24 Photos From New York: An Analog Annal

This November I spent a week hanging out with family and friends in Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Photography-wise, I purposely left my DSLR at home so I would be forced to use the Polaroid Spectra and 600 I had packed.

This post includes shots from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (Rochester), Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester), Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home (Hilton), University of Rochester, Eastman Kodak (Rochester), Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo), and the abandoned aqueduct and subway tunnels of Rochester. I’m really happy with how they turned out. Enjoy!

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Double Exposure Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Double Exposure of My Grandparents’ Marker at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Mom at Grandma and Grandpa’s Grave in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Images from Mount Hope Cemetery:

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Doug Showing Dad the Horse Drawn Hearse at Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home

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Outside an Old U of R Tunnel, Expired Film, Photo by Deena Viviani

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Tunnel Window Figure, U of R Campus, Expired Film

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Inside the U of R Tunnel, Expired Film

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Tunnel Cat, U of R, Expired Film

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Double Exposure, George Eastman’s Monument, Kodak Park

Images from Forest Lawn Cemetery:

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Abandoned Subway Tour

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Abandoned Subway

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Double Exposure Abandoned Subway and Arch

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Precarious Walkway at the Aqueduct

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On The Road To Tonopah

I’m writing this from the guest bedroom belonging to my ladyfriends in Vallejo, CA. It has been more than three years since I last made my way up to the Bay Area for a visit and I was way overdue. (My ladies just opened a cafe here, so if you’re ever in the ‘hood do yourself a favor and enjoy some quiche and coffee at LEAF on Marin St. in Vallejo.)

I drove up here, opting to take a meandering route north of Vegas and west/northwest of Tonopah, stopping at several ghost towns along the way. I even spent one night at the infamous Tonopah Clown Motel (those photos deserve their own post…stay tuned!).

Here are some unedited photos of some old cemeteries and abandoned places located between Las Vegas and Yosemite National Park. I hope you enjoy Part I of this who-knows-how-many-parts trip to Vallejo!

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Armagosa Desert Memorial Cemetery, NV

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Lizard in Armagosa

Lizard!

Abandoned Armagosa

Abandoned Armagosa

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Desert Hills Cemetery, Beatty, NV

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Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery, Rhyolite, NV

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Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite...

Just outside of the cemetery fence in Rhyolite…

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

A single(?) grave pet cemetery!

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Goldfield Cemetery, Nevada

Goldfield Cemetery, NV

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Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

Silver Peak Cemetery, NV

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Pet Cemetery Backpack: An Analog Animal Annal

NOTE: If viewing pet cemetery backpacks and the contents of pet cemetery backpacks brings you feelings of discomfort you don’t want to deal with at this time, stop reading now. Do not look at the photos contained within this post. Do not visit the Boulder City Pet Cemetery. Do not, under any circumstances, poke around unattended luggage of any kind. Cheers!

Saturday, June 6th, 2015.

Paul and I drove out to the off grid pet cemetery near Boulder City, NV. I made a beeline for the last known location of the mysterious, exhumed-but-still-zipped-up L.L.Bean backpack. There it was! But now it was unzipped…and empty?!?

Empty Grave

Empty Grave

Empty Backpack

Empty Backpack

Empty Duct Taped Blanket and Garbage Bag

Empty Duct Taped Blanket and Garbage Bag

The blanket and garbage bag bundle had been dragged and torn. Who had been wrapped up in there? The first clue presented as tufts of tan fur scattered around the parcel, the second an almost mummified scapula sitting on top of it.

Paul wandered off into the depths of the graveyard while I scanned the desert floor for signs of critter activity. A few minutes later he returned and commented on how bad it smelled downwind from where I stood. Assuming it wasn’t me, I asked him where he noticed it. We didn’t have to walk far before our little friend made himself/herself quite obvious.

(FINAL WARNING, GUYS!)

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!!!

We were using our Polaroid Spectra cameras and playing with a crazy filter/accessory kit on this fine day. That's why you get to see our little friend five more times (seven if you count double exposures).

