Death Whispered a Lullaby

Death Whispered a Lullaby
Sculpture of a palm laid over the headstone for Charles (1813-1864) and Mary (1816-1865) Pope in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. The headstone is a large open book covered with palms, with the deceased’s names engraved in storybook lettering. It’s one of the most unique monuments I’ve ever seen.
Oakwood Cemetery was designed by landscape architect Howard Daniels and opened in 1859. It is a secular Victorian “rural” or “garden” style cemetery where over 60,000 people are interred in 160 wooded acres.

1969 Woodstock Festival and Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

The 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, hosted by Max Yasgur on his 600 acre dairy farm northeast of Bethel, Sullivan County, New York, has become an iconic moment in recent American history. The three day concert was, by many accounts, the defining event of 1960s counterculture. Over 300,000 people came out to see iconic musicians like Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Band, and Jimi Hendrix. Today, a concrete memorial marks the location of the sound stage.

In 2006, the sleek Bethel Woods Center for the Arts opened nearby, which features a concert venue and museum of 1960s counterculture. The museum is quite nice, but I got a chuckle out of seeing a bunch of elderly baby boomers holding a corporate event there, complete with waitresses serving hors d’oeuvres. A far cry from the ideals they promoted in their idealistic youth.

Highland Park Diner in Rochester, New York

Highland Park Diner at 960 S Clinton Avenue in Rochester, New York. Originally called Dauphin’s Superior Diner, it was one of three produced by the Orleans Manufacturing Company in 1948. I also spotted a small model of the Highland Park Diner at the checkout counter at Main Street Diner in Westfield (western New York, south of Buffalo). Pretty neat! I wonder where they got it?

Diner Resources

Mary Queen of Scots

Historic authenticity is cast to the wind in this revisionist costume drama that feels like it was written by a freshman Women’s Studies major.

Directed by Josie Rourke with a screenplay by Beau Willimon, Mary Queen of Scots (2018) was based on the book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy. Like many films released this year, it has strong female leads, a diverse cast, and progressive social messaging, but checking all the right boxes on the SJW playlist wasn’t enough to save this film from mediocrity.

The year is 1560, and the young and beautiful Mary Tudor (Saoirse Ronan) returns home, where she is out of place in a dreary Scottish castle. Her half-brother, James, Earl of Moray (James McArdle), has been ruling as regent, alongside a bevy of colorless and perpetually-angry Protestant men. Her appearance in Scotland alarms her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England (Margot Robbie). Elizabeth, a Protestant, is not seen as a legitimate ruler by her Catholic subjects. She seeks to gain influence over Mary by arranging a marriage with Elizabeth’s own lover, Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn).

Instead, Mary marries the charming and charismatic Lord Henry Darnley (Jack Lowden), who pulls a Jeckyll-and-Hyde routine and becomes a drunken lecher on their wedding night. Things get complicated for the childless Queen Elizabeth when Mary becomes pregnant, producing an heir for her dynasty and strengthening her claim to the English throne. Can Mary fend off attacks from her domestic critics and convince Elizabeth to acknowledge her as England’s rightful ruler?

Mary Queen of Scots couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a film about the rivalry between two queens or a revisionist biopic of its titular character, so it does neither particularly well. This ill-conceived and poorly executed film also missed a chance to let its leading ladies shine. As Queen Elizabeth, the talented Margot Robbie goes to waste as a costumed mannequin who practically disappears for the middle third of the film.

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Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York

Mount Hope Cemetery, at 1133 Mount Hope Avenue, in Rochester, New York, was founded in 1838 as a municipal rural cemetery on the hills overlooking the Genesee River. It sprawls over 196 acres adjacent to the University of Rochester. More than 350,000 former residents are interred there, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, and city founder Nathaniel Rochester.

All Life Ends

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in Maryland, escaped to Massachusetts in 1838, and became an abolitionist. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), was popular in the North, and Douglass quickly became a leading voice in the antislavery movement.

Tree of Suffering
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