I Saw Dead People


A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Paris with some time to kill and instead of purchasing Nintendo stock like I should have been doing, I decided to fritter away my time at a sidewalk cafe eating batter-fried foods.  I found finding French fritters a frustrating fiasco however, and so I elected instead to head to the local cemeteries, as I have been dying to get into them for some time and take selfish selfies with the post-mortem celebrities interned therein.

The first cemetery I went to was the more renowned Père Lachaise (pictured above), which is a French term for ‘two matching Lachaise’.  Père Lachaise is chocked full of superstar corpses, many of which are tied to French history and culture.  Thanks to my public school upbringing, I was familiar with exactly none of them as they were named neither Napoleon nor Gérard Depardieu.  There were some names I recognized however, and I put together a quick Wander Around and Stumble Upon strategy to miss almost all of them and take up as much time as possible making U-turns and backtracking.

Like most Ugly Americans, the first grave site I visited was that of American rider on the storm, Jim Morrison, famous largely for lewdness and drug use and singing a couple of songs as the front man for the ingressly named rock band The Doors.

Morrison was the voice of an entire generation of libidinous substance-abusers and perhaps most remarkably, did it all in skin-tight, stripy pants.  He was only 28 when he broke on through to the other side and as famous as he was, his grave site is relatively non-descript except for all the crap that visitors leave on it.  People are strange.

I then hiked up the hill past the remains of Elephant Celebes, Max Ernst to the Egyptian-like tomb of playboy play-write Oscar Wilde, nicknamed in death as The Flying Pharaoh.   (Okay, actually I just made that up but I’m sure it will catch on once everyone sees the photo below.)


Wilde is most famous for writing stuff like The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest and going to prison for homosexuality, a charge that today has its own sit-coms and a month of celebratory parades—not  that there’s anything wrong with that.  Like most who pass away at age 46, Wilde died too young.

Heading back down the hill, I stopped at the gravesite of actress Sarah Bernhardt (not to be confused with actress Sandra Bernhard, who is very much alive—not to be confused with actress Rebecca Gayheart, who is way more attractive—not to be confused with actress Calista Flockhart, who weighs about the same as Sarah Bernhardt does these days) on my way to the grave site of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin.


Chopin, who like most Pols had a hard time spelling his last name like it was pronounced, was a piano virtuoso who spent most of his adult life in Paris and although he is buried here, he left his heart in Poland.  Literally.  His heart is preserved in brandy (the best of internal organ preservatives—just ask Blake Shelton) and sealed up in a pillar of a church in Warsaw.  And while the most celebrated, Chopin is not the only composer decomposing at Père Lachaise.  In fact, there’s a whole Liszt of them.

After momentarily paying my silent respects to Marcel Marceau, Liberty led me past the gravesite of Eugène Delacroix to the cradle-like rest of philosopher Auguste Comte.


Comte is the chap who came up with the idea of Positivism, which states that a truth is only so if it can be scientifically verified or mathematically proven.  That is, every truth except the statement, “a truth is only so if it can be scientifically verified or mathematically proven”—a minor detail he seemed to have overlooked.   Additionally, Auguste Comte is one of the few philosophers to be the namesake of both a month and a cheese.  I therefore respectfully submit that August be national Comté cheese month.

Influential to Comte was the sociological thinker and personal guru of mine, Émile Durkheim, so I headed across town to the Monteparnasse Cemetery which is also full of a number of dead people, Durkheim among them.


Durkheim is considered to be a founder of sociology worthy at least of leaving loose change and very small rocks.  He wrote such unreadable tomes as Suicide and The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, an impressive and unopened volume I display on my own shelf so it appears as though I read such books.

Just down the row from Durkheim is existentialist author/play-write/philosopher/etc. Jean-Paul Sartre, who seems to have found an exit after all.

I wonder if he is still an atheist.


Sharing a grave with Sartre (which, I’m not gonna lie, is a little weird) is Simone de Beauvoir, a name with which most people are familiar but nobody really knows anything about—kinda like James Polk or bologna.

On my way out I walked by Samuel Beckett, who was just lying there evidently still waiting for Godot, and I got to conTIMplating…  I spent the entire afternoon walking by all these gravesites of the famous, the un-famous, and the infamous, and it struck me that all of these people—princes along with paupers, play-writes along with politicians—had the same thing in common:

They were all dead.

