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This magical thinking

CBS / Desilu
America like Ike but loved Lucy in 1953.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – – I woke up in the middle of the night with a really bad feeling. It’s hard to put into words – or here on the screen – but I had a sense that something really, really big, something major, is about to go down. 

I have been saying that 2019 will be a critical year, much more so than 2018. I've felt this way for a while now. Not sure what to make of it. Just my gut. Or maybe that was last night's chili dog?

I think it started with my realization that sharks were getting a real bump in the headlines. President Trump hates sharks. He hates nature in general, as we have learned. There is “Shark Week.” Shark thieves in San Antonio. Sharks lurking in the cold waters off of Cape Cod, just like in Jaws!

And did Stephen King's son, Joe Hill, figure out the "Lady of the Dunes," whose body was found near Provincetown, Mass. in the summer of '74 while Jaws was filming nearby? Was the victim possibly an extra in the film, as Hill suggests? And did that crime inspire the Rupert Holmes reference to the "dunes on the cape" in his 1980 hit "Escape (The  Piña Colada Song)"? Is it Cape Cod?

And grim references to Jaws and the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis at the end of World War II (which brought the atomic bomb to Tinian island to be used on Japan), which was accompanied by the horror of a shark feeding frenzy as doomed sailors flailed helplessly in the tropical ocean. Recall Capt. Quint's monologue in Jaws.

I am simply seeing and hearing about sharks nearly everywhere.

But then again, it is summer. And journalists are looking for something sensational to write about.  And such was the case in 2001, when those dog days became “The Summer of the Shark.” In fact it took the mind-shattering events of September 11, 2001 to get sharks out of the headlines. A terror attack that was foretold in many places and in many ways. In our collective unconscious, we knew it was coming. The sharks were the warning.

And so here we are in 2018, twenty-eight years to the day after Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, leading to what would become the Persian Gulf War. I remember working a gig with a touring sketch group in Colorado and picking up The Denver Post that warm summer day in 1990 and thinking – “this can’t be good.” But as President George H.W. Bush said (repeated in The Big Lebowski), “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.”

Of course when The Dude writes his check for that quart of half-n-half at Ralph’s, the date (albeit inaccurate) was September 11, 1991.

TRUST NO ONE?

So, Christopher Knowles, over at The Secret Sun, has a very insightful post this week titled “The X-Files X-it & the Death of Conspiracy Culture, Part One.”

Knowles argues that when Season 10 aired in 2016, bringing our favorite FBI agents back to the small screen, there was a lot of excitement among fans and people who stumbled on it after the Super Bowl.

And while that 2016 stuff was a bit rough, Knowles digs into Season 11 with aplomb, noting that what led to The X-Files to begin with was the existing conspiracy culture of the 1960’s-1990’s – which I jumped into rather late – of the “druggy strain of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, Mae Brussel, and Apocalypse Culture. It was the conspiracy culture of WBAI-FM, Dave Emory and RE/search. It was a distinctly anti-authoritarian, left-libertarian exegesis, brewed up in the bloodstains left by the Kennedy assassinations, Kent State and Viet Nam.

That led to The Lone Gunmen, abductee/vagabond Max Fenig, redneck abductee Duane Barry ("Red Right Hand") and the hapless truthseeker Blaine “Roswell! Roswell!” Faulkner in his John Lennon specs and his Space: Above and Beyond T-shirt while unwittingly finding himself in an Alien Autopsy spoof in the classic “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.”

But those carefree days are long gone, Knowles tells us. Believe me, I know.

While Season 10 of The X-Files introduced an Alex Jones-like character named Tad O’Malley, it was clear that the “nerdy” type conspiracy researchers had been kicked to the curb, as the “heavy conspiracy-types” took over, bringing us to a week where the batshit “QAnon” conspiracy theory has major support in Trumplandia. Things got dark very, very quickly in the “conspiracy culture,” whatever is left of the “old school” version. And this in a year when UFO sighting are reportedly down.

But Knowles gets down to brass tacks in this paragraph: “But with Trump's election, the Establishment no longer has any patience at all for conspiracy culture, other than its own. The Neolib-Neocon-FAANG-Wall Street Axis that exercises unchallenged, boot-to-the-neck dominance over every single institution in this country (aside from the Executive branch and a few impotent state gov'ts, at least ostensibly) tolerates not even the slightest deviation or dissent from its agenda, whether from the left, right or middle.

And the icing on the cake (left out in the rain, no less) was this bit: “So the romantic quest of a Mulder and Scully, firm in the belief that the “Truth”-capital T will set you free doesn’t even register in this day and age,” especially with everyone using their computers for “self-validation and dopamine fixes.” That is the sort of truth that hurts.

LORD MANHAMMER RETURNS

Recall that The Lone Gunmen sacrificed themselves in the April 2002 episode of The X-Files titled “Jump the Shark.” (Sharks again!) That, of course, is a reference to the gimmick gimmick used in Happy Days where The Fonz literally jumps over a shark while on water skis. But then you knew that ... 

