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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

In Which I’m a Zombie at a Haunted House

In Holidays, Horror, Theater on October 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm

ZombieDr. Dre thrummed along in the background while I was being turned into a dead cop. The makeup artist told me to close my eyes while she worked, spraying paint of various colors on my face. The decades-old beats of The Chronic played away, and I refrained from bobbing my head. “Hold still,” said the makeup artist, “I’m going to splash blood on you.” I held still. She splashed blood on me. It tickled.

Last Friday evening I spent much of my afternoon and all of my evening at FrightTown, one of the largest haunted houses in Portland. A few of my friends had volunteered as monsters previously, had said it was fun, and convinced me to come out.

Based on my height, my looks, and the casting guy’s three second appraisal of my general demeanor, I was put in the role of Evidence Locker Zombie. “It’s high energy,” said the guy, “you think you can handle that?” I said that I could. He gave me a card and told me to report to the costume and makeup people. I was given a torn-up jumpsuit that said “POLICE” on the chest, and sat down to get turned into a blood-splattered corpse.

I was initially a little disappointed at being made a zombie. They’re pretty-much played out in popular culture. I’d hoped that FrightTown would make me a werewolf, what with being all hirsute and such. However, there were no werewolf roles. I decided, though, that I’d make the most of being a walking corpse. Zombies are solid, respectable horror antagonists, and at least I hadn’t been cast as a killer clown.

When I stepped out of makeup I was surrounded by a plethora of bizarre figures. Cultists. Fish people. A guy with a chicken for a head. A guy with a cooked chicken for a head. More zombies. A gigantic fat man with no shirt and gigantic shoulder armor. Killer clowns. A go-go dancer all of whose skin was green. Evil Santa. It was kind of like the Star Wars cantina, except an entirely different genre and no one was drinking.

I and my fellow zombies were given a brief acting lesson (we weren’t allowed to talk, for instance) and led into the playwood-and-props maze that was to be our haunt, a zombie apocalypse inspired by 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, and The Walking Dead. (FrightTown is actually three different haunted houses. There was also a Lovecraftian villiage and a haunted funhouse.) The sets were painted to look like desolate streets, bloody hospitals, and sinister decontamination chambers. As a zombie cop, I was to hang out in the destroyed police station, specifically in the evidence locker. It was, I think, the most physical job in the entire haunt.

The evidence locker contained several metal shelves behind a cyclone fence. The fence and shelves were bolted together in such a way that they were stable, and the zombie within could climb up and scare the passers-by. The following photo is of poor quality (and there was obviously much different lighting while the haunt was in full effect) but it gives you an idea of how I appeared to most people going through FrightTown.


When the fluorescent lights went off and the music and sound effects started up, I paced nervously in my abandoned, post-apocalyptic police station. I was wondering if I’d actually be able to scare people, or if the public would find any of the sets and costumes at all convincing. As people came in, though, my worries died away.

The first people I saw were a teenage couple clutching each other tightly as they ran past my evidence locker. I didn’t even get a chance to jump out and scare them. As other people moved in, I got into a groove. I’d hide behind the metal shelves and wait for them to look into the evidence locker, wondering where the zombie was. I’d jump out, scare them, snarl, and then climb the shelves and fence like I meant to pursue them. Sometimes I hung out on top of the fence, draped over it like a dead-looking dummy and then went “RAWR!” as they looked up. If there were a lot of people passing through the room at once, I’d gnash and yell and scream from my perch. My habit of towering above the customers while screaming and rattling the fence got me nicknamed “King Kong” by the event management. I was fine with that.

It was effective.  There were some people, mostly young men, who acted too cool for the haunted house, but for the most part folks seemed to appreciate the show I was putting on for them. The most rewarding bit of my night was when a woman, after I jumped out, said “you’re behind a fence, you can’t get us.” I locked eyes with her, screamed in her face, and began climbing and yelling. A very loud “WHAT THE FUCK” left her mouth, and I was satisfied with a scare well done. Many other people seemed disquieted by my performance. “You can’t climb,” they said, “zombies aren’t allowed to climb.” But I did. I climbed up the fence like I was coming for them, and they ran away to the next room of horrors, a cadaver-strewn jungle populated by undead soldiers.

