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My Summer Lair featuring Joe Posnanski (The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini)

My Summer Lair featuring Joe Posnanski (The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini)

Sammy Younan

Published on: March 10 2020

My Summer Lair Chapter #147: How Did Harry Houdini Come Into Your Life?

“Nobody has neutral feelings about Harry Houdini. His personality does not inspire mild emotions. No one has ever said, “I’m ambivalent about the guy.” Many people along this journey adore Houdini for his ambition, his ingenuity, his relentlessness, and for the way he became larger than life. But there are also people that can’t stand him.”

Harry Houdini cuts both ways: he’s got his fans and he’s got his haters. The term we use now is polarizing: he’s a polarizing figure. The quote is from The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski. The title relates to the quote because even now; dead since 1926 Houdini’s afterlife still includes his fans and his haters. Even in death, Harry Houdini’s fame and life remain polarizing.

(It’s equally fascinating that Houdini was so passionate about being the best and making the necessary sacrifices to be the best (ever?) that people would respond to him with such passion. Passion generates passion. It should be like a law of physics or something.)

All of this is exactly what you want in an American superhero. When you contemplate these larger than life characters and their wild stories filled with lies and half-truths and deceptions and myths it prompts an obvious question. What is it about America that it’s able to create these compelling superheroes? I’m talking about Harry, Evel Knievel…Babe Ruth. Superman.

We cover all of these superheroes in this charismatic conversation that kicks off with Joe sharing a magical moment with an American superhero Muhammad Ali.

Host Sammy Younan @ WTF

Joe Posnanski @ W • T • F

Recorded: Thursday, March 12 at 5:30pm (EST) at WeWork

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