A Sign of the Times: Ten Reasons to Envy the Undead.

Zombies are overwhelming your metropolis. No, no, not politicians and bankers.

Real live (dead) zombies!

Zombie one

Ok, not as spooky as politicians or bankers (especially the central banking types), but you get the picture.

Someone I admire, he’s like a Socrates for our times,suggests that zombies represent a world of pervasive loneliness. I love this man to death but I sat there puzzled, thinking:  I still don’t comprehend the zombie loneliness theory as they do tend to stagger together in groups. In the blockbuster TV show “The Walking Dead,” the living “living” coins this behavior as “herding.” The living dead herd. Who knew. That’s a form of bonding, no?

Good enough reasons to keep your doors locked, people!

Not that locked doors work for long. After all, a mere few zombies can turn over cars; bolted doors and flimsy plywood nailed over windows buys you just enough time to say goodbye to loved ones. Let’s face it: Sooner or later you’re a food source. I was told that by a senior-level executive at one of those big box home improvement stores that most plywood is now exported from China. Chinese plywood = balsa wood? I don’t trust it.

zombies and windows

Zombies are so white hot-popular right now; these decaying, staggering masses or the dead­est of “us,” easily steal attention away from the likes of a Kim Kardashian or the pinkish-hue of a Lindsay Lohan. I could be a bit off base about Lindsay. Her antics can easily draw attention away from zombies depending on the severity of the wardrobe misfire or an occasional sexy bikini wedgie (thank you, TMZ).

The living dead have risen in prominence. And this time the uprising could be permanent.  For decades their popularity has ebbed and flowed yet their presence has never truly decayed. Now they’re everywhere you turn. It’s the zombie time to shine!

I’ll occasionally catch myself darting an eye over my left shoulder when in a public place because I’ve grown downright zombie paranoid. In this economy, I should be more concerned about the living seeking to steal my wallet but since I believe a zombie apocalypse is now imminent, I continue to be increasingly living-dead aware.

I’ll list the rationale behind my deep-seated zombie fever and why I so envy them:

Random Thoughts:

1). They don’t fret over making ends meet.  As a matter of fact, their ends are sort of decomposing, falling apart. Zombies don’t fret to pay the cable bills, meet mortgage payments or deal with brain-rotting college tuition costs. The days of anguish over the daily money monkeyshines of the living are gone! Surviving takes on a totally different perspective. How I relish those with reckless abandon who can just chase and bite, stagger and gnash like rabid animals.

The Federal Government has even been known to send dead people unemployment and social security checks but they have no need to cash them. I’m jealous. The very mortal coils of everyday fiscal obligations are broken. We are envious of the financial freedom. Who wouldn’t be?

2). There’s a thrilling bon vivant nature about the undead I admire. Zombies are brazenly wasteful and they just don’t care!  Again, I’m envious.  If the living dead are so hungry why do they take no more than two bites of prey and move on? It’s not like there’s endless supply of warm bodies to nosh on. Humans don’t grow on trees.  Has anyone seen what’s happening to global demographics? We’re all aging. It’s only a matter of time before there are more living dead than living.

The undead must do better with food handling. What about all the starving zombies in China? Even when they decide to dig hard and tear deep through a victim, zombies don’t appear to be eating. Looks like they’re playing with their food (in this case elbow-deep in intestines, organs and other nondescript red slimy entrails). If I played with my food with such passion as a kid, I would have been in enormous trouble.

Again I reference the best cable show out there – In the AMC hit television series “The Walking Dead,” a believable explanation for the genesis of said program title emerges. At least it allays some of my frustrations over the deliberate waste of the fresh, walking food supply.

In the Season One finale “TS-19,” the sole remaining doctor at the Center for Disease Control (gingerly insane yet very sage from a lethal combination of: Isolation under­ground for an extended period, shooting his wife, test-subject 19, in the head once-her usefulness as an infected under observation concludes, and conceding to the awful truth that there is no cure for the afflicted,) outlines findings I find plausible.

Doc Jenner explains:

The disease invades the brain like meningitis (OK – I heard that’s bad).

