June 6th, 2017


Dig My Grave

About a month ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for a Dreamwidth account as a backup for my LiveJournal. I don't write there much at all anymore, but I did for years and don't want to lose any of it. But now I have something I wanted to write about that doesn't really fit my WordPress format (as loosely defined as that may be), so here goes.

On Sunday night, Beth and I went on a moonlight tour of Green-Wood Cemetery. It was led by the cemetery's historian, accompanied by two accordion players who provided music for when we walked from one place to the next. Songs I remember them playing include "Erie Canal" (Beth thought it was "Sixteen Tons," and there's definitely a similarity there), "Blue Moon," "Over the Rainbow," "Walking After Midnight," and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." The historian gave a brief lecture on each of the sites we encountered. The first was a bronze statue of DeWitt Clinton, Mayor of New York City, Governor of New York, United States Senator, and 1812 presidential candidate.

He was largely responsible for the Erie Canal, which is represented on the statue's pedestal. While originally buried in a friend's vault near Albany, his remains were transferred to Green-Wood sixteen years later. He was also the inspiration for this song by John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, as part of his House of Mayors project:

I believe the only still-living mayor to receive a piece on the record was David Dinkins, who couldn't figure out what it had to do with him. I'm pretty sure only Linnell really knows the significance of any of these. Well, excepting "Fernando Wood," which quotes him. I think the neighborhood where Linnell lives, or at least lived a few years ago, is adjacent to the cemetery. Maybe he goes there by himself to do interpretive dances.

Known as the Beard Bear, this marks the burial place of William Holbrook Beard, who was known for his political cartoons featuring anthropomorphic animals. The statue is by Dan Ostermiller, and was finished in 2002, 102 years after Beard's death.

My picture here isn't very good, but this headstone features an incredibly intricate scene carved by Patrizio Piatti. From the description, it sounds like it portrays Jane Griffith's husband going off to work on the day she dies of a heart attack. Kind of morbid, perhaps, but tastes in funerary matters change over time.

We looked around inside a mausoleum, which reminded Beth of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, I suppose because it was run-down and divided into small rooms.