Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dead Certainties

It's been a rainy few days. That's been welcome in New Orleans. We haven't been getting as much recently. Grey, cloudy days are cemetery days -- a good time to call on the dead. We live close to the dead in New Orleans. My home's in spitting distance of Pretty Baby photographer E.J. Bellocq in St. Louis #3. In the summer it's possible to catch a whiff of the sweet-sick smell of corruption from I-10 as you fly past St. Louis #2. These cemeteries are famous, and every tourist knows them. The one they should visit, but don't, is Metairie Cemetery located near the end of the Red Street Car line - look for the ones that say "Cemeteries" across the car's brow. Set on the site of an 1838 race track this was, and still is, the place to spend your eternal repose. Anne Rice buried her husband Stan here. (New Orleanians still gossip about him.) And Ruth U. Fertel, founder of Ruth's Chris Steak House, pays for an annual birthday party at the site of her tomb. (I don't know if they're allowed to grill out.) The cemetery holds Louis Prima, Al Hirt and even Confederate President Jeff Davis stayed here briefly before being moved on. The tombs are imposing and done in all sorts of architectural styles from Gothic Revival to Egyptian to Art Deco. Stewart Enterprises, which owns Metairie, does a good job grooming the park-like grounds. It makes for a nice day out. If you want to know more my friend Helen Anders of the Austin American-Statesman has a good overview.

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