Above Ground : A photo essay by Kristin Fouquet
Some families combined their funds for bigger tombs.
The wealthiest families built temples or extravagant family mausoleums.
Most cemeteries were comprised of perfect rows and many with functional streets. Tombs resembled small houses and buildings. Lawn crypts were constructed. Some graves were trimmed with wrought iron fences. An old racetrack became the land for Metairie Cemetery. “Cities of the Dead” became a popular sobriquet for New Orleans cemeteries.
Coping graves, also turf-top crypts, are uncovered empty chambers framed then covered with soil and sod. These can be built up to three feet from the ground, granting an earthen burial, a requirement for some religious customs as in Judaism. They also provide rapid availability for recurring internments.
Repeated burial in the same space is called reuse. A vault in a tomb may be reused following another in one year and one day if a wood casket was chosen. Ten years and one day must pass if the last inhabitant was put in a metal casket. The remains are transferred into a burial bag and placed into what is termed the receptacle or the back of the tomb. The casket is destroyed and the vault is prepared for the next occupant.
Angels are popular Christian funerary imagery, second only to the cross. These “messengers of god” are believed to lead the deceased to the afterlife.
The final resting place may also be seen as a reflection of social status. When a famous brothel madam of Storyville, Josie Arlington, spent a small fortune to have her tomb erected in Metairie Cemetery, it caused a scandal among those of prominent social standing. After she was entombed there in 1914, it quickly became a tourist attraction. This horrified the Arlington family, so they had her remains transferred to an anonymous vault elsewhere in the same cemetery, then sold her tomb. The Morales family took ownership. The brass sculpture of a young woman carrying roses stayed behind. Some believe she represents Josie being turned away from her father’s home. Others assert she is a symbol of a virginal girl seeking employment, but not permitted into the house of ill-repute. Arlington claimed no girl’s innocence was ever taken away due to her establishment. Despite the legend, the more likely explanation would be that it is a copy of a sculpture Josie admired.
While pragmatism may have been the initial incentive in burying our dead above ground, aestheticism and personal or familial pride has elevated the practical and enriched the unique architecture in the “Cities of the Dead” that are the cemeteries of New Orleans.
Kristin Fouquet worked as the weekend internment coordinator for Metairie Cemetery and Lake Lawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum while she attended weekday classes at Delgado Community College to earn her associate of science degree in Funeral Services Education. It was her fondest achievement there to discover the final resting place of Josie Arlington while researching old cemetery records in the vault. You are invited to Kristin’s virtual home, Le Salon, at the web address http://kristin.fouquet.cc
Post-Apocalypse Now !
By Jason Michel
It is a place that I can hang out in like Beatniks are drawn to a café full of black coffee.
I’ll tell you poor mortals why.
Let’s start at the beginning here. What exactly does Post-Apocalypse actually mean?
The origin of the word “Apocalypse” is something very, very different from the Mushroom cloud or pale white horses. In fact, the word comes from the Greek apokalyptein which simply means – to uncover or to reveal. A “lifting of the veil” or revelation. A moment of insight. How almost enlightening and Buddhist that seems.
It was, of course, with the wig out end-times schizophrenic St John’s Revelation that we get all our modern connections to the word. A word that has inspired every millennial cult from Crowley’s Thelemites to the Jehovah’s Witnesses that lurk around train stations and knock on all our doors. The Rapture, The Four Horsemen, The Anti-Christ, The Whore Of Babylon, The Seven Seals, The Lake Of Fire. That’s a wheelbarrow full of cans of whupass right there. Scared the living shite out of me as small child, I can tell you. When I was a child of five or so in the windy valleys of Wales that we went to the local desolate chapel to see this lay preacher rant. He was doing his Hellfire & Brimstone spiel, and a particularly nasty one it was too. And I went ballistic. I ran up and down the aisles waving my arms and screaming like a little Damien Thorn. It was so shocking that my embarrassed parents had to bundle me there and then into the car and away to home.
