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Lou Tannen's Magic Store Catalog No. 12

Lou Tannen's Magic Store Catalog No. 12

The Jazz Loft Project continues to catalog audio. Recently, I heard the following items on W. Eugene Smith’s reel to reel recordings.   ~Dan Partridge

  • Smith asking Carole Thomas to pick up a can of ammonia capsules from the drugstore: “…like they use on airplanes. They also snap me awake if I get very sleepy. And also, if we get airsick….” Presumably, Smith wanted these as pick-me-ups for his long sessions in the darkroom.
  • A radio discussion with seven psychiatrists, shortly after they attended the Congress on Mental Health Conference in Montreal. One of the experts was Smith’s doctor Nathan Kline.
  • Smith talking to “Tommy Johns” (Janda) about loft denizens, including Ronnie Free. He tells Johns that Free has moved to North Carolina, when actually Free was in Charleston, South Carolina at that  time. Free’s current trio played as part of the JLP presentation in Winston-Salem yesterday (Thursday) so Smith was actually accurate at the time I was hearing this recording.
  • Comments on the radio from Elia Kazan from a show hosted by the National Theater Academy.
  • Peter Lawford reading from Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums on WNYC’s “Spoken Words.”
  • Long John Nebel’s late night radio show featuring James “The Amazing” Randi. One of the recent Long John Nebel Show episodes featured a short debate about how many total satellites was too many at that time. The numbers were in the single digits. A recent web search suggests close to a thousand satellites orbiting the earth today. The segment featuring James Randi was a prerecorded interview with Long John Nebel which allowed the live guests to bolster themselves with coffee and to take a dinner break provided by show sponsor Carnegie Delicatessen. Both Long John and The Amazing Randi worked as magicians. During this prerecorded coffee break segment, Randi surprises Nebel by telling him of the weekly gathering of 30-40 New York magicians in a cafeteria in close proximity to  Lou Tannen’s famous magic shop on 42nd Street (120 W 42nd Street on the 12 floor, at that time). This important community gathering occurred on Saturdays at 3:30. It should be noted that Randi and Nebel were both friends of Smith. When I corresponded with Randi in 2005, he told me he helped Smith install a security system in the loft at 821 Sixth Avenue. If anybody remembers this Saturday gathering of magicians or Louis Tannen’s shop, please share your stories with us.

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