Her name was Dorothy, and she had an extra ticket. Little did I know that Dorothy would lead me to a tornado that symbolized The End. Toto, I don’t think we were in Kansas… ever.
Dorothy had recently retired from UC Berkeley’s Chemistry department and was without a doubt a fan of Radiolab. She had grown up in Oakland and had been around for the end and revival of The Paramount*. She mentioned that when the doors of The Paramount were first reopened, there was still pop corn on the floor from its earlier close. We made smalltalk before the program began, hours before its inevitable end.
Then there was the beginning, with the host of Snap Judgment, a band, and the entrance of Jad and Robert with an MGM-like banner across a backdrop of three screens with a fancy cursive heading: “The End”.
Jad and Robert then proceeded to discuss what that meant for the dinosaurs and wove a fascinating, forensic, adjectival tale of the final hours of the dinosaurs (minus the ones that would become birds, of course), which took place some time between June and July some hundreds of millions of years ago, complete with animatronic dinosaurs, music, and explosive special effects.
They described the moment of impact, the vacuum that would have been created in the atmosphere, as the meteor on its tail end hurtled down towards Earth like a tornado, threw gaseous rock up out of the atmosphere, where it reformed as glass, returned to the Earth due to the planet’s gravitational pull, and now spread out across the planet to create the world’s most intense meteor shower, enough to heat the Earth’s surface to the point that all dinosaurs’ blood would have boiled across the planet within a matter of two hours.
I remained skeptical about the tale, particularly how anything would have survived (e.g., my great-great-great-great-…-grandmother), but then they explained how, and I suspended disbelief.
It was around this time that Jad and Robert needed to take a break, so they brought Reginald Watts to the stage, who entertained with his brand of comedy and music, thanking Disney, Nickelodeon, and NPR in a final song that had the audience laughing.
They returned to pull out the periodic table, whereby they discussed bismuth**, its criticality to producing a bottle of the pink stuff, and concluded the segment with a toast to what I imagine was actually strawberry milk, lest they suffer from nightly indigestion.
The program ended with a poignant tale of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame*** as it was performed by two actors suffering with Parkinson’s disease.
The night concluded with some music, not by Jim Morrison or The Doors, but by Mr. Watts and the Radiolab band.
It was the perfect button to the weekend.
* An impromptu improv performance at the Continental Club in West Oakland on Saturday was purportedly once an Oakland institution and featured Richard Pryor(‘s grandson) as well as Redd Foxx(‘s nephew). There were empty beer cans, perhaps remnants of its own apocalypse.
** At a monoscene practice this weekend, a hospital room contained a periodic table that highlighted the element bismuth.
*** Is this one even necessary?