• John Rabe

Interview in a Cemetery with The Order of the Good Death's Caitlin Doughty

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Location, location, location. The best place to talk with mortician, author, and Big Funeral critic Caitlin Doughty is, of course, a cemetery. So we met at the Angelus-Rosedale cemetery in LA's Pico Union neighborhood, which is, according to Wikipedia, LA's first cemetery open to all races and creeds.

Caitlin appeared a number of times on my radio show Off-Ramp, and I asked her onto Call Back Yesterday because her books Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, From Here to Eternity, and Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? are so clear-eyed about death, in a world that freaks out about it.

A corpse doesn't need you to remember it. In fact, it doesn't need anything anymore — it's more than happy to lie there and rot away. It is you who needs the corpse. Looking at the body you understand the person is gone, no longer an active player in the game of life. Looking at the body you see yourself, and you know that you, too, will die. The visual is a call to self-awareness. It is the beginning of wisdom.

-- Caitlin Doughty, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"

We sat next to this pyramid (one of two in the cemetery) and spoke using my 10-foot mike cord about "Somewhere In time," my folks' funny gravestone, and a tiny silver lining to the pandemic ... until we got kicked out by a polite security guard.

Angelus-Rosedale photos by John S. Rabe. Doughty photo courtesy Caitlin Doughty.

Here's a horrible robot transcript of the episode.

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everybody. It's John Ray, be your host for call back yesterday. The new podcast about somewhere in time and

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Associated themes. Remember, last time

Speaker 0 00:00:09 Episode, how director's Genos Mark said you need to show, not tell in any artistic

Speaker 1 00:00:15 Endeavor while I'm taking them seriously. And so there are no introns

Speaker 0 00:00:19 Remarks to this podcast. It's good. Yeah. That's good. Alright.

Speaker 1 00:00:39 Check one, two. This is us in the graveyard of the birds, too

Speaker 0 00:00:43 Birds. And a graveyard can never be too loud, I guess. That's yeah, the ambulance you're looking for it, right? I just hope there are some crows. Uh, this is a podcast it's called, um, call back yesterday, somewhere in time was originally called bid time. Return, bid time return. Yup. Because not a snappy Richard, the swell Richard the second. No, maybe not, but it was Richard the second and somebody I forget who says time return. I see, I see. So somebody says, Hey, you got, got all the troops I need. And he says, Oh shit. If you would ask me yesterday. Yes. But now since they thought you were dead, they've all gone to fight for the Prussians or whatever. And uh, Oh, call back yesterday. Bedtime return

Speaker 1 00:01:30 Call back yesterday, bid tab. When you say it in that sort of Shakespearian accent, it sounds good. But when you just see it on Netflix and it says bid time.

Speaker 0 00:01:39 Yeah. I wouldn't click on that. No, no me. Thanks me. Thanks. But, um, me also thinks that the, a callback was available. So for suits call back yesterday. Okay. That's good. Although it could be like a Hollywood thing. Oh, you gotta call back yesterday. You should've called back. Well,

Speaker 1 00:01:59 That'll capture some additional

Speaker 0 00:02:01 Audience. The books I have for you are smoke gets in your eyes from here to eternity and will my cat eat my eyeballs. Those are them. That's the trilogy and new ones. Yeah. Slowly, slowly but surely. And also I wanted to mention, um, you're born on August 19th. I was 10 years after my husband. Same day vicious. That's why you liked me so much. It's true. Caitlin Dodie. Where are we?

Speaker 1 00:02:37 We are in Angeles, Rosedale cemetery, which is, doesn't get the same credit as other cemeteries in Los Angeles. Like your Hollywood forever or your forest lawns. But there's a lot of history here. A lot of black history here because we're in mid city and it's actually one of my favorite cemeteries in Los Angeles. It has gone to seed a bit, um, both literally

Speaker 0 00:03:00 And figuratively, which makes it kind of feel more like a cemetery

Speaker 1 00:03:03 Feels much more authentic. They don't water the grass as aggressively as other cemeteries, which I prefer, you know, as much as I love a green rolling cemetery in Los Angeles, I appreciate water conservation efforts.

