Reinvention Phase – Things To Come


It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for the blog. So I wanted to keep you all in the loop on a few things. First things first. I’m still in the process of writing the final installment to last October’s third L.A. gravecation. In the last article which I have yet to finish. I chronicle my trek to Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Glendale. The article will be a doozy so it’s taking me awhile to write.

The next thing I wanted to bring to light. Is that around the first week in March. I’m going to take the plunge, and transfer this site to a self hosted domain, and then utilize the wordpress.org software. Instead of using the wordpress.com site to host, and keep up this blog. With that being said I’m also going to change the web address of the blog to thegravecastblog.com. This is due in part because I’m trying to rebrand the blog so its more recognizable.

One thing I wanted to mention on the rebranding of The Gravecast Blog. Is that when I get things up and running on the self hosted side of things. I’ll be including ads on the blog. I’ve been approached by several people who cater in various forms to the death care industry, when people pass away. They asked me if I’d be interested in putting an ad on the blog for their business. I thought it over and decided I could earn some sort of revenue for the blog. The revenue from ads on the blog. Could go towards the funding of future gravecations around the country, upgraded field equipment, and the general upkeep of this blog.    

The last thing I wanted to bring up. Is that I’m bringing The Gravecast Podcast back from the dead. Complete with a new musical intro,  on top of more fascinating topics, and interviewed guests.

It’s all good stuff I’ve got planned. So please stay tuned for the new and exciting things.

The 2013 L.A. Gravecation – Introduction to 8 Insane Days in Hollywood


losangelesskylinevintage2

For those of you reading this. The time has come once again where yours truly The Motor City Morbid One, will make a cross-country journey to Los Angeles. This article will serve as an intro to the cemeteries, I plan to checkout, and other morbidly fun activities.

Below is a tentative itinerary I’ve planned out. Now keep in mind I’ll be landing at LAX on Tuesday October 1st around 1pm. After landing, getting my car rental, and checking-in at the hotel. The first thing I plan to do is find a cigar shop near the hotel I’ll be staying at. If I have any time after that, I might checkout San Fernando Mission Cemetery, or nearby Eden Memorial Park.

On Wednesday October 2nd I plan to visit Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, and maybe Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills. Being that the four above cemeteries are a short distance from the Mission Hills, CA hotel I’ll be staying at. I figure I’ll get them knocked outta the way first before the weekend activities start. The Dearly Departed Weekend is pretty much why I came back to Los Angeles. October 3rd through the 6th I’ll be doing stuff related to the 2nd Annual Dearly Departed Death Hag Weekend.  October 7th & 8th are currently up in the air.

Below is a list of cemeteries I plan to visit. I seriously doubt I’ll get to all of them. But all the cemeteries nearest to the top are key cemeteries I want to visit.

Eden Memorial Park
11500 Sepulveda Blvd
Mission Hills, CA 91345

San Fernando Mission Cemetery
11160 Stranwood Ave,
Mission Hills, CA 91345

Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills
6300 Forest Lawn Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Mt. Sinai Memorial Park
5950 Forest Lawn Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Glendale
1712 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205

Inglewood Park Cemetery
720 East Florence Ave.
Inglewood, CA 90301

Angelus-Rosedale cemetery
1831 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

So that pretty much covers it. Stay tuned for updates every few days, where I’ll be giving a rundown of gravesites I’ve found, and things I did in Los Angeles.

Grave Hunting Books – SoCal Style


hollywoodsign04

One of the things I absolutely love about Grave Hunting, and being a taphophile. Is the assortment of books available for people who are into this sort of thing. Most of the books you’d find related to cemeteries and grave hunting are geared towards a geographic region. Being that I’m heading to Los Angeles again for the third time in October. I thought I’d write an article related to some of my personal favorite grave hunting books related to California grave hunting. In this article I’m going to discuss in my opinion, five of the best books in print, related to grave hunting in California. The books I’ve included below are listed in no particular order of importance. All of the books I’ve mentioned have something unique to bring to grave hunting, and are definitely worth obtaining for those interested in getting into the hobby, or adding to your collection of grave hunting/cemetery books. So let’s get started.

hollywoodremains1. Hollywood Remains To Be Seen – Mark Masek.

