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Nuclear Summer

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I watched Oppenheimer this weekend and, as current movies aren't my beat, I'm not going to comment on the film itself, except to say that "Property is theft" is a Proudhon quote, not from Marx.

I felt a lot of things about the movie and, ultimately, left thinking about how depressed George Orwell was by the concept, creation and realization of the atomic bomb, another tool for the wealthiest of nations to wield in their brutal hegemony over human life. In a very real sense, the worldwide, record-setting heatwave we've been experiencing this July was created by the atomic blast in July of 1945 at the Trinity Test Site in New Mexico. Without that threat and power, American imperial capitalism, the jet engine of global climate change, might never have prevailed and accelerated with such speed and force. It's increasingly obvious collective action is the only way out of this mess, yet that monolithic institution stands tall against it. And even as the internal contradictions of that system corrode their foundations and give way to a multipolar world, the question hangs in the air as to whether America will give up its reigns quietly or use its world-ending arsenal in a global expression of the Freudian death drive that warms the heart of every conservative leader since Barry Goldwater. Orwell would probably bet on the mushroom clouds and, in my darkest moments, I'd agree.

However, some of our artists think otherwise. Orson Welles, one of the greatest American products of the 20th century and a native son of the Badger State, once noted about humans — and Americans in particular — on The Dick Cavett Show: "I think man is a crazy animal. I think we're also marvelous people, divine in our potentialities." Noting the applause, he continued, "You see there? You can say anything with passion and get a hand."

So, there's the yang to Orwell's yin, perhaps, regarding the public life of "the destroyer of worlds." For my part, I look at the problem as a peak crucible of humanity: We either overcome this bright, toxic, plastic Barbie World forced on us by the primed gun-barrel nukes of our national delusion, or we leave a lot of puzzling and irradiated kitsch artifacts across the glowing sands of a murdered world. There's probably a middle ground here, too, but it's likely comically insane, which oddly gives me the hope needed to keep chugging away at recording the nightlife in our own little sector.

Let's focus on that, for now.

Thursday

Humboldt Folklife continues in the fair town of Blue Lake and better people than myself have reported on the details. I'm here to suggest a free after-show at the Logger Bar at 9 p.m., where local carved burl sound dealers Strix Vega and Oaktop will be auctioning the jams for those lucky enough to have made it through all the many fine hurdles of the day.

Friday

Locate S,1 is the dance pop project of glammy chanteuse and songwriter Christina Schneider, whose work has been augmented by producer Kevin Barnes from campy supergroup Of Montreal. Her second album, Personalia, has delivered her and her musical cohorts to the Miniplex tonight at 9 p.m. This is the first of two fairly clutch shows at this venue this week, so stay tuned if you like to dance to exquisite sounds ($12).

Saturday

The Mattole Grange in Petrolia is hosting the 30-plus annual Roll on the Mattole Festival starting at high noon today. This fundraiser for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Department is full of local talent, including Makenu, Alex Kent, Horse Mountain Band, Checkered Past, SoHum Girls and Elderberry Rust String Band. Entrance is free for kids 12 and under with an adult, and the pricing for the rest of us is as follows: $30 for adults, $25 for students and $23 for seniors. It's up to y'all to work out where you land in that range.

Sunday

Did I just mention 2023 Fernstock alums the SoHum Girls? Well if you didn't go to south county, here's your shot at seeing them perform for free in Arcata, at the Arcata Mainstreet Summer Concert Series and Art Market on the plaza. Everything starts at 11 a.m., Humboldt time.

Monday

Sierra Martin and Roots Ascension is providing the musical accompaniment for a cacao ceremony at the newish Arcata venue The Thing this evening at 6 p.m. A $10-$20 sliding scale door price will unlock for you all of the esoteric meaning and hidden knowledge contained in my previous sentence, which was written from a position of profound ignorance only to be expected from the mind of the uninitiated.

Tuesday

All the way back in the late '90s, Colombian composer and guitarist Eblis Alvarez started a project called the Meridian Brothers that would eventually morph into the five-piece pop and tropicalia mini-orchestra that is filling the slot for the second super-cool-ass show at the Miniplex this week. The doors are open at 8 p.m. and I hear the advance tickets (at $25) are shifting, so be warned that day-of entry costs an extra $5.

Wednesday

OK, let's do another sci-fi night at the Arcata Theatre Lounge, not only in response to a dearth of live gigs, but also because this flick is so lo-fi and trashy, and I need that kind of energy to take me away from the brutality of Oppenheimer (which I might just see again and recommend a viewing to anyone else who hasn't yet broken their atomic cherry). This clunker is 1989's Arena, a campy space action precursor to Mortal Kombat, where different intergalactic species (portrayed in practical make-up that defined the era) duke it out for pugilistic supremacy. Earth's hero is named Steve Armstrong, for Pete's sake, and is portrayed by soap opera himbo Paul Satterfield. Show up at 6 p.m. for the pre-show and raffle, it's only $5 admission ($9 to walk away with a poster) to remind yourself how stupid and fun movies about vast human existential threats used to be.

Collin Yeo (he/him) will watch the Barbie movie when the stars fall from the sky and the moon has turned red. Or when it's on in the background at home, which is in Arcata.

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