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Another Loss.. PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

I’ve lost yet another good friend, Earl "Presto" Johnson, a generous, dedicated, magician of rare talent. He was a skinny Afro-American guy who spent a lot of love and effort on the youngsters of Harlem in NYC, helping them to find themselves.  He taught a score or more the conjuring trade, and he invented a number of sleight-of-hand effects that were brilliant. He died of a heart attack last month, having had a long history of heart problems. He was an icon in the New York magic world, a legend among his peers, who performed his stage act in his trademark white tail suit with silk top hat – and Bermuda shorts…

Beginning his long career at the famous Hubert's Dime Museum on Times Square in the 1940s, he went from there to tour in carnivals and sideshows, then got into the cruise ships and resorts field, and night clubs all over the USA. His unique manipulation routines with cigarettes, coins, cards, and balls inspired many future professionals. I recall that “Pres” spent every dollar he had, as soon as he earned it, and a lot of that went to help his less-fortunate friends.

My friend Presto was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, New Jersey, and I and my friends are raising money to purchase a marker to indicate where this fine and skilled gentleman is interred, so that his fans may visit to honor his memory.

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The funniest thing I've seen in years.
written by BFKate, May 18, 2009
That is one of the funniest acts I've seen in a while, pure comedy and magic genius. I'm so sorry for all of his friends loss. It made me think of the last line of Philip Larkin's poem `An Arundel Tomb'; "What will survive of us is love". Earl "Presto" Johnson has gifted a lot of love and laughter for all of his friends and fans.
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Wikipedia nods
written by rosie, May 18, 2009
I had never heard of this guy, he sounds brilliant!
I wanted to look him up, and was surprised to find no Wikipedia entry for him. Could one of you who is familiar with his life and work perhaps supply one?
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@ James Randi, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Oh but thanks for the video.
written by BillyJoe, May 19, 2009
$#!+, that was funny.

smilies/grin.gif

If someone had described to me what he had done, I would have thought he'd pushed the joke too far, but the actual execution was hilarious.

smilies/grin.gif

BillyJoe
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written by jimgerrish, May 19, 2009
Presto was a frequent visitor to Ted Collins' Mecca Magic Studios in East Orange (and later in Bloomfield) where he regaled us all with his humor and sleight of hand. Many of us made the trip to the Dime Museum in New York just to see him work the crowds. He knew all of us by name and we sometimes got to "stooge" for him as he worked (imagine the above act further complicated by a magician "stooge" who could follow Presto move for move, but the sucker was left being the only one for whom the ball would not disappear).

He will be missed. Who is collecting money for the marker and how may we send it to them?
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written by Caller X, May 19, 2009
@ James Randi
written by BillyJoe, May 19, 2009

He was a skinny Afro-American guy who spent a lot of love and effort on the youngsters of Harlem in NYC, helping them to find themselves.


Where any of them drug addicts? smilies/cool.gif

BJ


What a jolly joke. Summer's Eve says what?
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written by PsyberDave, May 19, 2009
I am sorry to hear about your loss.

I hadn't heard of Presto before, but I like what I see in that video a lot. His show looks incredibly entertaining.

No wonder you sing his praises. I see his talent in the few short minutes of that clip.

-Dave
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written by CasaRojo, May 19, 2009
He was very entertaining. I'm sure he'll be missed. It's a loss for all of us.
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written by Steel Rat, May 19, 2009
If anyone has a better quality video of his work, please post it!!
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written by BillyJoe, May 19, 2009
Where any of them drug addicts? smilies/smiley.gif
Votes: -15


Oh come on smilies/angry.gif
smilies/grin.gif
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written by BillyJoe, May 19, 2009
In case anyone missed the reference, it was an article by James Randi a week or so ago where he indicated he had no time for drug addicts and that they could just go ahead and die in the cause of social darwinism as far as he was concerned.
Sorry, but it was a really sad and it still rankles.
Sometimes it feels better to make a joke.

BJ
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written by gebobs, May 19, 2009
Hilarious. Thanks for sharing.
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Link please
written by BFKate, May 19, 2009
If you're going to make a claim like that BillyJoe please provide a link so the rest of us can judge for ourselves. Otherwise you're just trolling.
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@ BFKate. here is the reference.
written by BillyJoe, May 20, 2009
http://www.randi.org/site/inde...ng-up.html

...if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized...those individuals who were stupid enough to rush into the arms of the mythical houris and/or Adonis's they would expect to greet them, would simply do so and die...

