Dan Garrett was so many things to so many people in our wonderful art of magic. His passing is a significant loss to those who knew him well, his family and even editors of small websites focusing on magic.
Magic has always felt like a small but cohesive group of people at all levels of skill but sharing a love for the art. Dan Garrett was a magician of tremendous skill and an incredible ability to connect with magicians at every level. His lectures were the gold standard for what one should expect from such instruction. His demeanor was what one would expect from a southern gentleman. He was very kind to me and this website; with words of encouragement and even help in editing glaring errors in my reporting. He helped with a focus that made me feel as if this website and me, as editor, was the sole focus of this time. I know that can’t be true but I felt it.
There will be many more tributes and recollections of Dan’s life and impact on magic in the coming days and weeks. All penned by people who knew him better than me. I look forward to reading them.
The magic community small, encouraging and filled with kindness; but it is not static. We are like any group in society or family. We lose friends, acquaintances, and family. I wish it wasn’t that way.
A link to the obituary page for Dan can be found here.
A very complete biography can be found on his website here.
Usually this spot is for Magic News. That’s what we do here at InsideMagic.com. We bring the fives of readers the very latest from the world of Magic. What we like to call “the Magic world.” We like to call it that but that’s how we roll – that and counter-clockwise with our head facing north. That doesn’t make us bad, it’s our neglect of proper naming conventions for our pets. But, as we say in the world of Robots (“the Robot world”), don’t get us started.
As we said, we usually eschew magic commentary. That can be found on our sister site, MagicCommentary.com. The site is no longer up, because we have never mentioned it until now and we didn’t pay for the URL, ever. It is populated with 15 years of magic commentary that isn’t published to the web. It was read by some hackers in 2019, but apparently found to be so unimportant that they didn’t even have the courtesy of hacking it. That’s the thing about hackers. They aren’t dependable or consistent. InsideMagic.com is hacked just about daily and usually by folks who want to insert the URLs for gambling sites into our otherwise unexciting stories. Stories, we should point out, that are not magic commentary.
We were at The Magic Castle a while ago but recently enough to make this commentary relevant. We saw a performer who essentially performed Whit “Pop” Haydn’s full act. He did the tricks that Pop invented; used the patter that Pop wrote and developed over his years of performance; and the jokes that made both the patter and tricks work to entertain so well. Of course this performer was not Pop. He wasn’t close to Pop. He couldn’t hold a candle to Pop. If Pop and this performer were in a line-up, there is no chance a witness would misidentify him for Pop. If there was a Pop imitator contest – like the yearly festival for Elvis Impersonators – he would lose.
Worse still, he was bringing that lame, pseudo Pop act to Pop’s house. Pop is The Magic Castle for us. He sponsored our membership, he owns every room in the place. His tricks never get old for us because he brings so much to each performance. It is as if this is the only audience for whom he has every performed before. Audiences – be they close-up, stage, parlor, or bar – love him because he has truly mastered all that he performs and that makes him unique. To steal from someone who is unique is decidedly un-unique; or un-nice.
Why are we writing this? What do we hope to accomplish? To penalize the performer who infringed Pop’s work product? It is too late, he’s no longer at The Castle. To give an object lesson to other tempted to follow in his path? Likely not. All of our readers are good people and would not benefit from such a lesson. To get something off our chest that was bothering us? Likely. We normally accomplish that by our rolling on our thick, 1970’s avocado green colored rug. (See our first paragraphs for the call-back).
Even if it is just the chest-getting-off-of basis, we feel better now.
We have been off-line for more than a week as we tried to magically make our new phone work.
It turns out the whole thing comes down to cards. When you get a new phone with our carrier, you must have the correct card; the SIM card that is.
We didn’t have it. We had something that looked like a SIM card that we found on Santa Monica Blvd. near where Barney’s Beanery is located past where the International House of Pancakes sits. It was slightly covered with syrup as if someone had been holding it in their sticky fingers and yet their fingers were not sticky enough — a common magician problem for folks of our advanced age.
So we figured, why pay for a SIM card when we had a perfectly good one if we could clean it up right.
There was a part of us that said we should bring it back to the IHOP and turn it in as lost property. But we didn’t cuz it looked like it had been there for a while and we really needed one for our phone.
We cleaned it with a diluted mixture of Dawn (good enough for oil covered marine animals, good enough for SIM card covered with syrup) and warm water. We dried it with the side of our jeans (the outside) and pushed it into the SIM Slot (ironically, that was the name of our first slot machine that we tried to sell in Vegas, but failed). It fit. All was good with the world.
