The Living Dead

The Spike is no judge. The Spike is only an arbiter, an ambassador, a weapons inspector.

But you readers decided to write like a pack of damn dirty apes. A quiet little contest offering small bits of South African gold turned into a major pain in the butt because you responded en masse and seemed to really be trying to save your asses in responding.

The Spike would say "Get a life," but that's exactly what you were all trying to do. And you were great!

Like caged animals that write well, you wrote often and with furiousness about why you should be the last human to join us in the New Times bunker once the "Bushocalypse" comes, as one writer put it.

It's nice to see we appeal to a wide demographic. We had your usual writer types freelancers, unemployed English majors, some grossly polysyllabic philosophy majors, band guys looking for a cheap plug for their next show.

But we also had a brilliant 11-year-old girl who wanted to live life without dumbass sixth-grade boys, as well as military guys, neurologists, engineers, firefighters, city employees, college students and what we think might be the starting infield for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now, to some better writing:

From 11-year-old Grace Cheifetz: "I hope I don't sound picky, but I don't like girls who are mean, rude, impolite, or have a problem with my personality, but I will put up with them. But boys are another story. I don't like boys who fart, burp/belch, or make weird noises in my ears, or on purpose. I just cannot live with them, unless they're in a different section of the room.

"As I mentioned, I'm smart."

Duh! Grace gets kudos for best writing by an 11-year-old E-V-E-R!

But sorry, Grace, after Dubya-Dubya-Three, prodigal children must be created, not included.

Oddly, and effectively, many essayists actually accentuated their negatives, not the positives. As New Times writers, we of course deeply appreciated the half-empty glasses:

"If we ever face an array of mutated, demented beasts intent on killing and consuming us, you can rest assured that you'll be able to outrun me," Matt Hudson wrote.

"Short, fat, non-drinking post-menopausal hypochondriac is now accepting invitations to join an Ultra Secure Bomb Shelter Group in case of World War III. Hurry! ONLY THE FIRST 100 INVITATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED!" Wendy Bederka's essay was so damn funny we almost forgot we couldn't breed with her.

"The day is fast approaching when the American eagle will croak its last proud, feeble cry as nearly everyone in Phoenix is annihilated. I should not be among those souls who must be sacrificed; I am too valuable because I am the last imaginative man in Phoenix, if not the entire U.S. It should be noted, too, that I am not French." God bless you, Robert Stevens, for being the best non-French contestant.

This from Larry C. Kay of Chandler:

"With a little up-front notice I'd even be willing to undergo surgical modification to become everybody's best friend in the back room: A hermaphrodite the best of both worlds!"

But what sort of citizen actually merits a one-fourth-ounce gold Krugerrand? A man who knows how to rebuild a strip mall and a homeowners' association once the Apocalypse has petered out.

After all, you must know what makes a city tick to make it rise again from the ashes.

Our nearly $100 in gold goes to Tom Lamoureux, a technical writer who moved to Phoenix four years ago from the Midwest. His winning entry also wins coveted news space below. Other entries, drawings and photographs will be posted online shortly. They are well worth your time.

Brochure for a New Tomorrow

Forget about saving a significant, symbolic, or indeed even a seed part of humanity. It is infeasible and it isn't fundamentally Phoenician. We do not save. We resurrect and we rehash. Certainly, it is a crying shame that humanity faces an imminent Apocalypse. But like so many previously doomed civilizations, present-day Phoenix can provide the foundations for a future city. It can pass down its abundant edifices as a means to inspire, and for us, no architecture is more predominant than the gated community and the golf resort. These familiar constructions shall spawn a New Phoenix that genuinely resurrects our values and our lifestyle. If I am saved a spot in the New Times bunker, duty and nostalgia shall compel me to push open the lead-lined doors, stoop upon the sizzling earth and lay the first beige cinderblock.

I will discard my gold Krugerrand, since metal objects tend to attract residual radiation. Then I will survey the site. New Phoenix will be a planned community of fortified homes centered around a modest, 9-hole course designed by a surviving celebrity. (Since we will be playing with wooden clubs, we won't be able to hit long. Most pars will be a 7 or an 8.) I will immediately sink a well and then, thanks to a rudimentary sprinkler system, divert the water table to the greens (in name only; predominant colors will likely be yellows and oranges). Our homes will be two- and three-bedroom, no-garage, below-surface haciendas. Tunnels will connect us. We will go topside periodically to forage and to tee off.

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Robert Nelson