5 Insane Ways We've Disrespected The Dead
There's something sacred about the remains of a human being, to the point that even Richard Dawkins probably wants a nice casket, just in case. Most of the time, people will be as respectful of others' remains as they would be to their own -- or at the very least, they won't do anything weird like dress up the recently deceased like Green Lantern.
Most of the time.
Japan Has Corpse Hotels
Like most of the post-WWII world, Japan experienced a population boom that is finally starting to taper off. However, the problem in Japan is that their funeral home industry didn't grow accordingly. This means that decomposing human bodies could be waiting for up to a couple of weeks for a proper wake.
"Put it over there with the others and take a number."
Instead of being alarmed at the intimidating rate at which their citizens are croaking, some folks in Japan have seen a business opportunity. Rather than letting loved ones pile up in funeral home inboxes, people can choose to dump their dead loved ones at a local corpse hotel -- part of Japan's burgeoning for-profit short-term morgue industry.
We're not kidding about the hotel aspect of this, either. Normal not-dead couples have mistaken them for actual hotels. One such establishment is the subtly-named Lastel, where for a cool $157 a night, your checked-out relative can check into a perfectly manicured and refrigerated room while they wait for a spot in the local crematory to open up (which is the preferred funeral rite in Japan).
Remember that the little bottles of formaldehyde aren't free.
If, for whatever reason, you feel like you need to be in the same building as your frozen friend or family member, many of these places also offer separate living-people rooms, where you can stay and view the earthly remains of your favorite uncle whenever you want at the flip of a switch. We're not certain how restful your stay would be, however, since it is a virtual guarantee that every single one of these hotels is haunted as shit.
Some Random Mummy Toured the Country As The Body Of John Wilkes Booth
If we were to name historical figures whom everybody wants to impersonate, we'd have to guess that John Wilkes Booth is probably somewhere in the bottom five, alongside Hitler and the guy who invented interest rates.
"Step right up for your chance to punch a dead guy!"
For whatever reason, John St. Helen did not feel the same way. In 1877, St. Helen came forward with a shocking deathbed "confession": He was in fact John Wilkes Booth, and had been on the run for the past decade or so. He claimed that Lincoln's Vice President, Andrew Johnson, orchestrated the assassination and arranged for Booth to evade the manhunt by setting up a patsy to be killed in his place. Then, St. Helen recovered from his bout of near-death and skipped town, which was significantly easier to do 150 years ago.
Fast-forward to 1903, when a man named David E. George committed suicide. Right before he offed himself, George claimed that he was John Wilkes Booth. An attorney and self-proclaimed Booth expert (because there is no official degree in the field of John Wilkes Boothing) named Finis Langdon Bates positively identified the body of David E. George as John St. Helen, because in the early 1900s we believed anything anyone representing themselves in an official capacity said. In a further demonstration that he was a man to be trusted, Bates mummified George's body and took it on a tour around the country as the body of everyone's favorite presidential assassin.
"For an extra dollar, you can open his secret back flap!"
Bates dressed George's body in a pair of khaki shorts and hauled him around the country, writing a book about his absurd "John Wilkes Booth faked his death for decades" conspiracy. A surprising number of people bought into it. The body was passed from owner to owner, and the legends only grew when Booth's nephew, despite having been born in 1868 (meaning he'd have never seen his uncle alive), confirmed that George's beef jerky body looked like his old Uncle John. The mummy was last seen in the 1970s, and it is our responsibility to assume it has spent the past four decades plotting its terrible revenge.
Two Guys Took Their Dead Friend Out For Drinks
In September of 2011, Robert Young showed up at his friend Jeff Jarrett's house, only to find that Jeff had overdosed on a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. Normally, the death of one of your entourage would put a damper on the night, but Young had already doused himself in Ed Hardy cologne for the evening, and was not about to let that go to waste. So he decided to consult his other friend, Mark Rubinson (who was not dead), as to their next step. Rubinson decided that the ultimate way to honor Jeff's memory was to take his body out for a night on the town. More specifically, to take his body and credit card out for a night on the town.
For reasons that escape us, the pair loaded Jarrett into the back of Rubinson's car and drove around to bars, restaurants, and strip clubs, spending thousands of his dollars in the process. Maybe the pair genuinely believed that Jarrett would have wanted it that way and wanted to include their buddy for one last hurrah, but whatever the reason, they at least had the decency to not bring Jarrett's body into any establishments. This is a gentler way of saying that they left their dead friend in the car while they went inside to party.
