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“He’s a god, he’s a man, he’s a ghost, he’s a guru …”

Ten Thirteen Productions
The aliens arrive at Duane Barry's house in Virginia.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Two years after the cancellation of Twin Peaks I was still lamenting its cancellation. I felt as though there would never be anything quite like it on television ever again.

But in September of 1993, living in Grand Rapids, Michigan (just months before western Michigan experienced a serious UFO flap along Lake Michigan) I saw an ad for a new TV show premiering on Fox called The X-Files.

Watching the quick clip, featuring eerie lights in the woods, immediately brought to mind Twin Peaks, the Black Lodge and the “Sycamore Trees” in Twin Peaks' Glastonberry Grove that “Little” Jimmy Scott (who passed away last month at the age of 88) sang about. A haunting, unforgettable performance. It gives me chills every time I hear it. Again, that scene was one of the most powerful and memorable in American television history. To this day, I can't even believe Twin Peaks was actually on television. Needless to say, I was primed for something like it and The X-Files (along with Northern Exposure) fit the bill for a time.

The X-Files actually premiered in America on Sept. 10, 1993 (already Sept. 11, 1993 in Europe and beyond) and dealt with UFO’s alien abduction and conspiracy. This, of course was eight years before 9/11 – the ultimate conspiracy – an event eluded to in The X-Files spinoff program The Lone Gunmen.

I attended an X-Files convention in Plano, Texas in 1995 (one of the few held during the series run) and got to see Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) and Dean Haglund who played X-Files/Lone Gunmen character Langly. Sure, no David Duchovny or Gillian Anderson, but still …

Into Season 2 of The X-Files, in that spooky October of 1994, series creator Chris Carter brings the audience deep into the alien abduction mythology with two fantastic episodes, “Duane Barry” and “Ascension.”

Barry, played by actor Steve Railsback (who portrayed Charles Manson in 1976’s Helter Skelter), is a former FBI agent who is driven mad due to a gunshot injury and what appears to be repeated alien abductions.

Railsback gives a powerful performance as the unhinged, violent abductee who ultimately kidnaps Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Early in the second episode, “Ascension,” Barry is driving Scully’s stolen car down the Blue Ridge Parkway while Scully is tied up in the trunk. His goal is to take her to a mountaintop and have the aliens abduct her in his place. Barry, in his madness, wants it all to stop. His life has been destroyed and he is desperate for answers. This is how many abductees feel.

In the first episode, “Duane Barry,” during an earlier kidnapping situation after Barry escapes from a mental hospital, Mulder tries to reason and sympathize with Barry, telling him that he believes his abduction stories and that “tests” were performed on him and others and that the U.S. government actively participated in the abductions alongside the extraterrestrials.

But when Mulder asks Barry if he is really telling the truth, Barry just about loses it.

So, is it unusual that Chris Carter (a person who has come up twice this week, via his “Ten Thirteen Productions” company and the fact that my mother told me Chris Carter was interviewed on a local radio station) chose the spooky-as-hell doom tune “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to be playing on the car radio as Duane Barry is pulled over by a Virginia state trooper?

Barry, looking crazed and sweaty and wearing a bloodied sweatshirt has “Red Right Hand” blaring and the trooper tries to get him to turn it down. When I first watched this episode nearly 20 years ago, this scene (filmed on a road in the British Columbia forest, adding to the eerie, Halloween atmosphere) really struck me. The song, later featured by Carter on The X-Files soundtrack Songs in the Key of X, captured the mood of the episode and the situation perfectly.

Sings Cave: “He’ll wrap you in his arms, tell you that you’ve been a good boy / He’ll rekindle all the dreams it took you a lifetime to destroy / He’ll reach deep into the hole, heal your shrinking soul, but there won’t be a single thing that you can do / He’s a god, he’s a man, he’s a ghost, he’s a guru / They’re whispering his name through this disappearing land / But hidden in his coat is a red right hand.”

The song has been popping up and syncing with me a lot lately. Quite out of the blue, really. It came up on an NPR program, for instance. Very weird. I have not watched an X-Files episode in some time, but I just happened to have a DVD collection of Season 2 (my favorite season) on hand and found myself taken back to 1994 as I watched the “Duane Barry” and “Ascension” episodes – key episodes in the series that ran for approximately nine years.

Cave has said “Red Right Hand” was inspired by a doomy line from Book 2 of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. We wrote in 2013 about Husker Du's Grant Hart and his Paradise Lost-themed album The Argument.

Wrote Milton, about Hell and Satan: “What if the breath, that kindled those grim fires / Awak’d, should blow them into sevenfold rage, And plunge us into the flames? / Or, from above, Should intermitted vengeance arm again / His red right hand to plague us?”

On a recent Red Ice Radio interview with host Henrik Palmgren, UFO researcher Richard Dolan talks about the UFO reality and alien abduction. Just like Duane Barry, there are plenty of people who say they have been abducted and some who are lying and that the government is involved. Just like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand,” Dolan notes “The guru effect” and how alleged abductees are drawn to New Age UFO “gurus,” seen as gods more than either women or men. He says that these ET's with telepathic abilities are all around us. As we wrote last fall, a college student claims he was visited by "Tall Blond" aliens along the shores of Arcadia Lake. 

 “When you have a phenomenon that affects so many people in such a deep way, many of them want answers and they look to people for answers,” Dolan told Palmgren. 

And when people get desperate for answers they will look for anyone - anyone - red right hand or not, who will help them and provide the answers they seek. 

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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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