Death, it seems, is the great equalizer.  At both Père Lachaise and Montparnasse all people of all races and all stations in life were all lying side-by-side with precious little distinction.  Looking at the residents, I noticed they all had the same sized property, the same income, the same rights, and the same healthcare plans.  Everybody had their fair share, nobody used any energy and carbon footprints were negligible.  There was no ambition, no exploitation, no offense, no borders.  Nobody owned a gun, nobody was praying, and all the fetuses were lifeless.  In short, cemeteries are more or less a Democrat’s Fantasyland.

Hillary Dillary Dock

FBI director James Comey made an announcement last week that actually had nothing to do with the fact that his last name would be a great slang term for Donald Trump’s hairstyle.

“What is that?”
“It’s a Comey.”
“I wish I had a Comey.”

Instead he made the shocking and yet entirely expected recommendation that there be no prosecution of Hillary. You recognize the name, I’m sure. Hillary has become a single name icon not unlike Madonna or Cher, partly because nobody is sure whether to say ‘Rodham’ anymore or not. When someone mentions ‘Hillary’ you no longer think Duff or Swank. There is truly only one Hillary.

Anyway… Continue reading

Shocking News, Friends: I’m Coming Out

I suppose it’s time.  After many years of living with my secret, I am coming out with it.  I know my friends and family will be shocked, and I’m sure my parents will be disappointed but I cannot hide it any longer.  I just hope that those who truly love me will continue to accept me for who I am and not be too quick to judge, though I know that will not be the case for everyone.  So here it is:  I am Identity Fluid.

I wasn’t always sure growing up what was ‘wrong’ with me.  It wasn’t until I saw in the news the likes of Elizabeth Warren, the potential vice presidential candidate who identifies herself as Native American when she isn’t really, or the likes of Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane NAACP chapter director who identifies herself as Black when she isn’t really, that it hit me.  It doesn’t matter who I am; all that matters is how I identify myself.  President Obama has decreed that this is reason enough to let me use any bathroom I choose.  And it turns out that for me, my self-identity changes depending on my mood or circumstances.  Thus, I am Identity Fluid.  It’s a thing.

Take the example of Continue reading

Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be

Prolific congratulatory offerings are in order for the conTIMplating household!  My extraordinarily talented and formerly red-headed daughter, Thing 2, graduated from high school last week!  Thank you. Thank you very much.  That’s one reason I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been busier than Josh Earnest after Obama goes off teleprompter.  This is because as the end of the senior year approaches, everything leading up to graduation is The Last One:  The Last choir concert; The Last theater performance; The Last prom; The Last suspension; etc.  And being the good parent I am I felt I should be there for The Last One.  I can’t just sit around and blog or go out and play golf and miss The Last One like it was The Second-to-Last One.  Well, maybe a quick nine.  I can be a little late.

Unlike Thing 1’s graduation, which was highly celebratory in nature, going through the process of graduating my concluding offspring made me a bit nostalgic for the tight-rolled pants and leather ties of my own commencement.  I suppose it was due to the compatible similarities of the two events, detached only by the passage of 30 years:  both were in early June in un-air-conditioned arenas where friends and family sweat it out on bleacher seating; both of us were the youngest in our family to graduate leaving the distinct probability of parental empty nesting; and both were as a member of a quartet of inseparable friends taking part in one last official and emotional milestone together.  (If I knew what an emoji was, I would insert it here.) Continue reading

A Breakfast Fuss for the Rest of Us

The Mexican Omelet at Mo's Grill in San Francisco.  Studies show that you are 30% more likely to have heart disease from viewing this picture.

The Mexican Omelet at Mo’s Grill in San Francisco. Studies show that you are 30% more likely to have heart disease from viewing this picture.

I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater.  You could probably say I’m Break(fast)ing Bad.  I think it stems from the trauma of watching my granddad soak saltine crackers in his coffee then place them on his Corn Flakes and peaches.  The result is I don’t really care for breakfast foods.  I do like your Euro-breakfast foods with their breads and meats and cheeses and Nutellas.  But American breakfasts are ho-hum, which is one step below hi-ho.  There’s nothing exciting about pancakes and I never cared for eggs partly because they come out of a chicken’s butt.  But like most things that come out of a chicken’s butt, I guess they taste okay if you put enough cheese and hot sauce on them.   Asian breakfasts with their mystery slimes are right out.

I grew up eating sugary cereals and Pop Tarts for breakfast and heading off to school in all my ADHD glory.  I never ate breakfast in high school, though I probably would have if I were in a club with Molly Ringwald. Continue reading