Speaker 0 00:03:19 And, and what, what's the historical nature here? Who do you know, who's buried here? What stories it has to tell

Speaker 1 00:03:25 It's where black Angelenos were buried and continue to be buried. It's an active cemetery, a lot of older leaders, um, older sports figures, uh, Anna May Wong, the Chinese American actress was buried here.

Speaker 0 00:03:42 It also has some remarkable architecture. We're next to the Grigsby pyramid. And it's not the only pyramid in the place.

Speaker 1 00:03:49 Yeah. You told me to meet you at the pyramid, but not this pyramid, that pyramid. Right. And this one has plant life coming out of the side, which is a very new Orleans aesthetic.

Speaker 0 00:04:02 What was the, what was up with the pyramid where they Shriners or something or Masonic?

Speaker 1 00:04:07 Yeah, it could, it could be connected to some sort of order, or it could also be Nicholas cage has a pyramid waiting for him in a new Orleans cemetery for when he dies. People just like people associate death with the Egyptians. So they like a big old pyramid. And if you can afford it, it's expensive, no matter where you live. It's even if it's cheap real estate, it's expensive to, to build a big old honkin pyramid in your cemetery. So you gotta be serious

Speaker 0 00:04:35 Only at the bottom at the top. It's G at the top, it's one stone, Caitlin. I asked you to come here. Cause on my radio show, we had so many great discussions about death. And you seemed a natural for this podcast, which uses somewhere in time is kind of a jumping off point to talk about all the important things in life and death. So thank you for coming on the show. Of course. Yeah. Anything for you, John? There's a Paul Auster quote in that book I gave you that I think is not only appropriate, but right now it's especially accurate. If you could read it for us,

Speaker 1 00:05:05 Reach a certain moment in your life and you discover that your days are spent as much with the dead as they are with the living that great it's topical, I guess that's true for any older person too, and something. Can I talk about the cultural moment that we're in? Okay. I think something that COVID has taught us all or forced us all into reckoning with is the experience that older people have of understanding death to be surrounding us at all moments. And most younger people, especially in the 21st century can live their lives without that kind of engagement or have been able to live their lives without that kind of engagement. And all of a sudden, both with the black lives matter protests and with COVID-19, we are forced to have empathy with people who live with death surrounding them at all times, whether we like it or not.

Speaker 0 00:06:07 We have so many people dying every day that Americans are face to face with death in a way, much more than they usually have.

Speaker 1 00:06:15 And the trend throughout the 20th century and the 21st century has of course been to hide death and to have death be a slow secretive process in hospitals, in nursing homes, in hospice. So all of a sudden when you're having to deal with death at the hands of police or death in the hands of prison, guards or death of COVID-19 bad death and horrific death, that's hidden from us in our day to day. Conversations is being dragged out into the light of the sun. It's a horrible time, but it's also a time of reckoning. That's incredibly necessary.

Speaker 0 00:06:55 Back in the day people's babies died all the time or people got TB or polio or the plague. And so they've, they face death in a much more kind of regular, uh, matter of fact way than we do now. Are we moving back toward that? Do you think

Speaker 1 00:07:12 What I've always said in my advocacy is I bring up exactly what you just said is that by the time you were 10, your sister would have died. Your brother would have died. Your aunt would have died. Your mom's probably dead. People were dying around you all the time, especially in the 19th century with all of the diseases that we saw and the rise of cities and dense populations causing diseases. And I always said, of course, we don't want to go back to that. We don't want to go back to high infant mortality or, or, you know, pandemics. And I said that sort of jokingly. And yet here we are. And I am not happy that we're back here, but I do think that we have to use it as a positive opportunity, as much as we can to understand death and understand our relationship with death and come out with some better ideas about how to handle death and the inequalities that death presents in the future.

Speaker 0 00:08:12 People actually talking about it. Is it raising the consciousness?

Speaker 1 00:08:15 I do think so. I think that I think people are horrified by not being able to have any ritual around death, any memorialization around death, any communal activities around death. And that's actually been a problem in the funeral industry for years, people being kept from their dead feeling like the community. Can't gather that the community can't take care of the dead and the funeral. And the fact that people are angry about that is encouraging to me in a strange way as for my particular advocacy, because it's revealing what I believe to be true, which is that people need, that people need that community involvement. They need to take care of their own debt. They need to grieve collectively as a community. And we need to have laws and societal norms that fully support them in that. And you don't want to see that happen by taking away that for them because of COVID, but it does reveal a lot of troublesome things about the way society is structured around death.

