Wednesday, January 2, 2013


The Pickpocket Article in "The New Yorker"

HAVE YOU READ IT? Here is why Adam Green has created the Platonic Ideal of a New Yorker article.

1. It is not behind the paywall (subscribe anyway!)

2. It is about the world's greatest pickpocket.

3. It is like a new installment of the "Ocean's" franchise, but without whatever recurring character you, personally, find aggravating.

4. The pickpocket, Apollo Robbins (APOLLO ROBBINS), calls what he does "stealing."

5. He is perfectly happy to show you how he does it!

I said, “So if you were going to take the wallet that’s when you would have done it, on the turn?” Robbins brought his hand forward to show me that he was holding my wallet between his fingers. Even though he had explained each step along the way, I hadn’t felt a thing.

6. But even when he shows you, you can't see, because he is so good as to be basically magic.

7. How is it not magic, at this point? When no one else in the world can do it?

8. He steals the cartridge out of Jillette's pen: "By now, a small crowd had gathered. Jillette removed his ring, put it down on the paper, unclipped a pen from his shirt, and leaned forward, preparing to draw. After a moment, he froze and looked up. His face was pale."

9. This! "Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade."

10. He has an impossible dream. It's at the very end. It sounds exactly like a missing eighth story from "The Story of Henry Sugar and Six More."

15 Comments / Post A Comment

Lila Fowler

Anyone who makes Penn Jillette look dumb is cool with me.

The Jen Garner and Jimmy Carter stories are pretty rad too.


@Lila Fowler My thoughts exactly re: Penn Jillette.


so damn good@m


Oh man, I was like, hey I have a lot of work to catch up on I shouldn't read this but then you had to bust out Henry Sugar on me. I love Henry Sugar!


Ah, Henry Sugar...I love that book! I wasn't an especially dumb kid, but I did think maybe I could see through cards if I looked at a flame for long enough.


As the article mentions, he was a consultant on the recently-cancelled TNT show Leverage, and trained the actress who played Parker, the show's thief, in the art of the lift. (He also was on one episode, in a small role.)


I had to go rewatch the Leverage episode where he's on-screen instead of just behind the scenes after reading this. (Bonus: Wil Wheaton, too.)

More Apollo plz.

Lily Rowan

@rewil Which one??

That article was amazing.


@Lily Rowan The Two Live Crew Job, from season two. It's the one where each member of the team goes against basically their equal - Apollo and Parker are squared off.

Lily Rowan

@rewil Ah! That's a good one.


Fascinating article. My one question is whether he ever has off days or performances where he can't successfully pickpocket. Because it seems to require a huge amount of ability and self-confidence to do what he does, and presumably some days it just ain't happenin'.


YES number 9!! Also the whole thing! So very interesting and amazing.

frumious bandersnatch

I saw one of the Brain Games episodes he was on! When I was home for the holidays, my brother and I turned on the tv looking for something quick to watch before bed, flipped through a lot and nearly turned off the tv when we stumbled on what seemed like it might be fun... and after 2am we finally were like omg have to go to bed. There was one on memory and one on attention (the one he was in). It was fascinating.

Laura Ellis@facebook

Oh my gosh, I love this guy. I want my pocket picked.


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