When I was younger, we had the Soviet Union to worry about. At any moment the USSR would send 50,000 tanks across the East German border and before you could say “Thank God for Ronald Reagan,” we would be at war. Nuclear war. Major cities would vanish under a field of mushroom clouds. We were all paranoid little snits in our 20s and would figured we had it coming. World War Three was just around the corner and our days were numbered. Man, let me tell you, those were the days.
Nothing like 8 years of Dubya Bush to make you long for nuclear holocaust. Of course, the main plan back then was to somehow survive the nukes and spend your days in a wicked super car, looking for drugs, food and hot Australian women with big hair to bang. It was a simpler time. We managed to hit young adulthood before sex and drugs could kill you, and while disco and Reagan sucked, there was something thrilling about somehow living in a post-apocalyptic world. And if you didn’t survive, well, you were most likely reduced to atoms in the first strike or maybe, if really lucky, a shadow of you existed on some shattered wall.
Somewhere along the way, I managed to survive the 80’s along with the rest of the planet. Between then and now, I spent some time Way Down South in Dixie where the Apocalypse is serious business. People actively wait for the rapture to pop them like watermelon seeds out of this world and into the Kingdom of Heaven. The main goal once deep into the bosom of the Lord is watch all us sinners fry in a lake of ever lasting fire.
I think you get other channels on the huge flat screen TV, but Sinners in Torment is the number one show in Heaven. There’s never a long line at Disney, and the Olive Garden is open all the time, with endless bread sticks and drinks. Heaven, near as I can tell, is a Florida resort filled with retired couples from Ohio. Everybody is white and Republican and wears pastel colored polo shirts and comfortable plaid shorts.
And while I mock them, I do find myself also drawn to an apocalypse concept. While the Christian Right wants the world to end so they can see all the people who picked on them in high school suffer, I want the world to end so I can get out of work and paying rent. The goals aren’t really that far apart, if you think about it. Yeah, they’re both kind of petty, but my apocalypse is a lot more fun because it features zombies.
By zombies, I mean the ghouls of the George Romero movies. Not too fast, not too smart, but relentless and everywhere. I no longer think I’ll be a long time survivor in a world of zombies, but it would be cool to screw around like a total manic for a couple of days before being torn apart and eaten. But zombies would be an equal opportunity apocalypse. Rich and poor, fit and fat would all be part of the grand end of the human race. It’s a much more democratic doom than the rapture with it’s selective membership and limited seating. And since it’s not as fast as nuclear war, there should be some time for some general crazy merriment too. Maybe forced merriment, but what the hell – it’s the end of the world! And in the end, with the zombies, there is no winner, except maybe planet earth. And that’s not a bad exchange either, come to think of it.
Grant Schreiber writes a zine called Judas Goat Quarterly that not only predates the internet, but is also smarter than it. You can pick it up by consulting Quimby’s.