Friday, September 19, 2003

the eggs and breasts of David Blaine

David Blaine: Jesus for our time?

First off, he's 30. That's about when, according to tradition, Jesus began his career as an itinerant preacher. Blaine, a magician and performance artist, is currently suspended in a clear box hung off a crane on a shore of the Thames River, close to Tower Bridge (close enough, in fact, for some enterprising gentle on the bridge to try whacking Blaine's box with a golfball). His goal: he will not eat for 44 days. He's got a water supply and has tubes for urination and defecation; his first major dump (he shrouded himself during the event) drew applause. I can't imagine he's got much to dump at this stage.

Jesus warns about persecution in his Sermon on the Mount; he doesn't promise Christians a life of ease (a message lost on many well-fed Christians these days). Blaine, like Jesus, has encountered scorn and temptation: women have flashed their breasts at him and done half-nude dances; men have flashed their asses at him, thrown eggs at his box, and tried keeping him awake with loud music.

Now, if the Washington Post is right, Blaine is becoming the focus of anti-American hatred.

"You've picked the wrong town to be hung in, Mr Blaine," a commentator in the Sunday Times wrote. "What is clear from the start is that Londoners are not taking Blaine quite as seriously as he takes himself. ... Really, it makes you proud to be British."

There are even Web Sites devoted to concocting ways to annoy him, including shining laser lights in his eyes and tempting him with barbecue smells. One person was charged with criminal damage, accused of trying to cut off his water supply tube.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has added to the interest by declaring that the stunt, taking place just outside his office overlooking the Thames, is an insult to the memory of Northern Irish hunger strikers.

And has this:

A group of Iranian Londoners from Richmond, meanwhile, held a placard with a slogan in Farsi reading: "Yankee go home". Gloria Darvish, 21, said: "It's pathetic that anyone wants to do something like this."

So: Blaine-in-a-Box. Paschal lamb for our time, starving and being badgered for America's sins.

Luckily, he has horny teen supporters, who seem about as deep as Jesus' disciples:

But a group of a half-dozen 14-year-olds from the nearby Aylwin Girls' School said they come every afternoon to see the bare-chested Blaine because he's "buff" and "wicked." They brought a pink rose for Blaine's girlfriend and showed no patience for those who give him trouble.

"This is why England hasn't won the World Cup (soccer championship) since 1966. Because they throw eggs at him," said Danielle before being interrupted by one of her friends, who shouted ecstatically:

"Oh my God! I can actually see the hair in his armpits!"

I wonder if the onlookers at the crucifixion made similar remarks.

NB: This was my first experiment with the "blockquote" command. I'm not sure I like it. Might stick to the old-fashioned "aesthetic minimalism" I've been practicing up to now-- at least until I start adding images to the blog.

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