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"Faces of stone"

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Those faces, like Mount Rushmore, include one man with eyeglasses and three without.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Sir Paul McCartney (got to include the “Sir” these days) made a stop here in OKC for his “One On One” world tour, which was covered by Red Dirt Report.

Someone asked me if I had gone to the show and I admitted I had not, saying that there was something about McCartney that bugged me – beyond all the “Paul is Dead” rumors and what not. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was something his ex-wife, Heather Mills, once said …

Anyway, leading up to the show, a few days earlier, I heard the end of a song on the radio, a song that was unmistakably “Rocky Raccoon,” a talking folk-blues number sung by McCartney on The Beatles’1968 self-titled record, colloquially known as the “White Album.”

A controversial album that took on a life of its own not long after it was released in November 1968, primarily because of the “high weirdness” surrounding certain songs and their meanings and interpretations. Need we mention the Manson Family?

Anyway, “Rocky Raccoon” was written between March and August of 1968 and ultimately recorded on August 15, 1968. The name “Rocky” was allegedly inspired by Roky Erickson of the Texas-based psychedelic rock band The 13th Floor Elevators.

At the website, the writer examines “Rocky Raccoon,” a song that McCartney does not play live. And he did not change his mind about the song during Monday’s concert at the Chesapeake Energy Arena …

The writer offers the following: “The song took shape while The Beatles were on retreat in Rishikesh, India in the spring of 1968 while studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi.  "I was sitting on the (ashram) roof in India with a guitar," Paul explained in 1968.  "John and I were sitting 'round playing guitar, and we were with Donovan (Leitch).  And we were just sitting around enjoying ourselves, and I started playing the chords of 'Rocky Raccoon,' you know, just messing around.  And, oh, originally it was 'Rocky Sassoon,' and we just started making up the words, you know, the three of us - and started just to write them down.  They came very quickly.  And eventually I changed it from Sassoon to Raccoon, because it sounded more like a cowboy.  So there it is.”

I found that interesting, in light of some things I’ve been mulling over as we reached the half-way point in the saga of Twin Peaks: The Return and also look at season two of the FX series Fargo.

Anyway, McCartney begins the song by singing “Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota / There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon …

Apparently, in an early version of the song, Rocky was from “a little town in Minnesota …” but changed it to the “black mountain hills of Dakota” later.

So, this song came to McCartney (with John Lennon, of course, getting credit) amidst the TM environment of spiritually-minded northern India, in the presence of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of TM, and all the other celebrities, from Mike Love of The Beach Boys to actress Mia Farrow.

Anyway, it was an interesting choice.

As the song/story goes, Rocky’s woman, a girl who “called herself Lil,” but was known as Nancy, ran off with another man, who had “hit young Rocky in the eye.”

So, Rocky tracks down the man – “Danny” – who he intends to shoot. Only “Daniel was hot, he drew first and shot / And Rocky collapsed in the corner …

That name “Lil” struck me as interesting. In 1992’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, we are first introduced to the notion of a “Blue Rose” case, when Agents Chester Desmond (of Fargo, ND, interestingly enough) and Sam Stanley (played by Chris Isaak and Kiefer Sutherland, respectively) meet “Lil the Dancer,” a strange woman with clownish, red hair, a sour expression and, of course, a blue rose pinned to her red blouse.

As she performs the strange danceat the Portland, Oregon airport, there with David Lynch’s Gordon Cole character looking on, we learn that Lil was used by the FBI to transmit covert information to the agents.

Perhaps "Rocky Raccoon" is a "Blue Rose" song of sorts? Considering David Lynch's intense interest in Transcendental Meditation, which brings "meditation, creativity and peace," according to Lynch.

And maybe this is a way of saying the Beatles solidified their takeover of rock music at that time. The white-colored album features visages of four white men, who look at the camera with stony faces. Recall that John Lennon is the only one wearing eyeglasses, his inconic, round-framed glasses, whereas Ringo Starr, George Harrison and the aforementioned McCartney, do not.

On Mount Rushmore, only Theodore Roosevelt is shown (partially) wearing his iconic pince-nez eyeglasses. The other presidents - Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, do not.


So, for those of you enjoying Twin Peaks: The Return, a lot of the story has been set in the state of South Dakota, which is, of course, home to the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore ("Faces of stone," Deputy Director Gordon Cole tells Agent Albert Rosenfield when shown a picture of Mount Rushmore and those carved, white male faces, which the Lakota Sioux, native to the area, called the "Six Grandfathers" and was an important part of visionary Lakota leader Black Elk. 

