Seth Grabel Profiled

Seth Grabel

We don’t know what it is about Vegas, but those folks love magic. They love
talking, writing, showing, seeing, and buying magic. That’s good for us when the
usual oasis of magic news, the UK’s The Scotsman is covering some
allegedly important topic like . . . whatever would be more important than
Magic. We’re stumped but that’s not the point.

So you put together, Vegas, Magic, and Grabel and you’re thinking Lee Grabel.
But then we read further and further.

We started reading The Rebel Yell – the Official Newspaper of the
University of Nevada Las Vegas back when we were fans of head coach Jerry
Tarkanian and his incredible run towards the NCAA Tournament. So, that’s quite a
while ago.

Today’s edition has a great profile on a 23-year-old senior, Seth Grabel.

The magician meets reporter theme is one of the classics in magic reporting.

There are few moves in this prosaic dance: either the reporter is a skeptic
or an enthusiastic lover of all things magic; or, the reporter is enthusiastic
lover of the particular magician in front of him or her.

Last week, we featured a
story
about a young cub reporter who attended the Jim Karol show with
skepticism and disdain for what she considered “lame jokes” and “predictable
magic.” She left the show to hurry her glowing, almost cult-like hagiographic
work for the next day’s paper. She had not only sipped the proverbial (and
frankly over-used) Kool-Aid, she brought mixers and tried to keep the moment
going like the hostess of a otherwise lifeless At-Home Crack Party.

We had the other end of the extreme in reporter cum fan continuum.

Remember the glowing awe in which the New York Times reporter
described every nuance of Derren Brown’s “mischievous grin” “his cool charm”?
We’re still unable to eat and read newspapers after that.

The point is not that Jim Karol or Derren Brown are unworthy of the praise
they ultimately receive as a result of the trite technique, just that it is
trite and technique-like.

[By the way, we received several emails complaining about the Jim Karol
article. We made a point of quoting the cub reporter’s fears that the show would
be “lame” and that John Edwards performed “stupid tricks.” We weren’t trying to
pick on Mr. Karol or, for that matter, the young reporter.

Her entire world
was converted by the show — she became a Karol-Follower after watching his
incredible work.

Unfortunately, her ability to convey that transformation and Mr. Karol’s
ability to cause the transformation far out-performed our ability to write about
it. We did a poor job and are sorry for the confusion.]

Okay, with that in mind, let’s consider how a professional, hardened reporter
would approach the interview with a young magician; a fellow student. The
article begins with the following stanza:

“Seth Grabel is a magician, so I’m focused on his movements. My eyes
follow his eyes, his hands and his body…

Seth Grabel

We don’t know what it is about Vegas, but those folks love magic. They love
talking, writing, showing, seeing, and buying magic. That’s good for us when the
usual oasis of magic news, the UK’s The Scotsman is covering some
allegedly important topic like . . . whatever would be more important than
Magic. We’re stumped but that’s not the point.

So you put together, Vegas, Magic, and Grabel and you’re thinking Lee Grabel.
But then we read further and further.

We started reading The Rebel Yell – the Official Newspaper of the
University of Nevada Las Vegas back when we were fans of head coach Jerry
Tarkanian and his incredible run towards the NCAA Tournament. So, that’s quite a
while ago.

Today’s edition has a great profile on a 23-year-old senior, Seth Grabel.

The magician meets reporter theme is one of the classics in magic reporting.

There are few moves in this prosaic dance: either the reporter is a skeptic
or an enthusiastic lover of all things magic; or, the reporter is enthusiastic
lover of the particular magician in front of him or her.

Last week, we featured a
story
about a young cub reporter who attended the Jim Karol show with
skepticism and disdain for what she considered “lame jokes” and “predictable
magic.” She left the show to hurry her glowing, almost cult-like hagiographic
work for the next day’s paper. She had not only sipped the proverbial (and
frankly over-used) Kool-Aid, she brought mixers and tried to keep the moment
going like the hostess of a otherwise lifeless At-Home Crack Party.

