Sunday, January 22, 2006

Major Bang and the Radioactive Boy Scout

Today's New York Sunday Times gives good review to a new Off Broadway production that manages to combine two of my favorite elements of the Technology Underground: Nuclear Armageddon and The Radioactive Boy Scout.

The Foundry Theater in Brooklyn, New York presents a new play called Major Bang, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Dirty Bomb: The website provides this capsule review:

Part suspense thriller, part magic act, part instructional seminar, MAJOR BANG is a dark and comic take on our new era of global (in)security. Sprung from the contents of a backpack left on the subway, the piece samples Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and the true story of David Hahn, a boy scout who built a nuclear reactor in his parents' garage to earn his Atomic Energy Badge. Add in the boy's over-caffeinated father, a seductive food irradiation executive, a deranged scoutmaster – Major Bang himself, scenes from The Bodyguard, and a cameo appearance by Lenny Bruce, back from the dead to discuss the war on terror. All are performed by a magician and a DJ, who in turn are performed by Steve Cuiffo and Maggie Hoffman. The result is a 75-minute ride through 21st century concepts of fear – both real and manufactured.

While filmed renditions of nuclear holocausts have been well explored previously in this blog, the Radioactive Boy Scout may need some explanation. Ken Silverman, a writer now working for the LA Times wrote a book called the Radioactive Boyscout. It's about the aforementioned David Hahn, a Michigan teenager who built very hot and very dangerous nuclear device in his backyard by accumulating a bunch of radioactive material from stuff like smoke detectors (americium) and lantern (thorium) mantles. Weird but fascinating story and very much worth reading.

For more on home made atomic energy gear, see
the earlier post about Fred Neill and others, who built far safer and more mainstream homemade atomic energy projects. Neill evidently was a technical consultant on a movie that was made about the Radioactive Boyscout.

Relevant past posts:
Hollywood Armageddon
Pinnacle NucFlash
Home Brewed Basement Isotopes

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