Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DETROIT-HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR

Most of us take the elevator unless something prevents us, forcing us to creak up or down the stairs. In late November my offices were in the throes of renovation. The elevator landing was being sanded and painted, so you had to walk down six flights of stairs. As I meandered down the little used stairs, at some landings I was confronted by this large yellow and black “cd” sign with “fallout shelter” below with an arrow pointing to the left.
          Unwittingly I went beyond the ground floor and found myself in the basement. My building was probably built in the 20’s, well before the Second World War and its aftermath, the Cold War. Down in the basement were more “cd shelter” signs and tucked in the corner were some olive drab barrels labeled “survival supplies - drinking water”. Stacked next to them were a dozen dusty aluminum containers labeled “shelter - food”. I had stumbled upon one of the last vestiges of the cold war, a fallout shelter. 
          That brought back memories of the early 50’s when I was a kid attending Public School 22 in Flushing, New York. My teacher, Ms. Anita Tully, she who all the boys lusted after, would have us sit at our desks and when the bell started ringing, announcing the monthly civil defense drill, made us hunker down under our desks. “Duck and Cover” was what that stupid maneuver was called. The shelter of our wooden desks was supposed to shield and protect us from the blast of an exploding atomic bomb. Having survived actual bombs during the “Big War”, and having witnessed at first hand the destruction wrought, I thought then and now “Fat chance! What a crock!”
          We did drop the bomb on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki. I will get to that later. But I just want you to bring back from the recesses of your mind the mushroom cloud, the destruction, the wasted bodies, the rubble, the utter devastation, the bricks strewn about, men with white gauze masks picking up what looked like barbecued spare ribs, total and utter devastation.
          I often wondered what ever happened to that bombed out city, the subject of “Hiroshima Mon Amour” the film with the unforgettable “You are not endowed with memory” line. My mind further conditioned by science fiction and apocalyptic movies, “On the Beach”, “Mad Max”, “Planet of the Apes” and “The Omega Man” among others, conjured up a vast arid plain doted by twisted building skeletons devoid of life. A man made desert doomed to eternity by radioactive waste never to bloom or welcome mankind.       
          Yeaterday's reality as revealed in contemporary photographs is even more disturbing. I invite you to visit http://search.aol.com/aol/image?q=hiroshima. I do not have to add any words to what you will experience.
          But is that the Hiroshima of today? Does my vision of the nightmare still hold true? No. Someone just sent me a link contrasting the yesterday's Hiroshima with the today's Hiroshima in all of its modern electric magnificence, in full glorious color and glory. Google “Hiroshima and Detroit after 65 years” or go to http://antioligarch.wordpress.com/20...5-years-later/.
            But the authors of these sites go one step further. They document the present glory of a modern, vibrant Hiroshima with the present hardscrable, abandoned, destitute burned out hulk that is today’s Detroit. Apartment buildings with empty eye sockets for windows that once kept out the cold. A grand Municipal Building, or is it a train station, with marble Doric columns framing stories tall windows shattered as if by the siege of Stalingrad. Roofs crazily sagging on burned out frame houses that were once homes. And a shuttered empty Tiger Stadium sporting an ironic “welcome” sign. Welcome to whom or to what, one asks?
          I am not about to lay blame at anyone’s feet for the dire straits of our cities. I will let others far more competent than I to administer to this task. I will not offer an opion on the viability of the proposed new arms control treaty except to note that it could, just possibly could, prevent another Hiroshima. I merely suggest that we should take our cue from our Japanese friends, our former enemies, and do something about Detroit, once my amour, so that it doesn't remain yesterday's Hiroshima. After all, we won that war, didn't we?          
   






2 comments:

  1. This isn't about anything except your mention of ANITA TULLY. :-)
    I have to believe you were tongue-in-cheek about the "lusting" part, for more reasons than one!
    BTW: Sounds like you were a few years ahead of me. She was my 6th grade teacher in 1960-61.

    (How I found this: via google search about HER!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don’t bookmark sites but i will bookmark this! LOL!

    online pharmacy

    ReplyDelete