The Los Angeles Conference on Magic History was held over a three-day period, November 5 through 7, 2009. This is my story of the event.
It doesn’t seem like two years. The conference is held every other year. I had to force myself start saying “last conference” because I found myself saying “last year,” repeatedly. Perhaps wishful thinking.
I flew out to LA a day early. I don’t travel much, not to anywhere, so I wanted to be a tourist. Just for a day.
My flight went out of O’Hare at 7:30 A.M., 80% full. The one trick I have learned traveling is that if you need space sit in back. This is the part of the plane that is most likely to have empty seats. It did. With the middle seat vacant, I could relax and stretch a little. Not as much a the guy in the row behind me, who was able to lay across all three seats and take a nap.
At LAX, I took the Super Shuttle to the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. This is the regular conference hotel. I’ve written before on how much I like this hotel and my opinion hasn’t changed. In the two years since I’ve been here, they have improved.
The hotel expanded the lobby, the store, and built a wonderful patio out back. They also seem to have the friendliest staff. From the desk clerks and the door staff to the housekeepers and maintenance staff, all had a smile, hello or a good morning.
(I wish I could say the same for the attached restaurant, Tula’s. The service was slow to non-existent. They seemed overwhelmed and unprepared by the fact they had any business. The same goes for the hotel bar, Decoy.)
After a quick unpack and lunch, I snuck over to the main room where they were setting up the stage for the conference. I said hellos to those I knew, like Mike Caveney and Jim Steinmeyer. I had to ask Jim about the Magic Castle. The plan was to go to the Castle that evening but I could not remember the address for the cab. I thought I could get in because of being out at the conference.
Jim introduced me to Rob Zabrecky, who was performing that night. Rob put me on his list so I would have no problem getting in. Then when I said I was just going to take a cab over, another worker, Scott Smith offered to give me, a complete stranger, a ride. Scott, Scotto the magician, runs a contest at the Castle and physically walked me inside to ensure there would be no problems.
That Wednesday night the Castle celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the building itself. The place was packed and Vodka was the drink of the night. For the specials and for myself.
I only got to see shows in the parlor and in the palace theaters. John Lenahan performed a nice, relatively standard, stand-up comedy magic set in the parlor. I met Fernando Keops at the bar. Didn’t get to see him work, but I will say his jewelry would be the envy of Liberace.
In the Palace they were doing short, 25 minute shows with cabaret style seating. Bruce Gold hosted the show. He was affable albeit generic. Gregory Wilson, who is a fine close-up magician, did a forced set, trying to hard to gain the audience’s favor. Christopher Hart performed a solid set of tried and true material, an act he has spent 20 performing. Tina Lenert performed a silk and ring routine which had some nice ideas and moves in it. I think it may still be a work in progress and shows great promise. Rob Zabrecky performed a delightfully off-kilter act seemingly inspired by Charles Addams. And not the TV or movie Addams family but the original cartoons in the New Yorker.
One of the highlights of my stop at the Castle was the personal tour of the library by its slightly tipsy librarian, Bill Goodwin.
Actually I ended up not drinking as much as I expected, which forced me into being shanghaied into driving Tim Felix and Mark Kaschube back to the hotel. But first a stop at Jack-in-the-Box. No, I did not eat the tacos. I learned my lesson from last year, oops, last conference.