At work, I took a question over the phone from one of our business advisors in the field, about a client wanting to become a funeral director. I asked the advisor if she was familiar with the Death Cafe, She was not.
“At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
While Death Café is not a grief support group, it does offer a safe space to openly discuss thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding dying and death. Death Cafés help us move toward being “a society that mindfully accepts dying and death as a part of everyday life.”
As I’ve mentioned, I had attended the first Death Cafe event in Albany in January 2018, and while I had not had a chance to go to subsequent talks, I have been following the local group on Facebook.
As my work colleague discovered, I’ve been fascinated by the issues surrounding death, going back to the passing of my paternal grandmother in 1964 and maternal great aunt in 1966.
I was also influenced by a now-infamous individual, Bill Cosby, who, in one of his routines, told us that when one dies, a person could be rigged up so that each time a mourner passes his open coffin he sits up and says, “Don’t I look like myself?” It’s funnier in context.
Cosby indirectly got me to read, when I was a young teenager, the landmark book The American Way of Death, “an exposé of abuses in the funeral home industry in the United States, written by Jessica Mitford and published in 1963.”
The next gathering of Death Cafe Albany will be at The Chapel at Albany Rural Cemetery on Saturday, September 29th from 1-2:30 pm. Please bring your own mug. Tea and cold water will be provided.
Here are some links from the Death Cafe Albany site on Facebook:
Leave No Trace, which I saw by myself at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, is Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini’s screen adaptation of Peter Rock’s novel My Abandonment, directed by Granik, and produced by Rosellini.
Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) live in the forests near Portland, OR. They are extremely resourceful, collecting rainwater to drink, using tools efficiently, and hiding away their presence when necessary. Chess is their game of preference.
When their life choice is crushed, they are put into social services system separately. Eventually, they are reunited and put into their new surroundings, but it is a challenge. Fitting into this iteration of the world seems beyond reach.
Leave No Trace is a beautiful, poignant American film. It is, I am told, quite different from Winter’s Bone (2010), Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout role in another Granik/ Rosellini collaboration. Thomasin McKenzie, who is being compared to Lawrence by critics, is an 18-year-old from an acting family in Wellington, New Zealand. Her real voice is very Kiwi, but there’s no evidence of that accent in the performance.
There is very good use of music in this movie, most notably Michael Hurley and Marisa Anderson singing O My Stars. And animals, at pivotal points in the story. Nothing in this seems extraneous. Every choice, including the lack of dialogue early on, seem deliberate methods of advancing the plot.
The film may lead the viewer to questions the nature of society and where the line is between the rights of the individual and the presumed common good. This is largely a gentle, non-violent, yet heartbreaking film which should be experienced, preferably in a theater rather than on a small screen.
Odd, but this is the second father-and-daughter saga I’ve seen this summer, after Hearts Go Loud, and I’m looking forward to yet another one very soon, Eighth Grade, the trailer for which I almost know by heart.
We battled with them for two years and had a ton of legal bills,
Len Barry was born Leonard Borisoff in Philadelphia on 12 June 1942. He was the lead singer of a group called the Dovells in the early 1960s, which had a couple Top 5 hits, before he went out on his own.
1-2-3 was Barry’s biggest solo hit, co-written by John Madara and David White, who helped pen songs such as You Don’t Own Me and At the Hop. It got to #2 on the November 20, 1965 Billboard pop charts, kept out of the #1 slot by I Hear a Symphony by the Supremes.
“In 1965… we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record… [he was] saying that ‘1-2-3’ was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called ‘Ask Any Girl.’ The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang ‘Ask Any Girl’ and Lenny sang ‘1-2-3’…
“Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers’ royalties, production royalties, and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to ‘1-2-3,’ which was ‘Like A Baby.’ So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers’ and publishers’ share.
“We never heard ‘Ask Any Girl.’ The only influence for making ‘1-2-3’ was to make a ballad with a beat. And the sound of ‘1-2-3’ was definitely the sound of the era. Listen to ‘The In-Crowd’ – that’s not the Motown Sound, that’s the sound of the era – and ‘1-2-3′ definitely had a beat!”
I’ve heard both those songs for decades and still don’t hear the connection, except for those first three notes, used in Till There Was You and countless other songs.
I was a sucker for numbers songs, so I used to replace the subsequent lyrics of 1-2-3 with even MORE numbers, up to 21; it DOES work:
Oh, how elementary (4-5-6-7-8-9)
it’s gonna be (10-11-12)
C’mon, let’s fall in love, (13-14-15)
it’s easy (16)
(It’s so easy)(17-18)
Like takin’ candy (19-20)
from a baby (21)
Sometimes they could complete each other’s sentences.
The documentary Three Identical Strangers starts off with a fun re-enactment. In 1980, on Bobby Shafran’s first day at Sullivan County (NY) Community College, about 110 miles from Long Island, he’s being high-fived and hugged by people who are total strangers. This leads to the discovery that he has a twin brother, Eddy Galland.
David Kellman sees the news, recognizes himself in the pair, and soon there is a wonderful reunion 19 years later of the three boys born July 12, 1961. This is a story so unlikely that, if it were a piece of fiction, it might well have been rejected as absurd. The brothers already had many of the same affectations; they all smoked Marlboro cigarettes, wrestled in high school, and claimed similar tastes in the kind of women they were attracted to.
As they started dressing alike, their infectious personalities and toothy grins made them talk show fodder. (I’m fairly sure I saw them on NBC’s TODAY show at the time). These boys instantly loved one another. Sometimes they could complete each other’s sentences. They enjoyed their modicum of fame. They even appeared in a cameo with Madonna in the movie Suddenly Seeking Susan.
Once the initial exhilaration passed, the adoptive parents started asking questions. To say more here would be giving away too much. I will say that the movie addresses the ethics of adoptions and asks, though not fully addresses – because it can’t really be answered – the question of nature versus nurture in childhood development.
Tim Wardle is a well-regarded British documentary director. He had a tough time negotiating through the sometimes raw emotions, not only the boys and their adoptive parents, but some of the more peripheral characters.
Of course, I needed to know how frequently one will find identical siblings. “Only about one in 250 births is identical twins, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Biosocial Science. Identical triplets are even less common, occurring about 20 to 30 times per 1 million birth.”
The movie Three Identical Strangers would be well worth your while.