To Halloween, or Not to Halloween—That is the Question

Our executive editor meditates on the challenges of the ghostly season when it comes to magazine making.

By Zach Dundas September 21, 2015 Published in the October 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Amy Martin

I have this weird thing with Halloween. Namely, I love it as a concept and hate it as a logistical reality. What could be more exciting than a night when anyone can be anything they want, at least in theory, even if in the end most adults opt for Sexy Something or a rubber politician mask? (Speaking of, are you ready for this year’s onslaught of zombie Donald Trumps?)

But in practice, it’s just a lot of planning and performance anxiety. October 31 usually finds me scrounging in my closet, patching together mothballed former thrift-store discoveries into lame “costumes.” I did manage to create a decent Baron Samedi, Haitian voodoo’s loa of the dead, a few years ago. But usually I look like a fashion-numb dad—in other words, an exaggerated version of my regular self.

We face a somewhat similar situation at the magazine. Come time to create our October issue, do we “do” Halloween, or not? Do we get our seasonal spookiness on in time for deadlines that are actually in August? Or should we just pretend it’s not happening?

This year, we decided to go for it. Almost a year ago, we realized that 2015 marks the 35th anniversary of The Shining, a movie synonymous with white-knuckle terror and the iconic Timberline Lodge (although the Timberline link is sort of its own form of make-believe). We noted that our annual gala fall fashion feature falls in October. And style editor Eden Dawn, photographer Holly Andres, and art director Michael Novak took it from there. When you see our style team’s ripping tribute to the Kubrick classic, you’ll be glad they did. The feature mixes nostalgia, humor, horror, and Portland’s vintage-infused autumnal fashion palette to great effect. It’s like the cool, creative, professional version of my flailing personal attempts to turn a wardrobe into a spectral statement.

Even though I watched and applauded its creation from start to finish, I’m still not quite sure how they pulled it off. But that’s my problem. For everyone else, I think those pages make the perfect Halloween costume for an issue of Portland Monthly—part trick, all treat.

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