Attention, K-mart shoppers. ‘Tis the season– I remember it, well.
And who could forget– daisy baskets wrapped in orange & black crepe paper and the whiff of pumpkin-spice as the whole community came-out to celebrate Halloween as a children’s holiday. You had all the daffy classroom mothers dressed-up in cat-ears, slipped over their head like canted sunglasses and a purse full of car-keys.
And how kids stamped-around in the all-school parade, as safe and wholesome as the crossing-guard giving us supervised passage as that was the “G-rated” version, at least. It wasn’t “horrific”, exactly– but sappy and age-appropriate.
And then the adults had their fun. . . . .
Halloween was like the funereal version of Mardi Gras around these parts as you descended deeper into the gray, concrete wonders of city-limits. It was the season of moody autumn that looked like a Flemish painting as the gates at the entrance boded welcome in our skeletal season of menace.
And oh, what a crowd assembled around “Johnnie Brock’s Dungeon”. Wall-to-wall with costume racks that adapted flexibly through the passage of holidays in the aisles of this huge warehouse space. With the winking skyline looming in the washed-out sky and happenstance of casual traffic, it was a real night out on the town for what any occasion could be, taking the trouble to get out here where Halloween-goers went.
Nighttime– full of wild, animal spirits that brushed-up against something “vaguely disreputable” with its carnival atmosphere like ale-houses and burlesque theater without question of mature judgement or taste. Coming together in this culture of cars and tail-gating parties as you came here to be reminded of something you maybe knew years ago as a young teenager with hormones and bright, nervous sweat of inexperience.
To gain experience, or jab at the underbelly of splattered-death with the fake, rearing rictus of rotting teeth in molded foam-rubber. Flirting with extinction– like danger, or chainsaws sending scarecrow legs flying in the strobe-lights of a haunted slaughter-house as it was all lurid chills and the feeling of vague criminality. . . . . like gory Metallica shirts and grinning, skeletal repose in overgrown, yellowed-over wastelands of beer cans and empty chip bags.
It brought back memories– the nauseous sick of candy and any hint or sign of romantic intrigue, or other novelties that hold kids’ fancy like those glow-in-the-dark figurines you’d fish out of a box of “Cap’n Crunch” cereal as you’d come here for inspiration, the fount of youthful energies “that never dies” and perhaps a bit of something that would jog your creativity for this “Beetlejuice 2” idea I have.
One time, years ago my younger brother and I were wandering around a Target retail store in November and spotted a “KISS” Halloween mask on mark-down. It was wispy haired as a black-maned skunk, nasty– with a long red tongue dipping down like a hot poker.
We mounted-it-up on a tin of Christmas popcorn as it looked like a severed head in some chamber of cheery horrors. We were howling with laughter, yet were ignored as tired drudges pushed their shopping carts, past– oblivious. It truly amounted to “the night of the working-stiffs” as we had our makeshift, vandalized pleasures. . . . . even pulling the mask over a pumpkin-scarecrow by the display near check-out so now you had this crucified fiend on a mismatched jean-denim body and bib-overalls.
Wal-Mart or “Wally-World” as others call it, like a theme park of family-fun as “oh, the joys of retail”. In “National Lampoon’s Vacation” the mascot for this Disney-Land like getaway was not Mickey Mouse, but Marty Moose as you pressed the button to hear a friendly message.
Cross the two at a Wal-Mart display, and you’d have this goofy moose transformed from a hapless corn-shucker to something Beetlejuice befouled. . . . . the friendly mascot now a grisly fiend in a flapped hunting cap with blood-shot eyes and a rictus of grinning teeth, bent over flung-around pork-steaks and tampons with a juice-streaked machete.
“Come dick along for the asshole savings and show two proofs of purchase as we motherfuck for lower prices, ALWAYS”.
Not only is the prerecorded message sabotaged, but the public shopping experience goes off in unscripted directions as Beetlejuice takes over the intercom– the manager slamming his fist against the two-way mirror glass.
It’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, six-weeks of holiday-themed savings as I guess “Beetlejuice lost it”. Would you?
And so we leave you with Judge Alvin Valkenheiser for an old, hoary night of ooky-spooky irascibility and local ole’ fishing-hole justice. . . . .