Kids were numerous and scared easily. To tell the truth, scaring kids almost felt like cheating. I got no end of amusement, though, at seeing the smiles on adults as their children screamed their heads off. Large groups of adolescents and twentysomethings came in, almost always clutching each other. One person would have their hands on the shoulders or about the waist of their friend in front of them, holding themselves against the monsters. The haunted house veterans called this formation a conga line, and I wondered how many people were using the scariness of the haunted house as an excuse to cop a feel. Probably a lot.

My gig as the evidence locker zombie is the most physically demanding thing I’ve done in a while. Constantly climbing up and down a thing, jumping, yelling, and generally being a rage zombie from 7:00 until 11:30 is, it turns out, fairly tiring. I also blew out my voice out from all the screaming and growling and I sounded sort of like Christian Bale’s Batman for the next 48 hours. My arms were cut up and bruised from places I’d hit myself on the fence, and my whole body was sore.

It was all worth it, though. As a lover of horror and someone who enjoys being freaked out and scared it was great to help create the sense of dread. I have no idea how many zombie movies I’ve watched or video games I’ve played. As much as I’m tired of them now (and I do think they’ll come back around) it was a wonderful feeling to finally be the thing I enjoyed, not just consume it. As I yelled and growled and pretended to hunger for flesh I felt more connected to the genre than every before. It wasn’t something I was watching or playing or reading. It was something I was embodying. Getting dressed up as a walking corpse was a fantastic reminder of how great it feels to imagine, to put on a show, and to create.

Blood and Boomsticks: Why The Evil Dead Musical is Kind of Like Ulysses

In Books, Horror, Theater on January 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

This past weekend I saw Evil Dead: the Musical. The title alone is something of a ridiculous novelty item, and I enjoyed the mere fact of saying to people “I’m going to go see Evil Dead: the Musical this weekend.” “What a delightful sounding quirky event!” people said in astounded reply, “you certainly are always doing something enjoyable and wacky!” Yes. Yes I am. So, how was it?

Uneven. High school musical-esque. Borderline terrible. Hugely enjoyable. I hated and loved it.

ED: tM (at least the production I saw) is by no means “good” or any approximation thereof. As a play and a stage show, it’s not even passably okay. Despite that, though, I enjoyed myself immensely. Walking out of it, I was torn between how bad I knew the production was, versus how much fun I had watching it.

First, the bad stuff: the acting was stilted, the singing was average-to-bad, the sound went in and out, and the pacing was terrible. Scenes bled into and out of each other with no kind of logic or cohesion, and there was no attempt whatsoever at horror or anything even approaching mild scares. More than anything else, it looked like someone’s Evil Dead fan fiction was being acted out on stage. As a musical production in and of itself, I knew in the relentlessly logical and taste-having section of my brain that ED:tM was bad, low-grade, terrible, putrid, and other flavors of general non-quality.

Despite that, during the performance my state of being could have been best described as “having fun.”

Even though I knew that ED: tM was kind of bad, I left very happy with my theater-going experience. I had fun. Not just a little fun. Lots of fun. I really, really enjoyed seeing a dude dressed up as Ash say “boomstick” and “groovy.” I liked watching dancing zombies and evil trees, and I utterly loved sitting in the splatter zone, getting a bucket of fake blood dumped over my head, and being subsequently assaulted by a zombie during the final musical number.

There was also a zombie (excuse me- “deadite”) who kept making bad puns throughout the whole show. As stupidly vaudvillian as it all was, I kind of loved the constant stream of groan-worthy bad jokes. But again- I knew that what I was watching was objectively terrible.

So, why the hell did I like this? Why on Earth did I thoroughly enjoy something that I knew was bad? This is something that bothered me about ED: tM, and a good deal of other media as well.

ED: tM works (if it does work) only insofar as the viewer is a fan of the Evil Dead movies. In fact, the whole thing kind of is fan fiction, in that it’s a kind of media where most of the enjoyment comes from recognizing things. The audience didn’t have fun so much because the Ash on stage said “groovy.” Instead, we all collectively remembered how awesome it was when Bruce Campbell said “groovy” and enjoyed that bit of fan-memory in a sudden collective burst.

Also: fake blood. I got doused with the stuff, and getting coated in a layer of ersatz gore is almost always fun.