The first book that gets the utmost honorable mention in the Grave Hunting Books – SoCal Style article, is “Hollywood Remains To Be Seen: A Guide to The Movie Stars Final Homes.” This book is considered by many to be the “Bible” when it comes to books on southern California cemeteries. According to the Amazon.com production description “Hollywood Remains to Be Seen is a fascinating, gossipy guide to the fourteen most significant Hollywood-era cemeteries and the final resting places of the movie stars who are buried in them. Arranged as an easy-to-follow tours of the properties, the fourteen chapters-one for each cemetery-include histories of the cemeteries, directions for finding them, and a detailed listing of exactly where more than three hundred stars, and a detailed listing of exactly where more than three hundred stars are buried.” So it’s seriously no wonder that this book is at its rightful place at the top of this list. If your just getting started in the fun-filled insanity known as grave hunting. This book should really be near the top of your list of books to buy. I HIGHLY recommend it.

gravesidecompanion2. LA’s Graveside Companion – Steve Goldstein

The next book on the must have books related to L.A. grave hunting list is “L.A.’s Graveside Companion: Where The VIP’s RIP” by Steve Goldstein. Steve Goldstein is an ongoing contributor to The Gravecast Blog, not only that he’s the co-host of The Gravecast Podcast which you can find past episodes of right on this blog. According to the Schiffer Publishing website “L.A. ‘s Graveside Companion is an informative guide to a dozen Los Angeles cemeteries that locates the 400 most interesting gravesites in Southern California. Over 270 black & white photos, informative text, and driving directions guide readers to the graves of L.A.’s most famous and influential citizens.” So this book should be another book near the top of your list of books to get.

celebritieslacemeteries3. Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory – Allan Ellenberger

Moving along, any visit to L.A. for the sole purpose of visiting the graves of your favorite celebrities. Would not be complete without the inclusion of Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory” by Allan Ellenberger. According to the Amazon.com product description “Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries in accord with the fascination that surrounds Hollywood celebrities and the increasing popularity of celebrity grave-hunting, this book serves as a guide to the final resting places of the many celebrities who are buried in Los Angeles County, California. It is arranged by cemetery, and provides the following information for each person: age at time of death; date and place of birth; date and place of death; cause of death; obituary headline of the deceased; inscription on grave marker; location of grave; and a film that the celebrity appeared in. Includes appendices, web site information, bibliography, and index.” So it’s seriously no wonder this book plunked itself down in the third spot of this list. This book might be small, but as you can see it packs a lot of punch.

finalrestingplaces4. Final Resting Places: Orange County’s Dead & Famous – Michael Thomas Barry

If your going to be visiting southern California anytime in the foreseeable future, and you’re looking for a different approach to the cemeteries, and memorial parks in the Los Angeles region. Look no further than “Final Resting Places: Orange County’s Dead & Famous” by Michael Thomas Barry. According to the Amazon.com product description you will “Tour the graveyards of Orange County, California. Photos help identify burial locations of luminaries such as President Richard Nixon, murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, famed aviator Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, Olympic hero Florence Griffith-Joyner, and John Wayne. Also featured are numerous founders of Orange County, victims of true crime, sports stars, politicians, and legends of entertainment. Read their informative stories, and follow step-by-step directions to their graves.” To be honest I was unsure of where to place this book on the list. With so many great books for you to choose from I settled for the forth position on the list. This book truly packs a ton of info. I’ve used it during the last two trips I’ve made to SoCal while visiting the various Orange County, California cemeteries.

foreverla5. Forever L.A.: A Field Guide To Los Angeles Area Cemeteries & Their Residents – Douglas Keister

The next book that should be included in your SoCal, Grave Hunting book collection is “Forever L.A.: A Field Guide To Los Angeles Area Cemeteries & Their Residents” by Douglas Keister. This little pocket size book packs a ton of punch for a small book. According to the Amazon.com Production Description Forever L.A. includes stunning photographs, fascinating text, and easy GPS directions for finding gracious architecture, fabulous artwork, and memorable gravesites of famous Los Angeles “residents.” This book might be small compared to the others. The beautiful photos alone should definitely be the reason you add this book to your collection.

