October 31, 2010

"When I was a kid, Halloween was strictly a starchy-vegetable-only holiday, with pumpkins and Indian corn on the front stoop..."

"... there was nothing electric, nothing inflatable, nothing with latex membranes or strobes. I do remember the first time I saw bright orange lawn trash bags decorated with smiley pumpkin faces, which was about ten years ago; I thought they were kind of clever and festive, if a bit commercial. Now they seem quaint, compared to, say, yard decorations like Demonica Zombie Baby ('a latex skin foam filled child with sound and motion activated flashing eye lights,' in stock and ready to ship for $39.99) or a life-sized Hellraiser Pinhead Animatronic (a big investment at $279.99)."

That's Susan Orlean, who also bemoans the trend toward Halloween as a time for adult revelry: "when I was young, Halloween was a holiday celebrated only by children." That made me look up Orlean's age — 54 — and city of origin — Cleveland. The trend toward Mardi Gras-style street parties and parades for adult revelries goes back to the 1970s. That's when Freakfest began here in Madison, Wisconsin and the time of the first Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in NYC. I remember those parades in the late 1970s, when I lived in Greenwich Village. It was a continuation of the counter-culture of the 60s, isn't it? They called us Baby Boomers, and we internalized the concept of "baby." You'll just have to deal with it now.

ADDED: Orlean... Mardi Gras... Maybe that has something to do with her annoyance at the migration of adult revelry to the autumn holiday. That and the fact that — as she reveals in the article — Halloween is her birthday.

49 comments:

edutcher said...

I think the switchover started when the news reports started about the occasional creep would try hurt the kids and you saw the beginnings of the Nanny State; late 50s, early 60s.

But, yeah, if you were little, you went out with one of your parents or an older sibling, if you had one, but kids 8 or 9 and older would go out in little groups and nothing happened.

As I was once told, "The good old days really were".

Sixty Grit said...
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John Burgess said...

Maybe the blurring of Devil's Night/Hell Night with Halloween lies at the core of the complaint.

I do think, though, that Halloween is for kids. Teens out going door to door is not on and many I know just won't answer the door for such a group.

The article, though, calls for a (WV=) fiski.

Lawler Walken said...

I put it on the baby boomers liking to party, too, but is that such a bad thing? Kids still dress up and go out and trick or treat and adults have fun, too. Everyone has a good time. Those who choose to anyway, which apparently doesn't include Orlean who's mourning the loss of something here, I'm not exactly sure what.

Wasn't it always a commercial holiday? Buying the candy if nothing else.

Big Mike said...

Blackfive has a great home-made Halloween decoration!

edutcher said...

Interesting point Burgess makes. In Philadelphia, it was Mischief Night, not Devil's Night/Hell Night. Mischief Night was harmless fun, the first I heard of Devil Night in Detroit, half the city was on fire.

Then again, it may be adults taking over Halloween was just another sign of the Lefty Boomers not wanting to grow up.

The Crack Emcee said...

They called us Baby Boomers, and we internalized the concept of "baby." You'll just have to deal with it now.

Whoo, Child, this is not your best blogging day - by a lonnnng shot.

If you spoke like that in South Central - telling people they'd just have to "deal" with whatever the results of your immaturity are on them - you could look forward to a severe beatdown, or even getting shot, in your very near future.

It's just beyond rude.

The Crack Emcee said...

Sixty Grit,

In the real good old days we actually burned witches.

Sigh.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you spoke like that in South Central - telling people they'd just have to "deal" with whatever the results of your immaturity are on them - you could look forward to a severe beatdown, or even getting shot, in your very near future."

Thanks for the advice. I was just about to mosey over to South Central and tell some folks to "deal" with me. That was close!

Howard said...

She is just another 50-something that boosts her microscopic ego by criticizing current social behavior and fondly remembers the golden age of her long lost youth.

A cranky dried up old biddy... of the kind we used to egg/TP her house on Halloween.

Ah... the great old days of bb guns, tree forts, fist fights, push mowers, a good belting from the old man and a treasure trove of playboys in the neighbor's trash.

Sixty Grit said...
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Fred4Pres said...

Halloween has definitely expanded from a kids holiday to one of drunken bacchanale for adults. I went to a play and saw several people in very festive party mode last night on the sidewalks.

