You can help support the podcast on Patreon!
If you’d like to give the podcast some help, I’ve set up a Patreon specifically for “Disaster Area” so that you can throw a few bucks towards its production.
Also, any patron who donates $25 or more can request the subject of an upcoming episode. It can be either a real disaster like the ones featured so far on the podcast or an aspect of the disaster movie genre. But please understand that I do reserve the right to turn down disasters which don’t fit the scheme of the podcast. (For example, yes, I also think “Batman and Robin” was a disaster. I’m still not going to do an episode about it.)
Thanks for anyone who helps support the podcast.I appreciate the help. 🙂
Time for the fun stuff!
So last night I sat down, had a couple of hard root beers, and recorded the podcast’s first movie break. I decided to talk about “The Poseidon Adventure,” the book it was based on, the sequel, the remake, and the miniseries, not all of which were any good. “The Poseidon Adventure” is probably my favorite movie of all time, although I’ll admit it’s problematic and God knows it’s got its flaws. But it’s also the first of the ’70s disaster movies, and as a result arguably the first truly big disaster movie in the genre.
(Trigger warning for discussion of rape as a plot point in one part of the episode.)
This episode deals with the Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse which happened in Kansas City, MO, in 1981. On July 18, two walkways supported by 12 1-1/4-inch hanger rods gave way during a 1940s-style tea dance in the hotel’s atrium, killing 114 people and injuring hundreds more.
For this episode, I watched the original news footage as well as the skywalk collapse episodes of Minute by Minute and Seconds From Disaster, both of which can be found with a quick YouTube search if you’d like to watch them as well. There is also a book available through Amazon on the collapse called The Hyatt Regency Disaster : Behind The Front Page, which really seems to deal with the personal experiences of one reporter who arrived in the aftermath, so I will admit I didn’t make much use of it.
I also read the official report from the National Bureau of Standards investigation explaining the timeline and causes of the disaster. It’s a pretty dry read, and I’m not kidding when I say a lot of the time I’ve spent preparing the episode was working out the basics of Structural Engineering 101. But once you can wrap your head around the concepts and phrases used, what actually happened in the atrium that day is a lot easier to understand in detail.
The website for the skywalk memorial in Kansas City is located here, and they are accepting donations if you’d like to help out and support remembering those lost in the disaster.
My apologies for not keeping up with the posting too well since the start of the podcast, but I’ve been getting into the groove of the research needed to get the episodes just right.
The first three episodes are about the Hartford circus fire in 1944, the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, and the SS Eastland sinking in the Chicago River in 1915. I chose all three for different reasons. The Hartford circus fire is such an incongruous image — a joyful public gathering struck suddenly and swiftly by a tremendous tragedy. The Hillsborough disaster is one where the worst part might not even be the death of 96 innocent football fans, but the corruption and lies which followed to cover up the causes behind the disaster. And the SS Eastland disaster resulted in 844 picnickers dying in a shipwreck while the ship was still at the dock itself, within the heart of the city of Chicago.
The next episode will be about the Hyatt Regency skywalk collapse in 1981, so I’m currently doing a bit of a solo quick-and-dirty course in structural engineering. After that episode, we’ll be taking a break from the tragedy and sorrow of real disasters to discuss disaster movies, although I’m still undecided about which movie or aspect of the genre I’ll be touching on.
And please, if you like the podcast share it with your friends. I’m having a great time doing it and I’d love for lots of people to check it out. 🙂