Speaker 0 00:09:15 Oh, is there a way to do social distancing funerals that allow that sort of ritual to happen?

Speaker 1 00:09:24 Are we actually, for a while, all the crematories in Los Angeles, you could not come in and even witness the cremation, watch the person be loaded into the machine. And now we've finally been able to reopen and do that. And there was a window that you have to stand behind, but people can come social distance, wear masks, and at least be there and keep in mind home funerals. When you keep the body at home, if the person died of cancer and no one's been ill of Cova, there's been no sign of that. There's no reason that you can't keep that body for another day at home. You don't have to go through a funeral home who may have really strict rules about who can and cannot view a body.

Speaker 0 00:10:09 Are we seeing more of that then?

Speaker 1 00:10:11 I think we, we are at my funeral home, but we're preaching to the choir a little bit there. So we're definitely seeing more of it at my funeral home. And I'll tell you though, that the, the first two months of COVID-19 where we just had to say no to everyone, because we didn't know what was going on. We didn't know of the dead bodies were dangerous. We didn't know if every living person was dangerous. That was very hard because I know my funeral director, she wants to say yes to any request a family has and having to say, no, we can't show you. Your mom was crushing.

Speaker 0 00:10:47 Yeah. So somewhere in time, anyway, somewhere in time, I asked you to watch the, uh, to watch it on Netflix or Amazon or Amazon, what'd you think

Speaker 1 00:10:59 It was not what I was expecting. I think that I wish that I had watched it when I was 14 or 15, because I think I would have had a very different reaction to it as I get older. And as I deal with longterm relationships and breakups and new relationships, I find myself looking back on Romeo and Juliet kind of stories and going, why doesn't someone just talk to them? Why does it, do we need a therapist involved here? Do we meet, you know, could someone older just talk this through with them because there's so much life to live so much good. So many, you know, more than one perfect person for you, but when you're young, that kind of one person forever and ever no other is so appealing to your psyche somehow. And I, that, if I had watched this movie, when I was younger, I would've completely reacted to that. And then now that I'm in my mid thirties, I'm like, Come on, does that sound right to you? Does that resonate with you or you, but you saw it when you were younger, you were okay.

Speaker 0 00:12:08 Involved with it when you were younger. Pardon me for stereotyping. But I think boys and girls are different at 14. I believe that young girls are a tiny bit more romantic than a 14 year old boys. And I, so I saw it when I was, let's see, I was 14 when it came out and I thought just must dumb. Most dome. It doesn't make any sense. Oh. And now I'm 54 and I have lived a life and my parents have died. And while I, you know, I grew up on Makinen and going to grand hotel and I can't help, but love it. So you'd like it more now. Oh yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1 00:12:52 It's like a Benjamin buttoning where we meet in the middle somehow of our reaction to it when I was 12, 11 or 12, I saw Titanic in the theater and my mother came to pick us up and she thought we had gotten lost or kidnapped because we were just sitting in the theater after it had gone dark sobbing, our eyes,

Speaker 0 00:13:16 You and a girlfriend. Me and a friend. Well, no, it wasn't a girl. It was a girl. Yeah. Oh yes, of course. Yeah, of course it was a girl,

Speaker 1 00:13:23 Uh, no 12 year old little boys or do you know, some are, of course there is a diversity of reactions as we know, but yeah, I was a very, all the stereotypes about Romeo and Juliet, the Bosler man. One, I lost my shit over. Yeah. It's what, what if I'm, so

Speaker 0 00:13:45 I'm just going to guess that you just broke up with somebody and so you're no, no, no. I know those people. I hate them. I hate everyone

Speaker 1 00:13:53 I'm at no, I I'm very much in love actually, but I also know how much hard work love is and how long it takes to get there and how, you know, you, can't just showing that that was sort of, uh, something I did appreciate about the movie is I appreciated the DIY aspect of the time travel, not an expert on time travel, obviously, but most time travel is very wild. Saifai scientific machines be booby boop, right electricity. And the fact that it felt like something you could just do in your own home with the right mental fortitude, I can see why that is appealing to people that the ability to time travel is within you already. Is that kind of what you're doing as a 54 year old man now is finding that the ability to travel back in time is already within you.

