Sunday, September 22, 2013


 Watched World War Z a couple of nights ago.  I'm not a zombie aficionado, but the film got me wondering about why there's such a resurgence of interest in zombies.

Here's an excellent article that considers the Meaning of Zombies.

I think there's something in the air these days, maybe as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, plus 9/11 that puts the Apocalypse on our psychic radar more prominently than any time I remember since the Cuban missile crisis.

Back then my father built a bomb shelter in our basement.  I grew up in a small Kentucky town less than twenty miles from Ft. Campbell where the 101st Airborne is based.  So we considered ourselves to be a target, at least within the blast zone of the approaching atomic war.

Duck and Cover

I remember the sense of dread I felt for years about that bomb shelter in our basement.  The dread was not about nuclear winter or the destruction and death of the world as I knew it, but I dreaded sitting in a small room for any great length of time with my mother.  Yikes.

What would we talk about during those long hours as we ate canned peaches and beans?  What about the toilet?

When the Cuban missile crisis ended, the bomb shelter was not dismantled.  My father left it in place, only a few feet away from where I'd created a small space to work on building my customized model cars.  I specialized in building 32 Ford hotrods.

In my model car workshop, I built many versions of this car, using pieces of corduroy fabric to imitate rolled and pleated upholstery, and sanded away all the door joints and added blowers and lake pipes to the engine and after doing many many layers of spray paint to imitate the candy apple reds that struck my hotrod fancy back then, I would take those beautiful plastic model cars way out into the backyard and put a cherry bomb inside them and blow them up.

Someone get that poor kid a shrink.

My writing room where I now work is also in a basement (for the half year I'm in Carolina), and I often think of that old basement in Kentucky where I created stuff with such care then destroyed it.

The fear of the Apocalypse that my generation felt was real.  Nuclear war was very possible.  And my parents had already witnessed the Great Depression and World War II and thus they were primed to believe that another End of the World scenario was a credible threat. 

So when I watch a zombie movie like World War Z, it's easy to get back in touch with all those fears, especially now that they are reawakened by a general sense of dread about climate change, terrorist attacks, financial disaster, cyber attacks, and a host of other dangers that seem all too likely to occur.

These days I try not to blow up the things I've worked so hard to create.  But when I think of that kid who lit the fuses of those cherry bombs, I can't help thinking that one thing he was trying to do back then was to keep those beautiful creations out of the hands of the zombies who were lurking just beyond the horizon.


1 comment:

SoulMate Charters said...

I too grew up on the edge of doom in Clearwater FL. We were close enough to McDill AFB to cause worry for my parents. We didn't have a bomb shelter. The neighbors did. I think my Dad was hoping they'd let us in when the time came. Thanks so much for shedding light on the zombie trend. Great observation.