Monthly Archives: December 2014

Earth & Water

My favorite smells come from the green loamy earth and the blue churning sea.

I am ten years old. I stand beside my grandfather on the pier … it’s called Scotch Bonnet, but that matters little. I don’t remember what time of year it is, but it’s almost cold. I’m wearing a bright green Winnie-the-Pooh jacket, but the wind coming off the sea makes me shiver a little. i don’t say anything … If Grandpa Jack sees that, this time will be over and I’m not really ready for that. We are at the very end of the Pier, and it’s swaying a little on the tide.

I am thirteen. I am alone in the woods. I am hiding from angry voices and accusing arguments. My safe world is breaking apart (not for the last time) and I just want to be in the quiet. I sit beneath a tall tree, wedging myself into it’s mossy roots. The tree sways a little and I close my eyes.

Ten. There are caught fish, and the salty smell of the sea. The smell of the fish mixes in my Grandpa’s favorite clothes along with his pipe tobacco. Sir Walter Raleigh brand. Such a noble name. Sometimes, when he’s away, I open the tin just a bit to inhale the rich, earthy, heady aroma of fresh leaves …

Thirteen. The floor of the wood is littered with last season’s dead leaves. If I dig my fingers into the ground and raise them to my face … I remember a worn plaid woolen shirt, a bit stiff with salt.

Ten. Mother insists that Grandpa not smoke around me, but I love the smell of his pipe. The smoke curling out of his mouth as he tells a joke or crafts a yarn. His yarns knit stories like sweaters, and take the chill away from my bones. Today he’s mostly silent, looking far out to sea. He checks his watch. “Time to head for home, Buzzard.” 10382837_10152548679835955_1330908544966366919_n

Thirteen. I hear my mother calling, concerned but not angry with me, this time. I open my eyes and look up into the canopy. The sun is going down, somewhere. The filtered light is green and yellow and everything stands out in harsh focus. I slip a picture out of my pocket. At totem I carry for when the bullies target me, or I’m thinking alone and need someone to talk to. “Time to head for home.”

Ten. “… but Grandpa … this IS our home. Yours and mine.”
He laughs, and pauses to refill his pipe from the soft plaid bag.

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An Appeal for a Very Special Kind of Show

This is for my artistic friends in the Charlotte, NC area: My dancers, poets, musicians, jugglers, strippers … what ever you are. If you do something purely out of passion, whether you consider it ‘art’ or a ‘career’ or what have you: I want to hear from you.

I’m putting together a very different kind of variety show. I want to incorporate talent and passion. So …

Send an email to MagicArtist42@gmail.com and tell me what it is you do and then tell me WHY you do it. The why can be as brief or as long as you wish to make it, but let me feel your passion, your intensity. Your honesty.

This request is not just for performance artists … there are possibilities for painters, chalk artists … knitters …

I want to hear your passion and I want it to be sincere. Can’t wait to hear from you.

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Dancing and Heart Shaped Boxes: Christmas, 2014

Right now it’s Christmas Eve. The kids have gone home or up to bed and I’m siting in the dark alone. By the time I’m done, it will be well into Christmas. Want to go for a walk with me?

This holiday for me has always been about family. The blood ones, the ones who married in, and the ones we invite to the table. You are loved, and I consider you family. You’re welcome at my table … bring a story, a song or something you made.

This year was creative. We all reached out for each other’s hearts. For myself: Carlaysle made me a porcelain dragon lamp, Avalon Rose Stuffed a Joy Tea box with inspirational quotes and petals from flowers I gave her once, Grace made desserts in the kitchen of her newlywed first house and Braiden brought us his music.

 

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“The book of love is long and boring, and written very long ago. It’s full of flowers and heart shaped boxes and things we’re all too young to know.” ~ Magnetic Fields

When I opened Avalon’s gift and saw what she created for me, it brought me to tears. Literally. I sat there with water pouring down my face, unable to breathe. I was very moved, especially since we’ve had some friction lately. I’m more than a little afraid we’re growing apart like I did with my father. And it’s largely my fault. But that is another story. Tonight she showed me how much she thinks about me, and how she still feels about her old man. All the kids showed me: I am surrounded by love.

Tonight sparked memories of my father.

My father and I were never really close. I wasn’t quite good enough to be the son he wanted. That’s a quote from the man himself. Dad was an architect and an electrical engineer. Smartest man I knew. A real straight line thinker. Conservative in his living and no-frills. His vices were whiskey and golf, and those in moderation. He was in the Army and played college football with Sonny Jurgensen. (Look it up). I was non-athletic and a real let down. He tried really hard to get me into baseball and football, but I just had no talent for it. My only asset was that I could take a hit. Even as a young, skinny man, my low center of gravity and … solidity made it really difficult to get me off my feet. Anyway, I couldn’t play very well and had no skill at all. Dad bitterly gave up when I was about 15.

At that age I picked up theater and music in earnest. My path went far and astray from what my dad considered respectable. We quite simply grew apart and I just … started talking to myself and working things out on my own. When I became a magician, he threw his hands up completely. I was a waste; a dime a dozen. His words. Art and frivolity were nice for some people, but he just knew I was supposed to be something … worthwhile, and it mad him very sad that his only son didn’t follow his footprints.

Now … Dad loved to laugh, and I could usually make him laugh. You can’t tell it from any of his photographs, but he had a big, hearty laugh. He just didn’t think show business was a good way to raise a family. On more than one occasion I spied him dancing when he thought no one was watching. Turns out … he was a hell of a good dancer.

Pancreatic cancer took my father swiftly. From diagnosis to the end was just a matter of ano few pain-filled weeks. I kind of got to say goodbye. He was high on pain meds and didn’t really understand that I was even there. He died while I was onstage. I got the news when I got back to my room after.

When I attended his wake, I got a shock. Stranger after stranger came up to me to tell me how much my father bragged to them about his son, the great magician. Apparently he told many stories to them about my shows, the contests I was in and the places I traveled to. And then:

And then …

And then I went to clean out his house. In the back of his bedroom closet I found two boxes. One was full of trophies. Recently dated trophies. The other was full of newspaper articles about me. Photographs. Magazines and video tapes of television programs I had appeared on. A box full of love and pride. Color me boggled.

The trophies? They were for ballroom dancing. My stepmother explained that at fifty years of age, found his passion in dancing, and he was quite good at it. He won several awards and competitions. Rather than display his trophies, he put them in a box, carefully in the back of a dark closet. That is the man my father was.

In a twist of serendipity I bought myself a pair of dancing shoes for Christmas. I saw them and bought them with my father in mind. A few days later a very dear friend gave me a certificate for ballroom dancing lessons. I’m turning fifty next year.

 

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 “The book of love is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing. It’s full of charts and facts and figures … and instructions for dancing.” ~ Magnetic Fields

Suddenly … because of this gift, I feel a little more in touch with the man he kept hidden. Perhaps we shared more than I ever knew. Thus a thoughtful gift changed my life and my heart. I want to embrace you all as family … scars, shyness and everything. Come as you are.

This table has plenty of seats available.

In your hands and in your heart you have the simple gifts to make a real difference. Love, caring, and compassion.

Will you give?

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Solsbury Hill

Sometimes you have to be prepared to let go of what you have in order to get what you want or need … come home. Embrace who you are. Become more you.

This is for several friends who are looking to cut connections and become themselves.

Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing, stretching every nerve
I had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
I just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom, boom, boom
“Son,” he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
Till I thought of what I’d say
And which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom, boom, boom
“Son,” he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
So I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom, boom, boom
Hey, I said, you can keep my things they’ve come to take me home

Come back home
Come back home
Come back home

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