I was always fascinated as a kid by death. Not really the "dead" part but the story behind the person while they had been alive. I wondered who they were while living- I wrote one of my first papers in school on Anne Frank, because I was obsessed with her story- who she was and her untimely death. In middle school I checked out many books on Marilyn Monroe and began my research of her life and death. I made my first persuasive speech in freshman English class on the conspiracy theory that she was murdered. When my boxes of books arrived from Ohio recently (storage) I was surprised by how many books about James Dean and Marilyn Monroe there were. I am still curious whenever someone passes away and check the obits on occasion to see what interesting people have left the world.
I was delighted today to hear on the radio that someone else shares my creepy love of scouring the obits: Marilyn Johnson -the author of -Deadbeat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries.
As an avid Obituary fan, Johnson touches on bizarre coincidances like the death of Paul Winchell-the voice of Tigger a day apart from John Fiedler who was the voice of Piglet. Even more eerie is the death of Thomas Jefferson on the same day as John Adams within hours of eachother on July 4th, 1826. The fact that is was also the 50 year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence signing makes an even better story. She also talks about the scientist who isolated the vitamin A dying on the same day as the scientist who isolated the vitamin K. Hmmm.
I liked hearing about the task of an obituary writer, the pressure of capturing the everyday spirit of that person. One Obit writer said that he questions everyone who knew that person before writing one- and insists that "there aren't boring people, just boring questions." Some people have obits already written and ready to go go.
Thinking about all of this made me wonder how much time would I have til I expire...and so I googled my own death date and came up with www.deathclock.com.
This is an internet site that offers a friendly reminder that life is slipping away. Morbid but true.
From this site you can also check out the greatest trivia surrounding celebrity deaths at
Also covered is the mystery surrounding Brian Jones death...and other controversial stories
I discovered that the late actor Jon Erik Hexum (killed himself by accidently pulling the trigger on a gun with blanks) was dating the actress E.G. Daily (Valley Girl and Better Off Dead/ Pee Wees Big Adventure) at the time of his death at 27 years old! Strange facts I really don't need to know indeed.
The following images are from my highschool book boxes
The Show Pony has a few little tributes to the late River Phoenix...the R.I.P River buttons- and handpainted purse.
DEATH IS A BEAUTIFUL CAR PARKED ONLY
Death is a beautiful car parked only
to be stolen on a street lined with trees
whose branches are like the intestines
of an emerald.
You hotwire death, get in, and drive away
like a flag made from a thousand burning
You have stolen death because you’re bored.
There’s nothing good playing at the movies
in San Francisco.
You joyride around for a while listening
to the radio, and then abandon death, walk
away, and leave death for the police