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Eight hours sleep last night, which seems to be what my body now needs. The most I've slept at a single stretch in at least a couple of weeks, and I do feel slightly improved. So, I suppose I will make more of an effort to be in bed by three ayem, at the latest. Two would be ideal.

I wouldn't have thought that yesterday could have proved itself a worse day than my "day off" on Monday. Oh, but I was wrong. The words came only with the greatest reluctance, each one seeming to demand from me the greatest act of coercion I could muster. In the end, I'd done 1,187 words on Chapter Four of The Red Tree, though I felt like I'd done half that. I hope to finish the chapter today.

Also, I received word that Publisher's Weekly is sending me another book for review. I haven't even seen the first review in print yet.

I do wish someone could have warned me and Spooky that Swan Point Cemetery here in Providence, where Lovecraft is buried, has become a forbidden ground guarded by Nazi rent-a-cops. Before we left yesterday, Spooky checked the website to see whether or not photography was still permitted, and she found no rule indicating that it was not. In fact, this is what the Swan Point website has up regarding rules and regulations:

The grounds are primarily for the use of the proprietors, columbaria niche owners, mausoleum crypt owners and the families and friends of the deceased. Although it is private and exists primarily as a resting place for past generations, Swan Point is also a community resource, offering a place of serenity and beauty for quiet enjoyment. You are most welcome here and should feel free to walk, slowly bicycle or drive throughout the grounds. Please, at all times, wear proper attire, including shirts and footwear, and respect the privacy and solemnity of Chapel and graveside services. No walking of pets, skiing, skateboarding, fast bicycling, rollerblading or picnicking is allowed. Jogging and fast walking are acceptable between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. but, for safety reasons, no earphones may be worn at any time.

So, about 5:45 p.m. or so, we headed east, across the river and along College Hill, over to Blackstone Boulevard and up to the cemetery. We arrived about ten or fifteen minutes after six (the gates close at seven), and drove directly to the Phillips family plot. Clearly, quite a few people had been there before us, as all manner of offerings and mementos had been placed on or in front of HPL's headstone: roses, wild flowers, an assortment of wild mushrooms, coins, sea shells, several pages of handwritten sheet music, stones, and so forth. I added my usual frog, balanced on the top of the headstone. While Spooky took photos, I leaned first against the Phillips obelisk and then sat on the edge of the Byron Whitford memorial. As we were discussing what people had left, and as I was getting ready to have a look at the tree that has been planted to replace the fallen beech (the Lovecraft Tree), a security guy comes pulling up in a white car.

Immediately, he ordered Spooky to "delete those photographs." She, politely, questioned this, pointing out that she'd looked at the website before we came and there was nothing up there forbidding photographs. He said he didn't care what was on the website or what she'd read. Annoyed, I turned and continued walking towards the tree, figuring that she could handle herself and that the worst that could happen is we'd be told to take no more photographs. However, I'd taken maybe two steps, when the guy in the car began shouting about us not "having respect for dead" and ordering me not to turn my back on him. As I turned back towards the man, Spooky asked if he had no respect for the living, and I suppose this was some sort of provocation. He unleashed a stream of profanities at Spooky and me both. No, this does not make much sense. Within seconds, he was threatening to "call the PD" and proclaiming that he was "kicking us out." So, yes, I was being kicked out of the cemetery where HPL is buried, where I'd only come to pay my respects and leave a plastic frog (I've been visiting the spot since 2000, Spooky since about 1989), where our great offence was snapping exactly two photographs of one of the most photographed headstones in New England. I said something to Kathryn, to the effect that we should just get back in the car, which was parked very nearby. The man continued to shout an inexplicable stream of threats and obscenities, including a couple of homophobic remarks. I only wish we'd had a tape recorder, or that Spooky had not been so rattled that she'd had the presence of mind to turn on the camera's video, because I really wish that we had a word-for-word transcript.

