Cemetery of the Absurd
Mississippi's infamous Cemetery of the Absurd contains the bones and softer parts of some of the most well-known individuals ever to put on human clothing. Comedians, Halloween afficionados, occultists, artists, if they have an absurd bone in their body they clamor to be buried here and most can't wait to die. Called the Arlington National Cemetery of Surrealism, its haunted-rating rivals other famous resting places, regularly outdraws them ten-to-one, and begs the question of its best customers: What brought you here?
One attraction is Johnson's Place, the giant beach-ball shaped 42-story tombstone of legendary Mississippi singer-guitarist Robert Johnson. Besides the pyramids and that Taj Mahal wunderkind, Johnson's is the most elaborate final resting place on earth. It provides a fitting entrance to this grand Cemetery, a rural landmark which continues the proud tradition of Mississippians knowing how to show the crowd a good time.
All good things start somewhere. So once upon a time, durng the very great depression, a hobo named Clyde came upon an abandoned bean farm in the middle of Mississippi. In one of his rare moments of clarity Clyde looked around, and instead of seeing dried-up bean plants and depleted soil he told himself "Could be used for buryin'."
His life's work laying in front of him, Clyde quickly grabbed up the land by marrying the farmer's widow, got ready to officiate at the town's burials himself--dust to dust, cashes for ashes--and was all set to plop in the first loved-one when his pesky clarity kicked-in again and he told himself "Could be a theme cemetery."
At the time his wife, Cameron, who was a hippie long before hippie became the new flapper, was studying and dabbling in surrealism--the taking of reality and putting so many twists up in there that God himself couldn't unscramble them. When Clyde rushed in and told her about his idea she put down her waterpipe, slapped the table, and with a whoop and a holler yelled "Cemetery of the Absurd!"
It turned out that Cameron was a natural at all of this. She recruited, designed, and promoted, and soon her cemetery was the in-place for the in-crowd to gather, visit, and be buried. As for Clyde? Died. And became the cemetery's first lateral resident, his Dali-painted coffin exhibited inside a snowglobe.
Cameron's playground for the after-hours crowd was on its way.
Come one, come all
Throughout the following decades the cry went out for bodies, more bodies! Come within Anais Nin, gather round Ezra Pound, heed nature's call Lucille Ball. They arrived from western Europe by the planeload (and from Poland by the trainload), their designer coffins doubling as gift-baskets of aged-cheese and wine. They come from Australia, sting-rays still attached, and from the U.S.--many shipped by rail direct from the killing fields of Saturday Night Live.
Generations of artists from the Left Bank, hundreds of stand-up comics who'd died at the Comedy Club, and at least a dozen women claiming to be either Princess Anastasia or Amelia Earhart have entered through the Cemeteries' fool's-gold-plated gates. They are then buried in groups of three, six feet under.
Selected Cemetery attractions
The Nose Corral
Surrealists who long to be buried in the Cemetery of the Absurd, but who don't want to embarrass their families, instead have their noses cut off and stored in the Nose Corral--a dirt-floored one-room building decorated with roses and poison ivy (a floral metaphor that Cameron thought up while posing nude for photographer Ansel Adams and painter Jackson Pollock at the same time).
After a nose arrives it is hydrated, chemically mummified, and then goes on display on top of thousands of other corraled noses. The corral is treated to a continuous mist of spring water, which wrecks havoc on the artwork--three large murals Pablo Picasso painted in the 1950s depicting scenes of war and other loud carnivals--but keeps the dust down and the noses clean.
Robert Johnson's Place and Neuman's Tomb
Music legend Robert Johnson's massive "real" resting place doubles as the entrance to the cemetery. Also used as a cell tower and a generational "dare" climb for local teenagers, Johnson's tomb includes a 29-story condominum complex, thirteen stories of musicians-only mausoleums, and is topped off by Skeleton, a rotating four-star nightclub/restaurant. Handball and racquetball courts surround the structure's base, except where Johnson is buried. And even there you can roll dice, drink from an always open bottle of whiskey, and count coup when Rock stars come to visit.
In 2008 Johnson's body was exhumed for no apparent reason.
About a half-mile from Johnson's Place sits an exact duplicate of New York's famed Grant's Tomb, Neuman's Tomb (a.k.a. Newman's Tomb). Now housing the cemeteries' gift shop, this edifice will hold the bodies of two still-living persons when they give up the ghost: Mad Magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman and actor Wayne Knight.
The Health Club
The Cemeteries' Health Club includes a weight room, state-of-the-art exercise machines, swimming pool, and sauna, all tastefully decorated with the free-standing coffins of such physical fitness inspirations as strongman Jack LaLanne, super-hero George Reeves, and swimmer and renowned apeman Johnny Weissmuller. Work out enough and someday you can be as healthy as they are!
Dock Ellis Field
Almost two-thirds of the deceased members of the Baseball Hall of Fame are buried in the cemeteries Dock Ellis Field, a full-scale baseball stadium named after the major league pitcher who threw a no-hitter while on LSD. Most of the players are buried at their positions, gravemarkers level with the ground so as not to hinder play.
People come from all over the world to play a few innings at Dock Ellis. Imagine the thrill of running to catch a deep fly knowing you are sprinting over the bodies of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, and the rest. The infield is paved with everyone from Honus Wagner to Jackie Robinson, to the double-play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance observes from the dugout, while on the pitcher's mound--the final resting place of pitching greats Pud Galvin, Lefty Grove, and Dock Ellis himself--sits a resin bag filled with the ashes of the 1927 Yankees.
