Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun: Doug Gordon on the Zombeatles (Part Two)

Is there a connection to be drawn between the return of the Zombeatles and the publishing success of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Can we expect other “classics” to go Zombie when they are no longer a living part of our culture?

There most certainly is a connection to be drawn between the return of the Zombeatles and the publishing success of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. This is further evidence that the zombies are taking over. Zombies started by eating the stupid people first since they were the easiest to catch. As the stupid human food supply dwindled, zombies were forced to use more brainpower to hunt down the smart people. This “Smart People Diet” allowed the living dead to evolve in a Darwinian manner. Call it “natural selection” or perhaps “unnatural selection” would be more appropriate. Whatever you call it, it’s clear that zombies are on the verge of taking over and establishing their own zombie-centric society, complete with their own zombified version of arts, entertainment and popular culture (of which The Zombeatles and books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are an integral part).

Yes, as zombies continue to take over, we can expect more classics to go zombie when they are no longer a living part of our culture. For example, it won’t be too long before we such zombified classics as John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men And Zombies; Arthur Miller’s Undeath of A Salesman; Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Undead and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (Maybe He’s Been Waylaid by Zombies?).

And, of course, it goes without saying that Angus MacAbre (“Scotland’s Funniest Zombie Comedian”) is going to try to get his piece of the pie with his Monster Mashups for Zombies. This is the latest addition to Angus’ phenomenally successful line of “For Zombies” instructional books. The series launched in the early ’90s with three titles – Dummies For Zombies, Geniuses for Zombies, and Idiot Savants for Zombies. These books covered the best ways to eat dummies, geniuses and idiot savants and offered a wealth of information about the nutritional content of their respective brains.

Now Angus is extending the “For Zombies” brand with Monster Mashups for Zombies. It’s the perfect study aid for the zombie student. Monster Mashups for Zombies are “CliffsNotes” meet the “For Dummies series,” with a modern mashup twist because Angus has condensed not one, but two, classic works of literature into one flimsy book.

The debut title is On the Road to The Road, a literary mashup of Jack Kerouac’s slacker bible, On The Road,” and Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling, critically-acclaimed The Road. It’s the story of two young hipsters who hit the open road in search of kicks, only to be confronted by the post-apocalyptic downer of a father and son on a journey, while trying to

avoid cannibals and zombies. Okay, Angus has taken a bit of artistic licence by including zombies but, the way he sees it, it’s not that much of a stretch (“Zombies are just basically cannibals with really bad skin”). Angus maintains that his Monster Mashups for Zombies titles will offer an easy and entertaining form of “one-hour smartenizing” that will have students away from the books and back getting blotto with their slackass friends in no time.

The zombie apocalypse will even infect public radio. Before you know it, the airwaves will be filled with the intellectually nutritious sounds of NZR, National Zombie Radio. Popular NZR programs will include: A Scary Home Companion“with Garrison Karloff; This American Unlife with Ira Gass; and the wacky news quiz program, Wait, Wait…Don’t Eat My Brain. And, of course, there’ll be no avoiding the undeadpan, autobiographical humor of zombie humorist David Zedaris, author of such droll best-sellers as Me Form Coherent Sentence Later

This Afternoon and When You Are Engulfed In Zombies.

Other reporters have learned that the Zombeatles want to develop a transmedia

franchise. Can you share some of your plans for future extensions of the Zombeatles?

I certainly can. The Zombeatles will be part of an exciting entertainment extravaganza called “Zombiepalooza.” This postmodern vaudeville show will feature the Fab Gore performing their hits live and undead. It will also feature a screening of the film, The Zombeatles: All You Need Is Brains, and the undeadpan comedy stylings of Angus MacAbre (“Scotland’s Funniest Zombie Comedian”), the host of All You Need Is Brains.” People will be encouraged to come dressed as zombies and there will be interactive zombie prom and zombie fashion show elements. We’ve got a “Zombiepalooza” scheduled for Shank Hall in Milwaukee on Friday, July 10th. We’re also working on taking the “Zombiepalooza” to Chicago and other locations to be announced.

