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Hollywood for now
Hollywood for now
First Site : 2017-10-24
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One thing that’s confirmed by a walk around the Hollywood Forever cemetery, down on Santa Monica Boulevard: there is no relation between the size of a person’s fame and the size of their memorial.
I mean I can, more or less, understand why there’s a large and very literal statue of Johnny Ramone. It strikes me as a strange and welcome splash of irony and subversion, though I’m never entirely sure if that’s intentional: irony and subversion are rather difficult to pull off in a graveyard.
However, elsewhere in the cemetery is this headstone belonging to one Roman Kozlov:
Now, the internet reveals a few Roman Kozlovs, one of them is even a guitarist, but as far as I can tell, it’s not this one. So we note the man and his headstone, and assume he must have been a guitar aficionado of some kind, and that’s about it. We’re left remembering the headstone rather than the man. It piques your curiosity, even as it fails to satisfy it.
The thing that everybody notices at Hollywood Forever is the one in the shape of an Atlas rocket, the memorial for Carl Morgan Bigsby. It might lead you to think he had something to do with the space program, but apparently not. The monument says Bigsby was “a recognized leader in many phases of the graphic arts,” a pioneer, just like the Atlas rocket, suggesting that we’re dealing with a metaphor here. Trying to track him down online reveals that he’s most famous for having this very large memorial.
And what about the above remarkably simple and rather moving cross made out of what appears to be plastic irrigation pipe. Is this austerity a deliberate rejection of the extravagance all around it? Was the loved one a gardener, a plumber? Russian speaking readers may be able to tell me.
Hollywood Forever is divided into a series of areas, mostly designated as "gardens." There’s the Garden of Memory, the Garden of Eternal Love, the Chandler Garden (no, not Raymond).
And for headliners, there’s the Garden of Legends, that’s where Johnny Ramone is, and fame being the fleeting thing it is, some of the people buried there are now very obscure, so even having been a legend doesn’t necessarily mean a big memorial. Here for example is the headstone of Virginia Rappe, complete with tribute footwear:
Poor Virginia really never got a break, a small-time actress and model, chiefly famous for the circumstances in which she died – of a ruptured bladder and peritonitis after attending a Fatty Arbuckle party. So you can perhaps understand why the grave is modest.
On first inspection it looks as though Jayne Mansfield’s headstone is equally modest too.
And I thought there was something appealing about this, that if you’ve led a gaudy life, then it’s only appropriate to have a quiet, dignified headstone. But I was wrong. I discover that the stone in Hollywood Forever is just a stone. Jayne Mansfield is actually buried in Pennsylvania in a grave with a huge, heart-shaped headstone.
When I first when to Hollywood Forever, a long time ago now, I was amazed to see peacocks strutting about the place, but the time before last time when I went there I didn’t see any at all. I feared they might be gone, but no, I did see one this time, and also a peahen.
I also saw, and maybe they were there all along and I never spotted them before, a colony of cats. I saw half a dozen though there could easily be more. They look vaguely feral, although more relaxed and less skittish than most feral cats. Clearly somebody’s feeding and sheltering them, possibly the same people who feed the peacocks.
To be honest I’m not sure I’ll ever have a grave of my own, and if I do it almost certainly won’t be in Hollywood Forever, but if I did, I think I should be very happy to have it surrounded and walked on by graveyards cats.
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