Halloween fast approaches, and it’s my favourite time of year. It wasn’t always this way. As a boy, I was all about Christmas. I dug the presents – being an only child, I always got a lot. My haul was usually like a successful bank heist. A bank full of toys. Also, my house had a lot of unspoken lapsed-Catholic guilt, among other weirdness, so Christmas was eyed as a time to set any wrongs right through shameless materialism. It was years before I realised other kids weren’t lavished with stuff like I was. Worked for me, but as a result, I’ve never put much stock in possessions, always knowing how hollow things are at day’s end. Throughout my life, as different situations have dictated, I’ve always been the first guy to gather up virtually everything I own and haul it off to a pawn shop, all to buy a ticket or put the pedal to the metal. Onward always, to the next adventure. Shit only weighs you down. That ethic served me well for years – to this day, in fact. Hell, I might fill the tank and head for the hills right now, just thinking about it. But these days I’d have some solid company on the ride, what with a family and all. No children, but three terriers are a handful, let me tell you, and quite enough for us at the moment. Still, life’s proven we can’t predict what lurks around the bend. Don’t believe that, eh? Got it all figured out, do ya? Tell you what, when you’re knocked on your ass, I’ll give you a hand up and get the first round. We can compare war stories and scars. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Show me the way to go home…I’m tired and I wanna go to bed…
I love everything about Halloween. From our corporate society’s lead-up that fills storefronts and shops with all things gruesome and macabre, to the costumes each new generation of kids emerges with – some wildly imaginative, some dumber than hell, and as it should be. A Halloween costume speaks volumes about the wearer, probably more than any other single event-based thing I can think of. Reminds me of one year we spent on my porch in Los Angeles, looming over Virgil Avenue, shrouded in reaper gear and silhouetted in dry ice fog, handing out candy to the neighbourhood’s excited Mexican children. Three kids sauntered up my front steps, clearly too old to be trick-or-treating among toddlers. Two boys in pinstripes and baby moustaches with a girl [maybe fourteen to fifteen] who was blossoming faster than she could keep up with, dressed-up, but not costumed. We studied each other in silence, my skeletal hand reaching for a fistful of chocolates. “What are you supposed to be?” I asked, not relinquishing my cheesy reaper voice. The tallest kid looked downright insulted, rolling his eyes and shoving his bag out to be filled, totally humourless. “A pimp.” Well, alright. Gotta start somewhere, I guess. I immediately had a barrage of jokes to fire at them – Bitch, leggo my Mr. Goodbar! Reach in and grab these nuts! – but the risk of catching a real bullet while dressed as a fake reaper seemed somehow not out of the realm of possibility. It was a wild street. LAPD Rampart division, gang turf. In the end, I just doled-out candy, cued eerie music, and let them stroll through the fog back to the street, looking decidedly miserable and thoroughly pissed-off. Permanently disaffected youth was just reaching its style zenith then. I think it’s dulled somewhat in the years since, but at the time it was like fuckin’ A Clockwork Naranja everywhere you went.
Looking back at the years, there’s so much more Halloween ridiculousness than can be confined to an article of any decent length here – like taking a date who’d very meticulously dressed as Foxy Brown-era Pam Grier to an upscale party hosted by a very proper Marilyn Monroe clone, while staying in character as GG Allin to the horror of all within striking distance, until the entire gathering fled to the backyard and our gang had the run of the house. Or the time we forced our way into Canter’s Deli and commandeered every table in the dining room, then spent an hour insisting we’d been ushered to our seats by a waiter who didn’t exist, until the frustrated staff finally gave up and let us have the room until chairs began breaking. Or still yet, the year my old band took the stage in costume at a North Hollywood dive bar/horror film festival. The film geeks heckled the punk rock, the punks heckled the bad movies, I had a foot in both worlds and just had a good time. Them was quite the days. And I can’t omit perhaps the most important one of all. I married the best girl in the world last Halloween, surrounded by our closest goblins, vampires, outlaws, muppets…and the immortal Flava Flav & Ric Flair. This year, we’re taking it to the people Stateside, in the birthplace of the modern zombie, Pittsburgh PA. Every Saturday leading up to the Big Boo, Bradley’s Book Outlet is hosting book signing meet & greets for me with my first novel, Scarla. I can’t think of a better way to do it up right, and hope to meet some new fiends along the way.
Yet, one of my fondest memories was the first year I stayed in and did nothing, submitting the night to unseasonal rainshowers and watching AMC’s classic monster movie marathon until dawn. I fell asleep at some point, but awoke for a minute or two during each film, feeling an amazing calm in the glow of the flickering black & white TV screen. Just me and the greatest holiday in history. Ever since, I’ve made it a point to find the old monster movies on Halloween night, crank ’em up and give ’em reign until sun up, whether I watch or not. Ratings count, kids. Big Brother keeps the score. The day a network doesn’t dedicate All Hallow’s Eve to the ghosts & ghouls is the day the real bad guys win. We don’t want that. Turn on the station that celebrates the most and play it from the rooftops all night long. Then read some Poe to your loved ones – or hell, to complete strangers, what does it matter? You might meet some dark new allies with which to bust up some stuffy parties across town and show ’em how it’s done. Enjoy. Give ’em hell, hellions. Happy Halloween!