Topography of Terror: The Eastside Edition
A Note from the Editors:
On Thursday, October 30, we published this story, about houses on the Eastside displaying McCain and Palin yard signs. We were parodying a certain kind of daily-newspaper feature—the "houses with the best Halloween/Christmas decorations" article, which typically includes addresses, so we included addresses. The point was that our readers, typically liberal, would be chilled by these "Halloween" displays. After the piece came out, there was some debate on The Stranger's website about the piece's inclusion of addresses—about the homeowners' and The Stranger's right to free speech, and about yards signs as public discourse—and some readers posted addresses of Stranger staffers in the comments. Turnabout is fair play, so we did not remove those comments and left our own addresses up on our website.
On Saturday morning, the piece exploded on right-wing blogs. The piece received over 1,300 comments, including dozens and dozens of death threats against our staff, many directing readers to incorrect addresses. What began as political satire changed from reasonably intelligent, irreverent discourse to something ugly. We don't want anyone to get hurt—not the homeowners listed in the piece, not our staff, not the innocent bystanders who live at our old addresses—so we pulled the piece from the website.
So that readers can judge the content of the article for themselves, we're reposting it online (with comments disabled for the time being and addresses redacted).
We regret that people are crazy.
Cobwebs and witches are for children and morons. If you're looking for the most hair-raising Halloween horrors, try scouring the streets of the Eastside. That's where we found the most pants-wettingly scary houses, sure to give you night terrors well past Halloween and all the way until November 4. Because in an election year, nothing's more terrifying than the future.
"No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear," wrote British philosopher Edmund Burke in 1756. It's as true today as ever. Case in point: this bloodcurdling Mercer Island lawn display, a quadruple whammy of Republican propaganda capable of driving the most reasonable citizen to insanity. By day, it's a standard collection of yard signs on a well-manicured lawn. But at night, it's a GOP graveyard, where the yard-sign tombstones are unearthed by zombie candidates hungry for brains. Do you have what it takes to drive a stake through the heart of zombie Dino Rossi or blast a shotgun into the chest of zombie Dave Reichert or fight off the reanimated ashes of Steve Litzow, swirling out of that terrifying urn? Run.
Hungarian peasants have an old and terrible story about "the tree of death," which by some trick of evil had lurking in its twisted branches the "dark lord," the master of the underworld, the evil that brings all things to their end. It was there in the tree, waiting, watching, and preying on the living. Passing this dead—nay, murdered—tree on Mercer Island takes us back to the scariest bowels of Hungary, only instead of one dark lord, this tree is possessed by a trinity of evil, represented quite fittingly by cheap glossy crassness tacked over mercilessly hacked nature.
What is more terrifying than this edifice, in which there is no door, few windows, and no handholds by which one might scale its faceless heights to register complaint? One half-expects loudspeakers on the roof to be blaring Orson Welles voice, from his movie version of Franz Kafka's The Trial: A man comes from the country, begging admittance to the law. But the guard cannot admit him. Can he hope to enter at a later time? "That is possible," says the guard. The man tries to peer through the entrance. He had been taught that the law should be accessible to every man. "Do not attempt to enter without my permission," says the guard. "I am very powerful, but I am the least of all the guards." Without a doubt, this is no home to man, but a monolithic holding cell packed floor-to-ceiling with bubbling black goo.
That John McCain sign is screamingly scary enough in the early-evening light, like a little flag for an evil army of pint-sized ghouls marching through the leafy streets of Mercer Island. And that zigzagging, funereal fence behind it? That is the sign of an isolated home, sheltering isolated minds—bristling, cold and black, a thousand points of death—and the kind of house that gives trick-or-treaters miniboxes of raisins. Beware.
This most terrifying tableau gains its power from what's not shown but easily imagined: the presence of John McCain and Sarah Palin not in name but bodily form, striding triumphantly onto this balcony like a trailer-park Eva Perón and her cryogenically defrosting old-man running mate. Down below, the desperate, unemployed masses huddle in the shrubs, their bellies roiled by hunger and heartbreak, their cold bare ankles stung by the blades of wet grass. Or... could those be tiny tentacles or the haunted bubbling of mass graves or the desperate clutching fingers of a special-needs child? Flee, and don't look back.
Like an oversized cousin of John McCain's aged, brown iguana teeth, this foreboding fence is busy keeping immigrants out and Jesus's love within. How like the wily immigrant is the frightening foliage, as it insidiously creeps and scratches at Real America's doorstep! How mighty the speculum of Dino Rossi—an army of dead-baby ghosts at his back—aborting civil rights before civil rights can abort him first! Who knows what liberal bogeymen lurk outside this fence's cherished sanctum? The nightmare has just begun for you, Republican fence.
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