Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oompah-pah, Ching, Ching, Ching!

B and I spent the frigid afternoon of New Year's Eve roaming around the terra incognita that is southwest Portland, which, as we found out, is chockful of hilltop cemeteries with amazing views of this immense pile of powdered sugar.

Ahavai Sholom Cemetery was impeccably maintained but deserted, with some ultramodern headstones.

Modern Headstone

Note all the medals on Leon Plotkin's chest.

It's Nice to Be Important But It's More Important to Be Nice

I like the humble epitaph (is it an epitaph?).

But my absolute favorite headstone of all time has to be this one that I saw at Riverview Cemetery.

Obsolete Job Title

Not many people bill themselves as traveling musicians anymore, do they (even though traveling is certainly a major part of all working musicians' lives)? Imagine actually putting that on your headstone (or your tax forms). You might as well identify yourself as a minstrel or a ne'er-do-well.

What was even weirder about this headstone was that it occupied this narrow strip of ground between the cemetery road (how symbolic!) and a sort of mini-cliff. The headstone is just crammed in there, about three inches from the edge of the pavement. Technically, I suppose, it isn't even correct to call it a headstone, because the body must have been buried parallel to the headstone rather than perpendicular--no space for that. Or maybe it's just the guy's ashes that are buried there. No one else is buried on that strip, not surprisingly. What's Allen Joseph Griffin's story, I wonder? B pictures him as being one of those "one-man band"-type guys who would have played about eight different musical instruments all at once. You know, the kind with a pair of dwarf cymbals strapped to the inside of each knee. Oompah-pah, ching, ching, ching!

After the cemetery ramble we came home and had a super-exciting New Year's Eve, which included a bottle of Inversion IPA apiece, a Pepperoni Supreme pizza, and a partial viewing of Louis Malle's classic (although pretentiously narrated) documentary Phantom India (1969). By 10:30 PM, I was all partied out and went upstairs to bed.

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