Fear is fire.
Fear burns, consumes, spreads, destroys. Fear kills. Fear reshapes the landscape, reshapes the world, shapes our lives.
Fear is not Halloween. Fear is not horror films. We embrace those things, Halloween and horror films, as a way to confront our fear, to embrace it, to own it.
But we lose. Fear always wins.
When we asked for stories and essays that consider the emotion of fear, we got back a range of humor and personal horrors, of murder and unsavory foods. Of bad behavior. Of existential fears like disappearing, of death, of mass destruction.
Writers and artists are fearless, as you’ll soon see.
I’ve never been afraid of monsters and zombies, of vampires or even deranged serial killers. But otherwise seemingly normal people, like neighbors? Now that’s something to be afraid of, even before MAGA. When I was a teenager, the only scary movies that ever got to me were the run of secret-satanic-society films that proliferated after the smash of “Rosemary’s Baby”; the ones where everyone around you, your friends, neighbors and family, were secretly part of a horrific cult. Never once did I, being raised as a member of a church that did things like chanting together, practicing ritualistic cannibalism of its god (metaphorically speaking) and embracing all kinds of supernatural acts, even think about what it would be like as a non-Christian in American society. We were conformists living in fear of conformity.
I’ve never been all-in on Halloween, either. I’m not sure why, but even as a kid the main attraction for me was the abundance of candy, not the costume. In fact, I can’t remember what I dressed up as for Halloween, ever. But the candy corn, the Butterfingers, the Snickers, the Tootsie Pops, even the then-dreaded peanut butter kisses? As a kid, I’d get as much as I could, sort it by type and then eat it fast. Super-fast. I’d then turn my attention to my younger brother’s stash. Brent really mastered Halloween and the costume part in a way I never did. And he was not a candy freak like I was, so he’d keep it for days, maybe even a week. My mission was to use my powers of persuasion to convince him to share it with his poor older brother who had no candy (left).
I figured it out, finally, when I had kids of my own and they’d get immense amounts of candy that inspired bickering and jealousy between them. “This is about sharing,” I’d tell them, as I forced them to pour their candy in a common bowl, one that they could treat as community, rather than personal treasure.
What I never told them was that when they went to bed, I’d gorge on the community bowl like I was still a kid myself. You see, I had mastered the trick part of the treat gathering.
Look for Newcity’s October 2022 print edition at over 300 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at Newcityshop.com.
IN THIS ISSUE
For Every City a Sculpture
Sculpture Milwaukee tackles the natural world
When Humans Ruled the Earth: The Inevitability of Mass Extinction
A Killer and A Movie: When Two Brutal Murders Brought Fear to Chicago
Fear on LSD: Based on a “Terrifying” True Story
Where the Dogs Run: The Suburbs Scare the Hell Out of Me
But How Does It Taste? Feasting on Fearsome Foods
I’m Not Afraid of Public Speaking – I’m Afraid of You
Fear of Death: And Everything Else
Made for Horror: Favorite Genre Films, Led By Women
Not Amused: Horror Is A Whole Day Waiting In Line
In the Cards: Finding the Art in Tarot
The Philatelist: How A Typewriter Brought A Writer Back to Life
Fear Of Sighing: Afternoons With Gene
A new graphic story by Abby Jo Turner
“On the Fast Train from Jerusalem to Tel-Aviv”
A new poem from Dina Elenbogen
And so much more…