By Belle Hatfield
The word came while in Halifax on newspaper business last week. Sandwiched within an e-mail update from the editor was the following. “I’m setting up an interview with Kreskin for Friday. It’s about the ferry.”
Kreskin? As in The Amazing Kreskin? From the 1970s CTV series The Amazing World of Kreskin? That Kreskin.
When the Yarmouth ferry is on the mind of one of the world’s most famous prognosticators, it is, if not exactly news, then at least interesting.
Ferry proponents are holding their breath for the results of a request-for-proposal process. The deadline is Jan. 24, but The Amazing Kreskin, isn’t waiting to see whether any operators will come forward.
And so I find myself dialing the New Jersey number that connects to the home office of the septuagenarian dynamo who, for more than 60 years, has been confounding audiences – and academics – around the world with his uncanny ability to read people’s minds and predict future events.
Before the end of the conversation, not only has he reiterated his prediction that the ferry service will resume, but also that he will have a hand to play in making its maiden voyage a dramatic and newsworthy event.
“The province has been hit hard, and the economy is reeling. But there is interest in re-starting the ferry. I can feel it. I think it is going to happen within a couple of years. I can’t sum it up in two sentences, the reasons why I think it is going to happen,” says Kreskin, “but, I think there is generating a mental force, enough energy and interest to … attract others.”
Of course, Kreskin isn’t always right. But, he is amazing even when he fails. Sixteen months before Americans re-elected Barack Obama, in July 2011, Kreskin wrote his prediction for who would win the election and who would be the Republican nominee. Three copies were securely held at different locations. When they were revealed the day after last November’s election, he had correctly predicted Obama’s re-election, but his prediction for the Republican nominee was not Mitt Romney. He had predicted a then little-known congressman, Paul Ryan, would be the nominee. A year after he wrote and sealed that prediction, Romney chose Ryan as his running mate.
“Everybody has asked me, even psychologists, how I got that name. The name wasn’t even around when I made that prediction. But I had read hundreds of obscure pages about different contenders.”
Kreskin jogs, every day, not just as a form of exercise, but as a meditation of sorts.
“I went jogging and the name just kept shouting at me … I can honestly say I don’t know why I ever named him, but it shows you what happens when you have all the information, and when the conscious level of thinking gets out of the way. You would be surprised at just how much you can be made aware of -- and it’s not magical,” he said.
Born George Joseph Kresge in 1935, (he officially changed his name to The Amazing Kreskin) his aha moment came as a young boy when he successfully found a penny hidden during a game of Hot Cold without needing any verbal prompting from his brother. Gradually he came to understand that he had an innate empathetic ability to read people, just like you read a book. He has been training that ability ever since. In psychological circles, he is referred to as a sensitive, but he settles for the term mentalist.
“I am not a fortune teller. I have never claimed to be. I don’t use the term psychic. I am a highly sensitive person, someone who under certain conditions can perceive people’s thoughts,” he says.
“I have made some very dramatic predictions but it is not because some crystal ball just lit up. It’s because I went for a second opinion. And my second opinion is my unconscious mind.”
Captivated by the field of psychology and with a boyish enthusiasm for cards, he spent years devoted to studying both. By 12, he was amazing local audiences. By the mid-sixties he was a darling of the talk show circuit, including a record 88 appearances on the The Tonight Show, starring Johnny Carson. He has written 19 books, the latest of which, Conversations with Kreskin, has just been published. As he approaches his 80th birthday, he maintains a demanding schedule, last year completing 357 interviews, shows and appearances.
Back again to Nova Scotia and the ferry.
“People must realize that if they want this and see the need, and they are in the business world, some factor of their work can contribute to making this happen.”
And he’s prepared to be part of what he calls that motion.
He parts with a promise.
“I am interested … in putting together an event that would deal with the first launching of the ferry. I don’t make these statements very often but when I get excited about something -- not only would the re-opening of the service be a major event, but I would be interested in doing a public relations event that would be very dramatic.”