Detroit: Day 2We were only doing two things on Sunday, both of equal importance: visit Perani's so that Eli 14.0 could try on new leg pads and chest protectors, and go to Clawson to the Wunderground, one of the best magic shops in the country.
Eli's card magic is just ridiculous now. No trick decks, just skill. He's meticulously working his way through a five-volume set called The Card College, and he's picked up so many new techniques that I no longer have any idea how he does anything.
First up, though, was Perani's.
Every year, we seem to find someone at Perani's who is entirely willing to help us for two hours, because that's how long we're there. Eli tries on every conceivable piece of equipment, and we get invaluable advice from the staff, because they really know what they're doing.
The problem with fitting a chest protector for Eli is that he's 5' 9 1/2" and 125 pounds. If a company caters to that physical demographic, it's a recipe for bankruptcy, because there just aren't many kids that size.
Incredibly, though, after a series of chest protectors that were comically oversized (and heavy), he found an incredibly light protector that fits him perfectly. And it has kevlar. It's a huge upgrade.
He knew which leg pads he wanted, but they were out of stock. However, they found a pair in Cleveland, and shipped them so that we would have them three days later.
Then we were off to Clawson, which was about half an hour away.
If you ever go to a magic shop, you need to understand that every magic shop is actually two magic shops.
There's the shop that sells "tricks" to novices and kids, and provides most of the financial support to keep the business open.
Then there's a second shop. It's invisible. You'll never see this shop unless you do magic yourself.
Eli walked into the shop, which was spectacular, and spent a long, long time walking around, carefully examining almost everything in the store. The fellow behind the counter was quite cordial, but clearly, we were in the first magic shop.
Then, after quite a long while, Eli took a deck of cards out of his pocket and did a trick. A David Blaine trick, and it was a difficult one.
Then he asked a very technical question about pressure fans.
And with that, the second shop was open.
The second magic shop is always great. People doing tricks for each other, swapping information on techniques. A brotherhood.
There was a fellow sitting next to a table who said he'd been coming to the shop on Sundays for many years, just to hang out.
He was also in a wheelchair, and his hands were gnarled. It looked painful, and he said he'd started learning card magic as a way to make his hands more dextrous.
There's a technique in card magic called a "double lift", and it's just like it sounds--taking two cards off the top of the deck instead of one, but doing it in a way that the audience can't tell what you've done.
This is one of the most basic skills in card magic.
He said he spent four hours a day for a month learning how to do it, because of the difficulties his hands presented.
That's some damned persistence, which I greatly admire.
He did a few excellent tricks for Eli (really--they were outstanding), and then Eli, in exchange, did a few tricks of his own. Even though they were separated in age by at least twenty-five years, they had a common language and bond.
It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.