It’s very tempting to write off nostalgia, the fun of recognition, and fan service as bad reasons to enjoy something. While those are not the best reasons for a given thing being “good,” I don’t believe that nostalgia or the fun of recognizing fan-favorite lines like “gimmie some sugar, baby” are illegitimate reasons for liking something. Ulysses, a hoity-toity book that is supposedly the best bit of English word-art ever put to the page, is almost 67.5% Homeric fan fiction. When I read Ulysses most of the fun I had was picking out the references to literature and mythology, and finding parallels with the Odyssey. I actually alternated back and forth between reading Joyce and Homer so I could pick out the various parallel bits. While Ulysses is enjoyable as a rather nicely written book in and of itself, the added dimension of reading it as a classical literature fanboy made my experience of consuming it a lot more fun. I felt like I “got” when Joyce was winkng at me- that is, if someone who had only one eye can be said to “wink” in any real sense.

That feeling was magnified severalfold in a theater. Sitting in a room with a collection of like-minded fan-nerds amplified my own enjoyment of the theatrical goings-on. Their laughs, groans, and applause amplified my own. We were all sitting in a theater getting fan-serviced together, and it felt damn good.

I hesitate to call ED: tM a guilty pleasure, as I don’t feel at all guilty for having fun while watching it. However, I do acknowledge that a great amount of the fun I had came from external stuff already lodged in my brain prior to the performance. Would I recommend it to others? No, probably not. Did I have gobs of stupidly blood-splattered fun this weekend? Yes, absolutely, and I’d do it again.

Some Underrated Monsters

In Art, Horror, Japan on October 30, 2010 at 9:14 am
It’s Halloween, which is objectively the best holiday all year. It’s not nearly as stressful as Christmas, it’s sexier than New Years, and is barrels more exciting than Flag Day. It’s also the holiday where we’ll all be reminded how pervasive two of the most popular monsters are- vampires and zombies. I guarantee you that every single Halloween party you go to will have, at the very minimum, three people dressed as these things.
It’s easy to see why. Vampires are an excuse to dress up all sexy-like. Dracula and Co. have always been distinguished by their nifty clothes, deathly pallor, and sexy neck-biting business. That’s all well and good, but vamps are a tad overexposed. As for zombies, they’re a super-easy costume to do: just slosh some blood on yourself, and, boom, you’re a zombie. You don’t have to have a particular clothing style or anything; all you need is gobs and blood and maybe a bit of putrescence. Boom. Zombie. Done.
The great pantheon of other monsters, though, seem to be sadly ignored. Not just in terms of costumes, but in general. What follows are a few monsters whom I think are just as creepy as the popular dead guys.
Yes, I know. Werewolves are in everything. They were in Buffy and they’re in True Blood as well. The problem with the wolves, though, is that they’ve sort of become a foil to vampires. Every other bit of vampire media seems to set up werewolves as the natural enemy of vampires. The World of Darkness did this, as did Underworld, as did that horrible Van Helsing movie.
I’ve got no problem with the Wolves Vs. Vampire thing, but the raging furry dudes ought to have a chance to stand on their own. The werewolf is basically about how scary it is to flip out and lose your shit, giving into rage and emotion. That’s something worth developing. Instead, they’ve just been a beastie for vampires to fight.
The Phantom of the Opera
This another instance where the creature in question is pretty popular, but not used to his full extent. The Phantom today is best known for the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, which establishes him as a romantic lead first, and deranged killer second. People tend to think of the musical before they think of Lon Chaney’s freakish and psychotic Phantom, if they think of that at all. This is a guy who’s grossly deformed, gets obsessed with starlets, and then hangs people for his own enjoyment. He could be right up there with the Frankenstein Monster as a freakish horror, but instead is viewed as being all romantical and misunderstood. Rightly, he should be viewed as the aristocrat-killing opera-haunting all around murderous badass that he used to be.
Entities From H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos That Are Not Cthulu
Cthulu gets way too much attention. He’s everywhere- movies, games, t-shirts, toys. You can’t go into a comic shop without tripping over a bunch of tentacles. As much as I like Cthulu, though, he overshadows the other nasty elder gods that Mr. Lovecraft bequeathed on us- grotesque beings such as Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat With a Thousand Young; or the King in Yellow, an eerie being who makes a memorable and hugely creepy appearance in The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. The big green tentacled dude has been overexposed to the point where he’s almost a parody of himself, but the rest of Lovecraft’s pantheon is still genuinely creepy.
Pretty Much Everything From Japanese Mythology

One of the better books of ghost stories I’ve read was Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan. Hearn was one of the first Westerners to be nationalized as a Japanese citizen, and he loved the folklore from his adopted land. Most people now think that his wife, a Japanese woman, had just as much to do with the book as he did, but he was a dude, it was barely the 1900s, and his name was put on the book.

