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Dave Scribner
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On 2010-07-27 12:40, Cyberqat wrote:
There was sort of a gentle war between Tannen's fans and Flosso fans when I was a kid in NYC. I've already revealed myself to be on the Flosso team so what follows should not be unexpected, but my reaction to the two stores was this:

At Tannen's you could get anything.

At Flosso you *would* get what you needed.

I think Tannens was great for serious magicians who already knew what they wanted, but I think Al Flosso was much better at coaching new blood.


I never made it to Flosso's so I can't compare but I grew up in the early 60's and spent a lot of time in Tannen's. That was back when Lou was there and I always found him to be helpful and concerned about who was buying what. It wasn't unusual to find him taking a youngster in the back and working with him. Many times I heard him discourage customers from buying certain things because they didn't seem right for the person.

I never made it to Flosso's so I can't compare the two
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Dougini
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Thinking about it...I think my dad was scared of Al Flosso...he had a certain...how do I say this..."way" about him. He was a good guy, but had an old-school "New York" bluntness that my dad found disturbing. Flosso was part of the...er (I don't know if I should say this) "mob" scene a ways back, and performed for the "boys" occasionally. I doubt he was a member himself, but I have heard stories of how they supported him and his shop...it's probably just bunk, you know how those things get exaggerated.

I think that was what bothered my dad. He's gone now, so I can't ask him. All I know is Al Flosso was VERY kind to me, and made sure I could get home safely. We were staying in Nyack at the time, and I was going to take the bus home. Al told me to call my dad, to come pick me up. Said I was too young to be on the streets of Manhattan all by myself. He told my dad that I was a future magician, and told him to encourage me...in that gruff way of his.

I'll never forget him, even though I met him only once. If I remember correctly (not sure), but I think Al smoked a HUGE cigar...correct me if I'm wrong. He kept saying, "Stand up STRAIGHT, boy!" That I DO remember.

Doug
jay leslie
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When I was 18 I got in my vanand drove from Pittsburgh to Ohio to Chicago to Virginia and New York just so I could tell Jim Swoger that I'd seen the other shops. Then I made my weekly, daily or monthly pilgrimage to the House Of Enchantmet until I didn't go to the shop... but the shop came to me.

Anyone new out there who needs a second home?
Cyberqat
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Quote:
On 2010-07-29 23:27, Dougini wrote:
Thinking about it...I think my dad was scared of Al Flosso...he had a certain...how do I say this..."way" about him. He was a good guy, but had an old-school "New York" bluntness that my dad found disturbing.


Yeah that's very New York. As for the Mob, well as a NYC kid I can tell you we grew up with a different sort of POV then most people. My unlce was a numbers runner as young man in Brooklyn. You knew the MOB were there, but they were viewed a whole lot like the government. You pay your taxes and don't **** them off and generally they leave you alone.

So I wouldn't be surprised if Al had some dealings with them. As a NYC business man he probably had to.

I wonder if maybe your father didn't appreciate Al telling him that he had to come pick you up, and that it was inappropriate for you to take a bus on your own after dark...
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
martinka
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On 2010-07-26 20:10, Anatole wrote:
Actually, Martinka's was founded in 1877 by Francis and Antonio Martinka. Houdini bought the store in 1919. When I visited the store, it was owned by Al Flosso. The current website is at
http://www.martinka.com/
but the last I remember they were mainly a magic auction service.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez


In addition to the auction, Martinka still runs a well stocked brick and mortar shop. You'll find a large selection of books, DVDs and lots of vintage and new magic. The address is 85 Godwin Ave. Midland Park, NJ 07432.
Call 201-444-7576 for hours and directions.
www.martinka.com

"Buying & Selling Magic for over 100 Years"
Vlad_77
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I grew up around the Mafia, and in fact performed for various capos (in Italian, capi). As such, I had the opportunity see what many do not see (no murders thank God, however) These guys were NOT like the Crips and the Bloods. Cyberqat is right. If you didn't mess with the Mafia, it didn't mess with you. One cannot say that about street gangs or other "organized crime" entities such as the Triads, The Yakuza, The Colombian Cartels, or even the Russian "mafiya". (N.B. The Cammorra, which originated in Napoli, is an altogether different organization and unlike the Mafia, have no qualms about shooting up a whole room to get to one person. In the Mafia, such a thing was an infamnia)

As for Al Flosso being a "member", the Mafia in America (known as Cosa Nostra) has different "levels" of membership. To be a full blown "made member" requires TWO things. 1. You have to have committed murder at the behest of a borgata or in mob parlance, "made your bones." 2. Your family line on BOTH sides had to be traceable back to Italy. The infiltration of the MUCH older Sicilian Mafia has changed the picture somewhat. Also, la Cosa Nostra now has "made" members that are not 100% Italian/Sicilian. At MOST, I would wager that Flosso may have been "connected" but I HIGHLY doubt he was a made man.

