Inside our new augmented reality app, magicSeat, tour guides use trickery to pull off the most spectacular travel-related illusions. The new app will be available for iOS starting Monday and for Android in the coming weeks. See videos in the videos below. Available on iOS and Android. -Shalini Venugopal Bhagat and Mike Ives
When Gabe Berkowitz visited his parents in Sarasota, Fla., last winter for the holidays, he was hoping to show his father some of the art he had been crafting in his free time.
Mr. Berkowitz was a university student in 2009, preparing to enter into his senior year, when he decided to design a Trump Tower-themed “castle for Trump” in the basement of his parents’ house. Shortly after he created it, Mr. Trump announced he was running for president. Since then, Mr. Berkowitz had been obsessed with that moment in time and how much the president’s shock-and-awe message had resonated with the American people.
It wasn’t long before Mr. Berkowitz left his senior year to devote himself to the subject of the Trump Tower shrine.
The younger Mr. Berkowitz said in a telephone interview that he began “propping” the arch in the area above Trump Tower to create the illusion that it faced south, while in fact facing west. As a hoax goes, it was impressively detailed.
Then, not long after that, on March 5, 2016, Mr. Berkowitz, then 22, began collapsing in fits of coughing and dizziness. “Just one sigh of choking,” he recalled.
Mr. Berkowitz, an ardent student of (in his opinion) the “greatest” president in American history, rushed to his car to give it a quick quick drive to the emergency room.
When he arrived, an attending physician informed him that he had sudden cardiac arrest. “They said, ‘You’re going to live,’” he recalled.
But Mr. Berkowitz could not shake the feeling that his devotion to Trump was connected to his hospitalization.
“I definitely was under an altered state of consciousness,” he recalled. “Every time I remembered that my father and I went to Trump Tower and the Trump Tower the temple, I thought, ‘Oh, God, I wish I had prayed about his health and told him I needed him to save my life.’ I thought it was kind of tacky.”
Mr. Berkowitz went home and examined his shrine again.
“Then I thought: This is a religious experience, this needs to be documented,” he said.
So he started recording what he was doing. He installed an app, magicSeat, on his iPhone. People then lined up to take a glimpse at the shrine he had created and photographed the works themselves.
At the time, Mr. Berkowitz was just a believer in Mr. Trump.
But after his 2016 diagnosis, he and his father, Rabbi Michael Berkowitz, a Reform Jewish leader in Sarasota, decided to flip that around, he said.
Mr. Berkowitz told his father he was going to save Mr. Trump.