We were using our Polaroid Spectra cameras and playing with a crazy filter/accessory kit on this fine day. That’s why you get to see our little friend five more times (seven if you count double exposures).

Portrait

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backpack9I wonder if this puppy’s humans ever come back to visit. I wonder what will remain of him/her when and if they do. I wonder what they’ll see and make of the fact that their little buddy is still riding the wheel of fortune, the circle of life, even in death.

The Boulder City Pet Cemetery: An Analog Annal

Most folks cruise right by the (illegal!) Boulder City Pet Cemetery, never noticing the assortment of rustic and homemade markers gathered just off to the side of the highway. It’s easy to do: If Mike and Jamie hadn’t driven the first time, I don’t know if I ever would have found it.

The marked graves date back to the 1950s on up through 2013. During previous visits I’d come across old animal bones scattered across the dirt, but yesterday’s visit held a special surprise.

The photos in this post are multiple exposure shots taken with my Polaroid 230 Land Camera. I’m thrilled with how these came out…everyone will see something different in each one. If you’re looking for something a bit more conventional, I posted a few quickies on Instagram; feel free to check them out and follow me at feetishspa. Enjoy!

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The LLBean backpack wasn’t there last week…not above ground, at least. Densely packed, weighing approximately 15 pounds, spongy to the touch and reeking of decomp, the bag had been dug up from a nearby grave, now half-filled with sand and surrounded by coyote poop and paw prints. The frayed nylon straps had been completely torn from the body of the pack, however the bag itself was still tightly closed and intact. It appears that coyotes have not evolved to open zippers…yet.

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Packing it in.

Killing Time at Forest Lawn

After brunch and before Love Canal, Amanda, Deena and I paid a brief visit to Buffalo, New York’s magnificent Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Founded in 1849, this sprawling adventureland boasts sizable and unique monuments, ornate and detailed statuary, and the graves of Rick James and Millard Fillmore. The photos below barely scratch the surface of the beauty to behold at Forest Lawn, but I do plan on making a return visit the next time I visit the northeast (hopefully during a warm spell). Enjoy!

Setting the Tone

Setting the Tone

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

Cross and Guard

Cross and Guard

Losing Hands

Losing Hands

Here, Lies

Here, Lies

Number One

Number One

Protection

Protection

Closer

Closer

Pretty Lady

Pretty Lady

Endless

Endless

Rochester Cemetery Adventures: An Analog Annal

Rochester, NY, March 2015.

Despite the rain, snow and cold, I was bound and determined to be at a cemetery when I tried out my new stash of Impossible black and white (generation 2.0) film while visiting my family in New York last week. These photos were taken with my plastic body Polaroid 600 over the course of three days (all chilly, all overcast).

Here are all eight shots from the pack, fuck-ups and all…

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God is in The Rain, Mt. Hope Cemetery

Angels We Have Heard on High Contrast, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Angels We Have Heard on High Contrast, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Oh Baby!, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Oh Baby!, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Melasma, Mt. Hope Cemetery

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Take These Broken Wings, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Dark Lady, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Riverside Riotgrrl, Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Riotgrrl, Riverside Cemetery

Seriously, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

The Breast of Times, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

The Family That Creeps It Together, Keeps It Together

Last week I indulged in five days of shenanigans in Rochester, NY. Why the hell would I endure the frozen tundra of the Empire State in March, you ask?

1. The biggest reason? Family time. I was born and raised in the area, and my parents still live in the house we moved into when I was a baby. My sister and her husband live in Rochester as well, and the fact that my brother (from San Diego) was there at the same time was a major bonus.

2. Sometimes you need to break up your routine a little bit, to “sharpen the saw” as they say. To devote a few days to recreation and doing things you normally wouldn’t do. I think they call this a “vacation”.

