The Guts of the Matter

“Deep inside, all folded up … where real magic happens? Is your signature and hers. Maybe.”

Me and my friends? We live to serve. We serve You, our audience. The artists, the performers, the show people. Dozens of different names and flavors.

We will perform sick and loaded up on medication. We will perform in pain, our backs hurting, our feet or knees screaming. I know personally that several of us have taken the stage with kidney stones in full press, barely able to stand upright just beyond the curtain, but full arrogance, pomp and swagger under the lights, smiles wide and voices booming for all we are worth. Even then, the little voice in the very back of our mind telling us: ‘You’re going to pay for this.’

We play with our hearts broken. We’ve taken the stage mere moments after a loved one has said something cruel, or even said goodbye. I got the call about one of my parents, fifteen minutes before curtain, and the house was full. I went on, and I delivered. I took it to the stage, and I left it there.

When asked to choose, I chose the art. Even though I lost almost everything else.

We go on and do our jobs. We strive to be better, to reach for excellence. (Not perfection. Perfection is a lie that is lethal to real art.) We were made such that we cannot do anything else and be true.

I do this for You.
I do this for Art.

Selfishly, the Truth is … I do it for me, more than anyone else.

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Monday. May 1, 2017

Journal

I have nothing but the entire world to gain. I have cried and i have laughed … and laughing is much better.

Saturday I spent cleaning the house, doing laundry and prepping for Monday’ upcoming show with Brandon Barber. I’m really interested to hear the story he’s bringing. Took a wold around my neighborhood and daydreamed by a lake, under a tree for an hour or so. Fought with myself for a long time about going out busking again, and I won the battle – rent is due, bills are due, most especially the lawyer’s fee … I went out because of the money, and I should have known better. I would still go, but I would have found a better reason. As it was, Saturday night turned into a disaster.

The was a woman who paused ‘just for a minute’ to watch the show. She was in her late fifties-ish and fairly conservative in her dress and demeanor. She enjoyed the show, but got frustrated with me not explaining to her how everything worked. She stuck around to watch a second time, and, after I was done and I was collecting money, she picked up the cards from the table to look at them more closely. Rude, but … it happens. Finding nothing, she insisted on looking at my sharpie, examining the table, everything she could think of. Finding nothing, she stood and watched for a third show, visibly frustrated, angry, and upset. She demanded that I confess to her the inner workings of the show. I tried to assuage her frustration by comparing my show to plays and movies: you don’t get to always see behind the scenes, but she wouldn’t have any of it. She wrote down my name and said she was going to have me ‘checked out’ so that she could read how I do what i do. I gave her the title of my DVD …

Saturday night was filled with hooligans. People were throwing cups from the upper ledges, and security was having a bit of a time. Lots of ‘leashed dates’: “I want to watch this guy!” “NO! We are late and you need to come ON. RIGHT NOW.” Gender played no part in this; I heard that same dialogue play from both directions.

I called it a night early when I felt it had just become futile. No one’s fault, really. Bad nights happen, but I left feeling terrible. Arrived home and showered, had a mug of tea and some green time, then felt a bit better. The bills will get paid, somehow.

Took a sleep in on Sunday. Made a bit of breakfast and read from Hogarth’s diary. Got a bit of writing and practice in and spent the evening watching the Glen Campbell biography “I’ll Be Me”. Glen (as I’ve noted before) is a hero of mine, and a favorite of my father’s. The film touched deeply on his illness (Alzheimer’s) and his ongoing relationship with his children, his wife, and his music. Touched me deeply. I miss my children, and this brought a lot of those feelings home in a painful way. Worth watching, for sure, but I wasn’t prepared. I sat up until the wee hours, writing in depth about the people I miss. Parents, family, best friends.

Now it’s Monday. In a few hours I’m going onstage. I have lots to talk about, and I hope for a decent turn out, especially for the venue and Brandon’s sake. There will be magic, no matter what. Watching the bio reinforced in me the crucial aspect of being vulnerable in my art, like a songwriter putting his heart in the air, so will I in these personal, public shows. i wonder how it will be received. It’s okay to do this.

A friend told me this morning that it’s okay to forgive myself. Even when people I’ve hurt try to amplify their pain and paint me as worse than i actually was, I can embrace the truth and love myself.  I am a good, decent man, and I think I’m proud of me.

What a concept.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Journal.

Woke up early to help Dani (Gold Angel) get her furniture moved from my front room. She’s excited about having her very own place, and it’s contagious. I sat on the front room sofa and took stock of what’s still stored there. It’s okay.

Short meeting about a new restaurant venue. Aix en Provence. A cozy French restaurant that will serve nicely for the dinner show. The string trio also seem pleased. Looks like it’ll happen at the end of May, and hopefully become an ongoing event.

Returning home, my recent turmoil and loss tried to distract me, so I rehearsed. Exercised a deck until my hands and mind were sore … then started on the initial draft of what will hopefully become a short film I want to make. I like the concepts that are coming to mind, and it helps to funnel the pain onto paper. More on the film later.

Speaking of film – the ‘Cups’ video (Link here) is averaging between 10, 000 – 15,000 views per day. I’m stunned. What is the definition of ‘viral’? What will the end result be, other than inspiring me to make something even better, more from the heart?

18156422_10155342954735955_6703213230379332939_o.jpgSpent the evening at my favorite busking pitch at the Epicentre … Neil Diamond was in town and that crowd was out for fun. Great shows, great hats …. a night really good for my soul.

I’m hurting for some friends that are hurting. I can’t disclose details in this forum, because it’s not my business to do so – but I’m striving to be the kind of friend that i sometimes need.