Being the child I was and still am, I found that my fear was sated once I had embraced it.
So, here we are.Now for a history lesson.
Your more famous Science Fiction Movie has had its fair share of big bucks scapegoating governmental propaganda in its history. The political influences know that people always want to see a bigger explosion. With Invasion Of The Body Snatchers in the 50s and War of the World’s supposed Anti-Commie message and Independence Day with its blatant scenes of Islamic Fundamentalists adding to the overall horror experienced by its “civilised” audience of a money leeching SFX extravaganza with a plot so simplistic that even a member of your average Reality TV show could have done better.
Horror tends to show us things that go bump in the night and taps into that irrational and unreasonable side of us that only really comes out in everyday life in our dreams or after four bottles of wine.
Post-Apocalyptica pops its scorched head up from time to time.
This is one of those times.
And its message has always been a lot more subversive than its first grizzled impression.
Charlton Heston was the 60s godfather of such films, before he became the gun wielding fiend that terrified liberals from California to Manhattan. Each of the characters he played came from the same basic mould; a tough world weary misanthrope angry at his species for their greed and stupidity, snarling and shouting so whenever the opportunity allowed. A hippie gone bad.
And the zeitgeist scarred each of these films and showed what could still be.
The threat of nuclear annihilation and the idea that humans were not the end all of the evolutionary process inspired such films as Planet Of The Apes and its subsequent sequels. Anybody remember those mutant nuke worshippers? Brrrrrrr.
The threat of the baby booming generation and humanity’s voracious appetite for breeding without control and to the detriment of all other species informed the classic Soylent Green.
Finally, The Omega Man showed us a world after the threat of biological weapons of mass destruction in the wake of The Vietnam War became a reality. The Omega Man was, in fact, itself a remake of an earlier flick, The Last Man On Earth with Vincent Price fighting off infected vampires and was subsequently re-remade in the 2000s as I am Legend (the original name of the novel by Richard Matheson) with Will Smith taking the Heston/Price role.
The Sixties also saw the rise of the most famous sub-genre of all Post-Apocalyptica. The zombie flick. Shuffling into our consciousness in 1968, George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead changed our perception of the zombie forever. Gone was the idea of Voodoo witchdoctors reanimating corpses to do their bidding. It was now replaced by something all the more insidious. A creeping mindless horde of undead cannibals. So influential was this film and its sequels that oddles has been written about them. From their satirical counter culture stance on the military and The Vietnam War in the form of the pompous General to their comment on our consumer society. Also The Night featured a black hero. This was considered subversive enough for your average Middle American in 1968. To say that these films were mindless rubbish was really missing the point. They are a glorious modern day Grand Guignol.
The Mid-Seventies brought with it its own social upheaval and counter culture – Punk. Its chaotic battle cry of “Anarchy!” mixed with the nihilism of Heavy Metal and permeated throughout pop culture from the seminal Brit comic 2000AD to the bedsits of a thousand potential record labels and fanzines. Film was no exception and another great piece of Post Apocalyptica was George Miller’s 1979 feature, Mad Max and its sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Pre-Catholic lunacy leather clad Mel was the coolest anti-hero on Earth beside Johnny Alpha as he drove like a demon to avenge his wife and child while around him punks raped and pillaged their way around a Third World War stricken Australia in search of precious oil. In 2006, the co-scriptwriter James McCausland wrote in an article on peak oil, “George and I wrote the script based on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late”.
Throughout the Eighties and Nineties there were the odd one or two of note, such as Gilliam’s pandemic fantasy 12 Monkeys but in general the films were poor such as the utterly pitiful Waterworld, which even Dennis Hopper couldn’t save and the turgidly vacuous Tank Girl which should have stayed a comic. The films belied an era built on dreams that are turning on us today.
