All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Just look towards the west and find a friend

Geffen Records via MTV
Love behind the wire, courtesy of Elton John and the 1980's Cold War classic "Nikita"
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – A new show called The Americans has been taking up a lot of my time these past few nights.

Two Soviet KGB spies are living in suburban Washington in the early 1980’s posing as American born-and-bred travel agents with a couple of kids.

These two communist agents of Mother Russia are very, very good at fooling “the Americans” in and around the nation’s capital.

They are good. Very good at fooling everyone. And what is interesting is how much in the show (I have only watched the first four episodes) is how I am seeing things from that time (1981) syncing with things today.

Who can deny that the current events of today – Russia hosting a (Winter) Olympics (1980 and 2014). Tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Russian movement in the Ukraine (as the USSR looks to deal with tensions in Poland the”Solidarity” movement in 1980 and ’81).

News clips from 1981, featured in The Americans, cover the Polish crisis and the daughter and son of “Elizabeth and Philip Jennings” (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, respectively) talk about the Polish crisis and one of the kids says “Poland’s part of Russia.” The two secretly Russian parents tell the kids not to believe it …

In the past six months or so, the Cold War tensions I grew up with in the 1980’s under the Reagan years has been syncing with me on a daily basis – and this before things really got tense between the two Cold War Superpowers. Look at Cuba. Venezuela. The Middle East. Eastern Europe. Some things never change. But something's always changing. Are we simply on a merry-go-round ... in dreams

Just now, I see the headline in The New York Times in “Pressure Rising as Obama works to Rein in Russia."

In the story, we see U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whom we wrote about recently regarding his hardline stance on his parents homeland of Cuba, is more and more asserting himself as a defense hawk with a boyish smile. Said Rubio, regarding the U.S.-Russia tensions: “The very credibility of the post Cold War world and borders is at stake here.”

Rubio and I are roughly the same age. We remember the scariness of the nuclear-war-themed TV movie The Day After and the threat of a “nuclear winter.” Dangerous times, as I noted in a previous DDD article and the threat of “nuclear error” hanging over our heads with the “unlucky 13” facing an uncertain future in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Of coure 7+6 = 13 and we will come to “7” and “6” in  sec …

The situation in Ukraine has the potential to be explosive. The “world war” tensions that Carl G. Jung felt and viewed in his dreams and visions in 1913-14 would come to pass and in The Americans they even reference “Franz Ferdinand” and “World War III.” And when Ronald Reagan is shot in March 1981, the scenes of Secretary of State Alexander Haig pompously saying “I am in control here” were referenced in my recent piece on “Mick Chickens” visit to the Santa Fe Train Depot.

And for weeks now, Dust Devil Dreams readers have been undoubtedly been noticing a theme, a narrative developing, as I have right along with you. Bears (Russia) rising. Eagles (America) falling.

What to believe? In dreams, things can come to light.

Waking up from a dream about the number “76” at 7:06 a.m. today struck me as significant. I recall a wedding cake with a “6” on top and for some reason I added a “7” next to it and I announced to all the “76’ers” out there that things were changing. In the audience was “Dr. J” (a.k.a.) Julius Erving, the NBA basketball player who was quite famous and at the top of his game in 1980-83 and of course played for the Philadelphia 76’ers. He was named NBA MVP in 1981.

This was syncing in my dream with 1976 American Bicentennial. I was actually living in the Washington suburbs as a kid in those days, where all of the political intrigue of the Cold War was shifting into overdrive.

It was also the year that Richard Kelly’s 2009 film The Box took place – in Richmond, Virginia, set against the NASA Viking mission to Mars, something we addressed here in “Thinking Inside/Outside The Box.”

In that film, an alien force that “controls the lightning” is trying to decided whether or not to exterminate the human race based on whether the majority is greedy enough to take $1 million in exchange for someone they do not know, dying as a result of this choice.

On the morning of Feb. 14, 2014, I awoke from a dream involving an alien force that uses “drones” to “tag” people to find out if their DNA has been altered by human-caused accidents involving radiation (i.e. the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan).

I would find out later that the same day – Valentine’s Day – a serious accident would take place at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which houses plutonium and other radioactive materials in salt caverns underground. The extent of the radioactive contamination to the Southwestern desert remains unknown. 

A year earlier, the Elton John song “Philadelphia Freedom” was a hit and was embraced, of course, in the Bicentennial year, an uplifting time for Americans who were reminded of their country’s roots and origins.

The song was reportedly inspired by John’s friendship with lesbian tennis star Billie Jean King and her tennis team the Philadelphia Freedoms, although John’s songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, has said he didn’t write a song about tennis.

And then there is Elton John's "piano man" pal Billy Joel. It was the mercurial Joel who went to the Soviet Union in 1987 and brought rock n roll to the Russian people. I just watched a great documentary about Billy Joel's tour in the USSR in '87, a year after the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl melted down and began exposing the cracks in the Soviet facade as glasnost and perestroika took hold ...

Talking later about bringing wife Christie Brinkley and daughter Alexa to the communist nation on that tour, Joel said: "Alexa represented a bit of the future for our relationship with the Soviet Union. Here's our little seed that's going to be raised in this environment of friendship and openness." Billy Joel - rock-n-roll diplomat - listen to "Leningrad" to see what I mean. If only Dennis Rodman were successful in softening Kim Jong-Un's nasty behavior towards his own people ...

And in the episode of The Americans that I watched last night, tensions ran high as we are introduced to “Gregory” an African-American in Philly who is also helping the KGB and befriended Elizabeth. Philadelphia is prominent in this episode with several syncs with Terry Gilliam’s dystopic time-travel film 12 Monkeys coming to mind more than once.

Anyway, what is interesting is that Billie Jean King was asked by President Barack Obama to be one of several gay athletes to represent the Americans in Sochi, Russia at the Winter Olympics this past month. Of course this was a sign to Russian leader Vladimir Putin that the U.S. does not approve of Russia’s crackdown on that country’s LGBT community, particularly in light of threats that LGBT people in Sochi could potentially be arrested.

King, however, was unable to make the trip, with her mother getting sick and ultimately dying on the opening day of the Olympic ceremonies.

I have two favorite Elton John songs: “Philadelphia Freedom” and his early 1986 Cold War-themed hit “Nikita.” I loved this song when it came out, complete with a video involving Elton pining after an East German border guard (woman) named Nikita. He imagines the two of them playing chess, dancing and bowling. This, just under four years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

At the end of the song, his voice full of longing, Elton John sings: “And if there comes a time / Guns and gates no longer hold you in / And if you’re free to make a choice / Just look towards the west and find a friend.”

Synchromystically, The Americans incorporates a lot of period music. A stand out was Echo & The Bunnymen's 1980 track "Pictures on My Wall" with the lines: "Can you hear it / The sound of something burning / Something changing / On the merry-go-round tonight ..."

We agree that something is changing. 

Is this all just angsty 80’s nostalgia? Is it history repeating itself? A KGB thug (Vladimir Putin) pushing around a seemingly feckless president over control of a country (Ukraine) that is in the middle of a geopolitical tug of war that now is involving communist China?

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

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

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK