Zombies and Drywall Dust

When I think of Miami, I think of Crockett & Tubbs, cigarette boats, retired New Yorkers, string bikinis and some goofy Will Smith song. Zombie attacks usually don’t even crack into the top ten things I think about the Magic City until last Monday.

Two days ago below a highway underpass, a police officer stumbled upon a naked man eating the face off of an indigent person. Even for Florida this falls under the WTF category. The cop instructed the man to stop but the cannibal continued consuming the homeless guy’s face. Left with no other options, the officer shot him. For you and me, getting shot with a gun is usually enough to stop feasting on a living person but not for this fella. He just snarled at the police officer and went back to his afternoon snack. The cop reacted with deadly force and emptied his service weapon into the guy killing him.

Was it a zombie attack? Maybe. Was it some guy whacked out of bath salts? That’s what the liberal media wants you to believe. Could this happen here in Salt Lake? Maybe it already has.

As a kid I was fascinated with zombie movies. Tom Savini was a master of special effects and George Romero had figured out the gruesome future the world held for us. Zombie movies were a natural extension of my love of playing Dungeons & Dragons, memorizing the flight crews of the Apollo missions and quoting Monty Python. In a word, they were also the road map in how I never got laid in high school. I probably should have spent less time fantasying on how to secure an abandoned mall and more time perfecting my washboard abs.

Using two VCRs, I would ransack the local video rental shop and pirate anything that was shelved under the horror sign. Without a doubt, my favorites were the Romero zombie films. Scary, gross and with just enough boobs to keep my 13-year old eyes on the screen, I memorized the scenes and imagined what I would do if I found myself in this horrible dystopia.

Find a safe hiding place, secure enough food and water, make sure my trusty double-barrel shotgun was clean and ready to go and be wary of strangers. I figure everyone I knew or loved was already transformed into the walking dead, so I would be on my own. I would have to band with others for the sake of the human race. It would be tough at first but I knew it was vital for me to live to re-populate the planet. Earth was going to need young bucks like myself to rebalance the decimated population. I wasn’t just living for myself—I would survive for the human race. Eventually using my superior knowledge of state capitals and the first 13-digits of Pi, I would be elevated into the role of leader of the survivors and fight back against the mindless swarms of the undead which threatened humanity.

It was usually at this point I fell asleep and woke up late for school.

Ever since I heard about the “alleged” zombie attack, I’ve decided that I want nothing to do with a zombie apocalypse. I am completely unprepared for the dead to rising from the grave. Hell, I am almost 100-miles over for my next oil change. I never got around buying that trusted double-barrel shotgun or for that matter, learn how to shot a gun. I’ve been limping around with a swollen knee for months, I have no provisions in the house outside fixings for a muddle Old Fashion and I seriously doubt I could brain somebody with the number of decorative shillelaghs stashed around the house.

Bartending podcasters in a zombie-ruled world are the proverbial tits on a boar. Sure the world is going to need drinks and laughter but somebody else is going to have to do the heavy lifting until we get a stranglehold on face-eating monsters. I could start getting ready today but I am still dealing with the real world insanity in my house.

You’re probably wondering where the funny has been for the last month. Much like the comedy of errors that scores the average home run in a coed rec league softball game, my life for the last 30-days has been a series of hanging curve balls. Since throwing up a thank you blog for my birthday at the end of April, the self-absorbed opportunity to write a column hasn’t presented itself. I fell out of the habit of writing Raskin’s Rhetoric for a whole slew of reasons but the biggest one being I ran out of time. Between mending my dog’s broken bones, remodeling a basement, cleaning up a flood, landscaping the house, getting a second job and dedicating myself to drinking more Irish whiskey, the time needed to put up a blog fell to the wayside.

