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Tiffany-twisted

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OKLAHOMA CITY – I was wandering the aisles of Target, picking up this-n-that, on a perfectly beautiful, late spring day – it was today, in fact.

On the drive over I had popped the Eagles’ Hotel California CD in the CD player of my car and kept playing the title track over and over, having just written a Dust Devil Dreams ("Over the line! Peaceful? Easy?") post which makes multiple references to that song, the Eagles and its use in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski.

I end up in the electronics area, actually surprised to see that Target still sells compact discs, but not very many. But what really surprised me was that they had racks of vinyl albums, mainly classic titles like the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, for instance.

And there, staring right back at me on the rack of vinyl LPs was a copy of Hotel California, a recently-pressed 180-gram vinyl copy, featuring original artwork and liner notes. Needless to say, I was stunned. So, I picked it up, along with the new Rolling Stones “best of” collection Honk, featuring hits by that band from 1971-2018.

Again, it was a compulsive decision. I have a copy of Hotel California both on vinyl and CD already. But I felt I needed this record. It was really speaking to me. And just liked the aforementioned Sgt. Pepper’s album (1967), Hotel California (1976) (one of the best-selling albums of all time!), is rife with various interpretations and accusations – including dark themes about satanic rituals and the occult. I don’t necessarily buy into those theories, instead taking Eagles drummer/vocalist/songwriter Don Henley at his word when he said the inspiration for the song/concept album was that it was 1976, America’s Bicentennial year.

It’s our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say, ‘We’ve been okay so far, for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change if we’re gonna continue to be around.”

With Henley's sage words in mind, look back to this Nov. 1, 1976 article in The New York Times, headlined "Donald Trump, Real Estate Promoter, Builds Image as He Buys Buildings." This article - released on All Saints' Day (following Halloween and a day before the '76 presidential election, which Jimmy Carter won), was published just five weeks prior to the official release of the Hotel California album, as the band had finished the recording process in October. Anyway, the Times article has to be read to be believed. This paragraph made me laugh, though: "The other day, Mr. Trump, who says he is publicity shy, allowed a reporter to accompany him on what he described as a typical work day. It consisted mainly of visits to his “jobs,” the term he uses for housing projects owned by the Trump Organization, which was founded by his 70‐year‐old father, Fred C. Trump, now the company's chairman."

In the article, Trump blathers on about how 1976 was when Trump was taking on Manhattan, as it had been focused on the outer boroughs. He noted that Times Square, full of "pornographic garbage," had to be improved. Perhaps it was Rudy Giuliani who took on Trump's ideas at this time when he eventually became mayor, particularly in the midst of the 9/11 crisis.

As a sidenote, this past Sunday New York Times featured an insert - titled "Touching the Sky" - highlighting the New York skyline and how "New York's evolving skyline (is) in a bold age of innovation." Noting the changes since September 11, 2001, with the Twin Towers/World Trade Center catastrophe, the skyline is changing. And a 1976 version of Trump might have been pleasantly surprised to know that in 2019, his "Trump World Tower," which opened in that synchromystic year of 2001, was towering over the Big Apple at 861 feet, while the One World Trade Center, placed where the Twin Towers once stood, is at 1,776 feet - echoing the "Birthday of America" theme Henley and the Eagles were going for back in 1976 amidst the Bicentennial hoopla. 

The article also features comments from a New York architect who mentions Trump's aggressiveness and that "Donald ... could sell sand to the Arabs and refrigerators to the Eskimos."

Publicity shy?

And now, he's selling a load of BS to America and the world. And so here we are. Don Henley was trying to warn us way back when ... 

"... BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE!"

The record was being meticulously recorded 43 years ago, during 1976, and America was still in a bit of a post-Vietnam-n-Watergate daze. Henley, Glenn Frey and Don Felder captured that mood perfectly on the six-minute classic, that, when heard, plays like a movie in your mind, particularly that last verse: “Last thing I remember, I was / running for the door / I had to find the passage back to the place I was before …” – the nightmare is building and becoming all too real, like the Twilight Zone reference Glenn Frey notes about the song lyrics – “’Relax’ said the night man, we are programmed to receive / You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

So, I buy my stuff, check out and walk to the edge of the parking lot where my car is, my vinyl copy of Hotel California in my bag. I get in, start the engine and “Hotel California” is playing again. “Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends / She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends …” Getting the "bends" in the back of a Mercedes, no doubt.

