Tag Archives: busking

Hat

Years ago:
I had a hat and a waistcoat.
I put them on, picked up my instrument, and went to work.

It was raw craft, at first. I had a little skill with words and so I used them to hide the flubs.
Raw craft … and then

I missed my mother. I was unhappy that she never saw me perform one effect, never saw what my hands were destined to do. I said so while shuffling cards. I made up a trick that i thought would make her laugh, could she but see.

… and they laughed. And they gasped. And they wriggled a bit in delight.
The laugh exploded and crystallized into art. Laughter through tears.

A marine. (hard and sober)
A goth chick.
A rabbi.
A homeless man.
A homeless woman.
A college student.
A lawyer.
A superstar athlete.
And several anonymous souls
… have told me that I saved their lives with my words and my art.

Tonight I made a woman weep with my stories.
I reminded her of her son
Who died …
Laughter through tears.
“He would have loved this … thank you for being who you are.”

tonight I drove home.
And I put my instrument down (for now, not for keeps)
I took off my hat and i hung up my waistcoat
and I wrote this to you.

This … is who I am.

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My Green Grove

September 24, 2017

Festival in the Park is a yearly artisan even in Charlotte. Arts and crafts, live music, and variety acts. For the past twenty years or so I have participated at the ‘Magician’s Stage’ in one capacity or another. I started off in my early magic days, doing two twenty minute spots as part of the local magic club.

The stage has changed locations, management, undergone blistering heat and flash flood. One year the chairs and the stage disappeared under water in less than thirty minutes …

The stage is humble: just a wooden platform with the Festival banner as a back drop. Two floodlights on a metal pole are the entirety of the lighting. No sound system. Our hall is a cathedral of trees. It’s very green. This little grove sits in a small hollow, just off the main path. The sides of the hollow dampen the noise of the crowd and the live bands.

It’s really a magic place, all by itself.

Over the past three days we gave hundreds of audience members pure magic. I stood, bathed in sweat, pouring out my heart to several packed ‘houses’. All through the hot afternoon and into the dark of warm fall nights. They stayed, and they helped, and they gave us ovations and cheers. We danced together.

This was my last year with Festival in the Park. Next fall I will be living across the country. I know I’ll miss it. I know I’ll cherish the memories. I saw some friends I haven’t seen in years. I reconnected with some very precious souls that had been lost to me.

It was magical, it was beautiful.

It was green.

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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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marbles

Knuckle down or Quitsies?

My law and your ducks … mostly prits and cats-eyes; my aim is true and your hold is beauty.

No stomps, you are free and the circ is not your limit. Bombies are cool, you’re strongest on your stage, and I love your style on a leaning topper.

Colored magic glass – the first valuable gems I owned. (and I scooped most of ‘em!)

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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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With Great Power …

… Comes great responsibility. Right?

Well, of course. But what about a little power … or power you don’t realize you have? I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to state that your main responsibility is to be true to yourself and the journey you are on. Because, honestly: you don’t know who you’re affecting and how.

How’s that for vague? Let me give you an example, a really powerful one. Now understand, things like this are happening to me all the time to a lesser or greater degree. It comes with the territory of being a public figure … of putting your heart out there. Hear this and understand the potential behind it: You AFFECT … You CHANGE THE VERY LIVES of people every day. Every. Day.

When I first got into the corporate entertainment arena (that is to say, when I earned my way in) I had a very regular client, Rob. He worked for a great company that used me in varying degrees on a regular basis and we established a close working relationship. He liked my performance style so much that he started bringing his family in to see me at my regular restaurant gig. I could just about count on seeing them every week.

Now, Rob had a young son: Roddy. Roddy became an instant fan and I would strive to do something new for him weekly. I could always make them laugh and … well, it was just a really good moment in my working week to see them coming in. As I’ve stated before, I think I have more friends amoung my audience than I do ‘fans’. I get close, you know? Rob would even have parties at the beach and put me and my family up just to get a show for his friends and clients.

