Sin City Cemeteries: An Analog Annal

The following photos were taken this week using a Polaroid 600 camera and expired film. Locations include Woodlawn Cemetery, Palm Downtown Mortuary and Cemetery, and Palm Eastern Mortuary and Cemetery.

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The Silent Sleep in Colma

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park is located next to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. (I visited Holy Cross during my Harold and Maude tour; ending up at Cypress Lawn the same day was merely a happy accident.)

Wikipedia tells us this cemetery is also known as the “City of the Silent”, and that moniker pleases me greatly. The memorial statues here are massive and plentiful, with many figures adopting grief-stricken poses that make you feel it in here. *points to chest*

Here are some highlights from my brief but memorable visit to Cypress Lawn. Enjoy!

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On The Road to Find Out: A Love Letter to Harold and Maude

(Spoilers ahead. Duh.)

I was sixteen at the time and working at the local library. I must have spotted the Harold and Maude paperback while reshelving books and noticed “Paramount Pictures Presents” and “Songs by Cat Stevens” on the back cover. (I listened to a lot of Cat Stevens as a depressed, small town teenager. He seemed to have had it all figured out.)

My Cat fascination led me to locate the VHS copy of this particular Paramount Picture in our library’s AV department. I remember noticing it hadn’t been checked out in months. This was not 1994’s version of a smash library hit like Return of the Jedi or Fifty Shades of Grey; this was a bizarro 1971 cult film featuring mock suicides and age play that had mysteriously made its way into the catacombs of a library located in a quiet, one-stoplighted village in western New York. Were forest gnomes to blame? Or the high school janitor with the missing hard palate? We may never know.

Eventually the unpopular paperback made it to the library's discard pile, then into my hot little hands.

Eventually the equally unpopular paperback made it into the library’s discard pile, then into my hot little hands.

The day I met Harold and Maude was a day that changed my life. I had been spending my free time writing poetry about hating myself and being stuck inside the brain of an OCD sufferer who ofttimes wished she wouldn’t wake up, only to open my eyes each morning to begin the hellish cycle of Pure O all over again. Bud Cort’s Harold Chasen was stuck in a holding pattern of his own, hungry for hope, freedom and a new direction in life, but in his isolation he didn’t realize these things were possible — and without Maude to show him the way, he most definitely wouldn’t have known which steps to take. I could relate to this 20 year old kid dressed in Vietnam-era bell bottoms more than I could relate to pretty much all of the people I knew in real life. He was also cute and sweet and funny.

Ruth Gordon’s Maude was like Death of the Endless (from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman graphic novels) if Death traded in her black buckle boots and tank for your grandma’s tweedy winter coat and wool tights, then aged six human decades. Maude is old and wise. She teaches Harold about the ways of the world and how one person has the power to make it a better place, but when she does this she’s really teaching us. Aside from her horrendous driving skills, I hope to be as Maude-like as possible when I’m her age. You want to see someone who truly has no fucks to give? That person is Dame Marjorie Chardin, but you can call her Maude.

I figure I’ve probably viewed Harold and Maude approximately one hundred times since 1994. It is, without a doubt, my favorite movie of all time. That being said, I became worried a few months back, having not watched my favorite movie for a few years and wanting to but fearing that the darker events involving death by suicide that had recently occurred in my own life would change my perspective on the film in a bad way. What if I now felt it trivialized suicide? Or mocked it? Or used it to get a cheap laugh? What if I felt the deep meanings I took away from the film in the past wouldn’t hold up to a viewing today? What if the world had become so fucking painful that my precious celluloid life raft would leave me to drown in my own disillusionment? There was only one way to find out.

Had I known that director Hal Ashby’s father had suicided when Hal was 12, maybe I wouldn’t have worried. Because I shouldn’t have. If anything, Harold and Maude is even more beautiful, profound and perfect now. Now I notice things I hadn’t noticed during a hundred previous viewings: stuff on the shelves in Maude’s train car; the expression on Glaucus’ face; the observation that everything Maude says to Harold in the greenhouse about “living things” applies to him. Now it consistently brings me to tears…as it should. It’s a phenomenal movie.