The Noughties on the other hand have brought with it a slew of worthwhile efforts not seen since the Sixties, such as 28 Days Later, a film that added a new slant to the zombie movie and showed that normal humans are even more frightening than the infected that they are running from. This film also heralded a new wave of zombie flicks that continues today including a decent remake of Dawn Of The Dead and Romero’s own Land Of The Dead as well as the emergence of the Zombie Comedy with Shaun Of The Dead. Zombies have well and truly gone mainstream with even Channel 4 in England showing Charlie Brooker’s splendid Dead Set, a zombie story set in a reality TV show.
Another of note is the intelligent almost biblical Children Of Men with some fantastic action scenes and genuinely gritty sets, in a story concerning the worldwide infertility of women and the consequences on a species knowing it’s going to die.
Then there is 2012. Based on a Mayan prophecy, the Apocalypse has finally gone fully sooper-dooper SFX mainstream entertainment.We are now living in our own Sci-Fi world, with portable communication devices and a worldwide communication network. We have everything we want at our fingertips. Computers are everywhere and are so ingrained in our way of life that most are invisible. We can enter into virtual worlds of our own making and live out our fantasies however high or tawdry. Our species life expectancy is longer now than at any time in the past. Bubble-headed TV shows designed to take the worries of the big bad world away from us. Ice cream in a thousand flavours in the average supermarket. We should be happy. But we’re not.
It all comes at a price.
New viruses appear weekly to make us wash our hands in anxiety; our species is breeding so rapidly that if every family in the world had the lifestyle of the average American family, we would need five earth’s to support us; there are CCTV cameras on almost every street corner for our “safety”; our governments are playing with our money willy-nilly and getting away scot free; the proliferation of nuclear warheads to so-called “rogue states” is imminent; our society is based on a fundamental resource that not only poisons us and our environment but is depleting fast, and as for Climate Change, don’t even start me on that one. Tornadoes in Derby?! A Lovelockian tragedy feels more and more real everyday.
I see the Post-Apocalyptica all around me and I have to admit that I don’t feel that much hope for the future. Not to say that I am right. Or some kind of eco-avenger. I do my bit, don’t drive, don’t want kids. If there is any hope in all this it is a quote from the biologist Lynn Margulis, “Gaia Is a Tough Bitch”. Nature will sneeze and off some of us tumble, but when Rome begins burning I’ll be on my veranda with a Strawberry Daiquiri, searching for my violin.
Jason Michel talks to the irrepressible U.V. Ray
Q1: Hey, u.v.ray. Tell the readers a bit about yourself.
I was a child prodigy. By the time I was just 6 years old I was already well on my way to inventing a self-stirring saucepan. I tell you, if I could have solved the problem of the melting rubber band I’d have been a millionaire today. As it stands, I dropped out of school at the age of 15 without any qualifications and spent the 80’s and 90’s drifting around the backstreet bars and clubs of Birmingham City. Several of my friends from that era are dead. But I don’t remember anything with any real clarity, I mean a lot of crap went under the bridge. But I think I had a good run and I’d do it all over again if I was younger. None of us had shit to our names but at least everyone seemed to be trying to do something; either form bands, make films or, in my case, be a writer. I would ask behind the bar for a pen and write on torn up beer mats and cigarette packets and the likes.
Crime & The City Solution: Tony Black By Paul D Brazill
Jason Michel Interviews Jodi MacArthur
Diamonds Inc’ By U.V. Ray
Norton saw a spider crawling across his desk. He bought down his glass of Scotch and crushed it. He buzzed his secretary and said, “Send in Offenbach .”
Offenbach came in and leaned his black umberella against the wall in the corner of the room. He adjusted his suit and sat down in the leather chair opposite Norton, crossing his legs.
Jeff was looking at a tiny cockroach in his living room. The cockroach was looking back at Jeff with its Parisian blue eyes.
The Streets By Jason Michel
Revolutions. Pop culture. Real change.
In the pavement cracks. Widening. A concrete gash. People tripping. Stubbed toes. Scuffed leather boots. Grandmothers with broken legs.