The mob had its nut jobs like Roy DiMeo, who had the distinction of being both a button man AND a mass murderer. DiMeo was SO dangerous, he was whacked for it. That being said, most mobsters are really okay guys. They are great to do shows for and they pay VERY handsomely Smile

I think I should stop here.

Ahimsa,
Vlad
Cyberqat
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"DiMeo was SO dangerous, he was whacked for it."

This is a really important part of the picture. The New York mafia always understood that there was a balance they had to keep in order to remain part of society. AIUI (and my knowledge here is weak and fuzzy compared to Vald's) the Italian mafia was more then just a family by name or convention. The roots trace back to the small Italian towns where everyone was related, and they were isolated enough from everyone else that they needed their own social/quasi-governmental structures. It really was a deep, and important, part of the culture.

As opposed to the LA inner city gangs, whose history I am more familiar with then I'd like to be having spent some years in LA. The CRIPs actually have an interesting history and started out as something positive. But in the end, the La "gangsta" lifestyle is one born of desperation. Life is SO horrible and hopeless in south central LA that a young man finds himself willing to do anything to enjoy a few good years.

My one mob story from personal experience has to do with the town I spent the earlier part of my chidlhood in-- Great Neck on Long Island. Back then, Great Neck was where well to do NYC jews kept their families. Anyway, we had an old, well established, Italian owned beauty parlor down town. When I was 11 or so a chain beauty salon tried to move in down the block. They burned down three times during construction from "electrical fires" before they gave up. The firemen always arrived to late too save them but soon enough to prevent any damage to neighboring shops.

And, its worth noting, no one got hurt. Just property damage.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Cyberqat
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SO... in the vein and to give you an idea of just how integrated such things were to society. Here's an old NYC Jewish business man's joke:

Two old friends in the garment trade happen to meet on the street one day and go into a Café for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Harry: "So, Davy, how's business?"
Dave: "Not good Harry, not good. Last month we had a fire in the warehouse, lost half the stock. How about you?"
Harry shakes his head, "Just as bad. Three weeks ago we had a flood and lost the entire first floor inventory."
Dave sips his coffee thoughtfully and then asks,"So.. how do you arrange a flood?"
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Dougini
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Ha haa haaa! ROFL! I lOVE Jewish humor! My old friend was Jewish, and would FLOOR everyone with joke after joke. Some were downright OFFENSIVE, but only HE could tell them! I miss ol' Vinnie.

Oh, back to the topic. Flosso-Hornmann Magic Company is now Martinka's? That's what is was before Al Flosso bought it! I remember he showed me (man, that old shop was DUSTY), some really old magic props. I remember him mentioning that the old place was actually owned by Houdini! Some stuff was in a glass display case. Other stuff was scattered all over. If I asked about something, he would perform it for me. I remember saying, "WOW!" a lot.

God Bless that man. If only he was still alive today (he'd be really OLD, LOL!). We lost a truly great man. One day, I'm going to visit NYC again. It's my favorite city in the U.S.. Oh, wow, I just read the Martinka post above. It's now in Midland Park, NJ. I don't know where that is. I stayed in Emerson, NJ, back in the 80's. I think Flosso-Hornmann was long gone by then.

UPDATE! I just called Martinka's and talked to Dianne! Wow! I'm so psyched I've got tears in my eyes, and my hands are shaking. I'm 54, and that is rare for me. We talked about Al and Jackie (never met Jackie, may he also R.I.P). AL DID smoke a BIG old cigar. I thought I remembered that! Yikes, I gotta recover. I just got too excited. The memories...I'm gonna visit there someday soon.

Doug
Dougini
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Oh my GOSH...look what I just FOUND!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcAdOV1eDDI

THIS is Al Flosso

Doug
Cyberqat
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Wow that was Al when he was performing, before I knew him. What a wonderful find.

I did some business with Jackie. He was a nice man, and knew the stock, but he wasnt the shopkeep Al was. Under Al the place was a dusty, organized muddle. Under Jackie it became a pretty disorganized muddle

My favorite Al memory, and one of my last, was when I was doing street magic in the midwest and I got a chacne to get back to FH with a bit of money in my pocket. I told him what I was doing and that I was looking for a couple really strong illusions to add to the act.

