Hitler’s Quest for the Holy Grail? New Book Explores Nazi Obsession With the Occult

Folklore, magicians and “monstrous science”? Nazis weren’t just evil – they were also obsessed with the supernatural under Hitler’s direction.

Eric Kurlander is a history professor who published “Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich” last year. He joined Glenn on today’s show to talk about how a fascination with bizarre pseudo-science and the supernatural fueled the Nazi conviction that Aryans were a master race.

“You’ve never heard any of this before, and it will give you … a new look on what allowed the Nazi movement to really grow,” Glenn said.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: If you listen at all to the program, you know that I -- I read an awful lot. And I could go through -- I could go through two or three books a week, pretty easily. And I thought I would devour this book by Eric Kurlander. Hitler's Monsters. But this has taken me about a month to get through, mainly because I get sidetracked and start looking up the things that he is pointing out. Because you've never heard any of this before. And it will give you a couple of things. A new look on what allowed the Nazi movement to really grow. And grow deep roots for a while.

And also, the fact that, no, uh-uh. No. This was not a Christian movement, which a lot of people like to say, national socialist. Hitler was a Christian. No. Uh-uh. No. No, that was not a Christian movement.

The only guy that has done serious work on the supernatural history of the Third Reich is Eric Kurlander. And he joins us now. And I want to make sure that you understand that this isn't some guy who is just like, I just did some research. He has his PhD of Modern European History from Harvard. MA, Modern European History, Harvard. BA History. Is it Bowdoin College? I'm not familiar with that.

ERIC: Bowdoin. It's Belgium.

GLENN: Bowdoin. Sorry. Belgium, okay.

Well, welcome. I'm a huge fan of this book. And thank you for -- how many years did it take you to compile all of this?

ERIC: Well, thank you, Glenn for having me on. I really appreciate it. I watched the show many years ago. And Robert Gellately, one of my colleagues at Florida State University was on. I think on a book, comparing Hitler and Stalin to Mussolini.

And I appreciated the way you brought in academic historians into your conversation. So thank you for having me on.

GLENN: Thank you. Thank you.

ERIC: And like many academic monographs, it took me a good eight to ten years from conception to going to archives and doing the due diligence. Reading other people's work and then finally starting writing, presenting it. And eventually deciding I had a critical mass of information to make my arguments.

And it doesn't mean that there isn't going to be a reviewer somewhere that is like, well, you could have looked at that or this. But as you point out, it's pretty dense already. I mean, at some point, you've got to say, you're ready.

GLENN: Enough.

ERIC: And get it out there.

GLENN: Yeah. There's a couple of things. And I want you to kind of lead this a bit. But I want to kind of ask you a couple of questions up front, that I think show the depth of your research.

One, you went and this fascinated me. You went to the detail of looking at books that Hitler had collected and had read. And you looked for things he underlined. And there were a couple of things that -- that you talked about. I could only find one of them now as I was looking this morning. But one that he underlined was horror always lurks at the bottom of the magical world. And everything holy is always mixed with horror.

This comes from a book called magic in 1923. He underlined this. And there was also another quote about something about a truly great man has to have the seeds of a demon inside of him.

ERIC: That he did underline the quotes from a page that he had underlined. But he hadn't underlined that particular quote. And I want to be very clear about this. Because this is an important methodological point. A fellow historian, a journalist who writes history, found the book in the library of Congress, where we have Hitler's library. And it seems to be underlined and annotated in the way that Hitler had annotated other books. We're not 100 percent certain that he read and annotated it. But he's the most likely suspect. So I use this book to represent a kind of cultural milieu in which he may have been thinking. Because it seems that he may have read it. And then I tie in other sources that talk about Hitler, seeming to be interested in parapsychology, magic. Even if he just thinks it's a way to manipulate people and not an actual force in the universe, he clearly was involved in that kind of milieu. That's the point I'm making. And it does appear that he underlined 66 passages in that book. But as someone who is not -- I'm not a specialist in handwriting. I don't know for certain that he did. I just want to put that out there.

GLENN: So, Eric, the other thing that I thought would be important to start with, to show the depth of your research was the -- I mean, you go back to the 1800s, and you're really trying to lay out the mindset of Germans at that time. And I was not aware -- and you talk a lot about the films that were made, the silent films in the teens and the 20s. And I went back and I I don't remember which one I watched, but I watched one of these silent films that you pointed out in your book. And it is terrifying. And it is -- it -- the -- the -- the distortion of the Jew into a monster or later, Nosferatu, the vampire is terrifying --

ERIC: Right. Right.

GLENN: -- that that went on for so long without the Nazis.

ERIC: Right. So a number of film scholars and literary scholars have argued that Weimar because of all the trauma it went through, the way the people of Weimar processed it was through horror. Through expressionism. Through very kind of avant-garde artistic media that were, you know, channeling a kind of return of the repressed, right?

And I try to show the ways in which certain images, monster's images of the other, right? Jews, Slavs, communists, were portrayed in not an empirical way.

Here's what's going to happen to the economy if finance capital does that or the Communists do this. But in a metaphysical or supernatural way, right?

And that's -- and I'm trying to show how that culture proceeds the Nazis. It doesn't mean everyone who watched horror movies was a Nazi. But their way of processing trauma and crisis, I argue was influenced by a kind of supernatural thinking.

GLENN: How much -- how much of this came from the churches -- I know the churches in the West, in England, et cetera, et cetera, many of them were really damaged because of World War I.

And the people were kind of shook from that. And they kind of started to see, wait a minute. The church is kind of a political organ here.

How much of this return to magic in Germany came from the churches kind of selling out or not being what churches should be?

ERIC: That's an excellent question. And you're not going to want to me to get into too much detail here.

But I will say, is I point out in chapter one, that Max Weber, the famous sociologist, was alive at the time said, clearly the traditional churches in the wake of hyper industrialization, even before World War I, and science, are no longer providing the kind of answers for a lot of people, a lot of younger people, living certainly in cities that they used to provide.

And yet, with this disenchantment of the world, right? People still need something higher than themselves. They need faith in something. If science isn't going to do it and traditional religion doesn't do it, what's in between?

