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end of the world, in four parts

End of the world, in four parts

Driving along the Meadowbrook Parkway, there are signs that read Coastal Evacuation Route. Except I don't see those words. I read the sign as, Hey, head this way if Long Island is suddenly being deluged by a tidal wave. But I have to tell you, traffic is hell. You may as well stay home and drown in the comfort of your own bed.

After I passed one of those signs yesterday, I got to thinking about tidal waves. Suppose they (they being any enemy of the state) dropped a bomb in the Atlantic Ocean, just for the sake of totally fucking with us. Tidal waves and earthquakes ensue. I live four miles from the ocean. I'm pretty much fucked in this scenario.

Even if there was some warning, a general announcement like you have one hour to get the hell out of the way, I doubt I would go anywhere. Like the imaginary sign in my head says, I would much rather die in my own home, clinging to my loved ones, than drown while sitting in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, trying to get off the island. Or maybe I would head over to the Marriott Hotel, check into a room on the top floor, and hope for the best. I already sat in flood waters on the Long Island Expressway once, when I was about 14. We saw a coffin drift out of a hearse. I'll pass on having that experience again.


Check out Noah's Flood, by William Ryan and Walter Pittman for the really monstrous flood when the Mediterranean cut an opening into the Black Sea.

I have yet to evacuate for hurricanes. (I live near New Orleans.)

Let Natalie read some good Cold War apocalyptic novels, such as Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank and On the Beach by Nevil Shute, or perhaps (for bio-terrorism) White Plague by Frank Herbert or No Blade of Grass by John Christopher.

You've reminded me of that bit in Independance Day where the traffic is backed up in the tunnel and it gets fireballed.... and I was thinking, man, thoe poor fuckers in those cars.

For some reason, I've had a fear of tidal waves from when I was a child, perhaps because we lived a block from Lake Michigan in suburban Chicago. I still occasionally have dreams of imminent tidal waves and, well, I guess more or less being unable to get myself to evacuate. Hell, I can't even get myself to leave whatever beach I'm on in the dream. So maybe I'm like you, Michele - unwilling to leave, and I just never knew it.

I used to have this utter hatred for sci-fi because my mom used to order these sci-fi for kids anthologies from Scholastic, and every single goddamn story ended really negatively. Stuff like the last kid on Mars didn't want to leave his home, so he sneaks off of the evacuation shuttle and finds his favourite spot to sit while the air leaks slowly out of the dome. That sort of thing. And that seems to have pervaded a lot of my thoughts and attitudes--I can't stand reading all the doomsday stuff. I feel lucky to have grown up when I did--Adam's mom was telling us what it was like living in the middle of the Cold War with everyone making bomb shelters and storing food away and whatnot. I don't know if I could deal with the paranoia. I'm already terribly paranoid, and sometimes I'd really rather just not think about these things at all. It makes me nihilistic.

On the other hand, I've had a lot of really cool dreams about living in a post-apocalyptic society. All that sci-fi did go to my head.

I always worried about nuclear war when I was a kid because of some twilight zone episode I saw when I was like 10. Now living on Long Island (and living on the water until March) I worry more about Hurricanes. I was in Miami (U of M)in '92 for Hurricane Andrew and saw first hand what a very powerful hurricane did to concrete buildings built under (even then) the strictest building codes in the country. Then I look at all the little matchstick wood buildings on LI and think a hurricane 1/2 as powerful (CAT 2-3) would dessimate us (coincidentally, I studied architecture and structural engineering in college). Sweet dreams next time one creeps up the coast.

We have a billboard sign on 95N in Seabrook, NH that simply states: Seabrook Nuclear Zone - NO EVACUATION POSSIBLE.

Makes you feel all bright and cheery while waiting in beach traffic on a summer day.

Seabrook sounds like a really fun place!


Some say a comet will fall from the sky
Followed by meteor showers and tidal waves
Followed by faultlines that cannot sit still
Followed by millions of dumbfounded dipshits

Some say the end is near
Some say we'll see armageddon soon
I certainly hope we will 'cause
I sure could use a vacation from this
Silly shit, stupid shit...
--Tool, "Aenima"

Long about 1983 or so we had a major tsunami alert; problem is, the only E-W routes on the island are all within 2 miles of the ocean. Traffic forever, and it was a false alarm. We made up for it 8 years later with a major hurricane (mostly Kauai, but parts of Oahu got hit too). One learns to be fatalistic about weather out here.