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Eighty-sixed (All is well!)

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Recorded in May 1986 and released two months later, The Smiths’ song “Panic” -- has it really been 30 years since that song was released? – was written by singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. It’s one of my favorite Smiths songs, particularly the back story where legend has it Morrissey and Marr were listening to the BBC in late April 1986 and heard about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union.

And right after sharing the news of the worst nuclear disaster in world history, the disc jockey – Steve Wright – allegedly cued up the mindless pop song “I’m You Man” by Wham!

I remember actually saying, ‘What the fuck does this got to with people’s lives?” Marr recalled. “We hear about Chernobyl, then, seconds later, we’re expected to jump around to ‘I’m Your Man.’”

The song is more of a statement about the sad state of pop music and pop culture, circa 1986, than anything else. But the political side is there, too ... simmering. After all, A lot of Europe was affected by the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, an event that has played a key role in a number of Dust Devil Dreams posts, including: "Getting hit with a sledgehammer," "Nostalgia for a clean wind's kiss," "Blood rain," "Gates," "Superman, where are you now?" and "?uest for peace?".

But I think of the chaotic, aimless drift that the world seems to be taking, and it worries me. People are panicked. But they are also angry. They are past being afraid and are getting angry at the things that seem beyond their control. 

Sings Morrissey, in this jangly, thinking-man pop number:

Panic on the streets of London, Panic on the streets of Birmingham, I wonder to myself / Could life ever be sane again? The Leeds side-streets that you slip down, I wonder to myself / Hopes may rise on the Grasmere, But Honey Pie, you’re not safe here / So you run down to the safety of the town / But there’s panic on the streets of Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee, Humberside, I wonder to myself …

It concludes with the chorus: "Hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ ..." a reference to Wright, of course, where Morrissey even printed up T-shirts featuring that phrase and an absurd image of Wright. As someone in the office noted, Trump's first two initials are "D" and "J." 

"He's wright, you know."

Yes, those lyrics ran through my mind early this morning as I settled in the studio as a guest on 1520 AM KOKC’s Mitchell in the Morning radio show.

The 30-year old song so inspired me that I had the producer cue up “Panic” as an intro to our lively-and-sobering discussion on the European Union Referendum – nicknamed “Brexit” – and how the British people voted to leave the EU. It was a sort of shortsighted, reactionary “fuck you!” to the intellectuals, “elites,” immigrants, and (with a whiff of anti-Semitism) “merchant bankers,” echoing the sentiments of the Father Coughlins, Francos and other know-nothings and fascists of 80 years ago.

Note in this story how UKIP's Nigel Farage used the term "merchant bankers," which noted: "The phrase 'merchant banker' has not been in widespread use in the UK - except as rhyming slang for a British insult - since the Big Bang market reforms of 1986 ushered in an era of increased internationalization for the City of London." - Hmmm. Nineteen eighty-six again ...

Noting some of the cities mentioned in “Panic,” I checked to see how they voted. Of course, London voted to “Remain.” Birmingham, it was reported, voted Brexit “by a whisker.” Leeds, on the other hand, voted to “Remain” by the “tiniest of margins.” And while Dundee voted to “Remain,” Carlisle, in Cumbria, voted “strongly” to “Leave.”

As for Humberside, well, voters there “overwhelmingly” voted to “Leave,” with 60 percent of voters supporting Brexit. (Here's a map of the breakdown, showing how the vote went down).

A quote in the BBC article caught my attention. It was by Conservative MP Andrew Percy (representing Brigg and Goole) who tried to counter the growing panic people were feeling in the wake of the vote, where the pound was in freefall and uncertainty hung over the UK as reality sank in.

Said Percy: “People shouldn’t lose their heads (panic!) … let’s come together, accept the result.” And European Council Donald Tusk warned that the Brexit vote was "not a time for hysterical reactions."

Percy’s reaction reminded me of Kevin Bacon’s authoritarian character in Animal House where people are running through the streets and he is trying to calm them, screaming “Remain calm! All is well!

Regarding that phrase – “come together” – has been syncing with me quite a bit lately, just as it was in the summer of 2012 when the Olympics were held in London.

In my piece “Olympic spectacle on the Isles of Wonder,” I noted some fairly occult themes and images used in the opening event for the London Olympics. In fact, the Arctic Monkeys, a Sheffield, UK-based band, appeared during the show and performed the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Recall that Aerosmith recorded and performed "Come Together" for the 1978 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie. It did well on the charts, reaching 23 on the Billboard charts. The song was later featured in the 1998 sci-fi/disaster film Armageddon, a film which featured the destruction of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, curiously enough.

The same footage featured in Armageddon was later linked to the actual destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which occured on Feb. 1, 2003, an event I covered as a reporter in Louisiana (and unwittingly predicted 22 years earlier). Equally odd is that the FX channel had planned to air Armageddon on their station the same day Columbia was destroyed but switched it to an airing of Aliens at the last minute. Aliens was released ... in 1986. In July, no less.

Oh, and one other thing, I rewatched the 1985 film Fletch just yesterday and felt compelled to snap a couple of pictures of him at the end of the film, after he has gotten his story, exposing police corruption and drug trafficking. Fletch (Chevy Chase) is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a hat for the USCSS Nostromo - from 1979's Alien, of course. I had never, ever, in all the times I've watched that comedy involving an investigative newspaper reporter noticed what his hat said - until yesterday. (Someone on Reddit noticed it too ...). Oh, and the Nostromo is destroyed at the end of Alien - an issue noted in Aliens, of course.

Oh, and where is Fletch going at the end of the film? Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which plays into our whole Olympics spectacle theme. 

Oh, and the flipside of Aerosmith's "Come Together" single? It was "Kings and Queens," a song that Tyler said was "about how many people died from holy wars because of their beliefs or non-beliefs. With that one, my brain was back with the knights of the round table..." (Sync Arthurian England and the images of the 2012 London Olympics. Wow!

And this morning, during my workout, I told my trainer that the 1986 song “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith and Run-DMC has been playing “all the time,” lately. Literally, as I said that, I looked over at the TV screen and there was Steven Tyler and Aerosmith performing. The version of "Walk This Way" that they did for their '86 comeback. In fact, that remake was released July 4, 1986. Again, with 1986!!! And now we learn this week, 30 years after their collaboration with Run-DMC, that Aerosmith will reportedly call it a day.

So are we being told to "walk this way" and "come together"? Or are we drifting further apart in a vortex of chaos and disinformation? 

It's not yet July. I think we are going to see some unexpected, wild and unbelievable things in the month of July. Orange alert? Seems to be.

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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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