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Anthony Vinson

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My first magic books contained tired old tricks from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Standard stuff like salted cards and soda straws, string, and razor thin slits. I tried them, but it was like panning for gold with only occasional successes. Kept me out of trouble, but never tickled my fancy.

Eighth grade Spanish class, a friend was thumbing through something called the Johnson-Smith Catalog. I was transfixed. Copied down the address and sent away for my own. It arrived after allowing 4-6 weeks for delivery. I scrimped, saved, and handed over my earnings to my mother, who in turn wrote a check for the items I ordered. Another 6-8 weeks – the check had to clear - and, viola, magic in the mailbox! (Choose wisely, grasshopper!)  

Eventually I managed to obtain a Georgia driver’s license and began hanging out at the local magic shop. Bought shiny things, practiced them, performed them, and then returned to the magic shop for another fix. One day Dan Garrett was working the counter and introduced me to “real” magic books. (Close-Up Card Magic was the first. Seriously. It Was.) While that was not nearly the end to my pursuit of magical mastery through flashy consumer goods, it represented a departure. I began collecting books, and the following decade or so just happened to hearken a flood of high quality magic books. Heaven!

These days I try to refrain from the flashy videos and stick to what’s in my library and collected drawers and boxes of misfit magical detritus. But I wonder…

Magicians starting out today are sitting on a treasure chest filled with every imaginable toy, tool, and training aid. They can get their magic instantly in many cases, converse with the pros on message boards like this one, take video lessons, post videos of themselves performing and ask for feedback. They can learn enough tricks to be an intermediate magician without spending any more that it costs for a computer, an internet connection, and a few decks of cards. It’s heady stuff – How do they maintain focus? How do they keep from flitting from item to item and video to video like hungry bees? How do they keep from engorging themselves like Veruca Salt?

And the big question: What does this mean for the future of magic? I see only good things, but then I tend toward optimism. Thoughts? Comments? Musings? Anyone? Bueller?

 

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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #2 
For me, It was the Tannen catalog from NYC. It was where I got my Zombie Ball and the silk to go with it and the Linking Rings which I saw Doug Henning do on tv, so I had to have it too. The magazine MAGIC was where I got turned onto Tannen's.

It was a lot of fun getting magic in the mail,but, I wish now that I would have gotten The Tarbell Course In Magic, but I liked getting the dealer items. Of course I did Card Warp because I saw Doug on tv doing it. I did get some books from there like the Sensational Mentalism books from Robert Nelson and a few other books from him because he had published a lot of stuff.

Your right, it was a different time back then. No internet, no instant downloads etc.

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chris w

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My impression is that the availability of so much information allows newcomers to find their way to good stuff and bad stuff much faster. Those who stick around long enough and show a certain knack for discerning good from bad will inevitably find their way toward deeper, more fulfilling sources like the books most of us love, for the simple reason that endlessly bingeing on pu pu platters of surface-level information will burn you out fast.

In the '90s, I was a little (okay, a lot) frustrated that people could buy a Michael Ammar "Easy to Master" VHS and take a shortcut right toward some of the better material in a book I'd read, without having to do any of the reading for themselves.

But the people who took that route often came off as Michael Ammar clones in performance, too. They even repeated his mistakes. They hadn't engaged with the material or thought it through in the way they might have needed to in order to learn it from a book.

I'm sure some of those people have since left the art.

I'm also sure that those who haven't left aren't still Michael Ammar clones, nor (probably... hopefully?) are they clones of whoever today's "I'll do all the work of excavating this stuff so you don't have to read" guy would be.

If they've stuck around this long, they've found their way to a deeper engagement.

Or at least I hope so.

In other words, I guess what I'm driving at is:

It doesn't much matter how fast or slow you start. You only get somewhere by sticking around.

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Tom G

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My early Vick Lawson catalog... this guy sums it up.      

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
Anthony - I share your optimism. The future of magic is very bright indeed IMO.

