Thursday, November 1, 2007

seaside grim reaper

I was about to eschew my political costume plans -- a grim reaper advocating war with Iran -- when my brother S suggested a different twist. Why not be a grim reaper wearing a swim suit and sandals, advocating global warming? As this also had the advantage of humor, I decided to do it.

I shaved my beard into stripes and then used my fingertips to apply the face paint. What an amazing feeling, seeing me transform into a devilish figure! There was a surge of excitement. I recall my friend Radu's photos of New Year's festivities in Romania, where country people dress as mythical animal-spirits that do ritual battle, in dance. How rich are these dramas of the past, dramas now in decline or disappeared altogether -- or transformed, as is our Halloween, into a consumer holiday. And yet, it still is not altogether without traces of that older playfulness, that smiling approach to darker forces.

As we three walked down the New Haven streets, passing groups of revellers, we could not help noting that practically every woman we saw was a "slutty (something)." Not that we overly minded -- just that it was so uniform. "Oh, here's another slutty secretary," someone would say. I saw a woman with a leg cast and miniskirt. "What's this, a slutty invalid?" R said Halloween had become a holiday for women to do what normally they are not allowed to do -- or at least, to appear as if they would do those things. In this way, they mimic celebrities, who are expert not so much at doing dirty deeds, but at going just to the point of stirring that fantasy in viewers, and then stepping back into respectability.

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