Thursday, April 26, 2007

some happy thoughts

I've been sick a lot in the past few weeks. As a consequence of this, you could say germs are kind of on my mind at the moment.

Let's say you have your choice of any residence at all. Would you choose to move into a toxic waste site?
No? So then tell me what the blessed fuck are you doing when you move into an old mortuary?

We're watching 'If Walls Could Talk' this evening (a show about people who move into old properties and the interesting things they find) when along comes this segment on some dorkus maligni who did just that. Oh, this dipshit was just tickled to death with himself, too. 'I was looking for an old creepy house. Haunted was a plus,'* he cheerfully explains to the camera as it pans around the painstakingly restored Victorian interior. 'That's why I moved into this old funeral home.'

You stupid sack of shit.

I've already done a cutting edge, in-depth post on the scandals of the modern-day funeral industry, and if I knew how to do backlinks I would because it was totally cool in a far-out and happening way. Anyway take it from me, things are bad in the dearly departed trade. And if things are bad now, do you really think standards were any higher back before there was such as thing as a public health department?

Let's say the funeral parlor in question was in a city and let's say the place was actually hooked up to what passed for a municipal sewer system back then. First off, there was no treatment plant...the guck ran down from homes and communities into brick tunnels and from there straight into the nearest creek, river or bay. Period.

Here on the West Coast, the sewer pipes (and the water pipes) were made from bevelled wooden staves, or hollowed out logs, all fitted together in sequence like a kid's castle made of soda straws. These things leaked. They were made to leak; it was a materials allowance for freeze and thaw movement.
Now let's put aside the whole issue of waste for a moment. I won't even go into what lives on the walls of a constantly wet wooden sewer pipe laying in the dirt anyway, OK? Let alone what lives on in the surrounding soil, or for how long.

Notice, so far I'm being generous. I'm assuming an urban setting, and I'm assuming indoor plumbing, however rudimentary.
Back before the days of the u-bend, the drains and supply lines all stank of methane and ammonia, bugs and germs colonized them, and Frobisher used them as a convenient hiking trail to go from house to store to dump to brothel to hospital to tavern to funeral parlor to restaurant. Even then, drainpipes and plumbing were a huge health hazard, and a well-known one. When the plumbing was upgraded, it was common practice to leave the old stuff in place, along with the surrounding contaminated soil, because it was too much of a health hazard to move. And there that shit still lays. Full of Christ knows what.

Now here in the Northwest, on a geological structure that percs efficiently, that could well be nothing at all after all these years of bioactivity and all the intervening rainfall. And in the case of a farmhouse, once again; little or nothing....or possibly huge amounts of arsenic and strychnine, both regularly dumped down drains to prevent pests, both common poisons. In the case of a funeral home, add mercury, formaldehyde, arsenic, alum, sulphur...just about any weird damn thing you can think of...all used by the walloping bucketload for preserving the dead before embalming practices were standardised.

And here's the cherry on top: those wacky Victorians didn't have electricity. And come summertime, unrefrigerated dead bodies tend to get rather...squitty. Sometimes explosively so. And even in cooler seasons you had logging accidents, burns, gas gangrene, cancer... If there were leftovers, trust me- those didn't go into a high-temperature furnace. The area in which the bodies were prepared was not hosed down with live steam, or soaked with chlorine, or even burnt out with wood alcohol. They were mopped with hot water and lye soap. If that.
Say! How often do you think Katy thought to swab the ceiling?

All the fluids and by-products either went right down those same drains, or went right into the outhouse or 'cess' pit nearby. Usually WAY TOO NEARBY. In fact, 'nearby' often meant 'located directly under the foundations of the house'. To percolate into the soil. And maybe into the water supply.**

So here comes Dick Dumbass with his 'Oh it's so cool to live in an old funeral home with all the ghosts! Oh, let's all hang out down in the embalming chamber, woo, won't that be fun?

Yeah. Right up until you get cholera, shithead.

*I am not even going to go near the subject of ghosts, which are not real and do not exist. Can you imagine the swarms of outraged departed that must be oozing around in the dark in a place like that with their faces all hanging out going 'wooooo'? Yeah, I'd sleep there. And wake up with 'die human die' written in fresh blood running down my bedroom wall; no, I don't think so. Good thing ghosts don't exist.

**One of the grossest things I've ever seen is the 'Woodlawn' cemetery in Belfern. It is a pioneer cemetery, full of sodden wood coffins and people pickled in arsenic and mercury, or leaking out through lead lined caskets long since invaded by tree roots. It sits on a small rise next to an old stage stop...and between the two locations runs a creek.
To this day, all the nearby area residents still take their water from the rural water association well.


  1. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CORRECT ME (KINDLY) MY DARLINGS. I don't mind being wrong, and this in particular is something I really would not mind at all being wrong about!!!!!!!!

  2. I wish you were, I really wish you were.

  3. I'm all for cremation.

  4. I notice that funeral parlours/crematoriums keep cropping up in your posts FN. Went to a country show the other week and they had wicker coffins (caskets) - quite expensive, but they just looked like big old picnic hampers. Very eco tho'

  5. Buried my dad in a cardboard coffin and planted a tree over him in some reclaimed woodland. Embalming is just creepy. This gives me the creeps fifty-seven diff'rent ways.

  6. I was Embalmed once, I wouldn't do that again.
    Ghosts may not exist but spirits of the dead surround us, just because you can't hear them telling you to fuck off doesn't mean they aren't saying it.
    Can ya still catch VD if you shag a dead gurl who has it?

    Just asking, for a friend.

  7. I tend to avoid dead people. I never know what to say to them. The awkward silences make me so uncomfortable.

  8. the worms crawl in,
    the worms crawl out,
    the woms get cancer
    and the gout.

  9. Is this the back link you were looking for?

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: most funerary practices are gross, nonsensical and unhealthy for the planet. Please dehydrate, cremate or at least green-bury me when I'm gone.

    But Green-Wood is pretty, isn't it?

  10. I once had sex in a mortuary. I would like to do so again.

  11. JJ your on , i am lubricating as we speak :-)

    FN I really wish I hadnt read this , I am just about to go to a BBQ.....I may have to claim sudden vegetarianism.
    Frobi I want one of those wicker coffins as a coffee table

  12. ziggi: well THAT doesn't help!

    dinahmow: me three.

    frobi: once again you have inspired a post. you are my muse and my inspiration. i lick the diseases from your tiny ratly footprints./i've seen those here too, at swap meets. at upwards of a grand a crack!?!

    mangonel: GOOD FOR YOU!!! back to the earth is how it's supposed to be.

    knudie: top tip! that cannula incision can have more than one 'life'!
    what? i read it in VIZ.

    tick: but you always know who to blame the farts on.

    cb: *snif* that's beautiful, man.

    danator: yes! and yes. that flowered avenue was so wonderful! theres something very poignant about marble statues worn by the rain, too.

    JJ: welcome back! i remember many happy hours spent in cemetaries disporting myself thusly, but you have me beat there.

    beast: were you squeaky?
    dude, you need to quit reading my blog before meals.