Wrapping up The Lone Gunmen aspect of The X-Files – following the spin-offs cancellation – and killing off Byers, Frohike and Langly via a virulent, biological agent, was a way to say adios to the quirky, beloved technogeek trio. They are then buried in Arlington Cemetery. Or are they?

The boys would come back in the Season 10 episode “Babylon” via a psychedelic mushroom trip Mulder embarks on. And in the Season 11 episode “This,” written by Glen Morgan, which features only Langly, as played by Dean Haglund, we learn more about the “afterlife,” or what remains of one, at least for those in the clutches of sinister Transhumanist control freaks. 

In the episode, after Mulder receives a nearly-scrambled Facetime communication from the long-dead Langly, who is trapped in some hellish, “virtual heaven” a Lone Gunman returns.

Langly’s consciousness is in trouble He says that even though he is with the best minds in this virtual world, and gets to see the Ramones play shows every night, he and the others are nothing more than “digital slaves” uploaded on servers in some building.

Langly begs Mulder and Scully to destroy the computer servers run by a shadowy group involving the NSA and Russian assassins.

But before that, when Mulder and Scully find the Lone Gunmen’s gravestones in Arlington Cemetery, they note how Byers was born on November 22, 1963 – the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated – and April 12, 1945 – the day Franklin D. Roosevelt died. But Langly’s gravestone suggests he was born on March 28, 1969, the day Dwight D. Eisenhower died.

I note this because of something I came across yesterday involving Ike.

Apparently, in response to a question about the role of creamed corn/Garmonbozia in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, writer Robert Engels, who helped write the film with David Lynch, had planned to include in the 1992 prequel a series of scenes involving President Eisenhower’s 1953, televised inauguration and how there were more viewers (44 million) for the I Love Lucy episode a day earlier than those who watched the second-ever inauguration (29 million) of a U.S. president (Harry S. Truman - our 33rd president - was first in 1949).

Engels says that in the early, rough version of the Fire Walk With Me script there is talk of “the world stopping” because Eisenhower’s inaugural ball and a famous I Love Lucy episode aired. It was all too much in 1953 America.

Yes, Mr. & Mrs. America may have liked Ike but they loved Lucy. And in this case, there was keen interest in Lucy’s latest antics because this time Lucy was having a baby and people wanted to know if it would be a boy or a girl. (Oh, and for you "Mandela Effect" enthusiasts, I Love Lucy has its own entry. Lucy "has some 'splainin' to do!!")

What is even more interesting is that Lucy birth of TV’s “Little Ricky” was on the same day Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz son Desi Arnaz Jr. who was born Jan. 19, 1953.

As noted on MeTV.com: “Desi Arnaz, Jr., was born the same day as his fictional "brother" Little Ricky. As with her first child, Lucie, Ball delivered Desi Jr. via Caesarean. The star's obstetrician, Dr. Joe Harris, performed his C-sections on a Monday, the same day that I Love Lucy aired on CBS. Thus, Dezi Arnaz and Lucille Ball were able to schedule her birth to coincide with the episode. In a further blurring of reality and fiction, Lucy's OBGYN on the TV show was also named Dr. Harris.”

Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, who ran Desilu Productions, are credited with inventing the “syndicated rerun,” pioneering it with the I Love Lucy series. Recall in Back to the Future when Marty McFly tells his 1955 future grandparents and aunts and uncles that he had seen a Honeymooners episode in a “rerun,” his future uncle asks, “What’s a rerun?”

Indeed. By 1978, as conspiracy films were being churned out in the wake of Watergate and the Church Hearings on CIA’s MKULTRA experiments, the film Capricorn One was casting doubt on the reality of NASA Apollo Moon landings by promoting a faked landing on Mars.

The government insider Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) breaks it to the astronauts that nothing they are doing is real, reminding them that during the coverage of the December 1972 Apollo 17 lunar landing, “people were calling up the networks and bitching because reruns of I Love Lucy were cancelled. Reruns, for Christ’s sake!

I note this in my 2014 Dust Devil Dreams post "Capricorn run." Oh, and President Truman died on December 26, 1972, 12 days before Apollo 17 returned to Earth. And President Lyndon B. Johnson died a little less than a month later, on January 22, 1973, so both were still alive to see the final lunar trip with humans aboard, albeit the last guys were not Freemasons.

The Moon. It has been a heavenly body we have been hearing a lot about of late. For instance, I point to the fantastic, new lunar-minded Arctic Monkeys record Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, the finest thing the British rock band has put out since Suck It and See (read our 2011 review here).

Alex Turner and his bandmates have put together a truly trippy, surreal, Space Age-tinged beaut of a record. The "Four Out of Five" video is a treat, with its 70's, Kubrickian vibe and look.

The Moon – no pun intended – really has a pull. And the recent "blood moon" and lunar eclipse that got folks all hazy and confused in this Summer of the Shark Pt. II

With all that is going on re:Trump, the alt-right, QAnon conspiracies, climate changes (fires, floods, frog rains, etc.), should we be paying more attention to what may be percolating on the periphery of the greater culture? Or are things too atomized to make much sense? Would we see the clues even if they were shoved directly in our faces? At this rate, probably not. But if what happens happens, then I'm sure we'll all say "Well, I toldya so."

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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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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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