Te’DeVan “Rocketman” Kurzweil is the quintessential Jewish New Yorker bohemian weirdo. A six-foot-seven-inch faith healer, freestyle rapper and former nude comedian, Te’DeVan is a local legend who makes his living in tips from those whom he cures and entertains. (I first interviewed him for New York Press in 2002 when he tried to convince everyone in Times Square that terrorists were operating a Queens grocery store.)
Now he is taking his message to the national stage through a bizarre presidential campaign. He has garnered supporters at numerous music festivals and university campuses—from California to Tennessee to Washington, D.C.—and on the Internet at his personal blog.
Are Americans ready for a six-foot-four Jewish faith healer as their leader? Can you "heal" this nation with your supernatural abilities? Actually it is six-foot-seven-inch Jew. See how the media is already lying trying to diminish my physical size? Because everyone knows that height matters in political campaigns. I would not consider my healing to be mine, but rather God's healing. With enough willpower, clarity of mind, and compassion we can all heal this country. Are you running an actual campaign or is this a work of performance art? I am not honestly sure if the two differ these days. When you don't have a lot of money or the high brand name visibility, you have to incorporate a high level of entertainment to get everyone's attention. Are you registered as a candidate in any state? Can people actually vote for you? Our team of lawyers is attempting to get me registered as a candidate, but the combination of ageism and anti-Semitism might make this a serious challenge. Since we live in a democracy, of course people can vote for me and my wing-mate Smiley along with our ever-expanding Infinite Cabinet. People are voting for me as a write-in candidate while other people are merely voting for me in their hearts and minds. Anti-Semitism is keeping you off the ballot? What? Ageism, not anti-Semitism. The Constitution supposedly says you have to be 35 years old, but the government doesn't really follow the Constitution anymore on most matters. To follow it because I am not of legal age seems absurd to myself and the Infinite Cabinet.
Who the fuck is "Smiley"? He is a lifeguard, Ferris wheel operator, bouncer and philosopher, currently residing in New Jersey until we get the biodiesel buses ready to roll. His first words to me on top of a beach pier across from a police station were: "Hey, you want to start a revolution?"
My response was "Hell to the yeah." A great friendship was forged. What is your platform? 1) Stop killing people we don't know. Start helping people we do know right at home who are struggling with healthcare, the economy and the price of education.
2) Fess up to global warming and take serious initiatives to clean up the planet. We need clean air, water, and organic apple pie.
3) End the war on drugs. If we can't keep drugs out of prisons, why are we spending billions to keep them out of the country? Decriminalize pot. We have too many people going to jail for this — it's flooded the courts and it's a waste of taxpayers' money. In many cases, prescription pills are more dangerous gateway drugs.
4) It's insane how many people we have in prison. We went from a prison population of 300,000 in 1981 to 2.1 million in 2004. At that rate, by 2027 we'll have 14.7 million people in prison. That is absurd.
5) Lower the voting age to 12. We will settle for 16. If we're going to turn these kids into pill poppers, we might as well make them lever-pullers, especially if we're going to try them as adults for murder.
6) Bring sexy back to the White House. Justin Timberlake was onto something. All these other politicians don't know how to act.
7) Give out three million college scholarships. Being educated and being in debt should not go hand in hand.
What inspired the campaign? Once the primaries are over, it's business as usual for the major candidates. Issues become forgotten. Voters focus on the next pop star instead. Who can blame them? We have unlimited choices of shampoos and conditioners but only two choices for our world leader. How are you using the Internet to campaign? We are using MySpace, Facebook, Tribe, and YouTube, and we're selling the campaign on eBay. Smiley said that if big tobacco and the oil companies can buy a campaign, why not the American taxpayer? So eBay just might save the American democracy. What do you mean, you're "selling the campaign"? Politicians are bought and sold all the time. Campaigns are commodities. They spend over $300,000,000 to get a job that pays about $400,000. Obviously something is skewed here. I don't know of any servant position-public or private-that pays less then .013 of what it costs to obtain it. That is total insanity. We are offering a service to bring back democracy in America. We will spend the money on biodiesel buses, food, and video equipment to document our great adventure.
What is your most memorable campaign experience so far? I would say the overwhelming response we received at Bonnaroo (a music festival in Tennessee) where the other candidates dared not tread. We got some coverage from Current Television and Country Music Television. A lot of hands were shaken and pictures were taken. A lot of support was pledged. Are people volunteering to help your campaign? Do you have any kind of staff? We have staff working around the clock. We can't even keep up with all the different efforts. The staff is affectionately known as the "Infinite Cabinet" and is always expanding.
How many states have you campaigned in? How many do you plan to campaign in? We have Infinite Cabinet members in all the states, including overseas, spreading the word about our campaign and the Infinite Cabinet. I am pushing to focus mainly in Hawaii knowing full well that surfers love us and that victory will be assured. Of course, the Infinite Cabinet in their infinite wisdom have a different plan of action. How have colleges responded to you showing up and spreading the gospel to students? We have rocked the college campuses hard, but until last month we were understaffed. We move more rapidly than plates of cocaine through the White House. And sometimes we garner too much attention. We're the bad boys of American politics. Just like the Pistons back in the days of Isaiah. You have told me that you consult with psychic advisors. What do they say about your political quest? According to our spiritual consultants, we are certain to be a factor in the outcome amongst the spirits polled in the Gallup poll. There is a margin of error of about three to five percent. We are certainly one of the most unique and all-encompassing campaigns, and we are going the long haul to the finish line. What do you want to accomplish with this campaign? We want to galvanize the apathetic, disenchanted, disenfranchised masses. We want to make the election prospects better for politicians who actually want to enact changes. We want to say, "Your vote may not always count but your voice certainly does, so speak up."