I first published this on November 13, 2015, from Denver, Colorado. Not long afterwards, phone calls and texts started coming in fast and furious: relatives who were hearing about the Islamic State terrorist attacks that would kill 130 people and injure another 368 that evening. The post didn’t seem so funny in that context, and I took it down after an evening of trying to reach family and friends in Paris. 14 months later, Paris has brushed off her shoulders and kept walking, as she always does, and I am ready to play my infinitesimally small part in that.
Who among us has not looked across the majestic sweep of the Place de la Concorde, up the stretch of the Champs Elysées, or through the luxurious Luxembourg Gardens and wondered: what will this place look like when it’s overrun by zombies? Who among us has not looked down an unending line of the 7-story Hausmannian apartment blocks that make Paris look like Paris and thought: it would really suck to have to clear 7-story building after 7-story building–with optional basement–of zombies…
The English Wikipedia page on zombies is quite long, and discusses zombies from every angle that one could think of–folklore, the evolution of the zombie archetype, the zombie in modern fiction, the significance of the zombie apocalypse, and the zombie in popular culture–each with its sections and subsections. In contrast, the French Wikipedia page on zombies is pretty much just this sentence:
Of course, even with just one sentence, Zipf’s Law brings us some new vocabulary items:
- le mort-vivant: living dead.
- nuisible: harmful, damaging, injurious; pest.
I have no idea what it means that there is a long English Wikipedia page on zombies and a very short French one. Probably something profound about France and America, but I don’t know what. I do know this: I hate zombies.
About 14 months later, the French Wikipedia page on zombies is considerably longer, and I’ve reached a new level in my thinking about the relationship between zombies and those Haussmannian apartment buildings: they will contain the zombies nicely, so they’re actually going to be a big help in recovering from the zombie apocalypse. However, I’m leaving this post as it was on November 13th, 2015–a fond memory of a more insouciant time.