At the end of Robert Heinlein’s short story “All You Zombies”, the protagonist, who has managed through gender re-assignment and time travel to be his own mother and father, seems trapped in his own narcissistic circle of causality. After he has completed his cycle of movement and ‘movements’, he speaks to an unnamed other of his loneliness, only to ask of the rest of the world “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from?”
His zombies, it seems, are the agentless walking-living, that teeming mass of people who aren’t causes of their own existence, who look outward for will, meaning, and mission. Zombies, thus, are easy metaphors for the automatic behavior of human beings—the way we mindlessly consume ourselves and the world around us from the moment we’re born until we die. Not being a zombie is, on one hand, a losing battle against appetite and attrition. Not thinking about zombies? Something different altogether.
In the 1990 Christian Slater vehicle, Pump Up the Volume, a wise urban kid moves to a podunk town and sets up his own pirate radio with which he educates and terrorizes the town about music from the Beastie Boys and the Pixies to Leonard Cohen and Ice-T. IN this suburban Phoenix no-town, no threat has been greater since Kevin Bacon stopped dancing than this: the youth’s access to the edgy, alt-music scene that has been eating away at the edifice of corporate cock-rock for several years.
Today is College Radio Day, a day to celebrate and recognize the achievements and contributions of College Radio. While the threat posed by Christian Slater doesn’t really mean that much any more (who’s going to worry about FM Radio when the internet can bring you child-porn and bomb-making instructions?), College Radio is still providing essential and rare service in an increasingly homogeneous and confused radio world. (If not for Public Radio and College Radio, Clear Channel might have ruined everything already).