Feb 242011
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

Magic John is a fixture in the Old Town community. He is one of our most recognizable characters.

He spends his days and nights at the coffee shops, eateries and bars. He doesn’t make his own coffee, he goes to get a mug. He doesn’t cook, he goes out to eat.

At the bars, often with a microbrew in hand, you’ll see him wearing a dark sport coat on top of a collared, button-up shirt and a scarf that nearly reaches his waist. His hair is dark and matches his long beard, with gray mixed in, looking almost like a wizard.

You’ll see him carrying a black briefcase and wearing black gloves when it’s cold.

He walks the same way he talks –– slow and gracefully.
The college students enjoy his presence and he enjoys them, saying that their energy keeps him young.

He is a scholar, a doctor of math, he says. He stays up-to-date on new research in the fields of genetics and chemistry. He speaks multiple languages and enjoys the intellectual challenge of taking on the most talented chess players the city has to offer. He is fascinated by computers and he says he is a member of a hacking society. He takes creative writing classes, has an appreciation for art and doesn’t follow sports.

Magic John takes no interest in economics because he doesn’t get it, but only because he says no one does. He involves himself in politics when he feels it’s important but says there hasn’t been any new political ideas in a long time.

“I wasn’t very involved in the last election until McCain chose Palin,” Magic John told me. “Then I did get back involved.”

But after all this, Magic John is an entrepreneur and a businessman and makes a living not through teaching, writing or speaking but through magic.

“Magic can bring joy and pleasure to other people, it allows them to take a step back in their life,” Magic John said. “It can suspend belief.”

Magic John develops up to 12 illusions a year, and sells them to distributors. He wouldn’t tell me who he sells to but did say you can see many of his tricks on TV and by way of other
large performers.

If you run into him downtown, he will be more than happy to show you a trick. His willingness to interact and perform has made Magic John somewhat of a celebrity in Old Town.

A continuous flow of “hi”s and handshakes occurred while I sat with Magic John. Magic John is as grateful for the community as the community is for him.

One time he was sitting at the bar with his lady friend when a “cowboy” came over and was giving him a hard time. He said it didn’t take long for six or seven other bar hoppers to escort the cowboy away, filling his hat with beer on the way out.

Magic John moved to Fort Collins in 1989, lives in Old Town and walks everywhere. He said last year he put less than 6,000 miles on his car. With his profession he has a lot of time, but he keeps himself busy.

“(Old Town) is a big city and a small city … There’s always enough to do,” Magic John said.

To see a trick, you need to find him. To find him, you need to go to Old Town; he is out every day of the week. If you can find him, and he has the time to talk, get him started and he’ll fascinate you.

Editorial Editor Chadwick Bowman is a senior sociology and journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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