As Spooky was getting into the car, I finally looked him in the eye and said the only thing I said during the entire encounter (which elapsed over the space of maybe three or four minutes, start to finish, at the most). I pointed a finger at the man and, very quietly, I said, "You will be reported." He screamed, "You do that, you piece of shit!." This is the only time I got a clear look at the man. He was white, late middle-aged, seemed to have about three-days worth of beard (salt and pepper), and spoke with a heavy regional accent (don't ask which one). I am fairly certain that he had been drinking, and he may have been intoxicated. He certainly acted like a belligerent drunkard.

We got in the car and drove to the cemetery exit/entrance, where we stopped to see if any signs forbidding photographs were posted. Just inside the gates, we found a sign with maybe a thousand words of text printed on it, rather small text, and the sign was positioned so that it would be on the right side of anyone driving in, and almost impossible to read. It looked like an historical marker of some sort. Badly shaken and angry, we drove directly back home. We both did searches online to see if others had had trouble with Swan Point security. Indeed, they have, specifically people visiting Lovecraft's grave. In fact, in 2006, the annual Lovecraft commemorative service and reading, held at his gravesite on his birthday (since 1987!), was forced to relocate to the Ladd Observatory, as the "cemetery's owners have recently become less open to such gatherings." I will be writing a letter to both the owners of Swan Point and to the Providence Journal, protesting the way we were treated by security, and I urge anyone else whose had trouble with Swan Point security to come forward. Last night, I was appalled. Today, the whole affair seems utterly unreal. If we'd been tagging gravestones or smoking weed or performing some obscene ritual to raise Cthulhu, even then his behaviour would have been questionable. As is, it was abusive and inexcusable (and, I suspect, illegal).

So, anyway....

I have to try to salvage the day, though having written that out, I find myself furious all over again.

Please, if you have not, pre-order A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds. Thank you.

* Note: Please feel free to link to this post or repost the account of our experience at Swan Point. One way to stop this from happening to other people is to spread to word about abusive security practices at the cemetery.


( 32 comments — Have your say! )
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Aug. 21st, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
Such a terrible experience, it seems so many feed off of ruining a private respectful moment. I hope your letters spark the right kind of outrage in the community.

Aug. 21st, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)

That could have been quite the YouTube craze if she'd managed to get it on film. Gah though, too bad you had to go through that when your reason to be there was purely innocent.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
That could have been quite the YouTube craze if she'd managed to get it on film.

Yeah.. I really really wish I had a video of it, for that very reason.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
I would've broken the motherfucker's jaw. I have exactly NO tolerance for rubes who take a modicum of authority upon themselves and attempt to exercise it at any and all infractions.

I'm planning to visit the cemetery this October, and believe me, if that useless piece of New Englander garbage--or any other inbred Yankee scum--are in evidence, I won't even think twice about curbstomping his teeth down his throat using HPL's headstone as a fulcrum.

A cemetery is a place for people--any and ALL people--to visit the remains of those they love or respect. This isn't the fucking 1920s when the bluestocking gentry wanted to keep freeloading "foreigners" and menials from building Hoovervilles among the speulchres of their honored dead. Guarding against vandalism is one thing, but this level of bullshit is not only warrantless but downright criminal.

Fortunately, I have no compunction whatsoever at being just as warrantless and criminal in beating the perpetrators into quivering mounds of bawling regret. But the pummeling will only be the prologue to their sufferings, as I plan to call upon my cohorts in the catacombs beneath the cemetery to come and remove whatever offal I leave for them.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)

Aimee and I visited on July 20th this year (around 6ish, too) and she was told pointedly by a security guard not to take any more pictures. We'd looked online for regulations, too, but didn't see any.

Well, that's because they are not there to find.

Please let us know if we can help substantiate your experience with the Swan Point management or local government. We'd be happy to tell our experience, too.

Thank you. I'll let you know.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)

I've spent time at Swan Point, on and off, since 1989. On more than one occasion the gates closed while I was still there. Usually with my car parked inside. Security was always polite, and even apologetic, in those instances. And this was back in the days of shaving my head and dying my hair religiously.
Once (15 years ago), some friends and I were having a small picnic, and security checked on us, deduced we were doing nothing wrong, and told us the gates were closing shortly. We were sitting on and around some very old monuments, dressed in our usual gothy attire at the time.

