by Allie Daugherty
At this point, a zombie apocalypse, vampire uprising or alien invasion seems inevitable.
If pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that the end is nigh, and only those with the surest aim, most powerful roundhouse kick or prettiest face will survive. And even the hot ones will die in the sequel.
Kicking the bucket is inevitable, so why not kick in style? Follow the fast track to heaven in a customized coffin that looks like a Ferrari and sports a sweet interior. Make a lasting impression by having your ashes mixed with ink that becomes an unforgettable tattoo. Better yet, head to Tibet and have sacred vultures consume your corpse and fly away.
Since you probably won’t be needing them, you might consider donating your organs. Either way, PacificSD hopes your final resting place(s) will be comfortable. If you go with burial, go deep. If you go with cremation, spread yourself thin. See you on the other side.
Custom containers and a lifetime guarantee
Think outside the box for a lifetime only to be buried inside one for eternity? Not on your life! Get the last laugh with a coffin that’ll leave ’em coughin’ (because they’re laughing so hard).
This 18-gauge steel casket from J&D’s (a spice company that produces BaconSalt and Baconnaise, not coffins) features a premium bacon exterior, an adjustable bed and a bacon-scented air freshener for that not-so-fresh feeling that can accompany being buried. $2,999.99. baconsalt.com
This Memento coffin lives in your living room until you die, fulfilling the role of coffee table until you’re placed inside it to be buried. The idea is that part of your living energy will soak into the solid pine table, staying with you in the days after you’ve sipped your last cup of joe. The table’s not for sale but the design schematic can be downloaded free for home fabrication. charles-constantine.com
After you’ve stuck a cork in it for good, stick yourself in this pulled-cork casket, featuring a removable handle keepsake for loved ones left behind. Crazy Coffins USA says, “Put some fun in your funeral.” $4,000. crazycoffinsusa.com
Solid wood Fender Stratocaster caskets have been made up to 12-feet long. Long live rock! $5,500. crazycoffinsusa.com
What better way to depart the mobile generation than in a cell phone? This Nokia E71 may not have a touch screen, but it does display one final text message, either to or from the phone’s ultimate owner. $3,000. crazycoffinsusa.com
Something more flashy to do when you’re ashy
In 2007, the world breathed a collective gasp when Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards admitted he had mixed some of his father’s cremation ashes into his cocaine and snorted it.
But while being inhaled by a rock star may seem extreme, it’s hardly the most creative thing to do with your cremains. Don’t put your love upon no shelf. Mix those ashes with tattoo ink and make a real lasting impression.
Show how classy you really are by compressing your ashes into a diamond. The size and color can be customized, allowing you to sparkle for eternity. The folks at Life Gem (lifegem.com) will turn you into a treasure starting at around $2,500.
OUT WITH A BANG
Looking to be remembered with a little more pizzazz? Have your ashes put inside some fireworks for a customizable pyrotechnic spectacular that can show off your colorful personality and lightly sprinkle your loves ones. This method was made famous when gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson had his ashes exploded in the sky. If you die in England, hit up Heavens Above Fireworks (heavensabovefireworks.com), where a simple rocket costs around $120 and a full-blown extravaganza will set your estate back about $3,000.
INK ABOUT IT
Inks used in paintings, comic books and tattoos can be mixed with your cremains, helping you become one with whatever artistic expression suits you. Be a cartoon superhero, a dragon on your friend’s ankle or maybe a self-portrait, painted with your own ashes. Now there’s a holiday gift the folks won’t forget!
SLEEP WITH THE FISHES
A Georgia company mixes ashes with cement to form pieces of rock that will be placed among living coral reefs in the ocean. Your family and friends can help shape the coral and attend a ceremony as you’re placed beneath the waves. Prices start at $3,000 at eternalreefs.com.
LOCKED AND LOADED
Get your ashes packed into rifle cartridges and shotgun shells for an explosive last hurrah. You can be mixed with up to 250 rounds, giving your hunting buddies one last chance to kill something with you. Shoot to spend $850 or more at myholysmoke.com.
For about $10,000 Celestis will blast some of your remains into Earth’s orbit or deep space. (Insert Uranus joke here.) For a little more, you can land on the surface of the moon. “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and LSD advocate Timothy Leary were the space burial company’s first customers. celestis.com
Death is Imminent! Run now!
• Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone
fragments using high heat and flame.
• The remains of an average-size adult usually weigh between four to six pounds.
• For the average-sized adult, cremation takes from two to three hours at normal
operating temperature, which is 1,500 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In 2010, the U.S. cremation rate was 40.62 percent. In 1990,
it was 17.13 percent. In 1970, it was 4.59 percent.
Source: U.S. National Center for Health Statists-Vital Statistics
of the United States; National Vital Statistics Reports; U.S. Census Bureau
Headstones of notable souls six feet under America’s Finest
Photo by John Audley
THE LANDMARK BUILDER
Elisha Babcock (1848-1922)
Elisha Babcock is best known for building Hotel del Coronado. A railroad executive from Indiana, Babcock retired to San Diego and, with a friend, purchased nearly 4,200 of acres of land on Coronado Island for $110,000.