3. Creepin’. Going to the brand new, gigantic mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery was actually my dad’s idea. The man has been known to take some pretty creepy photos of Rochester’s cemeteries over the last several decades, and I think it pleases him to see his eldest child following in his (nosy, mischievous) footsteps.

4. Great friends, good eats, and quirky, off-the-beaten-path shopping.

Now, for a whirlwind tour of two of Rochester’s most intriguing cemeteries, plus some family history to boot…

Mt. Hope Cemetery

It was raining when I stopped by Mt. Hope Cemetery on Thursday morning, so I didn’t get too many shots this time around. No biggie — I go there every time I visit Rochester.

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Brrrr, cold! – at Mt. Hope Cemetery

Through the broken back window of a small mausoleum in Mt. Hope.

Through the broken back window of a small mausoleum in Mt. Hope.

The following photos are from our adventures at Holy Sepulchre. A Catholic cemetery, Holy Sepulchre is broken up into two sections located across the street from each other. The section where my grandparents are buried is newer, and Catholic iconography appears on these markers and monuments to a noticeable — dare I say oppressive? — degree. The older section across the street is impressively Victorian in its styling, complete with breathtaking statuary and ornate family monuments sprinkled with moss and lichen. Despite the freezing temperatures, I was in heaven.

Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum. Brand new, we estimated between 100 and 200 spots were occupied or had been spoken for. How long will it take to fill this place up?

Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum. Brand new and a massive three stories, we estimated between 100 and 200 spots were occupied or had been spoken for. How long will it take to fill this place up?

Inside a niche, awaiting ashes.

Inside a niche, awaiting ashes.

The mausoleum's chapel.

The mausoleum’s chapel.

I avoid posting selfies on hObsessions, but I found this one fitting. Empty glass-front niches, waiting for cremains.

I avoid posting selfies on hObsessions, but I found this one fitting. Empty glass-front niches, waiting for cremains.

At the newer, super Catholic side of Holy Sepulchre. This is their version of what I call a "pretty lady".

At the newer, super Catholic side of Holy Sepulchre. This is their version of what I call a “pretty lady”.

Then we searched for our paternal and maternal grandparents…

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Grandpa

Grandma

Grandma

Grandpa's casket was here for forty years by itself, until Grandma's urn was placed on top of it. My sister and I were discussing what we remember about it: pink marble with roses on top.

Grandpa’s casket was here for forty years by itself, until Grandma’s urn was placed on top of it. My sister and I were discussing what we remember about it: pink marble with roses on top.

Our tasks completed on the new side of the cemetery, the next morning we made our way to the older side of Holy Sepulchre…

I am in love with her.

I think I’m in love.

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I am lichen this more and more.

I am lichen this more and more.

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Oh deer! Our four-legged friends love a good graveyard. We saw seven more in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo the next day. Stay tuned for more Western New York adventures of a creeptastic nature!

Oh deer! Our four-legged friends love a good graveyard. We saw seven more in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo the next day. Stay tuned for more Western New York adventures!

* A special thanks to our friend Amanda who joined in on our family creep fest. Incidentally, she blogs about bath and body care products at The Soap Lady, which is brilliantly named after a saponified mummy on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Gravely Intimate in Overton

Located about 90 minutes from my little corner of Las Vegas, Pioneer Hill Memorial Cemetery in Overton, Nevada houses a fascinating mix of highly-personalized grave markers and offerings, both decades old and relatively recent.

I made a quick stop at this desert burial ground on my way to St. George, Utah on Saturday, March 21, 2015. As the gobble-gobble of local turkeys (birds, not humans) peppered the temperate morning air, I was struck by the varied and unconventional style exhibited by many of these graves. I say this with the utmost respect: It reminded me of the off-grid Boulder City Pet Cemetery in a lot of ways. Handmade markers, weathered stuffed animals, toys and personal effects dotted the landscape, drawing me deeper into the adventure of discovery that only a quiet graveyard can offer.

Stay close as we become gravely intimate with the residents of Pioneer Hill…

Welcome!

