The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Nikola Tesla

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To commemorate Nikola Tesla’s death on January 7, 1943 at the age of 86, we’re republishing Michael Olshan’s article from the August, 1981 edition of High Times.


This is a story about a man who enjoyed few things in life more whole-heartedly than to pump thousands of volts of electric current through his body, with sizzling arcs of Technicolor lightning forking and clashing around him like all Frankenstein, causing banks of electric bulbs to flash on and off with every shake of his head, and causing steel plates to dissolve at the mere touch of his forefinger. This man for amusement would summon thunderbolts down out of the open sky; once he touched off an earthquake that nearly devastated New York City from the Bowery to the Brooklyn Bridge.

At the same time he was unable to shake hands with human beings—because he was scared to death of “germs.” His closest friends were nevertheless city pigeons, who nested by the score in any place where he lived. His name was Nikola…

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