Well, New Age religion, occultism, the so-called border sciences that claim to explain everything, like World Ice Theory, really can't be proven empirically. That's a vehicle for faith.

Pulp Fiction, science fiction, and we see that across the West, after the 1890s, and especially after World War I. With the decline in traditional religion. We even see some of the Catholic and Protestant leaders trying to tap into that more grassroots, central way of thinking.

But what I argue, and I guess this is something that as you point out in the intro, it would be reassuring for you as someone who believed believes in the Judeo-Christian ethos in the West, it's usually to the degree that they move away from that, that they're open to these new ways of thinking. I don't find a lot of devout Catholics and Protestants who like -- who believe in world ice theory, for example.

GLENN: Right.

ERIC: But they're compatible because they're both faith-based ways of thinking. But I do think you've got to take a step away from traditional religion, towards what I would call border science, or occultism, in order to find that as your new religion. So you're right, that while the churches may have made certain concessions to it, or like you say, become too political.

GLENN: Sure.

ERIC: I don't think Christianity, per se, was a bridge to this kind of thinking.

GLENN: And I don't mean it exactly that way. I mean the absence of that thinking led people to go find something that was different and worked.

ERIC: Right.

GLENN: I want to have you explain border science and things like that, when we come back. And kind of get in and set the groundwork of, what they actually believed and what they used. I mean, the idea that they were using astrologers and divining rods to find submarines is amazing. And eventually the miracle weapons that they were going after, and the reason why, possibly, they did not get the bomb, is -- is -- is an amazing revelation. And we'll get to that here in just a second.

(music)

STU: The book is Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich. Eric Kurlander is the author. If you're fan of like those incredible crazy, you know, documentaries they've made on this topic, this goes much, much further.

GLENN: Oh, much --

STU: It explains it with real credibility.

GLENN: Yeah. This is -- this is Indiana Jones and the, you know, holy grail and the last crusade. It is -- it's, you know, the Ark of the Covenant and Captain America. But it's the real stuff. It's amazing.

STU: Hmm.

GLENN: We have Eric Kurlander on. He is the author of a book, Hitler's Monsters. This is a serious scholarly book about the supernatural history of the Third Reich and what they believed and what they used.

Eric, help me out. Let's get a couple of definitions. What -- define the occult, what does that mean? Is that devil stuff?

ERIC: Right. So I started out thinking, oh, you know, I'm going to look at occultism, whatever that means. And then I realized that occult is a pretty specific meaning to scholars. It's things related to demonology, witchcraft, certain what I later call border sciences, but really that are linked to things like astrology and dowsing and doctrines like Ariosophy or anthroposophy. These are also things that usually come under the umbrella of occultism, something that is between religion and science, and will help you uncover a secret world or a hidden world. That's where the term comes from.

GLENN: Pretend I read the book, but still could not get my arms around the osophies. Can you --

ERIC: Right.

GLENN: Can you define those?

ERIC: Right. Excellent question. And, again, these osophies are larger doctrines, which supposedly explain the world in ways that traditional religion and science can't because they integrate both. So theosophy, which Blavatsky, a Russian thinker in the mid- to late 19th century is this idea that if you study the religions in the East and the kind of practices of the East and unite it with Darwinism and evolution, you can come up with a syncretic doctrine that explains all of world history. So she came up with this idea of root races, the most superior of which lived in Atlantis. Millennia earlier maybe mated with extraterrestrials, and these other races which had various qualities. You know, the early theosophists were not as explicitly racist as the later anthroposophists or ariosophists, obviously with Arian in the title. But they all believed in this idea of root races, that modern biology and Darwinism makes sense, but it's got to be leavened with Eastern philosophy and religion. And that you can understand the stages of world history through that.

And if you reverse-engineer everything, you can get back in touch, both spiritually and racially with the great races of the earlier period.

And so much of what they were doing was having seances and following certain doctrines to try to get back in touch with humanity when it was at its highest point. You can see why that was attractive to some central Europeans.

GLENN: Yeah.

ERIC: And the folkish movement. The more racialist political movements and anti-Semitic movements. Because it in a way justified their view of the world.

GLENN: So, Eric, I just want to go back. I was -- I was interested to read how much they were into eastern religion. And I can't remember, was it Himmler that carried around the sayings of Buddha in his pocket?

ERIC: The Bhagavad Gita. It's not exactly the same thing. But, yeah, Himmler, Hess -- Rudolf Hess, the deputy furor, Valter Duray (phonetic), just to name a couple.

GLENN: This would not be something that people would expect.

ERIC: No. But it makes perfect sense when you think about, what is their larger view of the world? Why do they use the swastika? Which is an Indo-Aryan fertility symbol, right?

Because in their mind, coming out of this 19th century supernatural imagery of the first chapter, they recognize that the great races and civilizations -- and, of course, we don't have scientific evidence of this, but that this is their view of the world -- all came from these Indo-Arian races, which may have developed in Atlantis or the Hyperborea, some ancient Arian or racially pure Atlantian civilization. But at some point, because of a flood or giant blocks of ice, did migrate East, thereby populating India, east Asia, Japan.

And the reason all these superior civilizations occurred is because of the leadership of the Indo-Aryans, for whom the symbol of the swastika and the religion of Tibet.

Why Tibet? Well, it's a high point where in a flood, a lot of the high priests of Arian religion could have fled.

And then they're trying to reinscribe those ideas back into their view of Nordic race and religion in the '20s and '30s. So that's their kind of view of the world. So it's not that odd. They just skip over the flaws in Jews, right? Because those are subhuman races, are Africa. But Asia makes sense to them.

GLENN: We're talking to Eric Kurlander, he's the author of Hitler's Monsters. It is a scholarly book on the -- the supernatural leanings of the Third Reich. And what -- what was in the society that made them embrace Naziism. And what did the Nazis use to strengthen that embrace? More in a second.

GLENN: There is a book that is a must-read. But I warn you, it's going to take you a while, just because it's so fascinating. You will jump out of the page and go, wait a minute. I've got to look that up. It's called Hitler's Monsters. Eric Kurlander. A supernatural history of the Third Reich.

