A Jackson Browne Concert T-Shirt & Nuclear Power
On March 29, 1978, I saw Jackson Browne at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN. I was a sophomore in high school that spring, and in my town, it was cool to go to a concert in Memphis and cooler still to come back with a t-shirt. Standard dress on any given day at school would be a pair of Levi’s and, if you had one, a concert t-shirt. Wanting, of course, to be cool, I acquired this shirt:
If you look at the bottom of the shirt, you’ll see an oval with some writing inside it. When I wore my shirt (the pic is of a vintage shirt on sale at Ebay, mine’s long gone), the oval would have been right about where I would have tucked the shirt in my jeans. But I didn’t always tuck it in, so sometimes you might notice it. Here is what it said:
In 1978, I didn’t give a lot of thought to whether this was about nuclear weapons or nuclear power, or both. The little stamp was interesting and unique, but I really didn’t think that much about it one way or the other.
A partial meltdown of Unit 2 at Three Mile Island happened on March 28, 1979, one day short of a year after I bought this t-shirt. The China Syndrome was released in 1979, about two weeks before the Three Mile Island incident, in one of the strangest coincidences in film-making history. As we all know, Chernobyl came later. It was 1986, and that disaster was the worst nuclear power incident in history, at least up till now. 50 people died right away. Hundreds of thousands of people were resettled. There are estimates that as many as 4,000 deaths will result from that explosion.
The continuing disaster in Japan made me think about that old JB t-shirt. I tweeted about it over the weekend, and a Twitter friend from Arkansas responded. Our conversation led me to find pics of that old t-shirt and try to figure out what JB was up to back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. When I looked up the date of JB’s concert I attended (no, I don’t walk around with dates like that in my head), I saw that in 1979 he did several No Nukes benefit concerts. I have to admit that passed me by at the time. Thinking about other things, I suppose, like girls and beer. Interestingly, in November of 1980 JB played about 10 dates in Japan. Then back to the U.S., where all of his 1981 dates seem to have been benefits. One of them was the “Stop Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant” benefit at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. [Thanks to Simon Rowley and Russ Paris for their thorough complilation of JB concert information, by the way. Here’s the link to that.]
When I Googled the information in the t-shirt oval, it led me to something called The Abalone Alliance, which was opposed to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. Diablo Canyon was planned for San Luis Obispo County, California, in the late 70’s. Some of the internet information indicated that JB was arrested for trespassing at a demonstration aimed at stopping Diablo Canyon. Despite several protests and lots of negative public sentiment, Diablo Canyon was not stopped. It opened in 1985, and is designed to withstand a 7.5 earthqake. It is also designed to automatically shut down when sensors detect ground movement. No idea how that technology compares to the Japanese plants. Some internet sources indicate that a trade off was made with environmental types involving a board seat and a flight on Frank Sinatra’s plane with Danny Kaye providing entertainment to get the Diablo Canyon plant approved. No idea if any of that happened, but Diablo Canyon is still open. After the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Federal regulators advised that the plant was running normally. As you probably know, Diablo Canyon is situated on the eastern side of the “Ring Of Fire” that we have heard so much about the past few days.
In Lonesome Dove, after telling Newt that Woodrow Call is his father, Gus McCrae added something like this: There’s the information. I don’t know what you can do with it, but there it is. Ditto on the preceding information.
[Some disclosure here: I now live about an hour’s drive from Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant, which is on the Mississippi river. I’m pretty sure I use power every day that comes from that plant or is available because that plant exists. My personal opinion, at least up to now, has been that we need safe nuclear power in order to meet our future energy needs. No need to point out the potential for an oxymoron in that last sentence, I get it.]
You can follow Mando Lines on Twitter @mando_lines. My friend from Arkansas who prompted this blog post by her responses to my tweet is @mshavoc.