Monthly Archives: April 2016

Cruel Serendipity

“Please tell me how you did that.”

I hear this more than any other audience utterance. I suspect more and more, as my career in this wonderful craft continues, that people want to believe that, at least at some level, what I’m doing is real. Real magic, supernatural power. They long to have faith in something greater than themselves. This is one more reason not to tell them: exposure of the work would only spoil the fantasy. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I’ve had people believe so strongly that they attribute my skill to being ‘in league with Lucifer’. Yes, in 2016. Some demon at my command … finding lost cards.

I am convinced that most magicians, the ‘buy the latest fad’ group, especially, are looking for real magic also. The one trick that will solidify their reputation and shoot their career into the ‘big time’. The big secret is … it doesn’t exist. There’s not an effect or a routine that will create real magic.

But real magic DOES exist.

It happens in the feeling, love and hope you leave with someone. If you are an entertainer, you are giving relief to the weary world, some of whom may just be barely getting by, longing for love and hope … and here you are, with your gift.

Sometimes, the situation is more dire.
I was busking in uptown Charlotte on a recent Saturday night. There was a game happening at the arena and several good sized events, so the crowds were happy and large. I was feeling great. About 10PM a woman came up the sidewalk with three children in tow. The oldest of these was about seven. The woman was very clearly under the influence of something. She hustled the kids up to my table and told them to watch my show, then sat down on the sidewalk and promptly went to sleep.
I couldn’t wake her. Security couldn’t wake her. Meanwhile, all I can think to do is entertain the children, keep them distracted. An ambulance came, and mom got help … I pulled cards and coins out of little ears and didn’t panic. The kids went with the police, mom went with the ambulance.

I stood there with a broken heart and cursed the universe. I cried and felt sorry.

Later I realized the truth and the magic of this. I was there at just the right time. I had a specific set of skills that helped those children deal with a horrific situation. I was precisely where I was supposed to be at just the right time. I could ‘what if’ for hours, but because I was there, I made a difference. Did I save a life? Did I save four lives? I don’t know – what is important is: I was there and I gave love, hope and a measure of peace where there was none. That’s real magic. That’s stone into bread.

You have within you the seeds of hope and love. Have them ready, be generous with them. Fly your flag and use your gifts.

Make Magic Happen.

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Here is the beach I stormed as a child. The sand is rife with memories and spirit.

My grandparents are here, still alive and vital and brimming with my history. My parents are here, still alive and still in love.

My first kiss was here. Right here where I’m sitting. Alma … Alma Sizemore. Our romance was about 45 minutes long and nearly 40 years ago, but I remember her name, her coal hair against her powder blue jumper, her face … and her kiss, which tasted of sea salt and Bubblicious watermelon gum.

The pier is gone. No shade for a young poet on a summer day, but its shadow is still cast long. Decades long. Slippery wood and barnacles, the whistle of the wind around taut fishing line. Grandpa Jack  laughing hard and real, smoke trailing from his pipe.

“Buzzard, run get me lunch. Come back straight, don’t stop to read the comics.”

I sing ‘Desperado’ as a ritual. I change the names of the cards in the songs.

The sun is going down over the sound. I watch for a green flash, listen for the hiss as the water on the other side of the world extinguishes the day …

Sorry, Grandpa. I stopped to read the comics, and I played Asteroids. I stopped for kisses, and I sang to the sea. I danced in the sand and I followed my own road.

I miss You.

I didn’t come back straight: I came back ‘crookeder than hell’, but the journey is amazing. You’d all be proud of me, if your ghosts could see me. I just know you would.

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Double Journey

This week I have the honor to once again present my magic and storytelling for the USO during the Reset program. I’ll be in Jacksonville, NC.

It hit me this morning that I’ll be just 30 minutes from one of my true homes: Topsail Island. At some point I’m going to make a quest and locate the places from my youth. The piers are gone, and over 35 years have lapsed, but perhaps a memory awaits me.

Or maybe I’ll make a new one …

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What I’m Not

Today I’m officiating at a wedding, but I’m not an ‘officiant’. The groom is a fairly new friend: we were only first introduced about a year and a half ago. 

Last night, during the rehearsal dinner speech, he declared to everyone that he and his lovely Bird bride did not want an officiant: they wanted a friend. They embrace my views on love and life and … Despite (or perhaps because of) my own struggles with these things, they determined that I was the perfect candidate. I’m beyond honored.

These are the awards I crave, not medals or trophies. Wearing my heart defiantly on my sleeve.


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