Security there, in the past, was always polite. I'm greatly saddened by the stain this man puts on a place I hold so dear.
(no subject) - stsisyphus - Aug. 21st, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - stsisyphus - Aug. 21st, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - humglum - Aug. 21st, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Aug. 21st, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - humglum - Aug. 21st, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Aug. 21st, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Aug. 21st, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
As a photographer myself I find I'm slightly offended by his remark (...shouting about us not "having respect for dead"). To capture something in a photo, or any medium of art for that matter, is possibly one of the best things you can do to honor something.

Not that that's something the average rent-a-cop can understand...the whole Patriot Act nonsense has those types up in arms about taking photos in any public place.
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Take that bum down, and take him out. I'm familiar with that breed of rent-a-cop, and the next time one of 'em makes noise about how he's going to call the police, pre-empt him and offer to make the call yourself. I believe the phrase best used to describe the reaction is "electronic emasculation".
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
"electronic emasculation"

That's great! I'm going to get some mileage out of that one for sure.
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
What the hell is wrong with people these days? Is it just me or is this kind of behavior on the rise? Seems like it's almost becoming acceptable to most people. I wish I'd been there…

What's with the no photos rule to? I can understand rules like that in an art museum perhaps, but a cemetery?!? What do they have giftshop or service that allows you to buy pictures or something like that? I can hardly see how taking pictures could be a problem unless there is some secondary motivation at work here.
Aug. 21st, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Go on, be an Immaculately Polite Pissant. Ms. Parker would approve.
I will be writing a letter to both the owners of Swan Point and to the Providence Journal, protesting the way we were treated by security...

From another perspective, I really wonder what Providence is thinking about this. HPL pilgrimages have to account for a reasonable percentage of tourism dollars. You could spin that into any letter or editorial that you compose.

At the very least, considering the day in question, there should have been a very large, very prominent sign declaring that photographs were prohibited placed temporarily at the entrance of the cemetery.
Aug. 21st, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
How utterly disgraceful.

In this situation I believe the old adage about the pen being mightier will indeed hold true. I hope you at least get the satisfaction of a formal apology, short of that ignorant pillock's head on a spike.
Aug. 21st, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
I hate it when psychopaths end up in charge of stuff.

Btw, I might still have the PW with the GW review. Should I look for it?

Aug. 21st, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)

Btw, I might still have the PW with the GW review. Should I look for it?

Yes, please, though I have written to my editor @ PW about this, and I expect it's only an oversight.
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
This post reminded me of The Photographer's Bill of Rights, a document which should be widely read and distributed. There's a PDF download available from this page:
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
This post reminded me of The Photographer's Bill of Rights, a document which should be widely read and distributed. There's a PDF download available from this page:

Thanks for the link. The situation here as regards our "right" to take photographs inside the cemetery would, I think, not be in doubt, if Swan Point had made clear their feelings on the matter. If the website had simply stated that photography is forbidden, or if we'd happened to note that part of the very wordy sign at the entrance, we never would have taken photographs (even though the policy is absurd). Spooky and I have both photographed the grave site (and other Swan Point monuments) many times over the years, sometimes with security watching on, and never before were we told not to do so, much less verbally abused and threatened.

Edited at 2008-08-21 10:29 pm (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
Intermittant Explosive Disorder
Do let the security company know, and the City as well. I'd think the opinion of a writer would carry some weight with anyone concerned about their image. Even a letter to the local paper, if couched in terms of bad image for the town, would have some effect in my experience.
Aug. 21st, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
This was a truly awful and unwarranted thing to have happened - very glad he did not physically assault you as it sounds like he was completely out of control. His hateful, homophobic verbal abuse and behavior goes beyond the pale and disrespected not only the both of you, but those buried there and their families.

Gods, people are wearying.

Aug. 22nd, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
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( 32 comments — Have your say! )