We’ve also got plans for a Broadway musical revue called Zombeatlemania (“Not the Zombeatles, But An Incredible Simulation”); Ice Station Zombie: The Zombeatles On Ice; and a zombie-oriented children’s TV/web series called Angus MacAbre’s House of Angst (It’s Dawn of the Dead meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse.)

Angus MacAbre is planning on teaming up with Morgan Super Size Me Spurlock to produce a documentary in which Angus will spend an entire month eating nobody but McDonald’s employees and customers. The working title is Would You Like Thighs With That?

There are also plans for books (The Consumer’s Guide to the Zomniverse by Angus MacAbre” and Angus MacAbre’s Zomnibus, among them), comic books and such video games as Rock Band: The Zombeatles and Angus MacAbre’s Radioactive Haggis.

We’re also planning to tap into the lucrative (and tender) youth market with a TV series called Alaska Nebraska. This show will focus on the wacky misadventures of an average zombie teen girl who lives a double life. By day, she’s a mild-mannered student but by night, she’s a famous zombie pop singer named Alaska Nebraska. We figure this can’t miss.

I hear you are contemplating a Zombie-owned and operated amusement park. Wouldn’t this just become a tourist trap?

No, the tourist trap is just a very small part of “Angus MacAbre’s MacAbreville.” MacAbre

describes MacAbreville as “a dark version of Disneyland, but without the cloying corporate namby-pambiness. MacAbre says that in this age of heightened anxiety and extreme sports, the public needs an extreme theme park, or an “ex-theme park” for short.

MacAbreville features several intriguing “lands,” such as “Hitchcockland” (“The suspensefulest place on Earth”). As the name indicates, Hitchcockland” features attractions and restaurants based on the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Visitors will line up for hours to experience “The Vertigo Bell Tower of Terror” and “The Birds: Voyage Across Bodega Bay.”

Another MacAbreville land is “Tarantinotown,” where a bloody, non-linear time is guaranteed for all. Based on the cinematic oeuvre of Quentin Tarantino, Tarantinotown will feature such popular eating spots as the Hawaiian fast-food joint “Big Kahuna Burger” and the 1950′s-themed “Jack Rabbit Slim’s.”

One of the most popular MacAbreville attractions is the rollicking intellectual thrill ride, “Baristas of the Caribbean.” What if Starbucks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz opened several Starbucks coffeehouses on the Caribbean island of Haiti, where legend has it that living people can be turned into zombies through two special powders entering into the bloodstream, usually through a wound? And what if the malevolent Starbucks Haiti District Manager, Tor McAllister, turned his baristas into zombies so that they’d be willing to work extra-long shifts for extra-less money? And what if these zombie baristas started eating their customers? Well, then you’d have one of MacAbreville’s most popular attractions, “Baristas of the Caribbean.” Enjoy this satirical, splash-filled boat ride! Laugh at the Animatronic-Audio Zombie Baristas as they chow down on their Animatronic-Audio customers (“That pompous businessman yelling into his cell phone really got his just desserts, didn’t he, Jessica?” “Actually, Gary, he just ended up as that barista’s dessert!”). All this murderous mirth and mayhem takes place to the jaunty strains of the attraction’s catchy worldbeat theme song – “Tall, Grande, Venti (A Barista’s Life for Me).” In a clever albeit inevitable cross-promotional move, MacAbre has ensured that the Baristas of the Caribbean CD soundtrack can be purchased at your neighborhood Starbucks.

What relationship exists between fans of Zombie music and the “Deadheads”?

