Saturday, April 12, 2008

Harolding = revenue?

There's an interesting article in the Inquirer today about Laurel Hill cemetery and how the upkeep costs have them considering the idea of renovating the site as a "heritage park" (i.e. tourist attraction). It's an interesting concept, and certainly one that has worked in other areas (as listed in the article), but it still has me a little baffled as to whether or not I like this idea.
I've spent a lot of time in cemeteries. Not Harold levels, but enough to know a few. I've been lucky enough to live down the road from one of the most beautiful cemeteries on earth, and I've been lucky enough to live near cemeteries that are almost disappeared from neglect. I'm not sure I've never been able to decide if I have a preference.

The grand drama of a place like Bonaventure, or the hundreds of Civil War cemeteries or the U.S. National Cemetery is something that is hard to compete with. The sweeping landscape, the mossy graves and intermingling of traditions that seem to spread across the apparently-still-applicable boundaries of race, class, and religious creed. It's something that makes you feel proud of the way we can celebrate our dead.

and then there's those cemeteries that you might visit just to see a particular resident in. There's Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris, where idiots trample over the graves of people like Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, and Frederic Chopin to get a glimpse of one of the most absurd and ridiculous people that ever fronted a rock band (which has to be pretty high up there, right?). There's a place like King David Memorial Park in Bensalem, in which Nancy Spungen (and Sid Vicious' ashes) reside*. These almost always make me depressed, since I focus on the graves that people have clearly walked over to get to one particular grave. Guh.

But I think my favorites have always been the ones which I never learned the name of. The ones which stopped expanding a long time ago and you're lucky if you can even see the stones from the road. those are the graves I want to see. The forlorn rocks of the long-forgotten. I don't give a shit about a crypt. Statues and monuments can be beautiful, but they usually just make me think of a phallic symbol of the afterlife or something.

But seeing a kicked over, neglected stone? I get curious. The one you actually gotta squat and sometimes have to brush off in order to read the name and dates and maybe an inscription. I guess I just feel bad for them so I stop for a minute and sound the names out to myself.
So that the man, woman, or child in that box gets at least another glimmer of recognition. or something. I guess I'm a sucker for the people that get screwed by graveyards.

All I know is that if I had Civil War reenactors hanging around my grave I'd be sorta pissed.
*I'm not gonna get into my feelings about these two again.

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