Those "faces of stone" were carved into a sacred mountain, yet between October 4, 1927 and Halloween Day 1941, sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers sculpted the 60-foot high carvings as representing the first 130 years of American history. Allegedly, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were considered, as well as others, but was primarily done to "increase tourism" in South Dakota and, from Borglum's point of view, note these four president's roles in "preserving the Republic and expanding its territory." Some may recall Mark Frost's mention of curious incidents, in The Secret History of Twin Peaks, surrounding the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the (fictionalized?) nature of Lewis's ultimate demise along the Natchez Trace, not long after returning from the mysterious Pacific Northwest. 

Of course, when territory is expanded, people get hurt, as we all know.

The Black Hills War, or “The Great Sioux War,” the last major Indian war on the Great Plains, took place in 1876, during America’s centennial and amidst the major gold rush that brought many prospectors to places like the notorious town of Deadwood.

The Sioux and their allies, the Cheyenne and Arapaho, lost that battle and the area changed as Anglo settlers moved in and the Native Americans in the area were given short shrift, particularly in light of the US government's violation of The Treaty of Fort Laramie. 

And so fast-forward to, well, 1979. That was the year UFOs, two years after Close Encounters of the Third Kind showed audiences a mix of alien spacecraft, the Black Hills and Badlands of the South Dakota/Wyoming borderlands, and, of course, the ominous Devil's Tower.

On October 27, 2015, Minnesota Public Radio did a story headlined “The real-life UFO story behind this season of ‘Fargo.’”

Indeed, on August 26, 1979, Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy Val Johnson was patrolling in Warren, Minnesota, a town far north of Luverne, which is the setting for season two of Fargo, when “a ball of light appeared in the road.”

The light, which was small and bright, entered his patrol car and knocked him out. When Johnson woke up in a ditch 30 minutes after the bizarre encounter, “t()he windshield and one headlight of his 1977 Ford LTD were smashed. Both radio antennas were bent sharply back. The watch on his wrist and the clock on the dash both ticked 14 minutes slow.

This case has never been adequately explained away.

This UFO angle is incorporated into season two of Fargo, with synchromystic events taking place in March of '79, rather than August. And a UFO sighting near the Waffle Hut diner, following a massacre initiated by the son of a Fargo crime family, creates a strange "aura" around the whole season, with the craft showing up again in nearby Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The events take place in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, in UFO-haunted 1979, a year of high anxiety in a troubled nation, where Gov. Ronald Reagan tries to reassure everyone that electing him will take us back to a better time ... 

And while Warren and Luverne, Minnesota are not on the 94 degrees of longitude west, they are pretty close, at 96 degrees of longitude west. It is along the 94 degree line that strange activity occurs, from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Regarding Fargo, an important city that is on 94 degrees of longitude west is Kansas City, Missouri, where the crime syndicate that is trying to take over the Fargo businesss, is based. That is a city with high levels of weirdness.

Back to Twin Peaks ...

In The Return, events of high weirdness transpire in the small, fictional town of Buckhorn, South Dakota. This is where librarian Ruth Davenport ends up dead, her head connected to the body of a person believed to be Maj. Garland Briggs, who was investigating UFO cases for the US Air Force, via Project BLUE BOOK.

Viewers learn that local school principal Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard) was a part-time blogger and paranormal dabbler who investigated - with Ruth's help - something called "The Zone," another dimension, where they encountered Maj. Briggs "hiding."

I note this in my Red Dirt Grit piece "Bad luck on a South Dakota farm (Shamrock)." 

Anyway, on the remarkably dated The Search for the Zone website (presumably fake and created for the show), and coordinates are shown, presumably where the "entrance" to "the Zone" is located: 

44°30’44.8″N 103°49’14.6″W 44.512439, -103.820707.

This location is near Spearfish, South Dakota. Spearfish is in Lawrence County, and the county seat is Deadwood. A lot of history all in this particular area. And that name "Lawrence." That is one that syncs pretty heavily with me.

And believe it or not, someone from the Rapid City area (the largest city in the region), and a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, decided to go to the very spot noted on Hastings' website, as noted in this story at the Welcome to Twin Peaks fan site.

There did not appear to be anything unusual or significant at this particular site, which is reportedly "for sale" and "the owner is kindly requesting Twin Peaks fans and reporters to stop trespassing. Please be considerate and stop searching for the Zone."

Nevertheless, I think back to "Rocky Raccoon." Who knows what went on at the coordinates Hastings provided on his website, back in the 1870's when the area was overrun with prospectors, gamblers and criminals.

At that aforementioned entry on "Rocky Raccoon," the writer speculates: "Humiliated, Rocky “fell back in his room” and figures that this guy named “Gideon,” in a great synchronicity, accidentally left his Bible in the room to initiate the young Rocky's “revival” from his injury and/or broken heart. Somehow our hero will carry on thanks to the healing power of God's word! A chorus of three men harmonize in the twelfth through sixteenth measures as an indication of Rocky's saved soul."


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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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