Mike
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Anthony Vinson

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom G
My early Vick Lawson catalog... this guy sums it up.      



Brilliant and hilarious! So much truth...

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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #7 
I also bought into the Johnson Smith catalog of miracles that will change your life. I wound up buying a super econo styrofoam ball zombie complete with orange cup base, gimmick and shiny purple cloth. 

My first two magic books were The Amateur Magician's Handbook and Scarne on Cards. I know because I shoplifted them after reading about false transfers in The Amateur Magician's Handbook. 

A magic shop opened up near me when I was 13 years old. I spent most of my weekends there. This was the 70's so I spend my hard earned dollars on books and packet tricks. I loved packet tricks. Some of my favorites were: Color Monte (which blew me the first time I saw it), Circus, 8 Ball, and Time Out. There was also one called Russian Roulette that was basically a 6 card Brainwave with pistols and bullets. I haven't been able to find a copy of it since. I don't remember who put it out and every time I ask if anyone knows or remembers it, it comes up empty.

The first book I bought was Close Up Card Magic. $12.50. I still have it. 

Magic was different back then. If you got any magic magazines you would look at the ads and things rarely changed. Magic shops were selling the same tricks month after month. I remember Hank Lee's Magic Shop being different, but I don't know if that was because he actually got new stuff or because he was just putting in new ads for different stuff. 

These days magic is progressing fast. There is new magic being put out pretty much every week. And look at the skill sets of the younger set. Okay, just take a look at cardistry and see how quickly that has advanced. It might be due to social media. I can see someone learning moves and then wanting to make a name for themselves so they work hard to come up with new moves so they can post them and have everyone wanting to do them. 

But that's cardistry. It's basically card juggling where all the focus is on the hands. You still need to get out in front of live audiences and perform if you want to hone your magical and performance chops. 
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Bmat

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Magic has always lulls and then periods of explosion.  When the economy is really bad Magic tends to shift towards the upstream.  One reason suggested is that when the economy is bad the part time pro's and hobby magicians turn pro or semi pro to make a little extra cash.  And entertainment itself even during depression years is always popular. 

As far as the internet and access to magic, I think that is being worked out. I think this is true in every field.  I know I had trouble with my snowblower and went to the internet, I figured out it was the doohicky, I found out I can order a rebuild kit for said doohicky,  and using a youtube video I was able to fix it.  It wasn't long ago that I would have had to call a small engine repair. pay them to pick it up and bring it back and fix the thing.   On another issue I did have to have a professional work on it.   I told him my story and asked if that type of thing hurt his business.  He said in the beginning yes. but he learned how to change his business to be much more service friendly and now he has to turn some business away.  

I read threads about a magician doing a trick and people run to google it to find out how that is done.  I've had that happen once at work.  

As far as Magicians are concerned.  I have found that those that eventually go out and perform stick around.  Those that don't fade into the background, (or become magic inventors or contribute in some other way) but those that just learn quick, do some 'drive by' magic will fall away.

Cream always rises.

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Intensely Magic

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EVILDAN
I also bought into the Johnson Smith catalog of miracles that will change your life.  


but the dang x ray glasses didn't work. Quite a disappointment for a young boy.

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #10 
But the gizmo (from the J&S Co.) that gave the sucker a black eye by twisting to try to see the image worked great! So did the cigarette loads. Ask my mom!

Mike

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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #11 
This Forum is good for the future of magic. Putting the good stuff out there, like with the halo project.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
But the gizmo (from the J&S Co.) that gave the sucker a black eye by twisting to try to see the image worked great! So did the cigarette loads. Ask my mom!

Mike



Not you too! My mom lost it... But damn it was fun seeing that load go off!

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Intensely Magic


but the dang x ray glasses didn't work. Quite a disappointment for a young boy.


Yeah, the advert clearly implied that you'd be able to see through ladies clothes! Did you pry apart the cardboard to "see" how the worked?

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