As Henley sings the words “Tiffany-twisted” (which I misheard for years as “definitely twisted”) I glance up and I am staring right across May Avenue over at the recently-refurbished, 12-story Tiffany Retro Apartments building, which was originally built in 1966 as the Tiffany House apartments at 5505 N. Brookline and overlooking Northwest Expressway and part of the few residential apartment towers built in Oklahoma City in the mid-20th century. Ever since I've lived in Oklahoma City (more than 12 years), I have wondered about the Tiffany, with the blood-red neon sign reading TIFFANY.

Sadly, the Tiffany had fallen into disrepair by the latter 20th century and was purchased in 2008 by a developer who loved the unique quality of the building. It would later be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 – 50 years after it was originally built by Memphis, Tenn.-based developer Paul E. Plowman, who was linked with the Holiday Inn motel chain, with the National Register overview noting that “According to the original owner this building was erected on a Holiday Inn frame and was a package type building that the Memphis-based architects and developers had used elsewhere.” It also notes that the name “Tiffany” “had no special significance” except that it was “chosen to imply an aura of exclusivity to the project.”

Memphis is of interest, in light of my obsession with that city and its links to rock n' roll, the blues and soul music. Not to mention the political skullduggery of the Sixties (where MLK was assassinated), occult archiecture and the research of Ardmore, Okla. native James Shelby Downard, which I have noted here repeatedly.

The Sirius Rising recording of Downard, collected by conspiracy researcher Jim Brandon, was recorded around the time the material for the Hotel California album was being written and recorded. On January 30, 1995, the reunited Eagles would play the notorious Pyramid Arena in Memphis, a structure with a most curious history. And naturally, the band opened up the concert with "Hotel California."

And Plowman himself, when asked by a reporter from The Oklahoman about the name “Tiffany,” he claimed he could not remember. Now, regarding the “Tiffany-twisted” reference in “Hotel California” – well, it is a reference to the New York-based luxury jewelry company, Tiffany & Co., which was founded in 1837 and is headquartered at 727 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Trump Tower is at 721-727 Fifth Avenue - literally next door! And Trump's daughter with Marla Maples is named Tiffany. Synchromystically, the Tiffany is in the shadow of the larger New York Life building to its west. Hmmm ... 

The line, therefore, is referencing a money-hungry, materialistic woman who has not a “Mercedes-Benz” but the “Mercedes bends,” a play on words that the Eagles were suggesting referenced her crazy life and, perhaps, experiences bending and shaping in the backseat of Mercedes-Benz automobiles as I noted earlier. The band makes it clear that the song is about the excesses they witnessed during their rise to fame as a band based in Southern California, with the Beverly Hills Hotel (pictured on the album cover) as the epicenter of where it all went down. It was that same hotel where gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson launched his infamous investigation into the "Death of the American Dream" in 1971, as noted in his 1972 Rolling Stone epic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, I am thinking about all of this and I decide to drive over to the Tiffany and check it out for myself. It’s not the easiest place to drive up to, even though it is clearly visible and near a busy thoroughfare.

I make my way over (almost getting into an accident on the short trip from Target to the Tiffany) and park, taking in the retro style it has been made into, reminding me of the Flamingo apartments I wrote about over on NW 23rd Street.

I walk in the lobby and am wowed by the décor, which features floor-to-ceiling newspaper clippings from the early-to-mid 1960’s highlighting the presidency of John F. Kennedy, his 1963 assassination and coverage of the civil-rights movement and the Space Race. When you think about, not a whole helluva lot has changed in five decades.

I also note framed pictures of rock n’ roll icons like Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and a framed poster of the Beatles (or just “Beatles”) from their 1969 album Abbey Road (“we haven’t served that spirit here since 1969”).

