David Blaine
November 27, 2000 2:44 PM   Subscribe

David Blaine is at it again (requires flash). If you are in New York, you can also see him frozen live at Times Square from now through the 29th.
posted by tamim (33 comments total)
Wow. He doesn't look happy at all.

Chipper up, old bean!
posted by pnevares at 3:12 PM on November 27, 2000

"David Blaine seems to have this specialty in doing nothing. He's a marginally attractive man in a field full of repulsive people. It doesn't matter how good his sleight of hand is because all the rest of us are trolls."

- Penn Jillette

posted by john at 3:39 PM on November 27, 2000

I dunno-- I saw a TV special on him, and he has a really creepy-yet-strangely-appealing stage(?) presence that makes his closeup magic pretty compelling.
posted by wiremommy at 3:42 PM on November 27, 2000

I think Penn's riding the anti-establishment bus as far as it'll take him. :-) He tends not to get on terribly well with most other magicians, since he and Teller were long ago banned from the club house.

There is definetely some sour grapes to that snippet though. Do you have a link to that quote John? I'm curious if there's any more context to it.

Teller's closeup magic is also quite astounding. The best part of Teller's closeup stuff is after he shows you how it's done, and you still have no idea how it's done. :-)
posted by cCranium at 4:11 PM on November 27, 2000

Sorry, I forgot where I grabbbed that from. I grabbed it a while ago and threw it into my vast quote archive.
posted by john at 4:19 PM on November 27, 2000

john where can I get access to this archive?
posted by cell divide at 4:23 PM on November 27, 2000

s'alright. I have no doubt he said that, it sounds exactly like something he'd say, it would've been interesting to hear what else Penn had to say 'bout Blaine though.

posted by cCranium at 4:39 PM on November 27, 2000

This is the closest thing I can find to an original source - third item down the page. Pity that it doesn't provide any more context for the matter, though.
posted by youhas at 5:14 PM on November 27, 2000

I find I have no interest whatever in this stunt. But then, I have no interest in any "performance art". The fact that this dude is willing to subject himself to exceedingly uncomfortable conditions just to make a spectacle of himself doesn't mean I have to watch him do so.

I don't find it impressive; I just find it to be foolish.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:25 PM on November 27, 2000

I love Penn Jillette. I met him once and he told me if he ever saw me again he'd have me arrested for stalking.

I love Penn Jillette.

I'm sorry, what were we talking about?
posted by thc at 5:43 PM on November 27, 2000

Cell Divide,

Hmmm... probably not I use it for my writing. It's just a habit I picked up that started with taking clipping from newspapers. I might put it up on my website someday.

I'm actually going to catch Penn & Teller's show. They are appearing in Seattle this month at the Moore theater.
posted by john at 5:53 PM on November 27, 2000

Yep, I'll be catching one of their Seattle shows myself. Their radio spots for their Seattle run are hilarious, too.
posted by kindall at 6:07 PM on November 27, 2000

Um, so how many people here are in Seattle?
posted by gluechunk at 6:25 PM on November 27, 2000

This is sick. This is sick. I can't stop watching.
posted by solistrato at 7:25 PM on November 27, 2000

gluechunk: lots of us ;-)

posted by Mars Saxman at 7:45 PM on November 27, 2000

Well then when is the SeaMiFi gathering?
posted by gluechunk at 7:55 PM on November 27, 2000

er, Me, not Mi, darnit.
posted by gluechunk at 7:55 PM on November 27, 2000

Penn & Teller are here in SF right now and they are getting great reviews. I haven't seen the show yet, but I plan to.
posted by brian at 8:48 PM on November 27, 2000

Gluechunk, they already got together..

(I know I used this already, but I couldn't resist.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2000

Penn and Teller rule this and every other plane of existence. Check out the essays on their site. Hilarious, and often quite insightful, stuff. Penn was also an early and very vocal proponent of the web, which just gives him another layer of Mack-Daddyhood.
posted by Optamystic at 10:41 PM on November 27, 2000

Damn did you guys Mefi their site?
posted by john at 10:46 PM on November 27, 2000

And is that the first time that Mefi has been used as a verb in a non-ironic context?

