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Cock's crow

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The TV eye of the Frodis in the final episode of "The Monkees."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Here we are, nearly three years later, and we are returning wholeheartedly to a theme I addressed in my June 12, 2015 sync post “Sirens (the tide is high)”: the lure of the sea – our mother.

It was while in Memphis, Tennessee recently (staying at the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid, of all places!) that I was able to more thoroughly investigate the place names and sites that had linked the siren (recall my piece on the strange Memphis Pyramid and its history) with Jeff Buckley, the singer-songwriter whose father had appeared in the final episode of The Monkees titled “Mijacogeo” (aka “The Frodis Caper”).

Oh, and it happened to air on this very date – March 25, 1968 – 50 years ago, opening up with a cock crowing and a needle falling – Rube Goldberg style – onto a vinyl record featuring The Beatles’ “Good Morning, Good Morning” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released the previous summer – that “Summer of Love,” man! The Beatles and The Monkees were pretty tight, and a year earlier had sat in on some of the Sgt. Pepper’s recording sessions in London.

So, the Fab Four allowed the Pre-Fab Four to utilize “Good Morning, Good Morning” as an “alarm” or “wake-up call” on this baffling episode where Mike, Micky and Davy “try to find Peter, who has been put under a spell by the evil Wizard Glick and is using mind control methods via television to control the masses.

Sounds pretty damn familiar here in 2018!

But as I noted in “Sirens (the tide is high),” 1968 was growing increasingly darker and more sinister. Bad vibes were growing like a cancer in the greater society, as the Vietnam War churned on.

In a matter of days, after “The Frodis Caper” aired on NBC, confusing masses of Monkee-loving children, President Lyndon B. Johnson would announce his decision not to run for re-election and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis – more of an “execution” as William F. Pepper puts it in his fantastic 2003 book An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King.

After all, when King began to crusade against the war and the accompanying racism and economic injustices, the powers that be were concerned that it could lead to "the tap of the free-flowing profits being turned off" for the war profiteers, as Pepper writes. And that was not acceptable. King, they decided, must be eliminated.

The same day “The Frodis Caper” aired, the U.S. military tested the “Milk Shake” nuclear bomb at the Nevada Test Site (after all, what’s more wholesome than a milkshake?) as part of its ongoing Operation Crosstie nuclear weapons testing activities. As Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) tells the mental hospital orderlies in 12 Monkeys – “Wait'll you morons find out who I am! My father's gonna be really upset, and when my father gets upset, the ground SHAKES! My father is God! I worship my father!

And as wild and important as “The Frodis Caper” is in the canon of Monkees episodes and truth-telling, televised wizardry, the coup de grace takes place at the very end (after the alien Frodius sprays its ever-loving doobie smoke on the evil Wizard Glick and his henchmen, getting Glick to say: “I don’t want to fight anymore. I just want to lay down on the grass and be cool.”

As I wrote in 2015: "And then Micky Dolenz introduces Tim Buckley, who comes on with the stunning and utterly beautiful and haunting "Song to the Siren." A song I investigated in a December 2013 DDD post "I think we lost Buckley." And was linked in a remarkable sync piecce at The Nightshirt titled "Trauma displaced in time: Premonition, synchronicity and enjoyment." It's lengthy and notes how Tim's son, rising singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, involved with Elizabeth Fraser of dream-pop band Cocteau Twins who had covered "Song to the Siren" - a song that led Buckley to seek out Fraser and begin their relationship. The siren's call. Luring sailors and scuppering ships.

As father Tim Buckley sang: "I am puzzled as the newborn child / I am riddled as the tide / Should I stand amid the breakers? / Should I lie with Death my bride? / Hear me sing, "Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold you: / Here I am, Here I am, Waiting to hold you"

And what became of Jeff Buckley? In 1997, having left New York, arrived in Memphis, Tennessee to record a new album. When it came time for the band to arrive and begin recording with Jeff, Tim's son decided to take a dip in the Wolf River Harbor (in view of the Pyramid) and drowned in that slack water channel of the Mississippi River. A passing tugboat created a wake and, with Jeff wearing boots and clothes in the water, he slipped beneath the murky water. Perhaps he sensed the end would be like. Relax. Float downstream."

Here I was. Sleeping in this mystical pyramid. The one along the banks of the Mississippi, near Frayser (a nod to Our Lady – Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins) in north Memphis and the Wolf River Harbor, where Buckley breathed his last. And in this present day? The Pyramid is full of sea and mermaid imagery. Statues of mermaids. It is a space/place devoted to our current age in the Kali Yuga. I can't go a day without stumbling on some reference to mermaids, mermen and/or people of the sea.

A lot like the late actor and monologist Spalding Gray, who also is noted in my “Sirens” piece, “returning to the sea, our mother” was the preferred way to die, especially following some 9/11-related catastrophes in Gray’s personal life.

So, on January 10, 2004 – exactly 12 years before David Bowie’s ascension in the same city – Gray takes his children to see Tim Burton’s film Big Fish, “in which a dying father passes his fantastical stories on to his son before returning to the river, where he dies – and perhaps is reincarnated as his true self, a fish, making one of his tall tales come true.”

He then tells his family he is going to visit a friend – making no mention of any overt depression or suicidal thoughts – and then boards the Staten Island Ferry – and that’s the last time anyone sees Spalding Gray alive. His lifeless body is later found washed on the shore of the East River.

As Oliver Sacks writes in his piece on Gray and his final days: “(Gray) had always wanted his suicide to be high drama, but in the end he said nothing to anyone; he simply disappeared from sight and silently returned to the sea, his mother.

As Secret Sun blogger Christopher Knowles has been telling us all for some time … the ever-expanding “mermaid” theme has reached critical mass, it would seem. Just this morning, in The New York Times' Style Magazine supplement, writer Thessaly La Force writes a piece titled “ADULT SWIM: The latest subject of female fantasies? Creatures from the deep.

Look at the success of this year’s Academy Awards Best Picture winner, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, which is set in 1962 Baltimore against the paranoia of the Cold War. Recall that 12 Monkeys also takes place, partially, in Baltimore, which is where the mental institution is located where Jeffrey Goines is kept, and where time traveler James Cole (Bruce Willis) finds himself.

Recall that in The Shape of Water, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), the main character who befriends “Amphibian Man” is mute, having been “found in a river” as an orphaned child.

The Shape of Water HAD to win Best Picture. No other film would do. No other film would fit the criteria of what is coming together in our world. 

A NEW DAY?

In “The Frodis Caper,” the cock crowing at the beginning of “Good Morning, Good Morning” ( The Monkees were, after all, pitchmen for Kellogg’s brand cereals) represents a new day.

A new day?

We are shown a sun rising. But is this new day going to be a good day? Is the Age of Aquarius really about to dawn, as the cast of Hair promised? I think not. While some say the positivity of “The Sixties” ended with Altamont in late ’69, or the Manson Murders a few months earlier, it is possible to take things a little earlier, to the Spring of ’68, when the positive possibilities that the Youth Culture were allegedly fighting for were taken down by THE MAN.

It would seem, under the tyranny of Trump – a Baby Boomer who had the best of everything laid at his feet, until those troublesome bone spurs kept him from being sent to ‘Nam – we are still fighting some of those same battles.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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