Johnny Long – Bluesman and Magician

jl.jpg

One of the great things about working in a magic shop is you get to meet all types of different people from all over the world, all of whom share a passion for the art, thus allowing for great interaction and variety. If you think of a grocery store, even a small independent one, while the people that shop there may be from different parts of the world, they don’t express themselves (obviously) – it’s in and out. They don’t talk about the finer points of pastrami, or the history of the industry.

CLICK HERE – FOR AUDIO FILE – Reflections for Gene Devoe’s Shop

But Magic – as I’m sure with other arts – provides that first fundamental “commonality” that allows people to interact and as I have always said, that is the best part of it for me – meeting people along with the exchange of interpersonal communication. Never before has that quality been so scarce, with sterile on-line purchases. Even in the magic business as we all know – you can purchase products easily without ever speaking to a human being. Sometimes that can be good thing – but when it becomes that standard – we loose a little bit of our humanity.

Of course, you can’t fight momentum or change, but you sure start to fully appreciate the difference and benefits of being able to continue to interact with our customers and friends not just via brick and mortar, but even one-on-one communication on the phone. In fact, some of the best relationship I have experienced in all my years, come from people I have never met. People that I speak to on the phone every week, who I get to know “thankfully” far beyond just business but on a personal side. One of the first persons that comes to mind in this situation is a friend and customer named – Jim Eggold. I have never met him. But I feel a kinship with him as if he were right here in Wichita, due to the amount of time we have spent getting to know each other over the years. I consider Jim to be one of my personal friends, and while I know him very well just by our communications on the phone, and while it’s sufficient – I also know if we had the opportunity to spend time together one-on-one, we would click! And our friendship would be better for it.

However, phone communications is still human connection, with one degrees of separation – but it is still very interactive and strong enough to build a solid friendship from. Of course, the best option is face-to-face.

We had a very interesting person come to see us at Stevens Magic recently. I wish some of you could of been here to experience the energy and joy when Johnny Long came in to see us as he was traveling through town. What makes Johnny Long unique is many things, but one is that his brother – Claude Long is also a very well known customer and in fact, another example of a relationship that has been built firmly over the years solely by telephone communications. Some of that is due to the fact that Claude struggles successfully with a condition that dramatically limits his vision. So, when Johnny stopped by he came both to pay homage to a Brick and Mortar as well as to represent his brother Claude.

Johnny Long is imposing figure, very tall but also immediately disarming. I found him very interesting to watch and listen too, as his kinetic movements intrigued me and his deep voice sort of hypnotized me as he started to spin tales of the past. He’s a damn good magician too, as he showed me rope effects I had “never” seen before. The point: I enjoyed it so much, I decided to share the experience with you as proof of how there is no substitute for the human connection. I can also take advantage of sharing with you some stories (told by him) of another Brick and Mortar shop in the past owned by Gene Devoe (who I always remember my father Joe talking about as a youth).