On an island afternoon talking Buffett and magic with Tim Glancey

I met Tim Glancey with a tap on the shoulder. His tap, my shoulder. I was leaning on a palm tree outside Capt. Tony’s Saloon watching a couple of women try to throw coins over their shoulders and land those coins in the mouth of the fish hanging over Capt. Tony’s door.

Tim Glancey in the Chart Room. January 2014. 

I’d landed in Key West for a friend’s wedding — and to take advantage of that wedding to do some reporting for what I thought could be a book. Before I left Oregon, I figured someone had to be doing some kind of Jimmy Buffett/Margaritaville-themed tour of Key West. So I Googled “Jimmy Buffett Walking Tour Key West” and sent an email.

Tim replied. Trails and Tales of Key West was his tour, a little side gig to his Key West Ghost & Mysteries Tour. Trails and Tales had once had Margaritaville in the title, but Jimmy’s people had asked him, nicely, to change it.

I told Tim I thought maybe I was working on a book, and I’d like to take his tour and then, if he had the time, talk for a bit. He had the tour, so I figured he knew the old haunts. I had no idea.

Tim told me the tour left from outside Capt. Tony’s. It’d start at 3 p.m. I got there on time, kept an eye out for others who looked like they might be waiting for a tour, and watched those women throw loose change about.

Then Tim tapped me on the shoulder.

“You’re the only one on the tour today,” he said. “Want to just grab a drink.”

“I’ll buy,” I said.

He got a rum and Coke. I got a beer, we sat down and he told me about 1992, the year the NBA brought its All-Star Game to Orlando. Tim’s a magician, and he was a magician in Orlando when the NBA expanded and introduced the Magic. Seeing an opportunity, he approached the team, which looked at him and said, “It’s not that kind of magic.”

“I do sports magic,” Glancey said.

“What’s that,” the Magic said.

“Give me a day,” Glancey said.

He invented sports magic, grew it into a company and was performing card tricks for high rollers in a suite during All-Star weekend when someone tapped him on the shoulder.

“Jimmy’d like to see you.”

Jimmy being Buffett, who’d bring Glancey on tour with him for more than a decade, putting him and his crew to work entertaining Parrot Heads pre-show, and assisting in the development of some of the more Vaudevillian aspects of those tours. Tim has stories.

He spun a few at Capt. Tony’s and then we walked over to the Chart Room and he told a few more. For example, when they were getting ready to open the Margaritaville Cafe in Las Vegas, Glancey says Buffett went to visit the site, liked what he saw. Especially the giant volcano.

“Where’s the show?” Buffett asked.

“What do you mean?” someone said.

“It’s Vegas,” Buffett said. “There has to be a show.”

You got a giant volcano. Feed it a virgin, or a mermaid. Everyone nodded. Next time Buffett stopped by, still no show.

“I got a call out of the blue,” Glancey said. “I was down here in Key West at the time. ‘How soon can you be in Vegas?’ Next thing I know I was out in Vegas. Spent the better part of the next couple months there.”

I saw him in 2015, at Meeting of the Minds, keeping the path clear for his kids, as he called them. The stilt walkers who who rain good cheer from above whenever there’s a Buffett event. Tim was on crutches, but in good spirits. He was busy, and so we didn’t get a chance to catch up, but did so on the phone a week or two later.

His contributions, like those of so many, made the book better. I thank him, and I write this as a way of sending all the good thoughts I’ve got down south.

He’s been in a hospital in Miami for more than a month, fighting off pneumonia. Medical bills are mounting. There’s a Go Fund Me page for him.

Get well, Tim.


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