I have to go now.
posted by chicobangs at 10:50 PM on November 27, 2000

Penn's house was featured in an architecture show at one point a few years ago. I want his living room.

He has a projection TV. Literally - it's an RGB projector pointing at a huge screen. The screen hides in the ceiling (remote controlled, of course) and behind it is a stage with plenty of room for the drum kit and various guitars he has. Droolable.

Also, it's in the middle of the desert (Arizona?) so he can see for like, 50 miles or something rediculous like that from his roof-top patio. Droolable.
posted by cCranium at 4:45 AM on November 28, 2000

That "Check on his vital signs" feature didn't work yesterday, and it still doesn't work. I think it's a hoax.
posted by pnevares at 5:58 AM on November 28, 2000

cCranium: I think Penn's house is in Nevada, near Las Vegas. I recall he has a prison chic thing going, including some really boss looking stainless steel toilets with a sink in the basin to save water. Very cool.
Doesn't Penn almost single handedly fund the Velvet Underground appreciation society?
posted by thirteen at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2000

Since this seems to have become a Penn&Teller thread, I feel no problem with this:

Penn Jillette grew up in Springfield MA next door to Michael Moschen, a very successful juggler and dancer. The two of them learned to juggle together, and used to do street theater together juggling before they each went pro. Obviously their styles are much different and they've gone their separate directions artistically. While it would be neat to see them on the same stage again, I doubt it will happen because they are so different from each other. Juggling takes constant practice, and Penn Jillette never uses it with Teller; I wonder if he stopped and has lost the talent.

If you ever have a chance to see Michael Moschen peform, grab it. He is totally remarkable. Where most jugglers use their talent in service of comedy, and some just for spectacle, Moschen uses his as an adjunct to dance. His purpose is to use juggling to create beauty, and he succeeds. His performance with crystal balls is absolutely unforgettable; I last saw it 10 years ago and thinking about it still brings shivers because of how beautiful it was. In fact, it's so beautiful that you almost forget how technically difficult it is, and what he does is spectactularly difficult, to the point where he's the only person alive who can do it. Indeed, it's become his signature. His entry in IMDB is relatively small because he primarily does stage work (although they left out a "Great Performances" episode called "In motion with Michael Moschen"). If you remember the movie "Labyrinth", there's a scene where David Bowie holds some crystal balls in his hand, rolling them around, and then releases each one as if it was a soap bubble. One captures Sarah; they're spells.

The hands doing that were those of Michael Moschen, and that's just a hint of what he can do with the balls. He works with other objects, too; but his purpose is always to create a beautiful image; sometimes peaceful, sometimes a bit violent, but always striking and memorable.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2000

I was at Times Square a few hours back, and I saw him while passing by, it's pretty impressive, he was inside, moving around while people were walking around him taking pictures and waving at him. there was a long line forming on 44th street to see him, there was an even bigger crowd on the Broadway side looking at him.

He looked okay, he kept shutting his eyes every few minutes, he was wearing a black jacket and a black hat. The ice is melting a bit, I was really curious to see what they were doing to keep the melting in check, but there was no way I was going to wait in a 2 hour long line for that.

That was all I could see while trying to make my way down the road, if you happen to be walking down Broadway, be sure to avoid the ABC studio, it's impossible to walk through the crowd there.
posted by riffola at 10:38 AM on November 28, 2000

i have a lot to say about david blaine but i have to make this one quote debbie harry said about penn and why they broke up

let's just say i hear penn's a big boy
posted by ethylene at 2:02 PM on November 28, 2000

I went by the blain-in-ice spectacle this evening. He seemed to have about eight inches of space all around him and was wearing a sweater that was not there yesterday. I wonder how that got inside. This reminds me of living inside and igloo. While the shell is made of ice - inside the igloo, it is rather warm. He is also drinking hot beverages. He looked comfortable and was waving back to people who were standing in line. He even tried to "talk" (mostly lip reading) with some guy who was talking back.

