Every time you open a fresh deck of Bicycle playing cards, you are handing 120 years of expertise.
Are you sure about that?! – found several cards like this in a brand new deck.
I bought several packs of seconds recently and I couldn’t find a single fault at all. Funny thing is I’ve handed this card to a few people and asked them if its ok – takes longer than you’d think for people to notice.
Why would you want to learn card magic off someone who got caught doing a double lift for years, and years, and years?
I don’t care if you think I’m being cruel by thinking these videos are funny but come on, who in their right mind wouldn’t find his facial expression at 2:30 bloody hilarious?!
As most of you all know I visit a magic shop in Sheffield every few weeks and over the past year or so I’ve noticed that although the shop is getting busier and busier (which is great and shows that the current magic trend is helping magic dealers) there are more and more young magicians attending who literally get all their knowledge from YouTube. This is something that many magicians have discussed in the past and I imagine there’s tons out there on this subject but although I’d read a few peoples thoughts on it, I’d never had any real first hand experience. Until now.
Last weekend there was a young lad who I’d not seen there before and who I think has been coming for a few weeks – he was a beginner but not afraid to perform and had a few tricks which he’d been working on (a collectors routine and one or two others). Anyway, after a while two other young lads arrived and within minutes one of them was trying to teach the first youngster six or seven different passes! He couldn’t do any of them himself but had watched YouTube videos and learnt them from there. No appreciation of the move, it’s history or anything – just very poor execution of the sleights – they almost seemed like throwaway things for him – “Oh yeah there’s this Spread pass, Herman pass, etc.” The first lad was overwhelmed as this other guy was explaining each and every pass in detail – the poor guy couldn’t even do a Charlier cut! Is this the next generation of magic? Don’t get me wrong there are many talented young magicians who appreciate magical history and learn and study their art but the growing number of online magicians does worry me.
I asked the first lad what books he had – his answer – none. I think this is a real shame and I hate to see people learn magic in the wrong way. The latest craze of one trick magic downloads doesn’t help as it gives the idea that things can be learned quickly in an “instant” download. Places like Ellusionist and Theory 11 make it even worse – encouraging a culture of online “creators” and fooding the market with custom playing cards – it’t not the tool you should be focusing on but how to use it. The internet’s a great tool but public magic forums are mostly flooded with nonsense and all the other sites are about making money. Magic should be learned slowly and in steps – the old adage that you have to walk before you can run is cliche but fits here. That’s the real problem – the internet gives you vast knowledge instantly and people new to magic won’t know where to start – they just jump in and learn all they can. The problem is there’s no context in which to put the thing they’re learning, they don’t appreciate it’s true value because it’s easy to find and readily available.
I do think that older magicians are slightly to blame also – we should be mentoring the beginners and pointing them in the right direction – giving them advice, tips, books to read etc. This is something the guys in Sheffield to really well and explains why there’s so many great magicians there and a great magic scene. Those guys I mentioned above, if they continue to visit the shop and hang out with other magicians, will eventually get the right idea.
Most magicians tend to look down on the younger guys who are struggling to find the right path in magic- it’s not 100% all their fault that all they can find online are YouTube explanations and bad one trick downloads. It is if they’re uploading the explanations themselves which is another topic altogether. Where possible, magicians should teach other magicians one on one in my opinion. Magic clubs should also play an essential role in teaching the next generation. This is something I admire about the Spanish School – there’s a sense of passing on the knowledge, of teacher and student. The british magic clubs I’ve been to don’t even come close to this.