Alright so, passage of time: I move on from restaurants and Rob changes companies and people slowly drift apart, sometimes. Jump head about 14 years and out of the blue Rob calls me up to perform at Roddy’s 22nd birthday. Absolutely. Let’s make this happen. I won’t mention how hearing that Roddy was turning 22 made me realize jut how fast time goes …

The party was awesome and raucous and I had a bunch of fun (as usual) while doing my work. It seems Roddy has embraced being a race car driver and he’s an up and coming star in his field. He works hard and he’s really good at what he does. Bonus points: he’s following his passion. There’s a good possibility that he’ll be the star of a TV show being pitched to major networks, based on his charisma and skill in his chosen profession. Kudos, right?

Toward the end of the night, Roddy sought me out and we had a very brief but very moving discussion. Roddy told me that he had two secrets to his success. The first was to surround himself with positive, talented people. People with skill and vision, but(most importantly) with a great attitude toward life. The kind of people that believe in you even when you think you don’t belong or you feel you aren’t capable of something. They stick with you and keep you motivated to move forward.

The second thing was: Me. Hannibal. #cardmonkey from his childhood. He told me that when things seemed very tough and dark and he felt like giving up … he would think of me. Out there doing magic tricks night after night and grinding my way toward excellence. The thought of me NOT GIVING UP gave him the courage to push through just a little bit longer.

Responsibility. What you are and what you do affect people. The tenacity to keep going when it seems everyone is against you. Performing night after night after day after week after month after year … gave a boy with a dream the inspiration to become a man on the move. I was overwhelmed. I still am. I’m grateful and I’m massively humbled.

This isn’t an isolated occurrence, either. The longer I work at this it seems the more people I meet who tell me that something I said or did (or didn’t do) gave them a gift of some kind. The desire to strive for something difficult, the insite to look within themselves for beauty and greatness, the courage to LIVE for another day.

And all I can say to them (and you) is: I didn’t intend to be a role model. I just do what I do to the best of my ability and I hope it tells you a good story. Ironically these incidents have given me will and courage, too. The thought that I can’t give up … that someone I don’t even know is counting on me.

I know. Pretty heady stuff for a guy who just does card tricks, right? Only (dear friends) let me state this: I am not incidental. Neither are you. You are unique and you possess a passion somewhere within you that can literally change and save lives and possibly the world. That is a great power, and with great power …

You know.

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Taking Umbrage

At the request and gentle urging of my trusted beloveds, I began searching for a therapist. One that could understand my unique situation … a little background is needed, I suppose.

I’ve lived with depression for as long as I can remember. It’s not like a cloak that I shrug on and off: more a tattoo that is always there, but sometimes burns and itches like it was still healing. Due to some intense stress over the past 8 months or so, it has redoubled its hold on me, and my sorrow it so great sometimes it worries even my friends.

The Contest is a big one. I’m voluntarily putting my art up to be judged in comparison to others’ works. I had vowed to never do it again, but … peer pressure and pride.
Robin’s suicide. The man I patterned my drive after. He couldn’t make it. His sorrow took him. For all my brave talk about picking up the flag … I’m a fraud. I’m not fit to tie his shoes and … he couldn’t hold on.
Cancer … yeah.
Dawn’s sickness. Slow coming yet sudden in the swiftness in which it took her down. I felt helpless and was then accused of not acting fast enough. This is most likely correct. I’m going to shoulder the blame.
Success. Overwhelming and undeserved, I’m still waiting for the fraud police to show up.

So, I received a recommendation from a trusted friend and made an appointment. I’m going to call her Brady.

She and I seemed to hit it off right away. My first thought in seeing her was that she resembled a very distinct villain from the world of Harry Potter. How cute. How funny.

We started off with her asking some very pointed, direct questions. Events from childhood, life status of my parents, grandparents … tragedy, joys, triumphs and failures. We spoke in plain, raw words for nearly 45 minutes. It was very comforting. We were able to communicate much quicker than other therapists I’ve spoken too. After a short pause, she began speaking.

It seems … I have a generational curse. Now, my health is tied into this. My sickness is hereditary, probably. Something, some defect in my DNA triggered this sickness. It’s probably been in my bloodline for centuries.

