Thanks to the generosity of my friend and magical mentor, Leland Pennington, I had the chance to join 900 magicians from around the world at Magi-Fest in Columbus, Ohio.
My regular job is working as a reporter for The Daily Record newspaper in Wooster, Ohio. While I was immersed into magic for the convention, which ran from Jan. 30–Feb. 2, 2014, I did not totally get away from my job as a journalist. However, my stories would not be for the newspaper, rather for the International Brotherhood of Magicians, either its monthly magazine, “The Linking Ring” or its website, Magician.org.
It was an incredible weekend. Magic abounded.
I tried to connect with organizer Joshua Jay, however, he was busy. There were lectures to open, performers to introduce, technical issues to resolves, fires to put out, people to register and people to meet.
I had the chance to see a lot of wonderful magic, especially Juan Tamariz (he is in the yellow sweater in the photo above), and learn about so many aspects of magic. Eric Mead had a touching talk about his friend, the late Tim Conover. Is it possible to become a better magician just by listening to one magician talk about another one? I feel I am better for having been a part of Mead’s lecture.
Michael Weber is well known within the magic and mentalism community, but he is not a common name among the public. Years ago, when Harry Blackstone Jr. and his wife, Gay Blackstone, brought their show to Daytona Beach, I was working at Daytona Magic and, thanks to Harry Allen and Irv Cook, I had the opportunity to meet them. I believe it was Gay Blackstone who said at any given time, the public is only aware of a handful of magicians. At the time, it was Doug Henning, David Copperfield and Harry Blackstone Jr. Weber might not be well-known, but many people know of his work. He was the one who came up with the solution of “taking the legs off” Lt. Dan (played by Gary Sinise) in the movie “Forrest Gump.” The principles he taught will find a spot in my repertoire.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with John Bannon, an incredible card man out of Chicago. One of his fans saw us talking and came up to introduce himself to Bannon and to get some advice on performing a particular move. Bannon spent about 30 minutes working with him and another magician.
Francis Menotti, whose one-man show opened the convention Thursday night, is a creative force. After I introduced myself, he agreed to spend some time with me to talk for a story. It never worked out until after Juan Tamariz’s show and lecture Saturday night, which actually ended 12:45 a.m. early Sunday. By then, everyone is tired. My eyes are showing my fatigue, as was Menotti’s. I asked if he was ready to talk for a couple of minutes, and he said sure. A couple of minutes turned into 15, and I had a great time hearing about how his career unfolded.
Leland told me, “There are a lot of stories here.”
Indeed, and I am grateful I will have the opportunity to share some of those stories here on The Z Section, as well as in “The Linking Ring” and on Magician.org, … especially when I had breakfast with Barrie Richardson.