Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Halloween Means To Me '13 Day 3: James Bickert

Originally I wasn't going to have any repeat offenders from last year's countdown.  Then Jimmy dropped gold in my lap.  James Bickert is an exploitation historian, filth connoisseur, filmmaker, drunkard, and good friend.  He's also the only person I know with a freakin' drive-in in their back yard.  Literally.  The parties he throws there are legendary.  Hell, writing the tale of his memorial Franco-thon got me published in Fangoria.  Speaking of parties, let's get on with what Halloween means to Mr. Bickert this time around.  Last year he extolled the virtues of pumpkin beer.  This year he thrills us with the tale of a Halloween party from days of yore that I would give an extremity to have been at.

"Halloween for me is an exploration. It’s a time to excavate the primordial instincts lying deep within your DNA. When you can throw society’s laws in the shitter and deconstruct morality to escape the soulless technological cluster fuck and self-appointed important people masquerading as the talent struck. A freedom from this world of talking heads that smears their acidic snot across my synapses. Halloween as a child involved a terror of the unknown and a celebration of horrific folklore. As a man, there is no unknown and folklore merely falsehoods. There lies a plague of cruelty spilling from the selfishness around us and Halloween can offer a temporary escape but it may also serve as a key to one’s own self destructive personality and a portal to the edge of cliffs where you can awkwardly balance while dancing with Poe’s imp of the perverse and better understand one’s fears. 

My favorite of Halloween experiment is from the double vision years at Georgia Southern University in the swamps of Statesboro. I had a friend named E.J. (R.I.P.) who could be best described as a cross between Timothy Leary and Charles Manson. A walking stereotype of dirty denim clad refer-smoke haze who lived in a rat-infested dilapidated farmhouse surrounded by acres of corn on the outskirts of town. It was a safe haven for growing marijuana, firing guns, discussing literature and testing the purity of psychedelic substances. Many lessons learned free from the intrusion of local law enforcement. For Halloween night, E.J.’s buddies the Iron Coffins Motor Cycle Club were coming to town, so he decided to throw a shindig by burning a witch in a bonfire before the requisite live music. Since these fine upstanding citizens made their living running microdots down the East Coast, it was sure to be one hell of a mind fuck. I didn’t realize just how big or the visions it would contain.

To avoid the Sheriff department‘s roadblocks, E.J. hired a Volkswagon Beatle club to run as cabs for all the invited guests. It was the only way in and out. Every rider received the requisite party enhancers. Once you took the 8 mile trip and arrived, it looked like all the fires of hell had broken loose with crazed drunken demons in elaborate costumes and topless white trash dancing on anything that allowed for a bigger spectacle. The beer was flowing and people were not paying attention when a plastic jug holding microdots melted on a fireplace mantle. The heat caused a hole to appear and thousands of doses to fall out and roll across the wooden floors, up for grabs to anyone who wanted to fill their cheeks.

Now Halloween costumes, beer, bonfires, Southern rock, outlaw bikers, screwing coeds in corn fields and a squadron of German cars zipping around while it rained free hallucinogenic drugs may seem like enough for most people, but it was not for old Wade. Nobody really knew why he was such a puppy kicking cruel bastard or why E.J. even hung out with this greasy 300lb psychopath. Some say he got messed up in a secret Army experiment but nobody really knew the truth. At least I didn't. It was a few months before he committed suicide and I guess he wanted to take some folks out with him by throwing a pillow case of live 9mm rounds into the bonfire. It didn’t take long before bullets were flying like party streamers. They buzzed through corn, shot up the side of the farm house and a hit a few VWs.

Luckily none of the several hundred party patrons were shot. Wade was quickly escorted to an ass kicking and the sane trippers quickly retreated back to the city. Me and a few buddies were not the types to let a drop of beer remain in a keg so we decided to hold out for more thrill-seeking milk. Once we realized the VW Bugs were not coming back and E.J. had fled his own property, the Iron Coffins informed us that they were leaving to run some stuff down to Savannah and would be back in the afternoon. They were also going to leave one of their old ladies behind because she had become unmanageable. We were told at gunpoint that none of us boys better lay a finger on her if we knew what was best. The dust from their Harleys had not even cleared when this road worn woman had completely stripped herself naked. She was skeletal, missing most of her teeth on the left side of her face, had an enormous bush and pierced flapjack tits that resembled the teats of an old hound dog with too many pups. There was a gold chain connecting these dried up protrusions. Even without drugs, she would have resembled a corpse that had spent a 4 day weekend at a sold-out necrophilia convention. It was not brains on her zombie mind. It was college cock. We were trapped and way past our drug tolerance levels so we scrambled for our lives. There was hiding, creeping, chasing an all types of uneasy verbs. We set traps and we made distractions. I was almost captured several times and even heard a buddy sobbing. We were living a porn version of Night of the Living Dead. I spent what seemed like days being chased by this once female monstrosity through the corn fields of Georgia and not until I snuck back to the farmhouse and climbed onto the roof did I feel any glimmer of hope for surviving the night. Over the next few hours, all my friends made it to that roof. We laid up there in silence afraid that even a sigh would bring a violent raping death. By sunrise, her yelling and stomping through the house had grown silent. With the sun sweating the life out of us, we took our chances and made it to Highway 67 where we grabbed a ride in the back of a pick-up truck like Marilyn Burns fleeing from Leatherface. Neil Young blasted as three exhausted metal heads burned out and faded away.

Much, much more happened than what I have told. That party was evil. It relished in it. I learned that living, controlling, owning and becoming darkness can lead to a higher understanding of your capabilities. Your killing instinct. While I may only do something relatively insane in small 30 second increments today, I have the wisdom to know what lies under my surface. I’m one double-cross, a shot of whiskey and a loaded gun away.

Now I’m 46 with evaporating angst and I host a kids Halloween party with my wife and daughter. I’m in charge of the typical suburban father chores like grilling, hooking up the electronics and projecting monster classics. There is the ritualistic pumpkin carving, gift bags, apple bobbing and lots of cute costumes. There are no drugs, suicidal maniacs or outlaw bikers ditching their horny old ladies. No staring at death, and the real world horrors are replaced by the laughter of children. It’s a simple life. One I tried to avoid. Every year after the guests leave, I crack open a beer and stare into the night. I think about E.J.’s farmhouse and a smile creeps across my face. The man was a goddamn genius. We all have the potential to climb a bell tower and kill those around us. Halloween can provide a smoke screen to allow exploration of the blackest regions in the mind, a little bit free from self-imposed and man-made laws."

 28 days ‘til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.  28 days ‘til Halloween.  Silver Shamrock.


Caffeinated Joe said...

Quite an interesting piece. Glad he is enjoying the quieter way things are now.

Blogger said...

I got my first electronic cigarette kit from VaporFi, and I must admit that they have the best kits.

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