by kara on October 29, 2014

The author (left) in a bad boy’s haircut and little brother

The ritual is familiar to almost anyone who grew up in America in the late twentieth century. Halloween has become perhaps the most “universal” American holiday. It proposes no ethnic identity, no national allegiance, no specific religious affiliations. You don a costume and walk around your neighborhood asking for candy. Growing up in Philadelphia, Halloween was a very big deal. Halloween was the gateway to the Holiday Season. Beyond that lay the post holidays descent into the revolting slush and bitter cold and the accompanying depression. Life began at Halloween and ended December 26th.

I’m from the last generation of people who went trick or treating in the glory days of shelling out – the 1970’s. There were no school shootings, no peanut allergies or gluten intolerances, no kid obesity epidemic. There weren’t many modern sensitivities at all. Costumes I remember making were pirate, hobo (just a jolly cartoon character who chooses to carry a stick with a bandana tied to it, jumpin’ trains and cookin’ hobo beans over a campfire), Indian chief and the devil, many things that would be considered insensitive today. There was no “global warming”, so it was a good ten degrees colder, and we often had the indignity of having to wear parkas over our costumes.

Halloween is beloved/ruined for 3 very simple reasons:

1. Adults have co-opted it, as it it offers them the opportunity to act like morons, often wildly, inexcusably drunk on work nights, while cloaked in the guise of cocktail-ready costumes like Don Draper or Lucy.

2. It is open season for repressed ladeez to dress like hobags and for Straight Men to cross dress.

3. Parents have the desire – or guilt – to have their children perform the Halloween rituals, but not the willingness or imagination to do the work. They quickly perform the manic exercise of throwing on prepared costumes, driving them to some neighborhood somewhere and ushering their little Disney thing or Marvel thing through ADH-paced  candy grabs. Isn’t the whole point of bringing up children to raise them to be better than yourself in all aspects? Why do well-meaning parents systematically ignore or minimize the very traditions they themselves enjoyed as kids?


Candy seemed very precious, something we had access to on candy heavy holidays like Halloween, Christmas Valentines Day and Easter. Most children today (even poor children), have access to candy. It may be only one day, but Halloween is emblematic of lives of excess. Why do kids today need a special Day of Candy when they have lives of candy?


Margaret Mead lamented in a 1975  Redbook article: “Halloween is all treats and no tricks. There’s no mischief at all”. The ritual observance of Halloween by trick-or-treating seems nothing more than a rehearsal for consumership without a rationale. It never occurs to children today that there is any threat or even suggestion of a “trick”. We said “trick-or-treat,” but everyone knew it meant “I’m here to get a treat”? My best friend Stephanie’s mom categorically insisted we do a “trick” to receive our treat. It added a bit of suspense and anticipation, not just expecting “the goods”. The modern child has to do nothing to get what he wants.

The author and brother, carrying on the nerdy traditions well into our teens.


For me, it always comes down to rituals. The lack of rituals and traditions perpetrated by preoccupied parents will be the death of the future generations. Besides the traditional night of carving the pumpkin, every year we hauled out the standard brand, paper jointed witch and skeleton. We must have used the same decorations for 20 years. Every year after Halloween they were carefully packed away. The crepe paper table cloth was unsuccessfully stuffed back into the plastic wrapper for another year. Goods back then were not disposable. They were crappy treasures that we looked forward to unpacking year after year.

Our mom (a doctor not a homemaker), would manager to dress up in a homemade witch costume made of scratchy black burlap and hand out  candy – which she had divvied up in special goody bags and laid out in baking tins.

Nothing is perhaps more emblematic of Halloween’s decline than the Hefty fckng garbage bags. Cocky son-of-a-bitches dragging garbage bags down the street. We had reusable printed trick or treat bags. Although we wanted a lot of candy, that was really not the apex of the Halloween thrill. It wasn’t the desperate, timed candy grabt is today. I wonder, is the spectacle of middle-class children descending into beggary just a little bit appalling to parents? How can you let your kid actually drag a freaking Hefty garbage bag out on Halloween????