We worked on the project for days. We could not get it to work. We were too embarrassed to bring it back to the location between Barneys and IHOP but we needed our phone to work. We found the phone in a trash bin we were diving looking for interesting menus of local restaurants that delivered. It was inside a well-damaged suitcase. We left the clothes (except for the bandana — a good magician can’t have too many bandanas and we’re not even that good but still have the need). It was dark so we didn’t know if the phone was cracked but turns out it wasn’t.
We reset the phone because of the thousands of pictures on the phone. Nothing untoward just cats and more cats. There was one picture of a cat in a tiger Halloween get-up and he/she did not look happy so we didn’t even save that one.
Bottom line: we got a practically new phone, some bandanas and a chance to talk to our carrier’s customer service desk. We know that everyone complains about customer service chat sessions but we cannot in this instance. The helper helped and real quick like. She did some magic to make the SIM card come to life, make the phone work with the SIM so we could post on InsideMagic.com and make phone calls.
We have no one to call except for the Magic Castle to make reservations but it did that with aplomb. Speaking of which, the desert dish aplomb is not commonly known by most restaurants and not at the Magic Castle. They asked if we meant “a plumb” — which they did not have anyway — but we corrected them. They politely said there was no such dish available on their menu and the chef would not be able to “whip one up” as we asked.
Life is now good. We can post to InsideMagic.com. We learned how to clean a SIM card. We found a great take-out menu to a restaurant that serves only desserts (they have not heard of aplomb either) and we have a newish phone. It is a flip phone but that’s okay. It still is able to take and show pictures so we’ll have pertinent artwork to display on the InsideMagic.com site.
All has come together well.
By the way, we bought two different sets of Scotch and Soda. We like one more than the other but are trying to figure out how to describe the differences without exposing the trick. Once we do, we’ll share a review here with glossy images from our phone.
That’s the latest. We hope you didn’t miss us too much. We definitely missed you. In the interim, we hope you checked out our Twitter feed at @insidemagic. We try to update it several times a day and always magic related content.
As reader or readers of this august news source for all things magic know, we intensely dislike April Fools’ Day.
Magicians by their nature — a nature honed through DNA revisions and natural splicing — enjoy embarrassing and entertaining people all the time.
But there is more enjoyment if entertaining than fooling in our book — the yet to be published tome, Make a Choice: Embarrassing versus Entertaining. We have submitted the book to several publishers but none have taken it up. We have several published articles on the topic but the circulation of those articles have been restricted — due to lack of interest — to our family members; and not even all of them. Actually just two family members took a copy of the articles and we’re not sure they read them.
We will also admit that although our act from the age of 9-years-old to 30-years of age included sucker tricks like Fraidy Cat Rabbit, the Sucker Sliding Die Box and Hippity Hop Rabbits — all sucker tricks — we have changed our approach to magic and no longer perform sucker tricks or effects where a volunteer from the audience is made to look foolish or like a dupe. We figure they are nice enough to pay for our best and by definition, our best cannot include effects where we can make a patron look stupid.
At this point in any article of this type, we would say something like “but of course, we don’t condemn those who use sucker tricks.” We have no such statement to make here.
We can say, as noted above that our use of the sucker trick was curtailed when we put ourselves in the shoes of those who were guests. We came to the conclusion and theory of performing that because no one likes to feel stupid ever, we should not make an individual feel unsafe or of decreased ability to fully enjoy the show.
But what about Slydini’s Vanishing Napkins? Do you still do that? Isn’t that the ultimate sucker trick? True, we are singling out a single volunteer to be fooled by the vanish of napkins or rolled up paper; whilst the audience clearly sees how the effect is done.
We still do the effect because it is a classic, is not meant to make a volunteer look stupid but as an active actor in the miracle. Perhaps that is not fair and just shows our hypocrisy, but we hope not.
Magic is unique in the entertainment world on the embarrassment/entertaining.
For our act and individual routines, we choose to treat volunteers with respect and allow them to join in the fun from the start.
We were fortunate enough to be in The Magic Castle the night Mike Caveney presented a lecture on his new book One Hundred Years of Sawing: The Astonishing History of Magic’s Most Iconic Illusion.
