Monthly Archives: August 2016

Almost All of Them Lived

I am Earth. Dirt born at the hands of a holy woman (in a holy place).

I am Earth, creation, womb, haven.

I am Earth as You are surely Water.

I am Earth, and the green lives within my heart, waiting to bloom.

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In the Details

Ya know what grinds my gears? Hearing a magician (I could expand this to other craftspeople, but it’s magicians that really get up under my skin with this) say about their mediocre routine or act: “Well, it plays.” … and they genuinely believe that “It plays” is good enough to put it in front of an audience. Never mind if the audience pays or not, to settle for mediocrity in your craft is (to me) unacceptable.

Excellence and the road toward it are worth the effort. Worth the pain, worth the struggle, worth the sweat equity put into it. Please … my brothers and sisters in the craft of magic: stop settling for mediocrity. Raise the bar for the sake of your own craft, your own heart.

My act “LIAR!” is a beautiful, moving piece of my heart that I crafted over many years. I’m very proud of it and I continue to hone it. I want to perform it in semi-permanent venues. Two weeks in one city, a month in another …
It’s not the best it can be. It’s quite a ways away, and I’ve been pushing back on the improving of it by telling myself: “It plays.” I could do it for the rest of my life as is and my audience would be enthralled and moved and i could legitimately call it art, but in my heart, I’m unsatisfied. It says all the things I want it to say. It has drama and comedy and nostalgia in just the right amounts (almost, still tweaking). It could say it more clearly, if I’m honest with myself.

There’s a routine that needs to be cut. It simply and honestly does not fit with the rest of the texture and path of the rest. It’s one of the oldest routines, I love performing it, it gets requested often, and it’s a sure thing. I could close with it and get a standing ovation every night.

It has to go.

I’ve created something I like better, and it isn’t jarring and off filter like the other routine. I’m sorry to those of you who love it: “Roadhouse” (“My Favorite Trick”, “That Thing with the Boobs”) is gone. And so I continue to strive toward excellence and pull away from the mediocre.

I need a director. I need to put my script into the hands of someone with great directing talent and see what they interpret. Someone who will get what I’m trying to do, and direct me, improving the experience for those who watch.

I need either original music or someone to ‘score’ the act. Add to the impact, add depth to the feeling.

I need a lighting designer. I have and idea for a window … but there needs to be subtle light changes as the show evolves.

And so on. The road stretches out and I will continue to polish and display my heart to the best of my ability. Meantime, I am loving the process and the souls I meet.

Happiness is the Road.

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Always a Reason

It was a slow night at the usual busking spot. Foot traffic was way below normal. The air was hot, wet, and still. Miserable conditions. After two hours I was ready to call it, but I kept thinking, “10 more minutes. I here for some reason.” The feeling was just insistent. Kinda woo? Okay, but I trust my instincts. I even considered moving to a new locale, seeking out a crowd … but no. I’m needed here.

My reason stepped up unexpectedly. He was tall, well dressed, and a little stout. He seemed nervous and hesitant, which didn’t fit his frame or body language. He walked and stood with confidence, but spoke quietly and shy. We were essentially alone in the courtyard. He spoke:

“Look man, I don’t have any money to tip, but my girl just left me and I’m having the saddest day. Can you show me something and maybe make me laugh or … I dunno, forget for a minute?”

Oh. Yes, brother: I can.

So I called on my skill, and presented my heart’s own joy. I woke up with a bunch of it, I guess I knew it would be needed. I did a few tricks that had more humor than astonishment, I amazed. I amused. 

He laughed. Spontaneous and genuine and hard. I didn’t let up; I relenessly plied my craft and gave him a good act. Yeah, here’s my reason for being here. 

When I finished he grinned, big and goofy. Then he opened up.and emptied his thoughts like pouring out a garbage can.

“I was addicted to heroin and Chrystal Meth. So was my girl. I went and got cleaned up, then I helped her. Got her into rehab, gave her encouragement, all that I could. She met someone else while she was inside, and a couple of days ago she told me she was leaving me for him. I mean .. I’m glad she’s clean, and I hope he makes her happy, but …

Look, man: you gave me the first really good feeling I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have any money, but you’re really magic, man. You just .. you’re love. Thank you. I know it’s gonna be okay.”

We hugged. Like old friends. He walked on, down his road.

And here I sit, my back against the elevator shafts, typing this with my thumbs. Foot traffic is picking up. There’s a little breeze, now. The night looks promising, now.

I have a reason for being here. So do You.

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Another Mr. h

There’s this guy I know … met him once or twice, but I know deep feelings and events of his life because of the transparency he exercises in his art.

In 1988 he was trying to make it in the music industry, and had just decided to give up for the sake of stability in his family. He was literally putting a ‘for sale’ sign in his front yard when he received the first of two calls.

The first call came from one of the coolest bands in the world. Socially relevant, trendy, college based sound. Cooler (at the time quite a feat) than REM and U2 combined. The were heading out on a world tour and wanted him to play keyboard and percussion. He would be featured on the next album and, if things worked out, become a permanent fixture.

The second call came from perhaps the least cool band in the world. A band that had a minor hit four years prior, and had a small but hardcore, rabid group of fans. The lead singer (and sole lyricist) had abruptly left and the band was looking to fill his shoes in order to fulfill a contract. They wanted Mr. h’s heart and his brain in their sudden new path.

So … what do you do? Guaranteed money and a world tour with a hot band, or artistic control and uncertainty in a band that had assuredly passed its golden years?

Mr. Hogarth chose the lead singer gig with Marillion. Nearly 30 years later, they are releasing their 17th album in September. The music has saved and inspired my life for decades. They aren’t mega rockstars, and they prefer that. They make a comfortable living outside the conventional music industry, and still maintain a small, hardcore group of fans. He’s found bliss and love.

The band he turned down? “The The”. Also still around, the leader/ songwriter Matt Johnson is the only consistent member.

Why am I telling you this? My life has come to a similar crossroads, and I’ve choices to make. My personal life has been altered in a major fashion and one of the few upsides of the upheaval is a new freedom. I can choose my next path without having to consider the consequences for anyone else. It’s my call, my choice. There’s comfort and terror in that, but it’s much less scary that having to decide for six people.

I can do … anything. The determining factor is my will and tenacity. What do I want?

You know what’s great? I don’t know! That is fantastic and exciting. At the moment I am adrift, and waiting. Watching. I’m not leaving my craft, but I am looking for different, challenging venues to display it. 

Soon, it will present itself, and I’ll choose. I will stay true to my heart and my art … and I’ll shine. Fame and money are the least of the considerations, though they play a role.

I have been given this gift, and can’t wait to share it. Stay tuned …

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Filed under Musings, Public Diary