So. Home safe and sweaty and grubby. Tired and sore, but in a ‘did really good work’ kind of way. I made people laugh, I gave them some astonishment, and I made new friends. Shower … then deep sleep.

Let tomorrow bring its own adventures and challenges. Today was good.

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New Love

I had lunch today with a friend, an artist I respect who worked with me on a project a few years back. We talked about art, and possibilities and the challenges of the future. Opportunities were presented, plans were jotted down, and I left with a feeling of hopefulness, but also something more.

I’ve been jaded for about two and half years, as I watched the world I lived in and trusted crumble slowly to pieces. I’m left with my talent, my wits, and lots of time. I’ve lost a lot, but this story isn’t about loss. It’s about love. New love. A love I found on my way home from lunch.

I’m respected. I do good, quality work that I can be really proud of. I help and heal people with my art and my voice. I have a gift and I haven’t shirked in using it. I’ve always felt I could be a great partner to someone who truly believed in me. Someone who would stay beside me when I was overjoyed, sad, kind, or mean. I found that person. It just so happens to be me.

It’s okay to love me. It’s okay to sacrifice for me … so I’m going to. I’m going to plumb the depths and really love the man I am. I had to reach the bottom, I had to be betrayed and mocked and stepped on, but I recognize my strength. I will rise above all of this.

In my flailing post on Facebook, a gentleman I used to attend church with asked me: “DO you have any Jesus left in you at all? Let Him be a shining light for you.” All I could think was: “Man … where the hell have you been for the past few years? Why haven’t you come to me before this to hold up your Jesus lifesaver?”

In me? There’s the concept and beautiful idea of the forgiving, all-loving, healing, magician Jesus. I can strive to BE that, and love my neighbors AND my enemies … #rebeljesus makes wine, loves everyone, heals the sick and flips some freaking tables when the pompous, holier-than-thou, thieves in the temple are desecrating the idea of love and forgiveness. BUT FIRST, I must love myself. I must allow the Magdalene to anoint my head when I need it.

With the love I give myself, I’ll be better able to serve my art and my audience. Love breeds love. I forgive me. I love me. I’ll be there for me, even in the darkness. I’ve spent too much time trying to beg love from those incapable of giving it, so now it’s on me. I’ll stumble, sure, but in the end, I will win.

If you think this is just a self serving post, well … you aren’t wrong. Sometimes these are just for me. Perhaps, though, you’ll find some wisdom here you can use … I hope that’s true, too.

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Deliveries

In the leaner years, pre-magician days, I drove a truck and delivered furniture. The days were long and exhausting, and the work … largely unfulfilling, though it had its moments. I looked at my co-workers and I used to wonder where they would rather be, what their dreams were. Sadly, I learned to not ask, because it made some of them angry. “What’s wrong with this job? Is this too good for you, ‘Mr. Actor’, ‘Mr. Artist’??” Mocking the dreams I had shared …

Some days I rode a bike to work, so that she could have the car. Only about 8 miles, and most of it through the green shaded back neighborhoods. I dreamed of big, ivy-covered houses. Later in the day, I might even see the inside of some of these, as I delivered their bookcases and beds. I loved the peace, and the exercise the bike gave me. Just as a boy, when my bike took me everywhere, from the corner store to the Death Star, fighting off TIE fighters as I flew through trenches to save my friends.

Returning to our little house each night, with the attic fan and the big metal grate in the floor that served as a heating system, there would be love and laughter waiting. Stories to tell and stories to keep. Books to be read and re-read aloud.

If the magic thing went away? I’d like to drive a bus, cross country, long distances … deliver people to new adventures.
… or bring them home.

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By the Lake

I have vivid childhood memories of feeding ducks at Freedom Park with my mother and grandmother. Delighted and terrified by the experience, and clutching the wax paper bag of ‘yesterday’s bread’.

We took the girls to walk around the park when they were small, and we brought along bread to feed the ducks … perhaps past generations of the ducks I played with. The girls were … delighted and terrified, and it’s one of my treasured memories.

In Arizona, outside the coffee shop, I watched a father and son feeding the ducks … and I wish I words for how moved I was. Life is amazing, right down to the very moments.

“There was a boy who came into this world at the hands of a holy woman in a holy place.
He wore a red coat and walked a black dog, saw them reflected in the mirror of the lake.
Lived in the shadow of the mountain, with the smells of disinfectant, dusty old leather, and the polished wood of his bed.
No more than a baby, feeding swans on the river, clutching the hand of his mother and the wax paper bag of yesterday’s bread.” ~ Marillion, “This Strange Engine”

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Two Years Ago

Some of you may think I’m publishing this just to feed my own vanity. The truth is: I want to point out to you that the simplest of kind gestures can change, even save, lives.

My Facebook memories today gave me a short letter from a lady who had seen my show. She came in disliking magic in general. I helped to change her mind, but in the interim I did so much more than I was realizing at the time. Here’s her letter:

“I was going through some things today, and something wonderful happened. This has been a difficult year, I had an injury at the beginning that deeply effected my memory. Today I found the Bicycle Steam Punk deck of cards you gave me a few years back when you changed my mind about magic, and all the memories of that entire stay at the Ritz, meeting the Artists and having the great time with my Husband, came back to me. I truly got to live it all over again, it brought tears to my eyes, and I remembered just how truly magnificent you are. All because you wanted me to remember that day whenever I looked at those cards: it worked.”
January 23rd, 2015

My gift is humble. I do card tricks and I tell stories.

My gift is mighty. It restored precious memories that were thought lost.

Your gift, though perhaps humble, can absolutely change the world. For one, for thousands … who knows?

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