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Man charged in Blaine paint attack
September 27, 2003 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Man charged in Blaine paint attack "A 28-year-old man has been charged with criminal damage for allegedly throwing pink paint at the box illusionist David Blaine has made his temporary home." It's not the first time he has been attacked. Here are the stunt details, a progress report and the box's location.
posted by ifenn (50 comments total)

 
I haven't really been following apart this from a few reports in the paper, (man in box, man still in box doesnt really strike me as news) but can't help but notice that they estimate he'll lose 45lb over the 44 days, does this mean that he's slowly accumulating 45lb of excrement in his box? Or some significant fraction thereof? What would London's environmental health officers have to say about storing it in an enclosed, occupied space for that period?
posted by biffa at 2:07 PM on September 27, 2003


Now everyone can take a shot at him: The David Blaine Assassination Game (flash.)
posted by homunculus at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2003


I wish the support cable would break, he'd die and we wouldn't hear about this retard any more.
posted by Trik at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2003


He's got nothing on this woman.
posted by dobbs at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2003


I don't understand why people despise him. He's a guy in a box. I don't see nothing wrong with that. If you see it a stupid publicity stunt, don't read anything about it and don't talk about it, that's what I do when I don't care.
posted by lazy-ville at 2:29 PM on September 27, 2003


So, how long exactly can someone go without food before losing consciousness? Seems like 44 days is pushing it.
posted by split atom at 2:40 PM on September 27, 2003


Lazy-ville, Some people have no choice but to take notice. Traffic around the area is regularly jammed. Extra police have been drafted in. So much so, Blaine may have a bill waiting for him when he leaves.
posted by ifenn at 2:43 PM on September 27, 2003


Where is he, um, going poop and pee?
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:04 PM on September 27, 2003


He's wearing diapers, for those curious about his elimination situation. Plus after a while, if you don't eat you don't so much need to poop. So far, my favorite thing about this is the helicopter with a hamburger that two guys flew up to tease him with. Here's to hoping the cable breaks and we can be rid of this douche once and for all!
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:12 PM on September 27, 2003


"The subtext seems to be: If even nice old Macca - "the man who wrote Mull of Kintyre" - can't take Blaine seriously, what does it say about the differences between our two nations? "

What? Who's to say we ever took him seriously? He's an entertainer, a celebrity (of sorts.. after a fashion). We don't take celebrities seriously in America even when they want us to.

It's a scam. He's a magician. He's an illusionist. He's not really going without food for forty some odd days. Or rather whatever vital nutrients he needs to survive are being provided through the water. Something. It's all done with mirrors. Whatever. It's a trick. It's entertainment.

Apparently (some) people in England want more interactivity in their entertainment. They wanna create their own. I think it's fitting, and makes perfect sense. Any human being who would lock himself up in a glass cage and have himself hung over the Thames is just asking for ridicule. He might as well have painted a bullseye on his ass and walked around with a kickme sign on his back.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2003


I'm with lazy-ville. I don't understand why everyone is so against this thing. It's not a very exciting stunt, but it seems there's this growing mass hysteria against it. It's a bizarre sociological phenomenon, I think.

<cynic>Unless, of course, that's part of the act, to generate publicity.</cynic>

does this mean that he's slowly accumulating 45lb of excrement in his box?

You don't lose weight by pooping it out, the mass is burned to create energy.
posted by jpoulos at 3:20 PM on September 27, 2003


Magicians are professional liars, so why should I care if a magician says he's going 44 days without food? He might as well say he's going a whole year without food. He's just a liar anyway. Just like that ridiculous ABC special that showed him "magically" levitating three feet above the ground in front of a "live" audience (really filmed afterwards using special effects, making it about as "magical" as the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. The real levitation trick that Blain performed, known as the Balducci levitation, is just a ho-hum perspective trick, and looks absolutely nothing like what was shown on TV).
posted by dgaicun at 3:20 PM on September 27, 2003


Magicians are professional liars, so why should I care if a magician says he's going 44 days without food? He might as well say he's going a whole year without food. He's just a liar anyway.

Well, Blaine and his prefilmed stuff aside, I think the fun in "magic" and why people care about it isn't "Wow, real magic", but: "How did he/she do that?"

After all, Jurassic Park and any other movie is just a lie also; still fun to watch and wonder at though...

