I have been deeply and unshakably against nuclear weapons and “peaceful” atoms ever since I was a kid. I remember watching an atomic bomb test on live TV when I was a toddler and it freaked me out. And that was before I found out there was strontium 90 in the milk they were giving us. My first thought out idea on nukes was that atomic bombs would take all the fun and artistry out of war and that it was completely unchivalrous to wipe out all those civilians at random. I mean how much fun would Call of Duty Black Ops be with tactical nukes? I won’t even play on those battlefields where you can get irradiated. Falling off a cliff is a lot cleaner fun.
As for nuclear power, I have always been against it. If they can figure out how to get rid of the waste, fine, but to embark on a huge scale industry with huge unsolved problems having the potential to end life on earth never seemed like a really good idea to me.
But people get used to anything. Thousands of nuclear warheads in the hands of nutjob politicians and warriors who believe that after death they are going to “heaven” just never seemed like a good idea to me either. I’m amazed that nobody has been nuked since we dropped nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Maybe we have Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers to thank. Doctor Strangelove remains one of my all time favorite movies.
So the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster didn’t surprise me at all. I’m more surprised Indian Point plant up the Hudson River hasn’t gone bad. Stuff like that mostly surprises the experts and executives who expect that today to be like yesterday. They claim that they never anticipated an earthquake of this magnitude or a tsunami of such height. But according to the New York Times archeologists knew that the area had experienced an earthquake as strong in the tenth century. Shit happens. Of course in the tenth century they didn’t have Plutonium.
Every day the Japanese nuke horror gets bigger in reality as it gets smaller in the news. We’re used to it. As I write this radioactive iodine is showing up in milk in France. It showed up in milk in Washington State a few weeks earlier. The Japanese disaster has now been given a rating equal to Chernobyl. (It’s funny how disasters get scored, like perceived national security threats.) On April 12th the Fukushima hyperfiasco was given a 7—that’s the highest level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. That’s a perfect Chernobyl. But maybe this will be worse than Chernobyl, especially if they keep standing around bowing at each other. Then it will be an 8, just like in Spinal Tap the amps go to 11 on a scale of ten. Where is Spinal Tap when you need them. We need some kick ass anti-nuke music and art.
Back when I had my band Konelrad, the world’s first socialist realist rock band, I wrote a song called Cancer Kamikazes. (We also had a song called Hard Core Meltdown.) Cancer Kamikazes envisioned that in a hyperpolluted world terminal cancer patients might organize into eco-terrorist cadres. The words were something like this:
- Cancer kamikazes are coming in
- Cancer kamikazes with original sin
- Cancer kamikazes got nothing to lose
- Terminal guerillas with the Big C blues
- You better watch out carcinogen makers
- They’ll make the IRA look like Quakers
Somehow the movement I imagined has failed to materialize. Instead we think Eco Terrorists are kids who go sit in redwoods. Meanwhile the people who get sick and die from being poisoned, even when it’s heroes in the line of duty, get screwed worse than ever. Consider the recent news story about a cop who worked at “Ground Zero” and subsequently died of gastric cancer. His body was snatched by the city government from the funeral home so they could dispute the cause of death on his death certificate. Think of how many cops, firemen and construction workers will face the same fate while they are denied benefits. And then there are the legions of workers from industries involving asbestos, radiation, etc., where top executives hid lethal dangers—how come none of them have gotten mad enough to go after the responsible parties? What about all of those dead military radar technicians. How about all those dead speed trap cops?
The military industrial complex expects all good minions to suck it up and die quietly. Why don’t the victims of science cover-ups get mad? Why don’t they get even? Maybe it’s scale effect. We haven’t reached the “tipping point.” Yet. But wait until Fukushima melt down pushes the INES number up to nine, ten, or the unthinkable Spinal Tap eleven. The cancer in the line of duty folks will get organized.
Well, along similar lines I thought, what we need now is workers who can stay inside the Homer Simpson memorial control room for more than fifteen minutes because they don’t have much more time than that anyway. Why aren’t the Japanese telling imminently terminal patients that they’ll pay ‘em a cool million if they put in one good shift and then say sayonara to their pain with a dose of Dilafin. (You know the drug with an outer layer of opiate and cocaine, an inner layer of barbituate and a core of cyanide? )
I’m sure such ideas are too strong for normal, reasonable, responsible people, but it was normal, reasonable, responsible people who built and maintained these obsolete power plants in geological hot spots. Anyway, it’s the perfect time to resume antinuclear agitation, so I’m asking everyone to enjoy a record I made in the eighties with David Johansen, under the name “Chad & Sudan.”
It was originally commissioned by Elektra records but they considered it irrelevant, so it was released on vinyl by John Giorno on his Giorno Poetry Systems label, on an album called Smack My Crack. That’s Patti Scialfa, Mrs. Bruce Springsteen on vocals, David Jo on backup vocals, and me on the rap. Music by David Johansen and Joe Delia, words by me.
If you like this tune maybe I’ll reform Konelrad and go back into the studio and record “Hard Core Meltdown” and “Cancer Kamikazes.”