This past weekend, I went to the last ever performance of Angels and Accordions, the site-specific dance/music/dramatic posing extravaganza at Green-Wood Cemetery. I had won tickets through their site for knowing some things about Dewitt Clinton* and brought along my friend Anna. I had a great time, but it was due more to the excellent company and our shared love of the absurd than the performance itself, which was overly crowded and overwrought and kind of hackneyed. This photo gives a pretty good idea of what it was all about:There was some dance at the beginning and end of the event, but the bulk of it involved walking around with roughly 500 other people, looking at “angels” posing dramatically around the cemetery. Occasionally, someone playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or “Beautiful Dreamer” on an accordion would be stationed nearby. We split off from the group for half an hour or so and wandered around taking pictures and picking up conkers, which I find completely irresistible both as shiny, useless objects and a kickin’ potential fake swear. If I could think of anything to do with them, I’d haul ’em home by the sackload.
I’d never seen this stone before Anna spotted it and we spent longer than I’d like to admit trying to figure it out. There’s no apparent connection between the two people. She was 13 when he died, so he could have been a grandfather, though it doesn’t say so. They seemingly had nothing in common, she being a California-dwelling pacifist and socialist, while he was a Freemason who fought in the Civil War. Even if she was a descendant who wanted to be buried across the country from where she died near this particular guy, why add him to a new stone? Presumably he had had one sometime in the more than 70 years between their deaths.
*VERY little-known fact about Dewitt Clinton: He was the ancestor and namesake of a young man with whom I once spent an evening in the early ’90s drinking a highly suspect concoction of malt liquor and wine coolers and because of whom I was subjected to one of my first hangovers.