 

 

starsHF6. The Stars of Hollywood Forever – Tony L. Scott

The second from last book to make The Gravecast Blog’s list of SoCal grave hunting books is “The Stars of Hollywood Forever” by Tony L. Scott. According to the product description on the official Stars of Hollywood Forever book website The book lists over 1500 notables who are enjoying their final rest at this infamous Hollywood cemetery.  Founders and early pioneers of Los Angeles, film actors, actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, composers, writers, editors along with a few gangsters, a murderer, some scandals, unsolved deaths, mysteries and some every day people.” This book is similar to “Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory” when it comes to an encyclopedic format. However it’s chock full of well researched biographical information. The detailed biographical info is one of the reasons I wanted to include this book on the list. It’s definitely well worth the price in gold. 

 

laidtorestinca7.  Laid To Rest In California: A Guide to The Cemeteries and Grave Sites of The Rich and Famous – Patricia Brooks

The last book that makes the cut on The Gravecast Blog’s list of SoCal grave hunting books is “Laid To Rest In California: A Guide to The Cemeteries and Grave Sites of The Rich and Famous” by Patricia Brooks. According to the Amazon.com product description Laid To Rest In California is a scintillating who’s who and who’s where of California’s dearly departed. You’ll find movie stars, sports greats, musical geniuses, eccentric personalities — more than a thousand of the state’s rich, famous, and interesting. This book not only covers SoCal cemeteries, and the residents buried in them. But also covers NorCal cemeteries as well. On a more personal note. This book was actually one of the first I bought midway through my grave hunting adventures. Laid To Rest In California has plenty of beautiful black & white photos, and concise biographical overviews of select celebrities, and other California notables. This is another book I highly recommend.

So there you have it. The Gravecast Blog’s Grave Hunting Books – SoCal Style list. If you have any questions about any of the books featured on this list. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and I’ll promptly reply. All of these books are definitely worth buying for your grave hunting/celebrity death, or cemetery library.

The Gravecast Podcast Ep13: Interview With Hollywood Forever Tour Guide Karie Bible


In episode 13 of The Gravecast Podcast. Myself and co-host Steve Goldstein sat down with Hollywood Forever Cemetery tour guide Karie Bible. In this episode Karie discusses the tours she offers at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Los Angeles. We also have a lively discussion about general grave hunting topics. This was a highly informative, and fun interview which I’m sure you’re going to enjoy. I’d also like to mention my good friend, cigar buddy, and musician Stephen Gresso created the music intro for this episode. If you’re interested in listening to more of Stephen’s audio tracks I invite you to visit:  http://www.tunecore.com/music/christ_fallen

Gravecast Recap July 3rd 2013 – White Chapel Memorial Park


Earlier in the week on July 3rd, in a spur of the moment decision. I decided to cruise over to White Chapel Memorial Park, in Troy, Michigan. White Chapel Memorial Park is on W. Long Lake Road, adjacent to interstate I-75. Before my visit I compiled a  list of three regionally known notable personalities who call this beautiful memorial park their final home. Before you get started digesting the info in this article. It should be known, that according to the website Find A Grave, there are fifteen notable personalities buried within the tranquil confines of this beautiful suburban Detroit cemetery.

The History:

Founded in the 1920s, by a group of businessmen led by Clarance J. Sanger. White Chapel Memorial Park, is nestled on 200 acres of prime heavenly real estate. As you casually cruise along the intertwining, tree-lined roads, while taking in the scenic views of this majestic memorial park. Pay particular attention to the overabundance of flower and shrub varietals. It is noted that White Chapel’s founder Mr. Sanger “envisioned a lovely park-like setting with lush greenery; a veritable symphony of floral splendor; rolling, landscaped lawns and majestic trees – an environment alive with the beauty of nature, reflecting the recurring miracle of the seasons, and serving to renew mankind’s faith in eternity.”

As you stroll, or take a leisurely cruise along the grounds of White Chapel. It should be noted that the cemetery has many offerings in the form of various examples of statuary exhibited throughout the 200-acre landscape. Also included are three chapels, a columbarium, multiple serene cremation gardens, and an exquisite fountain.

The Mausoleum
The Mausoleum

The key highlight of White Chapel is the stately Temple of Memories Mausoleum building. The Temple of Memories Mausoleum is designed in the classical architectural style. The mausoleum is a glorified oasis of imported snow-white marble, and bronze. As you take a leisurely stroll along the corridors of this truly majestic marble palace. You will be mesmerized by the gallery of priceless imported sculptures, hand stained glass windows, intricate mosaics, & paintings, pediments and hand carved relief panels.

