Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.
Criswell Predicts Your Next Ten Years
Publisher: Constellation International
Discovered at: Counterpoint Books, 5911 Franklin Ave.
The Cover Promises: "Startling perditions for the Seventies: A second civil war between the North and the South. The spread of cannibalism. An All-female supreme court."
"I predict that students will call attention to their demonstrations with the hurling of pet dogs and cats into bonfires to 'spite' the American way of life!" (page 32)
"I predict the Homosexual Capital will be Des Moines, Iowa, the Bisexual Capital will be Pasadena, California, and the Heterosexual Capital will be Eerie, Pennsylvania." (page 65)
We're all smart enough today to believe that nobody could ever have taken the predictions of Criswell seriously, just as nobody could possibly have missed Liberace's little secret or that Mel Gibson is a touch touched.
But right there, on page 8 of this delirious collection of his predictions for the 1970s, Criswell himself boasts, "In my first book, Criswell Predicts to the Year 2000!, I predicted the 'assassination of the nation's top Civil Rights leader' who, of course, was Dr. Martin Luther King."
This must be the first and last time this assassination has been included as a resume bullet-point. With that, Criswell is off, predicting for the next 100 pages the same kind of nonsense that powered his 1950s syndicated TV show Criswell Predicts:
Public executions sponsored by the gas company
A new "Black Plague"
Forced American marriages ("for the good of the economy!")
An epidemic of head lice ("from South of the Border!")
The return of Atlantis ("on May 6, 1987!")
The rise of a cult -- called "the Frigids"--dedicated to eating cryogenically frozen corpses ("The rare delicacy will be the skull of any one under 18!")
The only thing that will stop the Frigids: the world's end on August 18, 1999.
That's what people expected from the famously wrongheaded predictor. But surely someone back in '69 had to be thinking, "Criswell, wait! If you saw that assassination coming, why didn't you stop it?"
Sadly, he never addresses this in Criswell Predicts Your Next Ten Years. Instead, he faces forward and reports what he sees:
"I predict that within ten years tipping will be outlawed! This discriminatory practice of the master and slave complex has long plagued the 20th century and its time is now up! Panhandling on the streets will be a felony."
"I predict that the latest teenage craze is to openly steal a dead body from a mortuary, a morgue or even a hospital, dress it up and take it riding in the front seat of a car!"
"I predict that the bestseller of the 1970s will be The Cannibal Cookbook! With the rise of African culture, the consumption of human meat will be a commonplace thing - by other humans!"
"I predict you will be shocked when our American Astronauts find the ruins of a lost civilization in a remote section of the moon!"
You know what? He's absolutely right. We will be shocked when that happens.
Born in Princeton, New Jersey, but buried in North Hollywood, Criswell exemplifies the great American journey. He dreamed big, headed west, and made up glittering bullshit. He achieved minor celebrity and minor authority all despite his persistent inaccuracy and his cameo in the consensus choice for the worst film of all time pre-Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
As late as '76, after almost 25 years of getting everything wrong, The Los Angeles Times still afforded him occasional space to predict:
From September 12, 1976:
"I predict that plans will be quietly arranged to make Wichita, Kansas, the Federal Capital of the United States."
"California will soon give the death penalty for all narcotic pushers, including marijuana."
And here he is on New Year's Eve, 1965, talking the future with Johnny Carson.
At the end of the clip, Carson holds up a product called "THROAT AIDS." Again: Criswell, why didn't you warn us?
Anyway, here's more from Criswell Predicts Your Next Ten Years:
"More and more people will purchase caskets for the sexual act."
Often, he foresaw sweeping social changes:
"I predict that there will be a nation within a nation, a new Black America! Negroes will have their own land, banks, elected officials, schools, hospitals . . . No white heroes will appear in their history books, and only black statues will grace their boulevards."
"You will see another Boston Tea Party where the Liberals will dump overboard the system which made America great! The Conservatives will defeat wave after wave of Liberals in long-lasting era of bloodshed, bullets and battles. Within the next ten years this American Armageddon will happen!"
At other times, he was weirdly specific:
"Early in the period we shall have our attention called to a young harelip man from South Carolina who shall rise to prominence as a humanitarian."
"I predict that men and boys will wear a simple blouse and skirt, which you will call 'scotties.'"
"I predict that one of the top secrets of our Pentagon, whispered around Washington, D.C., will be a potent gas, which can be sprayed over a city, causing all of the inhabitants to have their eyes turn to jelly! This major breakthrough in destructive gas will be known within the next ten years! All mankind is basically depraved!"
And almost always wrong.
"I believe that History will record that our greatest Democratic president was Lyndon B. Johnson, who will tower head and shoulders above Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy! You will have been proud to live in the same momentous years as President Johnson!"
How I wish I could say the following and mean it:
I predict: People who pass off utter, ridiculous crap as predictions will once again only be invited onto TV as goofy curios rather than national-security experts.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"I predict that when the history of entertainment is written for the 20th century, one man will rise above, the present number one clown, Red Skelton."
Say, why not follow @studiesincrap on Twitter?