...the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I'm very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars.

Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would - and presently do - mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.

And these quotes passed almost without comment in the commentary section.

BJ
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@ BillyJoe
written by CasaRojo, May 20, 2009
Certainly an interesting point but prolly a bit inappropriate given the topic. Perhaps you could ask Mr. Randi to review his comments and ask him how they might relate to the current seemingly/possibly contradictory idea of helping under privileged youth.
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@ CasaRojo
written by BillyJoe, May 20, 2009
Certainly an interesting point but prolly a bit inappropriate given the topic.

Well, I was thinking that, because James Randi has no time for drug addicted kids who can just go ahead and die and cleanse the gene pool, but he has high praise Earl Johnson who helped a lot of kids in Harlem, that perhaps they were no drug addicts amongst the group of kids helped by Johnson.
Seesm a valid point to me.

Perhaps you could ask Mr. Randi

That didn't resulted in any worthwhile response in the past.

BJ
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written by BFKate, May 20, 2009
BillyJoe,
You obviously disagree with Randi's view on people who choose to use drugs. Fine. I read the thread from the link you sent, thanks for that too. However I agree with Randi. I also think you give yourself away by assuming that underprivileged kids in Harlem automatically equate with drug users. I'm also sorry that I contributed to this thread, about someone mourning the loss of a friend, being hijacked by someone with an axe to grind.
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written by BillyJoe, May 21, 2009
BFKate,

You obviously disagree with Randi's view on people who choose to use drugs.

Choose to use drugs?
I think your bias is showing.

I read the thread from the link you sent, thanks for that too. However I agree with Randi.

If you think Darwinian evolution supports social darwinism, you are as ignorant as James Randi on this matter. And as heartless. On the other hand, maybe you don't actually understand what you are supporting. But James Randi can't be wrong hey?

I also think you give yourself away by assuming that underprivileged kids in Harlem automatically equate with drug users.

No, I asked if there were any drug addicts amongst the harlem kids helped by Johnson. If there were, then there would be a disconnect between James Randi's attitude towards drug addicts and his support of Johnson.

I'm also sorry that I contributed to this thread, about someone mourning the loss of a friend, being hijacked by someone with an axe to grind.

Well, it still rankles.
He has voiced a completely heartless and callous attitude towards part of our disaffected youth and falsely claimed support fromm Darwin himself, along the way displaying his ignorance of Darwinian evolution.
For me that's pretty sad.

BJ
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:3
written by Quakeulf, May 21, 2009
LOL, that was incredible. I'm amazed at how often he could do it and still get away with it.
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written by Ganymede Ceriaptrix, May 21, 2009
Earl "Presto" Johnson. A loss of immense magnitude to the magic community, indeed; and it is sad that he has received so little exposure online. Anyone studying sleight of hand would do extremely well to study his act, though equally sadly I don't think there's that much available video of him. I learned a lot from him indeed and I admire how he shared the principles of the craft directly in his acts whilst maintaining a good proportion of secrets. Magicians amongst readers here will know how difficult a balance it is to strike.

May we all follow his example, both in our acts and in our daily lives; to enthrall, to demonstrate and to brighten lives. That is the best tribute to Presto we can offer.
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written by Ganymede Ceriaptrix, May 21, 2009
@BillyJoe, and all others re the non-sequitur Social Darwinist issue: I don't agree with Randi's view on that really, but you know - I simply have to point out that your refusal to simply accept that Randi has, as we all have, an opinion (must he be the ultimate arbitrator of the truth?) is actually less agreeable by miles. Skepticism and social progression requires frank speech of opinion and willingness to listen to as many viewpoints as possible. Individual opinion does not extend to expecting apologies or silence from the presenter of a viewpoint with which you disagree. Randi's opinion is his own.
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written by BillyJoe, May 21, 2009
your refusal to simply accept that Randi has, as we all have, an opinion

What are you saying?

Not only do I accept that he has an opinion, I have clearly pointed out what his opinion is.

My problem is that he could hold such heartless and callous opinions towards a particularly sad group of kids and that he could hold such an erroneous opinion about Darwinian evolution.

My other problem is that responders to his article, my fellow sceptics, were so uncritically accepting of his view to let it pass without comment or, worse, support that view.

BJ
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