Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How To Survive An Urban Disaster (Sci-Fi Edition)

Face it--whether it be alien motherships, giant Godzilla ripoffs, photo-sensitive zombies, or even global freezing--New York city is the favorite go-to conurbation for spectacular disaster visuals and gruesome destruction sequences in movies. My city gets picked on in pretty much every 3rd horror/sci-fi flick that comes out these days, and as a fellow New Yorker, I must say the time has come to set some ground rules about surviving here when the end seems nigh.

I mean, true you might not exactly be thinking straight while decapitated national monuments come hurling your way down 6th avenue, but that's no excuse for shoddy urban survival skills people.

So here are some common mistakes people make in urban disaster movies and how to avoid them. I'll use New York as the basis since, like I've already pointed out, I'm from here and it happens to be Hollywood's favorite sticking boy when it comes to these types of doomsday scenarios.

(Btw, while I'm on the subject--way to skull-fuck a real life national tragedy, Hollywood scum! It's been 8 years now. Bravo.)

Anyway, on to the tips:

1) Don't Use The Tunnels!
Have you *seen* NYC during rush hour traffic? The tunnels are the first to go in a jam-packed scenario. Such as, oh I don't know: millions of dumb-struck citizens fleeing for their lives as meteorites fall from the sky. The tunnels are SAFE, that's right. Long, twisting and narrow tubes under the ground already crammed with vehicles of various size and function. What could possibly go wrong down there? And, no, finding a maintenance closet at the last moment while a huge geyser of flame is baking human potatoes behind you is not something you should be pinning your hopes on. You cannot outrun stupidity.

2) Zombies Don't Take Time Outs, And Neither Should You.
So the neighbors want to eat your brains. Congratulations, you've just entered the fucking Twilight Zone from HELL! Here's a tip to the ladies: leave behind the high heels and tight-fitting skirts. Mr. Right is not coming to your rescue on this day. To the men: leave her behind if she falls because--dude, she's already noggin nosh. Saving her will only get you killed and allow her to live another 5 minutes. Was it really worth it? Another thing: run like your gas stove just sprung a leak next to the faulty iron, not like you're jogging a charity 5k. One might get you a charlie horse; the other might get you dead. Choose wisely. Zombies are slow and dumb as dodo shit. And even the fast ones can't tell the difference between you and a mirror, so--come on! Use the zombie meat in that big ole skull of yours! Don't head for the rooftops, head for the sewers. Don't roll down the freeway in some husked-out jalopy, hop on that speed boat in the harbor. Zombies will climb stairs to get to some fresh meat, but they'll never figure out how to open a manhole cover. And I've never seen a zombie swim before. Have you?

3) Engage In Racial Profiling.
Contrary to popular belief, minorities are not always the first to die when Manhattan gets overrun by mutant flesh-eaters. Have you seen these movies? According to them, NYC is made up almost completely of white people! Do you know why? Because brown folk know to get the fuck out of Dodge when the apocalypse comes! Monsters love window shopping in SoHo, so chances are you better hike your ass uptown if you want to live to see tomorrow. Blondie, now might be the time to give in to Pedro's advances and accept that offered bike ride up to Kingsbridge. Pedro only asks once. Besides, you ain't never seen Godzilla go toe-to-toe with a five-story tenement walk-up in the South Bronx before, have you?

4) Avoid Helicopters.
On the one hand, they're expensive, elitist, fast, and you get to look down on the heads of poor people as they get fed to the shitter. Every New Yorker's aspiration. But on the other hand, helicopters are like fat turkeys trying to outrun the farmer on Thanksgiving eve--slow and doomed to fall splat! Do what Sally Richardson and that hot Pakistani chick from Cloverfield did not do: avoid the first chopper out! All you'll be doing is painting a big target sign on your back saying: "Shoot me down, alien fighter pilot!" Don't be stupid, take the government yellow bus out of town. It's slower and will probably end you up in a concentration camp in New Mexico, but at least your guts won't be sprayed out in a 4km radius along the East River.

5) Don't Leave Behind Breadcrumbs.
There's nothing a tough, bad-ass alpha male hates more than when whiny kids drop their cherry icees on the way back to the top-secret, well-armed sewer bunker. Acid-mouth-dripping aliens LOVE cherry! And they can smell it like sharks 5 miles away, even through the typical NYC underarm and fat-people funk that cloys the nostrils on a ripe August night. Do yourself a favor, ditch the liability. Timmy didn't really need to live to see what dystopian hell-hole was waiting for him on the other side of daybreak, anyway. Same thing goes with cute, spunky Rover. Wagging his tail and barking at the most inopportune moment. Leave him tied to a streetlight as a peace offering for the slavering vampire hordes. He may be man's best friend, but everyone knows REAL men have no friends!

