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Evan, Juliana and the mirrored image

Neal Preston
Evan and his doppelganger? A mirrored image of guitar playing Evan Dando in August 1993, two months prior to the release of "Come On Feel The Lemonheads."
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- When synchronicity screams out at a person who is fully aware of the power of sync, it’s really quite amazing what one can see, or see reflected through the mirror of sync.

After all, for some reason I felt the urge to play The Lemonheads’ 1993 Come On Feel the Lemonheads in the car today. A lot of great songs on that one – “The Great Big No,” “Into Your Arms” and the song singer-guitarist Evan Dando wrote for Juliana Hatfield – “It’s About Time.”

Checking Facebook a little bit ago – it’s October 12, 2013 – I couldn’t help but notice the following update from The Lemonheads FB page: “Today marks 20 years since the release of Come On Feel – what is your favorite track from this album?”

Today was the day Come On Feel The Lemonheads was released??!?! Today? The very day I decide to pop in that disc and really listen to it? Unreal! At the time of its release I was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan and working at TGI Friday’s.

Coincidentally, as a joke of sorts, I list my job on Facebook as being an “Explorist at TGI Friday’s,” because for some reason it wouldn’t let me mention Red Dirt Report. “Explorist” is an amusing term I heard used on a sketch on HBO’s classic comedy program Mr. Show starring David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. Incredibly, today, I was at an OU/Texas football watch party and two friends – Chris and Steve – were standing next to each other and looked almost identical to Cross (Chris) and Odenkirk (Steve). It was uncanny!

Over the summer of ’93 I was obsessed with The Lemonheads. I had become familiar with them two years earlier after the release of the cool/bizarre Favorite Spanish Dishes EP. This is the one of great covers – Michael Nesmith’s “Different Drum,” New Kids on the Block’s “Step By Step” and The Misfits “Skulls” – “the corpses all hang / headless and limp / Bodies with no surprises / And the blood drains down like devil’s rain / We’ll bathe tonight.”

And yet Dando’s original material was very cool, melodic and tuneful. It’s A Shame About Ray was immediately purchased in 1992 (before “Mrs. Robinson” was tacked on later) and became part of the soundtrack of my life.

And when Ray ran its course, I couldn’t wait for the follow-up … which would be October 12, 1993.

“It was 20 years ago today …” Now that famous line from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band  has been coming up a lot, as has the fall of 1993 (an important autumn in my personal history) as has the music of Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando and The Lemonheads.

Hatfield and “alterna-hunk” Dando loom large in my pop-culture-obsessed life. They were smart, cool and appealing singer-songwriters from New England who were at the top of their game back in ’93. They were an item of sorts (again, “It’s About Time” and a quote from Hatfield about Dando – “(H)e thinks this cool chick playing music is really cool.”)

Dando would become known for his “are-they-or-aren’t-they” approach to his puzzling relationship with Hatfield. He became known, as noted in 2003 – for “his copious drug consumption.”

It was three years ago this week that New York magazine featured an article headlined “171 Minutes With Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield,” by writer Lizzy Goodman. She talks about meeting Dando in his New York and his embrace of the 9/11 conspiracy theory. After all, he was right there when it went down. And one almost gets the sense he unwittingly was meant to play a role in the 9/11 mystery.

Dando uses both hands to pick up his piece of the World Trade Center. “Open the window,” he commands. “The towers were right there. That morning really fucked me up. The second plane was so close, it went shoom, right over my head.” He pauses and absentmindedly pats the pack of Marlboro Lights in his shirt pocket. “Because I was so close, I know what really happened,” he says. “I shouldn’t get into it, because I’m not a political person, but they were blown up by bombs. They were not taken out by those airplanes. Those fires were going out and then the buildings blew up. What I saw and heard that day was a crime, and not by the people they’re saying. That’s all I’ll say.” He pauses. “I’m worried about our country. But then again I’ve been worried about America my entire life.”

Dando then talks about drugs still being a part of his life while Hatfield is clearly uncomfortable and wanting to leave, saying “I’ve got ants in my pants.”