Anyway, the thing that I find sort of creepy about Japanese mythology is that there are a disturbing amount of stories where a guy marries a lady, and then the lady turns into an ice witch or crane or fox or some other variant, often abandoning her husband once he learns her secrets. One can play armchair psychologist and wonder what this says about Japanese culture, but the idea that beasties are actually in your living room rather than out in the dark woods is niftily squicky in a pod-people sort of way.

Hungry ghosts are also genuinely spooky. Vampires are supposed to illustrate the horrors of thirst, hunger, and general lack of satiation, I suppose, but anymore they’re way more about leather and sexy times than anything else. Hungry ghosts, dried out husks forever trying to satisfy themselves, seem actually damned.

Anything William Blake Ever Painted

William Blake is one of my favorite painters. He was also probably insane, and his paintings of scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy are fairly creeptacular.

Actually, paintings aside, he himself was probably pretty monstrous.

Late Evening of the Living Dead Bicyclists

In Athletics, Horror, Portland, Religion on June 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

Last night I found myself wearing a Jesus costume and leading a coterie of bicyclists dressed as zombies around NE Portland. Our fair city’s (now annual) zombie bike ride was upon us, and for a number of reasons I suddenly found myself leading the thing. Needing to stand out from the biking horde of slavering cyclists, I decided to comport myself as the most famous zombie ever, a dude who shambled out of his grave three days after a rather nasty torture/execution session.

We met up in a park, and my friend L was good enough to show up with a batch of corn syrup, red food dye, and flour. As I’d only recently had the responsibility of the ride foisted on me, and didn’t have any fake blood, L was a lifesaver (or rather, unlifersaver) for bringing the hemoglobin. A few pictures-
Here’s L, devouring her somewhat chagrined boyfriend:

This gentleman did the “military guy gets zombified” thing. He had very creepy teeth.


Slathered in L’s fake blood, this girl looked a bit more like Carrie than a zombie, but she certainly pulled it off. She should watch out, though, because the girl behind her seems to be contemplating Carrie-centric mastication.

Our attempt at a zombie last supper:

You can’t really see it in the picture, but these girls are covered in glitter blood. We decided they were Twilight zombies.

Zombie dance! We stopped at three places, and rocked out to Thriller at two of them. The night closed with zombie karaoke at a tiki bar where numerous zombies (as in the drink) were consumed. I decided that the best thing for Zombie Jesus to sing would be Highway to Hell.
As people went home, more than a few of them said “Thank you, Jesus!” I kind of love my lifestyle.

Glam ‘N Gore: Two Neato Movies With Lots of Shiny Things and Blood

In Horror, Movies, Shakespeare on November 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm

Weird, sexy, dark shit. Black leather and nasty violence, bloody messes and flamboyant costumes. Recently I saw two movies that had these enticing properties in spades upon spades. One of them was actually good, and the other was enjoyable trash.

Repo! The Genetic Opera
is not a good movie. I did, however, find it immensely enjoyable. The film very much wants to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show, and its earnest desire to supplant that flick as the reigning midnight movie is actually sort of cute. Rocky Horror, though, is ultimately a fun little romp about exciting underwear with not much in the way of blood and gore. Repo!, though, more than outperforms Rocky Horror when it comes to blood, gore, and sheer fuck up-edness.

The plot, such as it is, focuses on Anthony Stewart Head (you know, Giles from Buffy) as a futuristic repo man who extracts designer organs from deadbeats who can’t pay their surgery bill. Also, there’s some implied sibling fucking and a neon-blue corpse-based designer drug in their somewhere. Also, Sarah Brighton sings (oh yeah- it’s a rock opera with songs of dubious musical quality) and Paris Hilton’s face falls off. It is awesome. It’s not good, artful, or redeeming, but it kicks ass. I would recommend watching it with lots of booze and lots of friends. My group peppered the screen with MST3K style retorts, and we frequently had to stop for “booze breaks.” Repo! isn’t the next Rocky Horror, but the world is a bit more nifty because of its existence.

