Blaine's Box

In August 2003, David Blaine requested inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records for a forthcoming feat of fasting endurance: Beginning on September 5th, the famed illusionist explained, he would begin living without food in a clear plastic 7' x 7' x 3' box suspended above the river Thames in London -- and would remain encased therein for 44-days.

Ironically, Guinness judges promptly rejected Blaine's so-called feat as too wimpy: The longest hunger strike, they noted, ended (in 1973) after 385 days, when Dennis Galer Goodwin protested his innocence in Wakefield Prison, West Yorkshire, of a rape charge. (He was fed by tube orally.) More remarkable still, Angus Barbieri went without solid food for 382 days (living on tea, coffee, soda water and vitamins) in Maryfield Hospital, Dundee in the mid 1960s (and lost more than 280 pounds). Moreover, Blaine's box was positively spacious by Guinness standards. South Africa's Vernon Kruger, for example, lived in a barrel about an eighth the size of Blaine's box for 67 days in 1997...

Londoners were equally dismissive of the stunt. During Blaine's attempt his box was bombarded with eggs and a variety of other projectiles, one man attempted to cut his water supply, and another group taunted him with cheeseburgers -- using a remote controlled helicopter!

[Blaine was also taunted by a group of flash-mobbers, whose cell phones simultaneously rang at 7.44 pm. The "Flashblaine" mob then chanted "what goes up, must come down," laughed manically, and held various items of food in the air. Meanwhile in Ireland... one Dubliner climbed into a look-alike box over the river Liffey, gravely announcing his plan to stay there for 48 hours with no comforts beyond a sofa, television, cocktail cabinet, and visiting hairdresser and masseur.]

[For the record, Guinness does not officially endorse fasting: "We have never encouraged actively claims for the longest time to voluntarily go without solid food for very clear and obvious reasons," Guinness record-keeper Stewart Newport explained. "If you beat the 'record' and then die is it a successful attempt?"]

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