Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ladies And Gentlemen, For My Next Trick...

".... I will keep you distracted while my confederates pick your pockets. Wait, did I say that out loud?" ~ The Astounding Jethro, 1874

"....I will make the Queen disappear." ~ Count Francesco Orsini, 2010

"Look, um, I'm not exactly sure what happened. This stunt has never gone wrong before. I swear. Look, Your Highness, she has to be around here somewhere..." ~ Count Orsini, twenty minutes later

Recently I got a chance to see a BBC documentary, The Secret Caribbean. Journalist Trevor McDonald spends time travelling through the region, visiting islands and cultures. The highlight for me was a segment on Montserrat. Years after the volcano came to life in the Nineties, the volcanic activity still has a grip on the island, and McDonald gets a good look at the damage that was done. At other points he examines the vast differences in societies in the islands. There are the poor, in places like Cuba, where workers in a time warp society with cars that are older than people spend their afternoons rolling cigars while a worker reads them The Da Vinci Code. By contrast, the Caribbean is also a place of the ultra rich, who own islands in and of themselves. Richard Branson, who's always struck me as the sort of fellow who never saw an opportunity at self promotion that he didn't like, runs much of his empire from a hammock at his tropical home, overlooking the sea. 

And what brings us to the subject today, McDonald brings us to the resort of several islands owned by magician David Copperfield. My impression of David Copperfield as a self absorbed wanker completely head over heels in love with himself is more than confirmed in the process. Copperfield shows off his resort interests (available for a fortune for a week's stay), while I found myself wondering how on earth a magician could have the kind of money required to buy several islands and build on them. I suppose Vegas pays a lot.

This weekend was a busy one here in Ottawa. We had the Civic Holiday, known locally as Colonel By Day. It commemorates the British army engineer who designed and led the effort to build the Rideau Canal, which was the catalyst for the city itself to spring up. At the Bytown Museum, local historical societies, people in period clothing, and demonstrations of older technologies were all out and about. The Museum is a local history museum, housed in By's original headquarters along the Canal, below Parliament Hill. It's the oldest stone building in the city, and reputed to be haunted. It was busy.

And there was something else this weekend keeping the city busy. The Busker Festival is held each summer here, bringing together stage performers, magicians, mimes, acrobats, and other buskers for the entertainment of the crowds. The action is centered on Sparks Street, a pedestrian street just south of Parliament Hill, with a large variety throughout the weekend. A lot of people were out for a large variety of performers each time I was there. I took pics, of course, though these are drawn from online sources. One busker I missed this year- I hope she`ll be back next year- was Bendy Em, the contortionist. 

Another that I liked particularly was Kate Mior, a mime who employs the living statue motif. She has several personas for her performances, but this year went with a Marie Antoinette look. She remains silent through her performances, but interacts with passersby, often with a flirtatious smile, a well timed gasp, or a mischievous expression. Children don`t know what to make of her. These two shots are from the weekend...

The rest of the shots that follow are drawn from the Citizen, giving you a sense of the crowds and the way these street performers ply their trade. Enjoy!


  1. Having lived in Iowa I know what a corn husker is but I never heard of a busker. It looks like a fun time.

  2. I grew up watching David Copperfield. Never thought about him as a person, just enjoyed the tricks, though many are easily explained.

  3. It looks like a fun time. David Copperfield was also on TV in some Magician's show. I'm sure that paid well.

  4. It looks like a great time was had by all!
    That tropical island thing? To be honest I could do with a stay on a tropical island, but owning one is a bit over the top.

  5. Oh my, look at everyone in the the air like that. Doesn't look fun to me. I'll take the couch, two pups, a husband and a good movie or flying about like that.

  6. I recall hearing Copperfield was a consultant for that movie about magicians who were master thieves. Maybe he has experience at both sides of that coin....

  7. This all looks like fun.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  8. Mimes are unnerving, whether they are moving or not.

  9. There was a living statue on Bourbon Street in New Orleans when we visited. He was awesome and looked as if he were a real statue of a person in mid stride, walking his dog. Not a single stitch of his clothing moved.

    :) Yep, busking.

  10. Wow! You must have had a fun time! I'll have to put this on my list of places to visit whenever I have the money!

  11. How fabulous William, I missed the busker festival here in Perth this year..believe me it won't happen again :)I believe Richard Branson does a lot of good stuff with his money too, I really believe that if yoy are in the lucky position to have billions it's only right that you help those less fortunate.

  12. @Deb: it surely is!

    @Kelly: I rather prefer Penn and Teller...

    @Mari: it must have!

    @Lucy: yes it is.

    @Whisk: it's a strange way to make a living!

    @Norma: it could be!

    @Shelly: it was!

    @Lynn: usually they get in your face about the act, walking right up to you.

    @Diane: there's one who performs regularly here, often in a tennis player get up. He doesn't move for ten minutes or more.

    @Cheryl: It never hurts to find out if there's something similar going on close to home.

    @Grace: some billionaires do, others do not... and I recall that Bendy Em is from your part of the world, so you might have seen her in a previous festival.

  13. In the 80's I sailed the islands of BVI. Our captain took us to an island where a house had just been completed and was being furnished. We were the only people on a private island that an English performer owned. His name as Sting and he eventually sold it to Branson. IT WAS AWESOME!!!

  14. What a lot of beauty and civic pride you caught here! I always found David Copperfield really creepy, now I know I'm not the only one, ha! I must try to find that Caribbean documentary, I do love a good documentary:)

  15. Great post today ! What a fun week.

    cheers, parsnip

  16. Hi William, I miss the street performers from my home town in and around Melbourne, Australia, a busker festival sounds like as good a reason as any to visit Ottowa one day (it's going on the wish list). P.S Thanks a lot for your continued support over at my blog too, one day I'll get into the swing of things, and develop a regular routine, your fine example helps to keep me from disappearing all together.

  17. As an ex-magician's assistant--I have to say Copperfield is hugely overrated. LOL Nice post, cute blog but Marie Antoinette might lose her head if she doesn't smile!

  18. @Cheryl: that would be the island in question. So that's where Branson got it from!

    @LondonLulu: you'll enjoy it!

    @Parsnip: thank you!

    @Ida: thanks!

    @Eve: oh, she smiled quite a bit when I saw her!

  19. Sounds like you had a busy weekend. The festival sounds interesting and entertaining. I sawDavid Copperfield in person once. I thought he was entertaining. I don't know about owning islands, but Copperfield rakes in the money.

  20. @Christine: one must wonder how one gets into that racket!


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