The Grassy Knoll
The key suspects from the John Kennedy Assassination were all given an improper burial in an unmarked trench within an exact replica of the Grassy Knoll. Visitors can view the bodies of mafia boss Sam Giancana, gay federal official J. Edgar Hoover, banjoist Lee Harvey Oswald, and hundreds of others crammed together in this ridiculously transparent mass grave. New patrons can be interrred here as long as they present evidence before a Grand Jury of their involvement in the crime (Children welcome, as long as they are accompanied by an adult.).. Children are also encouraged to take target practice at a replica Kennedy death car, which comes around like clockwork every generation or so.
Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Hippie Grove! Like a modern-day Be-In, hippies in uniform romp and practice free love among ten-acres of psychedelic tombs and groovy monuments to a lifestyle as celebrated as the ancient Egyptians.
In Hippie Grove what remains of Wavy Gravy, Allen Ginsberg, Melanie Safka, and Abbie Hoffman and the rest of the Chicago Seven lie amidst hundreds of other far-out flower-children-under-the-flowers. The spaced-out graves form peace signs and mandalas, strobe lights from The Tomb of the Unknown Pothead illuminate the nightly Police Riot reenactment, and the loving arms of Timothy Leary are embalmed with incense, lollipops and rainbows and are always ready to hug visitors.
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right
Along the back fence of the Cemetery of the Abusrd is Comedians Row, a collection of the funniest satirists on God's green Earth. Planted like cornstalks, Fatty Arbuckle weighs down one end, Jackie Gleason the other, while Joan Rivers lies motionless in the exact middle (Stuck in the middle with Jew).
George Carlin's tombstone, one of the most interesting objects in the cemetery, consists of only his name, the phrase "Please Masturbate My Corpse", and shockingly goes on to list the seven deadly words you can't carve on tombstones (soilbreather, exhumation, boner, dustbowl, giddyup, atheist, and Tomorrowland). If Bill Cosby, buried on Carlin's left, knew what was chisled onto that stone, he'd be spinning in his grave. Not unlike Richard Pryor, entombed on Carlin's right, who literally spins in his grave at 72rpm. Thanks to Intel-everlasting solar chips, Pryor can be seen perpetually spinning on big-screens placed throughout the cemetery, and every time a new piece falls off the cheers can be heard a mile away.
Witches and the Cemetery
Many witches visit the cemetery of the Absurd on their daily walks, and most of them begin casting spells just to pass the time. Witches love the cemeteries world-renowned tombstones, for when a rock mysterously becomes a tombstone it takes on symbolistic meaning to a witch, who then uses it as a template for death. When she comes across the grave of the little-known but powerful occultist Sam Hain, even your prim and proper witch will naked it up and start tombstone-squirming, attempting with an act of sexual release to bargain with the gatekeeper to extend her life. All she usually gets after being TorJohnsoned is a case of the jitters. But on those rare occasions when the moon is new and Halloween draws near, the gatekeeper will pass by on his daily walk, and, buoyed by the sexual flame visible to his occult-tuned eyes, will blush and give her what she wants. Plus diamonds and stuff.
In addition to the Old Timer's baseball game and an April cross painting competition, "The Cemetery" - as it is known among the in-crowd - also hosts an annual bowling tournament. In this competition a bowling ball is placed on a grave in front of a cheering crowd, and ends when everyone finally gets tired of waiting for it to move and goes home.
As you will plainly see when you get there, at Mississippi's Cemetery of the Absurd the "Life of the party" is usually some dead guy wearing a bedsheet made from the skin of another dead guy. And if you're partying there and not having the time of your life, you don't have a pulse!
Tombstone abuse is encouraged!
- The middle of Mississippi is an "s". The house always wins.
- And a witch long before witch became the new medium.
- Cameron was still part redneck, mind ya.
- Frenchmen--looking forward to becoming permanent mimes--prepay to be buried near Jerry Lewis, who is expected to check-in any day now.
- A national tradition!
- Ba domp bump
- Ba domp bump
- Often while they are still alive.
- Those others? Diversions and sideshow wannabbes.
- And a lamp-shade store. See Ed Gein for our inventory update.
- LaLanne's body died ten-years before his official death in 2011, but through sheer momentum still worked out two hours a day.
- Not a bird, nor a plane.
- So that's where he's gone!
- Anxiously awaiting death and burial.
- While his head is frozen, his body thaws beneath Dock Ellis Field. As does Dock Ellis.
- Some while they were still alive. The cemetery regrets this error, and apologizes to those it may have offended and/or interred.
- She's got a brand new pair of rollerskates, we've got a brand new plot of ground.
- Spoiler alert: Wavy Gravy isn't dead yet, he just likes to come and lie around the Grove. You can crash at my pad, man.
- Timothy Leary's dead? No, no, no, no, he's outside, looking in. Well, ah /shuffles nervously, yeah, okay, maybe he is dead. So what? You wanna make something of it? Yeah, you and what army?
- Now in.
- How? Levers, magnets, gravity, and specialized software. Isn't technology wonderful?
- And one lucky contestant wins a gift certificate to Six Flags Over The Cemetery of the Absurd.
- Or at the very least her credit limit.
- Or just "The C", as in "Ya gonna be planted in The C, man?"
|Coffin buddies with benefits|