Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Losanjealous linked to the L.A. Coroner's all-too-graphic unidentified bodies site. Overwhelmingly populated by indigent males, many of whom tried to walk across the freeway, and most of whom long ago lost their sobriety, teeth and dignity.

A collection of stray body parts--a torso found gumming up the works of a sanitation processing plant, a human jawbone found on Zuma Beach.

A few women, mostly indigent; a handful of newborn babies.

Are shallow graves inherently foul play?

Anyway, because so many of these deaths seemed almost pre-determined by race, class and addiction, I was intrigued by two outlying lost souls: upper or upper-middle class white males, apparently otherwise healthy and well-maintained, their lives almost certainly ended at their own hands--cleanly and tidily, without shotguns or leaps from high floors or naps on railroad tracks.

In 1993, this man killed himself in a hotel room on Century Blvd. That's right near the airport. Did he fly in from parts unknown because he wanted to die in Los Angeles? Why? Where's the car that matches his BMW key? Why did he have that and no wallet? Did he pay cash for the hotel room? He was wearing a gold wedding band. Where was his wife? Was she dead? Was he all alone in the world?

The palpable loneliness of Attractive Well-Groomed Healthy Middle-Aged Middle-Class White Adult Male #1 is apparent also in A.W.G.H.M.A.M.C.W.A.M. #2. He was found in a park on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, sitting up against a tree, gazing out at an infinite horizon. He, too, had a gold wedding band. And momentos of a person named Michael, who I feel must be a dead son. He and his wife--named "Ma Jose" since some long-ago delirious conversation in the first flush of their love, I think--gave him an Omega watch as a present in 1997 on a trip to Madrid. Was it their anniversary? How did he come to the Palos Verdes Peninsula? Were he a native, certainly the various agencies of the government would have put his pieces together, so why did he choose that park for his end? Does the crowned lion tattoo speak of a tie to Britain? Is the cross and the sword a testament to his religion? Could he be a religious man, married and then divorced from God? Why the stars--on his necklace and on his knee? Was he an astronomer? Did his child love the sky? Is there no one left in the world who would look for him? His preppy moss-green fleece vest and New Balance shoes speak of a venture capitalist, a captain of industry--at the very least a California professional. Where did the money go? How was his property disposed of? There are no typos in the description of his unidentified body, and the catalog of his relics is recorded with care. The same cannot be said of many others in the database. Perhaps the coroner looked at him and saw something he recognized--the parts and parcels of a familiar life.

I think the first man was hollowed out and empty, utterly bereft of purpose and meaning and joy. Death was relief.

I think the second man wanted to be reunited with his family and 35 more years was just too long to wait. Death was passage.

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