What If There Was No Magic Castle?

The Magic CastleSome famous person spoke about the dark night of the soul. We think it was a religious text about doubt – the kind of doubt that comes in the darkest hours when one realizes their whole understanding of everything could be wrong. It seems like a neat literary device but one that would make a horrible Broadway musical; unless it involved puppets or something.

But we had our dark night of the soul last night thinking about what Los Angeles would be without The Magic Castle. Our reading of some of the latest science journals (found at our pet’s orthodontist office here in West Hollywood) confirms that there can be infinite parallel universes and that the one in which we are now confined is just one. In the other universes, we were never born, we were born into royalty, and we never signed up for the Columbia Record Club at the age of 18 and were thus free from the years of forced purchases of second-rate vinyl albums to make up for our impulse buy of 20 records for one penny in 1988. The last one alone would have saved us about $55,000.00.

So, it is entirely possible that The Magic Castle could not exist. What would that mean? What else would Los Angeles or even California have to offer? What? Water – there is some on the East Coast of the U.S. and plenty in the Great Lakes Region from whence we come. Sunshine – okay, there is more of it here than in Michigan but is that enough? Jack-in-the-Box and In-and-Out Burger restaurants – big draw before our second angioplasty / stenting (if that is a verb) but we do not care about them so much any longer.

Basically, without The Magic Castle, Los Angeles is just a big city with nearby water, sunshine and incredibly tasty but unhealthy hamburgers. Others may know of things that we have missed – we heard there are mountains and non-magic cultural events and apparently some film studios have offices nearby but we haven’t really explored beyond The Magic Castle.

Without The Magic Castle, we would never get to see incredible shows like John Carney, Dana Daniels, Lindsay Benner and Jon Armstrong – and that was just in the last week.

We would never hear great interviews on topics of interest to us by Fitzgerald in his Who’s Hoo series. This week he interviewed world-famous ventriloquist team Willie Tyler & Lester and Castle Librarian Lisa Cousins.

We would never have discovered the great joy of performing in The Gallery and Hat & Hare for audiences that came to see magic.

Fortunately, in this universe and at this time, there is The Magic Castle. We cannot imagine what life or the western United States would be like without it. We tried to ease our mind and fall back to sleep but remembered we were actually driving at the time – but fortunately, we were in a traffic jam so our car wasn’t moving.

Inside Magic Moves to Hollywood, Sees Pop Haydn, Doc Eason & Lindsay Benner

Lindsay Benner 2The move from sleepy Mystic Hollow, Michigan to Hollywood, California has been an adventure. The final two land-sea containers arrived early this morning and the crew worked through the night to get most of our props and sets delivered to a warehouse just a block from our new digs.  It looks like most of the equipment made it without damage although some of the animals were a bit bedraggled and those family members (and crew) that elected to travel the sea route in the containers probably now regret their decision.  They had hope of seeing the majestic Mississippi River and the Panama Canal from their makeshift bunks in the nicer of the two 53-foot containers.  We learned too late into the trip that the containers have no windows and are locked from the outside.

Hollywood reminds us of Mystic Hollow in so many ways.  People are very friendly, there is an appreciation for magic and it is hilly.

Unlike Mystic Hollow, Hollywood is always sunny and bright and people are out-of-doors walking and running and smiling in the sun (with appropriate levels of sunblock we hope).  We have taken to eating sushi often and while it was initially expensive, we found a cheaper method of getting our fresh fish fix.  We found a store called, “Hollywood Fish and Tackle.”  Great deals can be found and while the chefs are not out front and it is more of a take-out place, it offers great deals on great food.

Everyone here in Hollywood drinks water.  It is a strange thing to see how much water people drink.  They carry water with them at all times.  We have become paranoid about our lack of water drinking and while Diet Coke provides water – it is the first ingredient according to our close inspection of the can – it apparently is déclassé in this milieu.  We are rebels and will fight the cause of Diet Coke until they pry our shaking, jaundiced and likely dehydrated paws from our last can.

Coming to Hollywood means coming to the mecca of our art, The Magic Castle.  We are in the process of applying to be a magician member of the august body and whilst we wait, Pop Haydn has been very kind to extend us invitations to visit.

Pop Haydn should be given the Nobel Prize for Magic.  We had a chance to see his show at two of his completely packed shows in the W.C. Fields Bar downstairs in the Castle.  He does things that cannot be explained or effectively stolen.  We should know, we tried to do both.  His persona is so engaging and his skills make him the Michael Jordan of Magic – except he has more hair and is nicer to his fans.  He performed palming moves that we would not even consider trying on stage in a darkened theater without an audience.  Yet, he gracefully handled the deck and did the impossible within 18 inches of a very observant crowd.

Plus, he works the room so well.

So, he is like a Nobel Prize Laureate mixed with an incredible basketball player who has the skills of a brilliant (but sincere) politician.

Speaking of the W.C. Fields Bar, we got to see Doc Eason again.  Doc has been a fine supporter of Inside Magic over the last forty years and has continued to make magic seem magic even to magicians.  As many loyal readers (and even the few disloyal ones) know, Doc Eason is the Top Magic Bartender on this side of the equator.  It could be that he owns that title south of the globe’s midsection but we haven’t gone to any magic bars there yet.  His magic is impossible and seems spontaneous.  He gives the impression that every crowd is getting a special show – designed just to meet them where they sit.  We watched him three times in one evening (in Mystic Hollow we call that stalking) and he consistently worked the same wonderful routine, playing with everything the audience gave and ended strong and humble.  A true master.  He was kind enough to act as if he remembered us from our prior meetings back in Michigan; that shows he is a good guy.

Speaking of cute and endearing; we eat up cute.  If we were in Japan, we would cute overload and likely pop with a satisfied Hello Kitty sigh.  But we almost never see cute at The Magic Castle.  There is beautiful and amazing and grand, but very little cute.  But we saw cute of the best possible kind there the other night when Lindsay Benner took the stage at the Palace of Mystery.  While Ms. Benner does not perform magic per se, she is magical in her handling of the audience during her silent juggling routine.

Ms. Benner has combined great juggling skills with an adorable persona and tremendous stage presence to make one of the most enchanting shows we have seen in a while.  She introduced her act with an oversized text called “The Book of Love.”  She invited a very fortunate male volunteer to join her on stage and performed incredible juggling around and near that man.  She worked the room without a word and received a standing ovation from the sometimes jaded magic crowd.  If we ever wanted to have someone juggle sharp things by our head, she would be the one to do it.  You can read a nice article about her in the New York Times here.

Hollywood is Inside Magic’s new home.  Our temporary office – adjacent to a store that sells only specialized food for dogs – is still packed with crates and boxes that need to be handled.  While we do that, we will keep you apprised of all the goings-on.