Luckily one of the guys I’d seen before had bought Royal Road on my recommendation and was really enjoying it. There may be hope…
Anyway, rant over – I hope some of this made sense and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter – lets discuss…
Thanks to Paul Gordon who mentioned this advertising description for yet another Ellusionist deck on his blog-
“Infinity Playing Cards. Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand. Something changes when you pick up a deck of truly incredible playing cards. Cards that not only push the boundaries, but destroy them entirely. Infinity does that many times over. There is a visceral energy that flows through anyone who comes in contact with Infinity, an energy that inspired its own cinematic story. An inescapable energy that takes over. If you choose to stare into Infinity, do not be surprised when Infinity stares back. One he most ambitious decks of cards in Ellusionist history, we set out to create the most unique deck of playing cards ever created.”
Absolutely hilarious – it’s almost unbelievable that a pack of cards could be given such a ridiculous description.
Apparently the guys from EMC are to produce a 4 disk set of Dani DaOrtiz’s material! This is potentially great news – I just hope that they focus more on the effects and explanations than they do with giant screens and fancy filming (e.g The Lennart Green Master Series). Also when Dani was on the EMC his English was very poor – I hope they factor this in (e.g use a translator to help) and don’t just make it anyway – it’s a point they definitely need to address.
It was great to see Roland of the Weekly Magic Failure and Daily Card Trick blogs mentioning Jerry Sadowitz. I envy Rolands obviously recent discovery of Sadowiz’s material and remember how great it was to discover it for the first time myself – a feeling I got the first time I discovered the Walton books. Highly magical cleverly structured genius routines.
I’ve written before about how I consider Jerry Sadowitz to be the top card man in the world today – not just creatively but also technically. Those of you who have seen him perform will have witnessed flawlessly executed magic performed with apparent ease. Card magic is rarely seen on British TV today and when it is the performer (somewhat understandably) chooses easy stuff. The early 90’s hosted a couple of magic series which Sadowitz performed on and he performed no easy stuff. In fact he was performing incredibly hard routines (The Beast With Two Backs etc.), passes, half passes and bottom deals invisibly on television. Some people reading Walton question the difficulty of some of the tricks and think them unusable – this is the stuff Jerry was doing on television. I doubt anyone would even attempt this level if faced with a TV appearance now. I’m not saying they should, just that I respect Sadowitz’s fearlessness and refusal to “dumb down” so to speak. He understands that sleights are used as a tool to create magic and that if a difficult sleight gives a more direct and magical effect then surely you should use it.
One thing which anyone will have discovered when trying to find videos of Jerry online is the lack of them. For someone with exceptional skill he is seemingly very shy about clips of him appearing online – they are removed by him within days. Personally I fail to see what harm this does as it only enables people to discover his material, appreciate the routines and recognise and be thankful for Jerry’s advancement of magic. He must see it differently. His magazine “The Crimp” is worth it’s weight in gold if you can track it down – I don’t own a full collection but he ones I do have are full of some of the best card magic I’ve ever read – no joke. The magazine was freely available via his website for a long time but due to Jerry feeling that people were ripping off the material he has restricted the sale to only those who he trusts. I think this is a real shame and in many ways may actually be doing more harm than he realises.
By restricting the publication of his material it makes it very difficult to make a stand as far as crediting is concerned, at least from when it was restricted onwards. For example lets say that I discover a great idea which I’m sure has never seen print before, decide to publish it and do so. What I don’t realise is that this idea was published some months before in the Crimp. You can bet that I would be accused of plagiarism by Jerry despite that fact that the first published source is unobtainable. Is there a better solution? I can understand that Jerry wants to establish his material but not make it readily known but it must be one extreme or the other. Either keep it to yourself and don’t get involved or publish it all freely so that people can properly credit and enjoy the material.
To quote Jerry himself from the Crimp when talking about elitism in magic and what he calls “secrets merchants” –
You have something good of your own? Knowledge that progresses magic? Then speak up – or forever sit in your little seat, in your special circle for special children, spreading your mouldering cheese and monkey nuts.
By restricting the sale of his magazine is he inadvertently becoming what he seemingly hates? I’d love to hear what you guys think about this.
Sadowitz seems to be having a comeback with his standup comedy so is it time we saw a comeback with his magic? I hope so.