Mr. Caveney is the magic world’s scribe and if society was somehow destroyed; thousands of years from now, archeologists would learn all they could know about this epoch from his books. He knows magic history and, more importantly, loves magic history more than any magician we know. Future societies will be forced to conclude that magic and its history was our world’s focus.
Sawing is a work of love and a gift to those who love magic.
There were a total of 1,200 editions of the book published. 100 of which are Deluxe Editions. We have number 390 of the Regular Edition and will proudly keep it on our special magic bookcase; next to the Taschen book, Magic: 1400s – 1950s. He co-authored that mammoth book with Ricky Jay and Jim Steinmeyer. Both books are heavy. Not just in content or tone, but by actual weight (together they weigh 16.6 lbs). We have braced our bookcase and the supporting beams in the wall accordingly.
Sawing brings readers through a wonderful trip through history from the effect’s origins before 1921, its golden era in 1921, the patent litigation over the effect, and its history through our modern day. It is filled with incredible stories of the magicians who invented, innovated and stole the illusion. Mr. Caveney treats readers with incredible images at each juncture. In many cases, these are photos we have never seen.
Put all that together and you can imagine our joy in paging slowly through the book. It is a very slow read. Not because it is long but because it is full and detailed. As far as we can tell, there is not a significant event in the history of this illusion that is not addressed. Of course, we realize that our knowledge of the trick is now completely informed by Mr. Caveney’s recitation of its history.
In deciding to write a review of the book, we worried that it would either be too short – “we loved it!” – or too long – “on page 129, Mr. Caveney begins to address the development of ….” That worry persists and is perhaps proven to be valid by the length and depth of this review.
Words do not do justice to the words and images Mr. Caveney presents in this book nor the history he has neatly set before readers.
If you love magic, love history, love the stories of odd but enchanting individuals of magic history, this book is a must read. Or more correctly, this book is a must have so you can spend hours with it and enjoy all that it provides.
We are so thankful for authors and historians like Mr. Caveney.
We read that today, January 31st, is International Magic Day and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Magic has done so much to make our life so exciting, interesting and satisfying. There is a special feeling in bringing a special feeling to an audience member. When the volunteer shows surprise or shock at what they have witnessed from a close-up perspective and validates the magic effect for the rest of the audience. They trust the volunteer, the volunteer is amazed by the magician and thus the audience shares the amazement.
We have so many effects in bins, closets, suitcases and bookshelves.
Some will never see the light of day, some will be practiced and yet never included in our act but will be held in our suit pockets waiting to be pulled out and shown. Our prop for our close-up routine as performed in the amateurs’ room at the Magic Castle consists of a single Bee deck with the Billy McComb crimp but our pockets are filled with so much more.
Magic taught us to come out of our shy personality, to have confidence in presentation, experience the joy in making an audience laugh and gasp, and provide us with a history to pass along to younger magicians just as we had been taught by our mentors.
We are asked after virtually every performance, “how did you learn?” The question warms our heart because we remember all those professionals and amateurs who took the time to teach, watch, help to evaluate our performance and provide meaningful feedback. We think of their kind eyes watching our performances at IBM and SAM club meetings and their kind words, later at a diner, about how we can improve and what we did well.
So, International Magic Day is a day to remember our mentors, family (always patient and willing to take a card, any card), and the enormous giants of our craft both historical and present.
One of the most delightful things we’ve discovered during the lockdown is Twitter Magic. We have found magicians from around the world performing one trick at a time and performing it with exceptional talent. You can see our collection of fantastic card and coin magic on our Twitter channel at @insidemagic.
We are always looking for new performers to feature and always delighted to learn new methods and new styles to old tricks. It is so fascinating to see young people taking effects that we learned thousands of years ago and turn them into miracles.
We follow the time zones around the world so we may see great card magic starting in New York, coin magic in Chicago, fantastic effects in Las Vegas, then California and after a few hours Hawaii, Japan, Korea, China, India, Europe and then back to New York.
Be sure to check out our Twitter feed (@InsideMagic) and if you know of Twitter handles we should be following please pass them along.
This is a great time for magicians to stretch their stuff and The magicians who are strutting are right to strut. They’ve got the stuff and are practiced
We just heard from our friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan that a new convention is on tap for April. If you have news you would like to share with our tens of readers, just hit the submit button above and let us know. We’re always looking for good magic news.
