The Null Device


Following up on the Chernobyl photojournal, here is another similar record, this time by a woman who returned to the apartment in the dead city of Pripyat she was evacuated from, some 14 years later. The photographs of new buildings, overgrown with long grass and young trees, are eerie.

And the most recent Viridian note is about the Chernobyl "zone of alienation" involuntary park, a growing destination for extreme tourists, with its silences, fresh air and abundance of rare (and radioactive) wildlife:

About a quarter of the cesium and strontium have already decayed, and 95% of the remaining radioactive molecules are no longer in fallout that can get on or inside a visitor, but have sunk to a depth of about five inches in the soil. From there, they have insinuated themselves into the food chain, making the zone's diverse and abundant flora and fauna radioactive indeed. An antler shed recently by one Chernobyl elk was stuffed with so much strontium that it cannot be allowed out of the zone. But three Przewalski foals born in the wild, while radioactive, have grown to adolescence with no visible effects. Such radioactivity now has receded to the background. On an average day, a visitor might receive an extra radiation dose about equivalent to taking a two-hour plane trip, zone officials say.
Today, villages are slowly succumbing to encroaching forests. In the abandoned town of Pripyat, less than two miles from the nuclear reactor, empty black windows stare blindly from high-rise buildings at kindergartens littered with heartbreakingly small gas masks. It may seem like an odd place for a rewarding tourism experience. But nowhere else can a visitor stand amid a herd of wild Przewalski horses like a character in Jean Auel's Ice Age novels, or watch a pair of rare white-tailed eagles circling above the ghostly high-rises of Pripyat, a moving monument to the devastating effects of technology gone awry, and nature's near miraculous resilience and recovery.

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Hip-hop is going adult (not to be confused with adult-contemporary), with rappers releasing porn videos, usually starring themselves as masters of ceremonies rather than actors.

Meanwhile, a LA Times article excerpted here on FmH asserts that the reason why the superlatively bland "jazz" singer Norah Jones is so popular is as a reaction against the domination of the charts by hip-hop. (It appears that there's nothing more safe and comforting than the bourgeois, ossified, whitebread contemporary form of what was once regarded as a scary and dangerous (and very black) musical genre; remember the infamous scare quotes from 1930s marijuana prohibition hearings linking the evil weed with "Satanic" jazz music and interracial sex?)

Which all ties in with Ben Butler's assertion that classical traning and codification are killing rock, as they did jazz, using the example of George being the worst band in Australia as a Terrible Example.

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