Speaker 0 00:15:02 Yeah, I, yes. More and more. Um, going back to that Paul Auster quote, where he says that, um, you know, you reach a certain point in your life and you discover that your days are spent more with the dead than with the living. Yeah. My parents died in 1991 and 92. Um, all of their friends or almost all of them are dead and they were our friends. They were good friends, you know, close in our life. Um, so many people that, that I was involved with as a young pro and I also, I was, I was precocious when I was young. So I was friendly with these people. I wasn't, you know, I, I, in my twenties is when I got to be a callous Callow youth. But up until then, I was like very involved with old people. I got, I got along better with old people, so they're all dead.

Speaker 0 00:15:54 They're all dead for a very long time. And I don't see why I have to remove them from my life. Um, I had a really, I had a time travel moment. My parents had been dead probably five or six years. And I reached for the phone to call them something that hadn't happened in two or three years. I instinctively reached for the phone to call them. And I stopped myself in the middle of it. And I said, wait a minute, you are in a moment where you think in your head that they are still alive. Save for that moment, be in that moment. Enjoy it. And so for me, it wasn't really melancholy. It was actually sweet. So I think that, that was sure why isn't that time travel.

Speaker 1 00:16:34 That's beautiful. And that is sort of the time travel that they're talking about in the movie almost.

Speaker 0 00:16:40 Well, that's a good question.

Speaker 1 00:16:42 Cause it's mental. It's not like,

Speaker 0 00:16:44 Well, I would ask you, did he time travel?

Speaker 1 00:16:46 I think, well, I mean, but then what is time? What is travel? I mean, he didn't,

Speaker 0 00:16:51 Did he go back in time to see at least McKenna? And remember it is a movie. Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:16:56 Well, history tells us, did he go back in time? Well, I mean, the evidence would be, cause she comes and gives him the pocket watch later. So there's some sort of, that's indicating there's some sort of break in the space time continuum. And he signed the guest book and he signed the guest book and he was in the right room. I don't think the Exact are. You should have someone on your podcast who works out like on a white board. Exactly how this works.

Speaker 0 00:17:29 It's funny. You're an expert on, you're an expert on history and time, time travel. Nobody's an expert in time travel.

Speaker 1 00:17:36 There absolutely are people who were experts on time travel. There's of course there's like quantum physicists. I imagine.

Speaker 0 00:17:44 Well, they've only been able to send like a muon back a quarter, quarter, quarter. They haven't been able to send

Speaker 1 00:17:50 A Christopher Reeve back back in time.

Speaker 0 00:17:58 Hi everybody. John Ray, be back with you now from my studio. Well, actually my studio bunker up above an art gallery somewhere in Cypress park, Los Angeles. Hope you're enjoying this conversation on call back yesterday with Caitlin I've got links to her books from here to eternity, will my cat eat my eyeballs and the book that started it all smoke gets in your eyes, which is about her days working in a crematory. There's more of our conversation to come, but heck it's almost Friday. It's almost time for so many of you to be headed to Mackinaw Island for the summer in time weekend at grand hotel. And I've got a special episode of callback yesterday, lined up for you. I'm going to talk with George went somewhere in time was one of his first movies. And he found to his chagrin that he got cut from the movie.

Speaker 0 00:18:50 When he was at a screening with his friends and family, they hadn't told them. He didn't know. It's a great story. He's going to tell it to us coming up during the weekend, I'm going to post it so you can listen during the weekend. And I promise there will be an important reveal in that podcast. Also, I'm going to release some little Padlets little interviews that take you to a place on Makena or tell you something about Makena or tell you something about somewhere in time. And these are kind of designed for you to go to the place where I recorded them on Mackinaw and listened to them. Some of them are like that, but if you couldn't make the weekend or if you wanted to be on Mackinaw, these are also great ways for you to feel like you're taking part in the somewhere in time weekend. You can just close your eyes and will yourself just like Christopher Reeve to that place and time. I hope everybody has a great time this weekend. And now let's get back to my interview with Kaitlin dope.

