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Old 04-18-10, 09:28 PM   #1
Butterfly Man
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Farthest point south in US
Posts: 1,606
Love The Great Work

I looked everywhere, to no avail.

Then I looked back at myself.

And there it was, waiting.

It's all about the shoes.

Jim's shoes.

I'll try to explain. Excuse me, if I spell something improperly or use some sort of grammatical error but I have to tell you quickly, what some of you already know. This is the story of Jim Cellini and his shoes.

Here we go. Ok, Jim was "old school". Yeah, Jeff Sheridan, NYC, early seventies. The guys who started it all (for street magicians anyway). It was Jim and Jeff and later McBride & Johnny Fox, then Gazzo & Nick etc. OK,ok, follow me. This is what really went down with Jim.

Ok, late seventies, I am already making more money than god in San Francisco, ‘cause I book the best pitch in the world at the time. Pier39 is all mine (but I share). Ok, so I go to Zurich in 1979 and work the pedestrian mall in late April (just pre-season). Working across from me is a young Jim Cellini with a cigarette sticking out the side of his mouth. Jim and I have seen each other from afar for three days. We see each other both making big dosh. We haven’t met.

The teeny Swiss franc was the sweetest thing to a busker, ever. It looks small but is worth a lot. So, I estimate we are both pulling in about a grand a day. I saunter over to the dude at the end of day 3. He knows who I am (we both at the same hotel, same pitch) and gives me a grin, while offering a cig. I ask him (as a joke) what's your secret for making all that $”, and Jim answers, “The answer is in the soul of my shoe."

Well, I think it's a goof of a statement and the shoe thing means jack and eventually we wave goodbye for the night. Ok, here's where it gets a little weird. Some kid, who had been watching Jim for weeks, breaks into Jims hotel room that night WHILE HE WAS IN BED (kid turn the light on as he was leaving???? don't ask me why) Jim wakes as the kid starts running down the hall with, I swear, no wallet and no cash (a shitload of it left behind). The punk was stealing Jim's shoes!!!!

I'm getting back late after a female encounter, and I see Jim at the end of the hall in his underwear watching this kid run towards me. I sense trouble ‘cause it's 2am!!! What’s this dude running from??? Now, I aint no hero but the kid had nowhere else to go but through me. I’m wearing my black beret and leather jacket and at least look bad. The kid runs right by me and I snag his jacket and he trips over his own feet and falls flat on his face.

Jim has caught up. Never touches the kid, never yells at the kid, just picks the shoes and walks back to his room, offers no explanation to me, just like he was saying goodnight, (without saying it) he leaves. I don’t know anything, kid gets up leaves, I go to bed.

Back to work for three more days then off I go to Lucerne. I never saw Jim again till 1986 Vancouver public library. We see each other, immediate friends, remembering Zurich. I've forgotten completely about the shoe incident (7 years).

Ok, Expo 86 is going on. Neither Jim or I had a gig there, so we did the library in the midafternoon and Granville later. Ok, I'm up 1st and am about 2/3 finished and a young checkerboard guy pulls up on MY PITCH in his brand new who gives a fuck checkered cab. Young punk stops my act and takes over. Skateboard flames my stomach and makes status mistakes, whatever, it just wasn’t good.

Somehow, we get a decent hat and he gives it all to me and drives away. What I didn't know was that Jim had switched to his performing shoes and place his others safely on the back seat floorboard of Checker’s cab. Checker didn't see them.

Pre-cell phone, no database, no clue as to the little pucks name. I head over to expo to see if any of the acts know where checker kid lives. Only one heard of him is a middle aged balloon making magician named Stan who says he knows checker.

We go find him and get the shoes back bit Jims not around at the library so we try Granville. Nothing. I tell a dog act that if he sees Jim, the shoes are at the Expo. green room.

I go back and drop off the shoes and Stan. Everyone is gone, so I stash the shoes in Garbo's rigged garbage can.

You should know, I hate Garbo. I want the shoes to stink his can up. Some stuff went down with me and Fred in Vermont once, over this woman, anyway, I wanna play him, so I, and I’m not proud of this.

It’s the last day of expo. As a hoot, I duct tape Garbo inside his can during the end of his last set. I’m wearing a pair of coveralls Mark Segal had given me, so the audience thinks its just part of the act. Then Fred Anderson, me and Stan carry Garbo, inside the can to my van. Ok, this was nasty, but Garbo never knew who did it. So anyway, the shoes.

Stan left. A kid runs up to me as Fred and I are about to pullout. Kid had Cellini’s shoes! Apparently, Garbo had thrown them out into the crowd from inside the can. I say nothing because I don’t want Garbo to hear my voice. Fred neither. We leave with the shoes and Garbo in the can. No one spoke, not even the can.

We cross the border easy, ‘cause I let Fred drive. He has all the proper work visa’s, so we sail through, they never even look inside the van. Every time I know we have to stop where people are, gas stations, restaurants, border crossing, I take some of Fred’s helium he had for balloons and gas the can for about 30 seconds. Garbo’s inside cries for help sounded too clowny to believe and then we moved on quickly anyway. No one ever heard him yelp.

As Fred drove, I thought about what a prick Garbo was, as I occasionally whacked his can with my boffer. It’s sturdy styrofoam packed an air punch and sounded great on the outside, I could only imagine what that prick heard on the inside.

We had along drive and since Fred was driving, all I had to do was pay for the gas and whack the can every 20 minutes or so. Occasionally, we’d have to gas Garbo too, but not very often. Fred didn’t want to waste the helium.

My mind wandered back to the early days of San Francisco. Only a select few buskers ruled the streets in the early ‘70’s. On the east coast it was Loco, Fantasy and The Shakespeare Bros. On the west cost it was Ray Jason, Rosie Radiator and the Flying K’s. The K’s, however had just moved up to the city from the Cruz, having made their mark on the mall and establishing themselves as the top act.

Ray Jason, was the man. Hell, I had heard the name “Ray Jason” 6 years earlier in NOLA from Henry the Fiddler. He had just seen me juggle and asked, “Do you know Ray Jason?”. I lied and told him “Yes”, I still don’t know why.

Last edited by Butterfly Man; 04-29-10 at 10:51 AM.
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