Archive for May 2011

My latest photo essay at Pajamas Media:

Media Circus of Biblical Proportions at Armageddon HQ

The media has been in a tizzy over the Rapture predictions made by end-times prophet Harold Camping, whose followers expected to ascend to heaven after God destroyed the world on Saturday at 6pm. Mostly, it’s just been a convenient excuse to bash Christians, even though the vast majority of Christians think Camping is a kook:

I suspect that the media feeding frenzy … has less to do with an impulse to lampoon the ridiculous than an impulse to ridicule Christianity in general. Despite Camping and his followers being an extremely small fringe group, the media has covered this story as if the entire Southern Baptist church made this prediction. Stanley also concurs that this should be an extremely small story, not a dominating narrative, but also predicts that we’ve just seen the beginning of it. Come tomorrow morning, we’re going to see a deluge of snarky reports about the silly end-timers who got left behind — excuse me, Left Behind — which will all carry an unstated theme of “oh, those silly Christians and their silly beliefs!”

So, the media have a self-serving justification for turning a small story into front-page news. But they do have a big logistical problem with the Rapture: it has no locus, no “main stage” where the whole drama will play out. Instead, Camping’s followers are scattered one-by-one across the country, each waiting for Rapture or disappointment in private. So where can you as a reporter stand facing the camera with a meaningful backdrop to show you’re in the middle of the action?

Well, Oakland, California famously has “no there there,” but it does have the only “there” for the Armageddon story — the headquarters of “Family Radio,” the Oakland studio where Camping records his radio shows which are then broadcast around the world. So I — along with a veritable circus of pranksters and true believers — decided to await the rapture at Armageddon HQ

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, the Family Radio offices on Hegenberger Road near the Oakland Airport. (Two other photographers also showed up and contributed their pictures to the report below.)

Turns out that neither Camping nor any of his followers were on hand, but that didn’t diminish the completely ridiculous media circus that ensued — a self-feeding fiasco that encapsulated the Armageddon-mockery frenzy we’re witnessing on a wider scale across the country.

Read the rest here!

Some photos to whet your appetite:

A man wearing a priestly cassock positioned himself in front of Camping’s offices and began to pompously declaim in churchly Latin — but who’s going to take you seriously with pornographic love dolls drifting in the background?

Bishop Joey held court in his Oakland A’s-styled “Atheists” shirt, the perfect interview subject for the throngs of media crews looking for something to focus on.

Where to find zombie’s work on the Web

Some of you may be wondering: What happened to zombietime? Is it still an active site? What’s the difference between zombietime and zomblog? And why does zombie sometimes write essays and posts that appear elsewhere, but not here?

Time to clear that all up.

I probably should have written this post long ago, but I’ve never been good at promoting myself or at using “social media.” Better late than never, I suppose.

In general, nowadays you can find my writing at four different venues:

1. zombietime
2. zomblog
3. Pajamas Media
4. The Tatler

(I’ll explain each of these in more detail below.)

Sometimes I cross-link posts I make at one venue with notifications at the other venues — but not always. Why not? Because I’m disorganized and always short of time, that’s why not!

Also, let it be noted: I do NOT have an account at any of the following social media sites, so don’t bother looking for me at…

• Facebook
• Twitter
• Flickr
…or any other similar sites.

Each of my four primary venues serves a different purpose, and so, for the first time ever, I’ll explain what each is for:

1. zombietime
zombietime is my original site, and I still consider it my “home page.” Prior to 2008, I basically posted all my work at zombietime, but once I started zomblog in April of 2008 I began to reserve zombietime for only “major” investigations or “long” photo essays. That distinction remains pretty much true to this day: big reports go on zombietime, and small reports go on zomblog.

However, you may have noticed that I’m posting less and less frequently on zombietime; that’s because these days I post most of my big reports and long essays at Pajamas Media (“PJM” — more on that below). In theory, I had originally planned to cross-post every single PJM essay also at zombietime, but, well, out of sheer laziness and limited spare time, I usually never get around to it. But on those occasions in which I do cross-post PJM photo essays at zombietime, the version posted at zombietime will sometimes have slightly larger photos, will all be on one page (instead of broken up into several pages), and will be ad-free and distraction-free — so many readers still consider the zombietime version (if there is one) as the “official” version of any zombie post.

