Hollywood theologians have been notoriously inaccurate when it comes to presenting omens for Armageddon, but as the world burns and chaos spreads, from Manhattan has emerged a young man astride the Harlot of Babylon for the ride into Jerusalem even as he closes final escrow on 666 Fifth Avenue. Coincidence? Most probably. But it sure would be fun—and explain a lot—if it isn’t…
By Mark Cromer
“When the Jews return to Zion, and a comet rips the sky, and the Holy Roman Empire rises, then you and I must die. From the Eternal Sea, He rises, creating armies on either shore, turning man against his brother, ‘til man exists no more.” — Not from The Book of Revelations, but rather the 2006 reboot of The Omen. A nice bit of Hollywood apocalyptic poetry, it is perhaps apropos now more than ever.
Full disclosure: I generally only offer my interpretations of the venerated scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) perhaps only once or twice a month and strictly between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. during the socially sacred rites performed on the deck or patio among my friends and fellow travelers—a sociopolitical séance of sorts in which liberal applications of the Russian holy water Stolichnaya are used to summon forth a divine clarity on all matters of this world and even some of the next.
So it was far outside the glow of my own suburban shamanistic revelry this weekend that over morning coffee I spied in The New York Times a news story buried on A17 in the old broadsheet that seemed to hint at a rather fantastical explanation of what increasingly appears to be our impending doom.
The story by Charles V. Bagli and Jesse Drucker reported that Jared Kushner and his dad, Charles Kushner—an attorney (of course) and a marquee Gotham real estate player who became a convicted felon after pleading guilty to tax evasion and witness tampering in exchange for a two-year sabbatical in federal prison—are closing a deal to completely take over a prime midtown Manhattan address: 666 Fifth Avenue. Nestled comfortably between Rockefeller Center and Trump Tower and conveniently close to the now soulless apparition of Times Square and the appropriately named Hell’s Kitchen, Kushner and his earthly father have held a stake in the prominent 41-floor property for more than a decade. The son and dad duo snagged their headquarters in 2007 for a record $1.8 billion and are now moving to buyout what The Times described as their financially troubled minority share partner and place its title under the Kushner name alone.
Gazing at the photo of the 37-year-old Kushner that The Times ran with the story, his arms folded in front of him in a posture that mimics his father-in-law’s perpetually uncomfortable pose, I was reminded that there’s always been something about Kushner’s face that transcends its youthful first glance into a more disturbingly ethereal quality, something more unnervingly otherworldly. In image after image the same portrait emerges of Kushner through the years and none possess the reassuringly human lifelines that actor Sam Neill provided Damien Thorn in 1981’s The Final Conflict.
No, Kushner’s mug seems forever fixed in an emotionless wasteland, a freeze-frame of aphasia that is only betrayed by his smoldering gaze and the faintest hint of a lifeless grin.
Surrounding the news of Kushner’s sealing the deal for the deed of 666 Fifth Avenue was a sea of ink and photographs that radiated the abyss of chaos and carnage that the world we inhabit is sinking ever deeper into; the perpetual bloodletting in the Holy Land now reaching a new unholy zenith, the freshly reminted warlord John Bolton returning to the White House to carry the torch of corporate imperial ambitions to every corner of the globe under the auspices of American arms, the turmoil and treachery unspooling amid Washington’s elites as the web of all-seeing tech companies wrap ever-tighter around all who would dare resist.
Page after page of deception, death, destruction and doom and in the middle of it all stood Kushner and his digs at 666 Fifth Ave.
The most unlikely president in American history snatched victory by running on a nationalistic campaign of securing the borders of the United States, enforcing its immigration laws, bringing to an end the endless deployments of American combat troops around the globe and restoring the federal government’s focus and its budget to the national homeland, to the grand sweep of its fertile heartland and to the troubled heart of its Great Cities.
Yet once in office, that campaign platform was suddenly inverted. Not a single inch of border wall has been built and nothing of actual consequence has been undertaken to enforce immigration laws. The wars not only drag on but are expanding in every theater of operations, all while Trump has spent virtually every weekend at his country club in Florida while the desolation of Detroit reaches ever more epic proportions as the heartland buckles under the waves of fentanyl that rush across it like a tide of cheap death.
And there again is Kushner, a heretofore unknown suddenly appears as Minister-at-Large with the Middle East ‘peace plan’ in his portfolio.
It just begs the question: could Jared Kushner be our Damien Thorn?
If the greatest trick Satan ever perfected was convincing humanity that he doesn’t really exist—with a gleeful exhortation from the lifeguard tower that it’s a perfect day for a swim as humanity stampedes past the danger signs to plunge into a shark-filled surf—then one of Hollywood’s greatest feats has been its profitable enterprise dedicated to convincing viewers the Devil & Co. just might be real after all.
And who’s to say they finally didn’t get one right?
As I flipped through The Times, pouring over those glorious inky pages for further potential clues, the sheer scope of the planetary catastrophe seemed to mask other subtle signs of a growing shadow, a gathering of evil, cryptic nods of the antichrist’s arrival and I was reminded that the Pope had just recently mentioned in passing to an Italian journalist that there is no hell. Interesting timing. Newsprint spread all over my solid wood dining table, I became aware that I was muttering to myself as I tore from one section to the next, from one page to another. I felt a little like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory; lost in the maze, sinking in the morass, yet feeling as if I was perhaps on the cusp of the answer to it all. The revolution may be televised but the End of the World will be foretold in newspapers.
As my morning Maxwell House buzz reached its crescendo, I wondered whether there might be a Carl Bugenhagen sheltering even now in some cavernous redoubt in Tel Megiddo, still safeguarding a set of sacred daggers and waiting for Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders to come retrieve them?
Probably not, but then again, were it true would that brew be any stranger than the daily parade of freak bizarre that now crowds our landscape?
And would this sideshow of a presidency under the big top of Washington’s circus really sell any more seats or lose any paying customers if during one of the upcoming press briefings CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders “Given the President’s obsession with Obama’s birth certificate, would the White House be willing to release all records pertaining to the birth of Jared Kushner as well as make the attending physician available for questioning? Also, what can you tell us about his nannies, then and now? And as a follow-up, is there any truth to the rumor that Mr. Kushner’s actual birthmother was a jackal?”
How difficult is it to imagine Trump, after unleashing a Category 6 Twitter hurricane in response to such a line of questioning from Acosta, creeping into the Kushners’ bedroom that very same night with a flashlight to inspect the scalp of his son-in-law? Or Trump offering a heavy sigh of relief upon finding the mark of the beast on Jared’s crown, finally free of the fear he may have been screwed royally in another shady deal that he inked years ago?
Would it really be a shocker, all things these days considered, if Kellyanne Conway took to the White House roof during next spring’s Easter Egg hunt and began shouting “Jared! Jared! Up here! It was all for you, Jared! It was always all for you!”
Short of Armageddon and antichrist or not, Conway’s prima ballerina pirouette off the ledge might finally bring a smile to his face.