This is a scholarly book. You know, this is not Pulp Fiction. It is a deep dive and well-documented on what the Nazis believed and what they did. And, Eric, I want to -- I want to clarify one thing with you that I didn't -- I didn't walk away knowing for sure. And maybe you don't know the answer, how much of this did they believe or make a pact with, and how much was just being used?

ERIC: That became a central question for me as I was going through different sources.

So one thing I can say, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, believed -- truly believed in a lot of these different doctrines. Border sciences like parapsychology, dowsing, astrology. They truly believed that if you did it in a scientific way, you could glean answers that mainstream science and religion would not give you.

GLENN: So he was looking into -- Himmler was looking into the holy grail.

ERIC: Yes.

GLENN: At the end, he was -- I guess you could credit this to Tesla. But I'm not sure if he credited it more to Tesla or to Thor's hammer.

ERIC: Exactly.

GLENN: Which was it. Was it Tesla, or was it, he believed, the Thor hammer, electricity in the air.

ERIC: We have the -- I mean, one of the greatest historians of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. And other sources, both corroborate him asking his acolytes to look into whether the energies that we associate with Thor's hammer can somehow be harnessed, that maybe they're not traditional scientific energies. But something more occult or hidden.

And that's why certain of the gods had certain powers. He thought he was the reincarnation of Otto the great or Henry the follower, I'm sorry. One of the great medieval German princes.

Many people have noted Himmler's actual investment in these ideas, as well as Hess. What I find though, and that's where the real debate comes, is that many other Nazis, Otto Ohlendorf, who led the Ainzgot (phonetic) group in to kill thousands of Jews, he was seen as a kind of -- one of these technocrats. Highly educated.

Turns out, he was pushing biodynamic agriculture and anthroposophic, which is an occult doctrine, approaches to the world, as a kind of -- not a substitute religion, but as something that could unite religion and science in the Third Reich. He's not normally associated with those ideas. Hitler had a dowser in the right chancellery to look for cancer-causing death rays. And gave an honorary degree to one of the progenitors of World Ice Theory.

GLENN: Some people -- some in the Third Reich said that they found Mussolini through divining rods or dousing over a map. And you document that really well.

Did -- did Hitler believe that stuff?

ERIC: So I would say Hitler is -- he's perfectly representative of the Nazi movement and maybe Austro-German society. He's right in the middle. He clearly believed with some of these doctrines because he had grown up with them, and he didn't find traditional Catholicism compelling. And he didn't embrace modern science because he considered it a Jewish science and it was too empirical. But he wasn't as invested as some other Nazis were, like Himmler or Hess. On the other hand, there were a few Nazis like Heydrich -- he's one of the only leaders I can find who almost never shows authentic investment in any of these ideas. And wants to combat them as another form of sectarianism.

So he doesn't care what religion, a cult or philosophical doctrine you have, whether you're a liberal, a communist, or even a conservative, if you're not a Nazi, that's potentially a problem. So Heydrich goes after occultists. But many of the other leaders who claim they don't like the occult, like Rosenberg or Himmler actually just don't like people who practice it in a way that challenges their beliefs. The minute -- by the way, this is the problem with a lot of religion, right? People argue that they have the true faith. The true method or path to the Lord, right?

So what you see in the Third Reich, much like occultism more generally is claims that they're doing it scientifically. They understand it. These other people are charlatans. And many historians, when they saw that superficially, who weren't particularly interested in research. Were like, oh, they're hostile to occultism. And I point out, they're not hostile to it, epistemologically. They're hostile to anyone who practiced it in a way that isn't compatible with their racial ideas, their politics, their propaganda.

GLENN: It actually worked to the West's advantage to some degree.

The SS Obergruppenführer Kammler, who was -- who was really only known for making the crematoriums in Auschwitz more effective, was the replacement for Von Braun in the rocket science department. Because -- if I'm not mistaken, wasn't it because of horoscopes or astrology?

ERIC: We can't confirm it's because of astrology. What we can confirm is that Himmler preferred to have SS men who shared some of his approaches to science and politics and race theory around him. More than -- than tried and true professionals like Von Braun.

GLENN: Right.

ERIC: And that's why Speer, as you see in my chapter -- the primary sources I have from the archives are Speer reminding the other Nazi leaders, we aren't going to come up with miracle weapons that are going to decide the war.

This is propaganda. And then you have Goebbels and Himmler and Kammler saying, oh, no, we can do this. With enough will. With enough faith, if we harness the right energies. And clearly, that tips over into the realm of border science very often. It's not empirical. It's not something that's actually feasible.

GLENN: Towards the end, it seemed to really work towards the West's advantage again. Their race theory and their belief in what you called border sciences.

I was -- I was really interested in what you said one of the reasons why we think that they weren't farther along with the nuke, is because they saw that as a Jewish science. And so it was a little underplayed. And the border sciences, the miracle weapons were -- were looked at with possible equal shot of it working. Do I have that right?

ERIC: Exactly. You have two parallel things going on. Obviously, you lose a lot of the best scientists, who may have been, quote, unquote, liberal or Jewish. Right? Many who stay are still top scientists. Heisenberg, Max Planck, right? Von Braun.

But they're working -- they're doing -- they're carrying out traditional science, mainstream science. And then you've got a lot of Nazis, led by Himmler, who has this whole institute. The honoree (phonetic) by the institute for ancestral research, who is frustrated they don't want to work with his scientists. Who are operating based on folklore. And Indo-Aryan race theory. And want to experiment with hidden electrical energies.

The one thing I'm certain of is that the incompatible of those two cultures, certainly undermines some of their strategic thinking. We know that Hitler and Himmler, because they read science fiction, liked the idea of rockets and, you know, ships and jets. And didn't think in terms of these more abstruse ideas like nuclear physics, which is not something you can concretely hold or build, but is something they associate with abstract thinking of Jews and liberals and communists.

GLENN: Thank God.

ERIC: Thank God. But in a way -- now, I can't quantify -- a lot of the things I bring up in the book, as scholarly as it is, are things that someone else who is a specialist in these areas, armaments, military history, should really pursue, and see to what degree this really did you shouldn't undermine their war effort. I suggest it did. Speer suggests it does. But, you know, that's a whole other line of research. Yeah.

GLENN: Eric, I could spend hours with you. I'd love to have you back. Because we haven't gotten into some of the miracle weapons. And the bell, which, you know, the flying saucer and antigravity stuff that they supposedly were working on, but were really not sure if they were.