Welcome

The Landscape

The Landscape

BJ's Toys

BJ’s Toys

Fate, Cemented

Fate Cemented

The plots are super personalized.

The plots are super personalized.

In the Deadlights

In the Deadlights

(Not an actual cowboy.)

(Not an actual cowboy.)

On this day, I saw three scarecrows on graves. Three!

On this day, I saw three scarecrows on graves. Three!

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Marked and Unmarked Mounds

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It's rare that a monument brings me to tears. This one did.  Later, an internet search revealed that this mother and son had passed in a tragic traffic accident on their way to Las Vegas. It's clear they are missed dearly.

It’s rare when a monument brings me to tears. This one did.
Later, an internet search revealed that this mother and son had passed in a tragic traffic accident on their way to Las Vegas. It’s clear they are missed dearly.

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Again, I'm struck by the personalization.

Again, I’m struck by the personalization.

There's always at least one monument at each cemetery I document that grabs me and won't let go until I take shots from every angle, obsessed. Here, she's The One.

There’s always at least one monument at each cemetery I document that grabs me and won’t let go until I take shots from every angle, obsessed. Here, she’s The One.

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Nothing rounds out a post like a decapitated cherub.

Nothing rounds out a post like a decapitated cherub.

Vigil in Moab

Moab, Utah is beautiful; everyone says so. With the purist intentions, devotees call on the spirits of the red rock canyons and mesas, the blue skies and the Colorado River. I used to be right there with them, eyes as wide as saucers, breathing the air so fully I’d hoped I’d take a little bit of it home with me. Moab was otherworldly; a striking vortex of adventure, respite and awe.

But not anymore. Driving past the cliff walls, backed by Moby’s “Everloving”, we were on our way to visit someone who wouldn’t be there.

His body rests beneath the mound (as it has for one year now), the granite marker dutifully engraved with truth and lie. A fiction. I want to feel close to him again, to commune with memory, to find a glint of peace in the shadow, but these tasks prove impossible under the oppressive weight of trust gone so wrong.

Several yards away, a ragged American flag twists in the wind. We tend to his grave with eager hands and open eyes, painting monochromatic earth with reds, pinks, greens. “Just come with us,” I want to say.

Instead I make a promise…because here, now, that is the most and all I can do.

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Across the road, this guy.

Across the road.

We keep vigil for hours on a day he shouldn’t have been alone. When it’s time, we leave Moab in our ruddy, city slicker dust. With each mile wedged between ourselves and that soulless chasm, my chest cavity loosens and expands accordingly. That night, sleep is deep and restorative. It is clear that this was necessary.

The missing is constant, these twelve months a temporal arc flash of loss and emotion. I’d give anything to have him back with us, with the hope I’d get to hold onto the wisdom that tells us not to squander one damn living second on this planet when we’re with the ones we love.

A peaceful sight from Lehi City Cemetery taken on my last day in Utah.

Found. — at Lehi City Cemetery, taken on my last day in Utah

*I realize you may not fully understand what or whom I’m writing about here. If you wish, please visit these posts on The Young Thumbs (a massage therapy blog of which I am a participant) dated 3/19/14, 5/29/14, 8/15/14 and 12/1/14 for reference. Thanks.

Death Goes Downtown

Pretty much anytime I travel nowadays, I pre-Google cemeteries that are located in the vicinity of or on the way to my final destination. That’s why it’s super weird (even to me) that until just the other day, I hadn’t explored downtown Las Vegas’s three cemeteries.

Come this April, I will have resided in Vegas for eight years. The shameful, solitary excuse I have for my negligence is straight-up snobbery; I grew up with the rolling hills, suffragette gravestones and Victorian creepiness of the breathtaking Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY. No burial ground I’ve seen in real life has come close to inspiring me as much as my precious Mt. Hope has. Certainly the brown grass and 20th century headstones of Vegas’s finest funerary fields held no redeeming qualities for a slovenly, narrow-minded death tourist such as myself.