Part of this is stores making every holiday a major marketing event. Part of this is people getting too old to trick or treat, but looking for a fun night out instead.

Fred4Pres said...

Halloween has definitely expanded from a kids holiday to one of drunken bacchanale for adults. I went to a play and saw several people in very festive party mode last night on the sidewalks.

Part of this is stores making every holiday a major marketing event. Part of this is people getting too old to trick or treat, but looking for a fun night out instead.

Beth said...

You'd think the Mardi Gras-style parade on Halloween would be old business for New Orleans, but in fact it's in its infancy. The local premiere float maker, Blaine Kern, started a Krewe of Halloween and it rolled for the third time last night.

I haven't been yet, but I will go next year. It will be good - and it's a family thing, not just more of the adult spin on Halloween.

The story about last night's parade has a couple of unintentionally funny elements, though, for locals anyway: Blaine Kern is 83, and going through his second adolescence, complete with plastic surgery and a really bad toupee. The family business had a big public blow up a month ago, with the son trying to take it over. Blaine's hooked up with a new, young wife and has blown through millions of dollars; he was failing to pay vendors and employees. The kings of several major Mardi Gras krewes had to negotiate a truce.

In the newspaper, Blaine extols the best parts of the parade, and tells us his wife, the suburban blonde, plays Marie Laveau! Oh, that oughta be good. And that Chris Owens leads the parade as the Angel of Death. Chris is also about 83 and still dancing three times a day at her club on Bourbon Street.

It's not hippie values driving Halloween in New Orleans, though; it's good business.

Fred4Pres said...

We used to celebrate goosey night the night before Halloween. It was basically a night of malicious mischief.

Ann Althouse said...

Devil's Night was a big problem back in the 70s, but not, I think, in the cities where the street festivities took off.

America's Politico said...

NPR was correct.

Stewart Rally (225,000) BEAT Beck Rally (85,000).

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20021284-503544.html

It is going to be hard for the GOP on Tuesday. They are about to be blind-sided. What fun!

House: 224
Senate: 54

Reid, Feingold, Alexi will win!

Boxer and Murray have already won (their opponents have conceded).

Headlines on NPR, PBS, and in NYT on Wed.

With Obama Fall Campaign Success, the Democrats looking at 2012

Obama demonstrates leadership in Mid-terms

Obama shows GOP how to win

Obama not Clinton

Etc.

Fred4Pres said...

Wikipedia's entry.

We never did our mischief in the name of Guy Falkes. It was always the night before Halloween.

Freeman Hunt said...

I guess I'm old school then. Our decorations are carved pumpkins, and those crudely not fancily carved, and a fabric ghost my three year old made at school.

Ann Althouse said...

The Greenwich Village parade of the 1970s felt connected to the population of the neighborhood. That was post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS. I don't know or don't remember the details, but I did live there from 1976 to 1981.

Ann Althouse said...

"I guess I'm old school then. Our decorations are carved pumpkins, and those crudely not fancily carved..."

Meade just carved a pumpkin. Photo soon.

PETER V. BELLA said...

I miss burning leaves. The enviroweenie gestapo banned them.

ndspinelli said...

A bunch of adults here who can't get in touch w/ their childhood. [Anal]yzing, complicating, shitbird adults. For many kids, Halloween is more fun than Christmas. You get to go out @ night, raise hell, and fill up on candy. Lighten up folks..and don't be cheap w/ the candy you tightwads!!!

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

Thanks for the advice. I was just about to mosey over to South Central and tell some folks to "deal" with me. That was close!

Well, that is the strength of white Baby Boomers, isn't it? That they don't have to deal with the results of their actions? That only the rest of us do?

No, you'd never go to South Central. You live in Madison, Wisconsin for a reason and that crack exemplifies that reason:

You're safe there, to do and say whatever, with no worries about what the rest of us have to endure because you won't grow up. All of this - Obama, NewAge, the deficit, all of it - can be laid at the doorstep of those of you saying, "You'll just have to deal with it now." If we did deal with it - for real - I guarantee you, you wouldn't like it.

This is why I laugh sometimes, when I hear about white folks getting busted upside the head "for nothing":

Oh, there's something, but your refusal to "deal" with it - as you expect others to - allows all the ugliness to rise up somewhere else.