I remember reading that at the time and noting that Goodman also notes that in Dando’s apartment is also “a charred tablespoon; a copy of Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend.” Today, October 12th, also happens to be Crowley’s birthday and, as I noted earlier, the day Come On Feel The Lemonheads was released. In fact, I got a sticker with the CD at the time (I worked in a Musicland record store in a Grand Rapids mall that fall) which read: “Cop A Feel with The Lemonheads.” I stuck it on the back of my 1969 Ford Fairlane. What a great car that was!

While Dando may have said Come On Feel The Lemonheads is not his best work, he has later said: “(B)ut I really like Come On Feel The Lemonheads.” And there’s no reason not to love this album, which can be found in bargain bins across the land.

So, heading over to Cuppies &  Joe coffeehouse and cupcake shop to pick up a dozen cupcakes for a party, their delicious “Boom Boom Pow” (chocolate, caramel, sea salt – yum!) was on my mind. And yet so was Come On Feel The Lemonheads, an album of guitar-driven alterna-pop and one that featured the country-ish, anti-gay-bashing tune “Big Gay Heart.”  

This song synced with the tragic Joe Bell and Jadin Bell story. Gay teen Jadin Bell suffered brain damage and later died after being bullied. His father, Joe Bell, was scheduled to come through Oklahoma City soon on his “Joe’s Walk For Change” in honor of his son and bring attention to the bullying gay teens experience. Tragically, Joe Bell was killed several days ago on a rural Colorado road by a careless truck driver named Kenneth Raven. The Raven is often associated with death and being a bad omen.

And oddly, as I researched the Joe Bell story on The UK Daily Mail, to the right I saw another story about celebrity Rebecca Gayheart with her husband Eric Dane (“had to hear about your Danish boyfriend” – from track 13 “Favorite T” on Come On Feel The Lemonheads). In the Daily Mail photo piece with Gayheart, Dane is wearing “a grey T-shirt” and a hat from the USS Halsey (DDG-97). The Halsey, named after World War II Admiral William “Bull” Halsey,”  is a ship is a guided missile destroyer in the U.S. Navy and is the ship being used in the upcoming Michael Bay TV show The Last Ship, based on the 1988 William Brinkley novel. It’s being filmed around San Diego. The Last Ship is also the name of Sting's new album. Sting, of course, introduced me, at the age of 11, to the idea of "synchronicity" due to The Police album of the same name - 30 years ago. The Last Ship is Sting's 11th solo album. Sting's third solo album, ... All This Time, was recorded on September 11, 2001 and when the terror attacks took place, while recording, and ultimately altered the tone of the release. The album was "respectfully dedicated to those who lost their lives on that day." 

Sting and Evan Dando, who both sync with 9/11, have not recorded together, but the two rock heartthrobs did share being on the cover of British rock magazine Q Magazine. Dando's article? "A Lemonhead comes clean."

In 2009 a sailor allegedly committed suicide aboard the Halsey. And syncing with The Beatles and Paul McCartney (a double/a doppelganger?) is the 1971 song “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” The song is featured on the album Ram. A Bull and a Ram.

Dane (born 11/9/72) has had many interesting roles, including his portrayal of Charles “Tex” Watson, a member of the Manson family in the 2004 film Helter Skelter. We know what Paul McCartney thinks of “Helter Skelter” now don’t we …

Dane is soon to be the star of The Last Ship as Commander Thomas Chandler of the USS Nathan James.

The Last Ship is about a Navy crew looking for a safe place to harbor after a brief, full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It reminds one of the 1969 Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Wooden Ships,” a song about sailing survivors of a nuclear holocaust also featured on Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers album, an album I was also listening to today. And the name Halsey, interestingly enough, translates as “hallowed island.”

On “It’s About Time” (a song said to be about Dando wanting to have sex with then-abstinent Hatfield) “Enough about us / Let’s talk about me / If not about you / It’s not about sunshine” and then Hatfield chimes in in an oh-so-appealing way, repeating the word “Sunshine.”

