Above The Fruited Plain: Vandals Bolster American Sentiment

Lincoln, NE – A new fad has taken root in the graveyard enthusiast community; tired old headstones are getting a facelift.  Volunteers with a local group are sneaking into cemeteries all over the city in the dead of night to paint the monuments with bright colors and add cheerful decorations.

“We just feel that the grey monolith has run its course.” says Lemonn Gentworth, president of Graveyard Rejuvenators International: Midwest, otherwise known as GRIM.  “There’s no reason people looking at a cemetery should ever be reminded of death, and nothing says “death” like ugly grey rocks sticking up out of the ground.  With a little paint and maybe some tasteful dolphin figurines, cemeteries might become a place so removed from the awful stigma of death that you could host a toddler’s birthday party, or have a badminton tourney, or sell puppies to homeless people, or whatever.  The possibilities are really endless.”   To date, Gentworth and his volunteers have “colorfied” (the official GRIM term) about 100 graves in and around Lincoln, with plans to move on about 250 more.

While it should be noted that these activities are viewed as vandalism under the law (punishable by death in North Korea) and there has been some outcry from concerned citizens.  Local resident Jarvis Wayne II voiced his concerns on the back porch of his humble farmhouse on the outskirts of town, overlooking his neighbor’s fields, and the family graveyard that lies just beyond the white picket fence.  “Well I was actually pretty shocked at first.”  he said. “I just woke up one morning and saw all of my ancestors had a coat of yellow paint on the headstones.  I called my preacher just to make sure you know, there wasn’t anything untoward about it, you know with the dead and all that.  And then I called the hospital to make sure they would tell those ambulance helicopter pilots that I did not have a landing pad in my back yard, what with the yellow and all.  After that, the more I thought about it, I guess it was really OK.  I think Grandpa Jarvis might even have liked it, you know with the yellow and all.”

Despite the controversy, one would be hard pressed to recreate a more idyllic scene of Americana .  A salt-o-the-earth midwesterner, sipping tea on his porch, the sun setting on the horizon, illuminating the Amber Graves of Wayne.

It’s for the Birds

The most obvious fact in the world of avian politics, is the eternal rivalry between Mocking Birds and Robins.

On a particular day, one philosophizing young mocking bird was musing on the laws of nature, teetering on the edge of becoming a vegan.  Looking down at a worm, he wondered what right he had to take the life of another living creature.  Letting his thoughts wander outside his mind and into the open air, he suddenly cried out, “To kill, or not to kill?  That is the question.”

As it happened, a member of the robin press corpse was nearby, and heard exactly what he needed to hear.  The next day, every red-breasted reader of the daily, who was sure that most mockingbirds would just as soon peck out the eyes of a robin as look at them, had their suspicions confirmed by the headline, right there at the breakfast table.

“I knew it Martha.  I knew it!  It’s just like I’ve always said, you can’t trust’em.  They sing the song they think you wanna hear, but you never can know what song they’re really singin’.  All yous gotta do is catch one off guard and this is what you’ll hear.  It’s right here Martha, plain as the beak on my face!”

The sensationalized paraphrase included a little punctuational levity that tried to better understand what that ne’er do well really meant.

“To kill or not?  To kill!” – A Mockingbird.