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OKLAHOMA CITY – Fifteen years ago tomorrow, Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut was released, four months after the master director’s death.

Its release date came exactly 30 years to the day after the July 16, 1969 launch of the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the Moon. There are those who say there is a connection between the Apollo 11 launch and the release of Eyes Wide Shut. It is said Kubrick specifically wanted the film released that day. He would not live to see its official release.

And Kubrick’s ghost is definitely haunting the interwebs today. Note the choice of Kubrickian “Starchild” image from 2001: A Space Odyssey by the mega website Drudge Report which accompanies a stunning headline reading “NASA: HUMANS WILL PROVE WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Of course, NASA is said to have heavily subsidized Kubrick when he was working on 2001. And now NASA, The Vatican and other powerful Earthbound institutions are reengaging with the idea of contact.

Yes, I sensed today was going to be “one of those days.” I felt it last night as a big storm shot lightning across the sky, against Oklahoma City’s skyline.

The red (latter-day) Volkswagen Beetle caught my eye and passed me on my left as I drove north on I-35 back into Oklahoma City on an unseasonably mild July day that started with me being shaken out of bed by one of our increasingly “characteristic” Okie earthquakes – this one a 3.9 centered near Harrah.

Oddly riveted by the northbound red VW Beetle, I immediately thought: “But what of the yellow VW Beetle, the first ‘character’ the audience meets in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining?”  The yellow VW is being driven by Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) on his way to an interview at Colorado’s Overlook Hotel. The film is full of secrets and codes - and that yellow VW Beetle.

Yellow? Of course. In Stephen King’s novel The Shining, the Torrance family car is red. King purportedly did not like it that Kubrick used a yellow Beetle (The Shining title was inspired by a line in Beatle John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!” (“and we all shine on…”)) and Kubrick would feature a crushed red VW Beetle at the scene of an accident involving a semi truck in blizzard conditions.

So, what of yellow? It all came clear to me when the red VW Beetle in front of me passed beneath the highway sign pointing travelers towards Amarillo! Yes, the Texas city named after the Spanish word for yellow.

Much has been written and speculated about the meaning of the yellow and red VW Beetles. The “immersion criticism” documentary Room 237 explores this (read our review here).

Right after this, as I drove into downtown Oklahoma City, a woman walked across the crosswalk in bell bottomed pants, reminding me of the iconic Abbey Road image, this, just moments after dwelling upon the famous white VW Beetle with the English number plate LMW 281F. 28IF? I was wondering if I could get a personalized license plate with “28IF” on it. Probably.

Yes, I felt compelled to play LOVE, the red-and-yellow colored Beatles soundtrack remix album on this quick jaunt to Norman and back.

Things got interesting when track five – “I Am the Walrus” – came on. I am the eggman? Indeed. There was the “eggman” in the form of the smiling Jimmy’s Egg eggman sign. Syncing with this was an incident yesterday where a colleague wore a crescent-moon shaped necklace, bringing to mind the March 10, 2011 “Cheshire moon” that I have written about a number of times here. This moon, looking like the smile left behind by the Cheshire cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, appeared in the dark night sky just hours before my nightmare that connected with the Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster happening half-a-world away at the same moment!

"I Am the Walrus" continues. Suddenly I see a sign advertising ham just as the line “See how they smile like pigs in a sty …” is sung.

So, last night, while catching some old TV shows, including The Twilight Zone and Dragnet, the March 13, 1964 episode (where Rod Serling, mimicking the man who introduced the Beatles to America, Ed Sullivan, by saying “really big shoe,” while introducing the episode called “What’s In the Box?”) had some interesting things going on.

In the episode, cabbie Joe Britt (William Demarest) is waiting for a TV repairman to fix his TV. Joe proceeds to insult the repairman who is played by – where have I heard that voice before? – voice actor Sterling Holloway! The voice of Disney’s Cheshire cat, Winnie-the-Pooh and others. This Cheshire cat sync came only a matter of hours after a friend apologized for sending me on a “bunny trail” that led to a dead end. "Feed your head," indeed.

With Dragnet, the January 1968 episode “The Big Prophet” stars Liam Sullivan as a self-styled guru and drug dealer named “Brother William” who is heavy into LSD and is suspected of giving or selling to minors. The dialogue between Brother William and Sgt. Joe Friday is remarkable, as they debate the pros and cons of drug use. In the end, Brother William is convicted of selling to a minor and sentenced to 10 years-to-life (!?!)

… which brings me to “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Is it about Julian Lennon’s drawing? LSD? Something else? I couldn’t help but think about last night’s Dragnet rerun as this Lennon classic brought to mind marmalade skies and newspaper taxis.

Again, the Beatles’ magickal, LOVE disc was playing and providing images for the soundtrack. “Blackbird” was on as I pulled into a gas station in Norman. As I got out and the song went off as I took the keys out of the ignition, I was repeating the word “blackbird” to myself as I began pumping the gas. It was then that – to my shock! – a blackbird came out and swooped right by me, touching my left shoulder and then vanishing!

This came about as I was also mulling on Manson. Charles Manson and Tex Watson felt there would be a race war. And Paul McCartney suggested the song’s “intended meaning was indeed about racial struggle in the United States.”

The latest Blog of Caverns post brilliantly examines Michelangelo Antonioni’s film trio Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point and The Passenger. There is a lot going on in these three films as the blogger notes in the headline “Antonioni’s Beatles/Manson Trilogy.” This, after reading the new “autobiography” (Tibetan Peach Pie) from novelist Tom Robbins who recounts being a disc jockey in Washington state in about 1967 or ’68 and having Charles Manson wander in and offer to play some songs he had written. Not knowing who he is, Robbins turns down Manson’s offer. Even in this encounter, Robbins says Charlie had a powerful and somewhat menacing presence.

And in Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point (filmed in 1968 and into mid-69, just prior to the Tate/LaBianca murders) has lots of Beatles and Manson overtones, all with a Death Valley setting. Curious that Harry Potter werewolf actor Dave Legeno was found dead near Death Valley’s actual Zabriskie Point formation just last week.

It is said that French philosopher Michel Foucault had an acid trip at Zabriskie Point in 1975 and that it was one of the most powerful events in his life. 

And now we look up into the night sky and await the "ultimate trip." 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Next to the "Starchild"/NASA headline is a subhed suggesting the following: "German plan to take on NSA: Classical music and typewriters." Between 2001's "Blue Danube" and The Shining's ever-changing Adler typewriter, well, I think Stanley Kubrick would approve.

P.S. (5:02 p.m.): Stumbled on several Kubrick-themed articles here and here. And that was purely synchromystic. Stanley is definitely still with us.

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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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