“I Know Everything About the Funeral Industry” said the novice.

This photo, and its blurb, sparked this¬†blog post. These days, so many newcomers to the funeral industry have declared themselves “experts.” A troubling –and embarrassing development–to true, bonafide industry insiders. They will tell you that the traditional funeral is dead, if you will pardon the pun, and that “green” is the way to go. And some of the more extreme bloggers will even try to convince you that “death is cool” (Seriously!?) I am here to assure you that despite such postings, the traditional funeral –with its comforting rites and rituals–is alive and well.

Gracie Mansion Holiday Party

Tonight’s holiday party at Gracie Mansion was bittersweet, as it will be the last one hosted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At the party,¬†Tony and I were chatting with the mayor and when I addressed him as Mayor Bloomberg (as I always do), he said, “Mike.” Me: Mike?” He: “Yes, Mike.” While I’m honored to finally be on a first name basis with New York City’s mayor, it’s only for a couple more weeks. For his last official holiday party, Mike (LOL!) extended invitations to not only the regulars, but also to journalists who had covered him during his years in office. Enjoyed making new media contacts. As always, the mayor was gracious, witty and benevolent. No more so than when he dedicated a room in City Hall to legendary journalist and personality, Stan Brooks.

Calvary Cemetery Profile

coverAC

My profile of historic Calvary Cemetery in Queens County, NY –where folklore has it that 3 million people are buried–is the cover story for June’s American Cemetery. As a funeral director, the figure of 3 million did not sound right. The NY Diocese was happy to provide me with the more appropriate –and still substantial –number of 1.8 million interments. I must tell you, I shot this magnificent monument over and over ….and over during the course of a year, until we got a cover-worthy image.

My Favorite Funeral

The funeral for Mayor Koch was a true celebration of his life! Each and every speaker shared memories –both personal and public–as well as anecdotes which made the entire audience laugh. Mayor Bloomberg, especially, was in top form regaling everyone with amusing quips and heartfelt praise. The signature moment came at the end of the service. As Mayor Koch’s casket was being shouldered out of Temple Emanu-El, the organist began to play New York, New York (if only Frank were there to sing it). In a moment both moving and celebratory, the entire crowd broke out in sustained applause. Here is that moment captured for history: