The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 25, 2007

Issues of True Import


Web headline Friday:

"As Anna Nicole decomposes, James Brown looking good"

This, folks, was not on some joke website. It was the headline in a Houston Chronicle story they picked up from the world's largest news agency, The Associated Press.

And I hate to get all serious or anything.

But what it tells me is that we care more about two dead people and their respective states of bodily decay during ridiculous battles over the money they earned as so-called celebrities than we do about, well, anything.

Thousands dying in Darfur? A war that should never have been in Iraq? Yeah, they're there, not here...not in the civilized world, where we are. We have more important things to focus on.

So let's do that.

As Anna Nicole decomposes, James Brown looking good
Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. — While a medical examiner in Florida says Anna Nicole Smith's body is decomposing so rapidly that a public viewing may not be possible, the funeral director handling the still-unburied corpse of James Brown says the soul singer is looking good.

"No problem," said Charles Reid, director of the C.A. Reid Funeral Home, which handled The Godfather of Soul's funeral service.

Reid said this week that he has checked Brown's body almost daily in the past two months during the legal fight over Brown's estate and where he should be buried.

The reason for the difference in their condition, experts said, is that Brown was embalmed within a few hours of his death, while Smith's body was refrigerated for more than a week before being embalmed.

Refrigeration creates moisture that contributes to decomposition.

Brown, who died of heart failure Dec. 25 at age 73, looks almost unchanged from his December funeral and could even be displayed for another public viewing, Reid said.

Earlier this week, Dr. Joshua Perper, medical examiner in Broward County, Fla., said that Smith's body was decomposing more rapidly than expected.

In an embalming, blood is removed and replaced with chemicals that mostly consist of formaldehyde and wood alcohol. The preservatives dramatically slow decomposition.

The body is bathed and covered with a disinfectant before being dressed and placed in a casket. The mouth and eyes are closed.

Experts say there is no set time for how long a corpse can remain unburied. Eventually, dehydration sets in and a body deteriorates from the outside in. But Reid said the skin can be revitalized by applying beeswax.

On Thursday, the court-appointed lawyer for Smith's baby daughter said the centerfold would be buried in the Bahamas next to her son, but he did not say when.