Thursday, February 9, 2012
Rosa is coming today to clean the house and do some ironing. That means that we need to leave as soon as she gets here otherwise we will be subjected to a three hour monologue and little work will get done. It is a good excuse to go out for lunch and do some window-shopping.
I felt well enough yesterday to join Susan on an excursion to the Central Market. The cupboard was bare and we needed to pick up fruits, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts, ham, cheeses, chicken and steak. We also picked up some olives, some wine, a jar of honey and some fresh basil. We knew we would need the shopping cart and we were right on target. After we had put everything away, we decided that we would go out for lunch. The only question was where.
We decided to give Bajando al Sur another try. It’s not that we had eaten there before. The issue is that every time we have tried to eat there it has been closed. We were successful yesterday. The restaurant was empty and we were escorted to a table in the back of the house that has a window on the small garden that has been planted outside. The view was pleasant and the background music playing through the speakers was just the right touch. We studied the menu of the day and made our decisions.
Susan started her meal with a rather traditional salad and I chose the pasta salad with chicken. For her entrée Susan chose a ham and Camembert crepe and I went for the chicken, bacon and onion crepe. Both were delicious. Susan chose a fruit crepe with chocolate sauce for her dessert and I decided on a homemade dark chocolate cake. I had a beer and a glass of wine and Susan had a glass of wine. We finished our meal with a coffee and then paid the bill, which was a whopping 21 Euros. From the restaurant we went directly home and I opted for an afternoon siesta.
When I awoke I invited Susan to accompany on a trip to the local magic store. In thinking about my potential gig at Carusel there were a couple of things that I was in the market for. The store is a twenty-minute walk from the house and although it was rather brisk out the walk was not unpleasant. When we walked in there was a young customer being attended to so we passed the time jus looking around at the various displays. In looking around, I happened to walk by the office and the owner, Darío Rochester was in there hard at work. He came out and we chatted for a while.
La Varita Mágica is the only brick and mortar magic store in Valencia and it is struggling for a number of reasons. There is fierce competition from the online magic stores of which there are many in Spain and the state of the economy is not helping either. The online stores do not have to worry about rent, utilities and employee salaries since most operate out of their own homes and if there is an employee it is usually the owner’s wife. The buyer pays postage and since the costs of the operation are lower the prices are lower, too. The other reality is that since business is slow the stock on-hand is less than usual and it is difficult to find some of the basics. That means that some customers will look for the basics elsewhere.
The brick and mortar magic store are rapidly disappearing all over the world. Los Angeles, one of the most vibrant centers of magic in the world, has one magic shop in Studio City. Some of my best magic memories come from my visits to magic shops. I was fortunate enough to start my buying career at Al’s Magic Shop in Washington, DC. The owner, Al Cohen, was known as the best magic demonstrator in the United States. Al could sell you just about anything, but the good news is that he would not sell you stuff that you could not do given your level of experience. The advantage of shopping in real store is that you get to see and sometimes touch the material and judge its quality. You also get to see the effect as your spectator would. There are no camera tricks that hide the weak points of an effect. When you buy an effect from a magic store, if you are having difficulty with an effect you can return and have the demonstrator or owner help you solve your problem. The magic shop was also a place where you could hang out with other magicians.
The cyber-stores have given rise to an outpouring of crap that is demonstrated on flashy videos with hip music and crowds oohing and aahing at the climax of every move the magician makes and of course the crowds usually consist of gaggles of young women. These days there are lots of imports from India and China, which are copies of someone else’s effects and they are pieces of junk that look gimmicky and fall apart after a few uses. I count myself lucky to be a regular at Dean’s Shoppe where I can hang with some of the best magicians in the biz and learn from them.
My visit with Rochester was brief and we talked about the state of magic in general. He was out of two of the things I was looking for, but he did have one item and I purchased it and then Susan and I headed back home. Susan had left some chicken soup simmering on the stove and it was at the perfect state of doneness when we walked through the door.
The chicken stock served as the liquid for a dish that Susan made with couscous, chicken and dried fruit. It was absolutely delicious. It was so delicious that I had a second helping. We watched some TV after dinner and at 11:30 I was done in and so I turned in.