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Time bomb town

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Two nights ago, I was downtown at the Chesapeake Energy Arena watching a terrific concert by Fleetwood Mac. They were running through all of their hits and saved a few of the best for their encore, including the Christine McVie-penned “Don’t Stop,” a single pulled from their smash 1977 album Rumours.

The chorus goes: “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow / Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here / It’ll be even better than before / Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.”

It was that upbeat track, about Christine McVie’s breakup with bassist John McVie, that was a hit as Bill and Hillary Clinton were celebrating their second year of marriage. Clearly the song and message had an appeal to the Clintons, as the song would be incorporated into his 1992 presidential campaign. In fact, after he won the presidency, Clinton successfully convinced the-then disbanded Mac to reform and play the song at his inaugural ball in 1993.

“Keep putting people first. Keep building those bridges. And don’t stop thinking about tomorrow!” Clinton said at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The song and the band clearly mean a lot to the man.

I thought about that song – and a lot of other things – as I listened to Clinton’s speech today at the Oklahoma City National Memorial as the 20th anniversary of the Murrah Federal Building bombing was observed.

I also thought about the year 1985. I was 13 and living in Little Rock, Arkansas at the time. Our class had visited the Governor’s Mansion a lot and the Clinton’s were relatively accessible. In fact, my younger brother carpooled to school with daughter Chelsea for a time.

But I remember the last time I saw him. It was that synchromystic year of 1985 (it was also the last time I had seen Christian pop singer Michael W. Smith, who performed "Friends" today, just as he had the hot summer day in '85 - how quickly 30 years flies by and how odd it was that they were together at the same event).

It was months after President Ronald Reagan had come to Little Rock for a campaign appearance, prior to his re-election in the fall of ’84, and also after Clinton made his first network television appearance where he responded, along with Sen. Robert Byrd and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, to President Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union address, which included talk of the controversial Strategic Defense Initiative of "Star Wars." The "Boy Governor" was very smooth, even then, highlighting rising Democrats like 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis (sync Donnie Darko).

Anyway, I was visiting a friend who lived in downtown Little Rock and at one point I stepped outside and lo and behold, there was Governor Clinton, jogging down the street. Ten years ago, I spoke to former Clinton girlfriend Gennifer Flowers and told her about that and she said he was probably jogging over to see her at the Camelot Hotel down by the Arkansas River.

That September - the week of Sept. 9th, I recall – that same friend who lived downtown called me and asked if I wanted to go see a movie called Back to the Future. Perfect, I said. I was actually in the middle of reading the paperback novel of Back to the Future and was looking for an opportunity to go and see it in the theater.

As I sat in the cool, dark theater I recall thinking how neat it was that the initial starting date in the film was October 25/26, 1985 – just a month-and-a-half into the future. October 26, 1985 was also going to be Arkansas’ First Lady Hillary Clinton’s 38th birthday.

The music of Huey Lewis & The News – “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” were powerful pop songs at the time. It was the latter song that was heard playing on Marty McFly’s clock radio after he woke up, following his trip into the past, to 1955.

But it was earlier in the film, when Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), calls Marty to remind him to come down to Twin Pines Mall and meet him – for his encounter with density, or was that destiny? – that a different song is playing on Marty’s clock radio – “Time Bomb Town” by Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham.

It’s a spare, moody pop number. Buckingham’s vocal is a sort of unusual, staccato and clipped style, somewhat reminiscent of 1950’s-era vocal styles. ("is this the 50's? Or 1999?")

I got a bad complication / I keep it to myself / I got some strange information / I can’t think of nothing else / There must be about a million / Single ways to go down / Cause I’m a lonely stranger / In this time bomb town.”

Oklahoma City, with its connection with terrorism and a “time bomb” (not unlike the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, during Clinton’s first month in office), seems to have this dark cloud hanging over it, despite all the talk of resilience and prosperity in the years since. Was Buckingham referring to Los Angeles? After all, he was in L.A. at the time recording soundtrack music. Or was there something else at work? The track, while very good, seems odd, although the “time” element is certainly appropriate for Back to the Future.

Fleetwood Mac was supposed to play their OKC gig in March, but it was canceled at the last minute due to “sickness” (a “bad complication”?). It was rescheduled for April 17th – two days before the remembrance ceremony and Clinton’s visit. Other people I talked to found it odd that both Clinton and Fleetwood Mac would nearly cross paths here in this “time bomb town.”

As Clinton spoke about visiting Oklahoma City in the days after the bombing, and connecting with many people here, I looked left and right at the two grim, black monoliths that overshadow the memorial site. These are the “Gates of Time.” One is marked “9:01.” The other “9:03.” The bomb went off at “9:02.” That number could also be interpreted at 9+0+1+1.

As Clinton recalled today: “When you strip away the things that divide us, it’s important to remember how tied we are,” Clinton said. "How much we – all Americans – owe Oklahoma City. People came from around the country to help you. One of them was a chief of the New York City Fire Department, a man named Ray Downey. I met him here. Almost six years later, lo and behold, I was living in New York with my foundation and Hillary was a senator and me with my foundation … Ray Downey lost his life on 9/11 trying to get people out of the Twin Towers. And when they fell, one of the first people to show up to help were the workers from Oklahoma City.”

Interestingly, Dallas – that 33rd parallel city – was where Clinton found himself working for the doomed presidential campaign of George McGovern in the summer of 1972 – alongside filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who would go on to become a world famous director and producer and would be the executive producer of all three installments of the Back to the Future trilogy. Also, Spielberg prevented the film from being called Spaceman from Pluto, curiously enough.

And here we are in 2015, when the events of Back to the Future II are supposed to be taking place. Max Spielberg, Steven Spielberg’s son, was born in June 1985, three weeks before the first BTTF film premiered. Spielberg made his son the “director” of Jaws 19, the film that premieres in 2015 in 1989’s BTTF II. As we like to say here at Dust Devil Dreams: "Hello 2015!"

Yes, Clinton and Spielberg (along with Hillary Rodham - who has been syncing with me quite a bit lately) all worked together on the McGovern campaign in Texas and got to know each other very well. 

Again, I'm not saying Clinton or Spielberg or Buckingham knew anything about the future terror attacks - 4/19/95 or 9/11/01 - that would strike America. But it is curious that there is undeniable foreshadowing in the Back to the Future trilogy of future events, including the inclusion of the eeriely hypnotic "Time Bomb Town" by Lindsey Buckingham, which seemed to allude to both terror attacks in Oklahoma City and New York City. Food for thought on a spring evening.

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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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