As I approach my 37th year on this planet, considering the recent expected and unexpected losses of favorite people in my life, I have finally come to appreciate nuance. Time. Beauty in the oft overlooked opportunity. (And alliteration, apparently.)

Let me show you what I discovered when I visited the Woodlawn and Palm Downtown cemeteries in February, 2015…

WOODLAWN CEMETERY

Founded in 1914, Woodlawn currently spans 40 acres at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and Owens Ave. As of August, 2013, this downtown cemetery provided a final resting place for 28,288 of our dearly departed. It is owned by the City of Las Vegas, and is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Upon first glance, Woodlawn Cemetery appears to be rather small. Grass, mostly nondescript rectangular gravestones, teenagers cutting through the property on their way home from school.

A journey toward the “back” of the cemetery reveals another world entirely. Check out this drama!

Old trees line the central paved road that runs through Woodlawn.

Old trees line the central paved road that runs through Woodlawn.

One of the more unusual memorials at Woodlawn.

One of the more unusual memorials at Woodlawn.

One of the few gravestones at Woodlawn that probably wasn't positioned exactly where it used to be.

One of the few gravestones at Woodlawn that probably isn’t positioned exactly where it used to be.

The gray heart and angel stone located behind Mary's head is a very popular design here.

The gray heart and angel stone located behind Mary’s head is a very popular design at Woodlawn. I lost count of how many I saw, but they’re pretty tall and stand out among the shorter gravestones.

PALM DOWNTOWN MORTUARY AND CEMETERY

Palm Downtown opened their current location on Main St. in 1957. In 1958 they built Southern Nevada’s first mausoleum, naming it The Building of Eternity.

It just so happens that The Building of Eternity is one of my new favorite places in all of Las Vegas. The first time I visited (two weeks ago) I was in awe of its haunting beauty and peaceful atmosphere. I returned just a few days ago, notebook and pencil in hand. What follows are my observations from the cemetery on a Wednesday afternoon…

The parking lot is 80% filled with passenger vehicles, yet I only see two people walking among the grassy graves. Adrenaline. Excitement. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I’m looking forward to visiting this mausoleum for the second time.

I opt to wander the grounds for a bit first. A few smaller mausoleums flank the property, towering over small grave markers that suggest cremains. Valentine’s flowers and balloons dot the relatively small graveyard; an angel with weathered wings presides over a plot reserved for the youngest children. The smell of freshly cut green grass is the predominant perfume out here — a rarity in our desert. The aroma shifts as I approach each marble building, live vegetation replaced by faint must.

The Building of Eternity. The temperature seems to drop at least five degrees as soon as I walk through the open doors. Dim, damp and cool; the mustiness mingles with a bleachy scent, almost peppery or slightly herbal for a second here and there.

Two impressive stained glass windows brighten up both ends of the entryway. Straight ahead a treed courtyard awaits, surrounded by vaults. A single statue resides in this roofless structure. A long hallway to the left of the courtyard runs the length of the mausoleum, leading to two more large, open air courtyards. Grass, benches, small graves in the center of each, surrounded by walls made of marble tombs. A few are “reserved”, a few bear no markings. Looks like there’s room for one more.

A handful of polite flies buzz around, completely uninterested in the living. In the distance, the “beep beep” of heavy excavation equipment.

I think back to the day we put my husband’s brother in the ground, almost one year ago. In my normal routine I push these blips aside; to be transported there regularly is more than my human brain can handle. But here people expect you to be sad. I go there, I cry. I am alone.

When the time is right I head out the same way I came in. Fear and anxiety have left me; I feel spent, somber, satisfied. Numb but free.

This could be addictive.

The Building of Eternity, entryway

The Building of Eternity, entryway

The Building of Eternity, first courtyard

The Building of Eternity, first courtyard

The Building of Eternity, long hallway

The Building of Eternity, long hallway

Weathered Wings

Weathered Wings and Many Thanks.