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Black rain falls ... on my bleeding land

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Midnight Oil's 1990 performance in front of Exxon headquarters in NYC, as featured in the film "Black Rain Falls."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s – when rock bands still gave a shit – one of the key political bands with international appeal were Midnight Oil out of Australia.

I have been writing about the Oils recently, particularly about their stance – and the stance of frontman Peter Garrett – on nuclear disarmament. We absolutely agree with Mr. Garrett on that issue and many others.

Years ago I had a VHS tape copy of their Black Rain Falls video – a “special guerilla action” (agitprop) concert event in front of the headquarters for Exxon on Sixth Avenue in New York City. I love the banner behind their makeshift stage: "Midnight Oil makes you dance / Exxon oil makes us sick."

The primary reason for this guerrilla action in front of Exxon on May 30, 1990 was to protest the horrific oil spill by the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Prince William Sound in Alaska on this day – March 24, 1989 – 25 years ago!

At that time, of course, the spill was only a little over a year old and the environment of Prince William Sound still had a long way to go to mend following that spill of hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil into those pristine waters.

As a high school student at the time, I remember the outrage I felt and how I would go out of my way to avoid gassing up my hand-me-down station wagon with Exxon oil. The company – now known as ExxonMobil – became a corporate pariah for a time, and Midnight Oil helped to drive that home right in their own backyard.

Synchronistically speaking, I was reminded of the Exxon Valdez spill in two ways: First, I received a dispatch from Earth First! today which included an article headlined: “Activists scale ExxonMobil rig 25 years after Exxon Valdez spill.”

This direct action took place by Greenpeace activists who scaled the West Alpha rig in Norway, which was to drill for oil in the Russian Arctic.

Notes the story: “Today, the Greenpeace activists, and many environmentalists around the world, are calling for a ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic and for renewed efforts to fight climate change.”

As one activist noted: “Look at Exxon Valdez. It is still affecting Alaskan nature 25 years after the accident … we can’t afford to risk an Exxon Valdez disaster in the Arctic, which would be impossible to clean up.”

And with marine life still suffering in the Gulf of Mexico from the 2010 BP oil spill, it hurts to read this March 11, 2014 Bradenton (Fla.) Herald editorial "Florida still in grip of 2010 BP oil spill." A new University of South Florida report notes how that devastating oil spill from four years is still sickening life in the Gulf, and noting a 1,250-pund tarmat that washed up on Pensacola Beach just last week. Red Dirt Report has been to the heart of the Florida panhandle where the spill hurt both the ecosystem and tourism, as I wrote in this July 2011 article for RDR.

But back to 1990’s Midnight Oil concert in front of Exxon … I picked up the Black Rain Falls video some years after it was released – but lost it in the intervening years. A great activist-concert video. Oils’ lead singer Garrett looks as imposing as ever decked out in his “SOS” T-shirt, singing signature Oils songs like  the-then new track “Blue Sky Mine,” "Dreamworld, "Sometimes,” “Progress” and even John Lennon’s 1970 hit “Instant Karma!” But the key track is “River Runs Red,” off of Blue Sky Mining. It’s from that powerful environmental song where Garrett sings “River runs red, black rain falls, dust in my hand / River runs red, black rain falls, on my bleeding land …”

Stays true to my synchronistic "red" theme of late. And then there is the "rain" angle. What's coming down in those black sheets of rain that is setting off Geiger counters around here?

This took place a month after all of the 20th anniversary Earth Day events took place around the country. There was a renewed interest in environmental issues. Optimism, at least for a short while, was in the air.

So, today, after I see that Earth First! article reminding me about the Exxon Valdez accident and renewed efforts to prevent drilling in the Arctic, I check the mail and see the copy of Black Rain Falls – only on VHS, unfortunately – had arrived – coincidentally, of course – on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill (Check out more from this Slicing Up Eyeballs post from 2010). 

Weird timing. I totally did not plan that. But me, being sync-minded, suspect that there was maybe more at work here. With radioactive waste emanating from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and the ongoing Fukushima catastrophe, Planet Earth continues to be threatened by demonic land-rapers and vicious greedheads around the globe - all in the name of more profits.

As I have written in pieces including “Red skies,” “Red rain and red skies” and the Midnight Oil-themed “Red sails in the sunset,” environmental concerns – particularly when it comes to nuclear power and nuclear waste and “nuclear errors” – are of paramount importance. It’s time we started paying closer attention, get more involved and sound the alarm. After all, there is no Planet "B."

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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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