While Abroad – Week 2

I’m standing in the middle of the road, on roasting macadam, dressed in solid black, camera in hand. I have raced ahead of a mass of people filling up the street. Each of them is caked in blood, with gashes and wounds wide open, and torn clothes and guts and objects half-buried in their bodies. They shamble forth, slowly but surely, surrounding me. Soon I am engulfed by their mass. I snap shots as they pass by. Suddenly they all stop, raise their hands in the air and release this massive, simultaneous moan, filling the street. This is the zombie apocalypse.

A couple of hours earlier, I’m getting a lift with friends running down a hot-as-hell highway in the middle of the day. A voice next to me says, “Come on. We better get this done.” It’s Dr Jerm. I grab the makeup kit from Maddy. She was using her old (or was it her current?) uniform from work, a 50’s themed burger shack. So it was this retro-ultramarine blue one-piece dress with a white little kitchen staff had. Her face was pale with eyes the colour of old bruises. Looey, who was driving, looked pretty much the same. A carton of iced coffee sat on the console hiding the speed we were travelling at. I open the bottle of cheap baby powder. The only thing keeping us cool is having the car windows down. So when I squeeze the bottle of talcum powder, everyone in the back seat in covered in white. It looks like we’ve overdone it at a snow party. Dr Jerm douses his face with the powder. I begin applying the rest of the make-up. This is a thrice-fold challenge, as I have a) never applied make-up on someone’s face; b) we are in a cramped, hot car and; c) we are moving at a hundred or so kilometres an hour along a road riddled with random bumps, potholes and occasional daring fauna. To add another issue, Dr Jerm recently had his eyes injured. Most of the makeup involved applying around the eyes, using a cue-tip, so my main concern was to avoid death by strangulation if the road caused me to impale his ‘ball.

Next to Dr Jerm is Rean who was reading a book about the philosophy of a Prussian noble who had a love for war and the battlefield. And he had been designated as the official porter. My role was the photographer. And we were all headed to the Brisbane Zombie Walk. Our first stop is D Jerm’s place where we ditch my luggage and some other gear. We pack ourselves back in the car and head into the city to find a parking space. When we hit the parking lot everyone begins finishing their make-up. A sharpie finishes Dr Jerm’s ensemble as Zombie Chuck Manson. Maddi is an Undead Diner Girl. Lou is a Folk Ghoul. Maddi cracks open a jar of homemade fake blood (strawberry flavoured!) and the three begin to slop it on themselves and each other attempting to get the look right. And for something made from glucose and food colouring, Maddi’s stage blood does the trick.

I was not really prepared for all of this. For starters I’m dressed in a black t-shirt, black jeans, black shoes and black underwear. Brisbane is a hot and humid city. There is not a cloud in the sky. I clearly did not do the math. Not only am I handling a camera but also a number of other items, including Dr Jerm’s laptop.

We reach the starting point of the walk at the Roma Street Park, where there are already hundreds of people. Almost all of them are some kind of undead monstrosity, ranging from the brutal to the weird, to the religious to “WTF”. How for the start of the run, there is not a speck of shade. Sweat pours down my face stinging my eyes. I can’t see anything clearly through the eyepiece. My specs fogged up from sweat and I took them off. I pray to god that autofocus works. I raced ahead of the crowd attempting to get a view of the crowd as it shambles forward, and gain a perspective on the size of this event. Ahead of the walking dead, are police cars providing a escort throughout the city streets. While a police cruiser maintains the pace of the crowd, other cars, motorcycles, and bicycles swoop in on intersections, halting and redirecting traffic for the oncoming horde.

Eventually, the walk comes to an end in another park. I overhear somewhere that this just to take a breather and have walk redirected somewhere else. I catch up with Dr Jerm, Maddi, Lou and others. And after waiting around for a while, we think it’s a good time to get a couple of brews.

Sadly are there none to be had yet. There is the final issue of Bizoo, or at least a meeting about the final issue of Bizoo. Bizoo was a zine that had been running from 2001 to around mid-2006. The thing effectively folded and for a while there was talk of creating a final issue to feature the best, worst and leftover junk that didn’t make it the first time around. Most of us had contributed in the past to some degree and there were several discussions and debates about certain factors. What kind of potential cover and title of the preview issue was most talked about. But really the entire meeting was really an overview of the road ahead to producing the preview issue and eventually the final issue of Bizoo, before we all move onto bigger, better and brighter things.

