The 9 Lb. Hammer's Halloween costume consists mostly of artificial cobwebs. They're more effective than usual: The 9 Lb. Hammer is dim, with high ceilings and the general aspect of a place that should have lots of cobwebs at all times. Sitting on the bar last weekend: a large plastic rat caught in a large plastic trap. Sitting in front of the rat and the trap: a man and a drink, the former of which activated the rat via a paw-squeeze when interest was indicated, causing it to scoot around with its eyes glowing red. In the side room, where the vat of free peanuts may be found, a giant lacquered wooden leaf reading "TOBACCO" hung on one wall, while on a ledge above it an abnormally large, motorized Swiss Army knife slowly and menacingly waved its blades. (These things are always there, but in context: scary!)
Across the street, part of the thick brick front wall is all that remains of the former Rainier Cold Storage building. It looks torn by a giant hand, and it was: the giant hand of gentrification, the scariest giant hand of all. The development company is embroiled in the permitting process, then comes scary, scary condos and the (ditto) dwellers within. Georgetown feels especially spooky on these autumn nights—dark and desolate, with small knots of people scurrying from bar to bar and cars passing infrequently on Airport Way South. Enjoy it while it lasts.
A little further down, the old Brew House still stands impassively. Last weekend and this one (Halloween and November 1), it's host to the Haunted Brew House Tour, which is worth the price of admission for the hulking, creaking wooden door alone. The massive door's creak is ridiculous; it belongs on a spooky sound effects record. Inside, the building is a beautiful, dark, empty wreck, with huge holes in its distant, coffered ceilings, with paint so peeling it's barely there, with a rusted wrought-iron spiral stairway that disappears once every rotation, embedded creepily into the wall.
Performers provide purportedly scary oration and move about in zombie- and ghostlike manner, but they may have been directed to refrain from actual frightening: The floors are so uneven, the banisters so vertiginous, the walls so crumbly, that anyone shrieking and staggering back in fear would be an insurance liability. Upstairs, a band plays—last week, the haunting, tattered (and funny) Circus Contraption band, this weekend, the Ensemble Sub Masa. On the way back down, via the truly terrifyingly high/rusty spiral stairs, beware the scary bird poop.
Afterward people, including a nun and a priest and what looked like a Good Humor man, drank beer and admired a series of gravestone rubbings in the old engine room, which was brightly lit and not scary at all.
9 Lb. Hammer, 6009 Airport Way S, 762-3373; Haunted Brew House Tour, www.theatreoffjackson.org.