O-Bits: Over Their Dead Bodies Edition

In today’s edition: a close call in a coroner’s election; gentrification, and a labor dispute hit the dead.


Here’s one election where the dead should have a vote. The race for Coroner of Greene County is still too close to call. The Washington, Pennsylvania Observer-Reporter writes that only one vote separates the two candidates. And the paper is pretty pissed at the electorate, complaining that nearly 10,000 less votes were cast in this year’s municipal election compared to last year’s presidential one, which Donald Trump carried with just over 62% of the votes. While we here at Obit make no judgements, and offer no opinions on the local issues, we believe that either of the two coroner candidates would do a better job than Donald Trump.


As American cities become more and more playgrounds for the wealthy, with even neighborhoods like Bushwick seeing six-figure condos and artisinal pemmican emporia, long-time residents mourn over the loss of the candy store that made great egg creams, or the eccentric button and yarn store. In Chandigarh, India, the issues a just a little different. As the Dhakoli village has become urbanized, those who recently moved in are starting to complain about the local cremation ground. As the Hindustan Times reports, the new neighbors have complained about the smell of burning flesh; another expressed shock that mourners were sad. For those whose families have lived in the village for generations, it’s a sacred space. As Jagdev Singh, a local elected official put it: “Our ancestors were cremated in this ground so our people are emotionally attached to this ground.” While we here at Obit are city people (albeit ones who don’t know where to find a good egg cream anymore), we have to side with the villagers on this one. The cremation ground was there long before the town was on anyone’s radar.  While we’re sure the realtor never mentioned it, it’s up to the prospective renter to ask, “so, that smell of burning  flesh…it that a regular thing?”

Hindustan Times photo

Burning flesh is probably preferable to what the people of Coimbatore, India have to put up with. There’s a backlog of dead bodies are the local mortuaries, because the mortuary van drivers have gone on strike. Among their issues: of the towns fleet of ten vans, only two are in good working order at any one time; the freezer boxes are ill-maintained; and to save time and money, they are forced to convey three bodies in freezer boxes intended to hold only one corpse. As one driver explained, “two bodies are placed outside and the bodies start decomposing even before we reach the destination.”



Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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