Monday, October 11, 2004

Boss Headed

It is highly unlikely that the strains of Gluecifer's Bossheaded (a highlight of the mighty Sleazy Listening compilation) would drift through our head while ambling through a graveyard. Nope, if you're looking for Norwegian rock soundtracks for skipping through gravestones, Burzum would probably be better, or maybe even Opeth, if only they were from Norway, rather than from Sweden.

But Bossheaded is the pun of the day. For we spent Sunday ambling around Green-Wood cemetery. Green-Wood, which settled upon two words, despite the MTA's insistence on Greenwood, touts itself as the world's prettiest cemetery, and it isn't far wrong. Not that we're an expert, or anything. It doesn't appear to be designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, although it is possible that like Fort Greene Park, one of Brooklyn's gems, he had a consultancy gig around the margins.

Green-Wood, opened in the middle of the nineteenth century, was said to have been a tourist attraction almost as soon as it was open. And the Civil Way gave it plenty of business. There are quite a few former celebrities interred there, as this list notes. From the world of music, Leonard Bernstein and the Steinway piano family, as well as Charles Ebbets, former owner of the Dodgers, who we trust is duly spinning at how Ratner and his shills at the Times exploit his legacy to bring a monstrous stadium to Park Slope.

More interesting, as far as this modern-day student of municipal corruption is conceerned, is that is the final resting place of two if the central characters from Gangs Of New York - Bill Poole and Boss Tweed, and we had a bit of a compulsive moment by skitting around the place for ninety minutes looking for the Boss' headstone (Yay! The pun unmasked! If you think that's bad, you should consider that we were going to go for. "Do You Dig Graves? Yeah, they're alright." But educating you on the intricacies of Scandi-rock took precedence.)

We did not know that Bill Poole, the basis of Bill Cutter's character, was buried at Green-Wood until our morning's googling. We had assumed, based on the scene where Hamster-face DiCaprio buries Cutter well in view of a burning Manhattan, that he was laid to rest in one of the sprawl of cemeteries that covers the Queens-Brooklyn border. But, as the IMDB notes, Green-Wood is actually a top resting place for GONY characters, even though Poole died before the draft riots portayed in the film. The cemetery is also quite the treasure trove for Brooklyn street name geeks, since we spotted, among others, Bergen, Ditmars, Ditmas, Lefferts, and Fulton, as well as a buncha Smiths.

It's pretty heavy on English, French and Dutch names, with few obviously Jewish or Hispanic touches. The Italians are also very sparsely represented, except for the mausoleums which face out towards Sylvan Lake like so many Cabanas Of Death, all done out in new marble, and 90% Italian. We would have investigated further, but the cruel and unusual fish shops of Sunset Park's Chinatown beckoned.

Coming up, a hard-hitting, topical review of The Fog Of War, but we shall wait until El Presidente spouts some obviously untrue nonsense about his war.


At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Frederick Law Olmsted didn't design Green-Wood Cemetary, then who did?

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Gringcorp said...

Henry Pierrepont is as near as the cemetery's website comes to naming a designer

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Gringcorp said...

This site names one David Bates Douglass as the designer, working to rival Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, MA.

And Henry was the one that told him to copy the Cambridge one, then.


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