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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Column: Crazy headlines

The pastor who predicted the end of the world a few months back was, I think, really on to something. Given that his followers sold their homes, spent huge sums of money on billboards and advertisement trying to tell the world – or, as much of the world that drove by their billboards and advertisements – that it (“it” being the world) is ending. Excuse me, “was” ending.

I’m not saying he was wrong, clearly reality already did that; all I’m saying is that I think he was on to something. Mostly because I’ve found proof I want to share with you all that I think is as convincing as anything else that the end of the world is coming. And, if not the whole world, then at least the parts of the world where people happened to pass by those billboards and advertisements.

Those are the places where the strangest headlines come from. I’m not saying the people there make conscious decisions to do weird things. I’m saying there is an osmotic balance to weirdness, and when you’ve got a sign as soaked in it as “the end of the world is here, in a week,” it’s bound to rub off.

I’m thinking of headlines like, “Man beats woman with frozen armadillo.” The article stated she was planning on serving it to friends, or family, none of whom would’ve had an objection to it because it was in Texas and vegetarians do not exist down there, because they’ve shot all of them.

According to one of many articles I read, the pastor’s followers were “crestfallen” when he said, basically, that he was off by five months and, oops, the Earth will actually be obliterated on Oct. 21. This meant nothing, of course, to the driver who accidentally put the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in reverse instead of drive, and rammed it through an elderly couple’s garage door. Doomsday? Maybe not, but close.

The pastor felt so terrible when his doomsday message did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. When I read that, I wondered if it was somehow associated to the hotel in China that was set on fire when fireworks exploded too near it. That one seemed, initially, apocalyptic. But, in revisiting the details of the story, it was because the hotel had been made out of paper. Which, and maybe I’m judging, seems like an obvious no-no.

“The globe will be completely destroyed in five months,” the pastor said, to someone, somewhere, presumably beside a billboard. This wasn’t enough to produce the actual end of the world, but it was certainly enough for people in other parts of the country to sell their homes because, ha ha, who needs a house when the Earth is ready to crack open like an egg and dissolve into nothing? “Not me!” (said people who now regret it).

It’s good if you haven’t breathed too easily yet either, though. Because the pastor has re-evaluated his exacting calculations that put the end of everything sometime between now and some other time, and is now promoting Oct. 21 as the day to end all days. Oh, wait. Never mind, breathe easily. That was a bust too. Though still not enough of one to subdue the panic of the people in and around the IRS, who, has reported to people other than myself that three years or so ago, the pastor’s radio station reported that it received $18.3 million dollars of donations. This seems like a lot until their total assets are considered, which are upward of $100 million. (Cha-ching! Armageddon’s as big a blockbuster now as it was when it was in theaters!).

When I read that sort of thing, it makes me wonder if anyone is home in these places. Which, they probably are, just not near the billboards or signs. Because there, all the houses are for sale and there’s every chance you’ll meet your own end at the hands of a crazy and his frozen armadillo.

Tell your secrets to EVAN WHITE at emwhite@ucdavis.edu. It should be understood he won’t keep them for you, but will delight in hearing them.


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