The tradition is to break a magic wand in half in honor of a magician who dies. Symbolically it says that his magic will not be done again. Today it will have to be a Zig-Zag Lady cabinet we break in two, nothing smaller would be appropriate for the loss of my friend and magician Paul Osborne.
|From the Brilliant Mind of|
Paul Osborne was introduced to me as the college guy who was helping to market a Dallas singing group about the time I graduated from High School. I saw the hand out materials Paul had done for the group and they were great. Paul could visualize his ideas with a pen and ink and he could write really good copy as well. It was easy to think of Paul as a future advertising maven.
It was only a matter of time before a Dallas magician and a Dallas ventriloquist got booked on the same show. It was a few months later that Paul and I were booked to perform together for a Braniff Airline's Christmas Party, and...I remember that show very well. It was in an empty aircraft hanger at Love Field on a riser with a sound system that created an echo effect like we were performing in a stadium. The guy I thought was just a commercial artist turned out to be a really good Magician. Needless to say an act that was amazing to watch (Paul's act) went much better than an act you have to listen to (my act).
I only knew two Dallas magicians. Since one of them went to North Texas and knew Paul, I tried to make conversation about the other magician in town. I only knew his name and saw him perform only once. I asked if Paul knew Garland Kellogg? Paul said, "Yes and the next time you see that guy grab him, call me and hold him till I get there. He owes me money." I am pretty sure from that moment on Paul and I were friends.
The thing that I remember most about Paul's show even then, were the props. A magic act is all about the props. Mostly what you saw in Dallas were props purchased at Douglas Magic Land. They worked fine, but it was not unusual to see a Cowboy magician doing the doll house illusion with a box designed and painted to look like a Chinese pagoda. Paul made his own props. They looked different, they fit his act, his illusions looked more like beautiful stage sets than oddly coordinated boxes. Soon Paul was designing illusions for other magicians. His Illusion Systems were beautiful draftsmans blue prints that not only were great plans to build it, the plans were works of art themselves.
With Dallas as a starting line Paul and I continued to cross paths as friends and performers as we both tried to create a career for ourselves. Theme parks were popping up all over the country and while I was busy performing 10 times a day in the stage show, Paul began producing, directing, art designing, building and staffing theme park shows. While I was grinding them out day after day, Paul had several shows running in several different theme parks with hired performers... doing the 10 a day. His eye for the look of a show, his ability to draw, his instinct for advertising and Marketing combined with his sense of humor and magic skills made him unique.
I remember a story that exemplifies how Paul's mind worked. At a "rides and attractions" conference Paul happened to be having lunch with a guy who sold large expensive carnival rides. As the conversation unfolded the guy said he was trying to sell a ride to a client. It was a stock ride where people stand on the inside of a round spinning cage. At maximum G- force the wheel would turn on its side so that the riders would be spinning perpendicular to the ground. The guy said to Paul the client wanted something different.
Paul asked where that theme park was located. The salesman said, "In Nevada, near Vegas."
As they talked, Paul took out a sketch pad and began to draw. At a point when the sketch was ready Paul slid it across to his friend. It was a sketch of that stock ride only Paul had drawn it to look like a roulette wheel. With sketch in tow the salesman went back to the client. They loved the idea and bought the ride. The salesman eventually gave Paul a 10% commission on the price of the ride. Not bad for a simple conversation over lunch. Paul could put his imagination down on paper so those less imaginative could see what he saw.
Over the years if Michelle and Paul were in Los Angeles, or Sandi and I happened to be in Dallas we would have a dinner out together. It was all about friendship, showbiz stories and laughter. You didn't "catch up" with Paul after being apart for awhile, you tried to hang on and pick up where you left off. One evening I got to the waiter before he brought the check arrived and paid it. I told the waiter to say that Garland Kellogg had picked up the check. It became a call back joke. The college guy who owed Paul money became a punch line, perfect retribution. The last time I used that name was three days ago when I replied to an Osborne Facebook post.
This morning I found out that Paul was gone. I will miss his presence on Earth in ways that highjack my emotions. Since most of our relationship was spent laughing, I smile at the thought of Paul Osborne, then feel a profound sadness that I will never laugh with him again.
Michelle said he didn't like funerals, nor memorials, maybe he wouldn't even like this tribute to his memory in a blog. I know he was a regular reader of my blog and we shared the need to rant out loud occasionally. We had plans to work on a book project together that I was looking forward to very much. It wasn't about the book, it was about the excuse to creatively hang out with my childhood friend Paul.
So Paul, it wasn't a very satisfying goodbye. I will always be in awe of your talents, your humor, and your personal magic. Since you spent your life building magic illusions is doesn't seem right to break a wand in your honor. So I will just look forward to laughing with you again some day but for now I don't want to think of you as gone.... Magicians never die... they just disappear.
As you were,