As I wrote the other day, Halloween is an important revelatory event ("Terror and Tacos in Portage and Albany Parks, Respectively"). For the first time, I went to the Halsted Street Halloween parade in Boystown in Lakeview. The juxtaposition of images and characters can be very creatively stimulating: Pacman chased by a dominatrix (really a by a ghost, but the "lady" with a whip is not far behind); a chicken appearing to hold a news conference; and guys with an excuse not to wear much.
These types of events -- carnivals, parades, street fairs -- can also be remarkably important in developing and maintaining a civil and, dare I say, a loving public life. We can learn about, learn from, and value difference. Most human differences -- food, clothing, speech patterns, etc. -- are utterly unimportant, but acquire monstrous meaning in a vacuum. With a human (or Pacman) face, these differences can be seen as harmless, and as enriching, as they have the potential to be.
Next year I will be in the parade itself and, perhaps, outdo the chicken.