Do you ever have one of those moments where two totally unrelated slices of experience in your life intersect in a trivial, yet noticeable way?
Take, for instance, the song my kid has been singing over the past few days. He knows it as the “Yonkers” song from Wall-E. (The first 74 seconds are posted in the YouTube video up top.) It happens to be “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello Dolly — the film version of which is referenced quite a bit in Wall-E. As the first to admit that I’ve never seen Hello Dolly (nor do I really have any desire to do so), it’s an interesting song about a bunch of kids from the suburbs who want to experience the hoopla that is New York City for the first time. Since Dolly takes place in the late nineteenth century, I can see how Yonkers would be quite a schlep to the big city.
It’s a fun song, though, and the theme seems to fit Wall-E’s drive to explore the unknown world outside of his own solitude. And it mentions Yonkers, possibly one of the funnier names of places in the tri-state area. (But not quite as funny as Ho-Ho-Kus Borough, NJ.)
Add to the mix that I just finished reading an incredible book by Max Brooks entitled World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. It’s a fascinating take on a premise done time and time again in film: what if the world was infested with a growing population of zombies? I haven’t been a huge fan of horror films in general, but I’ve been intrigued when films like Shaun of the Dead come about which simply use the Zombie theme as a landscape. Brooks bases this novel on Studs Terkel’s The Good War, collecting narratives of survivors all over the world telling their stories of their encounters with the zombie epidemic — from the first diagnoses to the war-like efforts to combat them all around the world, some of which methods worked and some of which didn’t, to the aftermath of a world reclaimed by humanity which appears very differently from our own. It’s a wonderful commentary on how societies around the world are perceived to see war, ilness, fear, spirituality, and survival.
One of the first battles in the war against “Zack” (the American military’s nickname for the zombie swarm; think of “Charlie” in North Vietnam) was fought in, of all places, Yonkers. The narrative included by a soldier in the trenches is quite powerful: it tells that the army was so over-confident that the “Battle of Yonkers” would be such a success that it had about one journalist on the ground for every three American soldiers. The dangers were not easily seen; the army was the force with the tanks and guns and capability to blow the zombies to bits. (And, by the way, these aren’t the sprinting variety of zombies in 28 Days Later.) But as it was one of the earlier battles, disaster struck the Battle of Yonkers, turning it into a catastrophic loss. Which aired on national TV. Kind of embarassing…
The intersection of Wall-E, Hello Dolly and zombies has assured me of one thing: I’m pretty sure I don’t want to stop in Yonkers anytime soon. Not that there’s anything wrong with this fine town. I just have images of singing zombies marching down Central Avenue dancing in my head, and that can lead to no good.
Has anyone else had these strange moments of intersecting media come up?