A friend was just bitching about Halloween. He hates Halloween. He hates everything, actually, but today he hates Halloween. I love Halloween. Not Halloween for grown ups so much, that can be annoying, but for kids. We go out to South Pasadena every Halloween and cover the trick or treat action at the door for a jazz trumpeter and his wife. They walk their little ones around the neighborhood and we man the door. There are hordes of kids, hundreds and hundreds, from cindy lou who’s a foot high to Occidental College students with a hat and a brown paper bag and that herbal smell. One time some Hooters girls came dressed as Hooters girls. Funny what you remember.
After the kids are all gone (or the candy runs out) we drink beer and eat pizza and hang and listen to Lee Morgan on scratchy vinyl and the trumpeter tells jazzy tales of woe, degradation, and soloing pure and beautiful. Later, back home, we’ll catch the tail end of whatever horror movie marathon is on. Bela, Boris and Vincent Price. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley’s heaving bosom. The bite comes hard, with a crunch, and the blood flows and runs down Christopher Lee’s chin. Barbara swoons. My wife gnaws on a Snickers bar she copped from the bowl. I’m chewing some bubble gum. We drink beers and watch and shiver. Halloween.
It’s our connection to the pagan past, Halloween is, and to an early Christianity when death was ever present and the souls of the fallen were all around us, lost in limbo. We lit candles then, we prayed, we cowered, and we saw spectres everywhere. They were real then. They’re on the TV now. But if you let the stories get to you, really get to you, the spectres can be real all over again, and you can feel a hint of the terrors of life in the dark, dark ages.