Since 2010, everything that’s appeared at zombietime has also simultaneously appeared at PJM. I had planned to occasionally post zombietime-only “exclusives” that appear here and nowhere else, but once again the shortness of free blogging time and the general disorganization has prevented that from happening. As a result, posts appear at zombietime very infrequently these days, sometimes with several months of inactivity between reports. But I still reserve zombietime as the possible exclusive venue for any particularly outré reports in the future.

You may have noticed that zombietime is not a blog; you can’t leave comments there, and it has no RSS feed. So there’s no automated way to get notified of new zombietime posts. But not to worry! Because that’s one of the functions that zomblog serves: as a zombietime-notification system. From the day I started zomblog, I have always made a zomblog post notifying readers of any new zombietime essay, without fail. And I plan to remain diligent about this. So that if you subscribe to the zomblog RSS feed, you are guaranteed to learn of any and all new posts at zombietime (as infrequent as they may be).

zombietime is not just a place where I post photo essays: it also exists as a permanent museum of classic (yet still wildly popular) picture collections like the Mohammed Image Archive and the (woefully out-of-date) zombietime Hall of Shame, among others.

One last note about zombietime: Not only is zombietime not a blog, but it’s “old school” in every way: Each page is hand-coded, generally with 1994-era ultra-primitve html. It has no bells and whistles of any kind: no comments, no social media widgets, no RSS, no sidebar, no nothing — except for my text and photos. That’s it. It also has no advertisements. All of this is intentional. My goal with zombietime is to maintain a complete “purity of message,” each report being a single self-contained page 100% devoted to nothing but whatever topic I’m addressing, with no outside distractions of any kind. Old-fashioned? Sure. But I like it that way.

2. zomblog
zomblog is, as the name suggests, the “zombietime blog.” I originally started zomblog as a place to publish short mini-posts that didn’t feel hefty enough to merit a post at zombietime. And while that remains zomblog’s primary function, it is also used for:

– announcements of and links to all new zombietime reports;
– a place for readers to comment on zombietime reports;
– occasional notifications of my PajamasMedia posts;
– a place for me to post single photos or humorous asides;
– and in general anything I deem too “small” to post on zombietime.

In theory, I really ought to post on zomblog notifications of each and every new essay I pubish at Pajamas Media, but I often use up all my available “blogging time” just creating the PJM report in the first place, and never get around to making a zomblog post about it. Terribly disorganized of me, I realize, but until I really get my act together (not likely), my zomblog/PJM notifications will remain inconsistent.

Unlike zombietime, zomblog is a “normal” blog like everyone’s used to, with a comments section, time-stamped posts, archives, an RSS feed, “pingbacks,” and so forth. The only distinguishing factor is a complete absence of advertisements, which is once again a conscious decision on my part — a personality quirk, I suppose.

In 2010, I started writing for Pajamas Media, a burgeoning news portal with a large stable of well-known authors and pundits. Which leads us to my next two primary venues which, if you want to keep tabs on my output, you’ll really need to bookmark:

3. Pajamas Media
My ongoing column at Pajamas Media (PJM) has now become my main outlet for posting photo essays, investigative reports, analyses, satire, and anything else that occurs to me. As such, it now generally serves the same function that zombietime used to serve, although there tends to be more straight-up writing at PJM, with only the occasional photo essay, whereas zombietime was somewhat more photographically oriented.

As I said above, my original intention was to re-post on zombietime each and every single PJM essay, but I’m always too busy to keep that promise. So these days, most of my essays appear at PJM and nowhere else. This is a key point, and actually the main reason I’m making this explanatory post: Many of my longtime readers keep checking for new stuff at zomblog and zombietime, and go away disappointed that there’s nothing new, unaware that I’m making frequent posts at PJM that never get referenced here at all. So if you want to keep abreast of my work, make sure you check my PJM column. I’ve made many wildly popular and newsworthy posts at PJM over the last couple years that you would have entirely missed if you only checked the zombietime domain.

Should I be cross-posting everything everywhere, for maximum exposure? Yes. I don’t deny it. But blogging remains a part-time thing for me, and as long as my stuff appears at least somewhere, I’m satisfied: there’s no real need for a duplicative re-post of the same material. Besides which, PJM has a much larger Web footprint than zombietime, and PJM is indexed by Google News and other search engines, and as a result my work can reach a much wider audience through PJM than it could on just my own one-person site.