That said, I agree with ZachsMind about this particular stunt being an invitation for disaster.
posted by Stauf at 3:51 PM on September 27, 2003


aha, so if you have no talent but want to get on the telly, s(h)it in a glass box for 44 days.
posted by carfilhiot at 3:51 PM on September 27, 2003


I wonder how many times he gets flashed per day? Talk about sexual frustration. There aren't any drapes in there either.
posted by skallas at 3:58 PM on September 27, 2003


jpoulos: Yeah, but it's not as if you're getting kilos of weight directly converted into energy. The matter just goes from a high energy state to a lower (oxidised) state, and comes out as poo. And in any case, he throws the poo down from the box in a bag.
posted by adrianhon at 4:24 PM on September 27, 2003


I just saw video footage of Blaine doing his street levitation trick, and after that, I find the 90-days-in-a-fishtank thing incredibly boring. Has anyone here ever seen the video footage I'm talking about? Absolutely incredible. Some of the people standing on the street watching get so freaked out by it they turn and run away full speed.
posted by scarabic at 4:28 PM on September 27, 2003


dur - missed dgaicun's comment, above. But what I saw was him walking around a city, doing it on the sidewalk, in open air. Any more explanation on how it works, dgaicun?
posted by scarabic at 4:30 PM on September 27, 2003


But what I saw was him walking around a city, doing it on the sidewalk, in open air.

Scarabic, what you saw on TV was filmed later using wire (which is why it was less like 'magic' and more like 'lying'). The actual stunt he performed is a way you stand on one leg, but that makes it look like you're levitating at a certain angle.

Well, Blaine and his prefilmed stuff aside, I think the fun in "magic" and why people care about it isn't "Wow, real magic", but: "How did he/she do that?"

I know stauf. I like magic, when it presents itself and conducts itself honestly. But Blaine is a liar. His Thames stunt isn't being presented as "magic", it's being presented as an endurance test. IMO, Blaine is closer to John Edwards than he is to Penn and Teller (who are cool, and use their magic to *promote* skepticism).
posted by dgaicun at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2003


Here's a webpage that describes how the 'Balducci levitation' trick that Blaine performed works. It also tells how the ABC show presented that ridiculous footage of him floating three feet up in the air as the same trick he performed "live" for the audience:
For the television special, Blaine performed the Balducci levitation in front of several hundred different groups of people, and the camera was angled only to catch their reactions. The method he used for this is the Balducci method, described above. While taping all the hundreds of performances, the producers keyed in on the audience members with the most visual reaction. After the Balducci levitation, the producers of the show had these same people stand by for another taping of the illusion, this time the camera would shoot from behind the audience members to get a clear view of Blaine in action. The audience members were told that this second performance was to show them how magicians could use wires to levitate. And this is exactly what happened. A small harness and rig (just out of camera view) was set up and Blaine performed a standard wire-suspension.

What Blaine did was a camera trick - known as a post-production edit. The audience at home watched the second (wire suspension) levitation performance, with the audience reaction of the Balducci levitation edited in. It was said, in the television special, that no strings or wires were used to perform Blaine's levitation and there are no camera tricks. This is a lie, his show is basically based on camera tricks, editing and production.
posted by dgaicun at 5:04 PM on September 27, 2003


Thanks for the link dgaicun. I agree with you about Blaine; I would never think of him as a true magician. I little bit of edited footage does not equal skill. Hell, anyone could have done his version of the levatation "trick" with a camera and some editing software. I guess it just goes to show you that magic tricks are only good in person, when you know they're actually going to have to work to fool you.
posted by Stauf at 5:42 PM on September 27, 2003


I'm curious to ask UK-based MeFites why it is that this particular stunt seems to have drawn such vehement reaction in the British press. And what the hell does this have to do with Paul McCartney, for heaven's sake?
posted by JollyWanker at 7:45 PM on September 27, 2003


His card tricks are far more interesting than the levitation thing anyway.
posted by The God Complex at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2003


You don't lose weight by pooping it out

You don't have good morning poops, do you?

and that's enough of that line of inquiry
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on September 27, 2003


One thing we're completely missing is that his first special, Street Magic, dealt with Blaine doing tricks right next to people. In the pit with the locals, as it were. Then the following stunts involved him being separated from his audience. Buried alive, encased in ice, elevated on a pedestal, and now suspended from a crane over a river.