I drove up to the Bay Area a few weeks ago and made it my mission to visit as many Harold and Maude filming locations as possible. What follows is a rag tag compilation of photos taken with my DSLR and my phone (depending on what I had with me at the time), as well as a YouTube video! Some images have been edited, some are raw, and some require lengthy descriptions. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this project that’s been twenty years in the making. ❤

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. This is where Harold sees Maude for the first time. He's attending a service held in the vicinity of the Hanlon gravestone while Maude is hanging out by a (now missing) tree behind the Donovan gravestone. The red arrow shows you where Maude was chillin'.

At Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. This is where Harold sees Maude for the first time. He’s attending a service held in the vicinity of the Hanlon gravestone while Maude is hanging out by a (now missing) tree behind the Donovan gravestone. The red arrow shows you where Maude was chillin’.

The Hanlon grave at Holy Cross

The Hanlon grave at Holy Cross.

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Another view of the area where Harold was standing by the coffin.

Another view of the area where Harold was standing by the casket.

Another view of the filming site at Holy Cross

Another view of the filming site at Holy Cross. Maude was positioned behind this front row of gravestones. And no tree!

A close up of the top of the Donovan stone. You can actually see the yellowed etching for a split second in the movie.

A close up of the top of the Donovan stone. You can actually see the yellowed etching for a split second in the movie.

Also at Holy Cross Cemetery. For over an hour I tried to locate the exact row where Harold and Maude encounter each other again at another graveside service. Much like the missing tree, I think some changes have been made to the grave markers here over the last 45 years, so I have no idea if I captured the exact spot. Just know that I tried!

Also at Holy Cross Cemetery. For over an hour I tried to locate the exact row where Harold and Maude encounter each other again at another graveside service. Much like the missing tree, I think some changes have been made to the grave markers here over the last 45 years, so I have no idea if I captured the exact spot. Just know that I tried!

Maybe here?

Maybe here?

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This should look familiar! The shadowy area to the left is the spot where Maude pulls up to pick Harold up after the service, and the priest questions her about painting the saint after she drove off in his VW.

This should look familiar! The shadowy area to the left is the spot where Maude pulls up to pick Harold up after the service, then the priest questions her about painting the saint after she drove off in his VW.

That musty mausoleum smell was wafting across the cemetery, beckoning...

That musty mausoleum scent was wafting across the cemetery, beckoning…

Inside the mausoleum.

Inside the mausoleum.

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Work in progress. (Underneath? Curing concrete.)

Work in progress. (Underneath? Curing concrete.)

The whys and what fors.

The whys and what fors.

Ravens in flight at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Ravens in flight at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, CA

Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA.

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The trees are definitely bigger than they were in the 1970s.

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The Sutro Baths Ruins in San Francisco, CA. This is where Uncle Victor and Harold encounter Maude protesting for peace.

The Sutro Baths Ruins in San Francisco, CA. This is where Uncle Victor and Harold encounter Maude protesting for peace.

These are the stairs (now crumbling and probably not safe to walk on) that Harold chases Maude down after she grabs his shrunken head.

These are the stairs (now crumbling and probably not safe to walk on) that Harold chases Maude down after she grabs his shrunken head.

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Mori Point in Pacifica, CA where the final scene was filmed.

Mori Point in Pacifica, CA where the final scene was filmed. The goal? Follow the trail up to the top of that tall thing.

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Clowning around on the trail to Mori Point.

Clowning around on the trail to Mori Point.

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Ocean, you make me feel insignificant and I like it.

Stumbling up to the top of Mori Point (in flip flops -- not recommended), I was rewarded with bird parts.

Stumbling up to the top of Mori Point (in flip flops — not recommended), I was rewarded with bird parts.

The grass is worn away in tire track formation. I think this is it.

The grass is worn away in tire track formation. I think this is it.

AHHHHH!

AHHHHH!

“You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this*, yet allow themselves be treated as *that*.” — Flowers at Mori Point.

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Interlope At Antelope

While driving up to the Bay Area a few weeks back I made a brief, unplanned pit stop at a cemetery on the side of the road in picturesque Coleville, CA .

Antelope Valley Cemetery has a lot in common with many desert cemeteries, and I was struck by the haunting figures guarding some of the graves. Here are some quick unedited snaps of my new friends. Enjoy!

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Lizard!

Lizard!

Perfect 10: Exploring Central Nevada’s Cemeteries

The other day Glenda and I drove up to Cathedral Gorge State Park for an overnight camping trip. Our adventuring included Glenda giving me a delightful massage in a tent, snoozing in said tent with her two puppies, and freeing Glenda’s truck from a rut in a dirt road somewhere between Pioche and Sunnyside, Nevada. These sisters were doin’ it for themselves!