My traumas, from the divorce of my parents to the suicide of my hero are my burdens … and my Art is God’s gift to me to help me deal with these burdens. Not eradicate, not heal … deal with.

All the depression, the anxiety, the sorrow … I caused these things by not giving my gifts as a sacrifice to the Holy Spirit. They are entirely, securely, totally mine to bear forever. I own them.

This was all caused by … wait for it … a deal made with Satan. (now, Brady didn’t use the word ‘Satan’, that would be too direct. The phrase repeated was ‘The Enemy’. I swear, you really could hear the quotes around it.) Someone, somewhere, sometime in my bloodline made a pact, whether explicit or implicit with him … and the curse shall be visited even unto the last generation. Brady told me in no uncertain terms that my ancestors were likely serial killers, or at the very least made human blood sacrifices.

The cure may be found in a rigorous treatment of Splankna, acupuncture and chiropractic medicine.

Disclosure here, folks: I don’t believe in the treatment. On the other hand, I don’t have any serious doubts about the diagnosis.

But what I DID get from the meeting was: my misery is real and it’s a part of me because I absolutely deserve it. An honest to goodness professional confirmed what my father first told me when I was eight.

So i went and visited my old ‘hometown’, which isn’t really that far away. I put my feet in the lake in the spot I was baptized in. I felt cold water and … not much else. Same as the first time. (I appreciate the water much more now than I used to, so I did take time to watch for a little while.) I went to the bleachers in the ballpark. On this spot, some forty one years ago, my father (in a very kind, loving voice) proclaimed to me that I could never really hope to amount to anything worthwhile. I was doomed to be a failure and a burden. It was a shame, he said, because he had certainly hoped for a real son to share his interests with.

I feel worse than when I went in, and that can’t be right, can it?

What I’ve written here is just the surface. I can’t bring myself to type all that I’m really dealing with. (Yes … I AM dealing with it. There’s no cause for alarm, please don’t misread my words)
I can’t express it to my family, or my best friend. Not the depth of feelings.

I have work on the stage that still needs to be done. There are things I consider important that I want to say.

But right now? Right now I’m just sad.

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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.

h

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Filed under Blither Blather, Musings

Monday morning, early October

Hello Universe!

Hello friends and fans and people I’ve never met who read my words. (Wow … what a concept.) I’ve got a favor to ask.

My daughter Grace is getting married this coming Sunday. The wedding is small and they will be surrounded by love and celebration. Thing is … I’m coming up a wee bit short in paying for it all.

Weddings, even small ones, tend to get expensive pretty quickly. I’ve been working (and work is grand!), but the summer turned up slower than anticipated and some friends needed some help and … well, I’m coming up short. Not by a lot! Just a wee bit.

I’m a believer in letting the Universe know your need and allowing people to help you. I preach it, now I’m going to practice it: I need your help.

I have Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday night available if you have an event and would like a Hannibal show. How about 25% off my usual rate? Book a future date and get your deposit in by Friday and receive 10% off. (Such a deal!)
I have my ‘Magicians Only’ DVD “The Truth from a Liar” available directly from me for $40. If you’ve been waiting to pick this up, this week would be an excellent time to order it direct from the artist. I’ll autograph it with a special thank you and include some surprises in the package.
The “LIAR!” show itself is available on DVD for just $30. Ditto the autograph and special goodies.
T-Shirts! I have a good supply of T-shirts in S-XL. Show your love for all things Hannibal to the world. $20 pp.

The lecture I did for Murphy’s Magic will soon be available on DVD … more than three hours of Hannibal magic, philosophy and magic theory. Pre-order directly from me and I’ll ship it out the day I get them (projected mid-October) $30pp.

All of these may be ordered online at The Magic Artist Store, or by contacting me directly at info@chrishannibal.com.

If you simply feel like donating to the cause. my PayPal is Chris@hegmagic.com

Thank you, my friends.

Life is Magic … I hope that there’s love where you are.

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The Cups

The opening scene of “LIAR!”

There was once a street magician …

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August 1, 2013 · 12:53 am