As far as I can tell, there’s no relationship between fans of zombie music and “Deadheads” (Grateful Dead fans). However, “Undeadheads” (fans of legendary zombie jam band, The Ungrateful Undead) are a huge part of the zombie music scene. Many “Undeadheads” will travel to as many Ungrateful Undead shows as possible in as many different locations as possible (even such farflung locales as Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts and Transylvania). Many Undeadheads display a fanatical allegiance to the Undead; some go so far as to conduct entire conversations by quoting from such classic Undead songs as “Dire Werewolf” and “A Touch of Grey Matter.”

Theodor Adorno and others from the Frankfurt School warned us decades ago that

the repetition of basic formulas in popular music would numb the audience, making them brainless followers of the culture industries. Is this how Zombie music was born? Or might we see Zombie music as simply the latest in a series of resistant subcultural communities who have asserted their own identities only to be coopted by major labels?

As you might imagine, Henry, there’s a lot of debate about how zombie music was born.

Some do indeed subscribe to Theodor W. Adorno and the Frankfurt School’s theory that the repetition of basic formulas in popular music would numb the audience, making them brainless followers of the culture industries. But there are also those zombie critics such as Greil Carcuss and the so-called Frankenberry School who believe that zombie music is the latest in a series of resistant subcultural communitites that have asserted their own identities, only to be co-opted (or “cannibalized,” so to speak) by major labels. Now with the digital revolution in music distribution, the major zombie record labels have lost a lot of their influence and their ability to cannibalize has been dramatically compromised. Zombie musicians are now cannibalizing each other and, in a few extreme cases, themselves.

I was fascinated to learn that Zombies not only have developed their own popular culture but also their own cultural critics. Is there a possibility that we will see undead theorists one of these days and if so, what can you tell us about their thinking about contemporary music?

Yes, I think we’re already seeing the emergence of undead cultural critics with the work of Greil Carcass. Carcass has established himself as the thinking zombie’s undead cultural critic by placing undead contemporary music in a much broader cultural context, a context that includes film, literature and politics. I’m thinking especially of such seminal works as Mystery Brain in which Carcass draws parallels between zombie rock and the cultural archetypes to be found in such classic zombie literary works as Moby-Dick versus the Zombies and Bartleby, the Scrivener meets Ginger Nut, the Office Zombie.

You’ve shared with us something of Zombie music and comedy through the film. I

was left wondering about other forms of popular culture among Zombie-Americans.

Do Zombies like horror films and if so, what gives them a fright? What kinds of

reality television are being produced for zombie consumption?

Horror films are not as popular among zombies as you might expect them to be. Much like people, zombies consume movies primarily as a form of escapism, so horror films are a little too realistic and slice-of-life for them. Having said that, zombies are terrified of the big-screen adaptations of Richard Matheson’s classic novel, I Am LegendThe Last Man On Earth (1964) and I Am Legend (2007). The idea of such a small human food supply strikes fear in the very hearts of the undead. Such small-cast Ingmar Bergman films as Scenes from A Marriage also scare zombies for the very same reasons.

There’s all kinds of reality television being produced for zombie consumption, including Monster Chef (a horrifying version of Iron Chef featuring such ghoulish gourmets as “Zombie Chef,” “Vampire Chef,” “Werewolf Chef” and “Invisible Chef”); America’s Got Zombies; So You Think You Can Shamble; Extreme Makeover: Haunted House Edition; and Is Your Brain Bigger Than A 5th Grader’s?)

If any of my readers would like to contribute body parts to support the band, where would they send them?

They can send them to me via dougmgordon@gmail.com or directly to The Fab Gore at

beeftone@gmail.com. Thank you for your time, consideration and interest, Henry. And thank you for the very intelligent and very perceptive questions.

Doug Gordon is a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio’s/Public Radio International’s Peabody Award-winning program, “To The Best Of Our Knowledge.” Originally from Canada, Gordon has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (Major: Creative Writing) and a Creative Communications diploma (Major: Journalism). When not trying to make public radio more entertaining, he can be found working on various creative, artsy multimedia projects.

Comments

  1. Beyond doubt, The most neuraltritious and re-animating interview ever conducted; proof that one is who one eats! Delicious!