Halloween Postmortem/Costume Roundup:
Went to the Family Dollar on Oct. 30 & it was already Christmas! The carols were cranking and all they had for Halloween was one lonely shelf of Jack-‘o-Lantern lollipops and Silly String. I guess I could have dressed as a candy cane factory…
At the Duane Reade on Myrtle, the options had dwindled to “Sexy Cop,” “Kinky Witch,” and “Asylum Inmate.” As so many people struggle with mental illness, I was a little surprised at the un-P.C. nature of “Asylum Inmate”, who sported a “straitjacket” and a Hannibal Lecter-style mouth grill.
Saw an African-American family with three kids walking down the street. The older kids were sort of generic witchy things but the three-year old boy was toddling along in a l’il cop uniform and toting an outsize toy handgun. (Fortunately the gun was neon orange, unlike the realistic toy gun that got a guy on my street killed by the cops a few years back.) An odd costume choice in a neighborhood where folks often complain of police brutality? Or a sign of diversity on the Force?
PS- Can’t figure out why every single person in that photo is white if it’s on the street in Bed-Stuy.
My vote for:
Nerviest Costume (spotted by a friend in an East Village bar): Joseph Fritzl of Austrian incest dungeon fame. Immediately recognizable by the eyebrows…
Most Obscure Costume: President Taft. (F Train)
Most Puzzling Costume: Ghandi completely covered with blue body paint. (Sunset Park)
Most Distressing Costume: Obese Princess Leia in white stretch jumpsuit. (Park Slope)
Sign o’ the Times: Gumby on his cell phone. (Fort Greene)
Most Buxom Wenches: The Carriage House Inn (Park Slope)
Most Mixed Metaphor: Baby Butterfly wearing Diamond Tiara (Bed-Stuy)
Most Generic Costume: Fishnets and glitter and just looking like a slut. (Bed-Stuy, Everywhere)
This is the first year that I’ve understood how Halloween works in Bed-Stuy. When I first moved here, I lived on a predominantly industrial block lined by warehouses, auto shops, and vacant lots, so trick-or-treaters weren’t on my radar. Having grown up in the Detroit area, I was much more concerned about “Devil’s Night.” However, they don’t seem to have that the same way in NYC; just the odd egg, not too much setting things on fire.
In 2005, we moved to a brownstone block, which seemed much more suburban. We had been slowly renovating the creaky old Victorian house over a period of years. I knew that my former tenants, one of whom was a props manager and stagehand, had created a haunted house in the still-derelict floors and invited the neighborhood children to tour it. With its crumbling plaster and exposed lath, crude Masonic diagrams crayoned on the walls, the cobwebby spiral stairwell, and the lengths of BX dangling like jungle lianas from the ceiling, it must have looked the part even without the skeletons and masks. In the basement kitchen, its wainscoting black with ancient shellac, my tenants had erected a pasteboard graveyard with epitaphs for all the former residents who still received mail at this former boarding house and S.R.O.. Scary as the house might have been for the children, the flaking lead paint, holes in the floor, and feral dogs in the yard must have been a lot scarier to any parents who found out about it. (And to any stray designer who might wander in off the street, the layers of grimy turquoise and yellow paint covering the mahogany woodwork would have been more frightening still.) And in retrospect, for me it was a veritable Liability Nightmare on Elm Street.
Given this notoriety, I was at least expecting trick-or-treaters and I dutifully stocked up on Mr. Goodbars and Hershey Kisses at the dollar store. By five pm, I was ready. I waited and waited. Nobody rang my bell. I could see the odd gaggle of kids in costume, apparently heading for a party, but no families traipsing door to door. Gazing out at the crack house down the street, it dawned on me why trick-or-treating might not become a tradition in the inner city. You just don’t know who’s going to answer the door. The next year I bought one bag of candy as insurance, but still no comers. Then I gave up.
This year, as I was strolling to the Duane Reade in search of a last-minute Feline Frenzy makeup kit, I observed that people with candy will sometimes come down with a big bowl and stand at their gates handing it out to passing kids so that no one has to knock on doors. The trick of of Trick or Treating in the ‘hood is revealed.
Still, the Halloween Party for kids seems to be a popular alternative. There was a huge party swarming with little ghouls and goblins at the Pentacostal Church on Nostrand Ave. I was a little surprised because I know that many evangelical denominations think Halloween is satanic. However, this one was really rocking and rolling. I swear that someone with a microphone was belting out something about Jesus vanquishing all the ghouls and demons, but to be fair that could have been my imagination and it could have been the Monster Mash. And clearly, a good time was had by all.
Check out my “About” and “My House” Pages to find out more!
Too bad the pic of me and my fellow laborer lounging atop the mound of scrap in the 40 cu yard dumpster we filled didn’t come out!
The alley we are clearing out here belonged to a former garment factory warehouse. Aside from the metal racks and plastic hangers, the bulk of the refuse consisted of these bizarre bra labels for some low-end lingerie line. According to my former boyfriend, when he bought the building it contained literally hundreds of thousands of these paper tags, with the leering faces of oddly vampiric-looking models of young and old alike sporting their nursing bras, trainer bras, girdles, and other industrial white polyester fare.