July 31, 2009

ZED TO ZED: Living with the Living Dead

Zombies exist. They are not simply works of fiction. They are real people who have returned to life after death, and they could be your friends, family, coworkers or even neighbours. While they certainly exist, no one seems to agree on how to treat these people. In most books, people are encouraged to exterminate the living dead, supposedly because they are mindless cannibalistic monsters as we see in the movies I review. Yet, there is also new trend in books and films to portray the living dead as an unjustly oppressed minority. Books like S.G. Browne's Breathers and Daniel Water's Generation Dead encourage people to extend zombies a hand in friendship and call them by a kinder name: "the living impaired." But what is the truth? Are they brain hungry ghouls bent on the destruction of humanity or just a misunderstood "living impaired" minority?

To get to the truth, The Zed Word zombie blog invited two such undead persons to participate in an open dialogue about living life dead. Both men are undead, yet they have lively opinions and different perspectives on wh
at it means to be undead in the modern world.


The Real Zombie

My first guest goes by the user name "The Real Zombie". He's probably what most think of when we hear the word "zombie": uncompromisingly anti-social and flagrantly cannibalistic. He is also prone to using vulgar and graphic language, so sensitive readers are warned. But don't take it from me. Here's
The Real Zombie in his own words:

"What can I say I am a motherfucking ZOMBIE people. I eat humans and not just brains, I am NOT one of those Brain only eating bitches. I eat EVERYTHING and leave nothing. However with that being said I am a cool guy and like to have fun roaming Los Angeles and San Diego getting into adventures. If I meet you, pray that I like you. If I don't...pray that you are packing heat because I WILL Feast on your flesh..."

However, my second guest is a corpse of an entirely different colour.

Wayne Kotke

Wayne Kotke is the much beloved president, spokesman, and founder of Dead 2 Rights, an organization fighting for the rights of the living impaired. As well as being a consummate gentleman and musical talent, he is a frequent contributor of voice mails to the Mail Order Zombie podcast where he has made serious advancements for living and living-impaired listeners when he was voted "Voice of the Family" this year by fans of the show.
Since The Real Zombie has already had a chance to introduce himself, Wayne gets first crack at the initial question. Let's go Zed to Zed.

ZW: Wayne, how do you feel about being called a "zombie"?

Wayne Kotke: "While I personally do not like being called zombie, I realize that some people still use the "z-word" simply out of habit or tradition and may not be familiar with the term "living impaired" or LI. I'm trying to get the word out."

ZW: Now, The Real Zombie, you obviously don't shy away from the zed-word. However, what do you feel about the politically correct term "living impaired"?

The Real Zombie: "Hell No I don't mind being called a Zombie, that's what I am ....I mean that's what I am according to Movies and whatnot. As far as being called "Living Impaired"? That's total bullshit...my gramps is living impaired cause he shits his pants and has lost his driver's license cause he ran into the front window of a goddamn Arby's...I am NOT "living" in the sense that I pay taxes, mind laws and behave socially acceptable (because I do none of that)...so how does that work? I am dead; that's being impaired enough."

ZW: Fair enough. Now a question for both of you: what sort of challenges do you face as zombie citizens in the United States of America? Wayne?

Wayne Kotke: "I face a multitude of challenges, many of them having to do with the fact that I have virtually no legal rights. It's interesting that you use the word "citizen," since technically I am not one. Beyond the legal issues, there is a lot of anti-LI prejudice mainly due to the overwhelmingly negative portrayal of LI in movies, TV shows, etc."

The Real Zombie: "I don't consider myself a "citizen"..I am a fucking disease really. I mean I coexist here I suppose but you wont see me at PTA meetings or punching in my time card at a lame job.. My biggest challenge? Well,I eat people, so that's frowned upon so right off the bat I am screwed. And don't forget that I am constantly tracked by people claiming to be "zombie hunters" thinking that they are in some kind of fucking video game or something , wanting to shoot me in the head and shit. So yeah...those are some pretty big challenges right there....more so than losing one's car keys or getting the kiddo's off to school in time ...you know what I mean?"

ZW: Wow? A disease. That's a pretty strong image. I'm hearing two different things here about being undead, so I might as well address the elephant in the room. Is it true that the undead eat flesh and brains? Is this something we should be concerned about if our family or coworkers are undead?

Wayne Kotke: "While there is no nutritional reason for the LI to consume human flesh or organs, it is true that we do experience a strong and irrational urge to do so. Occasionally, the LI are known to give into this temptation, but the media's blown it all out of proportion. Should the living be concerned? A little, yes, but not to the extent you think."

