Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Small World...or How I became Friends with Childhood Idols

There I stood on the porch…I was 12, maybe 13…and the west Texas horizon goes on forever.   If you gaze long enough across the red dirt and cotton fields; you may actually imagine the curvature of the blue marble where we all live.  The world seemed so big…and yet…our little part so insignificant.  My cousin will say that I always said that I wouldn’t live out “here” when I grow up.  I don’t actually remember saying those words…but I remember feeling so isolated from the rest of the big huge awesome world….and I despised that feeling.  Growing up in West Texas does that to some people…the red dirt seems to sand blasts the feeling of being part of something bigger into the oblivious.  Allow me to clarify with a particular incident….or maybe a couple of them….of how the HUGE WORLD BECAME SO SMALL…and that things sometimes come around full circle….Even for a small town west Texas boy.

I loved magic…sleight of hand…illusions.  I remember watching Doug Henning on TV Specials in the 70’s…or maybe the occasional David Copperfield Specials.  I remember going to the library and scouring for any manuscripts that would allow me on the inside of the art of legerdemain.   I found one little children’s paperback book…and I remember practicing the tricks….some worked great….and others…not so well.  But in the mid 70’s there was no internet…no mass data storage of the magical secrets….I didn’t know any magicians personally….and believe it or not….Levelland Texas was not a hotbed of practitioners of the magical arts.  And so the interest begins to dry up like a draught stricken cotton field…so isolated…if only I lived in a big city…if…
When you live on the outskirts of the universe….Television was a way to at least peer into the looking glass.  “That’s Incredible,” a hour long show aired weekly spotlighting people or events that seemed beyond mortal comprehensions.  I remember vividly at about age 12…the feature on the show was a man…I didn’t remember his name…but he was a card sharp…a cheat….a pasteboard manipulator deemed the best in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD…beyond comprehension…practicing hours a day…and he was legally blind…he could deal perfect poker hands after someone shuffled…he could deal seconds….he could do things I never imagined.  I was amazed…and thinking to myself in my 12 year old mind…to meet someone like that…someone with such skill…maybe he could teach me...”But Hey Dave, you live in Levelland”…so it was only a passing thought. 

That's Incredible Episode with Richard Turner

A couple of years later…at our Sunday evening youth services, we were watching videos that were talking about fraudulent claims of psychics  and the paranormal…it was hosted and written by a magician…I remembered his name…Danny Korem….a world class magicians…showing how people are deceived….and how to keep being deceived. Danny got James  Hydrick to confess that he was a fraud in the telekinetic realm on national TV.  I remember sitting there and thinking how cool it would be to be able to do the sleight of hand Danny was doing.
Fast forward about 8 years…at Texas A&M ,  I found a guy who actually performed magic…and after wearing his poor soul down, I finally convince him to teach me.  Like everything I do…It was all in…obsessive…practicing sometimes 8 and 9 hours a day.  I learned where I could buy books.  I began the journey into the depths of the magical arts.  I began to attend some conventions where other conjurers would gather.  I made friends…became a member of the Dallas Magic Club and Society of American Magicians.   I competed in competitions.  I won the best in close up magic at the 2003 TAOM Conventions.   Along the way, I came to find out that the “Blind Gentleman” that I saw on “That’s Incredible” was Richard Turner.  I attended a lecture of his at Texas Association of Magicians in 1998.  But after witnessing firsthand what Richard could do with a deck of cards, I couldn’t even bring myself to meet him.  I wasn’t worthy.
Somewhere around 2001, my buddy Diamond Jim hosted a  magic lecture.  I couldn’t believe it…it was Danny Korem.   After the lecture we struck up a conversation…we emailed back and forth...and before you knew it…we became friends.  A guy I watched and envied when I was 13…was now a friend.  We would meet and discuss magic…laugh a lot…I would listen to stories…and Danny became a mentor.
Dan Korem and yours truely

About a year later, I get a call from a buddy Mark Jenson.  “Hey Dave, Richard Turner is staying at my house.  We are meeting with some of the guys tonight….why don’t you come over…and see if Danny wants to come over too.”  I call Danny…”Hey Boss, there is a card guy named Richard Turner…He’s blind…and what he does with at deck of cards is off the hook!  See ya at Jenson’s tonight.”
A quick glimpse into the dark dens of the underworld...That Famous Session - left Mark Jenson, in the back left to right Danny Korem, John Kline, Brian...Richard Turner in the white shirt.

That evening I sat to the left of Richard Turner…for about 5 hours…we shuffled…we listened…we watched…we learned…and we sat there in the presence of greatness.  I think there were about 6 of us…and Danny and I were there…mesmerized. 
Richard Turner Dealing Cards
Let me cut to the chase…for some reason I still can’t explain…the world’s greatest card mechanic I saw about 25 years earlier on “That’s Incredible” and I became close friends.  I really don’t know how it all happened.  Since that time, I have been invited into his home in San Antonio….we talk frequently….he trusted me to look at a very very preliminary  manuscript being written about his life.  (it will later be forged into a literary epic by John Racherbaumer to be released.) We will sit together and he will ask me how my second deal is coming along…he will take his fingers and feel how I am gripping the deck…seeing in his mind’s eye what the tactile sensation of his fingers are saying.  It’s like having Louis Armstrong sitting with my son and teaching him how to play the trumpet.  I felt mildly responsible for the introduction between Danny and Richard.   Danny had Richard, I and our wives over for dinner….and there I sat….thinking, “Holy Cow!  If you told me I would be sitting and having dinner with these two guys when I first knew about them in that tiny place called Levelland Texas….I would say you are crazy!”

It took me moving to Dallas where I have lived most of my adult life….to learn that the world is just a little more smaller than I thought when I spent my youth in a tiny corner of that small world.  This week I learned that Luke Korem, Danny’s son, is producing and filming a documentary on Richard’s life…and the providence of a small town boy being on the very peripheral of that ….well…what do I say….I am a blessed guy…

You can learn more about Richard and Danny at their respective websites:

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