> The Busine$$ of Death
November 1, 2007 2:27 PM   Subscribe

> The Business of Death (a short animation, somewhat reminicent of Edward Gorey, by Alejandro Cardenas). > The Business of Death (Time magazine, Sept. 28, 1936) > The Business of Death (This American Life, Apr. 18, 1997) > The Business of Death (Inc. magazine, Oct. 16, 2006)
posted by spock (29 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not sure precisely how to credit the animation. Alejandro Cardenas is apparently the director of the piece, but Daniel Cardenas (I believe this same Daniel Cardenas: Presidente of Sierra-Media) was the animator.
posted by spock at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2007


The Business of Death (Megadeth, 1985)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:48 PM on November 1, 2007


Creative and multidecatudinal post!

Jessica Mitford's book on the Business of Death (The American Way of Death, this short link being on her '99 death) opened my eyes in H.S. in the Sixties.
posted by kozad at 2:49 PM on November 1, 2007


even more certain than taxes
posted by caddis at 2:53 PM on November 1, 2007


JUST BECAUSE WE'RE BEREAVED DOESN'T MAKE US SAPS!
-Walter
posted by baphomet at 3:06 PM on November 1, 2007


For the record, my funeral will involve me being interred in a Viking longboat, cast to sea, and set aflame with a barrage of flaming arrows. I am to be interred with my sword and shield in hand, with the sundered weapons of my slain foes at my feet. My slaves will weep.
posted by baphomet at 3:10 PM on November 1, 2007


Say goobye to me, burn me up, stick me in an urn, and move on with your lives.

Perhaps I should help out, and buy the urn in advance.

Perhaps from Ikea; the √úrn.
posted by davejay at 3:13 PM on November 1, 2007


The one big rip-off in the funeral business is the fancy casket, and even that is not that bad. Boy, when you are grieving, your best friend in the whole world is the funeral director, and they earn every penny (well, except for that pricey casket, but that won't change until you can buy one at Walmart). I was at a funeral the other day where the deceased's family (children and ex-wife) and the girl friend were at odds. The deceased was hugely popular at work and perhaps almost a hundred or maybe even more of his work colleagues showed up to pay their last respects. However, since the girl friend worked at the same place the family was threatening to keep all the work colleagues out, basically to spite the girl friend. Shallow, petty, I know, but frankly this stuff happens. The funeral director just freaked and it was not pretty. I told my wife that if something were to happen to me, please do not have the funeral there.

I am sure coldchef will stop by this thread. I think everyone should listen to the podcast where coldchef was a guest. The so called death industry sure beats psychiatry sessions. Death is hard to take and the whole industry is based upon making it as easy as possible get through the first few days. Funerals are for the living, not the deceased.

When I go I don't want to be buried in an apple orchard, be cremated, or buried in a simple wooden coffin, no I want to be mummified, and buried in a stone pyramid taller than the empire state building. ;)
posted by caddis at 3:17 PM on November 1, 2007


Death, that's where baphomet is a Viking!
posted by Floydd at 3:25 PM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Eternal sleep. That's when baphomet's a Viking.
posted by cairnish at 3:25 PM on November 1, 2007


*jinx*
posted by cairnish at 3:26 PM on November 1, 2007


FRONTLINE'S The Undertaking. The full program's available to watch online. Not so much the Bu$iness of funerals, but "the business" of funerals. Eloquent and moving. Worth a watch.
posted by ColdChef at 3:38 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


A local man wrote this book. We all call it "Die For A Dollar". Because of his wisdom many of our community now rest our own backyards.
posted by haikuku at 4:09 PM on November 1, 2007


Boy, this industry is going to take a hit when people stop dying.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2007


Everyone should just be made into halloween gags, stage props and anatomy skeletons. You could use the immediate bodies to feed carnivourous zoo animals. It's a good cause.
posted by Sprocket at 4:42 PM on November 1, 2007


You don't need an urn. My dad died in another state and it was left to me to manage what to do. I had him cremated and shipped. They ship the ashes in a plastic box that is shaped like a cigar box. It's a little heavier. The cemetery buried the cigar box. There was no funeral that I know of. It wasn't too expensive. Which is good, because when he died all he left me was alone.

The weirdest custom I ever heard was when a woman died along with a stillbirth in cajun land early in the 20th century they laid her corpse out in the living room for the wake and whatnot, and they laid the baby's corpse between her legs. They buried them in the same grave, also with the baby between the woman's legs. The person who told me this did not mention fancy caskets.

A lot of cultures just wrap 'em in a shroud; no casket whatsoever.
posted by bukvich at 5:24 PM on November 1, 2007


The English side of my family are buried in an old, beautiful, dignified cemetery full of huge mausoleums and perpetually-tended tulip gardens.

