May 21 2012

Talking to Anderson Coooooooooooper

60 Minutes had a segment on the death industry and oversight of cemeteries last night. Guess who was the official voice of the consumer who told Anderson Cooper (Anderson Cooper!!) what’s what.

Our friend Josh Slocum, that’s who.

Anderson said the industry says these unfortunate incidents in which bodies get dug up and thrown out so that people can re-sell their plots are just a few bad apples. “Oh nonsense,” says Josh very briskly indeed.

I wanted to embed it but it doesn’t work the way YouTube does so I don’t know how to do it. Click the link.


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  1. 1
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Saw it last night. He was great.

  2. 2
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    “Oh, nonsense” was my favorite part.

  3. 3
    Josh Slocum

    Aw shucks:)

    I can’t help myself-Vanity Segment: This was taken a year and a half ago, just weeks after my heart attack when I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. Yes, it’s shallow and shouldn’t matter, but with television it’s disheartening to have slimmed down and have to watch one’s self in a state of much poorer health.

    That said I think they did a great job. I’m already getting “love letters” from funeral directors. And a few “I’m an employee of this company and everything you said is true and worse.” Very amusing.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    It’s glory, that’s what it is!

  5. 5
    Josh Slocum

    I’d forgotten “Oh, nonsense.” I’m super glad they kept it in!

  6. 6

    Awesome job, Josh!

    Sounds like not much has changed since Jessica Mitford wrote The American Way of Death.

  7. 7

    Apart from the disturbing aspects of the issue under discussion, nice now to have a voice with which to read the comments in one’s mind’s ear. I think you came off very well indeed, whatever your own reservations.

  8. 8

    okay, I gotta watch this before I can really comment, but first: AWESOME!

    He let me know about it beforehand but I was off eating bbq with my family, far away from a TV at the time.

  9. 9
    Eric MacDonald

    Hey Josh! Really well done! Clear, to the point, and very well stated.

    This whole story seems unbelievable to me. Having had the charge of many cemeteries over my working life as a priest, everyone who buys a lot in a cemetery is given a legal conveyance of property, to be used for the sole purpose, of course, of burying one’s dead, and usually has covenants as to appropriate memorials, decorations, etc. But it is not something that can be simply conveyed to someone else, without legal remedy. The lot that Elizabeth and I bought in the local town cemetery in fact provided us with a deed to the property, its location and extent. It seems completely bizarre that the US, in which ownership of property is such an important legal principle, should not have regulations governing the conveyance of property in cemeteries in the same regular way that other property is conveyed.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    It wasn’t “oh, nonsense,” Josh darling, it was “oh nonsense” – all in one breath like that. That’s part of why it was so delightfully brisk and take-no-prisoners. It sort of conveys “I’ve heard that a million times and it’s bullshit.” With a comma it’s more as if you hadn’t heard it before.

    I’m reminded that the one change Russell Blackford suggested for my essay in 50 Voices was the addition of a comma. I said he could add it if he wanted, editor’s privilege, but I preferred it without. I explained why, too. It’s possible that I’m something of a nerd about commas.

  11. 11
    Gregory in Seattle

    I am coming to an age where I’m looking to invest in burial property. I would demand an actual, physical deed like Eric mentioned; failure to deliver would prove to me that the company was shady (“Hey buddy: I got this nice bridge I’m looking to unload….”)

    My challenge is that I don’t want to be embalmed and layed out in an expensive box. I would rather be planted in the ground au naturale with an apple tree above and a sign inviting passers-by to “Eat in rememberance of me.” Not something that most cemetaries can accomodate, unfortunately.

  12. 12

    Fantastic job, Josh!

    (“Fantastic job Josh”? “Fantastic, job Josh”?)

  13. 13
    Eric MacDonald

    Ah, no, commas are of the essence of style. It has to do with timing and nuance. The “Oh nonsense,” with a curt dismissiveness was so effective. It horrifies me, however, that these kinds of things are being done, and I felt so for the woman who felt it was pointless to try to find whether that really was her father’s last resting place (as they say, euphemistically). But I have found that a place to visit is important. I know a woman whose brother was lost somewhere off Scotland in 1942 flying a bomber north along the coast. They never did find his body, nor the location where his plane went down. Not knowing, 70 years later, was a real trial for her. How horrible for people to have their loved one’s remains tossed out like garbage! They should be able to sue for millions. Some have, but everyone should have such recourse.

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Agreed. I walk around in cemeteries a lot, because they’re often pretty, park-like places (and when they’re not, I don’t walk around in them…) I’ve seen some touching examples of the importance of having a place to visit. One that has stuck in my mind (it was sometime before 1991, when I moved out of that neighborhood) – a riot of balloons and other festive decorations. I went to look and it was the birthday of a child who had died several years earlier.

    Jeezis, people, don’t mess with cemeteries.

  15. 15
    Aratina Cage

    Chilling information, Josh, but well delivered. :) How awesome to put your face and voice to your nym! And how fun that you were interviewed by the Silver Fox himself.

  16. 16

    Commaing late, I know, but somehow synchronistic too because I just saw this on Gizmodo: http://i373.photobucket.com/albums/oo177/robbiecda/commas.jpg

  17. 17

    Joooooosh!!! That’s awesome!!!

  18. 18
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    It wasn’t “oh, nonsense,” Josh darling, it was “oh nonsense” – all in one breath like that. That’s part of why it was so delightfully brisk and take-no-prisoners. It sort of conveys “I’ve heard that a million times and it’s bullshit.” With a comma it’s more as if you hadn’t heard it before.

    As a sometime copy editor, I have to disagree with you, Ophelia. I too heard Josh’s “Oh, nonsense” as a PG-13 version of “Oh, bullshit,” but “Oh” is an interjection and therefore requires a comma to separate it from any subsequent words in the sentence, vocal pause or lack thereof regardless.

    I’m certainly not a gung-ho prescriptivist. I don’t adhere to The Chicago Manual of Style (the guide with which I’m most familiar) when I comment on the intarbuttz. That said, in formal writing, the comma is grammatically correct, the absence of it incorrect.

    Rrr, regarding “Let’s eat[,] Grandpa!” — There’s also the difference between helping your uncle, Jack, off his horse and… well, you can figure out the rest.

  19. 19
    Josh Slocum

    I’m gonna disagree with you, Ms. Daisy. Yes, I know what’s considered stylistically correct. I’m not challenging that. But that’ not what’s at issue. Ophelia’s right that I delivered it as if there were no comma. There’s no way to describe that without leaving out the comma in the printed transcription.

    Oh, and Gregory? Do NOT buy burial space ahead of time. Do NOT prepay for ANYTHING death-related. I know what I’m talking about so don’t question me. :)

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