Pierre the Pumpkin | Halloween 2017 in Montpellier, France | Day of the Dead

Montpellier, and France in general, doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but I do.

I spoke to soon.

Pleasant surprise, last night on Halloween, October 31st, Montpellier’s historic section was full (as usual), yet with a significant number of people in costumes on the mostly pedestrian narrow streets.

And unlike one random secular holiday, France celebrates the ‘Day of the Dead’ which is for them November 1st, for a full week. A week off from school! What?

the joint team grinder, Marlboro tobacco, lighter and OCB papers

grinder, Marlboro tobacco, lighter and OCB papers

As people do often in Montpellier, and in a lot of French towns, they walk around, hence the word promenade – both describing a verb to walk, and a noun, a central commons. Last night after pulling a costume together, I headed into town. Since I had covered a lot of distance bicycling during the day, I raced to catch the tram passing me as I was heading into town, to get on it with my bike. I was surprised and happy to see a group of three girls in costume getting on the train at the same time as I. They proceeded to take one after another selfie. There was another guy sitting alone with a black lace veil and scary looking eyes, when I could see them. He would reveal fangs every once in a while. His head remained straight ahead, perhaps slightly bent down. Duh, he was probably looking at his cell phone. The phone was the only thing out of place as he walked from the train in his black clad macabre nun costume. The train arrived at the central plaza in town by the historical center, la Comedie. Once I maneuvered my bike off at this stop I saw all sorts of costumes.

It was clear that this is one of those rare French towns that clearly does celebrate Halloween. It helps when 25% of the population are students. Sure, it was a small percentage, but this meant an ever flowing bunch of costumes. As I’ve mentioned, people in the town of Montpellier love to stroll, promenade, and certainly tourists as well. They gather in cafes and bars that spill into the streets.

I saw some really pretty scary, realistic looking wounds. wow! Yet only took a few pictures of costumes. There were a bunch of excellent, graphically real looking facial wounds and some very clever home-made costumes. One woman was a walking laundry basket. The group shot I took was because I walked up to a guy with a large metallic looking thing, asking “what is that?”. “I’m a grinder; explaining that they were the joint roller brigade; consisting of the grinder, OCB rolling paper, a pack of Marlboro and a lighter.

Pierre the Pumpkin Halloween in Montpellier, France 2017, where Halloween isn’t celebrated

Today, November 1st isn’t a holiday for me, but it is for France. I was wondering why the copy shop I went to was closed, looking at the sign and knowing it wasn’t that late, perplexed. As I paused on a tree-lined street with my bicycle closer to the center of town, I randomly asked a strolling couple with their two toddlers, “is today a holiday or something?” gesturing at the barricaded shops. They answered, we don’t speak french, we speak English. “It’s the Day of the Dead.” I mean, I knew the kids have a week off from school, but I wasn’t really sure what specific day this holiday landed on. I said, it would be crazy to think of people getting a week off from school for Halloween. I laughed. He’s a diplomat, originally from Flemish Belgium and she’s Turkish. They lingered. We talked for a while. I said I hadn’t remembered Day of the Dead being celebrated in Germany, mentioning I lived in Berlin, knowing they have a large Turkish population. She quickly retorted that Berlin has the largest Turkish population outside of Istanbul. He said “sure, it wouldn’t be celebrated in Germany, they’re Protestant”. Its roots are in the Catholic origins of celebrating ancestors. Their kids speak Flemish (Dutch), Turkish, English and are learning French. The woman’s Turkish name means ‘tree with no roots’. I said, but all trees have roots, and she said exactly. I said, oh, it’s a metaphor. She added that she has always embraced rootlessness, which is why when they met and he was still studying, he decided to become a diplomat so that they could live a lifestyle of travel. They’d lived in Belgrade, Serbia.

The plaza was full of street performers and crowds around them. In this case several groups of break dancing guys with their loud sound system. Each capitalizing on the November 1st holiday, Day of the Dead. I searched the internet and saw November 2nd as the official Day of the Dead, hey, that’s my mother’s birthday; November 2nd. As I continued searching, it turns out that Day of the Dead actually starts on the 31st of October and goes through November 2nd, depending on what culture you participate in and how it’s celebrated. It’s officially on November 1st in France, called La Toussaint, All Saints Day. I found this CBS link showing photographs of this celebration throughout the world, in one form or another. It for the most part is about honoring ancestors. In fact, I hadn’t realized it was such a prominent holiday in Europe. I knew it was a thing in Mexico, but I never knew to what extent. Here’s a good article about its Mexican roots.

paper cut out graffiti

paper cut out graffiti

carol in her halloween costume 2017 to promenade along the montpellier streets

carol in her halloween costume 2017 to promenade along the montpellier streets

decided to grab a pumpkin from the grocery store today

roasted pumpkin seeds

I sure am fond of Pierre

His shape made me spontaneously draw him out.

hIs hat is very shiftable!