ERIC: Exactly.

GLENN: I'd love to continue our conversation on that.

I do want to switch gears because you wrote another book, which I have not read. It is your first book. And let's see if I have it. The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism.

Just based on the title. I have a feeling we would have a lot to learn from that in today's world.

ERIC: We would.

And the second book, Living With Hitler: Liberals and the Third Reich, which I think you would appreciate most of all. We have slightly different political views. But I think you'll find the arguments in that book about the way that progressives kind of sold out to fascism, not because they were fascist, but because they saw certain continuities that made accommodation possible, I think you'd find that interesting.

GLENN: Eric, I don't want to turn you political. But if you had any historic milestones that would be important, there's -- CPAC announced that they're having the National Front speak from France, which is a national Socialist Party.

ERIC: It is.

GLENN: And I think they're doing it because they'll say, there's lots of things that we do have in common. And we don't have to take that. And this is a big movement that is happening all around. And any lessons from history?

ERIC: Well, this is -- if anything unites the three books I've written, which have been written in a time when I would argue our liberal -- so-called liberal parties have moved to the right on socioeconomic issues, and then in other ways, embraced values issues. Fights over values.

And our right has done the same thing. What you see happening is an unwillingness for very -- we could maybe both agree that it's the role of Wall Street and government elites who don't want to fight it out over the actual empirical relates of, how do you get the best health care or the best tax policy? They fight it out over ideology and values. And those values have moved more and more to what I would argue the populist right.

So how do you win elections in America and France and the Netherlands now? You claim you're going to protect people in ways that can never quite be explained. From global forces. Other ethnicities. Religions. Terrorism. Economic forces that both parties used to embrace, right? Trade. Those are dangerous.

And this, of course, moves both parties -- but obviously our right-wing, more than what I call now our center, towards what you used to call, what we now call the alt-right, but we used to call fascism. And that's very dangerous. Especially in America, you could always trust conservatives to defend the Constitution. To be at least classical liberals, right?

And as you're pointing out, you can't always trust that anymore. And if our so-called liberals have to be the constitutional conservatives, we're in trouble. Right? They're the interventionists, right? They're the ones -- the progressives --

GLENN: The balance is.

ERIC: -- are the ones that want to tear down the Constitution or change it. And now they're the ones defending the FBI and the Constitution. We have a constitutional crisis. We have a political cultural crisis. I think both traditional conservatives and so-called liberals or progressives could agree with this. And the lessons in history from the '20s and the '30s are scary ones about the way this happens.

GLENN: Yes. Eric, I would like to talk to you again. Thank you so much. And thank you for the really hard work. I've read a lot of books. And I don't think I've read one that took more hard work than this. This was turning over every stone. And thank you for your hard work. One last question.

Would you definitively say the national socialist movement in Germany was not a Christian movement?

ERIC: When you're talking about a country of 80 million people or 20 or 30 million who suspected the Nazis, obviously lots of Christians saw something in Naziism, whether it was extreme nationalism, anti-Semitism, Lutheran kind of patriotism.

GLENN: Sure. Sure.

ERIC: But when it comes to the leaders, and here's where I feel like I'm on solid ground. Those leaders were frustrated by traditional Christianity, which they linked to Judaism and to universalism and to a world beyond the here and now. Which they saw as not helpful in creating a racial ancestor-worshiping blood and soil movement. That's why they liked Shinto and Hinduism, whether they interpreted those religions properly or not. They saw those as more compatible with creating a religion of the here and now.

GLENN: Eric, thank you.

ERIC: And so in that, I would say they weren't -- the leaders at least were not Christians, by any conventional of the word. No.

GLENN: Thank you very much, Eric. Hold if you would, I would like to talk to you in a minute.

STU: Hitler's Monsters is the book. Supernatural history to the Third Reich.

Eric Kurlander is the artist. We got to have him back on again. There's so much to go through on this.

GLENN: I want to talk to him about all the miracles stuff. The bell. Did you even know what the bell is? Just look it up. Just look up Nazi bell. Never heard of it. Never heard of it.

And it's fascinating. Whether it happened or not, I don't know.

Ryan: Making of an Ant Queen

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The embattled, Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning author Liu Xiaobo wrote that "Life is priceless even to an ant."

An ant colony can only survive for a few months after the death of its queen. On average, queens live 10 to 15 years. Some, up to 30 years, one of the longest insect lifespans, hidden deep within the colony, protected, unable to use her wings because she's a little bigger than she used to be.

Plus she's very busy.

The majority of ants are female. Wingless, sterile worker ants. They build nests, they forage, they hunt.

Theirs is a far briefer life than the queen's, ranging from a few weeks up to a year. But they see more of the outside world than any other ant.

The bigger they are, the farther they travel. And they release pheromones along the way so that they have a trail home.
Drones — winged male ants whose primary function in life is to mate with the queen — die after mating and rarely make it out of the colony.

Then, there are the soldier ants. They protect the colony and attack.

To quote philosopher Bertrand Russell, "Ants and savages put strangers to death."

They go on raids.

The attacking colony rarely loses, so most colonies flee as soon as an invasion begins. But they sometimes remain and fight.
Ants on both sides of the battle die in droves.

Henry David Thoreau describes an ant battle in Walden: "On every side they were engaged in deadly combat, yet without any noise that I could hear, and human soldiers never fought so resolutely."

If the attackers succeed in overtaking a colony, they pillage the eggs. Some are eaten, fed to larvae. But others become victims of slave raiding. Meaning that the victors return home with their enemy's unborn, feed them, nurse them. Then, when the eggs hatch, the victors force them into slavery.

Often, the slaves even develop an allegiance to the colony which ransacked their home and enslaved them. They'll even help raid other colonies and either die pointlessly or help with the seizure of the next generation of slaves.

Sometimes, however, the slave ants rebel.

In the words of Persian poet Saadi, "Ants, fighting together, will vanquish the lion."

Flying ants, both male and female, leave the colony to form another colony. Once they find a suitable place, the males's wings fall off and they mate to their death. Then one or more of the females becomes queen.

