Politics and art of Halloween 2019

By Lucy Komisar
Nov 1, 2019

The spider on the Jefferson Market Library.

This is the best annual party for New Yorkers. And price of entry is only your costume which depends on imagination, or a trip to a costume store if you lack the former.

So many people with stitches for monster mouths, with pirate garb, as Wonder Women or Jaws sharks. All cheered by the watchers. Thousands in the street and on the sidewalks from downtown Soho up Sixth Avenue to 16th Street.

This at 70 degrees was the warmest I recall. Last year I had to wear wool gloves with open fingers in order to take photos.

The skeleton puppets from the original Bread and Puppet Theater.

By the way, secret, best place to watch is at Sixth and 10th Street, west side of street across from the library, because that is where TV cameras are, so it is lit. And it‘s where performing groups stop and do their stuff. You’ll know it from the spider hanging from the library tower.

The parade traditionally begins with the giant puppet skeletons, harking back to decades ago when the parade was started 1974, 45 years ago, by Ralph Lee‘s Bread and Puppet Theater. It was always very political.

My photos reflect my interest in politics, and also art and theater. So, here‘s some of all of that. The politics: by the way, the best presentations are by those with more than one person and they tell a story.

I liked the tombstones. About all our bad politicians. There are so many! Trump, his acolytes and others.

Tombstones for bad politicians.
Famine, pestilence and hell.
A sign of the times.

A band raising the sounds of Famine, Pestilence and Hell. A marcher pointing out the epidemic of killing black people. He was appropriately somber in the parade of joyous people

Against Fake News.

There was a float calling for a free internet.  And a guy condemning fake news

Painting Frido Kahlo.

But hard to know what fake news he was condemning. Pretty much all of what you read in the corporate press and hear on the corporate broadcast media is fake.

About art, a painter was dabbing on a portrait of Frida Kahlo.

There were people costumed as paintings of Mona Lisa and Van Gogh. Oddly, sign of the times, the latter felt it necessary to put a sign Vincent Van Gogh on his back.

Homage to Van Gogh.

Then I saw someone costumed as The Scream. Oh, and then I saw the same Scream 3 or 4 more times. Oh well, now it‘s a standard mask!

Charlie Chaplin.

I like theater. And Charlie Chaplin. A group of actors were costumed as players in The Wizard of Oz. When they passed the spot of the TV cameras, the lion quipped, “Is there a green room?” [Where people waiting to go on TV programs wait.]

D­ia de los Muertos

There was plenty of dance, samba, rock, dances in a pageant of the Mexican D­ia de los Muertos, [the Day of the Dead].

A parade theme was “the terror,” and there was a collection of theme-costumed rock dancers about that.

Imagination provides the best costumes. I liked a  monster, fantasy birds, a terrific walking garden.

Fantasy birds.

The sense of this event is that there are literally thousands of people in New York (and suburbs) with a great deal of inventive talent who never get a chance to display it.

And in this one day of the year they are invited to be creative and have an audience who appreciates them.

In a society that nurtured and supported the arts, they would have an outlet. But this society works only for the people with money to help them get more money.

A walking garden.

The back story of the glory of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is the talent and joy of creativity that is squashed by the capitalist system.

Here, as a comic commentary, is the last photo I took as I passed a Wells Fargo Bank. As you know, the people who run the bank defrauded clients of millions of dollars by signing them up to accounts they never ordered and charging them for it. Of course, the people who run the system didn’t throw anyone in jail, just fined them some cash which they recognize as the cost of doing business.

The real bank robbers are the people who run the banks.

I discovered some costumed robbers inside the local Wells Fargo branch. I took their picture and pointed out that the real robbers were the folks who run the bank.

Photos by Lucy Komisar.

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