Titus, though, is an actual good movie. This is surprising, given the source material, Titus Andronicus, considered one of Shakespeare’s worst plays. The Bard wrote it very early in his career, and I suspect that the budding playwright was thinking of little else besides how to pack the house with rabble. This is several orders of magnitude down from, say, King Lear. Titus Andronicus is grindhouse Shakespeare. Heads and hands are lopped of characters, rape and insanity feature prominently, someone gets their tongue ripped from their head, an absurd body count mounts, cannibalism and slaughter ensue, and there’s even some blaxploitation in there.

Director Julie Taymor obviously realized this, so Titus is an insane, weird, costume-heavy, gory, version of the play that gleefully slams anachronisms together, mixing gladiator armor with overcoats, vibing together the aesthetics of ancient and fascist Rome in a blend of insanity that just sort of works with the over-the-top source material. Anthony Hopkins plays the title character with more than a little of his Hannibal Lecter-y scenery chewing, and it’s an entirely appropriate leading performance to go with all of the swirly weird shit, severed limbs, casual murder, and general shininess that pervades the film. If you like Shakespeare (or just movies with really nice costumes and/or orgies) see it. That old Elizabethian hack would be proud.

Vampires: Occasionally Entertaining!

In Horror, Movies, Music on October 31, 2009 at 9:47 am

Saw Nosferatu last night, the 1922 German silent film. The movie was accompanied by a live soundtrack composed and performed by Mood Area 52 and shown in the Mission Theater, a smaller venue with the twin advantages of having both beer and an awesome balcony. Several people were wearing top hats and corsets and the like, and a mood of delightful retro-ness carried the evening. The movie itself was great. There were three things I liked about it:

1: Count Orlok is an evil sonofabitch. No vampiric torment here, just creepy, carnivorous, awesomeness.

2: Nosferatu is Dracula, for the most part. The studio wasn’t able to get the rights from Stoker’s widow, though, so they just changed the names of the characters and kept the exact same plot. The blatant off-ripping is kind of hilarious.

3: In modern vampire fiction, vampires always have to live beside their fictional counterparts. There is usually an expository scene where a character (usually a vampire or vampire hunter) explains what works and what doesn’t, differentiating the “reality” of a given piece of fiction from the common cultural effluvia that accompanies vampires. (My favorite scene of this nature is probably when Kris Kristofferson says “Crosses don’t do shit” in Blade.)

Nosferatu didn’t have a scene like that, and it was kind of refreshing and sort of weird to see. The vampire was presented as something new and alien, which is wholly different from how we see him popular culture. We’re inundated with vampires, drowning in them, and the characters in modern fiction inhabit the same vamp-soaked world where everyone has seen at least three different versions of Dracula. Nosferatu isn’t like that at all, and it was very cool seeing a familiar face presented as something so novel. Vampires are cliche now, but this was where a lot of those cliches come from, this was the root of so much else. Despite the prevalence of vampires, Count Orlok still seems uniquely monstrous, and the creators of Nosferatu, even as they ripped off Dracula, created something that still seems fresh.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Horror Movies

In Epiphanies, Horror, Music on October 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm

As I write this, I’m listening to Manowar. It is not what I would typically call “good” music, but I’m enjoying it so I guess that counts for something. I’ve been listening to metal all evening. Earlier this week I re-watched From Dusk Till Dawn, which is not what I could call a “good” movie, but I enjoyed it a lot so I guess that counts for something. Both the Rodriguez movie in question, and lots of splashy metal, belong to a genre of camp that I thoroughly enjoy, and have historically had trouble enjoying.

My basic thought process (or lack thereof) was that an entirely well-adjusted person would not find any enjoyment in things like gore, spikes, vampires, zombies, blood splatters, dismemberment, werewolves, monsters, slashers, etc. I worried not so much that horror movies, etc. would turn me into a psychopath, but that my fandom of such a genre betrayed some inner werewolfian nastiness. (I think the term “guilty pleasure” is a bit overused, but in my case my enjoyment of this stuff really was steeped in guilt.) If I was such a good guy, why was I smiling at all of the guns and blood?

It is worth noting that if stuff like splatter movies and heavy metal actually did earnestly portray violence, gore, and death, then they really wouldn’t be that much fun, would they? And, when I do see honest, real depictions of violence, I do get kind of queasy. You know that famous picture of a guy executing a Viet Cong? That picture is honestly and horribly terrifying. Watching George Clooney and Harvey Keitel blast the shit out of vampires, though, is my idea of a “romp.” When just enough of the edges are off, when it gets a little “safer,” this kind of thing seems kind of fun.

