Monthly Archives: March 2016

Gimme Shelter

I’m a magician, storyteller, busker, motivator, mentor and a showman. Yet … I try to avoid labels. I am Hannibal. I’m the only one that can do that. I follow my road and I do my utmost to enjoy the scenery (whatever it is) while I walk it. I’ve won some awards, but I’ll never be waving them in people’s faces. I’ve lost more contests than I’ve won. Experience!

Last week I went out busking for experience. Money is fine at the moment, but for great rehearsal time, especially of material ‘in development’, there’s nothing better than a raw, honest audience that has no stake in liking you, or even sticking around. Plus, and I love this term, I hijacked many souls with joy. I put in some sweat equity and forged some time … the nights were beautiful and the people were great. I truly love working the street in the spring and fall.

A young gentleman approached me between sets and we made some small talk. People are fascinated by this kind of theatre and the people who brave the unknown, the unusual and present their craft. I like to think they get to live a little vicariously outside their lives through me. Meh. Ego?
At any rate, we got to taking about street performance and street preaching and street hustlers. He mentioned that he did some volunteer work at a few shelters and that the people there would enjoy a performance like mine. Did I ever do charity work?  I told him that I do, occasionally, and asked what he had in mind. It seems one of the organizations works with women and children, homeless and in poverty.

Have you ever had a moment when your heart just gave you direction, and you knew instantly that it was the absolute right thing to do? I’m not trying to get too ‘woo’ on you, here, but I caught a spark. Over the course of the next hour, and filling in details for a couple of days, we put together an event. As you know, I occasionally throw a dinner theater evening with local restaurants. I thought: why not give this audience that experience? Here’s what we did.

The children were in one room, a sort of makeshift cafeteria. I was to perform for 20-30 minutes and then they were going to have dinner. While I was with them, the grownup women had a ‘candlelit’ quiet meal. Because I really wanted my hands in as many aspects of this as I could, I made two crock-pots of spaghetti and one of beef stew. The food was a hit, and I had nothing to bring home after.
When I finished my show with the kids, I moved to the other room and performed my after-dinner show for the women. Now … I don’t do kid’s shows. I was very nervous about bringing them quality … very. To my delight, they were a perfect, respectful audience. they got my corny jokes, they were right with me for the magic parts, I really couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids. They loved the show and I fell in love with them.

The show for the grown-ups? EVEN BETTER. They were happy, they were sarcastic, we had some great interaction and a lovely chemistry. The elf boots SLAYED them and I had a line after the show to have a boot made. (You have any idea how hard it is to do origami with tears in your eyes?)
They sang along to my song. They SANG ALONG to “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday”. I stayed and swapped some stories and yarns and a few close-up card tricks.

I’ve worked all over the world. I’ve never been paid better than I was for this show. They made me wealthy. I’m repeating the experience for a different group later this week. I really cannot wait.

All of that to say: You have something to offer someone. You have talent and ability to lift someone out of their situation, if only for a moment. If only for a day. You can read books, brush and cut hair, give manicures … anything to make someone on the low feel loved and valuable.
I distracted them from harshness, I showed them love and joy and card tricks. It cost me nothing. Nothing. They left their harsh reality and saw … hope?

In the best of worlds, gods, I wish for that. To give someone hope …

You can, too.

 

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Point of You.

I found new ideas. I found mysteries and I crafted new stories. So this past week I went busking. Not for the money … for the rehearsal, for the experience. For the look of people hijacked by joy they didn’t expect. Night one went beautifully; I call the interaction between myself and my audience/ guests ‘the dance’. (Rene taught me that.)  The dance flowed … I slowed or quickened my steps, depending on my partners … the old music played and … it rained. So I packed up and went home. The city, though … my city was gorgeous in the rain.uptown

Evening two I worked for nearly eight hours, ebb and flow. Building a crowd and then letting them go. Catch and release. I honed, I altered.
I got invited to an after hours party … food and booze and they treated me like a celebrity. No lie … it felt amazing.

What’s my point? My roots. The street and the magic and the cards were there from the beginning and they were scary at first. Terrifying. With care and devotion they started paying my bills. With steady rehearsals like these I honed myself to a  deadly sharpness. Certain magicians have called some of my technique sloppy, and they aren’t wrong, but the passion and attention somehow put support under my weaknesses. I’m surrounded by love and utterly alone at the same time. I hurt, I laugh, I sing.
My actions heal, and my words … not everyone all the time, but enough to make a difference.

I come back when I need to. My rehearsal hall, my public stage without walls. You have an ability. You have a passion. Where should you plant yourself and allow your roots to embrace the earth? You can change the world for the better.

If we all embraced our abilities and strove to love our fellow creatures? Walked a rainy path to excellence? Hijacked strangers with kindness?

How different, Eden?

On my way back to the car I passed a street preacher. A quiet, kind-looking man. We made eye contact and we smiled.

He said, “With those hands, you could do anything. What do they do that makes you the proudest?”

Without thinking I said,

“With these hands, I pray for love.”

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In February of 2013 (a musing)

The six of us went to Disneyworld for most of a week. We ate together, we played together … we promised ourselves to come back in 2016. It was … beauty.

The kids wore matching M&M shirts in different colors to the park one day. The next day they wore matching Hannibal shirts …

On Valentines day we took large bags of Tootsie Pops and gave them away to park employees with little ‘I love you’s and smiles. We saw spectacular shows and cemented some old friendships.

We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Giraffes in our backyard. At night we had infrared binoculars to watch the wildlife. On our last night, Dawn and I had dinner alone in the African restaurant, had a couple of bottles of wine and went walking on the trails for a bit. We talked about the past and the future and … our emptying nest. It was one of the most romantic nights we ever shared. And one of the last.

The world has changed. I have this shining memory. Its beauty is ice pick sharp and it cuts, but the scars are worth it.861051_10151562468570955_1750145336_o

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Ugly Truth

There’s an ugly sentence in my head and it won’t leave me alone. I have to write it down. If it makes you mad, so be it. It’s been given to me for a reason. It’s going on the canvas.

DISCLAIMER: HEAVY, MATURE SUBJECT MATTER. Stop reading right now if easily offended. I’m not kidding.

I’ve struggled about writing this down. It’s kept me up all night, horrified at my own thoughts and yet knowing there’s a reason for what I’m about to write. Someone out there needs to read read this raw, ugly sentence.

Preface: every woman I know has been the victim of some form of misogyny, harassment, or straight up violence from men. Every. Woman. In decades past the milder (?) forms were laughed off as ‘boys will be boys’ and girls must be responsible for how they present themselves in public … and that’s a conversation I’ll happily have on another day. Today, though …

Every. Woman.
That’s terrible on the very face of itself. In my personal life I know of 4 good friends that are in abusive relationships. Some are violent, on occasion. Every single one of them makes excuses to stay with their spouse or partner. They cover up the bruises again, tell their friends and family that it can be fixed, that it won’t happen again, they will even go so far as to blame themselves. Maybe out of fear of loneliness, maybe not wanting to give up on the good things their partners are capable of. No one is ALL bad, right?

All of that for a simple sentence. One that occurred to me last night while reading about an old friend who finally got away from her abuser. You see, my mother was murdered by her abuser. He was clever enough in the execution that he got away with it. He got away with it. I’ve spent years trying to deal with that, and casting blame on myself for not doing … something. The truth was, there was nothing I could have done. I could not force her to leave. She made the choice to stay.
Every. Woman.

Here’s my horrible, ugly sentence.

My mother committed suicide; She did this by staying with her abusive husband until he eventually killed her.

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