My kids are hunting for pumpkins on neighborhood walks these days. The rainbow signs made in April are still hanging in apartment windows but the construction paper has faded and the edges have curled in. Now there are polyester cobwebs to spot and knobby pumpkins and on some stoops, more elaborate mayhem: severed plastic limbs and upside-down mummies and styrofoam gravestones poking out of pots of under-watered mums.
In a city that endured the real-life horror of refrigerated morgue trucks humming through the night this spring, maybe there’s an element of relief found in the sight of a faux coffin. Maybe the bulging eyeballs and gauzy shrouds on make-believe goblins offer a reprieve from the very real ghoulishness of so many people we see in positions of power.
The president tries to deride this city by calling it a ghost town but I think this could be the one truthful claim he has made. Our neighborhoods are filled to brimming with ghosts—nearly 27,000 of them—who we’ll never forget.
Most nights, at 7:00 o’clock as we’re readying the kids for bed, we can hear neighbors banging pots and pans outside our window. It’s a hold-over, I think, from the 7pm essential workers salute that filled the city streets with sound during the worst weeks of the pandemic. I like to imagine that this particular noise-making is also a protest; one family’s sustained cacerolazo and a nightly reminder to would-be authoritarians that there will be a reckoning.
How about you?