Sunday, October 10, 2010


About five-thousand people came through the door at Monster Halloween - Minnesota, Saturday. Almost all of them looking for make-up, fake blood, liquid latex and latex prosthetics resembling open wounds, cuts and bullet holes. From ten-thirty in the morning until eight in the evening, there were a hundred people in the store at any given time. Several of the staff were zombifying clientele, by the front door. We were all zombified, the staff and I. I was a zombie monk in a Jedi cape, my wood swords held by my sash. I danced in the street awhile, this way, though I didn't unsheathe them. I'll need the right music for that.

Halloween, once Samhain (pron. sah-win), then All-Saints Day, has long been considered a time when the veil between the living and the dead is thinned. What better way to symbolize that, than ten-thousand-plus Homo sapien sapien dressed up as the dead, getting drunk in West Bank bars?

We had a few zombie killers buy plastic machetes and toy guns, one guy with an Airborne tattoo, with a sash full of hollowed out grenades. He was terribly disappointed to find out, the bandoliers I ordered last week wouldn't come in 'till next Wednesday. I sold him a water gun Uzi and a Bottle of Blood. He shot streams of blood all over our front sidewalk.

In the afternoon I put on the Wacky Jacket Jenkins wig and danced in the street. A few hundred people honked, waved, a few thousand smiled, some took pictures, some took video. I think I'll make a practice of it and dance every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, hook up the big speakers outside and bust a groove.

Everybody seemed to have fun. Most people seemed to enjoy themselves, the staff and clientele. Actually, it was one of the funnest days I've had in a long time. And, we handled more transactions than the partners did in their previous location in St Louis Park, last year, on Halloween, when they had lines fifty people deep, with the same amount of registers. The conversation with the CEO I blogged about a few weeks ago led directly to a few simple changes in the check-out process; the line for all three registers was never deeper than twenty people, whom we cycled through without much difficulty.

I think the partners remember my contribution, maybe; the CEO doesn't, even though that simplification must have been apparent in every Monster Halloween, in Canada and the UK. In a recent email he said something about sticking it where the sun doesn't shine. I didn't take it personally. He is stressed. He thinks a competitor payed the Russian mafia to attack our point of sale system; It failed about a dozen times last week. It did not fail, Saturday. I'll have to call him and tell him, good work! He probably won't read my emails. Funny, the CEO thinking I am condescending.

Based on this weekend, I conclude, people who shop for Halloween paraphernalia are fundamentally good, generally. We may not always make the best choices, like the woman with the densest, longest receipt I think I have ever seen, from Wal-Mart. I didn't see the total price but it must have been 1000+. She pulled the receipt out to show her friend, and I think, me, as I was ringing up the thirty dollars of merch she brought to the check out. I wanted to say to her, do you know there are thirty members of the Walton clan worth more than one billion, five worth more than twenty five billion? What are you doing, American, supporting Aristocracy? But she also had a Wal-Mart issued credit card; and I am not in the habit of being confrontational, especially not with clientele.

Good people, respectful and friendly. Whatever one might think about the Zombie Pub Crawl craze, it was an opportunity for many people to come together with a common purpose, to enjoy themselves, in a culture in which ritual and celebration have been subsumed in the morass that is Market commercialism. Some people were skipping to the check out, they were so excited. Most everybody was smiling.

Comparing the numbers to last years sales, I think we need to prepare ourselves for a crush, Oct 28-30, two to three times greater than Saturday's. The difficulty will be in merchandising to accommodate. We are at the mercy of vendors, almost all of whom have a problem filling orders. Whispers about Chinese manufacturing buildings going ghost overnight, no one even to answer the phones. What a change that will be for our culture, when we cannot reliably get cheap goods from China. How much more difficult it will be to sleep walk through life, when there is not the cushion of affluence provided for so many Americans by global trade.

Meanwhile, as for Halloween, dressing up as a zombie, a pirate, a super hero or a fetish-ized French Maid, you just might feel more alive. You don't really have to buy paraphernalia to act like any of these. But if you do, I encourage you to buy from us, rather than a big-box retail store, which is little more than a vacuum funneling energy out of the community, into the accounts of a very un-American, neo-aristocracy somewhere else. Who, in case you haven't noticed, don't care any more about the health of people or the Earth than they have in any Age. Who have a vested interest in people living like zombies, asleep and disconnected.

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