Just came back from the traditional Halloween mob in downtown Santa Cruz. If you'll remember, we missed it last year due to our attendance at the Brad Mehldau show in San Francisco.
The street was fountaining people...angels, devils, pimps, whores, cops, criminals... We went into Long's Drugs and as we stood in the candy aisle, a shout goes up and a man runs out the exit clutching something in his hands. A few guys pursue him and a few moments later we hear onlookers shouting praise for a successful capture on the edge of the parking lot.
Drama. As we left the store we passed a circle of people surrounding a man pinned to the concrete by two other men. Another young guy with a gold chain around his neck was shouting at one of the restrainers: "Let him up! Let him up!" Apparently a companion of the thief. We quickly moved on and turned the corner as two angels walked by. In fact, about fifteen minutes earlier I was walking along the sidewalk as I noticed an angel with white, feather wings. Next to her was yet another angel, with a sparkly halo hanging above her head. In my head I thought the word "duality"; an instant later I hear one word from one conversation to my left: "plurality".
As we walked we passed one or two improvisational scenes taking place as costumed figures would spontaneously begin a mime-like interaction. I saw a bug-eyed alien in slow-motion battle with a fiery nymph. Then there were two people, a man and a woman apparently in cahoots, moving in fluid dance through the currents of the crowd. The man glided along next to me and slowly extended a hand bearing a wrapped disk of chocolate. I thanked him and he wordlessly smiled and flowed away. The idea of it mesmerized me--both the aspect of the giving, and the mysterious tone given to the process of giving. I immediately imitated in my own way. (My costume was simply a long, ornamental Indian robe. On my journeys in the crowd I received comments of "John Lennon", "Buddha", "Weishaupt". I got funny looks from a pack of Indian girls. I admit, I looked a stoned holyman.) I walked smoothly and slowly with my hand upraised, palm open, with the little chocolate centered within. People looked at me and my get-up as we passed one another. They would look at my hand and wonder at it with their eyes. Soon enough, a voice came from my right: "You got something in your hand there?" I turned and before me was a young street hippie, typical of downtown Santa Cruz, with a scraggly blonde beard, hemp necklace and smelling of pitchouli. I offered my hand for his perusal. He picked up the foil-wrapped chocolate and examined it. "Chocolate," he concluded simply. He reached to return it to my hand. I started walking away and gestured that he may keep it. He smiled and mouthed a word of thanks as I drifted back into the flowing crowd.
Saw a man walking in the street smoking a joint and offering it to the drivers in the deadlocked traffic. One accepted and took a good hit before passing it back to the man who continued on.
Further on I spotted my old friend Meghann. Allen and I had just been talking about her and saying we wanted to see her. We said hello and exchanged some hugs. Fifty paces later, I saw my ex-girlfriend Radha (the other person we had been talking about earlier). We approached her in hello. Radha and I conversed about our respective costumes. Both of us had ambiguous garments, she in a white and gray dress and white, feathered wig. Bye bye, and we sat down on a bench to wait. I was with Allen and his new squeeze, Nicole. We were meeting friends of Nicole. At this point, I decided to take my leave and head back to my car. I said goodbye to Allen, the suited swinger, and Nicole, the angel. As I turned and walked back to my car, I looked into the windows of a passing bus. Two girls, one standing near the front, the other in the back, caught my eye--two angels on their way back to the dorms of UC Santa Cruz. I walked back up Laurel street, thinking about the poem I wrote today before class. I had walked up to the top floor of the Biology building, above the treeline and offering a view of Monterey Bay. I sat in a comfortable chair there and gazed out across the sky. I felt wonderful and positive, opened and clear. I was rapt with attention on the beautiful scene my eyes were painting for me.
Movement caught my eye at ground level: a lone, costumed individual strolling up, reading intently from her over-large textbook. The costume, one of the only I'd seen that day, struck a line of thought into my head. Halloween is a day of undressing, not dressing up. People get to represent themselves exactly as they choose without any fear of feeling out of place. This girl can wear nothing but two stickers on her nipples. That guy can cover himself with blood. Those ladies can dress like policewomen. When else can one throw fashion herd-behavior out the window? And then the words came to my fingertips in a quick, rough sketch--
October 31, 2000
Today we took our costumes off.
Today he had an excuse to wear a dress.
Today we find out who are the devils and
Who are the angels.
(An angel just passed,
studying her calculus,
white wings flapping
From the top of the Biology building
The ocean was that same cloud kingdom
I saw from the window seat, 3 years
Old above old Mexico. I wanted
To walk in that white landscape with
Santa Claus and the Angels.
(Lady Godiva just came round the corner,
embarassed that I heard her singing to herself)
Tonight I caught a glimpse of posthumanity.
Tonight I had an excuse to wear a holyman's robe.
Tonight I saw two Roller Girls, two devils,
Two pimps, two whores,
Two French maids,
Two Statues of Liberty,
Two Richard Nixons,
Two good clowns,
Two evil clowns,