Top illustration by Tim Forkes
Years ago I wrote this little diddy about Halloween being one of my favorite holidays — for all the wrong reasons. It’s been updated, with new visual aids and additional explanations.
- Just a heads up: This story isn’t for kids or the overly straight-laced.
One year I was thinking of dressing up like Count Dracula, at one time a favorite costume for many men and boys, but being old as dirt I thought I would be more of a Grandpa Munster … but that wasn’t going to work because it would require some effort on my part to do it.
One All Hallow’s Eve, many — many — years ago, I put on my usual clothes and, with my long, but not yet gray, hair and full beard, ventured out into the public to hear some live music.
At the time I was reviewing music for the Milwaukee, WI weekly, the Shepherd Express — “Holy the vast lamb of the Middle Class! Holy the Crazy Shepherds of Rebellion!” I didn’t realize it at the time, but apparently I was always dressed for Halloween. I realized this one Halloween Weekend night while walking down Brady Street in the Cream City, to my car, late after the bands had stopped playing and it was time for me to go home. It was also that hour of the morning when groups of people would stumble and fall out of the various bars on Brady.
Brady Street in Milwaukee, by the way, is one of those neighborhoods with a distinct personality you won’t find anywhere else in the Milwaukee Metro Area. Part Italian, part party city, it was the place I went to when in high school to buy cannabis paraphernalia like bongs, rolling papers and black light posters for those nights I was using hallucinogens. On those long, Milwaukee winter evenings I had to entertain myself in my basement bedroom. The details were at times messy so I will just put that to the side.
Just a brief example: When you think you see dirt in your cocaine — and remember, I was tripping at the time — don’t spread those two grams on a mirror and try to blow the dirt — imagined or real — out of the cocaine … Does that qualify as a bad trip?
Anyway, as I was walking to my car in the wee hours of the morning some guy stumbling out of a bar in a messy costume said, “I get it! You’re Jerry Garcia!” You know, founder and guitarist/singer/songwriter for the Grateful Dead.
That surprised me because at the time I wasn’t fat. I did have long hair and a full beard and wore a leather biker jacket and jeans. So, okay, my costume for that Halloween was Jerry Garcia. As a Deadhead I wasn’t offended, it felt like a compliment.
Walking a little farther — it’s always hard to find parking in and around Brady Street on the weekends — a group of Halloween revelers came out of another pub and one guy said, “I know! You’re Cheech and Chong!”
Cheech and Chong? Sure, whatever. I’m Cheech and Chong. Maybe he meant just Tommy Chong. Or maybe he thought both guys. What the heck, a Cheech or Chong costume would be great! Carry around a nice G. Graphics bong, spreading one hits to anyone who wanted one. It’s sort of legal here in California anyway.
The only wrinkle in that plan is I no longer smoke or otherwise ingest cannabis, but a Tommy Chong or Cheech Marin costume complete with a bong sounds like a great costume.
Ah, Cheech & Chong! Earaches My Eye
Son: HEY! What’re ya tryin’ to do?! You ruined my record, man, I just bought it!”
Dad: I don’t care what you just bought! You get your fanny-perpendicular and get ready for school!”
Son: “I’m not going to school!”
Dad: “What do you mean you’re not going to school?!
Son: “Just what I said, I’m not going to school!
Dad: “And why not?!”
Son: “Because I’m sick, that’s why not!”
Dad: Sick? You’re sick alright. What’s wrong with you now, Prince Charming?”
Son: “I got an earache.”
Dad: “Earache, my eye! How’d you like a buttache?! Now get your little fanny out of that bed and clean up this room, it looks like a pigsty. You hear me?!”
When we were in high school, back when that first came out, it had us rolling on the floor with laughter. It makes me wonder two things about guys from my generation:
A) How many of you still laugh at Cheech and Chong and that album, Cheech & Chong’s Wedding Album? You know, without the chemical aids? Or with, I’m not judging.
B) Who remembers G. Graphic Bongs and how tall was the largest one you owned? My tallest was three feet, if I remember correctly … But that era of my life is kind of a blur.
Anyway, since that night when drunken revelers thought I was either Jerry Garcia or Cheech & Chong, I would adjust my usual attire to resemble one or the other(s). Although I have to be honest: I also figured the police would not find a three-foot bong as an acceptable Halloween costume accessory.
This year, and for most of the past 30 years, I haven’t bothered with any costumes. With digital photography apps (programs) I can change my face in a variety of ways to accentuate the holiday. I have provided some vivd examples.
As for the people that don’t celebrate Halloween because they think it’s the evil plan of Satan … I guess I could dress up as the Nun from The Conjuring movies. That’s kind of religious …
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.