Dan Jones: We ride with the devil, all the way to the White House
Today America inaugurates Satan. Instinct tells us this. Unlike the tragically deluded Gove or that gurning fiend Farage I have not yet grovelled in person before President Trump and sniffed the sulphur on his breath. But I am certain that like Saladin Chamcha in The Satanic Verses the new President is growing horns, hidden beneath his bouff. His weirdly small shoes conceal cloven hooves. And every time his voice quivers on the vowels of “make America-a-a grea-a-at again” it is like the bleating of a diabolical billy goat. The movers are in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because the devil has a new address.
Ach, you got me. Fake news! For the record, Trump does not have preternaturally small feet. He has great feet. Amazing feet. All the same, it is tempting to conclude that the swearing-in today of the 45th President might just herald the actual, literal apocalypse.
The ancients knew how to spot the end of days. According to the Revelation of St John, it all starts with the coming of the Antichrist. St John wrote that this harbinger would ride the earth on a white horse, wearing a crown and wielding a bow. Plainly he meant that the demon horseman would have an absurd yellow barnet and be super-annoying on Twitter, promising to do a bunch of stuff that is not feasible, affordable or even possible, but which is guaranteed to antagonise enough people to provoke outcry, which can then be passed off as the squalling of weaklings who can’t hack decisive leadership.
In the devil’s slipstream, says St John, will ride war, dearth and pestilence. It is not difficult to foresee the first, now that the most powerful nation in the West is led by a man who favours massive rearmament and makes Kim Jong-Un look thick-skinned. Dearth, once senses, will be seen soon enough in the near east, where President Trump is sending Jared Kushner — a 36-year-old real estate investor and online publisher — to solve an Israel-Palestine crisis that has defied four generations of statesmen since the Second World War. Staving off pestilence relies on Mike Pence having a better idea than Obamacare. Ugh.
Behind the thundering of the horsemen, we may expect other biblical signs of the last times. There will be a wailing of the martyrs — liberals, you might call them, with their silly views on being kind to one another and accepting the turbulent effects of globalisation as a price worth paying for its myriad benefits. Then comes a shaking of the ground and a dust storm in which the moon glows blood-red, before God pitches up to do some Last Judging — a real beauty-pageant finale to greet the destruction of mankind.
I suppose it is possible that America has today merely crowned an ass: a reality-TV buffoon who has never knowingly uttered a grammatical sentence and whose worst act of vandalism will be to denude the office of President of the dignity Barack Obama lent it. On balance, though, the Trumpocalyse seems more likely, as well as more picturesque. The Rapture is on its way, and the only consolation is that it will be a great Rapture. A terrific Rapture. The best Rapture!
Spoonbending with the CIA’s great minds
This week the CIA put its archive online, allowing anyone to search the agency’s (declassified and redacted) files from 70 years of intelligence gathering. They thereby opened up to mass scrutiny a valuable record of American involvement in the post-war world.
You can hunt for clues about UFO sightings, coups in central America, psy-ops in Vietnam and what actually went down at the Bay of Pigs. Yet the biggest headlines so far have related to the CIA’s work in 1973 to establish whether the noted Israeli spoon-bender Uri Geller really was psychic.
Reading the minds of his testers, Geller managed to draw a bunch of grapes and the solar system, so fair play to the lad. I’m not quite sure that this is a turning point in post-war history — but it is at least good to know.
Let it glow — those sultans of sunbeds get my vote
A survey says more young men are going to tanning shops. Scoff at their vanity but about 12 years ago I too was — how to put this? — totally addicted to stand-up sunbeds. Three times a week I visited a poky little place beneath the railway arches near Embankment Tube for a 10-minute hit of those sweet-as, carcinogenic blue rays.
Even in midwinter I was the colour of a Christingle orange and I loved it: the ritual of popping on the eye-protectors; the creak of the door as you slipped inside the chamber for a melanin-stimulating sesh in the iron maiden. And most of all the smell on your skin afterwards, like singed tin and pool chlorine with a base-note of semen. (Weird, sorry.) I gave it up when the hair in my beard started falling out and I figured I’d rather be white than dead. But I get it, guys. I do.
A cunning plan goes up in smoke
Alanis Morissette’s former manager has been busted for wire fraud, having been found guilty of embezzling $4 million from clients, including the Nineties Canadian alt-pop singer, which he pretended he was investing in a marijuana farm. Isn’t that ironic? (Sorry — sometimes it’s just too easy.)
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"Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity."
Tannens Magic Blog
"There is no spoon!"
"The world needs your amazing talents. I need them"
"The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues."
James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
"The Geller Effect is one of those "para" phenomena which changed the world of phusics. What the most outstanding physicists of the last decades of this country colud grasp only as theoretical implication, Uri brought as fact into everyday life.."
Dr. Walter A. Frank. Bonn University - Germany
"Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind"
"I Have watched Uri Geller... I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again."
"Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae's in bloom"