Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Funereal Spectacle:
Otherwise Known as - Reality TV Meets Bread and Circuses 2004

It's in today's NY Times. The Reagan family has requested the "really big shew" for Emperor Ronnie, all of it, including the riderless horse, otherwise known as the caparisoned horse. The last of one these official state funerals I remember is the one for JFK, otherwise known as John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I was 11 years-old then. I hadn't been to a funeral back then. I'm 52 now. My perspectives of all our Happy Planet rituals have changed in the intervening years.

I also read in the NY Times that the cost of this ancient ritual for Reagan is going to be in the tens of millions of dollars (US). The article is vague on the exact numbers. The spokesmouth said they wouldn't know until after it was over.

I have the front section of today's Times in front of me. It appears that the "lying in State" in the Capitol rotunda will cost upwards of $1.5 Million U.S. dollars (otherwise known as an arm and a leg), with the highest cost going toward personnel. But the costs associated from loss of productivity are much higher because of the shutdown of the federal government on Friday, which the Chimperor in Chief ordered, perhaps as high as $66 Million (otherwise known as hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys and corneas for transplant into many, many people). Then factor in the worry-cost over threat of acts of "terra-ism" and added security for that ... thousands of military personnel, snipers atop all buildings, big guns everywhere ... And as Billmon, Richard and others have called it, you have the 2004 version of a Roman spectacle, otherwise known as "Ronniepalooza".

"am pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli vendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium fasces legiones omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses."

"Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things -- bread and circuses." Juvenal, Roman satirical poet - A.D. 60-140

So while I fume here (Details below. You knew there'd be details, didn't you?), you can peruse the NY Times. The LA Times probably has as much, if not more coverage. And here are a few fun facts about funerals in general, state funerals, riderless horses, and more if I get a round tuit -- I mean around to it. ;-) )

The Museum of Funeral Customs FAQ

Black Jack, JFK's riderless horse

Arlington Nat'l Cemetary photo

And one from the on-line NYTimes: Cannons Echo as Washington Drills for Reagan's State Funeral (you may have to register for NYT stories)

Now for the fuming promised above. I've been an adversary of the "funeral industry" in the US since the late 1970s. The last one I attended was for my 12 year-old nephew, Billy, tragically killed after being hit by a car in 1995. I sang Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" at the funeral, accompanying myself on guitar. There were 500 people in attendance. I actually got through the song, but was unable to sing it again for another 3 years without breaking down. Add to all of this, my rising gall over "Ronniepalooza", that I've already made my wishes known to my children and husband that they'd better not do anything expensive and stupid when I die. They should have a party with a lot of alcohol, and talk about what a nut I was in life. No wake, otherwise known as "viewing". I am to be cremated in the cheapest, light box allowable. I'd prefer no embalming. Haven't we enough chemicals floating in the air and in the ground these days? No memorial service of any kind, especially not religious, and NOT Lutheran. My ashes are to be scattered (illegally if necessary, in the nearest ocean, or used in a compost mix to plant a tree that will grow very large). When I told this to my family they quietly said: "Okay", otherwise known as "what mom says, goes!"

Addendum: I forgot an important part of my instructions to my family. My brain dead body, otherwise known as "spare parts" will be donated wherever it can be used, cremation of what's left will follow. The doctors will probably find my liver unusable. Ah, well. You can't have everything. ROFL! Life on the Happy Planet is one laugh riot after another.