Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

FEBRUARY 19, 2012 6:26PM

That was the Best Funeral Ever!

Rate: 49 Flag

Man, I was hungover on Saturday. I went surfing with my friend in the a.m. but after I came home and took a hot shower, I was done, kaput.

So when I saw that Whitney Houston's funeral would be viewable online, I thought, "Perfect, Beth Mann. You have a plan. You could stand some church anyway, you big loser." So I smoked a little weed (to stave off the mild nausea I was experiencing) and curled up under my purple furry blanket with a cup of chamomile tea.

And boy, was I happy I did. It was the best damn funeral ever! It wasn't splashy or fancy. Just the opposite. Sure, it was star-studded but it paled in comparison to the simple grandeur of the New Hope Baptist Church and its congregation. We were invited into a special house in Newark and it was a privilege.

And the choir. So sweet. The most magical element for me. They started out so simply, so quietly. You could barely hear them at first. Then an instrument would join in. And another. Then a few more voices. Soon, they were just blowing the roof off the joint.

Just loving on these women. And so would Whitney. She was one of them, after all. (This video gives you only a little indication. It was a joyous crescendo of spirit and voice that evolved over 20 minutes):

Below, Donnie McClurkin sings Stand with the choir (as requested by Houston's family). One of my favorite pieces of the service. Listen to what it grows into toward the end. Some serious gospel.

And all in Newark. Poor Newark. A depressing and depressed city. Crime-ridden, rundown, burnt-out and tired. It's a hurtin' town that could stand some love and attention. I felt extra proud that we had a chance to see their community working together, in mourning and in celebration.

Go Newark!

Go New Jersey!

Then I heated up a frozen double stuffed baked potato I found in the freezer and a slice of white pizza from God knows when and went back to church with Whitney.

I've had a lifelong "eh" relationship with Kevin Costner. (I've always found him a little boring) but boy, he really delivered at Whitney's funeral. He was just so gentle and human. (I don't think he was acting.)

I couldn't listen to Stevie Wonder; I'm sorry but his voice is not a voice I like. Even a minute or two of listening aggravated my throbbing headache so I took an aspirin then hit the kitchen once again, where I ate the remaining tortilla chips at the bottom of a bag, praying for a ginger ale to appear.

R. Kelly....I don't know what to say there. He gives a kind of crazy performance. He's really affected. But somehow it kinda works anyway. And I give him credit for just dangling his spiritual balls out there. (Will I be punished for that? Oh yeah, God gets my jokes.)

The closing of the funeral was hard. To hear her voice suddenly, it was hard. Then the collective gasp when the coffin is raised up high, as if to say, "Please be careful with her."

Overall I genuinely appreciated the splendor and simplicity of the service. It was real and effective, not a bullshit media circus. Newark trumped Hollywood. Right on. It was a good thing amidst a sad story. And everyone seemed extra regular. We were all at church together for close to four hours. We listened. We felt as one.

Afterward, I went for a walk on the beach and talked to God a little. It had been a while. Even raised my hand to the skies at some point.


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Beth, it's unfortunate that it was a funeral that never had to happen for her at such a young age, but it's nice to see Newark portrayed in a positive light. I first visited the city around '76-'77 and it has come a long way since those days between new businesses, the Performing Arts Center, the Newark Museum, and the list goes on.
It is so tender of you to post this tribute in your inimitable style.
I think you share a good deal of the kind of spirit that she held.
She never failed to astonish me.....
You did Whitney, God, and New Jersey proud with this piece. ~r
I skipped it, but am glad to have this abbreviated review. It is a beautfiul practice to send someone off in the style of their life. A musician deserves to be honored and celebrated by the best of their colleagues. A few weeks ago, I listened to Kevin White's (former mayor of Boston) funeral service broadcast on the radio, a mix of politics, tearful tributes, and old school Irish roast. Barney Frank hit his spoken moment out of the park. It was all perfect, as this seems to have been.

A stuffed potato on top of a pizza? Urp.
Thanks for sharing these links and your great commentary

I'm proud I chose to visit New Jersey and Newark during my trip to the US last year. Yes, a bit neglected but I loved it and think this a wonderful tribute to one of its most famous residents.