*

It felt odd, any time I sat with a roomful of media, a few hundred journalists from all over the world, as they simultaneously, silently, decided "Yep, that's newsworthy. We should hammer that."

It wasn't like everyone turned to each other and said, "Let's agree on the narrative."

It was an energy.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Like in Houston, at the third Democratic Debate, after Biden misused the word "record player," you could hear chatter spread through the room, people muttering the words "records" and "record player."

In Houston, the media watched the debate from a gymnasium around the corner from the auditorium. So I could contrast the crowd's reactions with the media's reactions.

Nearly every time, there was a disparity between the two. The media were more relaxed — during the debate at least. The audience enjoyed any mentions of identity issues. There were a lot. But the media barely reacted at all.

This was a good thing, probably.

*

It's impressive to see how politicians force their stump speeches into a new form, depending on the context. How they say it like an epiphany.

That night brought the opposite for the ever-fledgling Kamala Harris. I could not believe it. Was this the same woman who'd made Iowa hers, just a little over a month ago?

All night, she was so loyal to the tactic she'd premeditated that she didn't realize it wasn't working, like she kept putting on a puppet show on some busy sidewalk.

At one point, she declared, proudly, "We're not talking about Donald Trump enough."

The most talked-about man in the world, perhaps in our country's history.

In five weeks, she became an entirely different candidate. Her latest version resembled a Xanax-fueled stepmom. It was like she was transforming into Joe Biden.

She kept laughing at her own jokes. And the entire media room cringed every time.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Amy Klobuchar's pre-formed jokes and half-zany dad jokes fell short every time, too. Most of the media saw Klobuchar's long rants as a chance to chat with a neighbor or jet off to the nearest bathroom, which was likely a locker-room full of plastic flight containers and padded camera cases and journalists who curse like sailors.

During the debate, the press was stoic. So if a candidate got a reaction from them, it carried a certain authenticity.

They laughed at things that the audience ignored or disliked or didn't notice. In part because the audience didn't do a whole lot of laughing. But the media laughed like professionals laugh. In-jokey and staid yet ready for anything unexpected.

They loved it when Booker said the thing about "Let me translate that to Spanish … 'No'." And Yang's opening handclaps. As well as Pete Buttigieg's reaction to Yang's raffle.

The biggest laugh of the night in the media center, surprisingly, was when Yang said, "I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors."

*

Early scientists believed that ants adhere to a complicated hierarchy, which biologist E O Wilson compared to the Hindu caste system. The idea was, ants and humans have a lot in common, and ants belong to a society divided by class and determined by labor.

In the Wealth of Nations, father of capitalism Adam Smith wrote: "It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Ants have been organized into colonized societies since the Cretaceous Period, 140 million years ago, when dinosaurs still dominated the Earth. All of that changed 74 million years later. Which was about 66 million years ago. When a comet slammed into what is now the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in the KT mass extinction.

80 percent of all plants and animals died. The ash and dust and debris polluted the air, blocked the sunlight, transforming the Earth into a dark, frozen wasteland full of asthma.

Insects, carrion-eaters, and omnivores all survived. Any purely carnivorous animals starved to death, while mammals and birds fed on insects and worms until the earth repopulated itself with more animals that could be eaten.

The K-T Mass Extinction ushered in a new era of life. Species that had lived in constant retreat from predators were suddenly able to form more elaborate purposes.

After these lifeforms thrived for tens of millions of years, certain mammals started to become vaguely humanlike.
Early humans popped up about 300,000 years ago.

Meaning, ants have existed for 140 million years, which is 139.7 million years longer than humans.

For reference, if you counted to 300,000, it would take you roughly three-in-a-half days. To get to 140 million would take about four-and-a-half years.

Humans only began developing language about 100,000 years ago.

Yet we're the ones with libraries and governments and ABBA and iPhones. What did ants have? Other people's sugar?

*

Before the debate, I wandered out of the gymnasium and onto bustling sidewalks with makeshift security fencing on each side. And hopped over the massive yellow tubes that belonged in E.T. and pumped cold air into the building. Past dozens of police and security, through an elaborate weave of temporary checkpoints and wires bigger than a fire hose.

On the street, I passed a group of six-or-so teenagers flipping DELANEY signs around like those cardboard "WE BUY GOLD" banners which actual people bob around while dressed as Elvis or Lady Liberty or a Banana.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

The sun cast a delightful orange over Houston, glitter in the humid air.

Those kids were having a blast with those signs. Laughing so hard they had to stop occasionally and slap their legs.

On the other side of the fence, some of the most powerful people in the world were readying for battle, and these kids could not have cared less.

*

The protestors had gathered just outside the gates of the campus entrance.

Far as I could tell, it was me and no other journalists present. The rest of the media were in the gymnasium, preparing for the debate or networking or already on-air. Once they got into the media center they stayed put. For many reasons, I assume.
The air collapsed under a wave of heat unique to Houston.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Gnarled blockades served as borders on both sides of the street. Locked into steel fencing, flanked by rows of police cars with their lights on but their sirens off.

Worse than the humidity, and more intense, was the energy bouncing out of the protestors on Cleburne Street. The opposite of suction energy, shoving out with tension and panic and elation.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" blared from a Bluetooth speaker. I envisioned a slow zoom from above, beginning with the top of my head and rising, up and up and up. Drawing in the greater scene. Up past Trump's message-board plane. A panorama of city, then county, then state, capturing the topography and nuance of each snapshot of nature.

The higher the camera rose, the more I resembled an ant. One more wingless worker or obedient soldier rushing from place to place on a mission.

And when you got far enough above, you saw the colony that each of us belongs to.

Then it shrank like a passing bobsled, and Earth itself resembled an ant.

The scale of it is daunting.

For thousands of years the sky has filled humans with romance and humility and wonder. A restive impulse that strikes when we gaze up at the moon, the stars, the galaxy, the quiet.

But at ground level, I was a man in the throes of a great human drama. And my job was to document it as neutrally as possible.

The 120-odd protestors on the south side of the street spilled onto the sidewalk and into a lawn, and they chanted as the Trump plane groaned overhead.

They were crowded together, and they were all fighting for different causes. Lots of contradictions under the same banner.
Next to a group of Beto supporters with pro-choice t-shirts, several women chanted

We.
Want.
A pro-life.
Dem.