One of the things I’d like to point out about White Chapel Memorial Park. Is that according to some the cemetery was the first cemetery located outside California, which was designed in the style of a memorial park. It’s kinda ironic to hear the notion. Because I’ve recently commented that White Chapel, reminds me a lot of the Forest Lawn conglomeration of memorial parks, in southern California. After your first visit I’m sure you will agree with me.

The Tour:

Upon my arrival at White Chapel. I reviewed the cemetery Map, I had with me. I then cruised over to the Garden of Prayer cremation garden . In Section: C, Grave: #275 of the Garden of Prayer, I found for the second time the cremation niche of professional race car driver Mauri Rose. Rose was a Three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1941, 1947 and 1948. He was portrayed as an Indianapolis 500 rival to actor Clark Gables character in the film To Please A Lady (1950). On New Years Day, 1981 Rose passed away from unknown causes.[1]

After photographing the graveside cremains niche of Mauri Rose. I then b-lined it for Temple of Memories Mausoleum. Interred inside the mausoleum on the left side wall of the corridor to the right is noted Detroit based architect Albert Kahn. Kahn is best remembered as the architect behind a number of buildings in Detroit, and south-east Michigan. Many of these buildings are considered architectural gems.[2]

Rounding out the trek at White Chapel. The last gravesite I planned to visit, and photograph was the graveside of “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian. Located in Section H, Grave: #6178, is where you will find Dr. Death resting among the graves of others. To make a long story short, along with being a medical pathologist Kevorkian was an Assisted Suicide Advocate. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Medicine.[3]  Kevorkian was given the sobriquet “Dr. Death,” by the local, and national media. He was convicted and sentenced to prison in 1999 for the assisted suicide death of Thomas Youk in September 1998.[4]

In June 2007, due to declining health while incarcerated, he was granted early clemency and released from prison. Kevorkian was the focus of the 2010 HBO documentary “Kevorkian” and the 2010 motion picture “You Don’t Know Jack” starring Al Pacino. In 2011 while hospitalized for a blood clot in his leg. The blood clot would eventually break free and travel to his heart,  pretty much ending his life. At the time of his death Kevorkian was also suffering from pneumonia and advanced kidney disease.[5]

So that pretty much concludes the trek at White Chapel Memorial Park. Included below the “references/footnotes” are some scenery, and gravesite photographs I took while at White Chapel.

References/Footnotes:
1. “Mauri Rose (1906-1981).” Find A Grave. 25 Jan. 2001. Web. 5 July 2013.
2. “Albert Kahn (1869-1942)” Find A Grave. 1 Jan. 2001. Web. 5 July 2013.
3.“Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011).” Find A Grave. 3 June 2011. Web. 5 July 2013.
4.“Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011).” Find A Grave. 3 June 2011. Web. 5 July 2013.
5.“Jack Kevorkian (1928-2011).” Find A Grave. 3 June 2011. Web. 5 July 2013.

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Gravecast Recap June 7th 2013 – Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery


On Friday June 7th, I decided to visit Detroit’s Elmwood Cemetery, on the outskirts of the downtown area. Most of the photographs I took that day were scenery photos, and of random gravesites. Upon my arrival, I strolled into the office to ask about the grave locations, of four people who I planned to track down. While I was in the cemetery office,  obtaining the locations I wanted. I also bought a new copy of the book “Elmwood Endures: History of a Detroit Cemetery” by Michael S. Franck. Out of all the cemetery/grave hunting books I own “Elmwood Endures” is by far one of my favorites. Back when I started grave hunting. This book was one of the first I bought. The old copy I have of “Elmwood Endures,” has acquired a lot of ware and tear over the years. Not to mention a lot of marker highlights from past hunts in the cemetery. So I wanted to get a new copy of the same book.

Moving along, out of the four people I inquired about in the cemetery office, two of them I found. My list consisted of Motown era musician Freddie Gorman, journalist & author Royce Buckman Howes, Jazz musician Melvin Wanzo, and MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith. The two people I didn’t find, but tried none the less. Were Royce Howes, and Melvin Wanzo.