This thing is way more of a media event than a magical feat.
posted by tamim at 7:27 PM on November 28, 2000

Blaine's website says one of his visitors was a bus full of topless women! (Too bad they don't have a picture of that on his website.)

No wonder Penn is jealous.
posted by Potsy at 8:58 PM on November 28, 2000

Penn's a great talent, but l have no idea how this became a Penn thread. Blaine's the guy that's doing the cool freak stunt this week. If Penn wants his own MeFi thread, he should cover himself with alka seltzer and dive into a bucket of water or something.

This isn't supposed to be magic. He's not supposed to be freezing to death. I've been going to the chat room at Blaine's website when I have time and checking it out. Pretty funny. A lot of people denouncing him. Some claim he's the devil. Some claim he's a fake. Some say this whole thing's a silly stunt as if there were something wrong with that. A lot of us think he's a great entertainer, and does live up to the moniker of "mystifier" that the media's recently pegged on him. David Blaine fills a void that even Penn Jillette couldn't fill. A void everyone from Evil Kenevil to David Copperfield have failed to fill. David Blaine is this century's (and OUR generation's) Harry Houdini. Someone who every once in awhile comes up with something new that makes people freak out, question their own preconceived limitations, and maybe even gasp or chuckle or double-take at before going on with their lives.

He's no miracle worker. He's a magician. An illusionist. An entertainer. He doesn't claim to be anything more than that. I think his understated demeanor speaks a lot for his success. He stands there doing nothing, undertaking a personal goal for himself, and people pass by and look at him and touch the ice and he lets them determine for themselves what all this means for themselves. Of course it's a stunt. It's also an endurance test. He just wants to know if he could do it. People will look to see if he's cheating because he's a known illusionist. They're expecting it to be a fake. Perhaps that more than anything is precisely why he's doing this, to see what reactions he gets.

Granted, if it's discovered he was able to fake the live televised event on GMA last Monday morning when they used welding torches to lock him into the six ton icecube, and that it's actually a fully interactive hologram of himself in there, that'd still be pretty impressive. Whether this is "faked" or not, you have to admit it's pretty cool. He's not trying to do something miraculous or magical here. He's standing inside a block of ice for three days. His point is this is something anyone could do if they put their mind to it. All he wants is to be someone that people are talking about around the water coolers and message boards of this country and indeed the world.

And the questions are endless. People saw him go in there shirtless, and question why he has a shirt on now. His shirt was wrapped around his waist when he entered. How did he put it on if the ice is supposed to give him less than six inches clearance all around? Very carefully. Where'd the hat come from? His pocket. How's he pee? A catheter. How's he poop? He fasted before he went in there. Are there peanuts lining the inside of that cap which would improve the insulation to his head and technically be cheating? Who knows. Is it really cold in there or is his own body heat working the ice from the inside? Cold or not, standing in such a restrictive wet icky space for three days is still pretty darn impressive. Is that really ice or Plexiglass? Does it really matter? Is he gonna die? Of course not.

Whether this is a fake or a stunt or not, hundreds of thousands of people have stood in line for two hours and walked around him, touching the ice, listening to bodyguards screaming "flashes ready move along please!" repeatedly. Even more people are checking out his website and watching his live video feed. He knows he's the equivalent of a sideshow freak. He knows it's silly. He also knows this is the greatest publicity stunt he could do for his ABC show (broadcasting live Wednesday night check your local listings) and he probably wouldn't trade it for the world.

The only reason Penn's jealous is cuz he didn't think of it first.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:35 PM on November 28, 2000

he should cover himself with alka seltzer and dive into a bucket of water or something

Damn, that's good idea. Look for me to do that in Times Square after Blaine is finished with his gig.
posted by Potsy at 12:22 AM on November 29, 2000

over heard at the david blaine crowd:
(two hispanic female - age range 15-19)

first female: "what if he sweats and stinks? - i mean - you know - BO?"
second female: "its ice in there - he isn't sweating."
posted by tamim at 12:33 AM on November 29, 2000

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