Sunday, October 29, 2006

halloween notes

I don’t think our climate up here in Wisconsin is well suited to all-night outdoor partying, especially if you’re determined to do it in some state of undress. And yet, each year people drive for miles just to hang out on State Street until wee hours on the last Saturday of October. How is it that we sold this night as a Madison must?

At some point, too many came and businesses balked. Something about having a drunken brawl on their doorstep, with 100,000 attending was off-putting.

And so this year, the city took precautions: even more police officers. Roped off access, with attendance limited to those who were willing to pay $5. And a nice dose of windy, cold air.

I live a mere handful of blocks away and so, wind and entrance fees notwithstanding, I convinced the ever affable Ed to come out and we paraded up and down State Street until I was simply too cold to continue.

I would have written that it was a tame night. The biggest fiasco on State Street seemed to be the occasional mummy whose costume would tear at the perforation.

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So many of the costumes were just so…cheerful.

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…And so many men joyfully padded their shirts and grew out hair overnight. Predictable stuff.

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The street was calm. There was even room for a romantic spin with your sweetie.

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All under the watchful eye of the police…

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In all, a kickass event…

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All was well until we left State Street. Closer to my home, we nearly tripped on a young man convulsed in a heap by the sidewalk. The tort prof in me says – walk away walk away. The uman being in me says it’s too cold to pass out on the street like that.

But the stupor was not caused by alcohol. Or at least not directly. The man had an ugly bloody gash in his head. When he came to, he was somewhere between nonsensical and mildly incoherent.

A police person had to be dragged in from watching the fun stuff on State Street to provide a service off off State. I’m not sure whether the victim’s rendition of what happened was altogether credible. You believe a mugging when the mugged has at least a wallet stolen and does not admit to partial intoxication. Regardless, it was a sad sight.

Eventually we left, grateful to the young college kids who had been partying in the house next door and helped us deal with this guy. Calling the police was not something they would have otherwise welcomed, given the nature of their party, the ages of some of the participants (I'm guessing here), and other irksome considerations of legality.

Blood on faces looks a lot better when it’s fake.