Mount Hope Cemetary, Mount Hope
Joseph Coors (1917-2003)
Joseph Coors, grandson of the founder of Coors Brewing Co., did more than just make beer. In addition to refining the cold-filtered beer-making process, he helped create the first national recycling program by offering a penny for each returned aluminum Coors can.
El Camino Memorial Park, North Park
THE FOOTBALL ENTHUSIAST
Pete Alvin Rozelle (1926-1996)
Pete Rozelle served as Commissioner of the NFL for 29 years, during which he grew the roster from 12 to 28 teams and helped launch and popularize Monday Night Football. In 1985, Rozelle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Since 1991, the Super Bowl MVP has been awarded the Pete Rozelle trophy.
El Camino Memorial Park, North Park
THE BOY WHO NEVER GREW UP
Bobby Driscoll (1937-1968)
At age eight, Bobby Driscoll was the first child actor to be under contract with Disney Studios. He played many roles, but is perhaps most remembered for being the voice and physical inspiration for the animated classic “Peter Pan.” Driscoll’s cinematic success earned him an Oscar and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Oceanside
THE FASHION KILLER
Andrew Phillip Cunanan (1969-1997)
Andrew Cunanan is infamous for murdering famed designer Gianni Versace, his fifth murder victim in a three-month span. Reportedly a gay gigolo who frequented bars in Hillcrest, Cunanan became the first San Diegan to be placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list before ultimately taking his own life on a houseboat in Miami.
Holy Cross Cemetery, Chollas View
Jonas Salk (1914-1995)
Jonas Salk changed the world with his discovery and development of the polio vaccination in the 1950s. A decade later, San Diego’s mayor enticed Salk to move to America’s Finest by offering him 70 acres on which to build the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, where he spent his later years searching for an AIDS vaccine.
El Camino Memorial Park, La Jolla
THE NUCLEAR PHYSICIST
William Nierenberg (1919-2000)
William Nierenberg was a member of the Manhattan Project, helping to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. He continued to serve on many committees for the president, NASA, the NSA and other prestigious science groups, eventually becoming the director of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Today, he is the namesake of the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, which has been bestowed to those such as Walter Cronkite and Jane Goodall.
El Camino Memorial Park, North Park
Give it up for the ultimate form of giving back
The folks at Lifesharing, San Diego County’s only organization allowed to procure organs and organize the donation, explain the contrary. Billy Snyder and Director of PR and Community Outreach Sharon Ross say that that, of nearly 10 million registered donors in California, only about one percent will get to donate – not because of health or age, but because of the way they died.
To become an organ donor, Ross says death must occur in a hospital with the patient on ventilator support to maintain circulation of blood and oxygen. This means the heart is still beating, but the brain is dead.
It’s not as simple as it’s portrayed on TV medical dramas, such as House.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget the episode where Dr. House went through the halls of the hospital with an ice chest looking for someone’s liver,” Ross says. “It doesn’t happen that way.”
When a person does meet the requirements, his or her organs – heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines and kidneys – can be used to save the lives of up to eight people needing a transplant. Nearly 1,600 San Diegans are on a waiting list for one or more organs.
Donor organs that aren’t fit for transplant are sometimes donated to science for research and education projects. Those who can’t give their organs can still become tissue donors, who provide heart valves, skin, blood vessels, connective tissue, bone and corneas to more than a million Americans each year.
“It’s a deceased person, and you’re taking their organs out, so there’s an aspect to our job in the lei public that it’s kind of gruesome,” Snyder says. “But, for me, it’s a beautiful process. You see a heart beating inside this person, and then we stop it, and it turns into this cold flaccid piece of muscle that isn’t moving at all. And then you bring it to the recipient room, and as soon as the transplant surgeon hooks everything back up and they get blood dripping into the right atrium, that little flaccid piece of muscle that’s been sitting cold for an hour just starts to move on it’s own like it knows what to do. And then it’s beating on its own.”
“You’ve transformed their lives,” Ross says. “We consider our donors to be heroes. They have given a very precious gift to someone who in all likelihood would have died waiting.”
Become a donor at donatelifecalifornia.org or sign up at the DMV.
Way To Go!
Aboriginal Body Exposure: A corpse is placed on a platform, covered in leaves and left for months until the flesh rots away. Then the bones are placed in a cave or hollowed-out log until they turn to dust.
Endocannibalism: The Amazonian tribe Yanomami will sometimes eat the ash and ground bones of their dead after cremation, believing that death itself is the cannibalism of the soul by a spirit or enemy.
Malagasy Famadihana: Inhabitants of Madagascar periodically remove bodies from their graves and celebrate with them via dances and happy gatherings.
Indian Santhara: Applied when the body is still living, Santhara occurs when one feels their body has served its purpose and fasts until they can leave the earth in dignity.
Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burial: the recently deceased are dismembered and left to be eaten by vultures, which are worshiped as sacred in the culture.