Freeman Hunt said...

What was that old movie that showed typical Halloween as consisting of children burning junk and throwing flour in the faces of disliked neighbors? Was that Meet Me in St. Louis?

HDHouse said...

Best Holiday of the Year.
.....trick for a treat....

Hector Owen said...

Freeman, yes it was.

edutcher said...

Well, this is going to ruin Titus', er, AP's day.

Freeman Hunt said...

What was that old movie that showed typical Halloween as consisting of children burning junk and throwing flour in the faces of disliked neighbors? Was that Meet Me in St. Louis?

You got it. And Margaret O'Brien told the mystified old German, "Mr -, I hate you".

WV "opror" Either La Boheme in Baaston or what will happen on Air Force One 11/3.foc

bagoh20 said...

In the 60's it was a kids' celebration. I remember bands of kids running the streets for candy and mayhem with almost no adults present. Very small children stayed home with the adults, and the older kids were free to roam, as we were most other times.

My parents almost never knew where I was, or what I was doing, on Halloween or any other time.

Are kids really in more danger today, or are we adults just big pussies now?

ironrailsironweights said...

There's this family that has two sons, ages 10 and 8. One morning they're in the kitchen, and the mother asks the 10-year-old "Honey, what would you like for breakfast."

The kid replies, "I could really go for some f***in' french toast." Mom slaps him across the face good and hard, the father takes off his belt and whacks him on the rear end, and the boy goes off crying to his room.

Mom then turns to the 8-year-old and says "Honey, what would you like for breakfast."

"I don't know," the younger boy replies, "but I definitely don't want any f***in' french toast!"

Peter

bagoh20 said...

Crack, I'm in Compton every day. I work there. Black people aren't that bad. You just need to meet more of them, you know have a black friend or something.

But seriously, over 90% still support Obama. I wonder how bad he would have to be to get that below 50%. Is there anything he could possibly do to piss off half of them enough to overcome skin color (racism). There is something wrong about that.

I know, what if he divorced Michelle and hooked up with Palin? Maybe 50%, but 80% would still reelect him over any white candidate. This would embarrass me if I was blacker.

Eddie said...

Crack,

I don't know that Ann was defending the Boomer's refusal to grow up. I took it to be an honest statement of the reality of things: the Boomers certainly are not going to change at this point, so we best adapt to that reality. Obamacare might give us the means for adapting: Death Panels for Boomers!

Palladian said...

Halloween's a grotesque holiday. In New York it's just another opportunity for young women to act like whores and young men to act like douchebags.

Hagar said...

In my area, the joy police has pretty much done away with Halloween. The last couple of years no kids have came by at all, so this year I have not even bothered to buy candy.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't understand the trend of dressing sluttily on Halloween. Really, you could go out to a dance club on any old day dressed as sluttily as you pleased, and you would look normal.

Halloween is the one day where you have an excuse to dress in something weird or scary. Don't blow it on boring stripper clothes!

Revenant said...

Don't listen to Freeman, ladies. She's talking crazy talk. If you want to dress up as Wonder Woman... you go right ahead!

The Crack Emcee said...

Bagoh20,

Crack, I'm in Compton every day. I work there. Black people aren't that bad. You just need to meet more of them, you know have a black friend or something.

Yea - which ain't likely to happen in Madison, except for some black liberal idiot who goes along with that shit. When I'm in Compton, next, I'll let you know and we can hook up.

Eddie,

I don't know that Ann was defending the Boomer's refusal to grow up. I took it to be an honest statement of the reality of things: the Boomers certainly are not going to change at this point, so we best adapt to that reality.

Or we can kill them. Has anyone ever thought of that as an option? Looked at all the damage they've done - accompanied by this "deal with it" attitude - and just said, fuck it, let's Kent State the whole lot of 'em?

Why should those who came after have to go broke, be driven insane, and watch the greatest country on Earth drop to it's knees, just to accommodate a bunch of worthless elites who don't know their asses from a hole in the ground?

Oh, yea, the law. I'm really learning to hate the law. Not as much law in South Central, as the rest of the country, so shit gets handled.

