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The hellish road to Hanford - and beyond

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Page 119 of Mark Frost's "The Secret History of Twin Peaks."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Although never explained in the series, there were some scenes in Twin Peaks: The Return where a troubled, "drugged-out mother" in Dougie Jones’s Las Vegas neighborhood repeats the numbers “1-1-9,” as if trying to say “911,” but backward. On the tabel around her are a bottle of (corn) whiskey, (tar-filled) cigarettes, playing cards and crushed-up prescription drugs. Her young son witnesses the explosion of Dougie's car.

However, the series ended earlier this month, and viewers knew little about this woman, or her young son, or why she was highlighted in the series at all. But those numbers – 1-1-9 – read forward or backward – are part of our 21st century vocabulary. They represent a warning.

The "drugged-out mother" (Hailey Gates) in Twin Peaks: The Return. (Showtime)

Unless it was to get viewers to check out page 119 in The Secret History of Twin Peaks, written by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost.

On that page (and 118 as well), there is a large photo spread of an aerial image of the Hanford Site, located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington state (image above).

This is most interesting.

At the Department of Energy’s Hanford.gov website, fact sheets are featured that indicate how much clean-up has been completed since that began in 1989. After all, it was at Hanford where more than 20 million pieces of uranium metal fuel for nine nuclear reactors at the site were made.

The Hanford Site is an absolutely shocking example of humankind’s utter disregard for safety and protection of the environment. Earlier this month, an Associated Press story noted how the U.S. Department of Energy had fined Hanford $16,000 for “failure to identify a white powder on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation,” first discovered in 2015.

A “white powder”? And it’s unidentifiable? And that’s just the nasties that have been found. No one knows what is buried below the surface, waiting to bubble up at some point in the future, when the word “Hanford” is no longer recognized. Just a bit of our Cold War legacy, and something that Twin Peaks fan Andrew Grevas notes at 25 Years Later, a fan site.

Noting the game changing Episode 8 – “Gotta light?” – there is “much to unpack, to study, and appreciate,” like all good art.

Grevas writes: “Could Lynch and Frost have been telling the story of their generation in Twin Peaks: The Return? The story of how the bomb changed us, using Bob and the Woodsmen to represent how our society has become desensitized to violence and human suffering in the years since the bomb?

In fictional terms, Bob and the Woodsman came here as result of the bomb and are responsible for murders, rape, pain and suffering. In Season 2 of the original series, the question was pondered if Bob was “the evil that men do”. If my theory holds any weight, that’s exactly what Bob (and now the Woodsmen) are.”

I tend to agree. Bob and the Woodsmen appear after the Trinity atomic bomb is detonated at White Sands in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. They are liked sooty hobos from Hell. Bringing pre-packaged garmonbozia to the seemingly innocent denizens of the Atomic Age.

Humanity, post-Trinity, is never the same. And much of that plutonium used in the “Fat Man” bomb for The Manhattan Project was manufactured at Hanford (with full approval from President Harry S. Truman, pleased with the Trinity test three weeks earlier), in Washington state (where the haunted town of Twin Peaks is located) and on land formerly populated by the Nez Perce and other Pacific Northwest Native American tribes.

They were forced off their lands by the Roosevelt administration in the race to create the bomb.

In talking about the character of Douglas Milford (a shadowy character in the Twin Peaks universe, and the focus of The Secret History of Twin Peaks), and his links to high weirdness in mid-20th century America, we learn more about Hanford and how “over 1,500 people were ‘relocated’ from two nearby farming communities, creating ghost towns that exist to this day.”

And recall, the Nez Perce (who interacted with early 19th century explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as part of President Jefferson’s “Corps of Discovery” team), were “fleeced” out of their lands in a 19th century treaty and had their land taken again.

Frost notes that in 1949, “officials at Hanford covertly released massive amounts of raw, irradiated uranium fuel into the local environment. Levels monitored in a 200-mile area around Hanford exceed the established daily limit of iodine-131 by over 1,000 percent.”

For those in the region, thyroid diseases and cancer rates have soared, as the government denies any culpability or any release of unsafe amounts of radioactivity into the environment. Frost wonders what Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph would have thought about the continued lies and deception perpetrated on the innocent public? 

But the isotopes unleashed on all of us came out of evil plans to destroy humanity, under the guise of projecting "democracy" or "communism" or "capitalism." But the Woodsmen seem to have been the puppeteers in all of this, at least as portrayed in Twin Peaks: The Return

We will continue to analyze episode eight - or "8," as steampunk teapot Phillip Jeffries indicates as "infinity."

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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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