Politics & Policy

Candid Camera, and Gamera

Monster movies and the fate of ANWR.

For my generation, at least in New York and other spots on the East Coast, there are really only two kinds of men: Dudes whose eyes light up when you say The 4:30 Movie and guys whose foreheads crinkle from lack of recognition, or lack of respect, when you say The 4:30 Movie.

Home of Godzilla, Mothra, and even that flying turtle who could fly by shooting flames out of his leg holes while spinning around and around, The 4:30 Movie was the cathode-ray babysitter for a cohort of teen and preteen kids who just couldn’t bring themselves to start their homework while the sun was still up — or, in my case, to start their homework at all.

(For the record, yes, I know that the turtle’s name was Gamera, and that in fact he wasn’t a colleague of Godzilla at all. In fact he never appeared in any Godzilla, i.e. Toho Productions, films period.)

Some of the movies on The 4:30 Movie were just plain awful, such as Squirm, a film about flesh-eating earthworms that was so bad I’d actually prefer to do my homework than watch it (more than once). But then there were some movies for which I’d gladly risk ignoring my academic career, to the point where I’d condemn myself to Apex Tech — where you get a free set of maintenance tools when you graduate.

And one of those movies was Planet of the Apes. Which is why I was so determined to see the remake of the film, which opens this weekend. Indeed, despite a crushing workload, I invoked editor’s prerogative and claimed first dibs at reviewing it. Which is why if you click here you can read my review for NRO Weekend, the best arts and culture site around seven days a week.

Anyway, for those of you not screaming, “SHOW ME THE MONKEY!!!!”: You can stick around for a very special Goldberg File.

The Shutterbug

Because I have to give a speech to the Young America’s Foundation this afternoon on — guess what? — libertarians and conservatives, which I haven’t prepared for (look for rebroadcast on C-SPAN, but don’t ask me when), and since I’ve written about 9,000 words for NR and NRO this week (including that must-read Planet of the Apes review mentioned above), I thought I’d do something a little different. Since my cover story on ANWR — and related columns — came out, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail from people. I will get around to the critics elsewhere and later because I don’t have the time here and now. But I will respond to one request. A number of people have mentioned that they’d love to see pictures of what the real ANWR looks like. Some people are especially distressed by the pictures in the latest issue of National Geographic that apparently show beautiful mountain vistas and the like.

Well, those pictures are accurate, I’m sure, even though I haven’t seen them. They’re just not pictures of the sliver of ANWR where the drilling would be. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures while I was up there, and the ones I took weren’t intended for publication so much as for visual note taking.

Still, I do have a few shots that will give you a sense of what it looks like up there on the coastal plain. They are of mediocre quality — taken from the cockpit of a small, very jerky plane — so don’t give me grief about how I’m no Ansel Adams or how I’m being unfair by showing crappy pictures of what Joe Lieberman calls “one of God’s most awesome creations.” Also, I don’t have time to check against my written notes, so some of these pictures may be of the Prudhoe Bay side of the Canning River, which forms the border of ANWR’s coastal plain. The important thing is that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the ANWR side and the Prudhoe side without checking my notes and a map.

So, this and this [133, 134] are pictures of one of the spots where the Canning River lets out into the Arctic Ocean. Just beyond it is ANWR. And this and this [144, 145] are pictures of what I believe is a typical oil-loading facility on what amounts to the coastal plain on the Prudhoe side of the Canning River. This [142] is a typical pipeline running over the tundra and so is this [143]. This [140] is what the coastal plain and most of the tundra in Prudhoe look like, complete with the puddles I described. And so is this [141]. And so is this [137]. There some places without the puddles, however [196].

Now, as for the mountains in ANWR: There are many beautiful mountain ranges in this South Carolina-sized wilderness. But the ones closest to the coastal plain are not covered in lush trees, as you might think from looking at the media coverage. This far north it’s too cold, dark, and bleak during the winter for trees to survive. So these mountains are impressive geologically, but — at least from what I saw — they look like barren, massive piles of gravel. For example: [169] [179] [171]. And some have really cool glacier-ice formations on them, like this [178]. But remember, these [180] are still very far from this [150].

I did see some caribou closer than this [150] but I didn’t snap any good pictures. As you can see [151], they are hanging out on the shore of the Arctic Ocean trying to escape the bugs. I like to call the one on the very far left-hand corner Arthur. Speaking of the Arctic Ocean, the ice never really goes away [152]. Here you can see the dividing line between what were two giant sheets of ice [154]. That line is not man-made in any way.

And finally, this is me [131] looking like a doofus in hardhat and goggles at the Alpine Oil installation. The reason I don’t look fatter is that standing against a large petroleum facility has a beneficial slimming effect, which is the real reason why I am favor of opening up ANWR. I do not pretend that you couldn’t take prettier pictures up close on the tundra where the drilling might be, but that’s not why I was there. And, besides, you couldn’t take pictures of beautiful mountains where the drilling would be because, well, there are no mountains of any kind where the drilling would be.

Anyway, I’ve got more pictures, but that should do the trick. Besides, this didn’t save me any time anyway. I’ll just have to wing the speech.


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