This syncs up with a discussion I was having with aforementioned Chris and his degree in philosophy. We ended up talking about Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche. I noted a recent event where two Russians argued about Kant and one ended up dead. We then briefly discussed the prominence of Nietzche in the film Little Miss Sunshine (Hatfield sweetly sings “Sunshine!” while Crowley says Beast 666 “only means sunlight; 666 is the number of the sun. You can call me ‘Little Sunshine.’”) and then, on an unrelated topic, Chris proceeds to tell me about his encounter with Little Miss Sunshine actor Steve Carell.

Carell was born in 1962 in Concord, Massachusetts – another New England connection.  It should be noted that while watching the 1985 comedic mystery film Clue, about the Parker Brothers boardgame, it notes that the events take place in 1954 New England.

Back to Cuppies & Joe, the line was long. The place was crowded and a folk music singer was performing. Looking at the menu, the cupcakes had cute names. Chocolate Rain. Peanut Butter Solution. Neverland. Neverland? The person in front of me ordered two and referenced Peter Pan, quite naturally. Those cupcakes, noted the menu board, were sold on “Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday.” The very days noted in The Shining. The Torrance family moves to Colorado from the New England state of Vermont. Another sync. I asked why those days were chosen to sell Neverland cupcakes and the cashier said “Because it reflects a personal story.” She did not elaborate on that cryptic explanation.

As I walked out, a young woman was talking to someone and blurted out the word “doppelganger” – the paranormal double of a living person.

This gave me pause. Doppelganger? The mind raced. I immediately thought of two things – Twin Peaks, when Agent Dale Cooper enters the Black Lodge and his evil doppelganger emerges later. The other thing that I thought of was a work by my favorite surrealist painter – the Belgian Rene Magritte. The work of art was 1937’s La reproduction interdite (Not to be Reproduced). It is a painting of a man (Magritte patron Edward James) standing in front of a mirror. Next to him is a book – 1838’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allen Poe. This novel, which would later inspire adventure writers including Jules Verne and Herman Melville, deals with a dark journey for a man named Pym, who is aboard a whaling ship (from Nantucket – again Massachusetts/New England) that heads farther and farther south – to the South Pole and alludes to the Hollow Earth theory we have discussed here at Red Dirt Report.

And while the Poe book is reflected properly in the mirror over the mantle, the reflection of the man in the mirror is not. You see only the back of his head. This famous Magritte image, I learned as a much younger person, was an example of a doppelganger. The mirror reveals much more than we think.

Interestingly, I was just looking at the Book of Birthdays and at my birthday – August 14th, which says my birthday is the “Day of the Mortal Mirror.” People born on 8/14 “hold up a mirror to the human condition” and that “themes of reflection and revelation run through the lives of August 14 people.” Additionally, we August 14th people will hold up a mirror to “allow others to see themselves as they really are.” This “mirror” theme has run through my life and this description is quite accurate.

Anyway while slowing down and dwelling on the “doppelganger” comment and the weird syncs in the Cuppies & Joe cake shop, I held my box of cupcakes and approached my vehicle – a Ford Expedition nicknamed “Falcon” after failed Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Again, the Magritte/Poe/South Pole connection syncs quite nicely – when there is the sound of a small bang and a shower of glass. People sitting outside the shop right near stand up in shock and look at Falcon. A passing truck – which did not slow down a bit – kept on going. It had struck my mirror! Boom, boom pow! I didn’t see any obvious damage in the dark and people stood around trying to see what had just happened.What had just happened?

Well, seeing where I would have been seconds earlier, if the “doppelganger” comment hadn’t been made, there is a likelihood I would have been cut by flying mirror glass or worse. But the Magritte-like “doppelganger” in the mirror prevented it.

Studying the song lyrics and pictures in the Come On Feel The Lemonheads CD jacket, I study Evan Dando, bassist Nic Dalton and drummer David Ryan. I see band shots. Crowd shots. A band member with a camera. A band member holding his hand like a camera lens over his right eye. And I see coffee cups. Coffee being stirred. A café. A place like Cuppies & Joe. I was there and something bad was prevented. Come On Feel The Lemonheads was providing the soundtrack (and shining a musical light) this night – 20 years to the day after it was released. Twenty years after the album meant so much to me and I thought about Evan and Juliana often. I still do. I loved Juliana’s newest record, Wild Animals.

And my fave song on Come On Feel The Lemonheads? "It's About Time," of course!

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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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