Friday, March 18, 2011

Atomic Radioactive Fallout

Well, they say the radiation from Japan is hitting the west coast of the USA as I speak lol. That would be me and my atomic ranch house.

No, Chris the 1950's Atomic Ranch House cat does not have radioactive eyes, but in every photo I take of him, he sure seems to!

In light of the subject, (but not to make light of it), I thought I'd remind everyone of the real threat of nuclear and atomic concerns during the Cold War era of the 1950's.

At one time, I blogged about my interest in collecting some of the surplus Civil Defense stuff for sale on eBay like this Geiger counter radiation detector:

Quite a bit of it is new old stock, and very cool. There is an interesting amount of it available.

Given the hysteria now though, you will have to wait at least a year before prices on CD radiation testing kits and such are affordable again.

I did opt for an official Fallout Shelter sign.

Oh and some propaganda Atomic books and such:

Because every 1950's Atomic Ranch House needs to have good information, just in case...

I grew up with my late older brother talking about the effects of radiation poisoning, and how many "prime targets" were in my area (there were, and still are, a lot of military bases here in southern California). I guess that influenced me a great deal, as I still have nightmares about nuclear winter.

Watching movies like "Panic in Year Zero":

Only made me more frightened, and with some good reason. The threat of atomic bombs WAS real. The 50's weren't always the "good old days" as many might like to think.

Two shows I'd like to highly recommend are a very campy documentary, or "mockumentary" called "The Atomic Cafe":


The film covers the beginnings of the era of nuclear warfare, created from a broad range of archival film from the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s - including newsreel clips, television news footage, U.S. government-produced films (including military training films), advertisements, television and radio programs. News footage reflected the prevailing understandings of the media and public. A quote which illustrates how the producers used archival footage to illustrate the absurdity of the government's public nuclear propaganda of the time:

Civil defense film: Be sure to include tranquilizers to ease the strain and monotony of life in a fallout shelter. A bottle of 100 should be sufficient for a family of four. Tranquilizers are not a narcotic, and are not habit-forming.

Though the topic of atomic holocaust is a grave matter, the film approaches it with black humor. Much of the humor derives from the modern audience's reaction to the old training films, such as the Duck and Cover film shown in schools. A quote to illustrate what can be perceived as black humor culled from the archives:

And a very sobering documentary (there are several excellent one's) called "Radio Bikini":

Radio Bikini is a 1988 documentary film directed by Robert Stone.[1] It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1988 for Best Documentary Feature.

The film documents the nuclear tests performed around Bikini Atoll during Operation Crossroads in 1946, and their effects on the indigenous population and American servicemen involved in the testing.

These three videos will give you a good sense of the feeling at the time from a few different perspectives.

I suppose I am mentioning all this today is because of the radiation hitting my coast, and because we have come to associate the word "atomic" with cool furniture and lamps, when it was borne out of something serious (as a small reminder), and because I am a realist, so I (personally) think we should not rewrite and romanticize the past.

There were some pretty awful things during those times... You know, like DDT, polio, Veterans returning from WWll with PTSD Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, no seatbelts, women and minority rights were sparse at best, the mentally and physically challenged were hidden in institutions and given lobotomies and electro-shock therapy, thalidomide and the awful deformations of so many babies, hydrogen and atomic bomb threats... Well, you get the point lol... But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the wonderful things about the 50's, I simply think we also shouldn't forget the terrible parts either.

So I hope everyone is keeping all things in perspective on this super fine Friday!