Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bela Lugosi's Dead

A little over a week ago marked the 30 year anniversary of Darby Crash's death. The singer of the L.A. punk band the Germs, he died at the age of 22 of an intentional heroin overdose.

The Germs were one of the first punk bands I listened to. Fifteen years ago I came across an article about them in a random music magazine and became obsessed with their story. It took me over a year to track down their music--at the time the internet was still in its jurassic stages, so I couldn't exactly Google them, and I wasn't yet familiar with the concept of independent record stores. I finally found a copy of MIA at a Strawberry's while on vacation in Boston, and to this day I still love the Germs.

So when I went to L.A. I of course had to make a little pilgrimage to find Darby's grave. He's interred at Holy Cross, a Catholic cemetery in Culver City, his plot marked by a flat rectangular stone that I quickly noticed seemed to have been a frequently-used generic design.

Dave had unsuccessfully tried to find the grave the last time he was in L.A., but he hadn't been able to research its exact location. I can't imagine how many hours it would take to find it without any direction whatsoever--it'd be like, well, finding a needle in a haystack. (Dave also wrote his own meditation on Darby's death anniversary. It's the inaugural post of his new blog, Savage Aesthetic. Go read it!)

The website where I found Darby's grave location (Section R, Tier 8, Grave 114, by the way) lists a number of other celebrities buried at Holy Cross--among them John Candy, Sharon Tate, John Ford, Rita Hayworth, Jimmy Durante, Bela Lugosi, and many others. I sought out Lugosi's grave as well (and, without trying, Bing Crosby's), and was warmed to find that someone had recently wished him a Happy Halloween.

Bela and Bing are in the section referred to as "The Grotto," where this altar and statue of Mary are situated.

Closer inspection reveals a variety of candles, prayer cards, and other Catholic relics placed on the altar, and in the rock wall.

It might seem a bit morbid, but if I'd had more time I would have liked to have explored the whole place a little bit more. It is an actively used cemetery, but as long as you're respectful, I don't see anything wrong with a little bit of graveyard tourism.

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