Speaking of the end of the world stories, one of the adventures the Vegas team went on was to the National Atomic Testing Museum. We had to take a taxi off strip and along the way we saw countless abandoned hotels and restaurants, all boarded up with smashed windows and overgrown parking lots. Some of the saddest urban decay I’ve ever seen.
The museum was fascinating and creepy in a way I can’t quite articulate. There were displays showing toys, cereal boxes, and comics aimed to desensitize a public about the BOMB. Atompunk owes its genealogy to the marketing masterminds. The cartoons taught kids that the bomb was cool. It makes superheroes and laser guns, after all.
I expected more warnings and, at the very least, tales of caution and regret. Instead, all of the news reels and interviews we watched were ones of hope and prosperity. The aged researchers talked about how sure, there were higher instances of cancer among the workers at the testing sites, but they were protecting their country. They were patriots and I swear their eyes actually shone as they said it. There is nothing like this sort of patriotism left in the world, and to see it in such a weird, stark place was a little unnerving. These men and women stood at the tests sites with goggles on and watched the bombs go off in the desert – watched the mushroom clouds and braced for the shockwaves that eventually passed over them. They weren’t right up on the blast site but geez, they were still in viewing distance. And they weren’t angry about being irradiated regularly. It was part of the job. Something they were proud to be a part of and disappointed with the American government for shutting the testing program down in the 90s. Not just disappointed. Angry.
The tunnels were very Fallout 3 and so were the quirky cartoons teaching us about the power behind the splitting of an atom. The little underground theater gives you an idea of what the viewers watching the explosions would have felt like when the shockwave struck them. We were sitting there watching the movie of the prep of a bomb when the ground started shaking and a mega blast of air walloped us. I almost peed my pants. How did anyone sit through one of those on purpose and not been scared to holy hell?
They built houses, furnished them, and set manikins up like normal people. The manikins wore J.C. Penny clothes, who, by the way, aided in the war effort but publishing the damage the blasts did to the clothes. The government sold kits with medications for your shelters which they also gave out plans for.
There was something frighteningly wholesome about the way the government marketed bomb preparation to families.