The brain stem is restarted. Gets them up and moving (makes sense to me).

Most of the brain is dark: Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal lobe, the “you,” the human part is gone (it does appear that way).  

TWD writers are so damn smart.

I have concluded (I think), animated dead folk are indeed ravenous. They just don’t possess the human or humanity (what’s left is a tiny spark of light at the base of the brain) to make the most of preserving the food source.

I’m cutting the dead some slack. Although I’m sure if they cornered me I wouldn’t be shown mercy. My physical trainer says I’m very “fatty,” so my succulence would be too much for all those walking brain stems.

Zombie two

Dr. Steven Schlozman, a psychiatrist, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and author of the book “The Zombie Autopsies,” would agree with Dr. Jenner’s conclusions and sizes up zombie appetites in a further professional manner perhaps because he never lost a loved one to a zombie nibble:

“The ventromedial hypothalamus (in the brain), which tells humans whether they’ve had enough to eat, is likely to be on the fritz in zombies, who have an insatiable appetite.” 

It’s clear to me now.

3). Zombies don’t require exercise and it’s inevitable they’re going to lose weight without much effort. I so hate them for this. As a matter of fact, even though Hollywood never seems to get it, if survivors can survive long enough, hunker down, the dead are literally going to rot. It’s not like they’re embalmed. Well I guess some are – I’m sure, even preserved, staggering corpses ostensibly succumb to harsh weather elements.

I sort of admire how “walkers” (what zombies are called in “The Walking Dead,”) can be wasteful (and eat whomever they want) without any repercussions. Damn them. Damn them all even more than they’re already damned.

Give it time: The weight loss will be deadly. Zombies should be dragging around close to the ground like clumps of fermenting flesh if you’re patient and resourceful enough to stay alive. Then go ahead. Leave your hiding place, brazenly walk up and do a step and squash on what’s left of a head. Simple. My boots are ready! Although stomping on zombie cranium “feels” too much like exercise to me.

And what about those quick sort of disturbing athletic zombies in movie director Zack Snyder’s respectable remake of “Dawn of The Dead?”  I stubbornly refuse to relent to running zombies. These primal hollows of our living selves just cannot (should not) sprint.

From Doc Schlozman’s book “The Zombie Autopsies,” the wisdom flows freely like blood from a gaping bite wound:

“Slower degenerative processes in the cerebellum explain the initially intact gait of the infected, even though they all become increasingly unbalanced with time. That’s why they hold their arms out in front of their bodies: for balance and increased coordination. They just want to remain upright, on their feet. But the process continues, the cerebellum degrades, liquefies. Virtually all late-stage ANSD humanoids ambulate via crawling.” 

AH-HA! See? Running zombies are an abomination! Listen up movie-makers!

I prefer my zombies slow, staggering and overwhelmingly off kilter. Like me on a Friday night. Hey, call me a purist. AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” gets it right. Again!!

FYI – ANSD stands for: Ataxie Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome. The internationally accepted diagnostic term for zombiism. Thanks again Dr. S. Feel free to steal this for your next cocktail party. 

running zombies

4). Zombies don’t seek to bathe. And the living don’t seem to care! C’mon – Zombies should stink to high heaven. So, why don’t victims smell them coming from at least half a mile away? I once went an entire week without bathing in 1989. That’s after parent-basement sex with two women, eating several boxes of Entenmann’s orange-swirled icing and chocolate Hal­loween cupcakes, ten Big Macs and washing it all down with large cups of coffee overwhelmed with  heavy cream. I recall plenty of female grimaces followed by waves of disgust. Good thing I barely left the house back then.

You rarely see disgusted looks on the faces of the living who meet up with the rotting side of us.

How many times have you heard the following lines in zombie flicks?

“I can’t handle the smell of these walking maggot bags.”

“My eyes are watering from the stench of these fuckers.”

“I’m going to vomit from the ungodly odors these dead things throw off.”

Not many.

Well, to give further credit (yet again) to the writers of “The Walking Dead,” there have been various references to puke, puking and zombie dead-body odor peppered throughout episodes. They’re passionate about authenticity unlike most who cater to us zombie zealots. I salute them.

