For These Gut-Churning News,
Laugh Only When You Breathe
So busy digressing about things too serious to skip, those worries and concerns transfixing our age, we often forget that life finds a way all around, and mostly despite, us. One more disgraceful news and we risk losing the ability of flexing the muscles of our smile.
So let’s pretend summer is really easy, fish are a-jumping, and if not cotton, then someone is high. Anyone would, coming across F.W. Murnau’s head, or a performance corpse, or an one-line obituary. In fact, reality often threatens to drive even comedians out of business.
Heard the one about Zimbabwean money? The currency is so devalued that someone can have, say, Z$35 quadrillion in his or her banking account, and still starve. A hot dog may cost a little beyond that. In the U.S., it does: all this money is worth only one dollar.
What about ‘dick pics?’ Even NSA whistleblower Eduard Snowden was surprised when told that what really scares Americans was not the fear of an all too powerful government, but having their nude pictures watched over by spies, who should be busy with something else, anyway.
But that sort of iconography is indeed dear to our fellow citizens. Take 1934 public enemy No.1, for instance. A photo of a dead John Dillinger may have created the biggest hoax about him: it looks as if he’s having a post-mortis erection right under the blanket.
Unlikely, of course. It was probably a fluke. But does it matter? His notoriety is now forever melded to his supposedly endowment, regardless if it has anything to do with guns or not. Go figure. And don’t forget to check the Skip Showers for Beef‘ campaign. You may thank me later.
GRAVE ROBBERTS & THE VAMPIRE
On to the main course. For fans of gore (and low-standards real life puns), the theft of F.W. Murnau‘s head is a full dish, to be savored with cheap wordplay and poorly concocted theories. But it really happened: the grave of the Nosferatu‘s director in Berlin has been desecrated.
Worse: news reports about it wound up adding further grievances to his family and fans of one of the greatest masters of cinema. Or do we need to learn that his head was embalmed at death, and still ‘has facial features such as hair and teeth?’
Olaf Ihlefeldt, a cemetery warden reportedly interviewed by the Washington Post about the July 12 weekend incident, called it a ‘scandal’ but went ahead and suggested that candle waxing found at the gravesite could indicate some kind of ritual, by ‘occultists,’ no less.
The director, who is credited with eight movies that have been lost, some of which often mentioned in Best-of lists, was once sued by Bram Stoker‘s family for his unauthorized adaptation of Dracula. They retrieved all available copies but, of course, at least one survived. Same luck to his head, we hope.
SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME
If you think about it, Snorri Ásmundsson isn’t asking for much. The Icelandic artist is inquiring those who plan or know they’re dying (they’re out there), say, tomorrow or next week, if he could please ‘borrow your remains after you die,’ for a couple of hours, top.
‘The body will be returned to the undertaker in the ‘same’ condition. Sincerely, S.A.,’ goes his er invitation. But his rationale is solid; after all, there are some of us who’d like to go out with a bang, and why not be part of an artistic meditation about death.
It certainly beats the garishness and incongruity of a stranger eviscerating your body at the morgue. To which you’ll be returned, as he says. You’ll swirl around in the hands of a professional dancer probably in front of a WTF audience. Still.
Naturally (?) his proposal arouse a few unusual situations. Like the person who volunteered but it’s too far from being even remotely sick, or old. Or the terminally ill patient who, after donating his body, miraculously recovered. The invitation still stands, though.
AN ENTIRE LIFE IN ONE SEND-OFF
It’s blatantly clear that Douglas Legler had a full life. Even without ever meeting him, one can safely assume that many came to love him dearly, while a few others detested the man. There are probably many signs of his passage on this planet at his hometown.
What no one in Fargo, North Dakota, Minnesota, or the entire U.S. probably expected, though, is that his obit notice at the local paper would be so succinct as to cause awe. His daughter insisted that it was all the 87-year old’s idea. And so, on June 27th, she fulfilled his wish.
‘Doug Died.’ That was all he wanted to be left behind. The beauty of such brevity and stoicism about himself is that he saved a lot of people’s time: his obituary can also do double-duty, both on print and, supposedly, on his grave. What he offered cannot be under dispute.
Admirers of both the art of newspaper obituary writing and tombstone scripts can consider themselves vindicated. Mr. Legler’s message will endure and inform generations to come that life is, indeed plentiful, but when it comes to its end, one’d better be quick. R.I.P., Doug.
* Ashes & Dirt
* Burning the Midnight Fat