Pierre with an Asian cut

This was the spontaneous costume this past saturday

back in March in Santa Fe

Halloween nYc Hitchabout ’15 | Travel – Golden Elixir – Sharing Information & Hearts | Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I have no income. I love Halloween. I love New York city. So, I hitched to celebrate Halloween in nYc. I work all the time – I simply don’t receive any money – YET – putting together my two blogs, food podcast, photographs I take, music that I play and compose or the book that I will complete within the next 7 months … ! I hitchhiked to nYc from Central PA for Halloween, and back the following day. I spent about $5 dollars over the weekend. Naturally, hitching in NYC drew some attention and comments (and I noticed some pics from peoples’ iPhones) down on Canal street in Lower Manhattan at the unusual site of seeing someone, anyone, standing along the three lanes of traffic inching towards the entrance to the Holland tunnel, holding up a “PA” sign. I had conversations among passersby with a French couple and an Austrian family, among others. I love languages and always go out of my way to interact with people when I detect a language with which I’m familiar; just to have the chance to interact and share information and smiles. I conversed with a French couple on my way back by a gas station along interstate 81 who had purchased a car upon arriving in the U.S. 3 months earlier. They were on their way to Quebec, where they will sell the car, after their months of traveling.

I had great rides, a fantastic time in Gotham city and tears of joy in the experiences that I had with the peoples’ whose lives touched mine en route.

The irony, is that barely a cent needed to be spent. Sure, I was hungry and sleepy, ha, but that’s part of the fun of it.

I had a wonderful time. Sure, I didn’t dine in the fashionable places or name drop who I sat next to at such and such club…but did happen by a synchronistic explosion of serendipities, upon the New York Village Halloween Parade which I knew nothing about until I discovered it would be starting within minutes of my arrival in Manhattan. I had already started to assemble my costume that was in my backpack and was talking with a woman standing before me who asked if I was going to the Parade. What parade? When does it start? It was starting within 20 minutes. I found out about where to go and was among thousands of people corralled in an area waiting to launch into the parade, which consisted of 50, 000 or so costumed people. That rearranged my plans entirely, a no brainer. I intended to go to a party in Brooklyn, but the parade took front seat. It was great timing, intuitive attention and open and friendly contact with people right next to me.

Village Halloween Parade NYC 2015

Huge display of every imaginable Halloween costume

http://gothamist.com/2015/11/01/91_photo_village_halloween_parade.php#photo-1

Gothamist, wild costumes, Village Halloween Parade nYc  2015

Gothamist 91 wild costumes Village Halloween Parade nYc 2015


“Thousands of people descended upon lower Sixth Ave. for the 42nd annual Village Halloween Parade. Lasting well over three hours and featuring dozens of mobile dance parties doubling as floats …. and approximately 60,000 often-outlandishly costumed revelers strolling, dancing, lurching, running, roller blading …. the parade is thought to be the largest such celebration in the world. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere festive, the costumes usually handmade and often pretty incredible…”

I can’t believe that I had no knowledge whatsoever about the ‘Village Halloween Parade’. Wow, was I glad I discovered it. My costume was a ‘Mermaid caught in a fish net in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I was wrapped in bubblewrap as the mermaid’s tail (walking in tiny steps like a geisha – or a fish outa water), tangled in fish net with plastic dripping off my costume – having gotten stuck in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This article mentions the young man who is doing something about it. There are vortexes of garbage archipelagos in every ocean. The GPGP is larger than Texas, and deep.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

tip of the burg Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I didn’t have my camera with me nor a smart phone to document my 48 hour hitchabout. Yet Yougourthen kindly sent me the pic he took of us at the G bar in Manhattan hours after the parade had ended. G bar, indeed a gay bar, was packed with people, had a great ambience, good music and dancing and a fantastic array of costumed gorgeous men. he he.

Carol and Yougourthen at the G bar Manhattan halloween

Thank Yougourthen Ayouni for the pic of he and Carol at the G bar Manhattan halloween

Sure, with a working schedule, dependents, less time available and any other constrictions, one can’t just dart of hitching for a trip thousands of miles away for a couple days. However, I’m pointing out that since travel and discovery is about learning about the spirit of the place and its people and the other creatures and life that inhabit the area, it’s not about consuming, and spending, but finding joy in discovery and social interaction. I have done many hitchabouts which I’ve written about, particularly interesting when I lived based in Berlin, Germany. Here’s a string of these writings on my blog. https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/?s=hitchabout . I love sharing information and smiles with people. I meet such wonderful people during my rides, that this in itself is as enjoyable and exciting as the destination. People whose lives I otherwise would not necessarily come into contact wtih. Sure, i realize that this is not everyone’s thing. but travel doesn’t need to always cost so much! i better stop now. I discovered by synchronicity (timing and intuitive attention and open and friendly contact with people right next to me) that the Village NY Halloween Parade was happening, and joined in with my costume that was in my backpack and ready to be assembled.

And because my heart was sickened every time I saw the body of a dead dear along the highway en route, I’m writing a corresponding blog about animal bridges / wildlife crossings. https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/animal-bridges-wildlife-crossing-witnessed-way-too-many-dead-deer-en-route-to-new-york-city-through-pennsylvania-and-new-jersey/

which provide means for animals to have their habitat extended, rather than blocked, by human construction. Why do I care? Because I care about all creatures which are awesome and beautiful inhabitants of this planet.

