I am winding down with my in-laws in the Dunes of Texel National Park in the Netherlands, after a very busy holiday season. This magnificent area is called ‘De Slufter’. It is an opening in the dunes that fills up with seawater at high tide. There is no greater pleasure than waking up at the crack of dawn with jet-lag, and hiking in a beautiful place like this as the sun is rising.
Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Just returned from a quick trip to Shanghai. Left on Tuesday morning and returned Saturday morning. It was my very first time in Mainland China, and I am already eager to return!
I was part of a very large event to celebrate the opening of Mrs. Prada’s Miu Miu store there. It was a spectacular evening which included a fashion show, a variety show, a rock concert, and dancing into the wee hours.
On the last day, I was able to slip in some sightseeing. There is an extraordinary connection between new and old at every turn in the city.
Here are a few photos from the trip:
[Click to enlarge]
Sometimes life is like a short story come to life. When I flew to London recently, I happened to sit next to a publisher named Jamie Byng who owns a company called Canongate Books. We both went right to sleep, but in the last fifteen minutes of the flight, we woke and started chatting. When he heard that I was working at a party in London, then an after-event for the Monaco Grand Prix, giving a perception lecture at the University of Parma’s Department of Neurosciences, and finally attending events at the Venice Biennale pre-parties, he started giving many ideas and suggestions. He is one of those old-school publishers who is the biggest fan of his own authors. As a result, he told me about one of his favorite authors named Geoff Dyer who had written a love story set at the Venice Biennale art fair. Then he suggested that I join him in his car from Heathrow to his company in Notting Hill, so he could give me a copy of the book. Well, that is what happened.
I carried that copy of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi with me on the whole trip. Then in Venice, at a fancy party thrown by Dasha Zhukova, my friends Jan Rothschild and Jason Kaufman introduced me to their good friends Rebecca and… Geoff, a novelist. I immediately asked, “Wait, are you Jeff in Venice, Geoff?” He laughed and said “Well, yes I am!” It was a most magical meeting that he describes at the end of an article that appeared in the Guardian a few days later.
Here’s an excerpt:
It is impossible to say anything about Venice that has not been said before, says the eponymous hero in my novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi. Including that remark, replies Laura the woman he has fallen for, thereby completing Mary McCarthy’s self-reflexive observation in Venice Observed. Venice is more thoroughly surrounded by quotation marks than any other place on earth.
The dark water was dappled with lights from water taxis; it was beautiful, magical, romantic and full of promise, and the fact that I had already written up such a romance did not diminish this reality-remake of it at all. Then, through a daisy chain of introductions, we met a magician called Mark Mitton who, in spite of the jostling of the champagne-lashed crowd, produced a deck of cards and treated us to a display of close-quarters tricks. At one point he took my wife’s wedding ring from her hand, made it disappear and reappear half-a-dozen times until finally it vanished completely – only to show up again in a sealed envelope in my jacket pocket. The night had jumped out of quotation marks, as if by magic.
Mike and Doug Starn’s monumental structure in the Giardino delle Vergini in the Arsenale.
From the moment you get off the train in Monaco at the time of the Grand Prix, the whole town is abuzz. Luckily, my client had booked a spectacular suite at the Hôtel Hermitage from which we watched the race. That night I performed at an after-event at the Brasserie next to the finish line of the race. What a fantastic day and night!
Here’s the view (and the sound) from the Hermitage:
The next part of my trip took me to the lovely town of Ayr in Scotland, where I shared haggis and magic stories with Andrew Galloway, a legendary misdirection expert who studied with the master John Ramsay. We had so much to talk about! Thank you, Andy, for your wonderful hospitality!
I have always wanted to see a pantomime in Scotland, and this year I was lucky enough to catch a performance of Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. The show did not disappoint… It was filled with topical references and outrageous comedy. Allan Stewart (as Robinson Crusoe’s mother) and Grant Stott (as Blackheart the Pirate) had the audience rolling in the aisles, and one of the highlights was when Stewart did his spot-on impression of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ superstar Susan Boyle.
(Find out here what happened when the real Ms. Boyle came to the show a week later).
From DC I flew to Holland to celebrate New Year’s with my in-laws. We were treated to a lot of snow and took these photos on a magical early-morning walk down the road that Susanna grew up on. The last shot is of one of the many windmills behind her childhood home (click to enlarge):
This is what happened on New Year’s Eve, when a neighbor shot his bottle rocket across the street instead of up in the air. Kaboom!
Cellist Sean Grissom’s ‘Holiday Vaudeville’ show at the Kennedy Center is now in its tenth year. I have been on it, together with the Alexandria Kleztet, for five of those years. It is such a fun show. We perform for two nights together and always have a packed house. Our day off is usually spent sightseeing in our nation’s capital. This year, we visited the Washington Monument.
For the longest time, I have wanted to travel to Galicia in the northwest of Spain. When magicians Mago Anton and Luis de Matos invited me to perform at a festival in Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the 9th century medieval pilgrimage route the Way of St. James, of course I jumped at the opportunity. Santiago is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was so much fun to perform there on the steps of the cathedral. Mago Anton was a gracious host and he took me to the mysterious headquarters of the Galician Professional Magicians Association, which has a hidden library and secret passages.
Here are some highlights of the festival:
Just got back from another cruise with John Mayer, produced by Sixthman. This year we sailed from LA to Cabo San Lucas. Had a fantastic time on board, performing close-up magic for the VIPs, and doing stage shows with two of John’s band members: guitarist Robbie McIntosh and saxophone player Bob Reynolds. It was so nice of them to participate — especially considering how busy they were with John’s concerts — and we had an absolute blast! Both Robbie and Bob played a couple of their own beautiful compositions in my show, and participated in some goofy magic and mindreading tricks.
On our day off in Cabo, Susanna and I visited the local orphanage with the band Guster, who gave away 25 musical instruments. I performed magic for the kids. It was a wonderful way to spend our break.
My friend Laurie Baker from Marc Ecko Enterprises happened to be on board, and captured this scene late at night. More photos to follow, once I get them off my camera!