After getting the Elmwood Cemetery trek underway. I made my way towards section: C, where Freddie Gorman rests peacefully. Gorman was a member of the Motown era group The Originals. He was also a vital element to the development of Motown Records early hits. Which included The Marvelettes hit single “Please Mr. Postman.” On June 13th 2006 Freddie Gorman, passed away from complications of lung cancer.

After photographing the graveside of Freddie Gorman, I then cruised over to section: V where Fred “Sonic” Smith rests. Born in West Virginia. Smith was the guitarist for the influential Detroit based punk rock band of the 1970s, MC5. In 1994 Smith passed away from complications of heart failure.

When I was done paying my respects, & photographing the grave of Fred “Sonic” Smith. I was pretty much free to do as I pleased, and photograph graves, at my leisure. As I was casually cruising around the cemetery grounds, I came upon the black granite monument of Reverend Charleszetta Waddles. Better known to local Detroiters, and others in the region as “Mother Waddles.” Waddles was a charitable contributor who helped the homeless, and less fortunate in Detroit. At the age of 88, on July 12th 2001 Waddles passed away from unknown causes.

Moving along, another graveside I photographed was the tall obelisk monument memorializing Detroit politician Zachariah Chandler. Chandler served as Mayor of Detroit from 1851 to 1852. He was also a four-term U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan (1857–75, 1879), and Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant (1875–77). On October 31st, 1879 while in Chicago, on political business, Chandler was found dead in his hotel room. He passed away from unknown causes.

The last graveside I photographed during the trek at Elmwood. Was the graveside of Henry Porter Baldwin. Baldwin was a descendant of pilgrim Nathaniel Baldwin. Baldwin was the 15th Governor of Michigan and U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan. Growing up in Rhode Island, Baldwin would eventually move to Detroit, where he had various business interests, and would eventually pursue a career in politics. On December 31st, 1892 Baldwin passed away from unknown causes.

As I close out this article. I’d like to point out one of the things I really find interesting about Elmwood Cemetery. Is that during the 1760s, when Pontiac’s Rebellion was raging on. A brutal massacre known as The Battle of Bloody Run, took place along the creek which runs through the tranquil cemetery grounds. If you’re interested you should visit the links I’ve included above, to get a general overview of the battle, and Pontiac’s Rebellion.

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Gravecast Recap May 30th 2013 – Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Clover Hill Park Cemetery


So on Thursday, being that it was in the 80s temperature wise. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather, and checkout some cemeteries. Over the winter, and the past few years, I’ve been keeping an eye on local Detroit “celebrities” who’ve passed away. One of which was “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian, who passed away in 2011, and is buried in White Chapel Cemetery, in Troy, a Detroit suburb.

Dr. Kevorkian was my original goal for Thursday. However the plan soon changed, when upon further review on the website Find A Grave. When I checked out the bookmark I had saved for the memorial honoring highly acclaimed American journalist, columnist, author, and co-author, Jeffrey Zaslow. I noticed that Zaslow, who’s buried in Clover Hill Park Cemetery, in Birmingham, another Detroit suburb, had a marker at his graveside. Zaslow passed away in 2012 due to complications from an automobile accident he was involved in on a snowy northern Michigan road.  Another grave I planned to look into was the grave of Charles Leiter who’s rumored to also be buried at Clover Hill Park Cemetery. Leiter was an early mentor of the 1920s era Purple Gang who operated in the Detroit, and south-east, Michigan region. Another cemetery I planned to visit along with Clover Hill. Was Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, in Southfield, Michigan.

Upon my arrival at Clover Hill Park Cemetery. I cruised over to section 10B, which is where author, and columnist Jeffery Zaslow, rests. I was unable to find his gravesite, so I then cruised over to section 7, where Charles Leiter is rumored to be buried. After searching section: 7, for about twenty or so minutes, I came up empty-handed trying to find his grave. I then hopped back into my car, and cruised over to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield.

Upon my arrival at Holy Sepulchre, I strolled into the office to inquire about three particular names of whose graves I was looking for. After obtaining the precise locations of “reputed” Detroit organized crime figures: Pietro “Peter” Corrado who died in January 1957, his son Dominic Peter “Fats” Corrado who died on June 26th 1985, & Michael Santo Polizzi who died on December 6th 1997. I then cruised over to the majestic mausoleum where these three hoodlums were at eternal rest. After photographing the graves (which you can see below) of the three Detroit mafioso’s. I then made my departure for home.

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