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Goin' to Ashland

TNT
The character "Ash" in the sci-fi/horror series "Supernatural." Ash is played by actor Chad Lindberg.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – In Peter Levenda’s book Sinister Forces: The Nine: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft, the author gives particular important to the Ohio River-side city of Ashland, Kentucky.

Levenda was drawn to this city for various esoteric reasons, including the fact that murder mastermind and cult figure Charles Manson – who died exactly one month ago – had lived in Ashland for a time, having been born down river in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also spent time in Kenova, West Virginia, not far from Ashland, hometown of Bobby Joe Long, a serial killer who was nabbed in Florida in 1983. The notion is that there is a “sinister force” in this region of the United States that has adverse effects on certain people who live in these areas is something to consider, particularly when provided copious amounts of evidence to point one in that direction.

Ashland, meanwhile, is down river – about an hour or more – from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the Ohio River city where the so-called “Mothman” terrorized residents in and around Point Pleasant for exactly 13 months, culminating on December 15, 1967 with the catastrophic collapse of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people.

As we have written about fairly extensively, Mothman was covered by the late John Keel, who would later write The Mothman Prophecies in 1975, among many other remarkable and insightful books about the paranormal and the reality of “ultraterrestrials.”

Levenda notes that Keel, in addition to report on strange lights flitting about in the night sky, spooky encounters with the Men in Black and, of course, the “winged weirdy” with glowing red eyes who seems to be a “harbinger of some impending doom,” as Levenda writes in Sinister Forces, Keel makes passing references to the “mound building” culture of Native American tribes in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys where the mounds appeared.

And Levenda notes that the Native Americans would later “avoid” what is now present-day West Virginia because there was “(s)omething inherently stranger about the place. A sinister force.”

And across the state line, in Kentucky ("dark and bloody ground"), Ashland grew up as a city known “Where Southern charm blends with the industrial Northeast.” Indeed, with iron furnaces and Ashland Oil, the city grew to more than 20,000 souls.

Levenda was drawn to Ashland in hopes of learning more about Charles Manson. But it was the Indian mounds that really grabbed him, noting that (quoting another author): “No city in the state of Kentucky … contains so much evidence of prehistoric occupation as the city of Ashland.”

But by 1870 and beyond, much of the mound presence in Ashland was gone or removed. And Ashland’s museum seemed disinterested in telling much about the mounds to Levenda, when he inquired. These mounds were said to have contained human bones and other artifacts.

This Topix page - "Weird Things in Ashland" - notes that "serial killers and burial mounds" have nothing in common and that even though Jeffrey Dahmer did his cannibalistic worst in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it was his time in Bath, Ohio in the late 1970's, where a former Red Dirt Report writer wrote about her (she was a he before her transition) encounter with someone who may have been Dahmer in his early days of murder and cannibalism there in Ohio. 

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

With Dahmer, the prism had cracked. As it was for Manson. Long. Lucas. And the long line of serial killers haunting the hills and valleys of Appalachia and beyond. Sowing death and doom in their wake.

As Paula Sophia Schonauer wrote in her 2013 piece "On the Run" (named after the unsettling Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon track from 1973 that she believed was blasting from the kidnapper's creepy van) the following, in part:

"I heard a vehicle approaching from behind, lights illuminating the path ahead. I kept jogging, trying to find a rhythm to balance breathing and movement. The vehicle drove by at slow speed, a black van with primer spots on the fenders and what might have been Pink Floyd’s "On The Run," thumping inside. I saw the glimmer of a black light in the back windows.

The van stopped a hundred feet ahead, tires crunching hunks of asphalt. I stopped running. The driver seemed to be waiting for my approach, for me to solicit a ride, but I hesitated. Something wasn’t right. Maybe it was the music, psychedelic, haunting. Maybe it was the black light glowing like poisonous radiation. I stepped off the shoulder, seeking refuge in the shadow of the adjacent wood line."

Further research reveals that northeastern Ohio, and the Greater Cleveland area which includes Dahmer's former home in Bath, was rich in prehistory going back more than 11,000 years in the past. That's  quite a long time. Who knows what ancient peoples in this area, after the glaciers receded, encountered, including now-extinct beasts of unknown size and power.

