Man, it’s like there was some kind of conspiracy to troll the over-energetic part of my brain that is responsible for nostalgia last week.
First, Alexander Zaitchik wrote for Salon about how close we may have come to nuclear war in 1983, and how that, along with The Day After, freaked out some of us Gen Xers with nightmares about the nuclear apocalypse. Then Sunday’s American Top 40 was from ’83. And you know how AT40’s mess with my head.
Seriously, people. Stop getting inside my mind.
I’m going to spare you the 3000 words I could easily write about 1983 and just link to the Salon article. But know that I’m doing it with “PYT,” “The Safety Dance,” and “Puttin’ On The Ritz” playing on an endless loop in my head.
By definition, autumn forebodes a coming darkness. Death’s answer to spring, a poet called it. The emotional link between autumn and nuclear fear was forged for the previous generation during the Septembers and Octobers of 1961 and 1962, when back-to-back crises in Berlin and Cuba nearly trip-wired WWIII. Our nuclear autumn was condensed into those three months in 1983, covering a host of landmark Cold War events now at their 30th anniversary mark. If our generations still think about nuclear war, we likely share the expectation that nuclear crisis and war, should it come, will occur during the months of September, October and November.
Inescapable, apocalyptic dread: The terrifying nuclear autumn of 1983