One of my stock events for visiting friends is to take them to the Glendale Forest Lawn cemetery, a short drive from where I live in Silver Lake. It’s a serene setting with towering shade trees, usually very empty, with views that look out over Glendale to the San Gabriel Mountains.
It has it’s restrained yet overwrought kitsch in the guise of a full-size replica of Michaelangelo’s statue of David (carved from Carrara marble from the same quarry as the original); a stained glass reproduction of Da Vinci’s Last Supper; and something called The World’s Largest Painting, a.k.a. The Crucifixion, that measures 195 by 45 feet and is housed in an enormous square building with a church facade. There’s also The World’s Second Largest Painting, The Resurrection, in the same building and they are both unveiled from behind a huge curtain in an auditorium presentation with darkened lights and rumbling narration.
Other sections of the “memorial park” evoke patriotism, “wee” Scottish churches and, my favorite, The Mystery of Life, a large sculpture that professes to answer every Big Question you may have.
On one level, this is all kind of a hoot. And maybe the recent announcement that the body of Michael Jackson will be buried at the Glendale Forest Lawn makes some odd kind of sense, aside from the fact that it is, on its most human level, a grieving family interring the remains of a loved one.
I expect the hordes to descend and a renewed period of media feeding frenzy. I won’t be surprised to learn Larry King has pushed to the front of a very long line of television personalities who will pick over the bones of the MJ saga a few thousand more times. I’m sure Forest Lawn will have crowd control measures in place as needed, because after all, a cemetery is a place for quiet reflection, even in a celebrity-manufacturing place like Los Angeles.
And at some point, tranquility will prevail there again.