The Magic Castle

I was eight years old, and I was standing right up next to the TV. Normally the parents would have scolded me and told me to sit back down on the couch, but not this time. I had my finger pressed to the screen and listened as David Copperfield was going to let us pick which train car he made disappear. I moved my finger up, then left and left again, down and right, up and back down. By the end of it, my finger was on the caboose, as was everyone else’s in the world (assuming they followed directions.) I was enraptured. He had read my mind from across the television. And now, I watched as he made the train car disappear.

I knew it wasn’t Magic, but it was something that wowed me and something I couldn’t figure out.

Magic was one of those hobbies which came and went, I never had the focus to really devote myself to it beyond a few simplistic card tricks. But I would dutifully come back to it every few months and I always enjoyed a good Magician special on TV.

I’ve reached an amateur level where I understand most of the mechanics and tricks without being able to recreate them on my own.

So when the trip to LA was lining up I discovered the Magic Castle, an entity and organization which had escaped my view throughout my life.

I was excited about this from the start and I knew it would be a highlight of the trip. Brian and I both packed our suits, ties and shoes and when it was time to get ready to go, we looked good. We made Penn and Teller jokes all night as I’m about a foot taller than Brian.

As we’re taking the elevator down, we’re in it with three people in t-shirts and shorts obviously curious why we were dressed to the nines. My cell phone tweets as I get a text message, and as the door opens to the elevator I pull it out, frown and look at Brian straight-faced as I say “My stocks are down.” It was completely spontaneous, but it just was how I felt. Dressed in a well fitting suit, staying at a four star hotel, and about to go out on the town. In truth it was a text from K telling us to have fun at the Magic Castle.

We get the guy in the top hat and red tailed jacket to hail a taxi for us, and we head off to the Magic castle. We had dinner reservations at 9:30 but we had both eaten around 4 so we weren’t too hungry.

When you arrive at the Magic castle, you enter the ante room where you check-in. Then after checking in you have to speak the magic words to an owl on the book shelf for it to reveal the bar area. It’s silly and absurd but an amazing piece for the feel and aura of the place. I won’t tell you all what the magic phrase is, but it was cute.

So we end up chilling in the bar and discover that the close-up magician’s last show has only 1 seat open. Now the  There were two Asian guys in line in front of us who decided not to split up so it came to Brian and I, we sort of looked at each other and he was the first to say “You go.” I tried to, but honestly, I wanted to see Eugene Burger very badly. Thanks Brian!

The show was fun, short and entertaining. He did some awesome tricks which boggle the mind.

They work very hard to make the Magic Castle feel right. It’s a Victorian home, lots of wood, carvings, paintings etc. They also disallow any photography inside the place etc. I wanted to get a photo with Eugene but I followed the rules, settling for a handshake after the show.

I reconvened with Brian who was chatting with a girl at the bar, it ended up that she was the daughter of one of the head honchos at the Magic castle. It was a fun conversation, discussing various things before it was time for our dinner reservation. We got seated and relaxed, ordering just appetizers each. We tipped well since the waiters obviously didn’t want us to order so little. The food was great. From there we got our tickets to the 11 o’clock show with Jeff McBride.

JEFF McBRIDE. Do you know who he is? He’s awesome! Watch this Youtube video. He’s another Magician I had seen numerous times on TV and actually watched one of his teaching DVDs. He’s a judge on CelebraCadabra, a reality show on VH1 that makes C-list celebs into magicians. In short, he’s amazing. And his show did not disappoint. Brian and I discussed his show for the next few days trying to figure out his tricks but a number of them completely escape us.

In short, it was mesmerizing and fascinating to watch a master work. We were in the second row and it was an experience of a lifetime. I can’t wait to go back.

When we left we asked the front desk to call a cab for us and we stepped outside to wait. As we’re waiting we strike up a conversation with this other couple who had called a cab but had someone jump in before them. So when our taxi pulls up we go to get in and they pick that moment to ask to split the ride with us. I should have said no, but I’m too damn nice.

Their hotel is on Sunset, the girl says the name and when the driver doesn’t immediately confirm that he knows where it is she begins reeling off the address. It’s moment’s later I realize that both of them are drunk. Now, I don’t have great drunkdar, I really can’t tell unless they’re slobberingly drunk. We’re chit-chatting and we get to the address the girl had named off and it obviously wasn’t her hotel. So this sets the driver off (who had previously cursed at a guy in another car) and the woman begins trying to quash the fire while the drunk guy in the back begins muttering that he’s going to get out as soon as we stop, wherever it is.

We end up making it to the hotel, the driver had known the address. They get out and the guy has to go get change. He flashed the driver a Franklin before half stumbling inside to get change. Brian had tried to stop him as he could make change but we end up waiting a few minutes for the guy to come back out. The fare had been $17 and they gave the driver a twenty.

Brian and I are apologizing the entire way to our hotel, we didn’t know how drunk they were. He’s a nice enough guy, just tired and since he’s a foreigner he has to deal with people not understanding his accent and such. We tip him well and call it a night.

Man, that night was awesome.

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