6) Don't Be A Camp Follower.
In the old days, people would follow armies around hoping to be the first to scavenge off all the dead bodies. But if monsters are invading the city, the last thing you should do is go in the direction of the marching soldiers. Especially if they're National Guard. If you see humvees traveling south on 9th, make sure you're heading north on 3rd, because the Guard is a great big honking magnet o' death in urban survival scenarios. Unlike in a forest fire, you don't go in the same direction as the running soldiers. Running soldiers are just ambulating meat-kabobs on legs--sooner rather than later, something's going to take a bite. Don't let all the weaponry and technology fool you, either. A Guardsman armed with an M9 against a mob of rabid Cloverfield dandruff is like a man with a spork trying to eat his way out of a bucket full of steaming turds. One way or another, he's going to drown in shit. It ain't pretty folks. Stay far away from the boys in camo, s'all I'm saying.

7) Street Cred Means Jack To The Undead.
You might be the king of the homies where you're from, but when sewer muties come jumping out of the manholes after you, your gold chains and frosty grill are just gleaming fast-food signs beckoning in the dark. Finger lickin' good! But fear not. If you're a respectful hoodie and good to your white trash wifey, you might just make it out alive. Just, please, whatever you do -- don't aim your platinum-plated glock sideways at the lab experiment gone horribly wrong. That only insults its dignity, and you don't want to do that. In these cases, it's not unmanly to drop the attitude, hike up them baggy knee-huggers, and run for the hills. Screaming like a little bitch is optional, because sometimes it annoys the nightwalkers. And then you're in a whole different world of hurt.

8) The High Way Is Never The Right Way.
Perhaps the biggest killer of white people during a citywide monster attack is bridge collapse. If you live in lower Manhattan and you're white (I know, redundant), chances are your first instinct is to head for the bridges and toward those typical bastions of Caucasian escape--Staten Island and New Jersey. Or, nowadays, DUMBO. But like the helicopter situation in no. 4, it's a target you don't need hanging over you. Crossing, say, the Williamsburg at the height of panic in NYC is just begging for the giant harbor creature to come on over and partake of the smorgasbord of fresh humanity sliding across the bridge. Why tempt him? Your best bet is to stay low when giant sea creatures attack. Keep to the side alleys and service streets. And for god's sake, stay away from the water! Brad the power broker driving his Beemer down the West Side Highway will bite it 19 times out of 20 before Naphtali the cous-cous delivery boy on his moped does. It's a fact.

9) Never Trust The Suits.
If Big Brother has the city on lockdown and you're asked by some pale politico from D.C. to deliver an all important suitcase to his "man inside," chances are your life's not worth squat to this spooge. Whatever you're delivering is probably expensive to the man charging you with it's delivery, marginally less valuable to the man receiving it . . . but almost definitely a sick alien retrovirus ready to take over you body so that you can play Typhoid Mary to a city of misfits and ex-cons. If you absolutely cannot turn the job down (say, if your name is "Max" or "Snake"), then when you're finally jettisoned into the city, do yourself a favor and find the nearest pimp or hopped-up turf king to hand the goods off to. Chances are they'll find all sorts of interesting things to do with the mysterious contents, and you'll be spared the brunt of the next super-AIDS outbreak. But only if you find a way back out of the city, which brings me to the last tip on this list:

10) No Showboating, Please.
When you finally make it across the river to what you think is safety, don't suddenly stop running and commence end zone dancing. It ain't over yet. For this is traditionally when the zombies catch up (you thought you'd left them back on 8th street, eh?), or when that doe-eyed girl-next-door type you rescued decides it's cute to roll back her eyes and start foaming at the mouth. Point is, it ain't over until you're sitting in a bar in Tijuana sipping a double shot of Tequila blanco and laughing about it all. Although, even then, it's never really over. After all, there was that one Robert Rodriguez movie . . .

And so, there you have it. Hardly a comprehensive list, but these are the basics. Of course, the real key to surviving the destruction of your city is to move to Duluth or Fargo or someplace equally benign. Nothing ever goes on there. Of course, you run the risk of dying from sheer boredom. But that's better than expiring from chronic cranial hollowing disease, don't you think?

Consider yourself informed.


  1. Not bad.. not bad... But if this is the basics, what are the Advanced Rules?

  2. Brother, you don't WANT to know . . .


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