Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The backstory of my adventures on the fallout trail, documenting the effects of atmospheric nuclear weapons explosions, as well as the underground nuclear detonations at the Nevada Test Site, can be seen below. (Please scroll down a few pages to see this essay.) In this blog, I have published a revised essay titled "Thank you, Mr. Avedon," on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the first nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site.
This is the story that did not appear in "American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War," which was a restrained journalistic view of the people affected by fallout from atomic bombs detonated on American soil. "Thank you, Mr. Avedon," was first published in a very altered form, titled by the editors "Transformations" against my better judgment, in Daylight Magazine, below.
It was published again in 2009 in a compendium of nuclear-based articles, edited by Dr. Robert Jacobs of the Hiroshima Peace Institute, with a foreword by Tom Engelhardt: "Filling a Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to The Bomb."
"Thank you, Mr. Avedon," as it appears in this blog, is a revision written on January 27, 2011, 60 years after the first nuclear weapon was exploded at the test site in Nevada. Readers should note that the personal content of this essay is completely separate from "American Ground Zero" as it was published. It details a few of the difficulties of documentary work as experienced by the author of "American Ground Zero." The people mentioned in the essay are not in any way reflective of the majority of many hundreds of downwinders and other radiation survivors/victims that I have interviewed over the years ... those documented in this essay are the exceptions, not the rule.
“You will walk differently alone, dear, through a thicker atmosphere, forcing your way through the shadows of chairs, through the dripping smoke of the funnels. You will feel your own reflection sliding along the eyes of those who look at you. You are no longer insulated; but I suppose you must touch life in order to spring from it.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Tender Is the Night."