Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 41st Annual Magic Collectors Weekend Day 1

Actually, we’ll start a day early, Wednesday, with The Knights of Sleights Magic Flea Market. This is sort of an unofficial event aligned with the Collectors Weekend. The Flea is one of the few annual magic events in Chicago. For me, it is the magic social event of the year.

This year there were 41 dealers and around 250 attendees. It was great fun and there were lots of good buys to be had. I expect some items purchased will find there way on ebay for 2 or 3 times what they went for at the market. There was at least one major book dealer that was selling books he bought Wednesday to collectors on Thursday.

I hope they continue to get the word out about the Flea market because it deserves to be even better attended than it is. Chicago magicians have a tendency to not put a great deal of support behind Chicago events. It is a shame because we have so few.

Thursday May 13

Today is the first day of the convention, day one of the David Ben era of the Magic Collectors Association. First, this is Chicago or, at least close enough and near the airport, so things are going to cost money. Parking was $20 a day and, as I expected I heard some grumblings. Please, get over it. Stop being the stereotypical cheap magician. This is the big city. Most the beefs I heard were from local guys, who should be used to Chicago prices anyway. The happy note, there was little to grumble about in the overall convention, so they had try hard to find something. For those in the city, the hotel was easy access from the EL.

Checking in, I met one of the people who would be the reason for the success for the Weekend, Julie Eng. She is David Ben’s right hand woman at Magicana and hospitality professional. Her genuine enthusiasm, indefatigable energy, and constant smile was cliché-ingly infectious. (I had more contact with Julie, but her sister Sandra was also equal to the task.) Julie threw me immediately when she seemed genuinely excited that I was there. I expect everyone received a similar good start to their Weekend experience.

The dealer’s room was spacious with tables to hang out at in the center. I noticed those tables got a great deal of use during the three day weekend. There was also plenty of room to visit with the dealers. I expect next year some smart dealer will put a couple of the chairs at the front of their tables to allow a more comfortable browsing. I picked up a cool piece of Chicago magic history for 20 dollars.

The first real event was the Dealer’s Show. The second room for the weekend was the show room. This room is a large meeting room with a stage, theater-like seating, and even desks. It was a terrific room for all the presentations and I overheard many complimentary comments about the room. Here is the trade off…better facilities, pay for parking. That trade I believe was the right choice by David Ben.

The dealer’s show, I expect is a work in process. Tom Ewing was MC and his usual affable self. There were high and low points, but pretty painless overall. Some of the dealers did presentations that were fun and educational. A few just didn’t seem into it. It is a shame because these are all performers or former performers. With a few exceptions, they could have done better. But it wasn’t awful by any means.

The return of “Tricks Old and Seldom Seen” followed the Dealers Show. Like the dealers show and like the Tricks Old from years past, there were some uneven parts. Although, less uneven. Part of the attempt this year was to return the Weekend to a more casual style. It worked. The Weekend was comfortable and informal.

In the show was the always entertaining Robert Olson. It really doesn’t matter what he does. It will be fun. Oh, he vanished four coins from a box and they reappeared in a glass.

Bill McIllhany performed an intriguing two light variation on the magic switchboard, guaranteed to fool the electricians in your life.

Tom Ewing, again MC’ed, showed a Stereoscope of Kellar’s theater, and later showed a couple of pieces from Tim Felix’s collection.

Stroke survivor De Yip Louie and his daughter, Frances inspired everyone, together they performed a The Snake. It is a fooler in which Louie wrapped his hand in a string of beads only to have his hand pass right through it.

J. P. Jackson performed a trick called Floating Power, where a ball ends up threaded on a stick.

Jim Rawlins demonstrated a self closing Thayer suitcase table used by the magician Virgil. This was a large size table that automatically collapsed/morphed into a suitcase with a seemingly dangerous snap. I expect a few magicians ended up looking like shop teachers after using this prop.

The fine prop maker, Bill Schmeelk showed off a couple of new products, a clever die routine and a set of blocks which cannot be turned over.

The evening program started off with the Jay Marshall book tour and Sandy Marshall telling a few brief anecdotes about his father. He treated us a, once thought lost, video of Jay performing his bagpipe act.

Finally it was the time for our guests of honor, George Daily and Mike Caveney. George told a little about himself and a little more about his friend and business partner.  He, then, led into a funny reminiscence of his relationship with Mike. It was a story of opposites, who have great affection and have great admiration for each other.  The always humorous, Mike took the stage after George and spoke about George and his view of their relationship. Together they told the story of buying and dividing up Egyptian hall.

David Ben presented commemorative coins to the honorees.

After the presentation, we all went to the lobby for a desert reception. It was the end of the day and a good start to the weekend.


Anonymous said...
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ChgoMagic said...

If you follow the tags you'll find the other parts