Over the years I’ve done some strange posts. I’ve written about a variety of things, most of them revolving around writing, but sometimes I go places and do things that are interesting to others. And there have been times when I’ve reveled things about myself that have surprised and sometimes shocked people.
This post . . . it’s a little of everything. A tail of travel to exotic movie locations, a look at things on a long journey, and a bit of strange, personal information about me.
So, let’s get to the full disclosure:
I am a crocheting groupie.
I’ve been a member of a group on Facebook, HodgePodge Crocheting, for as long at the group has been around. Why, you ask? Do you crochet? No, I am not a hooker, which is what we call someone who does. Then why are you there? Because my bestest friend, Tanya, owns the group, and she included me in the group when she put it together. In fact, there are only three other people who joined before me, and the owner of the group is one, so there.
For the longest time I was a private groupie, because I wasn’t out as a woman yet, and the thousands of people in the group–yes, that’s true, we’re over three thousand strong–weren’t aware of my status as a transwoman. But one day I jumped in on a question about gender identity in young kids, and that was it: I was off and running.
These days I’m the Memestress and Keeper of Helena, our own Drama Llama, one of the Lorekeepers of TARDIS Knowledge, and a member in good standing. I’ve also been promising to show off our groupie tee shirt . . .
See, a while back we sold tee shirts to our members, one with the group logo and the wording that proclaimed that we were proud HodgePodge Groupies. Many members have already shown theirs, and I was getting questions about when I was going to show mine. The answers were always the same: I’m going to show it soon, and I’m going to do it at a famous movie location.
A couple of weeks ago, it was time to get to some picture taking.
To get to where I needed to go was gonna take some time, so I headed out early, pretty much as the sun was coming up, and began driving west:
As you can see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is curving up into the mountains. Just behind that “Blue Mountain” sign is the first of four tunnels I needed to traverse. There are two just on the other side of the sign, then another about ten miles beyond that, and then further to the west, the Allegheny Tunnel, which is the longest on the turnpike.
Now, what do I do when I’m out driving for long periods of time? Wouldn’t you know it, I shot a video! First off, it’s not the car moving, it’s the camera: I was holding it in my right hand while I drove with my left, and kept the vehical on cruise control. The music is loud because that’s usually how I keep it when I’m driving. Don’t try this at home, kids: I’m a professional. And at about forty-four seconds you’ll probably notice some caterwauling which is me doing my best to sing.
My best isn’t that good.
Beyond that is Sideling Hill–a place I visited last year–and this place: Breezewood, home of a lot of places to stop and eat, as well as Gateway to the Abandoned Turnpike.
I needed to get a bit of breakfast and some coffee, and since I was running just a little ahead of schedule, it was a good place to relax and decompress. Because I had a long ways to go to get to my first stop . . .
Right here, just south of Pittsburgh.
I know more than a few of you are saying or thinking, “Cassie, why’d you drive half way across the state to visit a shopping mall?” Because this isn’t just any shopping mall: this is a famous movie location. Monroeville Mall was the location for the filming of the original Dawn of the Dead, the second of the original George Romero zombie movies, released in 1978. Filming took place from ten PM until 6 AM; at which point the mall Muzak came on and since no one knew how to switch it off, that was a wrap.
Since I was in the area I thought, hey, stop in and look around. See if any of the undead are still around . . .
The mall has changed a great deal since 1978: new stores, new look, probably even a layout change here and there–though the food court still looked pretty funky, so I gotta wonder if there’s been many updates there. Since I didn’t see any zombies, I bought a pair of boots and a pair of flats. Because . . . shopping.
But this isn’t where I really wanted to show myself wearing my groupie tee shirt. I said I was doing it at a famous movie location, and I knew just the place. Because before you can have a Dawn, you need a Night . . .
Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a genre changer, it was a genre maker. Before this movie zombies were some drugged-out losers controlled by a bokor. Everything that we know and love about zombies started with this moving, and while many have added to the mythos, without this little film you wouldn’t today have a guy on TV running around drilling zombies with a crossbow, a woman lopping off heads with a katana, another guy running around yelling “Coral!” and a woman who wants you to just look at the flowers.
Romero started the zombie apocalypse with a virus brought back from space (just like Robert Kirkman would lie about a few decades later when he pitched The Walking Dead and said the zombies were begin created by aliens) and before you knew it, the dead were crawling around looking to add to their numbers and fill their bellies at the same time. He didn’t have a lot of money for filming, and he pretty much had to just shoot wherever he could–like an hour up the road from Pittsburgh in Evans City.
All of the shooting took place outside a house that is no longer standing, and inside a house right inside town that is still there. But George needed some place special for the opening shots, which would involve–what we didn’t know at the time–the first attack by a zombie on a living person in cinematic history.
Where would you do that? Where do you think?
Welcome to the Evans City Cemetery, and that sign in the above photo was in the movie. This is it: Ground Zero for Zombie History, because up the winding road and at the top of the hill is where George filmed Barbara and her douchey brother Johnny visiting their father’s grave before Johnny stupidly joins the ranks of the undead.
Here’s the small chapel in front of which Johnny and Barbara stopped:
Here’s the lucky couple paying their respects:
And the site today:
And then Mister Don’t Say the Zed Word shows up and Barbara trying to escape from the horror:
And almost forty-five years later, Cassidy is trying to do a Barbara.
Famous movie locations: since a lot of my friends, Tanya among them, are huge Walking Dead fans, where better to show off my HodgePodge Groupie tee shirt than the site of the first cinematic zombie attack. And am I worried I’ll be attacked by the undead? No. Not only because it’s a bright, sunny day, but . . .
And I bought a big one just in case things get serious:
I even managed to get my get my favorite traveling companion in one shot, my trusty CR-V with almost 150,000 miles on the odometer.
So there you have it: travels to Zombieland, with stop-offs for breakfast on the way out:
And a stop for pumpkin spice latte on the way back:
All that took place two weeks ago, on a Sunday, the 14th of September. But I wasn’t quiet done . . .
See, today–the day of this post–is my friend Tanya’s birthday, and one of the things I wanted to do was wish her a happy birthday in a special way. Because she’s . . . well, she’s a friend like no other, and you do lovely things for those friends. I had intended to film a message for her while I was snapping pictures back in Evans City, but then realized, “Nope, I’m in the zombie graveyard, I need a better place.” Which brings me a little closer to home: near my apartment, down in Riverside Park right by the river.
So, without further ado, my birthday greeting.
And there you have it: the travels of a crocheting groupie out to show off her tee shirt to not only her friends in her group, but to her friends on this blog . . . and most importantly, to try and make today a special day for my friend and, in many ways, my creative muse.
Until next year . . .