Saturday, October 18, 2008

Magic Man, Griffith Observatory

Thanks to Michelle's show biz uncle, whom we were staying with in LA, we got to meet John Gaughan for a private tour this morning at his workshop. Who is John Gaughan ... you may ask? Well, he's one of the most sought out manufacturers of illusions for world famous magicians, including David Blaine, Criss Angel, David Copperfield, Doug Henning and has worked with other performers such as the Doors and Alice Cooper in the past.

We drove up to a nondescript warehouse in LA, near Griffith Park, and were welcomed at the front door by Gaughan himself. He introduced us to his two birds (the ones mentioned in the Wikipedia article), one of which is 85 years old. John is very affable and very willing to answer any questions we had. He showed us a collector's room that he has that some of the most valuable and rare magician memorabilia in the world, including pieces once owned by Houdini, Harry Kellar and others, original posters from magicians dating back to the early 1800's, and full-size automatons that have been displayed in museums around the world. I'm afraid to even speculate the value of the items in that room. They are one of a kind pieces. We're talking in the millions of dollars.

Here's a great article on John from the New York Times:

Magicians Ask: What’s Up His Sleeve?

He created the trick wheelchair used by Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump, that helped to hide his legs.

Michelle's uncle, Marty Price, knows John because the show he works on, Numb3rs, is having an upcoming episode dealing with a magician and they filmed at John's workshop. I believe the episode airs November 14th. Check it out and you'll see where we were. Fascinating stuff.

Being close to Griffith Park, we spent the rest of the day at the Griffith Observatory. This is the one in many movie shots, most famously, Rebel Without a Cause, but also Terminator and Transformers:

I'd always wanted to go there but didn't take the time until today. The view is great up there, with clear views of the Hollywood sign:

... downtown:

... and the observatory itself:

There were a lot of cool space exhibits inside. The admission was free because it's a city park. Free educational and cultural exhibits -- a concept that seems to be understood in Europe, but is lost on the morons over here that would privatize everything. Learning cannot only be the domain of those who can afford it.

Overall, an outstanding day. Tomorrow, it's time for the trip back home to AZ.


CyberKitten said...

Beautiful. The star of many films I think....

Laura said...

Hmm. Maybe there's more to LA than I thought. I personally couldn't stand it there, but so far what you've done looks nice.

Public funding of parks and cultural centers??? That's SOCIALIST nonsense!!

dbackdad said...

CK - Yep, I was pleasantly surprised. It exceeded my expectations.

Laura - Believe me, there is plenty of LA that I can't stand either. We're not rich, so I usually have to be pretty creative on what we can do. The bike ride didn't cost us anything. The only thing we spent at the Observatory was some money for lunch and a souvenir for Alex.

Last time we were here, I had a good time riding the light rail to Long Beach to check out the book store you had recommended.

Maybe it's because we usually don't spend a lot that I'm easily impressed. If I had to fork out a bunch of money, I might be more critical.