EIGHT DAYS A WEEK-- More specifically it was twenty years ago in August that we first launched The Little Egypt Gazette. The inaugural "Collector's Issue" featured the above graphic, excerpted from Richard Kaufman's new book Duffie's Card Compulsions, by Peter Duffie. Richard had spiced up the book with dozens of vintage line drawings along with the magic illustrations by Joseph K. Schmidt. I reviewed the book and was immediately chastised by a reader for doing a slipshod job, my first clue that there was someone out there. Okay, we have something going here.
What the first issue looked like (partial).
The next issue included my first interview (Wes Schield of Dallas & Co.), the following my first photo of Melinda, and by December the first of my marathon Christmas poems. I was running strong card tricks too, but you had to answer a simple password question to access them, and some readers were furious because they didn't know the answer and so demanded that I reveal the secret. Oh, that depended on how nicely they asked.
By the start of the second year, we had hit our stride and were churning out nearly forty pages of content a month, which was almost literally taking "eight days a week" to accomplish. (I was still working full time, raising kids, and somehow saw almost every new movie; why can't I find that time in retirement?) I had run out of new card material by then so took Richard Kaufman's suggestion to run tricks from the books I was reviewing. Publishers, especially Richard, were very generous. I finally reached burnout by the October 1997 special Eddie Fields issue and announced the end of the run. Most took me seriously, but I had written one more marathon Christmas poem, had no place to put it, and so by December created Little Egypt Magic to establish a new location, hoping to reduce the labor from forty pages a month to one page a month. The results are at your fingertips. The second year of the Gazette (plus some subsequent issues) and all of Little Egypt Magic are still online.
Dealer spotlight, November 1995.
My goal from the outset had been to establish a more "permanent" home for stuff I was writing on the internet. I had been writing a lot for David Lichtman's Magic! and Bruce Barnett's Electronic Grymoire and felt it would all just go away (silly me). The Gazette and Little Egypt Magic became a sort of magic diary; I could go back in time and find, say, my favorite tricks from a given book, or recall the fun I had at various conventions. That others would actually read along with me proved to be a bonus, and because of this I have made some of the best friends ever. So thank you, readers, for being there, and for encouraging me to keep this up. The twenty years flew by!
Postscript: What was life like way back in 1995? I reviewed the year in the magazine (the January 1996 issue), with these as the abbreviated highlights: Television specials included "The Magic of David Copperfield XVI Unexplained Forces" (My fav of the Copperfield specials), "Rudy Coby, the Coolest Magician on Earth," "Magicians' Favorite Magicians," and "The World's Greatest Magic II" (Loved Melinda and Penn and Teller on this). Favorite books included Jim Steinmeyer's The Magic of Alan Wakeling and Roberto Giobbi's Card College Volume 1. My favorite trick was Chuck Smith's Imagination from his What If? lecture notes. I visited the Magic Castle (loved Earl Nelson and Whit Haydn) and Louisville's Innovations in Close-up convention (highlight was a Gary Kurtz cabaret act). I performed at Mysteries (Kevin King's and Carl Andrews' state park venue) and opened in the middle of the night for Elvis at a post prom (Elvis impersonator and local mayor Bruce Borders, "By day the Mayor, by night the King").
There is nothing like sharing burgers and shakes with Elvis at 3:00 A.M.