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The Magic Memories (126)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Vernon’s Deja-vu (TTTCBE); Museo della magia Cherasco; Masters of Magic Convention Torino; Letters from Juan 2; Who is Erdnase? (Wasshuber’s book); European Close-up Symposium

These are The Magic Memories 126, gone online Sunday, May 28th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

In the last post I promised to continue my report on my Swiss-Italian travel. So, here it is:

Vernon’s Deja-vu (TTTCBE)

After a short night following the lecture and evening show reported last time, and before embarking on the travel to Italy, José Ángel and I had to fortify ourselves first, and what better way of doing so than having a Fondue for lunch, one of Switzerland’s gastronomical battle-horses.

For this you need to know that the region we were is la région par excellence of Fondue.

Lennart and Roberto sharing a Swiss Fondue

One of the best place to have Fondue, if not the best, is the Café Tivoli in Chatel-Saint Denis. We had “moitié-moitié”, half-half, meaning half Gruyère and half Vacherin cheese, very creamy, not too hot (temperature) and served in a pot over a “réchaud”, a food-warmer, with bread and small boiled potatoes. This, with a Chasselas wine from the region, and you’ll feel happy as a clam on high tide.

If you ever come to Switzerland, I recommend you plan a visit to the Chaplin Museum in Vevey, one of the world’s best museums, and before doing so, for lunch go to the Café Tivoli and have a Fondue (and a Meringue with double-cream for dessert!). It is then only a ten-minute car-drive to the Chaplin museum. Spend three hours there, drive down to Vevey (five minutes), take a stroll along the lake-side promenade in Vevey, and then stay overnight in one of the beautiful hotels overseeing Lake Geneva and the Alp panorama.

You’re welcome 🙂

But here comes the punchline: We were four at table, José Ángel, my friend Jean-François (JF) Tuberosi, and his son Matteo. After the satisfying meal, JF asked me to do a trick for his son.

I had to smile, as at this moment a story told about Ricky Jay flashed across my mind: Ricky had been asked for dinner by a good friend who had a teenage son. Ricky accepted under the explicit condition that he would not be asked to perform a trick for his friend’s son, or else he would immediately leave. You guessed what happened: Upon arrival, his friend asked Ricky to do a trick for his son! Reportedly, Ricky, without missing a beat, turned round and left.

Not having a fraction of Mr. Jay’s talent, but also not his, well, “challenging character”, I had anticipated the situation and in a previously unwatched moment written “7H” on my paper napkin, and placed the napkin aside on the table.

When JF asked the inevitable question, I told Matteo that I would only perform if I could do so with his father’s cards… (the day before I had given him a deck of my Card College Playing Cards, so knew what I would get). I instructed Matteo to take the cards from the case, eliminate the Jokers, and then shuffle the deck. Upon taking it back I glimpsed the top and bottom cards – no 7H.

I, “Did you cut the cards?”

Matteo, “No.”

I, “Even if you shuffle the cards yourself – always cut the cards.” (Sharing Secrets, “Memory Editing”, joke to anchor the shuffle, p. 74)

In placing the deck back on the table I again glimpsed the top and bottom cards. Lo and behold, the top card was the 7H! (The Annotated Sharing Secrets, “The Principle of F***ing Luck”, p. 69)

Were Vernon and Koran watching?

I reminded the company what had just taken place (Sharing Secrets, “Principle of Recap”, p. 86), then asked Matteo to turn the deck’s top card, displaying the 7H. I dropped the paper napkin next to the card, and then slowly unfolded it to reveal the writing “7H”.

Loud silence! Interrupted by a “click” of dropping jaws.

Of course I couldn’t resist looking at Matteo and saying: “So, that’s the kind of magic I do. What does your father do with these cards?” (Cliff Green must have been watching, too…)

It was only thanks to years of friendship with JF that he didn’t physically attack me…

Final comment: Statistics says that if you perform the above actions 52 times, it will happen once. Or, because we glimpsed four cards, maybe only 13 times?

The mathematicians among you might tell me…

Anyway, when I’m back home I’ll do this same procedure 51 times for my wife, so I should hit it again on my next “real” performance 🙂

And one more thing: When doing TTTCBE (Ganson, Dai Vernon’s More Inner Secrets of Card Magic, p. 76), and it works like described above, the only solution the cognoscenti will have, is that you had the card palmed, and then added it to the top of the deck. If you don’t want to deprive them of the exquisite experience of astonishment, make it a point to show your hands empty, rub and clap them several times (Frakson to Tamariz, “Las palmadas, Juanito, las palmadas!”)before the spectator starts the shuffling process; you don’t want to do that later, before taking the deck back, as it would draw attention to the glimpsing action…

Museo della magia Cherasco

Now, for the travel, finally: From the “Anneaux Magiques” in Morges (see The Magic Memories 125), José Ángel and I took it upon us to cross the Alps and get to Italy.

