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The red balloon (yes it is)

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OKLAHOMA CITY – When I was in elementary school in the early 1980’s, my French language teacher, Mrs. Wooten, pulled out a 16-mm projector and showed us a much-loved French film called The Red Balloon, originally released in 1956.

It’s about a boy named Pascal who lives in a run-down area of Paris and comes across a helium-filled red balloon, that seems sentient and even magical – and an instant friend for lonely Pascal.

The audience then follows young Pascal on a series of adventures and encounters with his red balloon (including an encounter with a blue balloon) – until a gang of bullies comes across Pascal and his friendly red balloon and they proceed to chase the boy and his balloon, throwing stones at the balloon – until it is eventually destroyed by slingshots used by the bully. I remember being shocked and saddened by this, seeing the bullies win.

But despite the red balloon’s destruction, the other balloons around Paris come to help Pascal and they lift him up over Paris – to freedom.

The Red Balloon is an absolutely wonderful film, directed by Albert Lamorisse, whose son Pascal plays himself in the short film. This film has stayed with me ever since that day, long ago in my darkened third-grade classroom.

I thought of The Red Balloon the other day following a strange – yet vivid – dream I had involving a red balloon – and its destruction.


In the note I wrote to myself on the morning of August 26th (so I would not forget the details upon waking), I note that I am in a “vaguely” European city. I’m at rooftop level looking over the other rooftops (Paris, perhaps?) and “somehow, I get ahold of a red balloon.”

But then I accidentally let the red balloon go and it flies in the air, drifting and batted about by the light winds – until an eagle (looking like the olive-branch-clutching eagle used on NASA’s Apollo 11 mission patch from 1969) “lands on the balloon in midair.” It’s talons appear to sink into the red balloon’s surface, but, much to my amazement, it does not immediately pop the balloon.


Marveling at this site, I jokingly tell people nearby that “the eagle has landed” and that the “American symbolism was strong.”

The eagle seems to move with the balloon, rather than vice-versa, so when the balloon rises and turns over, the eagle goes with it, turning upside-down as well.

But the red balloon – like the one in the 1956 French film – would not last. The power of the eagle and its talons proves too much and the balloon alternately “pops” and yet deflates in a “cartoon-like manner,” landing at my feet.

For those interested in dream interpretation, seeing eagles in dreams is related to advancing spiritual development and that positive things are in store.

As for the red balloon, it seemed like a positive image, even though it was destroyed by the eagle. Was this a warning of some sort? With my concerns over the unstable nature of the president and events in the world – and with the eagle being the key symbol for the United States of America, it does give one pause. Perhaps our influence on the world is being seen as increasingly negative. Here's more on "red" in dreams.

yes IT is

So, back in the spooky autumn of 1990, ABC aired the ABC supernatural horror series It, based on Stephen King’s supernatural horror novel of the same name, released in 1986.

I recall being at a friend’s house in Wichita when it was on and watching part of the miniseries, which featured Tim Curry as the sinister, homicidal clown Pennywise, whose calling card is a red balloon.

Research on when this miniseries aired revealed it was on Nov. 18th and 20th of 1990 – the same fall when Twin Peaks was in the midst of season 2 and we were learning about who had killed Laura Palmer. Oddly enough, Pennywise, it is said, appears every 27 years. And here we are, 27 years later, and both Twin Peaks and It have returned, both featuring supernatural themes involving symbolism and demonic entities that feed off of fear. They also feature the "Lucky 7" symbolism, strange as it sounds.

And both highlight both "red" (the color of Diane's hair, for instance, or Lil's dress, when highlighting a Blue Rose case for Agents Chester Desmond and Sam Stanley in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Lil has a "clown"-like appearance - and this, as I synchromystically happen to be listening to the Everly Brothers-esque song "Clown Collector" by the Cactus Blossoms, which comes right before "Mississippi" on You're Dreaming, the song the Cactus Blossoms perform in the Roadhouse on Twin Peaks: The Return - and which is playing in my office at this very moment.

Lil: Red dress. Blue rose. From Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. (Lynch/Frost Productions)

That struck me as interesting in light of the fact that between those two dates – Nov. 19th– I was at home in the late afternoon watching TV after school (it was my senior year). Sitting in the den, out of the corner of my eye, I see a blue orb, which looked like it was a ball of electrical energy – that’s the only way to describe it. It hung in the air for a split second, until it did a crackle and *pop!* and vanished.

Calls to the power company and gas company led to workers coming out and finding nothing amiss, involving either our electrical lines or the gas-powered stove, which was near where the blue orb appeared. The weather was clear and dry. Not sure if those atmospheric conditions had anything to do with the appearance of the orb.

So, you have a blue orb appearing on a day between the airing of a show involving a shapeshifting entity – scary clown – who is known for red balloons. Something that was positive in the 1956 French film is, in 1990, viewed as horrific.

All the while, it turns out that It was remade and returned to theaters a week or so after my “red balloon” dream. In fact, in advance of It making it into theaters (with events in the film beginning in October 1988, incredibly enough - a month and year that appear repeatedly here at Dust Devil Dreams, particularly in connection to the 2001 film Donnie Darko) red balloons have been appearing in weird locations around the country – freaking people out.

