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The David Blaine issue of Rolling Stone

Everything you wanted to know about egg magic

AND THE ENVELOPE PLEASE -- The Magic Castle's 34th Annual Awards Gala transpired on May 20 at the Magic Castle itself, with the big awards going to Martin Lewis (parlor), Steve Valentine (closeup), John Carney (stage), David Regal (lecture), and Billy McComb (master's fellowship). Additional fellowships went to the Pendragons (performing), Earl Nelson (performing), Jim Steinmeyer (library), John Kasnetsis (special), and Pavel (creative). Tihany received a lifetime achievement award, and Rick Thomas was named magician of the year. Congratulations to all.

BLOCKBUSTER -- The Magic Castle has announced the coming release of a DVD/VHS tour of the old pile, called Magic Castle/An Inside Story and hosted by Milt Larsen. No word yet on price or release date.

THE UNDERGROUND -- According to a May 27 casual in The New Yorker (see "The Magic Basement"), a band of magicians who have been meeting since the 30s (and which currently includes the likes of Herb Zarrow, Oscar Weigle, and Doug Edwards) has recently moved from the back room of Reuben's Deli to the basement of Maui Tacos. There the boys have resumed "showing one another new moves, discussing mutual acquaintances, ... and bad-mouthing Ricky Jay." Boys will be boys.

FARM FRESH -- Somewhere, while we are busying about our dreary lives, Joseph Schmidt is at his drawing board turning out hundreds if not thousands of illustrations for the books that will grace our shelves in the next few years. Donato Colucci's wonderful The Encyclopedia of Egg Magic, mentioned here in February, finally arrived, and it's as handsome and comprehensive as anticipated. The dust cover (with a terrific Gregg Webb drawing) is of a lurid Easter egg hue, and the zillion drawings within are by the ubiquitous Mr. Schmidt. It's an odd-shaped book (it matches in size and weight the recently published Jarrett, by Jim Steinmeyer) of over 300 pages, with some 270 tricks and routines with eggs. This book belongs in every well-rounded magic library.

May 2002

"I love deadlines," Douglas Adams says in his posthumous new book, The Salmon of Doubt. "I love the whooshing noise they make when they go by." This month nearly whooshed by without my putting out an issue of this sheet. I'd like to argue that I was waiting to get the latest on David Blaine and other happenings, but the truth is closer to old-fashioned procrastination. Nonetheless, the news that follows touches on the always fascinating Mr. Blaine as well as a book from Hermetic Press, the Magic Castle awards night, a new DVD, an incredible list of forgotten card tricks, a change in the NYC magic scene, and the loss of a Chicago icon. And oh yes, the bad news: those of you hoping to scoop up Claudia Schiffer on the rebound can forget it. She married British film producer Matthew Vaughn on May 25.

THE CATBIRD SEAT -- Following in a long tradition of flagpole sitters, David Blaine stood on a pole in New York City for some 35 hours and then jumped off into a pile of cardboard boxes to climax his fourth major tv special on May 22. The stunt generated unprecedented publicity, including four pages in The Rolling Stone ("David Blaine Wants to Freak You Out," by Erik Hedegaard, May 23) and five pages in The New York Times Magazine ("Making a Spectacle of Himself," by Glen David Gold, May 19). David's monotone utterings have cost him somewhat (Salon's Cintra Wilson, who once hailed him as a "hot little bucket of spooky," now notes that he "is tragically prone to fucking up his image with whiny, sissy-drama histrionics"), while rumors of a Daryl Hannah liaison and a tv appearance in which he ripped out his beating heart have more than kept him in the spotlight. The special itself was an interesting amalgam of cool magic tricks (I loved seeing him extract a stolen watch from a jewelry store window), silliness (riding a tiny bicycle in NYC traffic, falling over on a sidewalk), old clips, and the Vertigo jump itself, thankfully with a tad less hype than the ice cube trick. My opinion? David always surprises me, interests me, and amuses me, and I was therefore not disappointed. His first special was by far his best for me, for its ground breaking presentation of magic (on many levels) and for its lack of A Big Stunt. As to the stunt, I thought it the best of the three (at least it had a finish), but my interest in David is only in him as a magician (I also envy his little black book). I'm no fan of endurance stunts. On that subject, one web site claims the entire Vertigo stunt was an illusion, that he wasn't there the whole 35 hours. If true, then I am seriously impressed, if we were really watching a magic trick and not a fool on a pole. Either way, it worked for him, and he sits in the catbird seat. I look forward to whatever is next up his sleeve.

OK, ASTROLOGY SOMETIMES GETS IT RIGHT -- I'm a Capricorn, whether I believe in such things or not, and one of the things they say about us winter babies is that we love lists. And I do. The June issue of Genii contains one of the most entertaining lists I've read in years: Some 40 top magicians discuss favorite magic tricks buried in the literature. David Regal does a marvelous job of presenting and expanding on the myriad responses. I particularly enjoyed being reminded of Nick Conticello's "Seeing Through the Deck" (Tarbell 7, recommended by Harry Lorayne) and John Bannon's "Discrepancy City Prediction" (Impossibilia, recommended by Aaron Fisher).

ALOHA MRS. MARSHALL -- Long before I ever received Joe Stevens' magalogue or Hank Lee's Extras, I received Trick Talk from Magic, Inc., the home and business of Jay and Frances Marshall. I knew Frances Ireland Marshall, who died this month, only as a writer. She was the author of such works as Kid Stuff and You Don't Have To Be Crazy and With Frances in Magicland. She wrote nice, as have only a few writers in magic, such as Don Lawton, Pete Biro, Milt Larsen, and the inimitable Robert Parrish. Knowing her as a writer was a fine way to know her, and I've missed her long before now. Aloha.

Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.

Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from a computer (a new iMac as of this month!) in Bloomington, Indiana. He frequently journeys to and performs magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.

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