Monday, July 25, 2011

Redemption Song

I discovered Redemption Song on the Rolling Stone top 500 songs list. It is listed as #66, stuck between #65 Sunshine of Your Love by Cream and #67 Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley. I had never heard it before, as I have never been acquainted with Bob Marley's music.

The song Redemption Song is the final song on Bob Marley's album Uprising, the last album that was released during his life time. (One more album, Confrontation, came out after his death.) The lyrics for the song were taken from a speech given by journalist and orator, Marcus Garvey. "We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind."

At the time Marley wrote Redemption Song, he had already been diagnosed with melanoma. He was already dealing with a lot of pain issues and his own mortality. Many consider it to be a sort of summing up of Marley beliefs and it is considered some of his best work.

Marley died in 1981 at age 36.

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
Some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfill the Book.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs,
Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it:
We've got to fulfill the book.
Won't you have to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs -
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom.

Monday, July 25, 2011 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 2

Monday, July 18, 2011

Personalized Urns

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the cremation rate in the United States in 2009 was 36.86%, that's up from 25.04% in 1999.  The NFDA also predicts that the cremation rate will be just shy of 59% in 2025! With the rising trend in cremations, it's about time we did a post on urns.  We already know that we can be creative, as explored in our post on custom coffins, so it should be no surprise that custom urns also exist.

The urn itself is simply a vessel or vase without handles. The urn was used in ancient Greek and Roman times for oils, as well as cremation ashes.

Today after cremation, the options are quite diverse on what is done with the ashes. Many people scatter ashes, so have no need for an urn.  Other people use the urn for the ashes and have the entire thing buried in a cemetery plot or placed above ground in the cemetery columbarium (a specific place within a mausoleum for urns). Just like eco-friendly coffins, they also make bio-degradable urns. Another choice is to bring the urn with the ashes home, keeping the departed's remains with you at all times.

When an urn is used, there really is no industry standard. The typical size for an individual may be to hold 170-350 cubic inches, whereas the popular couple urns hold 400-500 cubic inches of ashes. Materials used range from paper, glass and wood, all the way to metals, ceramics and marble.  And if you thought shape mattered, this too is up for negotiation. Urns can look traditional and vase like, or look like an item. I even saw examples for photo frame urns and music box urns.

Looking around online I found several types of urn dealers.  First there is the mega market dealers.  These urns offered on these sites can be very unique, like these cowboy boot urns, and it's true that these mega market dealers have a lot of inventory, but you can also find these same urns on multiple sites. Therefore, the uniqueness is more in design and not truly a one of a kind urn. The urn's from these large scale dealer's are some of the most economical.

Next are the hand made artisan urns. These urns are made individually by artists. Sybil Sage, for instance does mosaic urns, embedded with personal items such as business cards and photos.

Portrait urns like the kind done by artist Ruby Lindell, are hand painted ceramic urns such this example on the right.

Then, of course, there are the eco-friendly urns. Traditionally eco-friendly urns are made of paper. Though I did find sand  urns meant to place in water.  There is also company known as the "Great Burial Reef" which designs an urn made of natural concrete. The idea is that the urn can be placed on the ocean floor and can foster marine life for future generations.

Unlike coffins, urn's offer an extremely wide variety of creative options, allowing a very personalized urn if desired. What I find interesting is that some of the urns look so much like traditional home decor, that the memorial could easily blend in, completely disguised to house guests.

Monday, July 18, 2011 by Amy Clarkson · 1

Monday, July 11, 2011

Commemorating a Celebrity

June 25th, 2011 marked the second anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson. I find it very interesting how iconic celebrities like Jackson are commemorated.

The town of Gary, Indiana, Jackson's boyhood home, has promised a yearly tribute to the King of Pop. This outdoor event includes music, vendors and ends in a candlelight vigil at dusk. It's held at the old Jackson family home. On the first anniversary of his death the city unveiled a monument to Jackson.

Jackson's "Thriller" jacket (the red jacket worn in his Thriller video, seen above) was auctioned off for $1.8 million this year on the June 25th. Apparently a portion of the proceeds will go to the Shambala Preserve, home to Jackson's two Bengal tigers, Thriller and Sabu.

But my absolute favorite way that Jackson was commemorated was various dancing flash mobs. (Flash mobs have made the news a lot lately as there are apparently stealing flash mobs where a group mobs a store and just walks out with merchandise.) These are large groups of people getting together and suddenly breaking into dance. Since his death, these have occurred all over the world from China to Mexico. The video below was taken in Stockholm, Sweden in the weeks after Jackson's death. I found it impressive.

The video below was in San Francisco, this year.

Monday, July 11, 2011 by Amber Wollesen, MD · 0