And then there are the numerous mounds throughout Ohio and into neighboring Kentucky and spooky West Virginia.

The Deep Cover Cleveland blog notes:"(the) remains of Adena and Hopewell ceremonialism and mortuary ritual are common in Northeast Ohio."

Jeffrey Dahmer's scary 1981 mugshot in Bath, Ohio. 

The Adena tribe and others, believed in winged beasts.

It seems the European-descended locals were also aware of something amiss. After all, a Queen Anne-styled house was moved – in its entirety – from Winchester and 17th streets to another location at Central Avenue and 16th Street. It is not clear why the house was moved. And it was noted that the house was “eclectic.” Hmmm.

And that name, “Winchester”? Seems interesting in light of the two demon-hunting brothers in the series Supernatural that has caught my attention this month. And, in fact, I watched an Season 5 episode today titled “Dark Side of the Moon” (sync Pink Floyd AND The Wizard of Oz) where the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean, find themselves in a “heavenly realm” with a mullet-headed genius named “Ash,” who calls his “blue heaven,” where he has hung out with Johnny Cash, Andre the Giant and Albert Einstein … well, it was all lining up quite nicely. Oh, and like "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski, Einstein can whip up a "mean White Russian."

"Calmer than you are." 

Interesting. It was in 2003 that Johnny Cash died. And it was in 2003 that the artist Shepard Fairey sent me an autographed "Obey Giant" poster (featuring Andre the Giant) after doing a story on his subversive artwork. What is interesting is that I sensed Cash's presence - and a tap on my shoulder - during a 2016 visit to Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where the Arkansas native recorded some of his earliest and best material. 

The iconic Shepard Fairey "Obey Giant" poster hanging in the office of Red Dirt Report. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

And lest we forget, in 2010, actress Jane Seymour said publicly that she believed her son Johnny, who also plays the guitar and met Cash before his death, was "channeling" the spirit of Johnny Cash. I find it interesting that this quirky "Ash" character referenced Cash in his heavenly rant on this April 1, 2010 episode of Supernatural.

Oh, and what does the Enochian-speaking computer genius Ash call his heavenly realm? Ashland, of course.

GRIFFINS, MOUNDS & MORE

But when Levenda was back in Ashland, he noticed “griffins” atop the house, with the local brochure noting: “Atop the house are two lion-like statues (known) as griffins, which legendarily ward off evil spirits.”

Asks Levenda: “Evil spirits in Ashland, Kentucky?

Perhaps it had to do with the mounds – some in the towns Central Park and some known as the “String of Beads” mounds. Very similar to mounds I was shown in August when I was in Seneca, Missouri – to view the Aug. 21st solar eclipse on Spook Light road (which I wrote about here) – and a local property owner showed me the “string of beads”-styled mounds – mounds I was previously unaware of.

But what was interesting to me is that the mounds are in an area well-known for high strangeness, beyond just the Spook Light, which has been seen for many decades along the Oklahoma/Missouri state line.

Meanwhile, back in Sinister Forces, Levenda notes how the mounds were opened and reopened – before being finally restored by Boy Scouts in 1984 – and it is not clear for what purpose. Still, Levenda writes: “(I)t seems someone was nervous.”

Nervous about what?

Later Levenda notes that as Ashland grew – over the mounds of the ancient Adena people, writing: “If there are evil spirits in Ashland, one wonders if they would be the souls of the ancient dead whose millennia-old sleep has been disturbed by businessmen and Boy Scouts.

LIBRARY GIFT

For me, Ashland had been coming up a lot lately. One of my favorite films in 2015 was Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston as literary genius and anti-war activist Dalton Trumbo. My review can be read here. Trumbo was one of the Hollywood screenwriters caught up in the notorious blacklist. And Trumbo was sent to a federal prison in Ashland, Kentucky for contempt of Congress.

Ashland had a quality about it that seemed to be trying to get my attention. 

A copy of the letter I sent to the head librarian at the Boyd County Public Library in Ashland, Kentucky. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

I was excited to send the CDs and stuff to Ashland. I never heard from the librarian or anyone in Ashland. They are pretty far upriver and, as Levenda, a New Yorker, noted, Ashlanders are a little skeptical of outsiders. For all I know they threw my package in a dumpster.