In fact, the Bangor, Maine Police Department – King’s hometown  and the setting for “Derry, Maine” as featured in the It novel – police said in an Associated Press story that a “red balloon was ‘found’ floating near the department’s stuffed duck, which has been the department’s mascot over the years.”

Perhaps it’s all part of a “viral marketing campaign” for the popular It film, and that an army of evil clowns is not leaving red balloons as calling cards.


This morning, while listening to The Beatles Channel on SiriusXM, a John Lennon-sung tune, “Every Little Thing,” a song the Beatles released in late 1964, is wrapping up. Between that song and the next – “Ticket to Ride” – a clip from am April 1991 episode of The Simpsons is used, one where Marge Simpson is asked by Mr. Burns and Smithers about her prior painting experience because they want her to paint a picture of Burns to hang in the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts.

She says she had painted a picture of Beatle Ringo Starr, having painted his picture and written a fan letter to the drummer back in 1966. The name "Ringo" doesn’t ring a bell for Mr. Burns, but Smithers reminds him that he was in the Beatles. It clicks. Burns recalls the “caterwauling” combo on “the old Sullivan show.” Indeed.

I recalled that episode – “Brush With Greatness” – and how at the end, when Marge’s portrait is completed, it shows a “naked, frail and weak Burns.” While the crowd is shocked, Marge explains that this is who Burns really is, and, “despite all his evil, he is at the end of it all a frail and vulnerable human being that will, one day, be no more.”


Oddly enough, a story today making the rounds is headlined: “Trump’s portrait still missing from many federal offices.” For whatever reason, “pictures of the president and Vice President Pence are missing from thousands of federal courthouses, laboratories, military installations, ports of entry, office suites and hallways, and from U.S. embassies abroad.”

Trump reminds me of Montgomery Burns. A wealthy, powerful man. Surrounded by obsequious sycophants and "yes men and women." But a man who is, at heart, a weak, empty and self-involved person who uses people so as to attain more power and influence. I doubt Donald Trump would like a portrait Marge Simpson would paint of him, or handle it as gracefully - amazingly - as Mr. Burns does at the end of the episode.

A year earlier, in the April 1990 episode "The Crepes of Wrath," Bart gets in trouble and is sent to Paris, France after causing problems in school, resulting in his becoming an "exchange student." When he returns to Springfield with gifts for his family, he gives baby Maggie a red balloon, Matt Groening's apparent sync/wink to The Red Balloon from decades earlier.


And in last Sunday's Blondie strip, Dagwood is sitting on a bench and a boy gives him a red balloon. But then Dagwood is later arrested beause the boy told his mom Dagwood stole the red balloon from him. Very weird.

Back to the Beatles, however. After listening to “Ticket to Ride,” the next song was “Yes It Is,” a beautifully-haunting and harmonic song that features John Lennon on lead vocals and was the B-side to "Ticket to Ride," when the single was released in April 1965. 

It also appears on the 1988 Beatles compilation release Past Masters, which I was listening to a lot that autumn of 1988. It became one of my favorites by the Fab Four, with the band doing harmonies (Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison - no Ringo, though) that were like a barbershop quartet - or even the aforementioned Everly Brothers. Past Masters was the first album I ever reviewed, by the way.

In the song, Lennon sings: "If you wear red tonight / Remember what I said tonight / For red is the color that my baby wore / And what's more, it's true / Yes it is"

Next verse:
"Scarlet were the clothes she wore / Everybody knows I'm sure /I would remember all the things we planned / Understand, it's true / Yes it is, it's true / Yes it is"

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

So, I think about both "red" and "scarlet," the highlighted colors in the song. It reminded me of a post at Twin Peaks fan site Unwrapping the Plastic, where the writer posts a piece headlined "Sex magick & the Scarlet Woman." 

Diane’s red hair is no accident: it visually connects her to Marjorie Cameron / The Scarlet Woman / Babalon (and to Sarah Palmer). After she and Cooper cross over in their car to another dimension, through a breach created by the power of electricity, they stop at a motel where they have sex. Very different from the sex Dougie had with Janey-E, a few episodes back, this moment feels like the enactment of a ritual, with no joy, with closed faces. I believe this is really a moment of sex magick, a way to open a portal.”

Portals. Time travel. Alternate dimensions. Karmic loops. Who isn't thinking about these things these days. They're everywhere. And there is that color red, with blue not far behind.

In the photo above are several books I've read or am reading. The one titled 2023, by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu is nearly done. It is a wild tale, told out of time and in time, in time-loop fashion, involving real and imagined things and places and products and people. The Beatles, oddly, play a role, but with others largely playing "John Lennon" (who is killed by Yoko Ono the Younger) but the younger John Lennon (not the Beatle) is actually a guy named "Paul Harrison." (Lennon, McCartney and Harrison - not Starr  - whose favorite color is "blue," according to that Simpsons episode - sing harmony on "Yes It Is") World peace has come to the world by the year 2023. But as nice as that sounds, things are chaotic. Even "discordian."

