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I spent the middle-third of my weekend in Philadelphia, to attend a part and reacquaint myself with the faces of a couple of old friends. While there, I decided to take several shaky, blurry, low-light photographs, without the benefit of a flashbulb or eyeglasses. Prepare to squint.

I have a secret romance with the way West Philadelphia wears autumn weather. It is an old and haunted part of America and, on a fogged-over fall evening, the neighborhood looks right at home. My friend, Melissa, claimed that the leaves on the ground contained a few extra shapes and colors not indigenous to the trees, and suspected they were distributed overnight, by some kind of Philadelphia beautification task force.

The party was advertised as an appreciation of St. Jude, and was held in honor of the 7th anniversary of Melissa's stroke. (her genetics made it possible, at age 23. she's just about the strongest person i know.) It was a suitably morbid occasion, and the costume rules were sort of strict: guests were asked to dress as patron saints, virgin martyrs, hopeless causes, or demigods. (One attendee, claiming to be dressed as Zeus, was scolded because Zeus enjoys a full-fledged god status. It's weird to see a god apologize, and then reach for some hummus.)

The uniforms were really impressive. Melissa dressed as Zuul, the demigod that possesses Sigourney Weaver's character in the film Ghostbusters. A very elaborate Joan of Arc was present, and a Santa Lucia. There was also a St. Christina the Astonishing, who provided a nice photo opportunity when she stood beneath a very well-placed lighting fixture. For all the saints and demigods in attendance – Dionysus was there, as was Persephone, and Melissa's brother went very high concept with a "Son of Seitan" costume – I was most surprised by the presence of not one, but two unrelated attendees dressed as the Muppet, Beaker.

After deciding my original plan to attend the party as St. Ides was too embarrassing, I just dressed as St. Bernard instead.


The following evening, on Halloween, I saw a children's costume that beat the pants of last year's "Crybaby Dracula." A few small kids – maybe between 6-7 years old – were dressed as the Incredible Hulk, with fully rendered musculature. There's just nothing more hilarious than a tiny child with perfectly sculpted abs. I hope someone makes an action movie where the hero has to fight a testosterone-crazy, pumped-up six year-old. And soon. I also saw a mother feed her baby more candy in a single sitting than I ate during the first ten years of my life. I need to put social services on speed-dial.

WE FIRST MET ON 11.01.2004

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