The Real Zombie: "Yes indeed .. we do eat flesh and brains. Every zombie has their fav I think , like me for instance...give me a juicy arm or leg and I am good to go...brains are good too but the texture is hard to get used to. Only Zombies whose teeth are all rotted out eat nothing but brains (like my gramps eating jello cause he cant chew solid food) poor fucks still have to crack the skull though and they struggle at times. Anyone who thinks a zombie eats ONLY brains is full of shit...a pack of zombies can make a human disappear faster than an oreo cookie at a weightwatchers meeting. If your family or coworkers become a zombie? fuck yeah you'd better be concerned. Dont piss them off. If I like someone..I generally will not view them as "lunch" however...I am a zombie, so if you see me staring at you with "that look"....probably a good idea to leave the room."

ZW: Wayne, it certainly sounds like The Real Zombie stands against much of what you believe.

The Real Zombie: "I have no beef with Wayne..he is what he is...and I am who I am Really...he thinks of himself as "living Impaired" I disagree. The bottom line is that a zombie is a fucking dead person walking the earth trying to survive. Some are more willing to try and blend in and some just throw shit IN the blender and have fun seeing what it spits out and that's ME. I like what George A. Romero said: 'I always thought of the zombies as being about revolution, one generation consuming the next.' The Real Zombie IS that revolution."

ZW: Is it just me, or are things getting tense? Let's move on to a new topic. Perhaps you two will have more in common if we speak about your conditions. For example, one of my readers, Apocalypse Dan, wants to know if you can run, and what keeps your soft tissues from completely decaying?

Wayne Kotke: "The LI can run, theoretically. I don't run often, simply because I was never much of a runner. It's all a matter of personal choice. But we don't dart around like sugar-crazed toddlers the way you see in some recent movies. By the way, I preserve myself through a variety of salves, balms, and ointments. You should see my medicine chest. It's crowded, to say the least."

The Real Zombie: "Ok...here's the deal bro...I cannot run at full speed because I am dead and my muscles and soft tissues are indeed decaying which make it hard to chase people (hot girls in heels are easy though), Or run from the Five-0. But we do have motor functions and you'd be surprised how quick we can be. Stealth is a zombie's best friend ...the sneakier the better. These people that think we walk with our arms out groaning and dragging a leg? Those are the people who get eaten the most ...fucking dumbasses."

ZW: Speaking of dumbasses, most of the world is suffering from an economic recession thanks to some boneheaded moves on Wall Street. Does being undead give you any advantages for coping with the current economic downturn?

Wayne Kotke: "Yes, we LI are actually thriving in the recession, though for sort of a bad reason. As non-citizens, we are completely off-the-books. We're paid in cash, no bennies whatsoever, and make much less than a living person would for comparable work. In other words, we're cheap labor. Outsourcing to India seems like a luxurious extravagance compared to outsourcing to the Living Impaired. We're taking over the call centers, I tell ya."

The Real Zombie: "Most of us live in the streets...lurk in the shadows. We scrounge for food...we get by however we can. Which is like most of the population..haha. Seriously though...I think so, I mean a Zombie does not live by the same standards obviously. We aren't freaking out because we cant send the kids to private schools , make the Escalade payment and pay for the wife's Plastic surgery. Fuck those people....and the crazy thing is? They are blowing their brains out as a last resort and killing their entire family...its sad because that's a total waste of brains and food. If economic times got ya down...I will eat ya...I PROMISE."

ZW: Wow. You know, I really had hoped this discussion would help us create some kind of consensus about what it means to be a zomb-- I mean "living impaired." Perhaps we can look to newly elected President Barack Obama for guidance. He's known for being something of a uniter, not a divider. So, now that President Obama was elected to the White House on a platform of hope and change, do you think the Obama administration will make an positive changes for your people?

Wayne Kotke: "I hope the Obama administration takes an enlightened view towards the Living Impaired, but I'm skeptical. I carefully examined one of those 'Yes We Can' posters and found that if you zoom in really close, it says in really small type: 'Except for Zombies' "

The Real Zombie: "Obama doesn't give a fuck about Zombies and that's fine with me...he's got enough problems with this country and frankly I don't wanna be in the public spotlight. I was at COMICON the other day though and saw this badass comic about how the U.S. Govt used Zombies as a weapon...they put them in cannisters and air dropped them in the Middle East to "eradicate" the enemy...that shit is cool and I think Obama should consider it honestly..I'd be down for that...plus , I LOVE Middle Eastern food."

And that's all the time we have for today. Unfortunately, I think that this first edition of Zed to Zed probably raised more questions about what it means to be undead in the modern world than it answered. That just means we'll have to have both Wayne Kotke and The Real Zombie back for another round. Many thanks to Wayne and "RZ" for donating their time.

If you'd like to know more about Mr. Wayne Kotke, he can be reached
by e-mail at waynekotke AT hotmail.com and can be found on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/WayneKotke.

Likewise, if you want to get in touch with The Real Zombie he's also on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/TheReal_ZoMbiE as well as on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/475538791

Got a question for my guests? If you're hungry for further installments of ZED TO ZED and have questions for our guests, e-mail me your questions at zedwordblog@gmail.com.