Tarmac bending. Tyres screeching. Airbags unleashed.
Fibres pushing through pavements. That mad green fuse.
We tried to trim them. Yet every cut brought a tougher tendril. Vines pierced fundaments. Entwined lamp posts. Buildings creaked under the creeping onslaught. As they fell we all saw the blossoms in the dust clouds.Opening buds. Spewing airborne seeds from coast to cold coast.
Introducing Gemma Nye By James Hilton
Episode 1 : “Stolen!”
Midnight lapped at the Wicked Woman. Her old planks moaned in reply. Viper knew these soft sounds as his own mum’s voice. Salty air nipped at his nose attempting to raise his spirits. Any other night it may have, but not tonight.
The Wicked Woman still thrived despite the siege, the jagged jolly roger was proof of that, but Viper’s spirits sank low…perhaps too low. Thoughts of tying a nipper from the crow’s nest and tossing himself to Davy Jones’s locker fancied his mind.
The booty map had been in his hands! His very hands before those horrid creatures of curves and candy snatched it away.
“Be ye thinkin’ what me be, Cap’n Viper?”
“Strudel?” he asked without looking from the sea.
“Strudel, nay now.” The brute never shut up. Strudel had been thrown to the kraken dozens of times. If it hadn’t been for the once in a century brilliance possessing the monkey’s mind, Viper would have left him to annoy the fish.
“Aye, Cap’n, but I be jus’ thinking-”
“I don’t want t’ hear yer monkey bile thoughts, I jus’ want t’ hear mine.”
A spew of laughter bellowed behind them.
Viper clenched the deck rail until his chapped fingers burned. His words came out low and strained. “Strudel, fetch me a grog.” He ignored the laughter. The lazy dogs would pay for it later. What bothered him the most were the women. It had been women who’d stolen his treasure map. Damn women.
Strudel appeared with a chipped crude cup.
Viper grabbed the black jack and gulped. He felt something soft and chunky catch in his throat. He gagged, turned to Strudel.
“Forgives me, Cap’n. Thar be not a clist cup in th’ galley, but I didn’t think ye’d be a mindin.”
Viper spit into the wind. “Damn ye, Strudel. Ye know how I be about that.” He threw the black jack at the deck. It bounced, and Strudel scurried to catch it.
Viper leaned against the rail.
“I be thinkin’,” said Strudel cozing up beside him, “we shouldn’t let them lasses get a way with it. It be ours, Cap’n. Treasure map and th’ cave of Ali Baba be all ours fer th’ takin, an them damn frogslingin’ lasses-“
“They be called women ‘ere I be from.”
Strudel lowered his voice to a whisper. “An ‘ere be that, Cap’n? Me knows ye be not who ye says ye be.”
Viper grabbed the butt of his gun and turned. “Shut that bung hole o’ yers, it makes no difference were I be from. ‘Tis me ship,” he spread his arms, “Me Wicked Woman. Ye say lass all ye want, but ye won’t be tellin’ me secrets.” Viper pointed the gun at Strudel’s underbelly.
Strudel wrapped his arms about his chest and backed off. “They be calling th’ lass who stole it thar god’ess.”
“God’ess?” In his mind’s eye, Viper could see her glorious vision of skin, tight rags, and freckles. It gave him rise. The woman was every bit as clever and shrewd he wished he was.
“Ye want th’ lass?”
Viper shackled his gun and brought his fingers to his glass eye. He felt the life striking at the inside of the sphere. The snake lied dormant most days. It only awoke to Viper’s wrath. He thought about removing the eye and letting it strike at Strudel, then decided against it. Viper had a better idea.
Strudel giggled, then straightened his voice. “Cap’n, if ye’d jus’ let me speak.”
“Strudel, do ye wish me t’ order ye overboard?” Viper paused. “Again.”
Strudel glanced away, hesitated.