With that out of the way, we return to a pub in the Valley and hit some beers and then begin to look for a place to eat. At this point in time, it’s about 930 and we all, under Dr Jerm’s guidance traipse across the valley looking for a place to eat. When we get to our destination we find that they have closed the kitchen. We then about face and return the way we came, looking for a restaurant that will still serve us this late on a Sunday night. An Indian place called Karma though apprehensive to serve us, would do so, if at least four of our party of nine would order main meals. We agree and after a short while our food comes out. I honestly felt more sick than hungry, slightly dehydrated from the whole day, so having this meal was something more robotic than anything. But it was an awesome Butter Chicken. Oddly enough we also encounter graffiti that may have been directed at Dr Jerm.

I walk with Dr Jerm, back to his place in order to collect my luggage and book into a nearby hotel called Econoinn, which turned out to be something of an upmarket hostel with private rooms. I chilled out at Dr Jerm’s place for a bit out in the cooling night. It was about 1 am now and finally things were getting from cool to cold again. I eventually returned to the room and passed out on bedsheets riddled with cigarette burn holes.

The next few days have been something of a blur. It turned out to be Dr Jerm’s birthday on Monday, so we made a day of things and roamed through the city looking for highlights and places of interest. I bought him a couple of gifts, two books, one being When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris; and Don’t Tell My Mum I Work On The Rigs by Paul Carter. I also purchased a Hunter S Thompson bio I had eyed fro a while, but didn’t have the wherewithal to purchase until that day. We eventually return back and on the way we stop by a bottleshop to pick up some drinks for the Californication marathon. Shortly after returning to Dr Jerm’s place, a storm from the south begins to hammer down with lightning, thunder and heavy rain. There’s five of us sheltering from the storm in Dr Jerm’s tiny bedsit: the Dr, Em, Ness, Ness’ partner Steve and myself. I’m alternately drinking bottles of Asahi and mixers of SoCo while on-screen Hank Moody slam-dunks just about anyone of the female persuasion. Well at least in the third season. Hours have passed and the rain is still coming down. A crack in the ceiling begins issuing drops of cold water. In between episodes and libations, Dr Jerm attempts to wake us up, by holding a lighter to either a can of air freshener or WD-40 causing sporadic jets of flame, so that we may see the finish line. In the end, I stumble back to my hotel room and pass out.

Tuesday, Dr Jerm and I walked out to West End in the middle of the day, leaving me feeling a little sick. We meet Em there and they have lunch, though I’m not up for it. The heat and humidty is getting to me. I have been down south far too long. Later when we return, we meet up with Crystal, a sister of an old buddy and we catch up over some cheap 2 lucre tacos.

Wednesday I spend a bit of time writing and work on the premilinaries for the Bizoo website and begin rebuilding items for the thing. I ended up eating at this Thai restaurant having a tasty yellow curry on coconut rice.

Thursday involved midday drinks in some park and then a catamaran ride into the city, then some beers in an Irish pub called O’Malley’s. Dr Jerm had a workshop and got on a train to head up north for the rest of the day. Steve was with us and he was dreading some relatives while moving out into a place for him and Ness. I ended up walking with him to the art galleries on the riverside, though there really was not much to be had. I bought a graffiti book and met up with Steve again at a pub. Afterwards, I had dinner at a restaurant called Obsession. The meal was double cooked duck. Though pricey, it was awesome. Basically, a duck that is steams then fried and served with a plum and cinnamon sauce.

Friday, I caught a cab to the station and then caught the train to the airport. Watching all the graffiti on the sides of the tracks, I thought about what exactly happened over the last two weeks. Not a whole lot. But I guess that’s the way I had planned it. I was looking forward to a new job on Monday (which at the time of writing this, they would let me into the building, so I technically don’t start until Wednesday) I know my vacation has come to end when I catch myself falling asleep in the stiff seat on the airplane.

Note: This whole thing is really late, but I had practically no internet connectivity while I was away. So sumimasen for that.

Pictures of the Zombie Walk to follow.

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