Speaker 1 00:19:53 Do you, what do you think is, I mean, obviously there's a reason that you are so attracted to this movie that's beyond, it's a combination. I imagine of your relationship with your parents and the Island itself, but also the concept of being able on your own to revisit things in a meaningful way. Yeah.

Speaker 0 00:20:17 Yeah. Let me in speaking to my parents, let me show you something on my phone. I'm just gonna set the mic down for a second. Now, wiping off the phone. That's my parent's grave on Mackinaw Island. Can you read what it says?

Speaker 1 00:20:28 It says bill, bill and Anne life is a grave matter. Did they request that? Was that there? And we wouldn't do that to them. Yeah. That was their idea. It's very upper Midwest grave with the fallen leaves around it. Yeah. Why did they die so close to you?

Speaker 0 00:20:50 Oh, my mom had a cirrhosis that was brought on by hepatitis C because she lost a lot of blood, had a blood transfusion in 1987 and it destroyed her liver cause of the Hep C in it. As far as I know, she didn't have any tattoos or wasn't dating Pamela Anderson. It's a long time ago. I can joke. Um, and then my dad had gone in for, uh, you know, the normal colon check for guys. And after she got sick, he never went in again. And so, you know what, might've just been polyps developed and others just like full blown cancer of the everything. And uh, so he died eight months after she did.

Speaker 1 00:21:26 Do you think that was positive in some ways? Was he handling it? Well,

Speaker 0 00:21:33 I think he was, yeah. I think it was positive. He, he died when he wanted to die. I think, um, maybe if he'd made it past that first year, he would have been better, but I think he was ready to go. I think he probably knew it to some extent that, that, you know, he had a chance he was going to go after her. Uh, they, I don't think they even ever dated anybody else. They're married in 1952. So I think, yeah, so they had a very close connection and then like so many of those people, they just, they go together. Um, so they're, so they are like, my, the start of my life is on makin Island and we went there starting in 1969 back when I was a little, a little kid, uh, my dad did public relations for grand hotel and for makin Island since like 1969, um, until he died and uh, so we would be there, you know, 10 or 12 times a year. Uh, and it's just it's have you been there?

Speaker 1 00:22:27 No, I would. I, it sounds like a place I would love.

Speaker 0 00:22:32 Yeah, it's a magical place. It was, it was a magical place for the native Americans and then it was the center of the fur trapping industry. So there's, there's huge history there. You know, the Biddle family was there. One of America's oldest families, William Beaumont, the famous doctor did his famous gastrointestinal experiments on a guy named Alexis st. Martin who was, uh, I think he was a French Indian who was shot in the abdomen by a musket was an accident, I think, but, but the wound never really healed. And dr. Beaumont didn't let it heal. And he kept, dr. Beaumont would put food into his stomach to like check how digestion worked. And now there's William Beaumont hospital. Any Beaumont hospital is William Beaumont because of the shot that happened. I love doctors who experiment on themselves. No, no, no, no. He was experimenting on this guy and Alexis st.

Speaker 0 00:23:26 Martin. Oh, I don't know that Alexis st. Martin was exactly entirely willing the whole time. He might've been pressured into it. So it has this deep history. We went back there. It is just magical. And, and you were there October and, and you know, for somewhere in time, there are legions. Did you get to the Googling part where you learned about the people who dress in 1912 garb and go to Mackinaw and spend a weekend at grand hotel? So they, you know, McEnroe has no cars. They, they stopped at 1914 or something. And so there's just horses and carriages and they, they, the, the development laws say you can only build in the Victorian style. So everything is preserved. Uh, so people really are traveling back in time when they go to Mackinaw and these people up the Andy and then spend a weekend watching this movie, talking about this movie, um, being back in time, I think they time travel. Have you talked to them? Oh yeah. What did they say? Yes. Their time traveling and it's, and it's a more romantic time. It's a, it's a slower time. It's a lot of men and a lot of women it's really the gender split is, uh, if you were apt to stereotype, it's actually rather evenly split a lot of guys. I think, feel the, the desire to not be so damn macho and it'd be a little softer and to be romantic

Speaker 1 00:24:52 You and I think about this all the time with,

Speaker 0 00:24:55 Did I answer your question? Yeah,

Speaker 1 00:24:58 No, no, no. I'm, I will. It's free range conversation. The cemetery slows down time, too. I think about this with, for example, war reenactors or civil war reenactors. How do you reconcile the, what you perceive to be positive aspects of a certain time in the past with the negative aspects that we know of the past?