Which brings me to my final primary venue:

4. The Tatler
My posts at PJM’s group blog called “The Tatler” are where I make short, quippy observations about current events. I also sometimes post single photos or mini photo essays at The Tatler, which is why it has pretty much supplanted the role formerly filled by zomblog.

Overall, The Tatler is a fast-paced group blog at which any PJM author can post quick breaking news links or timely punditry about current events. This link to the main “Tatler” page will show you all posts by all authors. But it’s also possible to bookmark a stream of just a single Tatler author’s posts — so this link will give just the zombie posts on The Tatler. Very handy!

In theory, I’m supposed to always make a Tatler post notifying the world of any new major essay I publish at my main PJM column, but just as at zomblog, I frequently fall down on the job and forget to do so. As a result, I usually have two distinct content-streams going on at the Pajamas Media domain — larger posts at my PJM column, and shorter posts at the Tatler.

Just because my Tatler posts are supposed to be short and quick, doesn’t mean that they’re always insignificant; in some instances, my Tatler posts have become hugely popular and generated more traffic than even my “major” reports.

So, that’s it for the main components of my Web presence. Since every single zombietime post receives its own notification on zomblog, you can keep tabs on all my work by bookmarking just three pages:

My dedicated column at Pajamas Media;
My stream at The Tatler; and

With those three bookmarks, you’ll catch just about everything I publish as “zombie” these days.

That said…

My online presence is not entirely limited to just zombietime and PJM. If you’re a real zombieholic, you can also find my work at…

5. YouTube
I have an account at YouTube under the name “zombietimedotcom,” and on occasion will take a video at one of the events I cover and upload it for inclusion in my report. If you visit my YouTube “Channel” and click the “Subscribe” button at the top of the page, you’ll get an automatic notification from YouTube every time I upload a new video. (You’ll have to have your own YouTube account to do this.) The interesting part is this: Because I usually upload new videos long before I’m ready to actually publish a new photo essay, people who subscribe to my YouTube Channel get advance warning of any upcoming zombie video report hours or sometimes even days ahead of time, depending on how long it will take me to work on it.

6. The comments sections of other blogs or news sites
I don’t do a lot of commenting outside my own domains, but on occasion my fingers will start flying. In particular, I sometimes will write mini-essay comments under the username “jimjams” (slang for pajamas) at SFGate, the Web site for the San Francisco Chronicle which (as much as I hate it) is basically my hometown newspaper. Not all jimjams comments are by me (a few other people log on under the same username and post comments as well), but most are. So if you happen to stumble across a jimjams comment that’s incisive, brutal or witty, that’s me. (However, most comments I leave at SFGate are about local issues and local news stories, and so would be of little interest to the general public.)

7. Secret double-anonymous essays, ascribed to other people
Yes, it’s true: Once every blue moon I will put together an investigative report and then allow someone else to publish it under their own name; or I will publish it under some username other than “zombie.” Why? Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? So, if you ever see a report that you think is in my style, but doesn’t have my byline, and think to yourself, “Gee, I wonder if zombie is behind this,” the answer is: Possibly. You never know!

One last question I sometimes get asked:

Is there a way to get automated email notifications of each and every new zomblog or PJM zombie post? And the answer is: Uh…hmmm…possibly! There may be some way to “subscribe” email-wise to the RSS feed of zomblog, but I’m not sure how it works, to be frank. This link may also work as a “feed” for my PJM columns, and this link may get you my Tatler “feed,” though you’ll have to figure out on your own how to turn it into an email subscription. (My ignorance of all things tech is really starting to show, I fear.) If you manage to subscribe to all three feeds, then you’re all set! (Note: I don’t maintain my own personal email list, however; once again, laziness and disorganization trump everything else.)

So: if you’re a zombietime fan and didn’t even know I was publishing most of my stuff over at PJM, then make sure to bookmark my Pajamas Media column and my Tatler stream; if you’re a PJM reader who didn’t know I had my own personal site , then make sure to bookmark zombietime and zomblog.

Alternately, you can subscribe to the RSS feeds for my work at zomblog, PJM, and The Tatler.

And it wouldn’t be a zombie post without at least one picture, so here’s a photo of a bumper sticker somewhere in America, submitted by an anonymous fan who sent it to me without explanation:

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