Compared to Hannibal, who in 218 BC, a period when Carthage and Rome were competing for world dominance, traversed the mountains, once thought uncrossable, with a force of more than 30,000 soldiers, 15,000 cavalry and, most famous of all, 37 elephants, our trip was easy.

He did all this in sixteen days, as the annals report. It took us by car about four hours, as these Magic Memories tell. 

Not only did we cross the Alps on civilized roads and through a (expensive!) tunnel, the Great Saint Bernhard Tunnel, but we also managed to drive around Torino, down the “Langhe”, the famous region between Asti and Alba, famous for arguably Italy’s best wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, and in season for white truffle, and then reached Don Silvio Mantelli’s “Museo della magia” in Cherasco, where we would stay for the next few days.

Don Silvio’s Magic Museum is of course worth a lengthy report, sometimes in the future… For now I will content myself with serving a glass of wine to the Mona Lisa (see below):

unknown magician serves wine to Mona Lisa (1503)

We used the time between two card tricks and the perusal of several books…

Hard work in the library: Roberto, Don Silvio, José Ángel

… to visit the countryside around Cherasco. On Tuesday we took a quick side-trip to la banca del vino, the wine bank, an institution that has the task of storing and displaying a case of each wine in Italy: They store well over 100’000 bottles from thousands of producers, a visit to behold. And they have a museum-wine shop, too…

The Banca del vino is located in Pollenzo, in one of the many imperial country castles that characterize Piedmont, which in former times was the residence of the Savoy (history buffs read more HERE).

“La banca del vino” boasts over 100’000 bottles

The photo above shows the entry to the wine bank, with over 100’000 bottles of wine. Below a peek at Don Silvio’s magic library with ca. 22’000 magic books and ca. 3’000 magazines (bound volumes, that is!), total ca. 25’000 magic publications. This proves that in Italy there are at least four times as many wines as there are magic books…

partial look at Don Silvio’s magic library – 25’000 volumes

In the afternoon we visited the village that gave its name to Italy’s most famous and oldest wine denomination, Barolo.

view from the village of Barolo

On a side-note: Traditionally, in Europe the names of the wines, and the names you find on the labels, reflect the precise location they are produced, and also the location within the location. So, if you read Barbaresco, Rabaja, on the label, you know that it is a wine from a producer in and around the village of Barbaresco, and from the very limited vineyards of Rabaja. This is a very honest way of a declaration, which has been lost on most modern wines, which carry fantasy names, whose only purpose is marketing (take “Opus One”, not really a paramount example of modesty… but I agree that the wine is good!).

After lunch, on our way back to Cherasco, we stopped at yet another Castello, in Novello, the birthplace of Don Silvio – have a brief look HERE, you will be amazed. The castle is now an event location with a hotel and restaurant (open only for special events).

Thanks to Don Silvio’s connections, the owner of the castle gave us a tour – wonderful! And we got free drinks at the bar.

The photo below shows one of the several smaller “private” rooms that can host a group. The table you see could take 13 guests, a perfect setting for a magic dinner titled “The Thirteenth Guest”… Notice the fantastic frescoes on the ceiling, and the carpets on the walls – everything original (ca. 1850), of course, not Las Vegas fakes…

Private room in the Castello di Novello

Masters of Magic Convention Torino

On Wednesday we got to Torino, where Thursday the Master of Magic convention started. Due to professional obligations I could only stay that one day, and had to head back home on Friday. Hence, only a short comment.

Still, I could enjoy the location, the Automobile museum in Torino (see HERE), in itself worth traveling to. This museum, along with the film museum, the Egyptian museum and the Royal Palace, make Torino one of the culturally most interesting “smaller” cities in the world  – by all means seek it out when traveling to Italy (and I did not talk about the libraries, shops, cafes, restaurants, arcades, historic buildings etc.).

As for the convention, anything Walter Rolfo touches has highest production value, as this is his forte: Tired seating in the small theatre for the lectures and presentations with good visibility and camera work (Vanishing Inc. take note for “The Session”), excellent reception, interesting dealers, world-class artists (not all with world-class lectures, though…).

The evening shows and stage competition took place at the other end of the city (!), at the Teatro Alfieri, and this, along with the lack of affordable hotels nearby, made it a bitter pill. When we looked for a hotel nearby we only found rooms for € 300 and over, and the one we found at € 120, albeit very nice, was 25 minutes car drive away (plus searching for parking), simply unacceptable.

There is no question that organizing a magic convention, big or small, is a challenge that only few can overcome to the satisfaction of all… and we’ll leave it at that.

