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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Zombie apocalypse never — people have been eating people forever

Despite numerous news stories that indicate otherwise and no matter how badly we want it - maybe so we don't have to go to work anymore? - the zombie apocalypse is not happening. Even the CDC says so. And they love zombie shit.

Speculation that the world was ending and we were all in imminent danger of being eaten alive, began with Rudy Eugene, the Miami man who was shot and killed by police while ravenously devouring the face of another man. In the days that followed, the media reported with marked fervor other unpleasant stories that surfaced about instances of cannibalism and similarly bizarre stuff (like that guy who threw his own intestines at police).

In a pretty gross attempt at baiting web hits and stoking the public's fear/macabre excitement, a news station in Jacksonville, Fla. posted a USA Today article about a woman who decapitated and ate parts of her infant son - even though the incident took place in 2009.

A thing everyone's been ignoring and that New York Magazine pointed out the other day, is that "People eat other people on a pretty regular basis." (They even put together handy a timeline of recent cannibalistic incidents that were pretty much ignored by the media, in the U.S. at least.)

Then there are the famous ones. Jeffrey Dahmer. Albert Fish. Of course, the obvious and most shocking difference in the Miami case - the thing that made it most zombie-esque - is that the "zombie" in question was eating an alive person. And snarled like an animal at police. And managed to eat almost an entire face before anyone stopped him. Whatever you do, don't look at the pictures.

But, really, cannibalism has always been a thing. And back in the day, Atlanta was home to its very own cannibal. Journalist and adventurer William Buehler Seabrook, who at one point worked at an ad agency in Atlanta and cut his teeth (the ones he'd later use to eat parts of a person) at the Augusta Chronicle, apparently sampled human flesh whilst living with a West African tribe in the '20s. Of course, his foray into cannibalism was scientific, and not to fulfill a sociopathic urge or as the result of a drug-fueled frenzy.

In his 1930 book Jungle Ways he wrote:

"It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have. The steak was slightly tougher than prime veal, a little stringy, but not too tough or stringy to be agreeably edible. The roast, from which I cut and ate a central slice, was tender, and in color, texture, smell as well as taste, strengthened my certainty that of all the meats we habitually know, veal is the one meat to which this meat is accurately comparable."

Now, back to work. And if the zombie apocalypse is actually happening, I'll be eating crow while someone's eating me.

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