Ring Report September Meeting

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October 2013

Ring Report-Ring #320

Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians

 President       Wes Iseli

   Vice President   Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips

Breaking News

November 19th  is the Peter Pitchford Lecture.


 Jason Palter

Lecture coming on April 14th 2014

   Here are the themes for the Ring Meetings for the rest of the 2013.

October – Swap Meet

November – First trick / favorite trick….. or both

December – Christmas Dinner & Show 

Ring Report    

September 17th Meeting 

Our meeting began with a teach-in by Vice-President, Eddie Tobey. Eddie took us step by step through his nail-baiting Russian Roulette effect. A disc with 3 sharp nails was hidden under one of 4 Styrofoam cups. One by one Eddie smashes the cups and eliminates the 3 empty ones.  This was an enjoyable and great routine.

Our business meeting discussed a special opportunity to perform , as a group, at a veteran’s medical center.  Under new business, we discussed upcoming lectures and membership access to our digital magic library.

Our monthly ring show began with John Leeth. He demonstrated a mental effect where a person goes to a travel picture site on their smart-phone and John is able to tell what their choice of photographs are. There are many great magical “apps” available for phone magic.  Wes Iseli showed a themed Square Circle as well as a packet card effect with Halloween pictures.

Richard Gimbert showed the fine art of eating green glass. He had created the effect for the recent “Carnival of Wonders” sideshow performance in Charlottesville.

George Buckley did a John Fedko inspired card trick called “Naughty and Nice” where a card with a bunny mysteriously appears in a Card Monte packet.  Dennis Phillips showed an effect where a sleeve of paper is randomly cut and the cut matches the place where a predicted ESP symbol is located. Dennis also showed the classic Glorpy trick and finally he demonstrated the signature Blackstone Floating Handkerchief which has been used by many illusionists over the years.

Finally, Mr. Vic, Pastor Vic Bright, did an enjoyable Linking Ring routine.


Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

By Dennis Phillips

October 2013 

“When Houdini was a teenager, he had a slogan: “You can lock me in any jail cell but you can’t keep my face from breaking out!”

                                                                                                                                                   Comedy line from -Paul Harris- 

Machpelah Cemetery- Place of Houdini’s Grave

Houdini's Grave

We are coming up on the Anniversary of Houdini’s death on Halloween  in 1926.

I thought that you might want to know this…. 

Houdini’s Gravesite had fallen into neglect and disrepair and overgrown with weeds. His bust had been stolen and replaced several times.

A haunting You-Tube video can been seen which showed this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yndl8zeH82U

George Schindler, the dean of the Society of American Magicians, said his group had stopped contributing money toward the maintenance of the site in recent years.  “David Jacobson” sends us a bill for upkeep every year but we never pay it”  The Society of American Magicians never paid the cemetery for any restoration of the Houdini family plot in my tenure since 1988, Mr. Jacobson said. The money came from the dwindling funds of the Machpelah Cemetery, he said. The Houdini grave site is no longer cared for by the Society of American Magicians, but by The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Reportedly , SAM and the caretaker of the Cemetery have a long running feud over how fund were being used for the grave upkeep, leading SAM to no longer contribute funds.  

On September 27, 2011 a group Dorothy Dietrich formed, that came to be known in the media as The Houdini Commandos, secretly replaced the statuary bust at Houdini’s grave site that has been missing due to vandalism for 36 years. They also did some gravesite fix-ups.  This was reported in a half-page story worldwide in the New York Times on October 24, 2011. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/24/houdini-returns-of-course/?_r=0

Her world famous attraction Scranton’s Houdini Museum that she runs with mystery entertainer Dick Brooks, has been asked by both the family of Houdini and the management of the cemetery to take over the upkeep of the grave that has been in disarray for many years due to neglect.

Burial records littered the floor of the abandoned Machpelah cemetery Office


Any semblance of grandeur breaks down on the inside.  The striking arched windows visible in the facade are installed in rectangular frames, and their diamond panes are all artifice.  The skeleton of a drop ceiling hangs askew, with most panels collapsed and reduced to a yellow paste that covers the ground.  The office has apparently fallen victim to vandals over the years, furniture and safe deposit boxes have been ransacked, old burial records lie scattered in the grime.  Anything of value has been removed, but a coin bank souvenir from the 1939 New York World’s Fair remains, its most recent deposits dating back to 1988.

“Stuffy” doesn’t begin to describe its suffocating ether. Reception rooms are boxed in with cheap wood paneling, which combines with the dizzying funk of mildew to evoke the interior of a coffin.   Secluded in a cockeyed armoire, Nosferatu could feel right at home here. Well, no more.   UPDATE: The office was just demolished on August 21st, 2013.

Today, Queens’ five million “permanent residents” almost triple its living population, but their numbers are at a standstill.  Most of these cemeteries reached capacity long ago, leaving many cemeteries without a source of income from the sale of new sites.  As a result, some have fallen into disrepair, with officials failing to provide the “perpetual care” their patrons are rightfully owed.

Every Halloween, hundreds of devotees make the yearly pilgrimage to Houdini’s final resting place to pay their respects, party, and make an offering—around the anniversary of his death, pumpkins, broomsticks, and playing cards mount like a cairn on his headstone. His cemetery ,long abandoned, Houdini’s gravesite continues on as long as his memory and devoted fans remain.  At Machpelah Cemetery, the gate is always open, and every day is Halloween.

Dennis Phillips


About blueridgemagiciansring320

Secretary of Ring 320 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians located in the Western Virginia.
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