Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Halifax Reducks: Great Graves

Remember last time I was in Halifax and I witnessed the surreal scene of a girl in a prom dress torturing some freakish bird creature? Well, I caught up with said bird creature when I returned recently. This time we were with a dog1, and apparently the thing learned to fight back. It must have felt threatened, seeing a less useless animal, and fucking came at our fucking faces, hissing. That's scary enough when you know what you're dealing with.

On the up side, the freak bird found itself an equally freakish mate.

But who cares about things that are alive? I find graveyards fascinating. A gravestone is the only semi-permanent visible relic that remains in proximity to these bodies we inhabit our whole lives. The textual messages on them have to be meaningful yet brief; they're like everyone's final Twitter update.

Despite dying so long ago, Smardon's grave is in perfect shape. I love the faux raw rock slab and the crooked cross. And his final message—"God alone understands"—is intriguingly cryptic. I see so many possibilities in that message and the dates that his family died.  I like to think he was a hitman.

Alexander Keith's original grave is nothing special:

But beside it is something a little more extravagant:

We take beer seriously around here.

Others keep it simple:

Although having them side by side gives them some meaning, no?

Just having a funny name can leave an impressive final message:

wheres mario lol
That's just unfortunate.
Some people put emphasis on the wrong words:

But aside from all the hilarity, there is heartbreak to be found in graveyards:

This creeped me out:

And this:

I found the graves of the survivors victims of the Titanic disaster to be particularly emotional. It was unsettling to see rows after rows of graves, all with the same date on them, most of them too young to die.

Many don't have names.

It's touching that someone cared enough to leave flowers here:

Unfortunately, disaster victims aren't immune to funny names:

Perhaps it's tactless to make fun of dead people. I mean no disrespect; if they were alive, I hope I could laugh with them, not at them. But they are dead, and thus unable to experience either joy or offense. If it's okay to find humour in living people with funny names, it's even more okay to do so with the dead.


1 This dog:


Tatiana said...

I love graveyards too. But I love the graveyards in Russia/Europe the most. They are something else. Picture a forest - tons of tall trees with narrow passageways winding through them. Each family has a large-ish plot surrounded with a small wrought iron gate.

Inside are graves ranging from small to elaborate edifices with statues. There is usually a bench, often with a table, for visitors to sit a spell with a book or more often booze. Food is still common to leave for the departed, as well as flowers.

The whole place seems surreal, like a city of the dead for families to visit with the amenities and crazy artwork. I have some photos I'll have to dig out and share.

justin said...

You missed the best part about the Bowser gravestone: not the funny name, but the prominent Freemason symbol.

Candice said...

Damn, those simple, nameless Titantic graves ARE sad. Can't believe I didn't check this out the last time I was there.

Beer caps on Alexander Keith's headstone though = epic.

Jennifer said...

I don't plan to be buried, but I assume people will make fun of my name in death as they did in life. It *is* a ridiculous name, which is why I kept it. Hell, I half expected that link of yours to go to my facebook. :P

Phronk said...

Tatiana: Wow, I would love to visit European graveyards. So much history there. New Orleans has some crazy graveyards too, with that city of the dead sort of feel.

Justin: Wow, didn't catch that. Garfield Guy Bowser is officially the coolest man who ever lived. Seems Freemasonry was big there; it said on Alexander Keith's monument that he was a provincial grand master of the Freemasons.

Candice: So sad. I really hope when I die, I'm identified by more than a number.

Jennifer: Haha it's not THAT bad. At least it's easy to tell people how to spell it.

Anonymous said...

Candice said it best!

"Beer caps on Alexander Keith's headstone though = epic."

Forest City Fashionista said...

Agree with Tatiana--European graveyards make ours look so plain and small in comparison. Paris has some amazing cemeteries with gorgeous sculpture, and the old section of Highgate cemetery in London (where a lot of the British Hammer Horror films were shot) is fabulously creepy. You would love it! I have lots of photos from both.

Stephanie said...

My first visit to your site...funny post. I love graveyards too.

Phronk said...

Woo, thanks Stephanie! Y'all come back etc.

Hey Lady! said...

There is something so surreal about monuments dedicated to the dead. From a simple stone with a number on it, to the Tajmahal. It's strange to think about, obviously the dead can't enjoy these, really they are for the living. Thinking of it that way makes me wonder why they're often so creepy.

Anonymous said...

The SMARDON gravestone pictured on your site belongs to my great-grandparents. In what cemetery is this located? Thank you.

Phronk said...

I believe that one was in Fairview cemetery.

Sorry for the delay in responding, Anonymous (your comment got marked as spam for some reason). Hope this info still gets to you and is useful.