In the end, though, I can’t completely explain it and just have to accept that I know for a fact that I’m a pretty good guy. I also know that I like watching the undead explode. Thus far, wringing my hands over the matter hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I might as well just acquiesce to enjoying what I occasionally do and tell the guilt to take its business elsewhere.

So: Fuck it. I’m through with making guilt-ridden judgments or having reservations about my own enjoyment about campy, cathartic, fun portrayals violence. I enjoyed every bit of watching Clooney & Co. blast vampires into bloody smithereens, and right now I’m enjoying obnoxious, shouty music without a shred of guilt. Halloween is coming up, and I know I’ll be in the mood for horror movies aplenty, soon.

If you don’t like it- fine. I have headphones.

The Most Fun You Can Possibly Have Without Actually Having Sex

In Athletics, Horror, Music, Portland on June 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

“Want some blood?”

Various bottles of the stuff were being passed around. “Thanks,” I said, and doused myself in a fair amount of it. I’d blackened my eyes, smeared white makeup all over my face, and torn up one of my dress shirts. I did not, however, have time for blood. I looked like an overzealous Misfits fan than a zombie, really, but my fellow undead were happy to fix that for me. Various other people were in lycra or street clothes, but the zealous hordes of the nonliving saw too it that they were sufficiently made up. I got myself good and red, dousing some blood on my face for good measure. I was ready to ride through Portland and demand brains.

Pedalpalooza is an annual sixteen-day series of bike events here in Portland, most of which are theme rides. Looking at the calendar, the one that I was determined to go to was the zombie ride, because, well, it was an opportunity to dress up as a zombie. Riding through Portland, shouting “BRAAAAIIINS!!!” at various pedestrians garnered us three main responses:

1- People ignoring us, pretending that a large crowd of bike-based undead were not, in fact, demanding culinary use of their grey matter. This was the most common reaction.

2- Some variant of “Woo!” This was fairly common, which I think speaks well of the citizenry of Portland. They are open-minded enough that they don’t mind restless revenants consuming said open minds.

3- Some variant of “Fuck you!” Very few people had this reaction. I decided that those who did take offense to our antics were tortured, unhappy souls who needed to get laid very badly.

We stopped at a few bars, where a few adventurous patrons allowed themselves to be bitten and slathered in fake blood. There were a few other patrons who did not acquiesce to such zombification, and they were much less exciting human beings. At a bar, though, I got a phone call from my friend L asking what I was doing.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m at the zombie ride.” I said.

“Oh,” she said, with a pausing, “I’m at the Bowie Vs. Prince ride.” Bowie Vs. Prince. At another event someone had rigged up a mobile sound system and was leading around a mobile 80s dance party that was stopping at various open spaces for dancing and antics. Long story short- my friend was able to give me directions and I was able to successfully lead a pack of zombies to an 80s dance party. When rolled up Thriller was, rather auspiciously, playing.

It was a blast- we rolled out with 1999 blasting into the evening, getting “Woos!” from various bar patrons. There was also some bike polo in there. Eventually the whole mass of people ended up at a dance party on the water under a bridge. The next day L and I formed a scavenger hunt team, biking around Portland taking pictues of cycle-themed curiosity.

The whole zombie/80s music/mobile dance party thing, though, made me think a lot about “hipsterism.” At their worst (and most people do talk about them at their worst) hipsters are shallow, image-obsessed douchebags who are only capable of interacting with anything after a safe cushion of ironic distance has been established. At its worst, “hipsterism” is alienating, cold, distant, grating, and fickle. The word “douchebag” is often appended to “hispster” for good reason.

At their very best, though, the young, creative population of a city like Portland is absolutely fantastic, a population that is not afraid of audacity or bold actions. They are a demographic that does have a particular “style” but there is a distinct lack of “one-true-wayism” to it. While things are recognizably “hipstery,” there is a definite pluralism to what can be incorporated into that aesthetic. Almost anything, if presented with a certain sensibility, is considered stylistically interesting, which I quite like.

Also, in answer to any complaints about insufficient illustration: I was having too much fun to bother with pictures. There were costumes, antics, and music, enough that I entirely forgot that I’d brought a camera.