Speaker 0 00:25:23 You mean like, uh, racial stereotypes or the fact that these bones size

Speaker 1 00:25:27 <inaudible> yeah. Cutting off your leg with a bone, saw all of the above. Like, you know, I, I do understand the desire for a time. Like, when you say a simpler time, you don't mean for like black people, you mean like you don't have,

Speaker 0 00:25:44 Right. Right. Exactly. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It didn't. No, I think, I think for civil war and actors, that it's a much thornier question then for people who like somewhere in time, right. That's fair. That's fair. Uh, I, well, and, and Colin Powell is one of the biggest and highest ranking fans of somewhere in time. But I, but I do suspect that mostly the fan base is white.

Speaker 1 00:26:06 My jaw just dropped. When you said that, what is, what has he said? Have you been able to get an interview with him regarding somewhere in time

Speaker 0 00:26:15 He declined an interview, but he confirmed that it is one of his favorites. That's amazing. It's awesome. But he likes the PT cruiser. He drove around a PT cruiser. Cause I think it reminded him of cool old cars in the fifties or whatever.

Speaker 1 00:26:31 Yeah, no, it is, I guess.

Speaker 0 00:26:37 Okay.

Speaker 1 00:26:38 You do have to sort of ask yourself that and reckon with that because I mean, for me as a white woman, it probably wouldn't be great in 1912. It's 1912. Right, right. That probably wouldn't be a great time for me. Maybe if I was an actress and had some sort of power and some sort of autonomy, but it seems like even she did not have that much autonomy over her own career in life. So just the section where she falls passionately in love and feels like she finally has sexual and romantic freedom. I understand wanting to capture just that moment in time. Cause I think also there's something about times people who have really been in love or really fallen in love. There's always a moment in the first, the honeymoon phase or however long in those first couple of months where you can go on a weekend trip or you can just be with them and you do feel like time stops and all of the grind and work that usually surrounds you and plagues you, you don't check your phone, you don't check your emails. You don't go to the office. You're just in your own little world and that's not time travel, but it is messing with time in its own way. And so I can understand the desire to maybe go to Mackinaw Island to feel like you are out of time in a way. So not even going back in time, but being out of town, being out of the bounds of time in the liminal space between the time, you know, and the past.

Speaker 0 00:28:17 Did you believe in the relationship between Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve when you were watching the movie?

Speaker 1 00:28:22 I mean, they're both hot, they're both real, both real, uh, attractive people, genetically blessed.

Speaker 0 00:28:33 Well, they had an affair during the filming of the movie.

Speaker 1 00:28:37 Yeah. I know. I believe that. Absolutely.

Speaker 0 00:28:39 You're the last person in the United States to know that

Speaker 1 00:28:41 Really? Yeah. Well I think I was a widow. I think I was a little younger. I did not, I was not aware of Christopher Reeve and tell his accident, um, because I was younger. So that was on the cover of people magazine and in the today show. And that's where I had a cultural consciousness of him, but I had never seen Superman or somewhere in time or any of his movies prior to that.

Speaker 0 00:29:04 Now, interestingly in either Superman one or two, he does the thing where he turns the, he spins around the earth, you know, Lois and Jimmy die or something like that. And so he then tries to spin back the globe and that's how he saves them. Cause he goes so fast that the earth turns the other way. Um, and, and so he can go back in time and stop the, whatever it is, the rock from hitting them or something. Um, I find that the time travel he did and somewhere in time, much more plausible.

Speaker 1 00:29:31 Yeah. I appreciated that. They got through it pretty quick. They were like, okay. He goes to a professor, the professor's like, yeah, just hold an old thing and like think real hard. And he's like, it works dove the cassette player. Why couldn't he go back a second time though?

