The City of Miami wants to construct a skateboard park on a parcel of land next door to the historic 113-year-old Miami Cemetery, final resting place to a host of city pioneers and founders, like Julia Tuttle and Dr. James Jackson, father of Jackson Memorial Hospital.
A benevolent idea – give the kids a skateboard park! give them a place to burn off that adolescent energy and get them off those couches and away from those sedentary-lifestyle-inviting Xboxes – so who could oppose?
A gaggle of contrarian old farts, that’s who. Descendants of those buried there. Local preservationists. Congregants of nearby Temple Israel.
“If your family buried you there, they buried you there peacefully,” complained descendant Dorothy Graham, as reported in the Aug. 22 Miami Herald. “And they meant for you to stay there peacefully.”
Stay there peacefully. Gosh, I sure hope the dead don’t decide to get up one night en masse and seek out eternal sanctuary elsewhere all because of some damn rowdy pack of skateboardin’ kids spoiling their “peaceful” sleep. A sudden parade of walking dead has the potential to cause quite a disturbing commotion. All hell could break loose. (And not just what’s coming out of the ground at the cemetery!)
Overtown residents flooding 911 call lines. Some fainting, some fleeing, some loading up shotguns. Squad cars and TV news vans converging on the scene. Pandemonium City! Night of the Walking Dead! YIKES!
Which brings us to the question (actually two): Why should the dead “rest in peace?” How – in their current state – would they even KNOW they weren’t resting in peace, much less CARE if they weren’t, if they weren’t?
And some more questions:
Six feet under ain’t “peaceful” enough for ya? Exactly how much dirt needs to separate the dead from all the sounds and noises from up above so that they may be ensured their “rest”?
How much space do the dead require, pray tell, for the so-called “peace” that you pea-brained knuckleheads believe they need? A city block? The length of a football stadium? Half a county?
Dig a hole six feet down, drop yourselves in it, and fill it in. How much above-ground noise do you reckon you’d hear down there?
Surrounding that or any other cemetery with a high-decibel airport on one side, a sports stadium with roaring, cheering fans on another, a Metallica concert on a third, and a noisy construction site with ear-busting jackhammers and bulldozers on the fourth STILL would not wake the dead.
They’re dead. They’re gone.
And did you old farts and fartesses never consider that maybe those lying there in Miami Cemetery might actually prefer – yes, prefer – some young-bloods in the neighborhood? (“It’s really too sedate and quiet here among us dead.”) Might prefer some excitement? (“Too many of us codgers lying here, taking dirt naps. Sure! Send some young whipper-snappers over with their noise to entertain us! Some of us ain’t been entertained since Rudy Vallée and talking pictures came out.”)
Did any of you actually amble over to Julia Tuttle’s headstone and ask Miami’s founding mother for her opinion on this whole affair? Maybe Ms. Tuttle might like a little company from the teenage T-shirt-and-jeans set with the slip-slidin’ hot wheels under their feet.
Sadly, it’s come to this: The groundbreaking on any skateboard park for the site may be held up by silly people with stupid superstitions and notions about the dead: “The dead are still with us” (No, they aren’t). Or hovering over us like Marley’s ghost – or Casper’s. Or trying to communicate with us via seances and Ouija boards.
Or – and how I so detest this ridiculous phrase – that they need to “rest in peace”.
They don’t need ANYTHING. They’re GONE. This is a world for the living. Who cares about what the dead might think? They’re gone. GONE! If they could, they’d likely implore us to get on with life and forget what we might think they might want.
Some people just can’t stand the thought of young people having fun, enjoying life. These are mostly old farts too physically worn down, or too dyspeptic and irritable, or enslaved by religious or cultural stupidity, to enjoy the fun they seek to stamp out or deprive others of.
But one need not be of a certain chronological age to be among the Society of Old Farts. Twenty- and thirty-somethings can just as easily be members, too. It’s not a state of age so much as a state of mind (albeit a calcified, hardened one) –
• 17 state attorneys general (shockingly, our own Bill McCollum was NOT among them) ganged up and pressured Craigslist.com last week to take down its adult services section, concerned that the ads were promoting prostitution, degradation of women, human trafficking, and god-only-knows-what-else-from-a-Pandora’s-box-of-societal-ills they tried blaming on the popular website.
What two (or more) consenting adults wish to harmlessly engage in among themselves should be only their business and no one else’s, not even government’s. When will sanctimonious shits like these ever accept that?
• People who don’t want same-sex marriage, for whatever reason, be it out of religious bigotry or outright homophobia.
• People who feel the urge to disinfect our airwaves, our movies, our internet, our music, our art, our electronic and print media – everything – of any scintilla of what they uniquely consider obscene, blasphemous, unholy, you name it.
Often when I stop by my post office at Washington and 13th in Miami Beach, I’m greeted by a flock of teenage boys on their skateboards outside the entrance, doing stunts off the steps and ramps in front, in flagrant violation of posted signs that forbid skateboarding.
When America’s kids are embarrassingly becoming fat, fatter, and the fattest in the world, thanks to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits, we should be encouraging – hell, mandating – they get out and get some exercise.
Ride that skateboard! Mount that surfboard! Don those rollerblades! Ride that bike!
Rip those damn signs down – “NO this. NO that.” – and instead erect signs promoting “DO this. DO that. We WANT you to do it. Not only do we WANT you to, we’ll even give you incentives, we’ll give you rewards, we’ll give you $, we’ll give you prizes!”
“We’ll BUILD you skateboard parks!”
Old farts (he writes, shaking his head). Crotchety, crabby, cranky ol’ curmudgeons with their Depends underpants all in a crinkle over the prospect of skateboarders waking the dead.
Please, you grumpy gripers, go stir up trouble elsewhere, over some other matter. Like the early bird special. Or the price of Metamucil.
Or perhaps just grab a skateboard, join in, and pop a few wheelies with the whipper-snappers. Show ‘em age is nothing but a number, and a trivial one at that.
Hey, now there’s an idea! Have fun while you still can.
A FINAL SHOUT-OUT TO JACK HORKHEIMER
It came as sad news to learn of the passing weeks ago of Jack Horkheimer, Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium’s longtime director, better known to one and all as public television’s “Star Gazer,” our affable TV guide to the universe, the night sky, and all the awe-inducing elements of it.
I recall catching some of his weekly broadcasts – which were beamed from Miami to stations all over the country – as early as the 80?s. His brief astronomy lesson, served up with his folksy, cornball humor and chirpy voice, was the last thing that aired on my local public television station, right before the station signed off at midnight. He was one of my first introductions to people and things South Floridian, years before I ever moved here.
At the end of each program, he implored us to “keep looking up”. Thanks to Jack, lots of us now know a lot more about our ever-fascinating universe whenever we look up at it.
See what you dead people out at Miami Cemetery are missing out on? For shame. If you weren’t six feet under, covered up by all that dirt, you, too, would be able to enjoy the view of the night sky. I’m tempted to come out with a shovel and start digging you all up, but then the noise from the digging would only disturb your peaceful rest.
And soil the Depends of a lot of old farts.