“This time th’ great’st idea in th’ world won’t save ye. I’ll leave ye to th’ sharks, to th’ kraken, to th’…”
Strudel tucked his red and white shirt into his high-waisted britches. He saluted. “’Tis a chance I’m willin t’ take, Cap’n.”
“Fair enough.” Viper lifted his voice. “Big Bob! Toss Strudel to th’ sea.”
Strudel spoke, “Listen, these frogslingers. Thar hair be green. Ye ever guess where that be comin from? Pois’n. Them frogs in th’ Amazon be mighty poisonous. Th’ slingers inject them’selfs with wee bits o’ poison t’ make theyself immune.” Strudel’s eyes grew large. “It turns them half frog, Cap’n.”
Big Bob strode upon the deck. He stood as tall as the masts, or at least appeared too. He cracked his knuckles and smiled at Strudel.
Strudel leaned against the deck rail. “Please, Cap’n Viper, call th’ lad off.”
Big Bob grabbed Strudel by the waist, and hiked him upon his shoulders.
Viper stayed Big Bob, and rolled up his cotton sleeves. “Ye’re telling me they be half frog?”
Strudel squirmed on Bob’s shoulders like fish. “Aye, Cap’n. Tis th’ very poison th’ lasses put on their darts.”
Viper turned toward the sea. The goddess’ emerald green hair teased his mind. “Knowin’ they be half frog doesn’t bring back th’ booty map. They be ages away now. Damn that ship.”
The Amazon was loaded with darts, cannonballs, hundreds of poisonous frogs and yet had slipped along the sea like a vessel on clouds. The Wicked Woman, swift as she was, hadn’t a hope to catch them. “Toss ‘im, Big Bob.”
“Nay, nay again!”
Bob lifted Strudel and went to heave him overboard. Strudel clung to the strong lad’s waist. “Cap’n! What I’m tryin’ to say is,” he wrapped his scrawny arms about Big Bob’s arm, ”we can catch up t’ ‘em.”
Big Bob peeled back Strudel’s hands and tilted him over the rail. Strudel shrieked and wrapped his legs around Big Bob’s neck. “Maybe e’en tonight, Cap’n!”
Viper put a hand on Big Bob’s arm, halting the lad. “How be that?”
“They-“ Strudel dangled from the deck now. Held only by Big Bob’s hand. “They get cold like at night, ye see. Like ‘em frogs. And they be havin’ to sleep ‘cause thar ain’t no choice. An’ they don’t wake up till…”
“Big Bob, pull ‘im up, ye ugly mutt!”
Big Bob hefted him to the deck. Viper grabbed Strudel by the shoulders and lifted him to his feet. “Shiver me timbers! Ye best be not lyin’ t’ me or I’ll gut ye quicker than a shark rip’n ‘is d’nner.”
“Nay, Cap’n. They don’t wake up til th’ sunshine gets ‘em all nice an’ warm.” Strudel smiled, a rowdy glint in his eye.
“Where ye be hearing this?”
“Oh, I don’t know. ‘Ere an’ thar, before me joined th’ crew.”
“Tis almost makes sense.”
Viper let loose of Strudel. “Which way did they go?”
“I don’t know, “ said Strudel.
“Ogre ‘ll know, Cap’n. He be at th’ wheel at th’ time.”
“Go ask, then.”
Viper turned back to the sea. Water murmured at the ship. It was a perfect evening for sneaking up on the enemy, those thieving Amazon Frogslinger Women. His lads would be happy, plundering and seeking their revenge. Viper smiled at the thought.
The night silenced, and as it did at these times, Wisteria happened upon Viper’s thoughts. She’d not approve, but he was doing this all for her. The treasures of Ali Baba’s cave would be his. Viper would soon have whatever he wished, including Wisteria’s hand – kicking and screaming though she’d surely be.
Ogre’s gruff voice broke through his thoughts. “Cap’n, they be headin’ East!”
Viper whooped into the wind. “Then East we go, me buccaneers. High Sails! We’ll get ‘em before th’ sun does, lads.”
To be Cont’d …