After the preschool age of our mom buying our costumes from FAO Schwarz lapsed, we always made our costumes, it was what one did. There was no looking through catalogs, picking out a costume with all the accessories to be drone- dropped at your door.  You didn’t see gals in store-bought Hannah Montana costumes carrying“trick-or-treat” bags from WalMart, miniature mass consumers in training for future adult consumption. Nobody had store-bought costumes expect for those poor kids whose parents bought them those cheap (but weirdly desirable) boxed costumes with the hard masks at Woolworth’s.

This was an actual store-bought costume my mother actually bought and my brother actually wore

My future-engineer brother challenged his ADD and carefully and patiently executed his “robot” costume utilizing his ingenuity, a microwave box and Reynolds Wrap. My future-production-designer sister spent months constructing a beautiful and elaborate pair of  flapping butterfly wings. Planning and making our costumes could months, and was an exercise in ownership, creativity and patience. Fourth-graders would spend three months making a jellyfish costume, just to wear it for one night! To the parents of of the franchise costumed kids, you are doing your children a disservice. What about the embarrassing  trips to JoAnn’s Fabrics? What about the costume sketching in school books during class? Without the requisite traditions and effort – by picking a sweatshop pre-made costume online –  trick-or-treating constitutes a passive consumption, devoid of creativity or authentic activity, emerging out of a hodgepodge of extant festive practices and a dose of pop-culture imagination.


When I was a kid, your neighborhood played a pivotal role in the tradition of Halloween. What I see today is an entirely novel element of unneighborliness, driving to random neighborhoods, sometimes by bus, detaching into tight little groups in strange neighborhoods in a variation of ritualized begging, knocking at midnight on strangers doors, sometimes two-timing, and traversing miles and miles of the suburbs. We were expected to behave orderly and  above all, be neighborly. We were not allowed to pass up the spooky elderly, childless couple who insisted on us coming into the house and having a cup of cider. We certainly did not stray outside of our neighborhood going to strangers house , that would have been gauche. Sure there were neighborhoods where candy opportunities were heightened. Richer people, bigger houses, more opportunities for FULL SIZED candy bars. But that, Charlie Brown, was not what Halloween was all about.


In 1947, children from 14 schools participated in passing up candy in favor of collecting food for the needy overseas. The children were instructed to say: “No tricks, just a treat, for starving children who want to eat.” In 1956 the American Service Friends Committee sent 200,000 children on trick-or-treating rounds as “friendly beggars” with specially printed “shopping bags” to collect children’s clothing, school supplies, and sewing materials for overseas distribution. In my era, we agreed to supplement our candy begging and apply our Halloween efforts for others via trick-or-treat for UNICEF.

At my progressive elementary school, we were given neat little orange boxes. It was exciting. The collecting of coins for UNICEF did not preclude a tour of the neighborhood for candy. We brought a treat bag and a UNICEF box along on our appointed rounds. But we were suddenly doing something for kids in the Third World, and it was intoxicating and disruptive. I could literally feel the weight of my fundraising efforts as I shlepped around the neighborhood, the feeling of the little orange box growing heavier with with each nickel and dime. The next day we’d return our boxes to school and have the teacher compliment our efforts.


Lastly, Philadelphia in the 1970′s was a sad and scary place! We were ground zero to the Halloween Sadism terrorizing the country: Poison laced candy, heroin pumped into candy bars through the wrapper with hyper dermic needles….The myth of the Halloween Sadism has since been debunked, but back then it was full steam ahead. Maniacs were injecting Almond Joys with rat poison and shoving razor blades into candy apples. Granted, no one in their right mind would touch a candy apple in the first place— that hard plasticized shellac on a piece of fruit being so much lipstick on a pig. But we knew death was possible. Halloween was terrifying and thrilling with a whiff of homicide.

The moral of the story is, everything was better then and everything sucks now because even though parents are more enlightened, they are all shallow, mindless consumers with ADD.



What a Magnificent Halloween Costume.

by kara on October 27, 2014

from H & M

not for american children, of course.