The Irish side prefer a much newer cemetery. When my dad died in 2000, I visited the Irish side's cemetery for the first time, and I was shocked at how different it was. Some of the marble tombstones bore graphics that looked more like tattoos than anything you'd find in an 1800's era churchyard: the logo of a favorite sports team, Warner Brothers cartoon characters, poker cards, etched portraits of the deceased's kids.

The inevitability of death doesn't change, but the people who die, and the people who are left behind do. I was surprised to see just how much those who are in the business of death could adapt with them.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 5:28 PM on November 1, 2007


Loved the animation.

I took a religious studies course in university called "Death and the Afterlife in Western Religious Traditions." We had an undertaker as a guest lecturer and it was truly eye-opening. We learned a lot in the course about how our attitudes toward and practices around death have changed in the last century or so. I'm sad to say this was the first time I realized that the way death is treated now in North America is not the way it's always been.

I'll heartily second caddis' comment recommending the Metafilter podcast with ColdChef as guest. It was a fantastic interview. I'm also a big Six Feet Under fan, and I think watching a show about death, reading about it, and talking about it has helped me deal with some of my discomfort around the subject.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:16 PM on November 1, 2007


FRONTLINE'S The Undertaking. The full program's available to watch online.

What a valuable service FRONTLINE provides, streaming their shows like that and providing additional information about the topic on their website.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:16 PM on November 1, 2007


but that won't change until you can buy one at Walmart

Would you settle for Costco or Overstock.com?
posted by unmake at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2007


Here is the podcast. If coldchef ever comes north, he is welcome at my abode. Quite the interesting fellow, and the business is pretty interesting if not a bit macabre.
posted by caddis at 6:36 PM on November 1, 2007


i totally hang out with all these guys (Alex, Jorge..) really cool to see their work on here - nice surprise.
posted by dminor at 6:58 PM on November 1, 2007


My father died this past Saturday. He was diagnosed about four months ago with inoperable cancer. As per his wishes we did the whole cremation thing on the cheap. No funeral, no viewing, no service. I swung by the local cremation society two weeks ago to set everything up. The sales lady or "preneed counselor" had a hardcore grief inspired pitch the likes of which I have never seen or heard. I explained to her my fathers desire to spend as little as possible. I also explained to her that I did not want to waste her time as we had already made up our minds. Unfortunately she was on a mission, perhaps there was a big spiff on or something, but man she would not let up. After about forty minutes or so I just couldn't take it anymore and bust out laughing when she explained that the average pkg was $9000.00! I guess my laugh did her in and evidently was upsetting to some of the other "clients" in the waiting room as she finally gave up. I got out of there after spending about $1200.00 which included membership in the society, (just plain spooky) body pickup, cremation, a cardboard cremation casket, an aluminum urn and six death certificates. The "at need" price for the same stuff was $2400.00 which seems like WAY to much. But I was happy that I saved the difference.
posted by HappyHippo at 7:26 PM on November 1, 2007


The weirdest custom I ever heard was when a woman died along with a stillbirth in cajun land early in the 20th century they laid her corpse out in the living room for the wake and whatnot, and they laid the baby's corpse between her legs. They buried them in the same grave, also with the baby between the woman's legs.

Recently, I buried a woman and her two year old child who had died in an automobile accident. The mother was also five months pregnant. We laid them together in the casket, side by side. It was the most heartbreaking thing I've ever seen. Burying old people is easy. Burying children kills your soul.
posted by ColdChef at 9:02 PM on November 1, 2007


FRONTLINE'S The Undertaking. The full program's available to watch online.

What a valuable service FRONTLINE provides, streaming their shows like that and providing additional information about the topic on their website.


The Mayor's sneaky self-plug notwithstanding, ( ;-p ) this particular Frontline was exactly as ColdChef describes and I expect to spend some time this evening digging through the ancillary material online. Good stuff.
posted by briank at 6:43 AM on November 2, 2007


digging through the ancillary material

So to speak...
posted by ColdChef at 9:06 AM on November 2, 2007


caddis writes "(well, except for that pricey casket, but that won't change until you can buy one at Walmart). "

Caskets don't have to be complicated furniture. Practically anyone able to cut a straight line and use glue and a battery operated screw gun can roll their own.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 PM on November 10, 2007


Last week, the CBC's Sunday Edition had a special "Death Show" which featured a segment with Douglas Davies, author of A Brief History of Death [RealAudio direct link], as well as an interview with poet, author, and funeral director Thomas Lynch [another RealAudio direct link]. There is also a podcast for The Sunday Edition which features these interviews in mp3 format.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:41 PM on November 10, 2007


It is our most modestly priced receptacle.
posted by mullingitover at 6:41 PM on November 21, 2007


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