Introducing a new magic convention that’s “more than tricks” : WonderBash April 21-23 in Grand Rapids, MI. Only 150 registrations available. Register now and book your discounted room at the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza Hotel before spaces run out! morethantricks.com
3 Stage Shows at Wealthy Theatre
Shock Illusionist Dan Sperry “Strange Magic” (Full Theatre Show)
Mario the Maker Magician LIVE (Full Theatre Show)
Amaze & Amuse: A Modern Day Magic Show ( Ft. Michael Turco, Paige Thompson, Trent James, Elliott Hunter and Will Juggle)
6 Lectures (Mario the Maker Magician, Rick Merrill, Dan Sperry, Michael Turco, Trent James, Steve Cabe)
Exclusive Book (only available to Wonderbash Registrants / Never to be reprinted) Contributions from WonderBash Performers and other top magicians including Jeff Hobson, Farrell Dillon, Fred Becker, Bill Cook, Louie Foxx and more!
Seminar and Conversation on Mental Health for Entertainers with Jeff Veley
Close-Up Show featuring Paige Thompson and Luis Carreon.
Thursday Night Comedy Show with Andy Beningo and Friends
Magic stores, both virtual and brick-n-mortar, are joining the ranks of the superstores to offer incredible discounts and once-in-a-season deals on effects.
Even fireworks vendors in our neighborhood are offering early New Year’s items at greatly discounted prices. (Hence the Black Cat firecracker graphic).
We wanted to have a Cyber Monday sale but we don’t really sell anything on InsideMagic.com.
In fact, due to our Fire Sale last month, we are all out of the little novelty / slum magic we bought years ago for just this type of occasion. Fortunately, it was just our storage pod in the desert area south of Riverside, California that was damaged in the event and even then, only the things under our second-hand magnifying glasses.
If anyone is interested in a beautiful amalgam of plastic Cups and Balls combined with Ball Vases and Magic Wands, we have only one and it is about the size of meteor. We are going to save it for a future Antiques Roadshow and perhaps it will be valued as an artistic work.
We have, however, seen some great magic in the past month.
We didn’t perform it and we don’t even know the names of those who did. But we do know great magic when it is performed and Twitter has become our go-to place for great effects performed flawlessly. Granted, we don’t know how many takes these Twitter videos took but we don’t really care.
According to the Law of Large Numbers, even if we had a deck of cards and an infinite time to perform the effect, we would never be able to do it. So, compared with 100 monkeys who have 100 years to write Hamlet, we would be seen as a distant second. In fact, we couldn’t write Hamlet even if you gave us 100 monkeys to help and 100 years to do it. We would likely distract the monkeys with questions about banana freshness and their unsanitary methods of attacking humans watching them.
But here are three Twitter stars that we recommend to your attention. If you love them, let them know. If you want to see more, you can follow our carefully curated Twitter feed at @insidemagic.
It has been awhile since we posted on this esteemed website and while we could discuss the reasons for our absence, we will leave the details to TMZ’s excellent, though somewhat biased, coverage. We can say that we find the Royal Family to be a delight and to be honest, we were not aware that the Queen could operate Zoom so well. We appreciated her kind admonition, “We believe you are still on mute.”
We have been spending much time at The Magic Castle and though it has reduced operating days, it is still the same clubhouse that we love and where our friends and magical family gather. We never leave without feeling ebullient and informed.
We have seen so many acts that were new to us. Acts that featured performers we have wanted to see for a long time and thus our wishes were granted. All of this is on top of the great food. Not literally on top of the food, that would be a violation of the LA County Health Guidelines and certainly not welcomed by us.
During this break from life as it once was, we have taken to purchasing books to help us learn moves and sleights that we thought we knew well but realized were really just a collection of lazy and bad habits formed over our decades of performances. We have re-learned Twisting the Aces to try to imitate Dai Vernon’s method. He worked so naturally and flawlessly. We have worked on our coins across and cut and restored rope as taught by Pop Haydn.
We have worn and perhaps permanently damaged our relationship with family members with our constant request that they watch or select a card. They now do so without truly watching or memorizing the card selected. To the extent they do either – even if only to appease us – is a testament to their love for us.
We look forward to the end of this pandemic and pray for those fighting the virus regardless of their occupation but certainly including medical professionals and front-line workers.
One day we will be back to normal. Here’s to hoping we do not lose more of our fellow magicians, their family members, their community, our nation and the world.
We will work with our dedicated staff to update this site more frequently now that we have things to relate from The Magic Castle.
Here is to hoping you are all safe, staying safe, and will be with us on the other side of this horrible pandemic.