Speaker 0 00:29:51 Um, I think then it's, it's, it's less of a romantic movie, then you can just do it any time. Right. So, and he was so traumatized maybe, maybe if he quickly glimpsed her and spent a half day there, then he could go back. And, but I think he was just too deep into it. He was too much in love.

Speaker 1 00:30:16 Why was I questioned why he was so deeply unsatisfied with the present? Because that seems more important. It almost seemed to me more about a man's journey to escape from his own reality than like love has been used as an excuse for things like that for time and Memorial

Speaker 0 00:30:39 In the book, by Richard Matheson, he has a terminal illness. Oh. But they thought that that would make, I think the, uh, uh, the, the, it would just get too much in the way of a movie of believing in the love story and the time travel. And you might think, Oh, he's just sick and delirious.

Speaker 1 00:31:04 That's hard because terminal illness does. Cause I thought when I was young, because I was a morbid little person, I often thought, you know, what? If I don't get to experience a great love before I die. So the terminal illness does in a way, give him motivation for doing whatever he can to experience his great love before he dies.

Speaker 0 00:31:32 I think you could say that he was just, the seed had been planted by at least McKenna as an old person giving him the watch said that that disrupted his, his, his flow. If you're looking for a clue in the movie,

Speaker 1 00:31:46 But he had a successful career following that money. Isn't everything. No, of course money is not everything. Yeah. Actually money is everything. That's my opinion. And I'm sticking to it. Many, many, many

Speaker 0 00:31:59 Money is important. It is not nothing, but I guess we're standing there looking at this guy, mr. Grigsby. Who's buried in a pyramid.

Speaker 1 00:32:08 Don't remember her role 20 by 20 period.

Speaker 0 00:32:12 Yeah. We still remember him. It's a little harder to, if somebody else the grass could grow over your grave, that's not going to happen.

Speaker 1 00:32:17 This guy, not this guy. No, it wasn't free.

Speaker 0 00:32:22 Oh, we got to stop. Alright. I can hear me. Can I hear you? Can you hear me? I don't know. Hey, you sound great. We got kicked out. And so now we're at 15th and Mariposa, a few blocks from the cemetery and a nice quiet residential street.

Speaker 1 00:32:37 There's a sweet couple making out. They're wearing masks, but also making out, which is very,

Speaker 0 00:32:44 When you were a teenager, you'd do it a day.

Speaker 1 00:32:47 I wonder if they've seen the film somewhere in time. No, John, if I had a nickel for every time I was kicked out of a Los Angeles cemetery.

Speaker 0 00:32:54 Very rich woman. The guard was very nice though.

Speaker 1 00:33:00 He was nice. They want you to Los Angeles, um, is the only city in the world that I've ever been asked to leave a cemetery, but it's happened multiple times. I think that because it's a filming town, they want you to get permits and pay them for any sort of media of any kind.

Speaker 0 00:33:20 Isn't that kind of like indicative of the funeral industry you have to pay for every damn thing

Speaker 1 00:33:25 Indicative of the funeral industry and the funeral industry in Los Angeles.

Speaker 0 00:33:28 Oh, you want me to, you want us to cover them with dirt? Oh, well there's an extra thousand dollars. A funny thing that my dad would often have us have a picnic in a cemetery.

Speaker 1 00:33:39 Yeah. I love being in a cemetery. And I think that if we, I think if he hadn't seen the microphones, it would have been fine because cemeteries are, they did start as public spaces. They are methods of time travel. Oh, what do you mean? There are places that you can go. Just like we've been talking about that are out of time. People in them can be from the 18 hundreds. From the 19 hundreds, the grave art can be from a different time. The trees can be a hundred years old. You yourself could be a mourner in 1965, 1865, 20, 65. It's going to be fairly similar. Yeah. You're going to feel the same thing. You're going to feel the same things. You're going to more than the same people. Have you found that going back to visit the grave of your parents, have your emotions changed at all in the years?

Speaker 0 00:34:36 It's hard to you mean like have I gone from being sad to being happy or

Speaker 1 00:34:39 No, but it has like just the, the tenor of your emotional reaction. Has it changed?

Speaker 0 00:34:47 No, I always laugh. I don't know.

