Thursday, April 28, 2011

when i grow up...

A young boy once told the former Dean of American magicians Jay Marshall that he wanted to be a magician when he grew up. Jay's reply was: "You can't do both." I used to think it was a joke but now I see the truth in those simple words. Grownups wear grey suits; men wear ties and women wear some type of expensive and uncomfortable shoe to work. They all worry about health insurance, (if they are living in this 'land of the free' (what exactly is free here?)) and IRAs and Roth IRAs and stocks, if they are 'lucky' enough to own any, and their mortgage, if they are 'lucky' enough to have one and not owe more than they paid for it (but in that case, people would call them 'irresponsible' if they walk away?!)

When I was younger, I not only wanted to be a magician, but also a movie star, juggler, clown, James Bond, Bruce Lee, astronaut and fighter pilot when I "grew up." I'm turning 38 this year and I have only flown a plane once in my life for about 5 minutes when a US Marine recruiter was trying to recruit me to the marines in pre-9/11 happy times. Kalpana Chawla's tragic death in the space shuttle Columbia in 2003 convinced me that my mother was indeed correct: being an astronaut is dangerous; a smart young Indian-American can die in the space shuttle. Really. I now realize that James Bond is 'just' a fictional character and that Sean Connery was 'just' an actor who played that character, and the actor who plays this character will always be white, and can also be blond. There was only one Bruce Lee. Even Jackie Chan had to stop trying to be Bruce before finding his success as an actor, martial artist, and superstar. Juggling is too hard. One class with Michael Moschen convinced me that he deserves his MacArthur genius grant and I will never win one as a juggler. I had a small part in an episode of 'Arrest & Trial' in about 2000 which led to.... no significant acting work for years. Kal Penn got the part in 'Harold and Kumar go to White Castle' (known overseas as 'Harold and Kumar get the munchies for cultural and marketing reasons) that I once thought was destined for me. Lucky too. My mother would be offended by the film. So my remaining options for fulfilling the aspirations of my 13 year old self leave me with: magician.

The photos above are from India's most popular and successful magician who has created an amazing show now playing in Delhi. His name is... Franz Harary. India's most famous magician is a white guy, from Michigan. You know that I love non-Indians who dress up as Indians to perform magic. I love Franz. He's a wonderful illusionist, friend, and has done more to promote the art of magic in India than anyone I can think of. Not only is he performing in perhaps the world's largest magic show right now, but he was also a judge on tv show meant to find 'India's Greatest Magician.' I had wanted that part as well, and am jealous that he has worked with Jackie Schroff and lots of great Bollywood people during his years performing in India. But when I saw how he combined a bit of the brutal honesty of a Simon Cowell with a genuine encouragement to India's aspiring magicians to create real magic in their shows, I was truly amazed. I could never do that. I'm too mean. And bad magic, particularly bad Indian magic, annoys me too much to be nice about it. So maybe everyone gets what they really deserve... I will soon see if I lose money on my upcoming show and decide that I can't even really be a magician anymore or maybe it will become an annual event and will be repeated in a city near you. You actually get to shape my destiny by voting with your money. If you want me to continue publicly performing Indian magic, go to and buy a ticket to the show. If you can't come in person, let me know and I will donate your ticket to a poor local child who really needs and will appreciate it. Magic is good, but it's all about self-promoting. I am a terrible self-promoter to have promoted two other magicians on a blog ostensibly meant to promote my show. It's past 3am and I am still awake. That explains a lot. But it should help me lose a few extra pounds for the show. Hope to see you there. We open in 27 days...

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