The Magic Community Mourns the Passing of Scott Alexander

I was sadden to learn on Sunday February 5, 2023 that Scott Alexander passed away. I was not close to Scott, but had met him a number of times during the jams sessions I used to attend with Peter Galinskis. He was always very friendly and supportive of the magicians who were there. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book “Denny Haney Collected Wisdom”, a book dedicated to his mentor which was published in 2020. Scott demonstrated he was not only a great performer, but also a great author. The book was a joy to read. Even if you didn’t know Denny, you will get a lot of great wisdom from the tricks section of the book. Scott also released a number of instructional DVDs, was on America’s Got Talent, and appeared on Penn and Teller’s Fool Us. He will surely be miss!

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A Tribute to Peter Galinskas

On March 18, 2022 I lost a very good friend in Peter Galinskas. My friend passed away at the age of 66. Since his passing I’ve thought a lot about who Peter was, our friendship and how I want to remember him. I will be the first to admit I don’t know everything about Peter. I doubt that anybody does. But I will share with you what I personally know about this man that I had come to consider a very good friend. I met Peter on January 21, 2019 at Denny & Lee’s Magic Studio in Rosedale, Maryland. Unfortunately, the magic studio no longer exists. Denny passed away on January 23, 2019. I had heard that Denny was ill and I wanted to visit the shop one last time. At the shop I asked Jesse, who was working behind the counter, for help with a particular card sleight or move. Jesse led me to a side room and introduced me to a man who could easily have passed for the Harry Potter character Professor Dumbledore. That man was Peter Galinskas. Peter invited me to sit with him and that was the beginning of a friendship I will cherish the rest of my life. In the Baltimore area Peter was considered as one of the best card mechanics. I don’t call him a magician and Peter was always very adamant that he wasn’t a magician. He was someone who had skills with a deck of cards that gamblers and magicians could only hope to attain. After our first meeting at Denny’s, I didn’t think I would hear from Peter again. But a few weeks later, I received a phone call from him, asking if I would like to join a regular session with other magicians he knew. In the months to come, I came to know that there used to be regular sessions held at Denny’s and Peter wanted to start having them again. I felt very honored that he thought enough of me and my current skill level to invite me to hang out with the other magicians. And that is something we did, off and on, until the time of his passing. We met at the Asian Bistro in Rosedale, very close to where the Denny & Lee Magic Studio was located. During these sessions, we talked about magic, demonstrated tricks or sleight-of-hand techniques we were practicing, or listened to Peter talk about the magicians he had met and the history of magic in Baltimore. He knew a lot and never left out details. Peter was mentored by some of the great magicians in the area, most notably Frank Thompson who was well known for his card skills and even some gambling. During some of our many phone calls, Peter talked about his travels to and from the Chicago area to hang out for weeks with the master “Cardician” Ed Marlo. In the Baltimore area, Peter could be found talking with Howie Schwartzman, Cy Keller, Denny Haney, and many of the famous magicians who came into town and visited Denny’s shop. A number of individuals have had the experience of having Peter as a teacher or as a mentor. Not only was he well versed in his knowledge of card mechanics, but from what I was told, he was an excellent teacher. I know he spent hours preparing the lessons for his students. He knew he had to be prepared since his students were paying good money for his instruction. And if you knew Peter then you knew that any session with him could run much longer than planned although he never charged more for that extra time and attention. He was very giving of his time and talent in that way. During one of our sessions, without saying anything, he just started to show us various ways to do second deals, bottom deals, and even center deals (where cards are dealt from the center of the deck).  It was amazing to watch and see things I had previously only read about. And I’m quite sure there were many things that Peter didn’t show us that day. I am grateful for what I did see. His skill was something to which I could aspire. Peter was not a teacher of card mechanics for me, but he became a mentor for me when it came to the business side of being a magician. He drew upon his years as a salesman, always making sure I was making the best decisions. He did provide me with feedback if I showed him a new effect. He was very honest if the effect or secret move was good or not. His philosophy was, “a magician won’t get better if you just blow smoke up their a**”. I always welcomed his constructive criticisms because I knew it was said to make me a better magician. Peter and I talked quite a bit on the phone. Our conversations usually started out talking about magic, but Peter had a way of always going down rabbit holes which were way off topic. I admit that when I was on the phone with him, I probably carried about 30% of the conversation. And the phone calls would usually last an hour or more. There were a number of times I had to cut him off so I could get going to do other things. How I wish I could listen to those rabbit hole stories again. Whether he knew it or not, Peter fanned a smoldering ember within me regarding learning and practicing magic. After meeting him and getting involved with his session groups, I began practicing my card work, and working on my standup shows. I had a lot of respect for him, so if I showed him something that he said was good, I felt a lot of satisfaction. The practice was worth it, and I was more confident to show the effect to laymen. Peter introduced me to a number of other magicians

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Magic Shows From Baltimore to DC

I had a fantastic weekend peforming a variety of shows, at a variety of venues from Baltimore to DC and Virginia! On Friday, March 4, myself and four other magicians (Bill Gross, Bradley Barefoot, Adam Stone, John Gazeman, and Vince Wilson) performed a variety show at the Poe’s Theater located within the Holiday Inn in Baltimore. Over 50 people watched a great show with all the magicians performing at their A-game. The last effect I performed was Card-on-the-Ceiling, where a signed card ends up stuck on the ceiling! I’m sure that card is still there! I also wanted to thank all my friends and family who showed up to support me. I am truely blessed! Saturday, March 5th started out with a kid show at a park in the Fells Point area of Baltimore, Maryland. It was a beautiful day and the show, for an 8 yr old young lady, was great! The kids were very interactive, and even provided a first for me. It was the first time I’ve ever had about 15 eight year old girls yelling out to me in a show “Liar! Liar”. Too funny!! I guess they aren’t old enough yet to realize that Magician and Liar are synonymous! Later that evening, I performed a show for a woman who was just turning 30. She held her party at the rooftop restaurant Smoke & Mirrors, located in downtown Washington, DC, just a couple “stones-throws” away from the Capitol building. It was the perfect venue for the party. The guests were awesome and the show turned out great! Happy Birthday Morgan! The next day, Sunday began with a kids show in Arlington, Virginia celebrating David’s 6th Birthday! The kids loved the show, and I think they really loved the Hershey Kisses I magically produced at the end! Then, it was a quick drive up to Laurel, Maryland to help David celebrate his 10th birthday! This was one of those shows you’d like all of your kid shows to be. There were just as many adults watching the show as there were kids, and they seemed to love the show as much, if not more, than the kids! They were a blast to perform for, and many of the kids came up to thank me for the show! All great memories!!

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