Flatbush Zombies

Flatbush Zombies

Words: Adam Johnston
Photos: Ellington Hammond

2001: A Space Odyssey begins with monkeys. The greatest sci-fi film of all time opens with hairy screeching protohumans fighting over territory. The transition hits, the femur floats and you give in.

I’d never heard of Flatbush Zombies. Flatbush gave me a clue of the general vicinity but its pairing with our latest horror obsession – where have all the vampires gone – suggested a punk band more than anything else. But I didn’t know of course, so I just nodded along when it was brought up in meetings, pretending I was part of the conversation.


So I googled the Flatbush Zombies and found a Pitchfork interview inside a movie theater. At one point the guy asks them their favorite films and one of them – Darko, I think – just doesn’t have an answer.

Now that’s a hard question to be asked on the spot like that. Who really has an immediate answer to that question? Kids maybe. Kids love everything the most; they like new things and hate old things, they are afflicted with perfect amnesia, their allegiances shifting with no harm done. Most adults don’t have an answer. They shouldn’t have that much time on their hands, there are more pressing or interesting or selfish issues. Even without the cover there should be an understanding that you cannot pick just one favorite anything; you feel different ways on different days. People who have the same answers to those kind of questions till the day they die scare me. Certainty is death.


Darko complains about the difficulty of the question, rightfully so. The Architect and Juice give some hedged-bet responses and the discussion moves on to other topics. The interview winds down and just before the performance portion’s beat drops Darko interrupts the proceedings to follow up with his favorite movie. Darko loves Dumbo.

You feel different ways on different days. Certainty is death.

He goes on to explain why, really because of one scene – when Dumbo gets drunk and hallucinates dancing pink elephants – that tripped him the fuck out as a kid. I remember also watching Dumbo as a kid and being so tripped the fuck out by that scene that even after multiple viewings I would fast forward through it, like Dumbo hiding behind his ears. I watched the sad part where he visits his mom in circus jail; I cried, but I understood what tears meant. I did not understand what the pink elephants meant, and I didn’t know what to do with it.

Go back and watch the scene again. You’ll see it all differently now. Mix together all the movies, music, and miracles of everyday life, the molecules manipulating, warping, twisting, bending – all the things seen on the big screen and out in the big blue world. You’re still watching the pink elephants dance; the influences become your art. Go listen to the Flatbush Zombies’ new album 3001: A Laced Odyssey. It ends with your favorite rap song.