Flim-Flam and Other Such Scams

by Judson Cade Pedigo

Recently, I was looking through my daughter’s bookshelf for a bedtime story when I came across something that would change the course of my life forever, a Step Into Reading book about Harry Houdini. Some might call it fate or just my habit of being a packrat (I supply myself with such a steady stream of junk that I’m constantly finding things that I’ve bought but have totally forgotten about. So it’s like getting it all over again! I’m like the dude from Memento except with a staggering Paypal Credit balance instead of a dead wife.) but I became an instant Houdini fan. I guess I’d always taken Houdini for granted. I knew he was a master magician and also a lazy plot point for the writers of Last Action Hero to get that kid into movieland (Magic ticket my ass, McBain!) but that was about it. Now I know, Houdini is the greatest man who ever lived. What I’ve found most interesting is Houdini’s war on fake mediums. As spiritualism became fashionable in America following the end of World War I, for every sincere follower this new religion gained, it attracted just as many opportunists willing to take advantage of the bereaved for their own financial gain.

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