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Salt Lake City Weekly Dark Side of the Rainbow

In the Pink with Dorothy at "Ground Zero."

By Bill Frost

July 21, 1997:  Welcome to Paranormal Summer 1997: The 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident, crop circles in Cache county, Men in Black and Contact doing major box office, Mars pictures and updates on MSNBC, the fact that MSNBC still even exists, the Swamp Donkeys winning a battle of the bands not held on Mars — weirdness abounds.

One of the stranger things that first kicked up minor hysteria on the East coast earlier this year is the Wizard of Oz / Pink Floyd sychronicity phenomenon. Sorry, big words: If you watch the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz along with Pink Floyd's 1973 classic album Dark Side of the Moon, the movie and music sych up in several places with eerie precision.

Disbelief? Try this at home, kids: Start the CD (vinyl works even better — this will be explained) at the exact moment that the MGM lion finishes its third roar at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz, then settle back into that bean bag chair with your favorite adult beverage/substance and dig the cosmic parallels.

During "Breathe," Dorothy tip-toes along a fence to the lyric "Balanced on the biggest wave." When she leaves the fortune teller to go back to her farm, the album is playing "Home, home again." Glinda the Good Witch of the North appears in her bubble just as Dave Gilmour sings "Don't give me that do goody-good bullshit."

A few moments later, the Good Witch goes toe-to-toe with the Wicked Witch as Gilmour sings "And who knows which is which." The song "Brain Damage" begins at the same time the Scarecrow starts dancing and singing "If I Only Had a Brain."

There are plenty of non-lyrical moments as well: Munchkins dancing to instrumental jams, the tornado scene that's perfectly choreographed to the female vocal vamps of "The Great Gig in the Sky," the switch from black & white to color that begins with "Money" (if you pause the video for six seconds, the amount of time it takes to flip over a vinyl album).

Since the film is 101 minutes long and the album just 42, the whole experience comes to a sychronously bizarre halt: Dark Side of the Moon fades out with a heartbeat just as Dorothy holds her ear to the Tin Man's chest.

Altogether, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than, say, The Fifth Element or Speed 2. Attempts to synchronize other classics — Patton and Jethro Tull's Aqualung, Dr. Strangelove and Frank Zappa's Freak Out! — have failed. Also, no matter what you synch Michael Jackson's The Wiz with, it still sucks.

Since you're a '90s kind of guy/gal on the go, you're probably saying to yourself "This sounds cool, but I'm a '90s kind of guy/gal on the go — I don't have the time to rent The Wizard of Oz, drag out my Pink Floyd album and do this whole synch-up thing: Why can't someone do it for me?"

Someone has, yuppies — Mr. Paranormal himself, Clyde Lewis. You've read about Lewis and his popular Sunday night radio show "Ground Zero" here before (Private Eye Weekly, March 13, 1997), so you know what kind of freak he is. Now he's put together Dark Side of the Rainbow, a "Ground Zero" synchronization for the big screen that will run at the Tower Theater on July 30. Oh yeah, and Lewis may also have started this whole mess.

Fresh back from Roswell for the anniversary gathering (his idea of a vacation?), Lewis recounts: "I have never said that I sat down and synchronized the whole movie before this. I've merely stated that back in 1979, when I was in high school, I fell asleep with Dark Side on the turntable, playing side two continuously. When I woke up, The Wizard of Oz was on TV — the Scarecrow was dancing that insane dance while the album was playing 'The lunatic is on the grass.' It was the funniest damn thing I had ever seen."

Until the news broke earlier this year on a Boston radio station, Lewis had never thought to play the entire album and movie together.

But, check this out: "[WZLX-FM] made that announcement two months after I had done a phone interview with WRKO in Boston. I talked about my old show on Z-93, "In The Pink," where I layered Pink Floyd songs with weird sound effects and clips, and I mentioned the high school story," Lewis claims.

He also talked about it on the air here in the '80s: Since Lewis has been a self-proclaimed Wizard of Oz freak since childhood, he may have a claim. Or he may be loony. The truth, of course, is out there.

"I've pointed out many times before that Pink Floyd has used references to The Wizard of Oz. 'The Judgment,' from The Wall, has a line that goes 'I'm crazy/Over the rainbow/Crazy' — why did they use that? Dark Side of the Moon's cover has a prism turning black & white into a rainbow. How the Scarecrow's dancing coincides with 'Brain Damage,' how the heartbeat is there for the Tin Man at the end, it's all very eerie. Someone sat down and synchronized the whole thing — who, I don't know. I first made the statement about the Scarecrow on the air back in 1989. Eight years now into the future, it seems very possible that the seeds may have been planted back then," Lewis said.

Considering the timing of his Boston interview and everything else, Lewis may have spotted Dorothy on the grassy knoll without even knowing it. Or, again, he may just be loony.

Check out the 42-minute Dark Side of the Rainbow for yourself when it runs at the Tower July 30. It's a good time whether you buy any of this or not. Lewis' "Ground Zero" is still on KBER 101 FM at 9 p.m. on Sundays.

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