A few days ago, an effigy of Sarah Palin was dangled from a noose outside a home in West Hollywood, the neighbourhood where people who Alaska's Governor might describe as the "liberal elite" go about their daily business.
Most of the time, this kind of stunt would land someone in the slammer (imagine if a group of red-necks hanged a Barack Obama dummy from a tree). But right now, it's Hallowe'en week in Los Angeles – so, apparently, anything goes.
As I write this column, I can look out of the window to see a street full of pumpkins and rubberised heads stuck on white picket fences. Half the lawns on my block contain makeshift graveyards. Every porch is covered with fake cobwebs
Except mine, of course. British people officially don't "get" Hallowe'en, and my palpable lack of excitement about the approaching opportunity to eat, drink and be scary is causing serious consternation among the neighbours.
Yesterday, the couple next door popped round to warn my fiancée to stock up on candy. Apparently, we'll need at least $300 worth to see off the stream of obese young trick-or-treaters due to knock on our door demanding junk food.
In credit-crunched America, this strikes me as a trifle excessive. I'm not alone, either: in parts of the country, natives are turning against the consumer tyranny of Hallowe'en.
This year, several major cities will ban trick-or-treating after 8pm. In Belleville, Illinois, they've made the activity illegal for all children over the age of 14 – and decreed that over-12s wearing "scary masks" in public face instant arrest.
Liberal California is cut from a different cloth, though. On Monday, West Hollywood sheriff Steve Whitmore told TV crews that the Palin effigy "does not rise to the level of a hate crime," before adding (in my favourite official Hallowe'en quote so far): "Now, if there was a crime against bad taste..."
A thorny question
Damian Lewis rudely interrupted my Sunday morning by jaywalking across the road opposite Santa Monica's farmers' market.
The ginger-nut actor was clutching a single white rose which – presuming it was a gift for his actress wife Helen McCrory – raises serious questions about his personal judgement.
As any fool knows, white roses are strictly for weddings and funerals (and are unlucky on other occasions). Did that expensive Eton education teach Lewis nothing?Reuse content