A sad loss indeed.
Her voice is ethereal. I was a bit confused why they kept saying who was 'performing' as if they were getting the flat rate for a gig, and like you, I hope there wasn't much acting. Great reflections here.
Thanks for this Beth. I didn't watch because I assumed it would be a media circus, Sounds like Jersey came through!
seems a bit voyeuristic. I couldn't get myself to watch the vids.
I didn't see any of it, only read about Bobby Brown walking out. Even at the end, Whitney had to deal with his sh*t!
Thanks for this. You gave us the good points, the high points and how it meant something, which I think was most important.
MiddleAgedWoman - that's his prerogative.
tell me, tell me
why...can't he
live his life

without all
of the things
that people (like you) say

it's his, it's his
it's his prerogative
Very nice Beth. This is the first that I've seen any of the funeral coverage. Thanks for sharing.
"Spiritual balls." I like that so much. This post was really moving, as well as funny. Now I want to Youtube it.
Beth, loved your entire piece and your last sentence was, well, inspiring. A lot of work put into this. Thank you.
Thank you for compiling this and sharing. Loved the gospel singing. That was the best funeral!

She brought so much to us, her music and incredible talent. And what a beautiful soul.
I hope R. Kelly does not make a play for B.K. She may be a little old for him.
I was impressed by the gold hearse.
God gets the jokes. Ha, loved that. The old white pizza sounds great to me. Got lost in Newark once and it wasn't so fun. Costner might have been acting. We'll just never know.
Feeling at one for four hours sounds interesting.
I thought I had commented here but realized it wasn't here I had commented. I just wanted to thank you for all the links and say I am glad they ler her go out in style as, to me, she always seemed such a classy, classic lady and yes she is gone way to soon.
I thought it was going to be a spectacle and I was glad they never focused on the celebs that were there to pay their respects to their colleague and friend. It was a nice service.
I watched with you beginning to end and couldn't agree more. With everything you said here and with Joan's perfect comment. You did do Whitney, God and New Jersey proud.. and yourself too.

Thank you for posting this. I didn't watch any of the funeral coverage live.

As I listened to the eulogy by Kevin Costner, I could tell by his the emotion in his voice, by his facial expressions and by his body language that he was very genuine and what he said was heartfelt, (even though it was apparent that he had rehearsed for the delivery of the eulogy for his friend).

He has one gesture he used repeatedly whenever he mentioned something about Whitney Houston's family members or his personal experiences with her that was a clear sign of the emotion he felt as he was speaking. It was very telling.

Even as I only listened to his voice while not looking at the clip, it was obvious to me that he was not acting but being human and gentle, as you wrote.
Being raised Irish Catholic in Nola I have always enjoyed a good funeral. They did a great job but it could have used a second line.
Oh, yeah. Raise those hands. I loved the last paragraph.
Hey Beth, so glad you posted this so we could watch all the clips. It's so sad. At the risk of sounding crass another great funeral is that of Graham Chapman (Monty Python fame).
His speech was amazing
Thanks for your review of this funeral (never thought I'd write a sentence like that). I didn't watch it here, but I'm glad you think it went well. I also love the Jersey pride. I felt the same way as you about that - my family has ties to Newark from previous generations, and it's always broken my heart to see what that city's become. RIP Whitney, and hopefully Newark will experience a renaissance.
I didn't watch but after reading this, I felt like I was there.
that's right. a beautiful tribute to a voice. very nice Beth
I didn't watch thank you for your rendition and remarks. Well done.
Thanks so very much for everything WH.
•.•♥╔╗╦╦╗▄║╔╗╔╗ & ╗╔╗╔╔╗╔╗•(¯ `v´¯ )◦•*✿
•.•♥╚╗║║║╦║╠╝╚╗ & ╠╣║║║╦╚╗(¯` ❤ .¯ )✿
•.•♥╚╝──╚╩╚╚╝╚╝ & ╝╚╚╝╚╝╚╝◦.(_.^._)•*¨✫
❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´  ¨`*•.¸❊¸.•*´¨`*•.¸❊
Have a beautiful new week with love and happiness❤¸.•*¨✫
well...sort of like Margaret; I didn't watch, but after reading this I worry I might be next.
Nice write-up Beth. I was out most of the weekend so your post is as close as I got to it. The consensus seems to be that it was tastefully handled
I'm glad to hear I was in such nice company while watching the funeral. You just don't get church like that here in Sweden. Makes a girl homesick. At least I have a beach nearby, it seems to be a favorite hangout of God's :)
"Oh yeah, God gets my jokes."

He usually does get mine as well, there's days he doesn't and damn if my tummy doesn't hurt like Hell!! :(


Humorous but touching - and full of truth. Very nice!
I'm not the only one to say this, but thanks for the recap. I did not view any of the media coverage.
Thank you. Nice to see the love and respect. No circus.
Gospel's good for the soul. Your writing is excellent, and your soul comes through in this piece. The best part for me was the end. Great lines. R
Sorry to digress, but I've only been to one funeral, my grandfather's. I must have been about ten. Still have dreams where I'm the one in the coffin and the mourners are pretty much the same though they all aged appropriately as I grew older. Despite this credible nod to continuity, the ones who are now dead continue to appear at my funeral in my dreams. Which I find disconcerting.