Tag Archives: suicide

June 10, 2018

The Magic Castle, Hollywood, CA

I looked all over for some small sign of my friend. He was nowhere to be found. The places were still there, but there was no trace of him. Not his laughter. Not his spirit. Not his magic.
I sat on the bench where we talked about performance and art. I spent time at the table where we shared favorite books.
He’s just gone. I, selfishly, would have liked more time with him.
I visited Irma to get some perspective: maybe add some music to lift my heart. At the request of another guest, she played “Suicide is Painless”.

I fled.

Later a stranger, who earlier in the evening had watched my show, gave me food. “I ordered this to go on impulse. I think I’m supposed to give it to you.” Chicken and veggies, quite delightful.

As I went to pay my parking, I was called back inside. A friend requested that I do a small show for his sister, who was celebrating her birthday. We found a private table and … it was good. I told my stories and did my magic for the two of them. I made a boot for her … and she cried, just a little.

It took everything I had. It was worth it. I gave them a bit of me. That’s art, right?
For you, Leeman. For your smile. For your spirit. I found a bit of it, and I gave it to someone. As it should be.

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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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Damage. (Warning: Intense words)

He sat on his parent’s bed, at the foot, so that the splatter would be bigger and cover both sides equally. In his mouth was the barrel of his father’s revolver. Pearl handles, expert engraving … really deadly, beautiful engine. He had taken it from it’s hiding place, loaded it and spent time considering the best delivery angle. He could feel the front site digging into the soft tissue on the ceiling of his mouth. He fully cocked the hammer and applied slow pressure on the trigger.
He was thirteen, and he was just done. Done with the pain, done with the abuse and the indifference of callous ‘loved ones’. Done with life.

And then a voice. Inside his head? In his ear? Doesn’t matter. Just four words:
“You’re stronger than this.”

And he let go. Removed the bullets and put the gun away. Lived. Today, he told me (and a group of servicepersons) all about it.

USO, day two.

Suicide. PTSD, Depression … and Spirituality.

Dark and grim, at times. Cut through with truth, foundations and real world exercises in dealing with anguish and stresses. I opened today with ‘This Strange Engine’ (the same version I did for the TED talk). I spoke on relationships, passion, and following the road. “There are no useless cards.”
And I did card tricks.
My topic proved apt as the day progressed. Difficult topics were explored. Hearts were revealed, some in between sessions. I listened and I shared. I was able to boost morale a bit with an impromptu show during lunch.

I made friends with a remarkable group of people …

In the midst of my darkness, there is love. When I was at my lowest, I was sent rescue. Strong friends and positive voices in my head. Sure, it’s ‘kinda woo’, but I have faith in the power of love.

I realize that today’s post is rambling, so let me just say:

Communicate.
Reach out. REALLY reach out.
Love, even those who seem unlovable.
Believe in the unbelievable power of your gift, the unfailing direction of your road.
Damage can be healed.

Love. Wins.

h

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Robin.

A year ago today I lost a friend. A friend I never met.

Now … he never met me, odds are he never even heard of me, but he affected my life and he was there in my happy and dark times as only a close friend can be. I bought his first comedy album and it scandalized my mother. She thought of him as Mork, and family friendly, but he introduced some adult humor and dark thoughts into my young brain. She took the album away, and it took me a very long time to find it and steal it back. (I swapped the record and kept Robin in a “Sound of Music” sleeve.)

He introduced me to poetry and Hemingway. Wolfe and Van Gogh. All day today these fractured souls have been entertaining me. All suicides. Mad men and women who lived with such incredible passion that it seemed to burn them. Eventually, for whatever reasons, they took their exits.

The pouring out of soul is crucial. We, the entertainers and poets and storytellers and artists all have a need to share our love and yes, our pain, too. From personal experience it heals. It heals me and it heals many of the people I touch with my silly card tricks and ‘witty’ patter. I’m privileged to have this gift.

One of the drawbacks, and it’s a big one, is that my family has had to share me. That isn’t a picnic. Being recognized and stopped in public became a really sticky issue very early. I kind of enjoyed the spotlight, but it was too often foisted on my loved ones who didn’t really want me to be Hannibal all the time. Also, in my blogging and social media, I’ve shared with you … not exactly secrets … but personal feelings and thoughts that they felt should have remained within the family circle. Alas … this heart gets worn on my sleeve and the older I get, the redder it becomes.

I never bought my wife a proper engagement ring. In fact .. I’m not certain I ever proposed. We just decided and leapt.

People ask why I decided to become a magician, why this particular craft? But it really just happened. I found I was good at it and I leapt. That leaping changed my life. After years of struggle and heartache and fears and really hard work … I found success. Monetary, okay, sure … but way more than that. I found that my sharing of myself helped people. Changed and saved lives.

Robin and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent … they shaped and changed and saved my life. I never met them, but they touched me and millions of others. We … the artists and magicians and jugglers and painters and seamstresses and poets … here we are and here are our souls. Life is hell, sometimes. We take the shit of life and, as artists, we strive to create something that gives you genuine joy.

I often state “I hope that there’s love where you are.” And I genuinely mean it. All of us deserve love and sadly not all of us get what we need. That phrase, uttered and typed in love, has been used as a weapon against me. I’ve been mocked with it. Put down and called a hypocrite for it. That doesn’t make my intention any less true. I do hope there’s love where you are.

Robin took his life one year ago today and he left a massive hole in me that I haven’t been able to fill. He didn’t say why, or if he did his family has decided not to share. I miss him. I hurt for him. I’m still mad at him. (If you are ever hurting that badly, call me or contact me – even if I don’t know you.) If you consider me your friend … here I am.

I’m going forward, now. Things in my private life are somewhat catastrophic at the moment, but I’m going to keep breathing. On the very first show I did after Robin lost his battle, I made him a promise that I would pick up his flag and carry it. I may never be as well known, but I am giving you my heart from the page and the stage, and I won’t give up. If this post rambles, well, I hope you can carve some sense and comfort out of it.

Robin said “keep a little madness” and I am sticking with that. This means some of what I do won’t make sense. That’s life, right?

My friend, I miss you. I couldn’t be there for you because you didn’t know me at all. But maybe I can be there for someone else, and every night on my stage, I’ll be throwing magic as hard as I can to my unseen friends. For your attention, I’ll give you heart-wrought silver.

You, the beautiful one reading this? You’ve stuck with me for 815 words, now. Thank you. You can affect lives, too. You can save a soul. Please, find the love, find your path and walk it as far as it takes you. For what it’s worth, I believe in you and I love you.

Robin … and Ernest and Virginia and Vincent …. and Rene’ the Maestro … and Joey and Dee Dee and Tommy and Johnny … and really hundreds of other friends and shapers: Thank you.
I sincerely hope that there’s love where You are.

h

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