That’s the end of the Italo-Swiss adventure, which, like any Asterix & Obelix adventure, ends in a gastronomical feast, this time at “Tre re”, the “Three Kings”, Roberto Marchello’s ristorante in Castellamonte. We talked, sat, discussed, eat, argued, drank, from noon to over 4 pm – hard to understand if you live in the New World.

Both the French gastronomer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant maintained that “it’s only at a table that already the first hour is amusing.” Brillat-Savarin cared for good food and wines, Kant for inspiring company – I vote for a combination of the two 🙂

José Ángel, Gianfranco, Fabio, unknown, Marco, Joe, Lorena; behind emptied glasses…

Letters from Juan 2

Albert Einstein once said about Niels Bohr: “He expresses his opinion like someone who constantly searches, never like someone, who thinks to hold the complete truth.” Einstein’s utterance fits Juan Tamariz like a glove, and it shows up in all of Tamariz’s  writings, and it is only one of the reasons we should read them.

Letters from Juan – Volume 2
So, Juan’s Letter 2 arrived, and like the first issue brought back memories of when Juan performed all of these pieces to me, year after year in an improved version, and fooled me with it, and when he explained it all, I was in even greater awe of his genius. This will happen to you, too, when you read these Letters.
I only feel sorry for you that you can’t see these pieces performed first, and be amazed by the Maestro himself. In order to fully appreciate the content, you have to develop the ability to imagine how you would experience the miracle described.

Granted, several of the routines you will be reading in this and in all upcoming Letters (how many? many!) are 100% Tamariz, idiosyncratic pieces that only he can pull off in the way described. So, the way to learn from it is to read it through carefully, ideally with instruments in hands, mostly a deck of cards, and extract every idea that catches your fancy in an external notebook, paper or electronic.

One of the notes I made is on p. 18, where at the beginning of a trick description he says: “Since it doesn’t have any technical challenge, you can focus on the most important thing of this, and of any other trick: feeling the effect.” Brilliant!

This is such an important thought, and it overshadows that bullshit sentence you can find in so many places in the magic literature: “…so you can focus entirely on the presentation“. What a rubbish, and what’s that supposed to mean anyway?

My favorite practical item in this issue? “Impromptu Double Flying”, on p. 31, no more comments – go, and read it for yourself.

Who is Erdnase?

Chris Wasshuber, of, wrote a hefty book on a subject that has been haunting magic historians in general, and cardicians in particular, namely: Who is Erdnase? On over 400 pages he argues his case, with unprecedented minutiae.

If this topic is your cup of tea (or as Denis Behr in Germany would say: “If this is your beer”) it goes without saying that you want to add this elaborate research to your bookshelf next to Gardner, Busby, Hatch, James, Sawyer etc.

The publication is obtainable as a PDF or as a hardbound book with dustcover: For details and to order CLICK HERE.

European Close-up Symposium

Years ago David Ben invited Stephen Minch and myself as guests of honor to the famous “31 Faces North” convention in Toronto, an invitation-only event sponsored by the late Allan Slaight.

This certainly deserves a report of its own in a future edition of The Magic Memories, but I’m mentioning it here because the meeting, running over several days, was organized such, that each participant would give a short presentation, from ten to twenty minutes, and the two guests of honor would do a lecture-performance-interview type of presentation for an hour or so.

Unlike the gathering at “Escorial”, where several subjects are defined a year ahead, and then various groups prepare over the year their presentations, the “31 Faces North” plan is that each presenter can choose to talk about any topic he fancies.

Well, I found this so inspiring, that upon my return I decided to initiate something similar in Italy. I called it “Magic Symposium”. We did that four times in Torino, on the premises of the magic club there, Club Amici Della Magia (CADM), in November (truffle season…), and it was quite successful, even though we lacked the support of a billionaire sponsor 🙂

Giacomo Bertini, of System of Amazement fame, written by no less than Stephen Minch, attended the meetings in Torino, and asked me if he could take the idea and do a “Coin Magic Symposium” in Milan, which later became the “European Close-up Symposium”. So, Toronto begets Torino begets Milan, and now Vienna! As they say: “If you have an idea, you’re adding, if you share an idea, you’re multiplying.”

Performing “Card Call” from Stand-up Card Magic

So, after a three-year hiatus due to Corona, this great idea is back, taking place in Bill Chueng’s new close-up theatre, outside of Vienna. More details HERE.

Close-up Symposium 2023

BTW: Giacomo has a website with lots of free video tutorials you will like if coins are your thing, and you might like them even if they aren’t – CLICK HERE.

Now, I have to run, as tonight we’re celebrating my birthday in a belated dinner with my family (Barbara, Rafael and Miro). I apologize for such a long post, but I didn’t have the time to write a shorter one 🙂

Wish you all an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi

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