Halloween

Halloween also known as All Soul’s Day 2013 has returned

Here are Halloween decorations in Pennsylvania – Halloween 2012.

funny tomb stones Halloween

tomb stones with humor

funny tomb stones

funny tomb stones

funny tomb stones

Humorous Halloween Tombstones

Nick Vujicic’s Empowerment message vs. Income Realities of Expat & DE’s Harz IV | Chomsky ‘Profit over People’

This is the second time I’ve encountered a video featuring this man’s message, an Australian motivational speaker, Nick Vujicic, who has no arms or legs, yet manages to make the most of every moment of his life. Nick_Vujicic_inspirational_speaker “We become so preoccupied with what we don’t have, that often we forget what we DO have.”

Kids responding to Nick's positive message

Kids responding to Nick’s positive message

Well, after seeing his message, being engulfed in my own sense of worth and well-being, concerned with how I’m going to make my next dollar, seems petty. Yet, after trying to screen (after putting out online ads) who is sincerely responding with legitimate offers for work and who is trying to scam me, it is rather daunting. The majority have been scams, from asking ‘how old I am’ – after listing my skills and offers for numerous types of honest work – to sending a pdf form asking for my bank account and yes, a signature to send back to them as well.

Per Nick’s video message, what is important in life is not how much money one has, or power, or beauty…but one’s attitude. Yet, I, as everyone else, am inextricably part of a matrix of what we’ve all decided is a currency, exchanging the work that we do. Living in a foreign country, in a WORLD in which ‘nationalism’ prevails, doesn’t make things easier. All the German bureaucracy ( no doubt all Western European countries & US ) put up roadblocks to offering one employment. Yet in the three months that I’ve been here, I’ve encountered a LARGE number of young, healthy capable people from 20’s through 50’s in age, who are willingly committed to the German Hartz IV program. They obtain money from the government while unemployed, ‘arbeitslosgeld/unemployement compensation’ and go through the motions (as if) they are looking for work – just enough – to keep this flow of money coming; just enough to pay rent and buy food. It turns out to be more attractive to some people (a substantial number of people), than to actually push ahead in the work force to develop their crafts. I’ve been informed that this is not at all representative of the rest of Germany, but predominantly happening in Berlin. Reflecting Berlin’s unique history as an island of capitalism existing within the clench of a Soviet dominated fist.

Besides the fact that many inhabitants of the developed world have comparatively a great deal of wealth, at the same time, many of these people have a lot of ‘issues’. Issues which lead to unhappy, unfulfilled lives, resulting in various addictions and distractions. We live in a finance, commercially driven time with a lot of brain-washing, regarding what to strive for. A world which holds up false/photoshopped images and ideals of beauty and promises from material acquisition and power. Messages which are based on false ideals, to stay on top of the game, that actually lead to pitting people against one another. Nick’s point, is to forget about feeling ‘not good enough’. There will always be people who are drop dead gorgeous, or with incredibly brilliant minds, others with fabulous wit, extreme dedication…to compare ourselves to. Yet, each of us has something to offer through our love and genuine joy of doing what we love. Our responsibility is to follow our hearts and find what it is that we love to do, and therefore do well, to offer to others.

To me, seeing all of the kids listening and receiving this man’s message, is wonderful. It reminds me that we do all genuinely feel better when we are kind and compassionate and loving, and can care for what another human being feels. And we all do feel better exchanging positive energy and prompting smiles in others. This has absolutely nothing to do with how one looks or how much money one has in their bank account. Because yes, it is each and every one of us that have the gift of life, and we forget just how precious this is. Nevertheless, I still have to make 150 euros in 2 days, because I am challenging myself to do it. I am also down to no milk, no vegetables or fruits, used up the potatoes, the oatmeal is gone, still ample onions and garlic left. Great that I drink a lot of water primarily anyway, rather than buying anything else. ‘-)) I don’t know if I just love a challenge. Or, if by genuinely following my heart and speaking what I feel, is so against the grain of the consensus of modern society, that not to accept these ideals, appears to be naive and foolish. I say consensus in the context of Noam Chomsky’s messages about ‘Neoliberalism and the Global Order’ excerpted from his book “Profit Over People”. “The “principal architects” of the neoliberal “Washington consensus” are the masters of the private economy, mainly huge corporations that control much of the international economy and have the means to dominate policy formation as well as the structuring of thought and opinion.Chomsky has been a highly influential academic figure throughout his career, and was cited within the field of Arts and Humanities more often than any other living scholar between 1980 and 1992. His work has influenced fields such as artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, logic, mathematics, music theory and analysis, political science, programming language theory and psychology.

This stage will pass, but it is now a bit scary

Halloween Geist

Ghost Figure for Hallowee

 

 

 

– good thing that Halloween is coming.

 

Scary halloween pumpkins

Carved Halloween pumpkins