After some brief comradery and personal effects collaboration, the January meeting kicked off to a fully packed house by the newly-elected President Steve Friedberg. Steve announced a new initiative to provide IBM Ring 6 members with discounts along with plans to improve the website. He also gave a preview of the upcoming meeting schedule; scheduled speakers include former IBM president Joe Turner, Peter Samelson, Joe Rindfleisch and Kent Gunn. Without further ado, he introduced the evening’s lecturer, Scott Alexander; Scott gave the attendees an insider’s perspective about the legendary Denny Haney, as well as the book that Scott is writing about him.
To capture the audience, Scott opened with an demonstration of the serpentine silk. Scott said that the handling he shared had been improved upon by Denny Haney himself, and proved to be “reel” clean. To the attendees’ delight, he had instruction packets available for those who wished to hone this skill.
Next, he had an audience member pick a card that was known and showed to all. Two (3) digit random numbers and one (4) digit number were written on a pad by spectators and then entered on another spectator’s phone, with no addition…the phone was dialed. To everyone’s surprise, Scott’s personal phone rang, he answered and announced the name of the card to everyone’s laughter. This “any number pad” from Scott has a myriad of possibilities.
We were then treated to an awesome video of the magical performance of Denny Haney. Scott concluded this section with a memorable quote of Denny’s, “It’s not what you do, it’s how well you are liked while doing it.” He went on to give many pointers and insights into Denny’s egg bag routine and closed the first half of the lecture with a video of Denny performing the Cards Across with Envelopes.
After the break, Scott talked about the book he is writing on Denny’s life and how it will have a biographical approach as it works from his childhood in Baltimore, including his service in the military. He made a note to mention his mentorship by Howie Schwarzman, as well as his relationship with underground legend Frank Thompson. He also focused on the future of brick and mortar magic shops, challenging magicians to go out of their way to find the nearest shop to them and to patronize it, spend money there, and use the shops as a social gathering place where magicians can exchange ideas and friendship.
He closed the night with an amusing story of a magic shop in Asia where newcomers are greeted with a can of beer; he wanted his customers to feel welcome. He also almost certainly wanted them open to buying more, Scott quipped.
The 50 or so in attendance were educated and entertained throughout and it was a pleasure by all to be in the presence of such a polished professional as Scott Alexander.