Speaker 1 00:34:49 That's funny then. And it's funny now

Speaker 0 00:34:51 Their grave has a punchline on it. Their grave says life is a crave matter. So I don't get, you know, it's where I took my husband to meet my parents because they died long before we got together. And I think he was a little more somber about it. No, they just weren't that kind of people.

Speaker 1 00:35:09 What was his reaction to meeting them?

Speaker 0 00:35:12 Oh, I thought he thought that I was a little flip about it. I think they didn't say anything. He's probably used to that with you. Yeah, no, right. Yeah. But it's, and it's important to him. I think he's, he's cool. Now with the idea of me like, like Susan French, I'm splitting my ashes between here and makin Island, which is kind of my intent at this point. He loves it there too. So he might do the same thing where your parents or buried or cremated or cremated. We, when my dad was cremated, there were six kids. There still are six kids, all of whom needed to fax an agreement in to the mortuary or the crematory. And so the, the, you know, the call went out for some morning, whatever it was, Hey, we need you to do this. And to all six kids. And apparently we all faxed in our signatures, the forms like within an hour of each other, we were so incredibly efficient. And the, I know the crematory director, like this has never happened in the history of the world, but we're very German. And we're very matter of fact about this kind of thing.

Speaker 1 00:36:15 My funeral home someday seems to specialize in the six siblings living in different countries. Four don't have internet. One is on hospice.

Speaker 0 00:36:25 Well, and one of them might say, no, I just can't deal with dad's death. So I'm not going to deal with this paper that needs to be signed

Speaker 1 00:36:30 Surety. So some, some funeral homes may require all signatures, but in California law, it's the majority of the siblings.

Speaker 0 00:36:39 So do you believe in any form of time?

Speaker 1 00:36:43 I believe in time travel the way that I believe in God in that I believe it's so far beyond my understanding that I'm not even gonna know that I'm not gonna mess with it, but that I don't believe I have the hubris to claim to understand it.

Speaker 0 00:37:02 Hmm. So you see, you acknowledge that there might be a God.

Speaker 1 00:37:05 I acknowledged that I know nothing. Okay. So acknowledge that I am,

Speaker 0 00:37:09 You're saying that time travel is possibly possible. Totally.

Speaker 1 00:37:12 Oh, I bet. I mean, I probably believe in time travel more than I believe in God, but hell if I know. Okay. So where would you go and what would you do? I'm go anywhere, go anywhere past, Oh, the future. I didn't know. I could go to the future or whatever.

Speaker 0 00:37:30 It's your time machine.

Speaker 1 00:37:32 I probably don't want to go to the future. That's it? You've given me that option. I'm not going to take it. Um, I think I would like to like to go, I was a medieval history major in college and I studied the medieval McCobb and the way that dead bodies were treated in the middle ages. And there was a time when they would just bury bodies everywhere in the rafters of the local church, under the floor boards in the walls. And I am so interested in that period of time, I would like to see how they did it, how they felt when they did it, how they emotionally did it, what the rituals were and just see it firsthand because that's inspired so much of my work. That's probably not what most people would choose or I'd go to Mackinaw Island in 1912 st. Anne cemetery, October 5th, 2:38 PM.

Speaker 0 00:38:26 That's a great place to wrap. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1 00:38:28 Thank you, John. Anytime.

Speaker 0 00:38:31 And that's another episode of call back yesterday. My guest has been Caitlin Dodi, the mortician activist and funeral industry rabble rouser. Her books are smoked, gets in your eyes from here to eternity and will my cat eat my eyeballs. And she tweets at the good death call back yesterday, which is is written recorded and produced by me, John Raby with additional sound recording by Ava, the lilac queen Sahelian and her mom. Our theme music is performed by the van Dyke parks support from Bermudez projects in Los Angeles. Special. Thanks to Chris Greenspon host of SGV weekly and a graphic designer and punk legend, Michael <inaudible> who made my logo. Penny, please subscribe. Give me your rating. Tell your friends and come back for the next episode of call back yesterday above all. Thank you for listening.

Speaker 4 00:41:21 <inaudible>.

transcript-Call Back Yesterday_ Caitlin
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