky Jay quoting Vernon years ago in an article in the now defunct Buzz magazine: Vernon's advice was: "F**k as many women as possible. Not the same woman, but different women."
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Re: The Professor

Postby David Ben » June 24th, 2008, 11:30 am

Richard, do you have any evidence to support the claim that Vernon was "fond of hookers" or is it just hearsay?

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Re: The Professor

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 24th, 2008, 12:47 pm

Do you mean letters from Vernon? Recorded conversations with Vernon? No.
Anecdotal, yes.
It depends what you consider evidence.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 24th, 2008, 1:05 pm

David,

Have you spent any time speaking with Bill Bowers? Bar none, Bill was closer to Vernon than anyone and is a treasure trove of information on the Professor.

Dustin

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Re: The Professor

Postby Bill Wheeler » June 24th, 2008, 7:29 pm

I am fairly certain that this advice was also mentioned in the Ricky Jay article in "The New Yorker" as well.
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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » June 25th, 2008, 2:52 am

The Professor, desirous of getting his rocks of, wanders down Hollywood Boulevard and settles for the charms of Devine Brown( Sen), not cheap at $200 per jazzy routine. After lovingly stroking her fingers and impressing her with a jazzy card routine it climaxes with a rendition of Cutting the Queens. After returning for 5 days in a row she is now intrigued and asks him where he is from. 'New York' actually he replies. 'Me too' she says. 'I know' , he says 'your uncle Harry passed and his widow asked me to give you a $1000'

Ps with due apologies to Hugh Grant and hideous poor taste!

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Re: The Professor

Postby Roger M. » June 25th, 2008, 1:25 pm

Geez, nobodies perfect, and I know folks are interested in history....but do we HAVE to run Dai through the muck just to feed our presumed need to be "honest" with one another, and history?

I couldn't care less IF, or HOW Vernon got laid....I really couldn't.

And regardless of how accurate this information is supposed to be, it's still just rumor and innuendo as I doubt Vernon had anybody following him taking pictures and recording for history his whereabouts as he made one of his presumed mythical walks down Hollywood Blvd.

(I tend to look to David Ben for my facts on Vernon. Whether Ben's observations reflect on Vernon positively or negatively, at least I know they're based on solid research).

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Re: The Professor

Postby 000 » June 26th, 2008, 1:55 am

Apologies Roger, it was a JOKE, with upfront apologies for bad taste. But Im sure youve heard a few Hugh Grant or Lewinsky jokes doing the rounds...
Point is this
Vernon has traits shared with many other creative, compulsive obsessive, dysfunctional inviduals, namely that of the GENIUS.
And whilst I also look forward to David Ben Vol 2, covering the Castle years, are you implying that Karl Johnson got his facts wrong?

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Re: The Professor

Postby Don Stachowiak » June 26th, 2008, 8:29 am

How fortunate we are, that those among us who are perfect are willing to take the time and trouble to judge the rest of us, who, like the Professor, may in some ways fall short of the mark.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 26th, 2008, 9:35 am

Those held in higher esteem, or who are public figures, are also scrutinized more closely.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 26th, 2008, 9:56 am

For the benefit of those too young to know - the social process of making legends or icons also involves taking stock of and finding ways to manage their personal issues - simply because those who wish to profit from the legend/icon need to ensure their cash cow's milk won't be curdled by any sudden public awareness of things less than laudable.

IMHO the notion of conjurers having this as an issue rather than exploring it to find where or how it effected the magic is sad. Art has to come from somewhere. Knowing where is part of respecting the artist. Trivializing the where or the how seems disrespectful to both the artist and their work.
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Re: The Professor

Postby Disparity1 » June 26th, 2008, 9:59 am

Those held in higher esteem, or who are public figures, are also scrutinized more closely.