Our travels also led us to what amounted to ten different cemeteries. Some were on the agenda and others were unexpected treats. Here are a whole lot of (mostly) cemetery photos straight from the ol’ Canon Rebel T2i. Enjoy!

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

Cemetery #1, Alamo Cemetery

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I'm not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who's buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

I’m not sure if these random wooden cross-shaped grave markers just down the road from Alamo Cemetery are related to the main cemetery, and I have no idea who’s buried here, but there were a few of them scattered throughout this area.

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery

Cemetery #2, Richardville Cemetery, Alamo

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Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

Cemetery #3, Caliente City Cemetery

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Cemetery #4, Conway Memorial Park Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

Cemetery #4, Conaway Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Caliente

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Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

Cemetery #5, Caliente IOOF (Odd Fellows) Cemetery

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Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #6, Bullionville Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF Masonic Cemetery

Cemetery #7, Pioche IOOF and Masonic Cemetery

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Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

Cemetery #8, Pioche Public Cemetery

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Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #9, Boot Hill Cemetery, Pioche

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Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

Cemetery #10, St. Laurence Catholic Cemetery, Pioche

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I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t post a few random shots from the trip, including a handful from Cathedral Gorge.

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Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

Pioche definitely boasts some strange tourist trappings.

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Gem Theater, Pioche, NV

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Until next time…

Hangin’ with Lilly in Salt Lake: An Analog Annal

I have a lot of in-laws. Most of them live in and around Salt Lake City, Utah. Visiting the area has become one of my favorite things to do: I usually stay with my Britney Spears-obsessed brother-in-law and his cosplaying fiance, take Polaroids of my nieces, and catch up on gossip with the fam. Of course I also make it a point to go out and seek the creep.

The larger cemeteries in Salt Lake are quite impressive, housing a sizable quantity of beautiful statuary. There are countless monuments depicting an assortment of LDS symbols and references, and prominent Mormon names show up rather frequently (Romney!).

Last week I took my better half to the Salt Lake City Cemetery to visit the infamous grave of Lilly E. Gray. Lilly’s grave is remarkable in that her husband, Elmer, chose to immortalize her by engraving “VICTIM OF THE BEAST 666” on his wife’s marker. Speculation abounds!

Visitors leave coins, jewelry, trinkets, stones and flowers at Lilly’s grave. In a burial ground full of LDS dignitaries and family plots, she’s kind of a big deal.

The grave of Lilly E. Gray, Victim of the Beast 666.

The grave of Lilly E. Gray, Victim of the Beast 666.

Nestled beyond the graves of Salt Lake City Cemetery lies the adjacent Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery. This was a new discovery for me this time around, so I had to spend some time getting down with the Catholic iconography of my youth.

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Double Exposure Jesus

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Then a beautiful bronze statue of the archangel Michael caught our attention. The sticker on his sword led us to a website, detailing a hazing tragedy at a nearby college that took the life of 18-year-old Michael Starks.

The archangel Michael keeps watch over the grave of Michael Starks.

The archangel Michael keeps watch over the grave of Michael Starks.

Met with Michael’s story our moods were somber and reflective; we thought about our loved ones, and about embracing the bittersweet gratitude that so often accompanies tragic loss.

Then, with plans to meet up with Darren and Shawn in Park City, we said our heartfelt goodbyes to Michael, Lilly, and the nuns who reside at Mt. Calvary, and shuffled off to our next adventure.

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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).

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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.

Orbiting Baker: Zyzzyx, Rock-A-Hoola, and Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

Jon and I spent quite a while exploring Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel in Baker, but we still made time during our Southern California jaunt to satisfy our other creepin’ curiosities.

What’s off Zyzzyx Road, you ask? We’re going back to explore the structures; until then, here are some photos from the salt flats:

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Plus a few from Instagram, featuring Jon:

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IMG_20150508_215759After Baker we found our way to Rock-A-Hoola/Lake Dolores water park. The photos are few, but I will say this: You know you’ve made it in urbex when you’re chased off property by a trailer-dwelling gentleman and his barking dog.

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rockahoola3loresOur last stop of the day was Daggett Pioneer Cemetery. The juxtaposition of ornately decorated modern graves surrounded by older graves belonging to miners and other townsfolk made for a visually (and historically!) interesting afternoon.

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Train!

Train!

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daggett12loresUntil next time…

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