Foliage and Freaks

If you don’t know, New York City in fall is exquisite. The leaves turn color and Central Park becomes a melting palette. There is this suggestion of cold in the air—enough to make us break out our jean jackets or mellow sweaters—and the sky feels purer than summer’s hazy daze. Enthusiasts of prose love the black and white seasons: summer and winter. They love their assuredness and their bold and unequivocal statements about whatever. It’s lovers of poetry who fall for the in between ones, and between spring and fall, this writer is a sucker for the latter. We can’t help but be charmed by its nuanced complexity and disarming sense of doom.

Speaking of doom, what’s a column on fall in New York City without a mention of a good old-fashioned haunted house? If ghouls and ghosts are what you’re after this season, then look no further than Timothy Haskell’s Nightmare: New York’s Most Horrifying Haunted House. This crazy performance art masterpiece is the real deal when it comes to serving up fright and is complete with real people, discombobulating sets, disturbing but artful costumes, and a dark verisimilitude that will most likely make you consider the notion of wetting your pants or screaming like a baby at least once on the 20-25 minute walk through. It’s just precious.

Every year is a new theme. When I went a few years back, it was “Ghost Stories,” and I still haven’t forgotten the silent freaky guy waiting for me to pass by who scared the life out of me just by moving his eyes. There was a spinning tunnel and a maze too, but I don’t think I made it all the way through. It was that scary.

The project has hopped around New York City with “Superstitions” and the timely “Vampires” and has now returned to its original home in the lower east side with “Fairy Tales.” Kids under ten are not permitted, by the way—it’s kind of an adult experience though I remember seeing a few brave families there. If you’re considering crunching some leaves on New York City sidewalks while waiting in line for this rather incredible haunted house event, definitely explore the Frequently Asked Questions list first. It may make the difference between…well…life or death.

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at and find out about his music at