WAR IS FAMILY
(Surviving the Cold War and the Unravelling of Imagined America)
Proposal for installation and music performance:
I was born a Texan. I was born into the Cold War. I was born the year Sputnik circled the earth and shattered the peace in my home. On his ham radio, my father listened in awe and horror to the beeps transmitted from the satellite in space, as it passed overhead. Our lives were to be transformed from that moment. The Russians were at our door, coming to kill us all! So, my father built a nuclear-hardened bomb shelter under our house. As the years progressed we waited, prepared and watched the news with Walter Cronkite. I remember well the nightly ritual at the dinner table, eating to the backdrop of newsreels from Vietnam on a small TV. Close-up shots of dying soldiers, while chewing beef-stroganoff with egg noodles.
(Excerpt of spoken storylines improvised in performance.)
In my neck-of-the-woods (Dallas area) there was a way to express the depth of a friend who was not related, We would say that this person 'is family'.
'War Is Family' speaks of an ever-present and constant war. The Cold War and Vietnam were rammed down our throats daily. War became the only 'family member' that survived. It was a media war that ripped us all apart, destroying my real family and dividing friends. Nuclear annihilation was not a fantasy. It hung over our heads from the moment we were born. We trained for it. We expected it. It colored our decisions. Nihilism pervaded our thinking because we did not expect to live to adulthood. We just were children and we were awash in propaganda.
I present only a story of one experience. Sonic paintings of that time. An expression of my fear and loss and maybe yours.
This assembly of stories, sounds, songs and visuals are the scenes that I remember most often when I think of this lonely time. I guess one could call this a grieving for an Imagined America that, as I get older, I see never existed, but in its wake, leaves a nation bewildered and a family in tatters.