Tops Article
letter: "Next meeting June 5th. . .comeand socialize with the world's greatest close-up workers; Dai might even do something, who knows ? This is a private group and we must keep it that way ... a group of snob­bish geniuses..." From the June 26th letter: "Bruce Cervon, who is shilling for Vernon's latest hoax in the field of escapist litera­ture did a unique card prediction . . . and Dai Vernon????our living legend has pro­mised to make up for his inactivity lately by delivering a lecture on the Glide. We didn't even know the Professor could dance." From an August letter: "Dai Vernon, the mad Professor, delivered a short lecture on the Glide, as promised. Dai was quite active this evening and per­formed all evening and all thru the coffee and sandwiches later; and so made up for the last few sessions where he just sat and rested on his big fat laurels." How dare Derman talk that way about the great master? I may have to write him a nasty Open Letter.
My desk is cluttered as usual with clippings, letters, notes and little items I intend to use as column material someday. Near the top of the pile is a recent letter from a reader in New Mexico. He writes, "You have mentioned the word 'derman' several times. You didn't say what it means. What or was is a 'derman' ?'' Actually the word is hard to explain and harder to find except in pathological reports. My big dictionary lists words like: derm.. .derma... dermacentor...dermatobia and dermatoly-sis, but no 'derman'. "Derma" is of meso-dermic origin and means white, fibrous, stringy, plastic sticky stuff. The second word means a genus of tick which bites man and transmits spotted fever. "Derma-tobia" is a botfly which gets under a man's skin and irritates him. The last word "Der-matolysis" is an abnormal looseness of the skin around the mouth. It is commonly known as flap-jaw.
It's possible a "derman" is a com­posite of all. If I ever see one I'll recog­nize it and step on it. To change the sub­ject I once heard of a Lou Derman from smoggy Californy who writes spasmodically and sporadically for house organs. His new paper, "Open Letters and Closed Minds or Publicity, Poison Pens and Pandemon­ium", is a classic work. After an unusually bad example of vitrolic, vegetated vitupera­tion in public print he closed with the line which won him the "Funniest Remark of the Year Award". "A writer", he admon­ishes, "has a responsibility to his readers to stay within the bounds of good taste." He may not be a comedy writer but as a writer of comedy he's a real winner.
Another Lou Derman writes reports on the Sleight of Hand Intimate Tableworkers. I think it's a group of carpenters on the west coast. May I quote from the May 31st
I'd like to bring you somethings from a few decades ago. In early 1938 the New York Daily Mirror quoted, in a columnists interview, the remarks of a Canadian born magician named David Ver-ner. It says, "he seldom gives public per­formances—he only appears at small pri­vate parties, to practice the most difficult 'over the table work' where his audience can get as close to him as they like." "This work", the article continues, "isthecream of the business; only the best get it. Unlike most magicians, he doesn't want publicity, because he doesn't need it."
Mr. Verner says, "Nobody matches a magician as a publicity hound. Some fellow will learn a couple of tricks. Immediately he rushes out, has cards printed calling himself "Professor" or "The World's Greatest." (David Verner is now Dai Ver­non, he is called the 'Professor' and is re­puted to be "the World's Greatest".) The reporter tells us, "He (Vernon) knows cards better than a mother knows her baby. He will ask you to cut a deck of cards; then feels the cut. Tells you exactly how many cards were in the cut. By merely feeling the deck he can tell you if there is a card