The more famous he gets, the further away from people he seems to be.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:17 PM on September 27, 2003


I like blaine's magic (and he most certainly is a magician, well versed in the history and culture of magic, and with his own style of performance which uses essentially the same tricks as every other magician in history), and I like this stunt precisely because of the hatred it is engendering. I don't understand what the purpose behind his 'endurance' stunts are, as people aren't familiar enough with the difficulty of what he claims to be doing to make it very interesting. But as a purely social phenomenon, I love the idea of a man suspended in a box for no apparent reason.
posted by chaz at 11:31 PM on September 27, 2003


I have to agree with Chaz here. His sleight of hand is truly remarkable, I like his act, I loved his style when he was still a street performer. Whereas I don't understand the whole concept of *why* someone would want to live in a fishbowl without food for 44 days...I have to admire the sheer dadaism of the whole thing.

But I could have told him that the Brits would think he was just an insane American, sitting in a box, clogging up traffic and generally getting under the skin of the city. Cause, really...if he did this in most American cities...he'd get the same reaction. Just imagine what he'd have to put up with if he were doing it somewhere like New Orleans, or Chicago, or LA. I think he picked the UK because the odds of guns being fired at him are lower. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:35 AM on September 28, 2003


I'm curious to ask UK-based MeFites why it is that this particular stunt seems to have drawn such vehement reaction in the British press.

Primarily long-standing antipathy to performers who aren't deemed to be sufficiently humble or down to earth coupled with not invented here syndrome and some anti-Americanism. Plus don't forget that anything with the backing of one press group (in this case News Corp) will automatically incur the wrath of the other papers.
posted by kerplunk at 1:03 AM on September 28, 2003


We've got thousands of people living in boxes in London, yet none of them gets any press attention whatsoever.
posted by skylar at 1:32 AM on September 28, 2003


Some of the people standing on the street watching get so freaked out by it they turn and run away full speed.

There person directing the film of all this for the DVD (yes you will be able to buy a DVD of him sitting in a box for 44 days) has been telling the crowds below the box some weird stuff, like that the cable is about to snap, or that Blaine is dangerously ill, and then filming their reactions, presumably because people's actual reaction is to be underwhelmed.

I'm curious to ask UK-based MeFites why it is that this particular stunt seems to have drawn such vehement reaction in the British press.

Well for some there are some tough moral questions for us all. Billions of people in the world are starving through no choice of their own and we ignore them, yet one man pretends to starve himself and not only do we all pay attention but he gets paid millions of pounds for it.

For me though it is a little more simple, David Blaine is a prick, and he is in a box, where you can throw things at him and taunt him. So let's do that. "Blaine bashing" is fun, nothing more, nothing less.
posted by chill at 1:57 AM on September 28, 2003


I'm curious to ask UK-based MeFites why it is that this particular stunt seems to have drawn such vehement reaction in the British press.

It's a scam.

As soon as it became obvious there wasn't much chance of him starving to death, some people decided to make up their own entertainment.

It really doesn't have much to do with the fact he's american, more to do with the fact his head is placed about a foot up his ass.

There were a few puff pieces about him in the Brit press yesterday (including the front page of the Guardian) along with some interviews with Harmony Korine. So I guess the Hype machine has just kicked in.

Derren Brown is better.
posted by fullerine at 2:37 AM on September 28, 2003


Derren Brown is better.

I beg to differ, he seems to be suffering the same delusions of grandeur that posses David Blaine. This guy is claiming that he is to be the first person to play Russian Roulette live on tv or something. But he isn't, and no one believes he is. For magic to work (and by work I mean be entertaining) you have to set up a proposition that the viewer believes to be impossible, but with a level of doubt where you are thinking "will he or won't he be able to pull this off". The magician then uses sleight of hand to pull the trick off and it's an amazing skill, especially if you ever get to see it close up in the flesh.
But the problem with the Blaine and Derren Brown stunt is that there is zero chance of failure, we know they will "succeed". For one, how would Channel 4 get insurance for such a stunt if there was actually a chance someone might die? Which "member of the public" pulling the trigger would ever risk a jail sentence for murder just for some half hour TV show? It wouldn't happen, there is no chance of failure, so where's the entertainment? At least we get to throw things at David Blaine.
The only way I will be impressed by the Derren Brown stunt is if they pretent it's gone wrong, and that he has been shot in the head just to freak people out. That would be funny, maybe even art.
posted by chill at 4:00 AM on September 28, 2003


I think there are instances of hunger-strikers going for 70+ days. I'm sure all the sums have been done and 44 days is as long as he could go without food. A local homeless guy has played chess with him several times. I was in London and stuck around to watch one of the games.
posted by nthdegx at 4:15 AM on September 28, 2003


For what it's worth, C4 have got Lloyds to underwrite the Derren Brown stunt.