Chaos itself occupied the south side of the street. The protestors weren't sure how to handle it. So they chanted and sang and probed for the problem. Like so many tiny creatures hauling an orange slice.

Across the street, facing that horde of supporters, two men gripped pro-life signs.

They were the counter-protestors. Their barricade was far wider than needed. The grass around them looked sad, like the trail a dog makes along the fence when it wants to escape.

Behind the two counter-protestors, a mini-bus covered with photos of aborted babies, tangled fetuses, severed and indistinguishable chunks.

Photo by Kevin Ryan

Photo by Kevin Ryan

I squinted and gasped and felt downright unwell.

Two days earlier, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with our first child.

At the very moment I stared at images of tiny human shapes contorted and grey, our baby was the size of a pea.
A few weeks later, we'd see its heartbeat pulsing like a strobe.

I'm not making a statement on abortion. That's not my job as a journalist.

It's more my admiration for the impeccable depth of life. The timing. How messages and symbols confront us all the time, with unmatchable creativity.

Because there I was, literally in the middle of two opposing factions. Again. In the divide. Tangled into so many dichotomies. Life and death. Freedom and oppression. Order and chaos. Activity and stagnation. Creation and loss. Art and nature.

And I had once again remained in the middle.

This brought me tremendous satisfaction. It signified personal and journalistic success.

It was also a bit ridiculous.

As a reporter, I never wanted to pick a side. I already had a side. My side was America, and Ireland. My side was humanity.

My side was life.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak.Not to act is to act."
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The cost of discipleship can be daunting and few people are willing to sacrifice and stand in the face of evil to do what they know God is asking of them. The "Bonhoeffer Angel Award" is awarded to someone with the vision and courage to act when others only talk, to dig in and listen to the whisperings of the spirit when others turn a deaf ear. It is only fitting the inaugural award go to the visionary founder of Mercury One, Glenn Beck.

The award was presented by the Board President of Mercury One, David Barton and CEO of the Nazarene Fund, Tim Ballard. There was a touching video tribute as well including the likes of Penn Jillette, Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Joe Liberman, Congressman Loui Gohmert and Rabbi Daniel Lappin.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:

Glenn will be hosting the annual Operation Underground Railroad gala Saturday, November 2nd with keynote speaker Tim Ballard. If you are able to join us, tickets are still available and donations of all sizes are welcome.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!

Ryan: Donald Trump goes to Dallas

Photo by Sean Ryan

Donald Trump leaned into the rostrum like a bartender. He loved to rile his patrons.

"They. Wanna. Take. Your Guns. Away," he said, in his trademark staccato.

They stomped and hollered, 18,000 strong in the American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks, on a Thursday in October, and another 5,000 people waited outside, desperate to join.

"At stake. In this fight. Is the survival. Of American democracy itself," he said, then went off-script. "Don't kid yourself, that's what they want, they are destroying this country, but we will never let it happen, not even close."

Photo by Sean Ryan

Here it was a few weeks from Halloween, with more autumn in the air each day. And 23,000 people roamed Dallas in costumes. All dressed up like American flags. They were happy. You could feel it all around.

It was ice-cold in that arena, but I had my bulky tan Carhartt jacket. It had been an hour since I chuffed down a travel-sized Crown Royal and some Sativa gummies, and I felt an unerring contentment.

Photo by Sean Ryan

So my eyes shot wide when Trump jerked his hand toward the media pool for the third or fourth time that night and dealt a few jabs, and the audience hissed.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time it happened, I struggled to keep from laughing. Not in a condescending way. Neutral amusement. The drama of this wild setting full of energized people, the stadium lights, the narrative in motion. Hero versus Bad Guy.

Next minute they were cheering again. Because Trump told them about his plan to bring jobs back to America. It was just a matter of overcoming so many evil forces. But, he assured them, he was the only man who could guide us.

He listed off the enemies. The media, obviously. China, Obama, Democrats, Socialism, politicians, ISIS. I gasped, "Oh shit, I forgot about ISIS!"

*

There were five of us at the rally representing BlazeMedia. Writer Samantha Sullivan, cameraman James Baier, producer John Ruggio, and photographer Sean Ryan, my father.

James plays on the drumline at Mavericks games, so he gave us a proper tour of the arena, all the long passages and gaping walkways and cramped stairwells.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then we prowled around outside, looking for protests.

It was a different world out there on the street. A nun in diabetes socks strolled past MAGA vendors by the W Hotel. Valet spots crowded with Secret Service vehicles.

Photo by Sean Ryan

An all-women Pro-Trump county/rock band chanted on the massive stage, where, an hour later, Fox News live-casted. We were the only media outside, besides the odd cameraman tip-toeing through the curving rows of Trump supporters in line.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Samantha conducted man-on-the-street interviews. Nearly every time we walked away from someone we'd just interviewed, the people around them said a version of, "Now you're famous."

*

There were a dozen merchants selling Trump merchandise outside the arena, at least a dozen. One of them told me that they travel to all of Trump's rallies. From his cart, a flag billowed with the words "2020: Make Liberals Cry Again."

Photo by Sean Ryan

As we followed the curves of the snaking line, I overheard a drunk man in his dark tan blazer exclaim, "All right, I'm gonna get us on television again."

We flashed past thousands of faces, thousands of people, driven to be there, standing in line. And happy no less. Blatant under the red-winged sky with planes that float silently, graceful and astounding.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A young woman strolled down the street with a sign that read, "I might be gay, but I'm not stupid."

She told us her story. Her message was compassionate. Her face was relaxed.

Photo by Sean Ryan

A little further down, plumes of smoke rose from a group of protestors with signs that said "We Vape We Vote.""Are you guys protesting Trump," I asked one of them.

"No," he said, "we all have different opinions about Trump. Not really worried about that. Right now we just want to protest the new vaping laws."

Photo by Sean Ryan

*

At 7:44 p.m., "Proud to be an American" came on and Trump emerged from the guts of the arena, strolling through the tunnel like Michael Jordan. Game 6.

Some people teared up, placed a hand over their eyes or their heart. Others nodded for too long, as if they couldn't believe what they were seeing. Was that really him up there?

