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Orb of fire

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
The "Orb of Fire" portion of the enormous "Once in a Millennium Moon" mural on the AT&T building in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana.
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SHREVEPORT, La. -- It was my old pal, Loren Coleman, who suggested I visit three places while I was here in Shreveport, Louisiana this month, while conducting additional research for my 94th meridian mystery book, The Stilwell Enigma.

The ever-helpful Coleman suggested the Elvis Presley statue in front of Municipal Auditorium, where a young Elvis got his start in 1954 on the cornpone Louisiana Hayride music show, which he appeared on for two years before skyrocketing to stardom.

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Also, check out the enormous Dalmatian statue (with spots that light up at night) by a city fire department.

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

And the third was the 14-story mural on the side of the AT&T building downtown, a curious mural in that it was completed and revealed in the year 2001, a year I spent in Louisiana (I would move to Oklahoma in 2005) slogging away as a lowly reporter at a paper in Alexandria.

It was the mural – actually two – that really caught my attention. As it turns out it is the largest mural in the USA, coering 30,000 square feet and covering two sides of the building on Cotton and Marshall streets.

The Once in a Millennium Moon mural contains 19 people and 40 objects, “capturing the people of Shreveport, their treasures, triumphs and tragedies,” notes one travel website. While this enormous art project was coordinated by Meg Saligman, many artists contributed to it.

Or, as the Shreveport-Bossier tourism site notes: “(the mural is) a unique and monumental time capsule” … that, it is … 

It is the south side of the building with the woman in billowing skirts, looking serene and also looking at and holding a golden orb in her hand. This imagery is striking to me for several reasons.

This part of the mural, called the “Orb of Fire,” which are said to represent “Shreveport’s hopes and dreams for the future” – 1,000 years in the future. The Year 3000.

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

To me, this is remarkable, because, in all likelihood, this brick and mortar building will likely be long gone in 1,000 years. Photos will likely remain, somewhere. But the mural will have faded and the building crumbled or simply demolished, in at least the next 200 years, I imagine. And Shreveport - and low-lying Louisiana, for that matter - will be a far different place, if scientific predictions are true about climate change flooding this region of the United States. 

I also think of the golden orb in the 2006 Darren Aronofsky film The Fountain, where the character played by Hugh Jackman is seen floating through space in a golden orb, a ship of life-affirming energy, despite the ancient tree in the orb ship. 

In any event, the imagery is striking, and optimistic, I think. In a city like Shreveport, which can merely accept its second-tier status, the "orb of fire" in the woman's hands is a guide to how things can really be going forward.

KISS THE ORB

In 2017, TV was once again changed forever when David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks: The Return and the mind-shattering Part 8 (“Gotta light?”) episode.

In a key scene of Part 8, we are witness to the destruction of primordial matter with the Trinity atomic bomb test at White Sands, near Alamogordo, New Mexico (along the Jornado del Muerto) on July 16, 1945, the first such test of this sort. In Lynch’s version, this is when the evil, Black Lodge denizen BOB enters our plane of existence, through this violent action.

Soon we see Senorita Dido in a room, listening to a phonograph record. This is when a strange noise is heard and a The Fireman appears. She follows The Fireman to a theater where he levitates off the ground and emits a golden cloud. From this golden cloud, we see a golden orb containing the image of Laura Palmer. Senorita Dido holds this golden orb, kisses it, and sends it to Earth.

(Showtime / Lynch-Frost Productions)

The orb is seen as good. Back in 1990, I had an orb encounter in my house - the same year that Twin Peaks premiered and a decade prior to the Shreveport Once in a Millennium Moon mural was established in 2000-2001, just months before the mind-shattering events of September 11, 2001. 

A LIFE SONG

This, in turn, reminded me of one of the key album covers of the smooth-sailing Yacht Rock era - Kenny Loggins' solo breakthrough album Keep The Fire. an album notable for its cover showing Loggins holding a glowing, golden orb in his hands, with celestial imagery surrounding him. In fact, an award-winning short film - Keep The Fire, featuring Jake Rice and hipster friends listening to too-cool-for-school records, is a humorous, satirical take on Loggins' recording of the album and the orb that inspired the album cover itself. The hipsters realize just how cool Kenny Loggins really is.

(Keep The Fire / Vimeo)

In the film, the orb of fire enters Loggins' body and he is cosmically-transformed, later telling his friends at the Keep The Fire album cover photo shoot that he went to a place where his songs and the songs of his friends play night and day - "a place where you never have to hide the soundtrack of your heart.

(Keep The Fire / Vimeo)

And what is interesting is that when I was in Shreveport and visited the site of the enormous mural, the Loggins song "This Is It," from Keep The Fire, was running through my mind, as I had been listening to his Greatest Hits album a lot while traveling down there from Shreveport. 

The song is very life-affirming. Loggins talks about how his father had been having health problems and was giving up on life. Loggins demanded his father embrace life, rather than simply wait for death. As Loggins put it on his website in 1999: " "I've got it," I announced to Michael (McDonald), "it's not a love song. It's a life song."

(Yacht Rock / YouTube)

The life-giving orb, it seems, is drawn to "smooth music," as the older Yacht Rock series emphasized (the Keep The Fire short, with exagerrated, 1979-era hair and clothes keeps true to Yacht Rock absurdities). And yet as the orbs I have encountered personally or read about, they seem to be positive, playful and life-affirming. 

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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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