Al looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, "I have somethign very special I think would work for you." He went to a cabinet and took out a well used, original Dai Vernon sucker sliding die box (with the fake door and everything) and said, almost hesitantly, "can you do $25?" (I think it was $25, might have been $15, this was 30 years ago.)

That box was the high-point of my street routine from that point forward. I still have it though I hesitate to perform with it because I don't want to wear it out any more Smile
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Dougini
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Wow...makes me miss my Cups and Balls I got from Al even more...~sniff~

Back on topic, I wonder if any of you ever went to Paul Diamond's Magic Shop when it was in Miami, Florida, or was it Fort Lauderdale? I heard stories, but always 2nd or 3rd hand. I really don't know much more than that. There are 8 pages of thread here, and I may have missed it. Anyone?

Doug
Wizard of Oz
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Ha. You bust me up Doug. Getting all shaky from magic. It's good to know someone else is like me. My wife thinks I'm insane.

My first shop was Snyders in Cleveland. The prototypical magic shop. Dusty, dimly lit, with stuff stacked everywhere. I went there when I was 8 or 9, when I first got into magic (thank you TV Magic Cards). My dad reluctantly drove me downtown, and the shop was up a dark staircase in a generic office building. Classic.

There was another shop in Cleveland at the time, but I can't remember the name. It was in one of the three arcades downtown (arcade in this case meaning an indoor mall connecting two streets), and looked like a front for more "adult" material in the back room.

My favorite shop though, was Joe Lefler's store called "The Magic Hat" in Grand Central Station (Not THE Grand Central Station, this was a large box store converted into small privately-owned shops), which then moved to Richmond Mall, and on to a couple of other locations. I rode my bike to these shops whenever I had some pocket change. My favorite purchase - which I still have - a set of Rings and Things I stainless steel cups and balls. I saved up for months for those. Poor Joe. I examined every set he had to make sure I purchased the perfect one.
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Cyberqat
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On 2010-08-08 19:58, Wizard of Oz wrote:
Ha. You bust me up Doug. Getting all shaky from magic. It's good to know someone else is like me. My wife thinks I'm insane.



Ah, they you didn't set the expectations right to start with.

You see, my wife knew from our first cuddle that I was a cat. (Ergo Cyberqat). I purr.

And she also knows that cats have to play to be happy!
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
MagicMitch
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The first magic shop I went to was International Magic in London, while on vacation there last month. Great store, but smaller than I expected.
Kabanning
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Who is 'Al' if you don't mind a slightly newbish question?

Around here, we don't have any magic stores. The closest one to me is in Winnipeg and that is an eight hour trip for me. But that really wasn't my first magic store. My first one when I was young was Toys 'R' Us back when Magic Works was still being translated and produced. In those days, I would used to go down to Duluth since we don't actually have a major toy store around here either.

I've never actually set foot in a magic store before nor do I have the ability to travel to one. (I need the money to pay for tuition and textbooks). Usually, I buy and trade for them second hand either from the internet or from friends.
Cyberqat
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You're in Minnesota? Some of the loveliest girls at UW Madison came from "across the border" Smile There used to be a little magic store in Janesville, WI called "Conjuror's Corner." I don't know if its still there. I would imagine Chicago would be the closest for a serious magicians supply store.

Luckily, in this day and age, you have the whole internet to find supplies, and places like this to find community Smile

The "Al" Doug and I are reminisicing about is Al Flosso, a wonderful magician who, when I was a kid, ran a very special magic shop in Manhatten called "Flosso/Hornman." Al was responsible for a lot of us getting bitten by the magic bug. Hes been dead a long time, now. His son Jackie ran the store for awhile. It is now in new hands and has chnaged its name back to its original founders' name-- Martinkas.
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Kabanning
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I live near Minnisota, but I don't live in Minnisota. Although, I live very close to the boarder on the Canadian side.

Thank you for answering my question. I was very curious. Al Flosso sounds like an interesting man!
Wizard of Oz
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Kabanning,
Whenever you do get the opportunity to travel, get in the habit of finding out what magic stores are in the area. I usually make it a point to try and visit the local shop in whatever town I was in. They don't even need to be exotic locations. I've seen dozens of shops that way.

Unfortunately, so many have disappeared now, it isn't as easy as it used to be.
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Dougini
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On 2010-08-09 21:55, Kabanning wrote:
Who is 'Al' if you don't mind a slightly newbish question?


Oh, sorry. Al Flosso. The Coney Island Fakir. My first magic store was Flosso-Hornmann in NYC, circa 1970/71.

I'm an old guy, LOL! Smile

Doug
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