Some of the most interesting personal research I have been into recently has been revolving around western expansion and the effects of current construction of american housing. But in and amongst all of that I just finished a spectacular book "The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero" available Here. I am a sucker for story telling and biographies. This put a whole new twist on a historic character I have loved for a long time. I recommend it to everyone. It ranges from well known events in the history of Illusions as well as Houdini being a spy for multiple governments, being a spiritualist debunker and being one of the first aviators on the planet. Truly interesting.
The links to his mass fame and superhero status were attributed to his advertising wit and genuine hard efforts. But I cant help to cast a parallel relationship to a beautiful documentary I just viewed called "Confessions of a Superhero" Available for free viewing HERE. Defiantly worth the time to watch. The film tracks 4 "actors" that make a living posing as famous superheroes. They walk Hollywood Boulevard posing for pictures with tourists working on tips alone. It is incredibly interesting and at the same time a bit sad. But it forced an interesting comparison of defining "work", especially within the entertainment industry. I am always amazed at the salary of movie entertainers working 3 months a year and I have no doubts that if Houdini ran into the Hollywood Boulevard superhero it would not end well for the superhero in a costume. The more I have read about Houdini the more I respect his efforts (separate from his personal life) and the more I think about the characters on Hollywood Boulevard the more I am saddened by their choices.
I once had a student go abroad and bring me back a gift, it was a quote from a local shop that sold hand made goods. It translated as "I earn my living". I thought it was a beautiful line. I believe both Houdini and the Hollywood Boulevard superheroes would argue that they do just that. But I would bet they would disagree with each others definition of earn.