As far Blaine : I have to wonder if he knew what he was letting himself in for, doing this nonsense in London. We don't like pretentious show-offs in Britain, particularly when they're American.

Besides, if it wasn't for us Londoners doing what we do best, Blaine's stunt would be deeply, deeply boring.
posted by influx at 5:13 AM on September 28, 2003


...and a great example was the bloke who took his golf clubs up on to Tower Bridge and used Blaine as his driving-range target. When asked why: "I want to break him".
posted by niceness at 5:48 AM on September 28, 2003


I'm curious to ask UK-based MeFites why it is that this particular stunt seems to have drawn such vehement reaction in the British press.

Starvation as a stunt in a world where many people don't have enough food can be seen as slightly tasteless. However, the British press and public would propbably forgive this if it were a better stunt. Hunger strikers and others have gone without food for longer (without blatently chubbing up beforehand as Mr Blaine seems to have done), so what's the point?.

That said, publicity is what he wants and it's what he's getting so I doubt he'd complain.

Another theory is that if we're mean to him he won't come back.
posted by devon at 7:02 AM on September 28, 2003


Another theory is that if we're mean to him he won't come back.
We don't really want him back here. (maybe he can shoot himself out into space next?) : >

I agree with chill--it's a prick in a box. I'm also surprised London authorities let him do this--what are they getting out of it, besides enormous security costs?
posted by amberglow at 7:20 AM on September 28, 2003


I say let the Londoners tar and feather Blaine. It'll make better television. It keeps the tv special from being more than just Blaine in a box. I mean an hour of just that would make the commercials look interesting. In fact it's very possible Blaine was counting on this, and why he isn't doing it in New York because comparatively, NewYorkers are much more civil and patient with one of their own.

So please Englanders. By all means. Throw things at Blaine. Make large signs that tell him to go home. Spit into the Thames river. Hell, if one of you manages to kill him that would make great television.

There's only two things that you could do which would ruin his efforts. And that's 1) to ignore him, or 2) go through legal means to have him physically removed from England on the grounds that he's being an international public nuissance and a disgrace to mankind.

And don't get me wrong. I like Blaine's work. I find him entertaining. I also find his usage of self-starvation as entertainment to be socially insensitive and unhealthy. So either way this goes, I could care less. But make no mistake London: you're only catering to Blaine's obvious need for attention. So thank you for being a part of the spectacle. Thank you for helping Blaine be more entertaining than he really is.

Oh! And if one of you guys over there could literally pee into his water tube? That'd be great fun.

nthdegx mentioned the Hidden Disability Guy...

"David Blaine is up there, without food, out of the rain and the wind. I am down here, in rain and wind, with food. He stays in his box, and I stay inside my rectangle of plastic pipes. I hereby offer to bet him one pound that he goes home before I do. I do not protest. I promote Hidden Disability. My cause is more important than my name, so please refer to me as "The Hidden Disability Guy" if you mention me. That way you help me raise awareness of Hidden Disability."

"David does his own thing for his own reasons, as I do. David and I have no alliance, and I have no ties with him, nor with the TV guys that film him. I speak for myself only. I represent no other person nor organisation. I wish him luck, but I also hope that he gets bored and 'goes home' before I do."


Damn. I think they're doing a tv special about the wrong guy.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:59 AM on September 28, 2003


Real magic is "holy shit" magic, as in "holy shit, how the hell did they do that?!"

Penn & Teller do holy shit magic. Their slight-of-hand can be impeccable -- I watched their world magic tour show the other day, and they did the cups-and-balls trick using clear plastic cups and balls of tinfoil in slow motion. And still their magic was seamless and mind-blowing. I could see it all happening... and couldn't believe it was happening nor how they made it happen.

In contrast, sitting in a damn box with a thumb up the bum is just plain boring.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on September 28, 2003


What Blaine's doing here is not much more than simple attention-seeking, I feel. Americans* are so easily awed at this kind of crap, and Brits aren't.

Let him go into a cave somewhere and starve himself for 45 days. I mean, so what? It might be interesting to hear some of his insights afterwards, but otherwise: big deal, man living in a box with no food. Homeless people do it all the time. It's neither entertaining or, really, that interesting.

The "vandals" are pricking Blaine's pomposity.

