Westchester Magazine Investigates the Zombie Apocalypse

Call us skeptical. The only kind of disaster we’re anticipating on December 21, Mayan calendar or no, is the parking garage at The Westchester. Remember Y2K hysteria? Our pantries were stockpiled with Champagne, not batteries and canned turnips, thank you. So when the suggestion of an imminent zombie attack recently went, ahem, viral, we hesitated to stop the presses. Sure, we got the part about droves of soulless corpses causing mass terror, yada yada. But the part that got us Googling the nearest fallout shelter? That infected infantries might well march on our own backyard.

Surely the undead would convene in a region where their victims might be less hardy, easier to apprehend, we reasoned. Wherever Paula Deen is from, perhaps. That was until we learned that Max Brooks’s World War Z, an “oral history” hailed as prophecy by the genre’s doomsdayers (that is, all of them), details a spectacular human defeat at the Battle of Yonkers, dated August 2013. Zombiepedia (real thing) cites BOY as the US military’s first significant engagement in the Zombie War, expanding, “If any one event can be singled out as the point when zombies officially became the dominant race on the planet, it was Yonkers.” (As if the city didn’t have enough of a PR problem.)  

It wasn’t that surprising really, once we realized we’d all but rolled out the proverbial welcome mat. First, we flashed back to whooshing and clattering, breath held, through the Zombie Castle at Playland. Odd theme for a kids’ ride, now that we think about it. Then we heard about the otherwise inexplicable Zombie Prom at SUNY Purchase. (Hey guys, I think I know what the refreshments at the next mixer are going to be.) A dip into our brothers’ comic-book archives alerted us to a copy of 2007’s Marvel Zombies: Dead Days #1, in which the X-Men are fighting living-dead leader Alpha Flight in, naturally, Westchester, New York.

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Dead serious now, we signed up for a lesson in monster makeup camouflage at Mamaroneck’s Mind Matters Learning Center and loaded our iPods with head bangers from Westchester-based punk rockers Hard Rock Zombie (“Night of Terror,” “The Howling,” “My Freezer”). And, we found out Brooks hasn’t been the only one to speculate about a local takeover. Among Westchester Life blogger Sara O’Grady’s predictions: “Frannie’s Goodie Shop is wiped out, as looters go to town on all the DIY fro-yo and toppings they can eat before judgment day.”

Along the way, we cribbed an arsenal of invaluable tips: The only way to kill a zombie is with a shot to the head; expect a nearly impossible-to-deter hoard of about 8,000,000. Zombieland’s Columbus—Jesse Eisenberg, who’d later depict our very own Mark Zuckerberg—educated us on his 30 rules to staying alive (“Look in the back seat,” “Avoid public restrooms”), and two seasons of The Walking Dead supplied enough DVD-watching homework (plus the third season, airing now!) to get us to the release of World War Z’s film adaptation next June—a safe two months before zero hour. Until then, we’ll also be busy committing Brooks’s first book, The Zombie Survival Guide, to memory.

This past June, after a string of particularly feral crimes up and down the East Coast, Time reported, “The Centers for Disease Control would like to reassure Americans that a zombie-virus outbreak is exceedingly unlikely.” Not you, too, CDC? Maybe they’re drinking the Kool-Aid back in Roswell, but we’re saving ourselves…right after we score some free FroYo.

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