Yoko Ono is suddenly everywhere. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Incredibly, as all this is playing out in the timeline I am a part of - I read the Sunday edition of The New York Times the other day and there is a full-page ad with the words "PEACE IS POWER" and a picture of a colorless world map. The idea is that the person reading this will color the parts "where the world needs peace" and then mail in the picture to Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, care of New York's Museum of Modern Art.

A family member, by the way, did just that. It's in the post ... 

On permanent display at the MoMA is Jackson Pollock's 1950 abstract expressionist painting "One: Number 31, 1950." I mention this for two reasons: First, in the Alvin Schwartz autobiography An Unlikely Prophet, the Superman cartoon writer for DC Comics' Action Comics, tells of seeing seemingly supernatural things take place as Pollock, his neighbor at the time, shows him how he paints - or an energy paints through him - as I noted in my recent review. And this writer, Doug Cunningham, at 25 Years Later, another Twin Peaks fan site, notes Pollock in his piece "Lessons of Lynch: Embrace Ambiguity and Relish Your Writerly Role."

Cunningham, in noting the "action" styles of artists - or filmmakers like David Lynch - notes that Pollock engaged in "action" painting, as Lynch does "action" filming. And both artists seem to be tapping into unseen forces to help them create their art. 


One piece of "action art" I can think of involving John Lennon was "Revolution 9" on The Beatles' "White Album," released on November 22, 1968 - exactly five years to the day after the release of With the Beatles in the UK, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and writers C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley also died. I read and wrote a review of a book about these three men, somewhere between "heaven and hell."

Lennon, who 50 years ago this fall was deep into his new relationship with Yoko Ono. And with the "White Album," the actual name was simply The Beatles. What of that name? Well, as Lennon told Mersey Beat magazine in 1961, when asked about the name of the band, misspelled "Beatles" with an "a," he famously replied: "It came in a vision - a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, 'From this day on you are Beatles with an A." This was the same year that bassist/artist Stuart Sutcliffe "left" the Beatles to pursue art and the same year he got into a scuffle, where Lennon, allegedly, struck Sutcliffe in the head, which would later lead to his death.

It was actress Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks) who would play Stuart's love interest in the 1994 film Backbeat, about the Beatles' Hamburg days and Stuart's final years. I wrote more about that here.

Things are suddenly happening for a reason, even though it may not be clear what or why. 

In my October 2013 Dust Devil Dreams post “Rudderless in my so-called dream (all of these things sank),” I note the following: “In The Lennon Prophecy, where the author Joseph Niezgoda posits that Lennon sold his soul to the devil for fame and fortune, goes into great detail about (Mark David) Chapman's life as well and how the Georgia man first learned of The Beatles via Meet the Beatles album, a gift from his father. Around this time was when Chapman was visited by "little people" in his room ...” This reminds me of railroad magnate Arthur E. Stilwell and the "voices" and "brownies" he communicated with and who told him where to go and what to build. This was all taking place around 1896-98 or so. 

Incredibly, in a recent episode of Better Call Saul, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) fondly remembers he and his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) reading The Adventures of Mabel and how the chapter on "The Brownie Jelly" made a magnificent impression ... that book was released in 1896. Baron Trump's Marvellous Underground Journey was released three years earlier, in 1893. That last decade of the 19th century was certainly a creatively weird time ...

In Harry Thurston Peck's 1896 children's book The Adventures of Mabel, the young girl stumbles onto the hidden kingdom of the "brownies." (Forgotten Books)

Back to the "White Album." Ever since writing my Twin Peaks-themed Dust Devil Dreams post "Faces of stone," I sync Deputy Director Gordon Cole's (David Lynch) statement about Mount Rushmore - "Faces of stone" - to the images of the individual Beatles on the "White Album." I note Transcendental Meditation, which was the reason the Beatles went to Rishikesh, India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - and those events would lead to the creation of the "White Album." David Lynch, of course, is heavy into TM and has a foundation devoted to its spread. Many of his ideas - "catching the big fish," as he puts it, come from the moments he is deep into meditation.

Back to "Revolution 9" ... as author Niezgoda notes in The Lennon Prophecy: "John may or may not have been aware of what the track was foretelling, but he did know the song was a prediction of something. He says in Anthology, 'Revolution 9' was an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens, just like a drawing of a revolution." Of course the link to Charles Manson and the Manson Family, who would commit murder and mayhem in the bloody Summer of '69.

John Lennon was also, allegedly, claiming to be the return of Jesus Christ around this same time - under the influence of LSD. 

"Revolution 9," Niezgoda reminds us, is 8 minutes, 15 second long, although it seems longer. And it took "18 takes to record." There were 18 parts to Twin Peaks: The Return, a program I'm increasingly convinced was put out there to uncover some of the as-yet-uncovered clues hidden within the songs on the "White Album," which was created during the turbulent and transformative year of 1968. I am increasingly hearing people compare this year to the revolutionary aspects experienced in '68. Echoes of that time seem to be increasing in their resonance in 2017.

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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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