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"A strange dust ..."

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OKLAHOMA CITY – So, there is a new film about Ferdinand the bull out in theaters. Oddly, until I heard someone was going to see it I had not heard a thing about it.

A family member saw it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Meanwhile, it got me to thinking about another “Ferdinand” – that would be Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand's "death car." (Wikimedia Commons)

Franz. Ferdinand. Both names have been syncing with me of late. That, and a steadily increasing sense of impending doom. As one colleague put it, it’s as if people are sort of “hunkering down,” waiting for the other, proverbial, shoe to drop.

Of course the assassination of Austria’s Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a Serbian member of the “Black Hand” secret society is considered the key event – along with other issues in Europe (militarism, nationalism, racism, imperialism and a burgeoning arms race, among others) – that led to the start of World War I in the summer of 1914.

"Alea iacta est" ("The die has been cast")

In just a matter of days, history will note Jan. 10, 2018 as being the 2,066th anniversary of Julius Caesar's "crossing of the Rubicon" river in present-day, northern Italy, which also marked the boundary between Italy (of the Roman Republic) and Cisalpine Gaul, an action said to be conducted by Caesar due to a "supernatural apparition" (according to Roman historian Suetonius). 

The name "Rubicon" comes from the Latin word Rubicō, which comes from the adjective rubeus, meaning "red." This comes from the fact that the waters of the Rubicon are red from mud deposits in it. Essentially, a "Red River." Around here, in Red Dirt country, we know all about "red rivers." 

And so when Caesar crossed the Rubicon - a sort of "point of no return" in those days of the Roman Empire - he exclaimed "Alea iacta est," or that "the die has been cast." It was not long before Julius Caesar was made dictator of the Roman Empire, a dictator who laid out a pretty severe agenda of putting down rebellions in the Roman provinces, restoring "order" and creating a strong, central government in Rome. Again, familiar territory in the USA of 2018, under the Trumpenfuhrer, where enemies are perceived to be everywhere and the consumption of fast-food hamburgers is done so as to avoid being poisoned, according to a new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.

The "fire and fury" in the book's title is, of course, a reference to Trump's reckless statements regardign North Korea and Trump's willingness to rain down nuclear terror on the "hermit kingdom" under the control of iron-fisted dictator Kim Jong-un.

So, I was out and about a day or so ago and a black Jeep Rubicon is there in front of me with a personalized Oklahoma license plate reading "FRANZ." 

The Jeep Rubicon with "FRANZ" license plate. (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Now, I found this synchronisitic in that I had been thinking about the aforementioned Ferdinand film and also about the Scottish alt-pop band Franz Ferdinand, along with the band's doomed namesake. And then this "FRANZ" Jeep appears out of nowhere.

We try to pay attention to the signs the universe provides for us here at Dust Devil Dreams. And this one had my full attention. 

Of course I thought of what Franz Ferdinand symbolizes. He has been a familiar figure on this website, with my Oct. 16, 2013 post "Ominous and prophetic" being of particular importance. It was in that post that I wrote: "Archduke Franz Ferdinand, as noted by Fortean historian Mike Dash, was sensing the “evil eye.” He was, as one put it “superstitious and not religious” and a fortune teller had told the Archduke that he “would one day let loose a world war.” The days leading up to his assassination by Princip – an assassin who fired only two bullets, in a heavy crowd, with his head turned away from his perceived target – were gloomy ones. Just as Carl Jung had visions of doom just on the horizon in nearby Switzerland in those months leading to the Archduke’s death, Franz Ferdinand reportedly had “premonitions of an early end.”

Dash writes: “In the account of one relative, he had told some friends the month before his death that ‘I know I shall soon be murdered.’ A third source has the doomed man ‘extremely depressed and full of forebodings’ a few days before the assassination took place.”

It didn’t help matters that the Archduke’s car, an Austrian-made Graf und Stift, six-passenger open touring car was considered a blood-red-colored “death car” and that the license plate reads “A III 118,” interpreted as A (Armistice) II (11) I1 (November) 18 (’18) or 11 November 1918, the day of the end of World War I."

Now, the driver of that Jeep Rubicon, presumably a guy named "Franz," had no idea the guy behind him for at least four miles, was thinking such things. But who really knows, right? 

What was weird is that while I was behind this vehicle, Morrissey's 1988 hit "Everyday Is Like Sunday" was playing. A mopey, sad song about living in a dead-end town in Thatcher's England. It's got a great bass line and the lyrics are particularly apocalyptic, as Moz sings: "In the seaside town / that they forgot to bomb / Come, come, come, nuclear bomb." 

Later, in the second-to-final verse, Morrissey sings about "a strange dust" falling from the sky and landing on the body of the song's unnamed protagonist. I always took this to mean nuclear fallout. Chilling in light of world events.

And with my recent, The Day After dream/nightmare post "Show-me state," along with nuclear-war-related rhetoric I don't recall hearing since at least the mid-1980's, humanity is growing increasingly concerned about global thermonuclear war breaking out, particularly as "button"-obsessed Trump plays a fast-and-loose game of "whose 'hands' are bigger?" A game that could get us all killed. And yet Twitter won't ban the nitwit ... 

We DID start the fire ... 

That same day I got around to catching up on The Goldbergs, a silly, 80's nostalgia-themed sitcom involving a family - the Goldbergs, of course - who live in the Philadelphia suburb of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania and 80's pop culture is discussed and embraced and incorporated into the show ad nauseum.

For this 80's kid, it hits the spot, even when dates get turned around and so forth. No matter, it's a fun show show, and this particular episode, "We Didn't Start the Fire," which aired on Dec. 13, 2017, was an homage to Billy Joel and his rapid-fire, number one hit of the same name, from the historical fall of 1989 - released within weeks of the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

So, in the episode, the Goldberg brothers Barry and Adam see the video for the song and Barry wants to sing it for the upcoming high school talent show - only Barry's performance of it - with lots of historical references delivered very quickly - is a flop. 

(As an aside, while "We Didn't Start the Fire" was a great song, my favorite track on Storm Front was "The Downeaster 'Alexa'," a melancholy song about the struggles of a fisherman working off America's northeastern coast. While I was thinking about that song, I discover that Joel's daughter with Christie "Uptown Girl" Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, whose name inspired the name of the boat featured in that song, was engaged to be married!) 

Meanwhile, Adam goes before his school class and features a large wall incorporating images of the references noted in the song, beginning with President Harry S. Truman and ending with "rock-n-roller cola wars." What caught my attention was how it begins with Truman (whom we have noted in recent months in relation to his role in dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945) and ends with an image of the "cola wars" ending with a mushroom cloud. We have previously noted the all-important "cola wars" in my 2014 Dust Devil Dreams post "Stuck with you."

Images used by Adam Goldberg in The Goldbergs episode "We Didn't Start the Fire." (ABC)

It was one of those Goldbergs moments that went beyond just entertainment and pining for the past. It seemed to be a warning of sorts (note the "martial law" poster as well). I have been sensing a build-up to something major for several years now, documenting it all here at Dust Devil Dreams.

But a fire is burning. It may not be fire and fury - yet - but a fire is burning. Note the spate of zoo fires. The recent fire at Bill and Hillary Clinton's house in New York. The wildfires in California. And other fires are burning ... ones we aren't even aware of yet ... 

And it goes on and on and on ...

EDITOR'S NOTE: We will have more about this new, German show Dark, compared to Stranger Things and involving time travel, the dangers of nuclear power and themes we address here at Dust Devil Dreams. Seems as though the world is catching up with some of the stuff we discuss here. And that's good.

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About the Author

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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