We had the other end of the extreme in reporter cum fan continuum.

Remember the glowing awe in which the New York Times reporter
described every nuance of Derren Brown’s “mischievous grin” “his cool charm”?
We’re still unable to eat and read newspapers after that.

The point is not that Jim Karol or Derren Brown are unworthy of the praise
they ultimately receive as a result of the trite technique, just that it is
trite and technique-like.

[By the way, we received several emails complaining about the Jim Karol
article. We made a point of quoting the cub reporter’s fears that the show would
be “lame” and that John Edwards performed “stupid tricks.” We weren’t trying to
pick on Mr. Karol or, for that matter, the young reporter.

Her entire world
was converted by the show — she became a Karol-Follower after watching his
incredible work.

Unfortunately, her ability to convey that transformation and Mr. Karol’s
ability to cause the transformation far out-performed our ability to write about
it. We did a poor job and are sorry for the confusion.]

Okay, with that in mind, let’s consider how a professional, hardened reporter
would approach the interview with a young magician; a fellow student. The
article begins with the following stanza:

“Seth Grabel is a magician, so I’m focused on his movements. My eyes
follow his eyes, his hands and his body motions.

“Show me what you got,” I think to myself.

He holds up an average-looking
pen. A few seconds later, I could swear that same pen went through his nose and
back out.”

Alright, so much for the hope of a new approach to magic journalism.

While many disagree with the Amish very strict reading of Matthew 5:34-37
concerning swearing an oath, we are pretty sure most modern Anabaptist inspired
religions would disapprove of swearing an oath to describe the path of a pen
through any form of body cavity, including nasal.

(If you’re interested in the Mennonite and Amish view of oath-swearing, check
out a great translation of the famous Schleitheim Confession of 1527 and its
implicit rebuke of Zwingli’s protest. Zwingli proclaimed if swearing an oath was
a sin, Peter and Paul sinned “for they swore an oath.” You have to read between
the lines in Article VII but it’s there. You can find the translation here.

Back to our story:

The young magician began performing at parties while at school in California,
loved it, and started his own company, Mystical Tricks. Grabel or his employees
perform magic at special events, parties, weddings and trade shows.

“A while ago, I did a show for Hugh Hefner at the Argyle Hotel on the Sunset
Strip,” he said. “I did a lot of people interaction as well as make things
disappear with Hugh and six Playboy models watching me.”

But his life is more than entertaining people in pajamas.

His next project is something called The Enchanted Theater, and is
designed to affect three different senses: the visual, auditory and
kinesthetic.

Recently, he performed a Hurricane Katrina benefit, free of charge. The
event, which was held at a 1,500-square-foot mansion, was produced by Las Vegas
Entertainment Group. Grabel said he couldn’t be more pleased with the
turnout.

Mr. Grabel cited magicians Dondrake, Johnny Thompson and George Millward as
mentors other than his father.

If we were Paul Harvey, we would feel a “Rest of the Story” moment upon us.

But we’re not Paul Harvey and while we’re rather sure Seth Grabel must be Lee
Grabel’s son, we don’t want to look more foolish than we already do.

That is the point of this story. The reporter followed a set method for
interviewing a magician and forgot to ask the who, what, when, why, and where.

Our detective work found another Grabel who writes about her father’s life in
magic. Like her brother (?), Katy Grabel does not mention Lee Grabel by name.
She does describe magic and a magician’s life in rather telling-detail, though.

Katy Grabel won First Prize for Fiction in the New Millennium Writings
Contest. Her story of a magician’s production of an ambitious assistant in The
Woman by Chemistry
is really a great read. Check it out.

And while you have your browser open, visit the incredible California
Magic Dinner Theater
and Club 52’s web site for great pictures from their
Tribute Dinner to Lee and Helene Grabel.

Congratulations to the whole Grabel family and thank you for all you have
given magic and entertainment over the years.

Check out Mr. Seth Grabel’s web site here: http://www.sethgrabel.com.

Read the full article in The Rebel Yell here:


Read Ms. Grabel’s award-winning short story here

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