Plan B for the Nuclear Apocalypse

Thank you, Chris Breault of The A.V. Club for a very informative article (dropped 21 April 2017). Since Kim “Little Rocket Man” Jong-Un and DT seem to be engaged in the most gigantic game of “chicken” ever, Breault asked:

What’s your plan for the day nuclear war breaks out?

Do you sprint to a fall-out shelter . . .

Do you walk out on the fire escape naked . . .

Do you escape the city on a motorcycle . . .

Many of us have no such plan, because we’ve already heard Sun Ra explain that if the button is pushed, our asses will simply be gone.

There is, wouldn’t you know, a U.S. Agency calling itself the Federal Preparedness Agency which would chopper “presidential successors” to “an installation on Mount Weather, Virginia.”

Here’s the link.

Among other fascinations, there is discussion of presidential code words, which be like — FOUR FINGER?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2017 Highlights #1: To the Graduates of Bethune-Cookman

In a year of lowlights (“Rocket Man” and Fake News, the US pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement, THAT DARN WALL, Charlottesville and “many sides,” the Las Vegas shooting, the Texas shooting, the dissembling of Sarah Huckabee Sanders), self would like to thank the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, for giving her one of the most stirring memories of 2017.

Betsy DeVos, the “woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education,” was invited to speak at the Bethune-Cookman commencement. This is the Secretary of Education who had not (yet) at that point announced that she would put an end to the loan assistance provided to those college students who intended to become teachers. But she had already said her piece about guns in schools: It would be appropriate #because grizzlies. Worst of all (This quote is taken from the open letter to the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, published in Cassius) was “her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as pioneers in school choice.”

!!##@@ Put laughing-so-hard-its-painful emoji here.

The students stood and turned their backs. Literally.

The students defied the presence and rhetoric of DeVos.

Thank you.

Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:

I.

MARIFE:

They were talking and talking and talking.

LAWYER:

About what?

MARIFE:

How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.

LAWYER:

Fishing?

MARIFE:

Yes, fishing.


Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: Viktor Latun, Photographer

He died from cancer of the blood. We had a wake, and in the Slavic tradition we drank. And then the conversations began again, until midnight. First about him, the deceased. But after that? Once more about the fate of the country and the design of the universe. Will Russian troops leave Chechnya or not? Will there be a second Caucasian war, or has it already started? Could Zhirinovsky become President? Will Yeltsin be re-elected? About the British Royal Family and Princess Diana. About the Russian monarchy. About Chernobyl, the different theories. Some say that aliens knew about the catastrophe and helped us out; others that it was an experiment; and soon kids with incredible talents will start to be born. Or maybe the Belarussians will disappear, like the Scythians. We’re metaphysicians. We don’t live on this earth, but in our dreams, in our conversations. Because you need to add something to this ordinary life, in order to understand it. Even when you’re near death.

— p. 193, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen)

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: Colonel Yaroshuk

p. 131, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Colonel Yaroshuk is dying now. He’s a chemist-dosimetrist. He was healthy as a bull, now he’s lying paralyzed. His wife turns him over like a pillow. She feeds him from a spoon. He has stones in his kidneys, they need to be shattered, but we don’t have the money to pay for that kind of operation. We’re paupers, we survive on what people give us. And the government behaves like a money lender, it’s forgotten these people. When he dies, they’ll name a street after him, or a school, or a military unit, but that’s only after he dies, Colonel Yaroshuk. He walked through the Zone and marked the points of maximum radiation — they exploited him in the fullest sense of the term, like he was a robot. And he understood this, but he went, he walked from the reactor itself and then out through all the sectors around the radius of reactivity. On foot. With a dosimeter in his hand. He’d feel a “spot” and then walk around its borders, so he could put it on his map, accurately.

Cleaning Up, Post-Apocalypse

A cameraman reports:

They were washing roofs. But how do you wash an old lady’s roof if it leaks? As for the soil, you had to cut off the entire fertile layer of it. After that there’s yellow sand. One old lady was following orders and throwing the earth out, but then scraping off the manure to use later. It’s too bad I didn’t shoot that.

— p. 105, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

A friend will ask self what she is reading now. When she tells them, they go, Sheesh! (Sub-text: You really must be a glutton for punishment!)

The first night after she began reading this book, she arrived in New York City. She stayed up all night, bug-eyed. The first story is the worst, the absolute worst. You just want to shake the stupid woman and cry. There’s all this florid Oh woe is me! I love my husband! Let me kiss him on his radioactive lips so that my unborn baby will know I did it all for love!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL, AN ORAL HISTORY OF A DISASTER, p. 65

“I read in a book — it was by Father Sergei Bulgakov — it’s certain that God created the world, and therefore the world can’t possibly fail,” and so it is necessary to “endure history courageously and to the very end.”

Director of the Apocalypse

I have my own memories. My official post there was commander of the guard units. Something like the director of the apocalypse. (Laughs). Yes. Write it down just like that.

— p. 46, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Let’s Eat Radiation

From an interview with a Russian soldier sent in to help the radiation clean-up effort around Chernobyl (pp. 41 -42, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster)

  • I’ve spent all day riding through all the villages, measuring the radiation. And not one of the women offers me an apple. The men are less afraid: they’ll come up to me and offer some vodka, some lard. Let’s eat. It’s awkward to turn them down, but then eating pure cesium doesn’t sound so great, either.

 

PERSONAL HEROES: FIREFIGHTERS OF CALIFORNIA

Trump is rather disinterested in the raging wildfires that have wrought havoc on Northern California.

Fires started over a week ago.

Self’s flight to Albuquerque on Thursday, 12 October, was cancelled due to “weather.”

Self’s flight to Albuquerque on Friday, 13 October, was cancelled again due to “weather.”

Self learned from another passenger in the SFO United terminal that the cancellations began on Wednesday.

Son’s wedding was on Saturday, 14 October.

The only thing that saved her was: another of son’s friends, Alex Case, was in the United terminal, scheduled for the same 11 a.m. flight to Albuquerque. Somehow, we found each other (first sighting since son’s high school graduation and Alex had grown at least two feet), found an American Airlines flight to LAX, and then got another flight from there to Albuquerque, finally arriving 8:30 p.m., missing the rehearsal dinner.

But: she made her son’s wedding! She made her son’s wedding! She made her son’s wedding!

Last night, she flew back to the San Francisco Bay Area. Her seatmate said, “There’s still smoke.” We looked out at the darkness. Above the twinkling lights of the city was an area that was a different pall. And self thought: the firemen have been fighting since the fires started, over a week ago now. And the fires have only just started being contained.

Each fireman deserves a medal. A big fat gold medal.

Stay tuned.

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