"No shirt, no shoes, no heartbeat, no service."
Once the duo had spent enough of Jarrett's money to honor the final wish they assumed he would have made, they took his body back to his house, tucked him into bed, and went to get a burrito before finally flagging down a cop to report Jarrett's death. The two men were quickly arrested and eventually convicted for abusing a corpse, but they take umbrage over their escapades being compared to Weekend At Bernie's, despite that being the most positive way to describe what they did. In their own words: "It's not a joking matter. He deserves better than that." To recap, this statement came from a pair of dudes who stole the man in question's credit card and drove around with his dead body in the backseat of their car.
Soccer Fans Steal A Friend's Casket And Take It To A Match
Soccer is a sport known for having extremely dedicated fans, so when Christopher Jacome was tragically murdered during a soccer game (though, surprisingly, not because of the soccer game), his buddies decided that the best way to send him off would be to carry his casket to a match and let him enjoy his beloved team one last time. Unfortunately, there are several rules in place that prevent a memorial like this from being carried out in any official capacity, so Jacome's friends had do engage in a bit of body-snatching and forcible entry.
After a quick stop at the funeral home to steal Jacome's casket (with his body inside), his friends charged through security at the game, using the casket as a battering ram. Once inside, they hoisted the casket above them and passed it around the stadium like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert. Jacome's body casketsurfed around the stadium (in a wooden box that normally requires half a dozen pallbearers) for a while before his friends left the stadium and took him back to the funeral home to get buried with the rest of the lame-os.
"He looks so natural with his John 3:16 foam finger and plate of half-eaten nachos."
Stadium officials have vowed to figure out who allowed a dead body into the game, because for some incredible reason, they still haven't discovered who was responsible. Although, considering you can apparently bring explosives in whenever you want, maybe it's not that surprising that slipping a dead body past security is about as difficult as smuggling candy into a movie theater.
Some People Are Getting Propped Up In Costumes At Their Own Funerals
To some people, having a fancy casket is very much a lipstick-on-a-pig affair. Why spend a small fortune on a box that's just going to get stuffed full of dead body and tossed in the ground?
Rather than spend a ton of money on a shiny box and a depressing service, some of the more jazzy recently deceased are putting the "fun" back in funeral and attending their own wakes. For example, Miriam Burbank was a longtime New Orleans resident who had likely seen a fair number of Big-Easy-style funerals in her day, which are regularly accompanied by things like big brass bands. In keeping with the party spirit, Miriam decided that she wanted to be propped up at a living room table with a cigarette, a glass of beer, and a disco ball at her wake. Because no one could ever refuse such a request, that's exactly what happened:
However, nobody could explain the ghostly howls that could be heard whenever someone tried to change the channel.
Similarly, when New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling passed away, she was displayed holding a glass of champagne and wrapped in a pink feather boa, to the presumed delight of friends, family, and casual acquaintances alike. Unless they believed in ghosts, in which case it was probably deeply unsettling.
"It's my funeral, and I'll look like a Floridian postcard if I want to."
Others have taken to recreating their favorite hobbies, such as boxing:
"Please do not spar with the corpse."
Which, of course, makes for an ideal photo op, because nothing charms people more than the sight of a jauntily-costumed slab of decaying meat that used to be a friend or loved one:
"Come on guys, squeeze in close."
One trailblazing old man figured that he'd stay grumpy and miserable in his cab for all eternity.
And you better believe he left the meter running.
And yet another guy stipulated that his corpse be dressed as the Green Lantern, because some passions are best taken to the grave.
Unlike the Ryan Reynolds version, people actually showed up to watch this Green Lantern.
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For more creepy dead body stuff, check out 5 Horrifying Things Real Dead Bodies Do (Too Weird For TV) and 6 Creepy Places Where Dead Bodies Just Lay Out in the Open, you weirdo.
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Did you know that cats modeled their "meow" after the cries of human babies, just because they knew us humans care about that noise? Did you know that dogs can read your mind (emotionally), and live in constant suspicion that you know where the good food is (which you totally do)? In the next LIVE episode of the Cracked Podcast, host Jack O'Brien leads Cracked's team of pet-loving/fearing comedians through all the ways our dogs and cats are more powerful, creepy, and awesome than we ever could have imagined. Jack will be joined by Carmen Angelica, Dan O'Brien, Alex Schmidt, and Jake Weisman at the UCB Sunset Theatre on Wednesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. Purchase your tickets here!