5). Zombies don’t discriminate. They’re equal opportunity biters, infiltrate all races and cut a bloody swath across political lines. They gain greater attention when economic conditions deteriorate or improvement is anemic. Sure, they seem to pop up during times of social unrest. Since the last recession, the most severe in decades, zombies have been in a downright frenzy to take over the world.

6). The undead have been around longer than you have. I envy the staying power. Although, I don’t recall them as relevant and so overwhelmingly popular. And I’ve been keep­ing track of their ebb and flow since I first bug-eyed watched the groundbreaking black and white cult classic “Night of the Living Dead,” by zombie Master Movie Maker George A. Romero, on a yellow plastic thirteen inch black & white TV in 1973.

In 1968, the year “Night” was released, the Vietnam War was raging, civil rights protests were grabbing headlines and Martin Lu­ther King, Jr. was assassinated. It cost a grandiose $114,000 to make which even then for a movie was a pittance of a budget. It had grossed over $30 million worldwide.

Romero created a controversial stir by featuring a black man, unknown stage actor Duane Jones, as the brave and re­sourceful hero while most of the men in the cast were blowhard, wishy-washy or backwoods white folk.

Romero also played up the contemporary theme of government distrust as dead body brains are “activated” (allegedly) by radiation expelled from the explosion of a space satellite, the “Venus Probe.” Throughout the film, there are shots of military/government officials (actors) fleeing from television news cameras all the while denying the connection between the radiation and the returning dead who make a meal out of the living. For gosh sake I thought I saw Eric Holder running from a reporter.

The bitter irony of the movie is how Ben (Duane Jones) solely survives the night of ghoul attacks by locking himself in the basement of an abandoned farm house only to be shot in the head the next morning by a white member of a sheriff’s posse as he’s mistaken for one of the remaining zombies roaming the countryside.

I remember watching: Scared to death, frozen. Shocked. I recall muttering the words: “This really sucks.” I hated the ending but I understood the point Romero was trying to make. Well, I think I do. Back then I interpreted the messages through a warped mental pre-teen siphon. Actually, I still believe my interpretations hold up.

I wondered:

First, why even bother to survive a zombie hoard if you’re going to be shot in the head by your own people (the living kind) anyway? What a waste.

Second, make more noise and scream actual words like the living (not guttural grunts like the dead) if you see a posse out a window! Ben, Ben, Ben. You were too quiet. I understand you just went through hell and you’re bit dazed but if it’s me I’m screaming like a sissy living, defecating human who just soiled his Fruit of the Looms!

Third, based on the social turmoil of the 60’s, I think Romero sought to use the film to convey messages about the futility of the Vietnam War (conflict) and the tragic assassination of MLK, Jr.

In other words: Go ahead fight the good fight, be honorable, stick to your convictions, but understand there is still a great risk. The hero can indeed fail or die.

I hated how Romero sacrificed Ben at the end (I know I mentioned that, already).

Fourth, an interracial couple holed up in a farm house (even when the female is young, blonde and completely unresponsive) doesn’t mean sex is definitely gonna happen. Huh? Not when Ben is around!

I was wondering when he was going to rip off Barbara’s (played by a very blonde actress named Judith O’Dea), clothes but all he did was com­fort and protect her. Well, he did knock her out with a hit in the face but it was perfectly understandable. She was unhinged after watching her brother become zombie brunch.

Even after she clawed at her scarf  – “it’s hot in here, hot.” NOTHING. Ben, you helped me understand what being a gentleman really means. Can you imagine if Romero had Ben have his way with Bar­bara? Talk about controversy in 1968! Today, Ben would be in hot water for placing a slipper on a white woman. DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID? A MINORITY WITH A FOOT FETISH LIVES AMONG US. 

Ben and barbara Night

You sure do get to see the best (and worst) in people during times of disaster. THAT was the true message in Romero’s classic to me.