The scrutiny wouldn't be that bad a thing if it weren't for that tabloid mentality, where the ONLY thing some people want to discuss are what they perceive as flaws. It's like: "Yeah, yeah...most influential magician who ever lived...yeah, yeah...brilliant artist...yeah, yeah, I get it...but what did he like to do with his dick?"

Frankly, I don't see that it serves that much purpose. Yes, it's important to understand the man as a whole, but to make these particular characteristics the primary focus of one's attention seems pretty...distasteful.

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Re: The Professor

Postby Roger M. » June 26th, 2008, 1:14 pm

Generally, if you're on the ball enough to be investigating a written history of Vernon's life, you probably have somewhat of an intelligent outlook on a variety of things in general.

A simple "Vernon loved the ladies" gets the point across, and doesn't get into sordid details which inhabit far more peoples lives than they generally let on themselves.

Which ladies Vernon loved, and whether he compensated them with hard cash or dinner at the Magic Castle isn't really required in general conversation about Vernon.

I'm no prude, and I'm not trying to say folks CAN'T talk about it.....I'm just askin' out loud, considering at this point it's all innuendo and anecdotal in nature, do we really have to?

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Re: The Professor

Postby amp » June 26th, 2008, 1:35 pm

I would not buy a book about Vernon who he slept with. I really have no interest. But if someone is going to put out a book about maybe they should call it:" The Vernon Touch " or "The Professor nightmare" or " The Professor and Mary Ann" or "Nanny and the Professor" or "Twisting the Ladies" or "Vernon's new wand spin"
Ok Ok I'll stop.

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Re: The Professor

Postby Don Stachowiak » June 27th, 2008, 12:58 am


IMHO the notion of conjurers having this as an issue rather than exploring it to find where or how it effected the magic is sad. Art has to come from somewhere. Knowing where is part of respecting the artist. Trivializing the where or the how seems disrespectful to both the artist and their work.

Once again, JT cuts to the chase.
Vernon's neglect of his family, his intolerance for anything short of perfection, and his occasional bullying of those who sought him as a mentor, can be seen as evidence of the obsession that drove him and made him what he eventually became, arguably the single most influential figure in 20th Century closeup magic.
As for whether or not Vernon enjoyed the attentions of what someone referred to as "ladies of negotiable affections", I can only say that I would not be particularly surprised, or offended, to learn that an older man, who evidently had difficulty maintaining a functional marriage, might occasionally seek intimate contact with the opposite sex in other places. Dai Vernon was probably not immune to loneliness.
Don

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Re: The Professor

Postby Barbara Balducci » June 28th, 2008, 8:27 am

I don't see what Vernon's sex life has to do with his magic. I doubt it had any affect on his magic. If anything, I would say that his obsession with magic affected his sex life. I understand that human nature is such that people are often curious about every aspect of the life of someone they have made into an icon, and that for some there is a need to tear down the idol. Because I wasn't particularly interested in his magic, I saw him not as an icon, or even as a magician. I just saw him as a person who did magic.

Until he moved to California, Dai spent a lot of time at our house in New York. He would often come for dinner, play around on the big Wurlitzer organ we had, play chess and talk magic with my father, often until daylight. In the winter, if we had a heavy snowfall while he was there and the snow plow buried his car, he would stay with us for 3 or 4 days. He was always a gentleman. I never heard any talk of ladies of any kind. He always seemed more consumed by magic than anything else. If he spoke of ladies with my father after my mother and I went to bed, I never heard about it. That's not to say that I question the veracity of others who say he enjoyed the company of hookers. Certainly, "ladies of negotiable affections" sounds like something he would say. Clearly, he wasn't suited to marriage or a committed relationship, so unless he was asexual, paid female companionship seems the logical, and perhaps even the honorable choice.

As for Dai ending up like Frances Carlye - I doubt it. Not because he was a better man than Frances was, but because he always had an "angel" - someone with money who was willing to look after him.

French proverb: Few people rise to our esteem upon closer scrutiny.


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