We sent our reporter to watch him as he went through the first 24 hours of his 60-hour stint of hanging upside-down in Central Park. He doesn't look so hot. Anybody remember when that dude used to do magic?
The $3,000-a-ticket Billy Joel show in the Hamptons Saturday was billed as "the ultimate rock 'n' roll fantasy," and it was — if your idea of rock and roll begins and ends with wretched excess. Upon arrival, guests were whisked to a quasi-secret location in a fleet of chartered buses that came so often they practically formed a train; once inside the perimeter, they had to contend with troupes of caterers, candy girls, cigar-toting Davidoff reps, and the like. We weren't too surprised to find megamagician David Blaine, bulkier than we remembered him, moodily walking around, but our hearts sank a bit once we realized the guy had been hired as pre-show entertainment. Because Blaine is mostly famous for very public acts of endurance, we inquired how long, in his estimation, he'd be able to continuously listen to Billy Joel. "Ha-ha," said the magician. "Seriously, he's awesome." (Actually, later, Billy Joel would prove to be, well, Billy Joel.)
• Nassau County had its first poet laureate all picked out: Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. Then they discovered his poem that begins "Males and one woman / Sip coffee mornings in the White House, / Talk of desires about Iraq." So that's a no. Good call, incidentally: The poem is beyond awful. [NYT]
• Meet Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, a SUNY-Albany nanotech scientist who happens to be the best-remunerated state employee in New York. After last week's record pay hike, his various salaries add up to an annual windfall of $947,538. Not that anyone's counting. [NYP]
• Nothing like a crazed-insurance-broker yarn: Noel Lauria bought a bow and fired arrows out his UES window, landing a stray one through a neighbor's terrace door. His explanation to the cops: "I'm turning 40." [NYDN]
• Oh, goody, another "edgy" magician dangling over Times Square. The ingredients in the current mess: a guy named Criss Angel, a glass box, 6,000 pounds of concrete, and a crappy A&E show to promote. Go concrete! [amNY]
• And over the weekend, all manner of deformed, tattooed, and hairy freaks played baseball. Also, there was a Coney Island charity game, with the Sideshow By the Seashore performers battling the Cyclone staff. See what we did there? [Metro NY]
The descendants of escape artist Harry Houdini want to exhume his body to determine if he was poisoned. Houdini died on October 31, 1926, of a supposed burst appendix (the result of a punch in the stomach), but the performer's great-nephew believes it was murder. An autopsy could determine if Houdini was poisoned by his rivals for debunking the Spiritualists, a group that claimed to communicate with the dead. Houdini's grave, above, is in Machpelah Cemetery in Glendale.
NYC Exhumation Could Determine If Houdini Was Poisoned [AP via Newsday]
They sat there for a half-hour, fourteen writers, mediums, magicians, and old showgirls gathered around a circular table, 28 palms clasped together, 28 eyes shut, everyone waiting for the great Harry Houdini to come back from the dead. There was silence (save for the pesky clicks of a New York Times shutterbug). And there was more silence. (Click, click.) And then there was nothing.
The Great Houdini never showed.
The latest tale conjured about Harry Houdini, who died 80 years ago today, is that the famed magician and showman was actually an American and British spy — and that he was murdered as part of an elaborate plot concocted by his arch-enemies, a trans-national clique of turn-of-the-century mediums supported by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And perhaps at the annual Houdini séance this afternoon at the Center for Jewish History, in Chelsea, ol' Harry will come back from his Long Island grave to answer shed some light on these new charges.