And in Levenda's Sinister Forces, there is a lot more about Ashland, Kentucky that doesn't quite add up. Creative types have taken note of Levenda's research and in 2014, Levenda noted on his blog that a Brooklyn-based band called Pinataland had recorded a song called "Ashland," based on his thoughts and experiences in the Ohio River town. 

The song "Ashland" is pretty damn good. A sort of thoughtful, rootsy, folk-rock song.

A sampling of the lyrics, as sung by Doug Stone: 

"Our traveling companions  / Are the ghosts we've abandoned / We listen for their secrets on the radio / And I do believe we'll find them / In Ashland .."

Listen to it here.

YELLOW BRICK ROAD

So, family members and I sometimes reminisce about how the annual viewing of The Wizard of Oz on television was a family affair and had been pretty much from 1960 to 1991. It was magical, gang. Because for most of that time, that annual event, either in the spring or fall was a big deal.

So, as I watched the "Dark Side of the Moon" episode on TNT (yeah, the one Ted Turner started), the commercial segments are pushing the fact that this Friday they will be airing The Wizard of Oz in its entirety, making it a sort of holiday-period experience - for the whole family!

The images used were interesting.

Note the TNT logo superimposed over a blurred image of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion marching down the Yellow Brick Road toward Emerald City. Syncs with my recent "Surrender Dorothy" piece.

And recall in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, John Keel talks about Mothman being seen repeatedly in and around the "TNT area," an old, World War II-era ammunition dump that seemed to attract the sinister, flying beast that freaked out the denizens of Point Pleasant in late 1966 and all of 1967.

As I write this, I am pleased to report that Loren Coleman's brand new book, Mothman: Evil Incarnate, just arrived in my mailbox. Coleman is taking up where the late John Keel, an old friend of Coleman's, left off. There is still much more to learn about Mothman and what it is and what its appearances mean.

In the meantime, check out my recent review of Coleman's 2002 book Mothman and Other Curious Encounters.

LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

And finally, while we are on the subject of the TNT channel, one of their advertisers is Zale's Jewelers, a jewelry store that first opened in 1924 in Wichita Falls, Texas, not too far from here. Read more of Zale's (now known simply as "Zales") history here.

Following my Back to the Future research a few years back and noting product placement in the films, Zale's stands out in my mind. It appears in both 1955 and in 1985, as this "Futurepedia" piece notes.

I was thinking about Zale's and the link with The Wizard of Oz. Then I thought about Back to the Future and whether Dorothy and Marty have a link somehow. This writer/analyst comes up with a pretty good comparison/contrast piece worth noting.

What is interesting, is in the photo above, you see a promotional poster for Zales' promotional tie-in with Disney and Enchanted, as the two companies are are hoping to get younger people interested in the diamond trade? 

Checking out the Zales website, they offer a Snow White "enchanted" (read: "poisoned") apple pendant. In 2007 there was a film called Enchanted, which was a semi-parody of the Disney princess movies like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and so forth.

TAKE A BITE: Poison apple pendant eatured at Zales.com

And, we'll let Ash in Supernatural's Ashland have the last word. When describing to the Winchester brothers what all these multitude of Heavens are like, it's like "Disneyland" but "without all the anti-Semitism." And at the center of it all, Ash says, "The Magic Kingdom."

And it's at Disney World, mind you, where today we get the new Donald Trump animatronic president, something straight out of a nightmare.

Not sure what hateful, racist stuff comes out of this Trumpbots mouth ... I'll be sure to avoid it next time I'm at ... drumroll please ... "Dizz Knee Land," courtesy of our pals in the 90's alt-rock band Dada. 

In the song, they sing: "I just flipped off President George I'm going to dizz knee land." Of course guitarist Michael Curley and bassist Joie Calio were referencing flipping off Pres. George H.W. Bush, who was running for re-election in 1992, when the song was released. Funny, that this year, cyclist Juli Briskman flipped off Trump's motorcade last month when he was driving through Virginia. She lost her job, but a GoFundMe campaign raised $73,000 for her. 

Guess she's goin' to Dizz Knee Land ... 

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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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