"What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" - Not Just an R.E.M. song!

The Assault: On the evening of October 4, 1986, Dan Rather was attacked by William Tager who, contrary to popular belief, had a very good reason for attacking Rather.

Bill Tager was born in the year 2265. Bill Tager is from the future. Bill Tager is not from our planet. Well, technically he is from earth but not from our earth. Tager comes from an earth in a parallel universe and was sent here by the government of his planet. On Tager's earth, the entire planet is under the control of one government. Tager's world wide government has been experimenting with travel to other parallel universes (which involves a warp of the space/time continuum) for almost 150 years. Bill Tager, a convicted felon on his planet, volunteered to be the first human test pilot on the condition that he be given a full pardon if he returned safely.

On Tager's earth the Vice-President of the world is a man named Kenneth Burrows, who just happens to look exactly like Dan Rather. (I should explain here that most everyone on our earth has a double on all of the other earths in all of the parallel universes.) Before Tager entered the travel chamber he was paid a visit by Vice-President Burrows and was told that he had a transmitter implanted in his brain and if he chose to remain in the section of time/space that he was being sent to and didn't return at the designated time, he would be barraged with messages to return until he came back and reported on his mission. Then, and only then, would the transmitter be removed and he be given his full pardon.

Tager's trip was successful and he landed in New York on September 1, 1986. All was going as planned and Tager was preparing to return to his own time and world when he was mistakenly arrested for putting coins in expired parking meters. After spending 30 days in jail (and staying on our planet 14 days longer than he was supposed to) Tager started receiving extremely hostile messages from Vice-President Burrows telling him to return immediately. His window of opportunity had passed and he would have to wait another week to try to return but there was no possible way to let Burrows know this. The constant voices were driving him insane. He wasn't even able to sleep at night. If there was any way Tager could find out the precise frequency that was being broadcast to his brain he could possibly override the voices and be able to sleep at night until he was able to make his return trip.

As he walked the streets of New York late on the evening of October 4, 1986, Tager saw a man who he thought was Vice-President Kenneth Burrows. He quickly came to his senses and knew that Burrows would never make the risky trip himself and figured it must be Burrows' double on our earth. However, he thought, what were the chances that out of over 5 billion people on this planet, he would meet the twin of the man who had been sending hostile messages directly to his brain for over two weeks?

Tager called out to the man, "Kenneth! Kenneth Burrows!". To his surprise, the man, whom we know to be Dan Rather, turned to see who was yelling and was knocked to the ground. Tager repeatedly kicked Rather as he lay on the ground and yelled "What's the frequency Kenneth?" hoping to learn the frequency of the signal being broadcast to his brain and stop the voices. When Rather didn't respond, Tager realized he had made a terrible mistake and had indeed attacked Burrows' double on our planet. He fled the scene and later missed his second, and last, chance to return to his home planet.

Years later, in 1994, in an attempt to get in contact with someone who might be able to identify the frequency and put an end to the voices that had haunted him for so many years, Tager shot and killed an NBC technician outside the "Today Show" studios. Today, William Tager sits in a prison in New York, the voices, now an automatic message that replays itself every 20 minutes, still play in his head.

While in prison, Tager wrote various stories and drew odd cartoons depicting his adventure.



The Film: After listening to Tager's story, the film "12 Monkeys" was born. Written by Chris Marker and directed by Terry Gilliam, it was an excellent movie, IMHO. It also had an excellent cast (Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, others). The story is futuristic Earth, based in the future, and Bruce Willis "volunteers" to go back in time to prevent a catastrophe. See the IMDB for more details. (www.imdb.com)

Edit: It has been brought to my attention that 12 Monkeys was based on a french short film, La Jetee. But the coincidence is still amazing!



The Song: WTF,K? is a song performed by R.E.M. on their album, Monster. After seeing the assault in the news, Michael Stipe was moved enough by the oddity to write a song about it ("It remains the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It's a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media hyped and just plain bizarre." - Orange Julius). The lyrics go as such:
"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I'd pegged you an idiot's dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider's screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I'd studied your cartoons, radio, music, tv, movies, magazines
Richard says "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy"
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rearview mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
I never understood, don't fuck with me, uh-huh
(lyrics thanks to LordOmar)

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