Focus Unfocused

I’ve sent out the press release to all the major news media (and this happens. A dude in Wisconsin will write a self-help book on how to make you and your dog more patriotic and he’ll work up his little press release complete with picture of him and his dog both in Uncle Sam hats, staring longingly into each others’ eyes, drifting ever so gradually in for what I can only assume is an open-mouth kiss or at the very least a sharing of some very intimate secret, and he will email blast every TV and radio station, every major and minor newspaper that is connected to a computer, even the very local ones, who, the only book they’ve ever reviewed is the Bible, and not the whole thing, just the Old Testament, “before God got all fast and loose with that love business.”) but you’re probably reading it here first.

As you probably know, I started putting all these electronic words and photographs here as a means of plotting my course, however loopy and meandering and impossible it may be, toward my grand delusion of having my book published. As I gained perspective, after I peered out into that abyss and realized just how far off that likely is, it became more a headquarters, too, if you will, for my short stories, and then other projects. But subsequently, presently, I’ve come to understand I could better serve the internet and the rest of society, you know, the good ones, the ones not on the internet, by expanding that focus. Only by ever so much.

I hope now to include thoughts and ruminations, illustrations and other graphic representations of the themes in my writing, listed in ascending and descending order: The American Rust Belt, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylania, and Zombies, because however infrequently they may show up in my writing and reality as a whole, they are prone to wander into frame at any moment.

For those of you out there playing one of my favorite games from Sesame Street, one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other, and saying to yourself, Zombies have no place in any of this. You’re listing geographic divisions and then you throw in some mythical voodoo creature that is fueled only by human brains. Pure nonsense. Perhaps what you don’t understand is that the Zombie is as Western-Pennsylvania as Holsteins or abandoned industrial fields. The modern Zombie was created here, not far from where I sit, in Pittsburgh, and just a little farther north of it, in Evans City, by the Honorable Dr. George A. Romero, a fellow CMU alumnus. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of, Day of, the original The Crazies, and so and so on, all born here in Western Pennsylvania. (With Night of the Living Dead being released in 1968, just a few short years before the industrial complex of the metropolitan Pittsburgh area and America as a whole began to give way, giving way to the Rust Belt, you could argue that zombies were an allegory for that industrial complex, unaware as of yet, that it has died, that it has been dead, and instead just goes on living like it’s not dead, making pilgrimages to the mall, hanging out, eating brains, but I think Romero was speaking more about class, race, and general consumerism.) So it’s not arbitrary, the inclusion of zombies. It’s just another arm of trying to document, understand, and preserve my own culture.

With that said, in introducing what is currently my sole short zombie story, “Why’d You Come Back?” I wrote, “Think Gabriel Garcia Marquez but less Colombian and more zombies.” And some wonderfully blessed person stumbled upon my site because of those words, by googling, “Gabriel Garcia Zombies.” That’s got me thinking. I should write a Gabriel Garcia Marquez zombie story. It’s not here yet, but to show you how serious I am, I direct you to the art above, the head of some sombreroed, likely intoxicated Gabriel Garcia Marquez, crudely photoshopped into a frame of Night of the Living Dead (It’s near the end when they have that really uptight jerk guy throw molotov cocktails down at the zombies. Molotov cocktails. How perfect for Gabriel. And how self-indulgent for me.)

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