Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Do the Zombie March in Three Easy Steps...

Okay, so this is the last post on the zombie march, as much fun as it's been.

I'm going to repeat my warning from the last post:  NOTE to the regular readers who are used to cute, fluffy squirrels and happy little song birds...  These zombie posts contain exactly what you'd think of when you hear "zombie".  A lot of stage make-up gray faces and latex flesh wounds and currant-juice fake blood.  If this is not what you signed on for, please feel free to look away now.  Personally, I found it all to be a lot of "Hey look someone in make up", but some people on the street were legitimately startled by some of the participants. Personally (and this is something I'll go into later) the only thing I found creepy were some of the contact jobs.  Even under all the grease paint, latex and Rice Krispies (more on that in later too) I still expect people's eyes to look like, you know, normal eyes.

So if this is not your thing, feel free to back-button now.  The next post I make will be back to the cute, fluffy, normal stuff you're used to from me. :)

But if you're into zombies... you have to become one.

The event was planned on the internet.  There's a website and a Facebook site and everything.  You have to wonder if this is one of the odder things Mark Z and the Twitter folks have found their inventions being employed for.  "Yeah, we created this great way for people to find old school friends and to chat with their cousins ... and it was just used to set up 2000 people to dress like zombies and attack Chicago."

If it's not one of the oddest things they've been used for, I want to know what *is*. :)

Anyway, the website said that if people needed help with make up, there would be people set up to help you.  But most people showed up either read to go, or they just bloodied themselves there or they made their friends undead.

These two girls were two of the first to show up and start getting ready near the Bean.

 I posted these girls before.  They were busy helping others get set up.  When I looked at their "victim", I saw this...
So I had to ask why they were sticking Rice Krispies to her face.  Turns out that they put liquid latex over the cereal and it gives the texture you can see on Ginny's face above.  Neat trick!

 I mentioned that the one thing that made me freak out a little - among all the gray and green and white paint and all the latex and fake blood - was the contacts people were using to do bizarre things with their eyes.  Like this zombie - with one blown eye and one normal.
Or these two.  I wish I had the aperture set a little better, so you could see the blue eyes in the blonde girl's eyes a bit better.  They're the freakishly light blue ones that make her look almost irisless.  And of course, there was scads of red eyes.  I wonder how many people went home and tried to use 'red-eye removal' on their photos. :)

 Once everyone was made up, we started moving all 2000 zombies and 100 photographers down Michigan Ave.
 Crossing streets was fun.  We um... annoyed traffic a few times.
Some of the tourists were a little taken aback.  I don't think this was included in the brochures. :)

At one point the traffic problems got us noticed by the cops.  They were totally cool with everything, and this guy - a bike cop - basically became our escort, helping us not, you know, completely hose traffic in the Loop.  He was also totally game for playing along with everything.

 When there was a lull or a rest stop at a landmark, certain Zombie Dramas would break out.  I want to note that these skits were completely ad libbed, but also completely consensual.  No actual 'innocent by-standers' were actually grabbed by the zombies.  Even this guy was totally on board with being "attacked".

 This guy was so into getting his picture taken with the Zombies that he kissed anyone who sat next to him on the cheek. (I don't think he actually made contact, because a.) creepy and b.) make-up... on both parties.
 When we stopped in front of NBC, the "Zombie Hunter" went after one of the zombies with a camera.
 He lost that battle.
 But when he got up to try again, this little tiny person (I wish I had a shot of her face - she was an adult, but actually smaller than me.  And in feetsy pajamas!) jumped on his back.
And held on but good until she took him down.

 As we moved through town, the locals began whipping out whatever camera they had.  dSLRs, point-and-shoots, cell phones...

You just have to imagine this guy getting home.

"Hi honey, how was your day?"
"Well, 2000 zombies went past the hotel."
"Oh be serious!"
"No, look, I even have pictures!"

Because, really, who would believe that?

This guy had both a phone and a regular camera.  He's a roller-cop at the Bean.  The fact that he carries a dedicated camera makes me think that 2000 zombies may be 'just another day on the job' for him.

This guy even 'Flat Stanley'd the zombies.  If you don't know what Flat Stanley is, you can go here to read up on him.  The short version is, when you either can't go somewhere yourself, OR you go somewhere alone and can't get pictures of you in front of a landmark, you put a little picture/doll/figurine in the shot that represents you.  A friend of mine uses a Captain Jack Harkness  (from Torchwood) action figure, other people use a favorite stuffed animal.  It's a way of showing "I was here, I saw this thing in person, but I couldn't get myself into the shot."  This guy couldn't get a picture of himself with the zombies, but he held the little Amigurumi doll (which, IMHO, looks like Where's Waldo) to the zombie parade as a way of saying, "Look what *I* did in Chicago!"

 So we shambled past Broadway in Chicago...
 ...across the Chicago River.  (One thing I noticed about zombies - they're camera hogs. If I stopped for a second to get a shot, odds were good someone would stick their face against my glass.)
Clearly a zombie from years gone by got tired of being labeled and left this on the railing to the bridge over the river.

After making the loop around, well... The Loop, we made our way back to the Bean.  It was about four hours later... and there were still people there getting dressed up as zombies.  I have no idea what they were going to do or where they were going to go as a zombie, as the walk was over, but... there he was.

ETA: So this young lady with the red hair here is Alexandra.  She and I were chatting on Facebook and she explained why they were still doing make up after the march.  "If you were wondering why we were still doing make-up, we were just having fun I suppose.  I didn't understand why people wanted makeup after the march, but I was having fun so I did it."

The one last person I have to mention is Heather Myers.  Heather was going around with a small video camera, interviewing zombies, but not dressed as one.  I asked who she was interviewing for and she said that it was for her Masters thesis.  She is, no joke, getting her Masters in Zombies from HARVARD.  She turned in the proposal to her advisor as a joke and had her 'real' topic of... something about the aculturalization of Native American Trickster Gods... to turn in afterwards. Anyway, the advisor looked at the Zombies one and went, "You are so totally doing this!" So now she travels around and studies the zombie phenomena and its growth in America.  How wild is that?

This week I'm going to a bonfire event.  Those shots will probably be a little more along the lines of the stuff you're used to seeing from me.  But I have to say, I wasn't sure about hanging out with the UNnatural for a day, but it really was a blast.  Thanks to all you zombies.  I've never met friendlier undead people in my life.

OH!  That reminds me... I kept asking people if they knew this song, and I didn't meet one who did.  I'm not saying it's brilliant music or anything.  But it's "All You Zombies" by the Hooters.  It's an old 80's pop tune... that's vaguely about zombies.


  1. OMG! This is so cool. I love it! I would have been there like you, not dressing up but taking pictures of it all. How nice of the cops to get in the spirit of it all. Great action shot of Feetsie Girl.

  2. The zombie march is always awesome, unfortunately they weren't all so nice. The other make-up artist and I got kicked out by a cop who wasn't very friendly to us.