Let’s catch you up on the past month…

For starters, my dog, Shelly, a 9-year old or so chocolate lab somehow busted her front left leg. She cracked her ulna which with the radius forms the bones in her forearm. I have absolutely no idea how she broke her bone but I do know how much it costs–$500 and counting. I tell you, if I could go back in time I would have been a veterinarian: your patients can’t talk (I wouldn’t treat parrots), their owners can be shamed into any sort of absurd treatment and your boat payment would always be made. I can’t help but think that a hundred years ago Shelly’s treatment plan would have been a rifle and shovel but instead she is hobbling around in a cast molded from all of my disposable income.

That’s the problems with dogs. One day you’re taking a road trip to Logan and the next thing you know you’re in a waiting room with tears building in your eyes because your Shelly Belly is wrapped up like a mummy. The real victim with Shelly breaking her leg wasn’t my pocketbook but our other dog, Roxy. Foxy Roxy was accustomed to going to Fairmont Park with Shelly for walks. I would hurl the ball for Roxy while Shelly would scamper around the park eating everything from discarded food to spent condoms. I’ve tried to make time for Roxy but I fear for the house if I left Shelly behind. I might love her but Shelly is a massive bitch.

Don’t worry, Roxy. I’ll make it up to you.

Basement 2.0 has been the other time suck for the last month. We always wanted to remodel the basement but never had the initiative to do it. Fortunately, a leaking sewer pipe forced our hand. After two months, we have finally gotten the finish line to this marathon remodel in sight. The new drywall is up and painted. The recess lights are in and the carpet has been ordered. I want to extend a tip of the cap to Brian Palmer for repairing all of the plumbing and Ivan Chavez for doing the drywall. The beauty of living in a house built in 1918 is all of the character and charm of an older house. The downside is that a little flooding requires a third of my yearly income and a Faustian deal to get things back in order. Brian and Ivan made it a Hell of a lot easier.

The greatest distraction from posting blogs has been my second job. I was fortunate to get hired as a stringer for the Salt Lake Tribune about six months ago. As we all know, stringer is Latin for underpaid freelance writer. Working with a really talented editor, Danyelle White, and her staff writers, Bill Oram and Kyle Goon, I have been learning how to become a sports reporter. I’d like to think I got the job because I am a talented writer and have the ability to craft a creative and compelling narrative. After struggling for a couple of months, I think I got the job because I gave a good pour at the bar.

Nonetheless, I learned a lot in the last half year. I got to cover sports ranging from basketball to tennis, soccer, baseball, softball and track and field. The job pays squat but there is nothing better than seeing your name in the paper. Bylines are a drug. Sure, you can’t share bylines in a bathroom stall with four of your buddies but they are still really addicting. The pressure of writing for the paper of record for the state forces you to be a better listener, writer and reporter. It’s the best part-time job I have ever had since working as a dishwasher at Angel Park Golf Course. Trust me, Tribune, that is a compliment.

The only downside to covering prep sports is you can’t root for a particular team. The hardest thing I have ever done has been covering a game and not root for either of the teams. Sitting quietly while keeping score as players make incredible plays without reacting has been incredibly challenging considering how much I love watching sports. I am a clapper by nature. Not applauding someone’s athletic achievement is without a doubt the hardest part of the job. In the end, it is what you have to do when covering a game. It’s not possible to be unbiased when writing a gamer when you’re cheering for one team over the other. I hope at the end of the day the work that I have done for the paper pays off with more opportunities to cover more stories. Like I said, bylines are addicting.

So, to wrap up: I am not ready for a zombie attack, broken dog legs are bad news, drywall dust is horrible and getting a little ink in the paper is better than two-for-one chili dog night. Shelly’s cast will be coming off shortly, the basement will be done and my responsibilities at the paper will let up a little during the summer. This means more time to blog and host podcasts. Ugh! I miss setting up microphones and rambling on for an hour with friends. I doubt you do but I will be better about putting up more columns and PubCasts.

If you’re interested in being on a podcast, drop me a line. Got a blog idea, shoot me an e-mail. Want to eat my face, give me a head start.

Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out the podcast, SLC PubCast on iTunes. He feels like a heel for not writing or podcasting for a month.

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