Sixth Edition - The Big Four
Dear Spooky People:
Can you believe this is Newsletter Number 6??! Time flies when you’re not leaving the house and living in a heightened state of fear and loathing!
I am GLAD TO HAVE YOUR COMPANY through the endless pandemic. I hope you are enjoying these emails! If you have feedback, I’d love to hear it. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, so I’m always open to suggestions on content, layout, or anything else.
What I could also use is some moral support for raising teenagers. My son is 13 and it’s not good. It’s not great. Quarantine is . . . not helping. It feels more and more every day like we’re in the Thunderdome and only one of us is going to make it out alive. One day I’ll write an essay about how I think poltergeists are actually the physical embodiment of the PAIN THE PARENTS ARE LIVING THROUGH, not the tumult of adolescence. Sometimes I long for the Middle Ages, or the Puritan Colonies, when I could blame this shit on THE DEVIL. Can you imagine me dragging Nolan in front of Cotton Mather and explaining that shit talking your Mom on Discord is a sign of witch possession? I would be executed for the heresy of being a woman speaking in open court BUT ALSO I think I might win.
Anyway despite the Civil War in My House I managed to finish the latest post in my Cemetery Series - The Big Four. This is a long one! It covers four cemeteries and almost a century. It took a long time, lol. My favorite part of this research was reading about all the wildcat shit that people got up to in these graveyards. Tomb robbing, stealing skeletons, having sex, making liquor?! YES! There’s only one post left in this series, but I think I’m going to take a break and switch over to ghosts for a minute. The chaos is part of the fun!
Stay healthy, stay sane!
Ye Olde Cemeteries of SF, Part III: The Big Four
Or, what happened to the Masonic, Calvary, Odd Fellows and Laurel Hill cemeteries.
San Francisco’s largest cemeteries were clustered together on the Western side of the city, in an area called Lone Mountain. This complex was established in 1850, when the city sold a large parcel of land to private developers for the purpose of operating cemeteries. Four cemeteries were created on this parcel of land. They would eventually be known as The Big Four.
The Dark and the Wicked
HOOOOO BOY this movie is FUCKED UP. It is SCARY. Full of dread, muffled chaos, bizarre violence. This is one of those hipster horror movies: it’s beautifully shot, atmospheric, kind of hard to grasp. Thoroughly current. I still don’t know what the hell happened in this movie but I loved every minute of it. Watch it!!
The Dark and the Wicked Review: ‘The Stranger’ Director Delivers Another Nihilistic Nightmare »
Thank you to list-member and fellow Tahoe devotee Carol J for this one, a dramatic story about Keith Cormican, a hero who helps find the bodies of people who drown in deep lakes. The very deep, very cold waters of Lake Tahoe can suspend decomposition - and they also make it hard to find people who die there. Mr. Cormican is a specialist who often does this work pro bono for grieving families. There is a popular urban legend that Lake Tahoe is full of the dead bodies of mob victims. South Shore had a mafia problem (you all watched Godfather II, right?). That was the first thing I thought of when I saw this article. It’s haunting to see the urban legend materialize into the reality of the deaths - actually just regular people who accidentally drowned, whose families are desperate for peace of mind. Definitely worth a read, and if you’re moved, you can donate to Cormican’s non-profit, Bruce’s Legacy, to help fund searches.
San Francisco Chronicle Special Report: Raising the Dead »
MORE TAHOE! IRONIC SINCE I CAN’T GO! The Donner Party is my favorite winter subject, hands down. This article is a very fun trip into the metabolic processes of starvation and cannibalism, and I clocked at least three news books I want to read in here. One day I’ll tell you kids the story of the Child Cannibal Hole at Sugar Bowl. [Illustration: Elena Lacey]
The Case for Cannibalism, or How to Survive the Donner Party »
A gorgeous and timely illustration of the Irish keening - crying or wailing for the dead - and its relevance today in the mass death event of COVID.
Irish Keens, Modern Grief, and the Digital Landscape of Mourning »