*Gross generalisation.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:07 AM on September 28, 2003


David Blaine is a talented gadfly.
posted by moonbiter at 10:47 AM on September 28, 2003


Actually MoonBiter, more fittingly a person such as.. well, you or me or most people, are gadflies. It's sort of like the difference between being eccentric and being insane. If you're wealthy and disturbed, you're eccentric. If you're without funds to entertain your flights of whimsy, you're crazy. I'm an occasional annoyance who does not get paid to annoy. A goading, irritating critic who is often dismissed and therefore ineffectual. An occasional buzz in the ear to swat away. That's all we are, here in MeFi, at least until that fateful day when we all decide in unison to have a Million MeFite March on Washington DC to demand equality as gadflies, but that day is not today. Besides, I couldn't find a sponsor to print up our t-shirts.

Blaine gets paid millions of dollars to insult the starving millions on this planet. The money involved makes him more than a mere pest. I don't think there's an appropriate word to describe him. At least, one has not been invented yet, although I imagine there are a few expletitives and baneful maledictions already on the books that would give us a good start.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:15 PM on September 28, 2003


Oh, and REAL magic isn't real. Science has yet to prove the existence of real magic. Try telling a wiccan that and she may slap you. Try comparing what she believes to be magic with what this guy does and she will slap you.

Penn & Teller do not do real magic. They combine sleight of hand and parlour tricks with cynical satire, and are the best on the planet at what they do, but it's not magic. I asked the Public 8 Ball if Penn & Teller were really magicians, and it said, "Outlook Not So Good."
posted by ZachsMind at 12:49 PM on September 28, 2003


>It might be interesting to hear some of his insights afterwards

Yeah, the whole stunt is painfully boring. Someone should slip some LSD in the water for entertainment. Hell, his PR people should. "Man in box," is not impressive to Americans either especially when he did almost the exact same thing last year.
posted by skallas at 1:21 PM on September 28, 2003


Oh, and REAL magic isn't real.

It's not!?! Dear Lord...

Attention all Mefites! Magic isn't real! Stop the insanity!
posted by Stauf at 5:36 PM on September 28, 2003


Penn & Teller is real magic. Fer sure.

LSD in the water. Heh. Too funny.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 PM on September 28, 2003


influx: We don't like pretentious show-offs in Britain, particularly when they're American.

kerplunk: Primarily long-standing antipathy to performers who aren't deemed to be sufficiently humble or down to earth coupled with not invented here syndrome and some anti-Americanism.

Blue Stone: What Blaine's doing here is not much more than simple attention-seeking, I feel. Americans* are so easily awed at this kind of crap, and Brits aren't.

Well, I gotta give you credit for honesty.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:36 AM on September 29, 2003


Stauf, I was just trying to give the pagan belief structures equal time here, but not being a pagan I'm admittedly not very good at it. There is however a distinct difference between this illusion BS and paranormal phenomena. I think people who make signs big enough for David to read that say stuff like "you're my hero" kinda lose sight of that. How can he possibly be a hero? Blaine's doing nothing remarkable that can't easily be explained through either science or greed: science based on how he can medically survive the experience and greed in how a million dollar carrot at the end of a stick can get some people to do anything, no matter how stupid.

Blaine's making America look bad to the rest of the world, and it's not like we need any help in that department right now.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:07 AM on September 29, 2003


Zachsmind, all magic can be explained by science - and amazing skill. That's what Penn & Teller do. "real" magic is by definition impossible, or it wouldn't be magic for it to happen. Of course if it happens, then it's possible after all. It's a paradox to believe in magic. If something happens, you can describe how it happens; that's all the "laws" of science are, descriptions of what happens. There may be other forces or parts of the world we don't understand that make things appear magical, but investigating them would show us what they are.

The hanging out in a box thing, as stated above, is just boring. It doesn't make you say, "HOW does he do it?" but just "WHY would he bother?" It seems unenjoyable but not impossible. I think most people prefer illusion to stuff like driving nails through parts of your body anyway, and slow starvation is even less interesting than those pain endurance type things.
posted by mdn at 7:44 AM on September 29, 2003


You don't lose weight by pooping it out, the mass is burned to create energy.

That's how it works if you're a nuclear fission reactor, however medical science tells us that most people do not operate as such. Instead, when we digest food we get energy by breaking down the chemical bonds in the food, the remaining, neglibly reduced mass of the food is then expelled. This is on a weight for weight basis in people who remain stable in their body weight.
posted by biffa at 3:42 AM on October 2, 2003


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