Gong Xi Fa Cai

Monday, January 23, 2012

The only thing missing from yesterday’s adventure was for us to dream about Chinese food because, as fate would have it, we had Chinese food for brunch and for dinner.  This is how it all came about.

At 2:00 PM yesterday Brian, Ofelia, Susan and I took our seats at an upstairs table at The Ginger Loft in anticipation of our Chinese New Year’s brunch.  Mike did not disappoint as plate after plate of rolls and dumplings made their way to our table.  For dessert we all had a Mandarin orange and then a plate with three different desserts on it appeared in front of each of us.  It seemed as though every table was filled and we were glad to see that for Mike and Santi’s sake.  As we leisurely sampled each new offering Brian and Ofelia filled us in on some of their State Department adventures.

Brian had a number of different posts during his career.  He started with a two-year stint in Lagos, Nigeria.  From there he went to Lisbon for a more pleasant stay.  His other assignments, in no particular order, included Rome, Sri Lanka, Bogotá, Milan, Washington, DC and his final assignment as Consul General in Lisbon.  He and Ofelia met in Rome and she has shared most of his adventures, including those in snake-filled Sri Lanka.  Brian will be visiting the States for a couple of weeks and he leaves on Wednesday.  We know he will have a great time.

It was 4:30 when we left The Ginger Loft and on our way back home we stopped at Carusel.  Jordi was still there and so were Carol and the baby. We chatted for a few minutes and as we were leaving Jordi insisted on giving us a “few” oranges picked that morning from his very own orange trees.  A “few” turned out to be two dozen and I must confess they are some of the juiciest oranges I have ever seen.  When we got home we took life easy in preparation for our evening adventure.

Dani Daortiz, in my humble opinion, is the best card magician in the world today.  He is in demand all over the world and has recently travelled to England, Chile and China to do his thing.  He also appears regularly at the Magic Castle as both performer and lecturer and has performed at a number of different venues throughout the United States.  He heads his own company called Grupokaps that publishes a magazine and produces DVD’s and downloadable videos.  He leaves for Argentina and Chile in a few days to make appearances at two different conventions.

I met Dani some eleven years ago in Málaga, Spain.  I was there to see the first edition of Ja, Je, Ji, Jo, Ju a magic show to benefit an organization that brings magic and laughter to kids in hospitals.  It was there that I also met Jorge Blass.  A group of us went out to eat after the show and I had a chance to chat with most of the performers in that show.  It was there that I also met Juan Escolano who is both a friend and contemporary of Spain’s most famous living magician, Juan Tamariz.  Escolano had invited me to visit him at his home in Puerto de Santa María, near Cádiz, and I did just that some eight years ago.  Dani came by to visit and at that time he was doing a weekly show on a local station.  He ended up interviewing me and, in the process, filmed me doing a couple of magic tricks.

Dani and I have kept in touch over the years and I have seen him perform at a number of conventions in Spain and, of course, I have seen him every time he has appeared at the Castle.  I recently wrote an article for his magazine, El Manuscrito, and there is a chance that I might be translating the monthly column that he will be writing for Genii magazine.  The editor is considering my offer to do so.

Dani was appearing last evening at a venue called La Protectora, which has recently been renovated and now hosts a variety of events.  This was the first close-up event it had hosted and, to be honest, it is really not a great venue for close-up magic.  However, since we were seated in the second row, it was not a problem for us.  It was pen seating, but one needed a reservation to buy tickets and the event had long been sold out.  My guess is that there were about one hundred people in attendance.

Dani is a study in charisma and skill.  He is disarmingly funny and his magic is truly magical.  His show was divided into two parts.  The first part was dedicated to his effects that have a strong impromptu flavor to them, in that these are effects he does at all performances that require audience input and that input is what is always different.  In one of his effects he has three cards selected by three different members of the audience.  He finds the first card and tears it into four pieces and places it on the table and has the second spectator cover the pieces with her hand.  She lifts her hand and the four pieces have changed value and the card is her chosen card.  He then hands the pieces to a third spectator who holds the pieces in his closed hand.  When he opens his hand, the card has been restored and it turns out to be the third spectator’s chosen card.

Hi first set lasted some forty five minutes and he returned some fifteen minutes later to do another thirty minutes of unbelievable effects and ends the set with his version of a classic effect called “Triumph”, an effect in which a deck that is in a state of chaos with cards face up and face down is restored to an ordered state with all cards face down except for the chosen card.  What is different about Dani’s version is that all the cards are shown in their chaotic condition until the very end when he closed the spread and when he respreads that cards that have all turned face down except for the chosen card.  This was and is magic at its finest.

After the performance and after having posed for a lot of pictures, Dani was ready for some dinner.  A group of us headed out in search of a restaurant that was open and, at that hour, the only one open was a Chinese restaurant called Ruby.  The nine of us piled in as the restaurant was closing and we took our seats while from the kitchen came the protests of the chef who thought that he was done for the night only to be told that there were more customers.  We studied the menu and everyone ordered whatever he or she wanted.  The food was okay and the good news is that it was both filling and cheap.  I picked up the bill because that’s the kind of guy I am.  It was well after midnight when we left the restaurant and said our goodbyes.  Susan, Dani, Juanma – a magician friend of Dani’s whom I met eleven years ago in Málaga – and I piled into a cab and headed home.  Susan and I stayed up until 1:00 to let our dinner digest a bit more and then we headed for bed.

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