Halloween is for Saints and sinners … mostly sinners

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Today is Halloween, one of my favorite Holidays. It’s at the top of my list for all the wrong reasons. What can I say?

The thought I had for this year was this: since first seeing Bela Lugosi as the legendary Count Dracula, oh so many years ago, I’ve wanted to dress up as a vampire. Back in the day when I could have pulled off a Gary Oldham Dracula, or even a Bela Lugosi and maybe even a Frank Langella Dracula — I had all this long hair and a beard or goatee I didn’t wish to remove. So I didn’t.

Don’t have all that hair now, time has thinned and grayed it quite a bit, which wouldn’t be a bad look for Count Dracula, but now my body is more in the shape of a squash gourd. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like a pumpkin, but Count Dracula is supposed to be a dashing, sexually intoxicating creature. And I am not.

On the other hand, I could be a great Grandpa Munster! So, that was the plan, but … sigh … I didn’t quite get around to it. Getting dressed up for Halloween — properly — takes time and planning. A lot of people put days and days into deciding and then implementing their costumes especially in this era of the selfie, Instagram and Twitter when a good picture can make someone a star ,(or at least an hour.

So, no costume this year.

Back in the day, when still at the Shepherd Express in Milwaukee, WI — “Holy the vast lamb of the Middle Class! Holy the Crazy Shepherds of Rebellion!” — I was always dressed for Halloween. Apparently. Didn’t figure it out until one Halloween Weekend night I was walking down Brady Street to my car, late after the bands had stopped and it was time for a non-drinker like me to go home, that hour of the morning when groups of people would stumble and fall out of the various bars on Brady.

From one such a group, a guy in a disheveled faux costume looked at me and said, “I get it! You’re Jerry Garcia!” (Grateful Dead)

What? I wasn’t fat (at the time)! I had long hair and a beard, was wearing a dark t-shirt under a leather jacket, but dammit! I wasn’t fat! Wouldn’t mind being Jerry Garcia though — without the diabetes and drug addiction of course. So, I shrugged and laughed and the thought slipped my mind.

Until the next bar and another group of stumbling patrons in disheveled Halloween costumes came stumbling out and another guy looked at me and said, “I know! You’re Cheech and Chong!”

Cheech and Chong? Okay, whatever. I’m Cheech and Chong. He probably meant just Tommy Chong. Or maybe he thought both of the comedy guys. Hell, a Cheech or Chong costume would be great! Carry around a nice G. Graphics bong, spreading one hits to anyone who wanted one. After November 8 we could probably get away with that too, here in California.

On the other hand, I no longer smoke or otherwise ingest cannabis, but a Tommy Chong or Cheech Marin costume complete with a bong would be a great costume.

Ah, Cheech and Chong! “You get your little fanny perpendicular ready and go to school!”
“I can’t, I have an earache.”
“Earache my eye, how would you like a butt-ache?”

Well, that’s not exactly how it goes, but close enough for blogosphere work.

Since that night, for several years, every Halloween I slightly adjusted my usual wardrobe and “dressed up” as either Jerry Garcia or Tommy Chong. Never thought to bring a bong along at the time. Dammit! And there were all those head shops on Brady Street! Eh, the police probably wouldn’t have seen the humor in a costume accessory that was used for the smoking of an illegal drug.

Not everyone celebrates Halloween. There are those, like Christine O’Donnell, who consider it an evil, Pagan holiday. She actually said, on Bill Maher’s old show Politically Incorrect, some people fall victim to human sacrifices on Halloween. Religious fanatics make the funniest talk show participants. Usually.

O’Donnell famously — or infamously — ran for a U.S. Senate seat to represent Delaware. She lost three times. The last time she ran O’Donnell had a TV ad telling us she’s not a witch.

The funniest thing about O’Donnell saying that is that she has claimed to be a Good Catholic! Any good Catholic will tell you All Hallows Eve (Hallowe’en) is a religious holiday … sort of. It’s the precursor to All Saints Day (observed on November 1), which used to be a Holy Day of Obligation.

Now, back in the day when the Good Christians, i.e., Good Catholics, were forcibly converting the European cultures to the religion of Christ, to make it more palatable to the Celts, Normans, the Vandals and Visigoths, etc, the Good Catholics would make a Christian Holiday out of the “Pagan” holiday so the hordes would more easily assimilate into Christianity.

Along with the day of course came some of the European customs for those holidays, which is why we have holly wreaths, Yule logs and Christmas trees for Christmas, and carved pumpkins, scarecrows and costumes for Halloween. In the Celt society, the holiday was celebrated by people who carved pumpkins and wore scary costumes to ward off the evil spirits, which would come through the veil separating this world from the Underworld.

It took place at this time of year because the harvest was mostly over and the days would become much shorter. It was on this day, now Halloween, when that veil separating the two worlds was at its thinnest and spirits from the Underworld could easily cross back into this world. Maybe that’s why Ghost Hunters has its best show saved for Halloween.

Did you know this is the last season of the popular show? Yep. Every Wednesday millions of Americans would tune into the SyFy Channel for Jason, Grant and the rest of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS). The cast changed from time-to-time and it spawned a couple of spin-offs that have since left the television world.

Ghost Hunters International went off the air unceremoniously about six months after they featured an episode in which one of the investigators slashed herself to take part in a Belize blood ritual. Kris Williams, one of the most famous Ghost Hunters cast members, quit the show after the episode went on SyFy because she objected to the methods that were being used on GHI, which were entirely for ratings.

Williams is a firm believer that ghosts are real and that she has encountered them in her life. I believe she is sincere.

Enough about Ghost Hunters, I’ll need to find something else to do on Wednesday nights.

Halloween … now, we just dress up — or not — and have fun. Halloween is for kids and adults! It’s just that the adult tricks and treats are far different from the kiddie tricks and treats most associated with Halloween.

Except for Christine O’Donnell and the crazies who think like her. My lovely sister Elaine, herself a darn good member of the Holy and Apostolic Roman Catholic Church, liked to dress up as witch in the vein of the evil witch from The Wizard of Oz. That was a great costume! She actually scared a few kids with it, she looked so authentic! Kudos to you Lainey!

  • If ghosts are real and do roam the earth from time-to-time, visiting us in our homes, come visit me Lainey. In your witch costume if you like. I miss my sister and two older brothers (Carl and Rick).

So, the moral of this story is: be a good Christian, dress up in a scary costume and celebrate this religious holiday! Or not, but make sure you have some candy on hand!

Tomorrow, November 1, be sure to attend Mass if you’re Catholic to celebrate All Saints Day, or All Hallow’s Day. I’m not a good Catholic anymore, but I will remember the loved ones who have passed on. They are all welcome to visit me as ghosts.

One last thing: The Exorcist is still the scariest book I’ve read and the scariest movie I’ve seen. Fans of the movie will recognize the top photo. That’s what I’ll be watching tonight at the witching hour.

Credit to Allen Ginsburg for the quote from “Howl.”