Look at Jerry Brown - he deserves a bullet in his head, or prison, for all the harm he's done to others but he's walking free because the law protects him.

Same thing for Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy - they got kids killed and injured for their anti-vaccine crusade and, now, all anyone can talk about is that those two liars have broke up and what's next? It would be much better if the parents of one of those dead kids killed them - but they can't - because of the law.

The law is no law - it's been twisted into a "get out of jail free" card and/or a license to kill, knowing they can't do shit to even the score. That's what no-fault divorce is, and all the rest. That's why nothing seems to be able to get done around here.

As the saying goes, first, kill all the lawyers.

Then we'd be able to see how many people could claim others just have to "deal" with whatever they decide to dish out.

jamboree said...

It probably did start with the boomers. I see it more as a collegiate drug thing, a faux pagan thing, before it became a consumer thing - but that bleeds into a permanent childhood, doesn't it?

kathleen said...

But Crack, the biggest sin in Althouse world is to be boring. Boring is not allowed! Immature, OTOH, is allowed, because it's not boring (or so Althouse believes).

Similarly, being wrong is definitely allowed, so long as it's based on a nuanced argument. If it's based on a simple (read "boring") argument then it's not allowed. Being right based on a simple (read "boring") argument also is not allowed. Nuance! Nuance uber alles!

John Burgess said...

AP: I hope you have both life and health insurance. If the 11/3 aneurysm doesn't kill you, I don't want to be paying your hospital bills.

ricpic said...

There was an article recently in the NY Post about the highly sexualized trick or treat outfits that are now marketed to tweens. The thing that struck me is that every parent interviewed disapproved followed by a what's the use, that's just the way things are comment.

jamboree said...

My last years of trick or treat I was a hooker (11 or 12). That's how you used to know it was time to start going to parties instead of trick or treating. ;-) You couldn't buy a sexualized costume back then, you had to cobble one together out of your own gear and too much make up.

Anyway, the sexualized Halloween costumes don't bother me too much because you can't get rid of true innocence. Case in point, my niece, who has been doing the sexy mermaid/fairy/ghoulish cheerleader/pop star thing since 7-yrs-old. (She is very well supervised btw. The year she was a pop star he Dad dressed as her security complete with shades and little wireless ear piece )

And not just for Halloween either. So she was strutting around striking poses in her purple rayon velvet spandex and belting out "SEXY" at the top of her lungs on evening. Then half an hour later, she commented on an overheard adult conversation: WHO WOULD WANT TO BE NAKED IN FRONT OF A BOY!!! EWWWW.

You can smell the coffee and still have no idea what's going on, and you can't get rid of genuine childhood innocence that easily imo unless you actually put your kids out on the street. The real danger comes from pedophile adults - and that can be taken care of with proper supervision.

Bob_R said...

Crack - You have to say "trick or treat" if you are going to strike a scary pose. The "consequence" of the baby boomers' takeover of Halloween is a bit of nostalgic wistfulness in a woman my age. If you want to find an excuse to wipe out the boomers you will have to do better than that. Christopher Buckley did. Read Boomsday. Even a macho man can affor a laugh.

yashu said...

She may be right about Halloween, but the kind of adult revelry (bawdy, transgressive, excessive, grotesque, involving the reversal of roles) that, as you say, has migrated, come to attach itself to this holiday has roots that go way back: e.g. Mardi Gras, but more broadly the Carnival-- going back to the medieval Feast of Fools and Roman Saturnalia.

So it might be relatively new for this to take place on Halloween, but what's found a place to express itself on this day is something very old, culturally elemental. Hey, there are/ were "slutty costumes" galore at the Brazilian carnival this year or the Roman Saturnalia millennia ago.

(Incidentally: so is 60 G a moby then? I've long suspected he might be. But ah well, on this of all days, at least for the day, I should try to let go of my misomobyism-- in their own way, I suppose, mobys & trolls fit in with the spirit of the carnivalesque here at Althouse.)

Sixty Grit said...
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yashu said...

Heh. It's a fair cop.

Sixty Grit said...
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The Crack Emcee said...

From my mouth to reality:

Let the real American justice begin!

Freeman Hunt said...

Well, Wonder Woman is pretty cool.

I meant more along the lines of Sexy --Insert Name of Various Professions Here--.