Next Monday, October 15, the Paranormal Task Force takes to the small screen in a straight-to-DVD release of Children of the Grave, an "action-oriented hard-documentary" about child ghosts.
Featured in the film is the group's research on Zombie Road, an area of West St. Louis County infamous as the site of several deadly accidents and as a destination for teenage debauchery. While research to determine a link between the phenomena is pending, Unreal seized the opportunity to chat with task force co-founder Greg Myers.
Unreal: What kind of zombies are we talking here Night of the Living Dead or 28 Days Later?
Greg Myers: The name "Zombie Road" comes from an urban legend. There was an old mental institution that used to be in existence, and there is still one in the area, one of those where you can go and come as you please. Rumor has it there was a patient in the hospital named Zombie and one night he took off and never came back and all they found was his bloody nightgown on the side of the road. Another theory was back in the '70s when hallucinogenic drugs and zombie movies were popular, that could have been code for kids to meet and party.
In high school we used to drive the Camaro out there to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon on eight-track. Does the area still have a reputation as a place to party?
I couldn't answer that. When I go down there on legal explorations and that's something I want to stress, that there is no trespassing allowed in the area I haven't encountered any of that. But you know how teens are.
If someone was to go, would playing, say, Rob Zombie attract or repel actual zombies?
If you play certain era-related music say there's a spirit there from the 1800s and you play 1800s music you'll get some activity. On the other hand, if you play Rob Zombie for an 1800s spirit, you might get something because they don't like it.
There's a miniature train for kids on Sundays that runs through the area. Doesn't that sound dangerous?
Paranormal experiences anywhere can be a danger there can be a one percent or a half-percent chance of something happening. But it's not that kind of area where it's demonic and people are getting attacked or possessed and things are more malicious and dangerous.
But it is haunted?
I'd put it in the top ten on my list of the most haunted areas I've been in. Every time I've been down there, there's been an experience. There were even black panther sightings: Hunters in the 1950s and '60s, when they were out hunting coons, said they saw them, and black panthers weren't rich in the area then. So maybe they were seeing something else.
When you say "black panthers," do you mean the political activists? Or the cats?
The cat, not the political activist. The actual black panther cats you would see in Tennessee.
Look! Up in the Sky!
Charlee Chartrand may be the only superhero in St. Louis with a résumé. By day he works in the children's department at Dillard's in the Saint Louis Galleria, but on certain evenings and weekends, he dons a cape and tights and roams the city's streets and comic-book festivals in the guise of Superboy.
Unreal reached out to Chartrand via the magic of cell phones while he was on his lunch break. We're thinking of fixing him up with our other bestest superhero pal, Glitterous, who graced RFT's cover back in April.
Unreal: Can you leap tall buildings in a single bound?
Charlee Chartrand: Not really, but I sure do look the part. That's how I got into this. Two years ago, when I was eighteen, my dad and stepmom convinced me to wear a Superman costume for Halloween, and everybody said how much I looked like him. So I got a better costume, and I've been appearing everywhere. I was at Fair Saint Louis back in the summer, and I got tickets to the Rams game on Halloween.
What's your greatest superpower?
My positive attitude. I always try to be nice to people. I'm great with kids. I try to be a people person, and it usually pays off.
What's your kryptonite?
I haven't found it yet. I'm trying to get to LA and be on the silver screen. I'm still looking for my big break. I'm not finding much in St. Louis.
Do you ever want to break free and be your own superhero?
Actually, I'm working on one right now. He's called "The Memory." He's empathetic and telepathic. He controls people's emotions. He can tap into people's nervous system[s] and speed up the healing process. He had a bad family life when he was a kid, and that's how he got his powers. It's totally complicated. I've got a color journal at home full of drawings. I'm trying to create a costume, but I don't draw very well, so it's mostly stick figures so far. He's going to wear black and white, though, and have a mask.
Will he have a nemesis or a sidekick?
He's neutral and works solo for right now.
What about an alter ego?
I'm thinking something like child psychologist by day, superhero by night. And he'll probably be all clumsy and tripping over everything like Clark Kent does.
Do you know Glitterous?
She roams the streets of University City and puts stickers on street signs to protect kids.
No, haven't heard of her. She sounds like fun, though.
Town Talk: Unreal responds!
They say the only reason anybody reads a local newspaper anymore is to find out who kicked the bucket. Faithful readers of the Lee Enterprises-owned South Side Journal, however, would certainly hasten to differ. Two four-letter words for ya: town talk.
As in, "Town Talk," the newspaper's weekly annals of knuckleheadedness expressed in anonymous dispatches. From presidential endorsements for Judge Judy to calls for publicly funded pooper scoopers, the south siders' unfettered editorializing has nothing and everything to do with any 63- zip code.
We're sure polite readers simply pinch themselves and carry on with their morning constitutionals. Not Unreal. We're about more than shits 'n' giggles. Which explains why we sat up in bed and spat out our espresso when a September 19 Town Talker's outpouring prompted the Journal to offer a response:
"I'm calling about Kohl's department store. I want them to know they are bugging a lot of people because all they do is put ads everyday in the papers. I am so sick of their ads. Don't they have anything better to do then put ads in the paper? I am so sorry you came to St. Louis. I wish you would get out and quit putting ads in my paper.
"Editor's note: If Kohl's doesn't advertise, how will the store attract customers?"
Without further ado, this week we introduce an occasional Unreal feature:
From the September 26 edition:
Why should blacks act white and why should whites act black? We're what we are. Why put on an act? Im tired of hearing yo from the white people and yo from the black people. We're white. We're black. Stop putting on an act.
Unreal responds! Join a mosque with the brown people.
LOCAL BLOG O THE WEEK "My St. Louis" stlouishistory.blogspot.com
Author: David Udell
About the blogger: Udell appears to be a member of a group called POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty Society) and describes his blog as "[a] personal history of St. Louis and a memoir I hope my kids don't find until after I die."
Recent Highlight (August 25): Stories My Brother Told Me 1
Like I said, my brother is full of shit, but I love his stories.
He swore he once took a fondue fork, inserted it into his urethra, impaled and extracted a round, black, shiny bug.
A fondue fork? Hey, kids! Wanna know more about fondue? Check out Ian Froeb's review of Simply Fondue in this week's issue. Yep, this is what we in the news biz call "synergy"! And if you know of an Unreal-worthy local blog, send the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.