Monday, October 27th, 2014

by kara on October 27, 2014

self portrait

by kara on October 24, 2014

No health insurance
Air pollution
Carnival accidents
“Pro-life” terrorists
Police officers
GMO induced allergies
Driving with Laura Bush
Duck hunting with Dick Cheney
Going to a party with the Palins
Wild game hunting with the Trump son
Sexting with Phyllis Schlafley
The Diabetes
Hepatitis Q
Transvaginal Ultrasounds
Applying for a gay marriage license in Mississippi
Falling in the bathroom
Choking on steak
Lighting strikes in Florida
Not wearing motorcycle helmets
Walking on train tracks
Pit bull attacks
Loose truck nutz
Paula Deen’s cooking
Job stress
Cheap booze
Expensive booze

How The Rapture Works

by kara on October 23, 2014

1. Real scientists come up with an Ebola vaccine.
2. Obama orders enough vaccines made to vaccinate the entire country.
3. Republicans, Teatards, etc. all refuse because the bible, dictator, oppression, freedom, duh.
4. They (those in line 3) all die horrific Ebola deaths.
5. The rest of us live Ebola-free happily ever after.
Go on now to Heaven, y’all.

Obama’s Birth Plan

by kara on October 21, 2014

1. Plant phony birth announcement in Honolulu paper.

2. Schedule World Cup 53 years in future.

3. Lay seeds of adultery in Senate candidate opponent in race 30 years hence.

4. Tout unknown lamebrain as Wasilla mayor.

5. Secret mind control on Heritage Foundation to suggest and Massachusetts to adopt universal health care.

So devious. It’s like The Omen was a blueprint.

This Obama fella sure is cunning for a guy who knows nothing about running a country….and for such a lazy lout, he sure does lots of insidious wheeling and dealing.

this is completely insane.

by kara on October 14, 2014

from whatever happened to baby jane? 1962 film starring bette davis and joan crawford

Before you read this, you may want to make sure you secure any heavy objects nearby, so that you won’t hurl them through your computer monitor.

Republican perversion with starving government has helped land West Africa in an Ebola crisis. steep budget cuts by Congress has set back the NIH work on both prevention and treatment for the disease and that if it hadn’t been for a decade’s worth of cuts. Says its director:

“we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

It’s not just the NIH that’s suffered, and it’s not just in Africa where the cuts are harming people. The Center for Disease Control’s emergency preparedness budget has been nearly cut in half in just the past seven years. That means preparation at home. That means that local health departments in this country don’t have the funding—or the staff—they need to do the necessary preparation and training to deal with any epidemic. Judy Stone, MD is an infectious disease specialist, details the cuts at Scientific American.

The CDC’s discretionary funding was cut by $585 million during [2010-14]. Shockingly, annual funding for the CDC’s public health preparedness and response efforts were $1 billion lower for 2013 fiscal year than for 2002. These funding decreases have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments since 2008. Again, it is not just the Ebola that is a looming threat. We need to worry about vaccine-preventable but neglected infections like influenza, measles, and whooping cough; the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

[click to continue…]

Red Hot Saturday Night at my House.

by kara on October 4, 2014

I’m here catching up on the news cycle amd pondering how increasingly ludicrous it is for us to keep pretending that we’re all on the “same team”. I mean, it’s depressing and makes me weep for our bewigged founding fathers, but I still think there’s more dignity in forthrightly acknowledging that the country’s in a cold civil war than there is in pretending that underneath all of the fussin’ n’ fightin’ we all love each other and have common goals and aspirations for our society and love our country, our earth and our children the same. It’s becoming harder to be convinced that it’s just a minute difference of opinion on social issues. The conservative movement has just gone off the deep end. The politicians are rewarded by the voting base for saying the most ignorant or nasty things they can think up with their sad little frightened pea brains, perpetuated by the echo chambers of the interwebs. Plus the penetrating white dread of being a minority, and the mind state of the self appointed guardians of the herd as they react with pants-filling terror to whatever falls outside their narrow range of experience. I can’t pretend that I don’t think the American conservative movement stands for anything other than unalloyed savagery, or that it isn’t a menace to civilized norms.