November loomed up as not being very strong with bookings so I turned to a different faucet for money and booked magic lectures through out the Southwest. Phoenix, Tucson, Palm Springs and San Diego. The tour would end up at the Magic Castle where I would work for two nights in the Inner Circle’s WC Fields Magic Bar.
Flying was not really an option. Besides I hate flying these days, it is just not easy on a person, plus it is expensive. So I made plans to drive between all the destinations. My eight year old Taurus was a dream vehicle for this little jaunt. Very comfy and it goes like the wind.
The first haul toward Phoenix was the long solo run.
After 12 hours of driving and listening to some fascinating things on the ipod, I pulled into Highwater Ranch and the home of an old Santa Barbara pal from 40+ years ago. Jim and his music collection helped me form my eclectic musical tastes. I had not seen him in probably 20 years. An overnight stay with he and is wife set me up for the final push into Phoenix.
An interesting interlude on the radio.. I was sailing through the Navajo nation, listening to 50’s and 60’s rock n roll… Elvis and Roy Orbison Buddy Holly but when the station break came on, the DJ was speaking entirely in Navajo which has a curious sort of oriental lilt to it. Fascinating. But when the commercials came on… every 3 or 4 songs, one ad was for Alcoholics Anonymous and the next was an ad addressing the pitfalls of carrying weapons. Apparently these two issues are foremost in the minds of the Navajos. That pattern happened EVERY time there was a station break between the songs.
The ride through the mountains from Flagstaff down into the Valley of the Sun was spectacular.
Kind and gracious friends and Fred the dog and Rosie the cat welcomed me into the sanctuary of their home for a few days as I worked on the book I am writing and did a few lectures in the PHX area.
Lectures are tough these days. Corporate work has slowed for those of us who work those circuits so the lecture trail is well trodden by some pretty heavy weight workers. The trip down to Tucson emphasized that. I was the fourth guy through there in two months. When you depend on back of the room sales, and the ‘tree has been shaken’ a lot before I got there, well, I was disappointed. I did get to visit an old Snowmass pal and ate at Poco y Mamas and had a truly memorable meal.
Back up to PHX for another fun intensive sessions and better sales. I had a chance to reconnect with some good magic pals. Good sessions and fun exchanges.
A quick four hour drive to Palm Springs for the next stop was made easy by listening to Malcolm Gladwells Outliers. What a great read (?) or listen.
It is a controversial theory as I found while discussing the book with friends on the road. Love the 10,000 hour rule. Those were my days at the Tower.
My host in Palm Spgs just lost his wife of 40 years a few weeks before. I told him that I could find other places to stay but he insisted that I stay with him in his lovely home. He really wanted the diversion. And divert we did. We had several spirited chats about magic and life and the pursuit of happiness. It was a great two days. Good lectures and responsive audiences made the layover a lot of fun. Connected with a lot of folks I haven’t seen in a while.
San Diego was just a skip and a jump and in three hours I was there. Stayed with friends (thank god for friends) there and the first night was a lecture in Jack White’s magic museum. What a great location! and who should appear for the lecture but Bob And Happy Elliott, friends from Long Island who I haven’t seen in 10 years or more.
We had a lovely visit and a grand time. Sheets and Swiss were in the house along with some bright and knowledgeable guys.
An otherwise fabulous time in SD was diminished slightly by the bad news that one of my earliest influences in magic who just turned 65 in early November, was diagnosed with colon cancer and the outlook is bleak. A bunch of us went out to see him and we laughed and joked and did tricks and brightened up the day for all of us. JC is in my thoughts and prayers a lot these days.
A brief stop along the road to LA for coffee with another great magic pal and then to the Castle for lunch with crazies.
A well deserved nap set me up for an unbelievable night. Jill and her gang of 60 people packed the bar and we whipped and shouted all night long. Same thing was on tap the next night. A whole different group of crazy writers and assorted tv folks descended on the house and jammed up the parking lot for awhile. They all finally got in and the place was set ablaze again. We had a grand time. Sunday was a much more leisurely day. While grazing on the buffet at the Castle I saw David Regal and met his wife. Bob Cassidy and I hung out with the ghost of Jules Lanier. The Magic Castle is truly a magical place.
Son Mack is buried in the throes of the end of the first semester of law school, so we didn’t see much of each other.
I, once again, experienced the phenomenon of time evaporating in LA. I would awake before 9 every morning and with all best intentions, hit the deck with a list of things to accomplish. Suddenly it was noon and then it was time to start thinking about getting ready for the Castle and then it was time to GO to the Castle. Frustrating and infuriating but I didn’t get nearly enough done as I thought I could. Love/hate LA. I still ask myself, “Could I live here?” I still don’t know and am not a lot closer to the answer to that.
Son #2 arrived in the cluster buzz of LAX on a Sunday night. NOTE TO SELF: Don’t travel in and out of LAX on a Sunday night. Brutal traffic jams and too many people.
Ryan and I finally make it back for last call in the Castle. Sunday nights mark the end of the week for the performers. Often the magicians who are ‘on deck’ for next week are also there, soaking in the vibe. So I got to see a lot of folks in a relatively short period of time.
On Monday, we met up with some Colorado friends and rediscovered and shared the splendor of the Huntington Library and Gardens. This is a wonderful place that not many people know about. The Gardens are amazing and the soft November sunlight tinged the whole experience like a Maxfield Parrish print. www.huntington.org
And here is another one question for you… why is it that the trip back to Colorado always takes longer than the trip out to California? I can’t ever figure that one out.
This is the last major road trip of a great year. Abundance sums up my 2009. Financially it wasn’t that good but many wonderful things took place and I am blessed. I take great comfort in all of the things that were accomplished this last year. Life didn’t start at 40 .. 50 was not much better.. finally as I put in time on my 63rd year, it seems like life is getting better.
Thanks again for your interest in my life and times.