Even a few of the police had that resplendent look.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Trump walked the stage. He clapped and waved. He waited till the end of the Lee Greenwood song to speak. The audience cheered as he braced the podium and said, "Thank you." And they kept cheering. He waited. 20 seconds or so. But the applause kept going, so he turned around and clapped some more and waved and smiled that certain way he smiles.

*

"I am thrilled to be here," he said, "deep in the heart of Texas." And people cheered even louder than before, because Texans love Texas. "Where we just opened a beautiful new Louis Vuitton plant."

Life in America was now constantly surreal. Donald Trump, who actually became President, was talking at a packed rally. In a basketball arena. About the opening of a factory. For a luxurious French fashion brand. In Keene, Texas, population 6,400.

*

Trump peeked at one of his teleprompters. Grinning halfway. Then he jabbed his finger into the air, aimed it at the media section, and said "They're worse now than they ever have been," his shoulders raised and hands gesticulating. "They're crooked as hell. They're worse now than they've ever been. They're crooked."

Photo by Sean Ryan

His supporters booed. Jeered.

They pointed their fingers. They hocked.

A "CNN sucks" chant whispered down from a corner section on the 3rd level, but it never caught on. The audience's hissing tactic worked better anyway. No words. Words were the problem.

*

There was a musicality to Trump's sentences. He started with clipped phrases spoken in couplets. Then he let the words slide into an almost freeflow.

Photo by Sean Ryan

He would start on-script, "The radical Democrats want to destroy America as we know it. They wanna indoctrinate our children." Then, halfway through the next sentence, he would pivot into an aside, spoken in vernacular.

"And teach them that America is a sinful nation, you see that happening all the time. And I know it from personal experience. What they want to teach your kids, not good. They come home, 'Mommy, daddy, this is what I learned,' and you're going 'Oh, no, don't tell me. Let's get 'em into another school, fast.'"

*

Bleacher Report ranked American Airlines Center the 7th loudest arena in the NBA.

The crowd's reaction to Trump's comments about guns and the 2nd Amendment created one of the loudest sounds of the night, louder than Tina Turner's "The Best," which played about 8 times. Must have been 100 decibels. Some people were stuffing their ears with whatever fit.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Nearly every one of Trump's punchlines got an audience reaction.

I mean these folks were revved up.

I spoke to a lot of people that night. Not a single solitary one of them was anything less than kind.

Look, I might as well say it now. The crowd was more diverse than I'd expected. Race, ethnicity, age, sex. Probably less diverse than the demographics of the country. But that's to be expected. Every one of the events so far brought a completely different crowd.

Photo by Sean Ryan

What mattered most was how the candidates swayed any given crowd at any given place. What was different about a Bernie Sanders townhall at a Hilton and a Kamala Harris sermon at a Baptist Church?

Nobody was ever rude at any events. But nowhere was there as much excitement as at the Trump rally. It felt like a sporting event or a music festival.

Photo by Sean Ryan

More than anything, it felt like WrestleMania. Professional wrestling. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

So many times I looked around at the engulfed arena and thought, "This is WWE."

*

Especially when Trump told stories. The way he added both vitriol and triumph to his sentences. Turned them into journeys, much like the interwoven plot lines of a WWE drama, each scene and victory or failure leading to WrestleMania.

The more outrageous or scandalous the story, the better. The less believable, the more dramatic it became. Because all any of it had to be was compelling.

Photo by Sean Ryan

To be compelling was more important than to be literal or judicious. Supercharged with human drama. Betrayal. Contempt. Dalliances. Mockery. Danger. Love. Confoundment. Anxiety. Celebration. Occasionally even death.

All of it was WWE to the hilt. But it was also the polluted clouds in an otherwise sacred dream. Water and adolescence, all the magnets spinning and spinning. Each huff from the street. The reckoning of life, how maybe it could have happened differently but this is how it went.

*

He seemed to use a kind of operant conditioning on his audience, as if to make it easier for them to communicate in shorthand.

Fewer words, fewer, few.

Photo by Sean Ryan

For instance, here's his first mention of the media, at the start of the rally.

"Although the fake news back there, they don't wanna talk about it." That drew the boo's all right.

He leaned back, as if handing them the mic for a moment.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"They don't wanna talk about it." He stared at the media area for a few seconds, then squinted cartoonishly and lifted his palm over his forehead like he was blocking out the sun. Then he leaned into the podium, and the pitch of his voice rose. "Look at all those cameras, can you believe it? Look at all those red lights."

Then he pointed at the press pool. The cameras were set up directly across the arena floor, so when you watch it on video it's like Trump is bursting out of your monitor.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"Don't worry, I won't say anything bad about your network."

Then he — immediately — said something bad about the networks.

"Cuz' a lot of times I get ready to do a number on these phony networks and, you know, I see those red lights go off, off, off, off, off. They don't want their viewers to see, but that's okay. I'm not gonna say it tonight. I'm gonna say, 'You're legitimate media'."
Aside, "I don't actually mean that."

He grimaced.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"But you look at that," he said, pointing, then lifted his palm to his forehead again, like he still couldn't find the puny thing he was looking for. "That's like the Academy Awards used to be, it failed. You know why it failed? Because they came after us. That's why it failed. It failed because it had stupid people saying horrible things about us."

Then he pointed to his temple wiggling his finger, "Stup-id." Shook his head. "Stupid people. They are stupid people. And their ratings have dropped like a rock. And I love seeing it, I'm telling you. Love it."

He reared his head back.

"But no matter how. Hard. They. Try. They will fail. Because the people of Texas, and the people of America, will never. Surrender. Our freedom. To those people. Right there."

Photo by Sean Ryan

Later in the speech, he said much less, mostly variations of "and in the back you'll see the fake news." Repetition, a little briefer each time. Down to an occasional off-handed, "Those phonies in the back." Then, eventually, all he had to do was point, grimacing.

Two K9 police took stance in front of the grey barricade separating us from them, which amounted to separating us from ourselves.

*

Security at the rally was unlike anything I'd seen. An entire military apparatus that floated here from Washington D.C., subsuming downtown.