I talk to the building manager and tell her what brought me over to the Tiffany. She seems genuinely interested in my sync-quest. I remind her of the “Tiffany-twisted” line in “Hotel California” and she seems surprised. I later suggest that they add a framed copy of the Hotel California album on the wall, after all, this building is sort of like a “hotel.” You can check in any time, right? As for the synchromystic cues that sent me to the Tiffany in the first place, the manager suggested I just go with it and buy a lottery ticket. Not a bad suggestion, eh? A lot of lottery winners of late have been noting how dreams and synchronicity led them to pick winning numbers. But then I'm not much of a gambler.

Oh, and the 1966 connection. I mention to her the recent publication of my book - Rock Catapult: 1966 - The Launch of Modern Rock & Roll. Makes a great Father's Day gift!

I later discover that the Tiffany’s apartments are bathed in rock n’ roll history, with each floor plan different, including the “Janis Joplin,” the “Rolling Stone,” the “Beatle,” the “Elvis,” the “Steppenwolf,” the “Dylan,” the “Van Morrison” and the “Hendrix.” I found that eerie, in light of one of the most recognizable rock n’ roll songs of all time directing me to the Tiffany to begin with.

And I should note that this morning, an image of Janis Joplin caught my attention as I was getting ready. I noted recently as well, in the midst of my Arthur Stilwell/94th meridian research that both Janis Joplin and Don Henley both hail from Texas – and along the 94th meridian. And one other thing about Janis Joplin – the song she recorded just three days before her death, the final song on October 1, 1970 was: “Mercedes Benz.” A song that was a commentary on consumerism, something the Eagles would attempt to comment on as well some six years later. 

That all said, I think there is much to learn from the Hotel California album - both good and bad. The Eagles (or "Eagles," kind of like "Beatles," with the "The" dropped by '69 on the Abbey Road album cover). The songs are strong. The musicianship is flawless. And the themes and messages are pretty timeless, really. Get past their rock star arrogance and excess, there is some solid material there. 

SIDENOTES:

(Warner Bros.)

Back in June 2014, in my Dust Devil Dreams piece "Strange eyes fill strange rooms," I noted the synchromystic Richard Kelly film The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and Oklahoma native James Marsden. It is set in December 1976 - the same month Hotel California is released - in Richmond, Virginia, where Marsden's character, Arthur Lewis, is working on NASA's Viking 1 probe (the mission that captured the infamous "Face on Mars" image) project to Mars. A strange, unsettling series of events follow and make it a gripping film and one that is sadly underrated. 

As I wrote five years ago: "In fact, (Hotel California) was released on December 8th – an esoteric date if there ever was one and Jim Morrison's birthday as well – with the well-known title track prompting questions on whether the “hotel” in question is really hell. In The Box, the characters exist in a "box" - a sort of hell.

Which syncs nicely with the fact that Cameron Diaz’s teacher character Norma Lewis is teaching her class Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. As Jay at JaysAnalysis.com wrote, in his stunning analysis of The Box, “(No Exit) is where three people discover they have been escorted to hell by a valet who is a kind of devil, and the rest of the drama takes place in the same room (and a room is a box), where the torment ends up being each other, fulfilling Sartre’s quip that hell is ‘other people.’”

I was just reminded of this, which made me chuckle, as just as I was in the middle of writing this post, I received two books in the mail, ordered separately and on different days. The first was Jean-Paul Sartre's 1943 existential opus, Being and Nothingness, a copy of which can be seen in The Dude's bedroom in The Big Lebowski. Sartre, again!!

The other is High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica and Visionary Experience in The Seventies by Erik Davis. I am particularly interested in this one because it delves into all the odd stuff going on in a decade when I was an impressionable kid seeing ghosts, UFOs and other strange things that no one else apparently could see. This was the decade of Hotel California. wild coke parties, and accusations of diabolism. I hope to have a review of the latter book in an upcoming post. Keep your minds limber, y'all!

(All photos, unless otherwise noted, by Andrew W. Griffin)

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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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