I still vividly remember the first time I watched “Night” on the ABC Satur­day evening late show. The idea of zombies was sort of goofy to me before then. I believe I watched Scooby Doo trip one up on morning television. To me they were clunky comedy relief. In black and white, late at night and thirsty for blood, zombies gained more of my respect. Scooby Doo was either brave or just a big dumb dog.

It was that dead woman at the top of the stairs. It was that devoured face. It was the eyeball staring, piercing me through an old rabbit-eared RCA television screen. My perception of zombies had changed. Forever. They haunted me from that moment. If I would have known how popular they were to become I would have given up on this money management business a long time ago. There was a fortune still yet to be made exploiting the undead.

night woman top of stairs

OK, enough of that. Next. 

7). These ghouls laugh at our complacency with money. Actually I believe it’s a gaping, black-mouthed sort of bloody drool they mock us with.  If they could, walkers would indeed chuckle at the jaw-dropping (and on occasion zombies are missing a jaw) willingness for many investors to remain with financial firms that don’t treat them as they deserve to be treated. Not enough communication, too much conflict of interest, high fees which eat up returns. I hear the complaints consistently and then inquire about or suggest a course of action.

All I receive is a zombie-like glazed over milky-white pupil stare. Fight the zombie of complacency!! Seek an objective, fee-based registered investment adviser. Check out the following blog entry from Clarityfinancial, LLC on the right questions to ask your current or prospective financial adviser.

How to Grill a Current or Prospective Financial Partner

Read more. Perfect segue to push my book, but I don’t want to appear self serving.  It’s too ghoulish. However, order Reformed Broker Josh Brown’s tome “Backstage Wall Street.” There’s lots of meat in this (for the living). Josh’s has a gift to communicate. His writing so sharp, the information delivered so lethal, it’ll slay the evilest of complacency corpses. Want the true story about what motivates your broker? Then..

Order Josh’s Book!

8). Zombies seem to get along just fine without technology.  It’s like when they die, then eventually rise again, they have a keen sense of where the next two-legged meal happens to be hiding. No GPS required. No Google Maps. I also like how the living dead don’t feel the pressure to create some retweetable bon mot along with clever hashtags for it – #holdinginmyliver #thatguytastedlikechicken #wheredidIleavemyseveredhand #birdnestineyesocket.

9).The ultimate revenge: Zombies may eventually be hired by large corporations.  The time is almost near. Employees of large publicly-traded organizations are burning out, dealing with lowest wage increases (if any) in decades in the face of some of the fattest profit margins in years. It’s all about the shareholders now. As a money manager I love it. As an employee I abhorred it.  So it’s only a matter of time before you as an employee are replaced by the living dead. Makes perfect sense. They won’t need to be paid,  just fed entrails.

No benefits, no vacations, no sick days. No more being pissed off over hiring workers in emerging and frontier markets as they no way could compete with a zombie workforce. Hey, you no longer need an HR department either (hell I don’t even know why they exist as they appear to be human and resourceful exclusively to the executive level).

In Romero’s classic “Dawn of The Dead,” the zany scientist was making progress  teaching “Bub” the zombie how to perform simple tasks. And that was over thirty years ago. Imagine the progress we would make with today’s technology. Stick ’em in a cubicle. When they desiccate, just scoop what’s left, discard. Replace. And no 401(k) rollovers to worry about either. Or pensions. Oh wait, what’s a “pension?” I’m thinking corporate R&D spending will be focused toward “Bub Projects.” Don’t laugh. You’re a bub away from replacement.

It’s all about the profits and share prices. You’re an expense to corporate America. Don’t think so? Read on:

Shareholder value is ruining America

10). Zombies compel me to examine the fate of the human condition. Why do they fascinate some of us? Do they represent how primal we can become?  Why did the first nude zombie turn me on? I’m just not intellectually gifted enough to interpret all this. Truth is I just want to enjoy being afraid.

nude butt night

Leave it to George Romero to feature living dead butt. In 1968. Not bad, right? Admit it.

Perhaps my smart friend was right. Maybe zombies do represent loneliness, our lost ability to communicate, the hunger for human warmth, the need to fortify when conditions feel out of control.

Or perhaps, we just plain like to be scared.

Don’t overthink.

Just go with it.

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