Two wax-shined helicopters hovered over the arena, unmoving, like geckos ready to snap on a fly. I'd never seen a helicopter float perfectly still like that. It was terrifying.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Secret Service everywhere. Different ranks. Outside were the Navy Seal types in body armor, hoisting MP5s with silencers. The Secret Service inside, nearest Trump, had the same jagged stare and well-trained unease. But they glided around in immaculate, boring suits, each with a gold square pin on the lapel. They either stealthed around in a blur or stood perfectly still like the Queen's Guard.

I'd been to the American Airlines Center twice before. A few years ago, for Kanye West's Saint Pablo tour, when he performed solo on the levitating stage. And last summer, to review a Shania Twain concert under the influence of LSD.

Oddly, the Trump rally was a mixture of both.

*

In nearby Grand Prairie, at the Theatre at Grand Prairie, Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke held a competing rally. There were about as many people at O'Rourke's rally as people outside the Trump rally.

Obviously, Trump loved that. But, for good measure, he hurled a few Beto-jabs into his speech, referring to him as "a very dumb Democrat candidate for president."

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then he compared him to one of those wacky inflated dancing noodles you only ever see at used car dealerships.

Then he did an imitation of above-mentioned contraption. It was bizarre to see a President imitating a dancing noodle. But he didn't care what a President should or shouldn't do. He was the anti-Politician President. And his followers loved that about him.

Photo by Sean Ryan

"The flailer," he said. "Remember he was flailing all over the place? I said, 'Why is this guy hot? John Cornyn's gonna win so easily. Just like Ted Cruz won. He's gonna win. No matter what happened." Then he scoured, like a falcon in a painting. "In a few short weeks, [Beto] got rid of guns then got rid of religion. Those are not two good things in Texas to get rid of."

*

Stomping his balled-up hand, Trump said that his office, the Oval Office, was our office, too. The crowd roared. Some of these people had driven hours for the rally. There were farmers and truck drivers and teachers and nurses. A lot of people there had never had an office of their own, and here was the President saying his was theirs.

Trump is the hero of his stories. It's part of his success, and, I suspect, a useful defense mechanism. At first glance, his journey and his character are riffs on the classical literary model, a thirsty figure who gnashes through dangerous territory, down into the unknown, through death and onto rebirth.

Photo by Sean Ryan

But Trump is not classic in the slightest. He's nothing like Odysseus or Dante or Gilgamesh or Don Quixote. Instead, he is a postmodern antihero, like Clint Eastwood in "A Fistful of Dollars" or Tony Soprano or Beyoncé or Homer Simpson. In the summer of 2015, I asked a former professor to define postmodernism.

"Donald Trump," he replied. "He contains all of it. Chaos. Hyperreality. Lots of chaos. A constant sense of 'This is so surreal.' The rejection of tradition and assumptions. Rejection of divisions between high and low culture. Rejection of rules and styles and genres. Use of pastiche. Satire. Irony. Playfulness. Paranoia. Fragmentation. A total lack of boundaries."

*

Any time the place got quiet, some random person, usually near the rafters, hollered out phrases, and it just sound like the South Park rednecks saying "They took our jobs!"

To be fair, hecklers on the left don't sound much better.

*

A week earlier, at Trump's Minneapolis rally, protestors and activists formed a moshpit outside the Target Center, not too far from the Mississippi River.

Tensions in Minneapolis had been high, and as Trump was about to board Air Force One Mayor Jacob Frey insisted that Trump pay the $530,000 security fee in advance. A last minute effort to keep him out of Minneapolis.

In response, Trump tweeted that the "lightweight mayor is hurting the great police and other wonderful supporters. 72,000 ticket requests already. Dump Frey and [Minnesota Rep. Ilhan] Omar! Make America Great Again!"

Photo by Sean Ryan

Conservative networks reported that, after the rally, members of AntiFa attacked at least one Trump supporter. Moral panic or not, it didn't augur well for the next year.

The following day, Trump appeared in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The South. No army of AntiFa down here, not like in Portland or New York or Seattle.

AntiFa has a decent presence in Dallas, and a reporter friend of mine interviewed a group of them outside the Trump rally. But there were hardly any there. A dozen or so. Which is nothing compared to the tens of thousands of Trump supporters, coiled all through downtown Dallas with its neon green outline.

*

I worked as a soccer referee for years. So I've broken up countless fights, dealt with manic egos, endured adults prone to outbursts, taken every kind of verbal abuse, faced absolute mutiny. In these chaotic situations, when people around you are losing their minds, the two greatest solutions are kindness and humor.

*

Halfway through a sentence Trump stopped reading from the prompters, stopped talking, pivoted, beamed at the crowd, then lifted his hand.

The entire arena fell silent.

It was the captivating hush of the final moments of an important game, as the ball floats through the air toward the goal or net or end zone, and fate is no longer within our grasp.

Imagine being able to freeze an entire arena into abrupt silence with one tilt of your hand.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Trump was quarterback and they were the defensive line. He sang the melody and they hummed the backbeat. He was the skipper and they were deckhands. Although he seemed concerned that his supporters never felt belittled by this arrangement.

"[Democrats] come after me, but what they're really doing is coming after the Republican party. And what they're really really doing is they're fighting you, and we never lose."

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time he dropped a line like that, the crowd erupted with the kind of visceral intensity usually reserved for good news and sports.

The man who Evil Knievelled into arenas and said he'd never be conquered.

The closing of his speech was like the ball-drop in Times Square. But instead of kazoos and fireworks it was the words "Make America Great Again."

"Four more years," people shouted, "four more years."

Photo by Sean Ryan

Then the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" blasted to life.

For some reason, one verse stood out more than the others.

And I went down to the demonstration
To get my fair share of abuse
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration
If we don't we're gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse"

In all that hissing and mania, all the flag-waving intensity — as the arena peeled and shook with the song and so many stomping feet — Trump looked in one direction, waved. Then another, and turned, waved. Until he had looked in every direction and waved.

Before he ducked out, he pointed toward the crowd one last time. A blaring sea of reds, blues, whites. A living representation of the American flag. All three colors boiling around under the Jumbotron and disco balls.

Little by little, people streamed into the aisles. They filed up the concrete steps, and out into a familiar chaos.

New installments of this series come out every Monday and Thursday morning. Check out my Twitter or email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com