Thursday, April 26, 2012

They Are (in) Providence: John Langan's Walking Tour of Mr. Lovecraft's Neighborhood

"I am Providence" might have been the last bit of unusually restrained, intentionally published writing H.P. Lovecraft ever undertook, leaving it carved into his modest headstone marking his remains buried below the ground at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.  In many ways, this bold and audacious claim is true, as no one person (or even place or thing) springs to mind more quickly than Lovecraft when the city of Providence is mentioned.

Due to its veneration in florid verse, and what essential salts have now filtered into the soil, Providence holds the distinction - at least in my fevered mind - of reigning as the sun dappled Mecca of cosmic horror, demanding a personal Lovecraftian hajj before I'm allowed to pass on to the Other Side to meet either Paradise or Oblivion.  Regardless, I'm getting my pasty ass to Providence while the getting is still good, most likely to coincide with Readercon (possibly this year, but certainly next).  The city should be nice and ripe 'round mid July.  Blooming with greenery, whispered locales of dubious renowned, and centuried secrets waiting further exploration.

To give us good pilgrims a glimpse of what to expect, upstate New York-based horror writer John Langan lashed Laird Barron to the hood of his car and headed east, joining Paul Tremblay, Jack Haringa, John Harvey, and Geoffrey Goodwin for a walking tour around the Old Gentleman's haunts.  Langan captured it on the video above, giving a face (and gambrel roof) to many of Lovecraft's famed locations made legendary through his prose.  Locations mentioned in "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Shunned House", "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", and "The Haunter in the Dark" (the latter of which was HPL's last terrestrial abode) feature in the video.

Thanks to John for posting up the video for all of us to enjoy, and to the rest of the squamous assemblage for making the trek up the perilous and lung clutching Jenke Street hill.  BTW, Paul Tremblay assures us that the soundtrack is him strumming a six string with his feet.

Text from John Langan's YouTube posting:

On March 18, 2012, Laird Barron and I took a ride over to Providence, RI, to meet up with some friends including Paul Tremblay, Jack Haringa, John Harvey, and Geoffrey Goodwin. The lot of us wandered around some of the city's Lovecraft-related sites; this short video records the silliness that ensued. Afterwards, there were burgers with Paul Di Filippo and Barry Lee Dejasu, and a trip to Ben & Jerry's; though there was no video taken of any of that.

(A side note:  A song by DisneyPop kiddie band Lemonade Mouth was suggested/linked on the right hand side of the YouTube page for Langan's video "In the Mouth of--Oh, Wait".  Talk about unnameable madness...)

It's fascinating, at least to me, to see these places previously only constructed in my mind appear as they really are today, and probably were back in Lovecraft's time.

Click here for detailed list of Lovecraftian sites and sights waiting dead but dreaming for you in Rhode Island, a haunted corner of weird Americania proving time and time again that size truly doesn't matter.  Unless we're talking pizza...  Oh, and penis size, too.


  1. Really nice video! I love Providence but have never been out to Swan Point. Maybe if you guys go out there you can post another video? Very cool stuff, thanks!

  2. We'll post pics at the very least, Reber.

    I'm so glad John recorded their jaunt. That's the most I've ever seen of Providence.

  3. Return--return--& shew us 10 Barnes Street. Oh, I stood in front of that house, with S. T. standing next to me chanting (yea, chanting) the Works that Grandpa penned there, and I jotted down impressions in me pb edition of FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH & OTHER POEMS; and then I went and touched ye #10 as S. T. shouted to ye October sky, "This should be a national monument!"

  4. I'd pay bags and bags of shekels to hear S. T. chant. Gods beyond, what a scene that must have been.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Brother Wilum. I was hoping you'd run across this, as I've enjoyed your pics o' Providence.

  5. Wish I'd been there with you folks that day!

  6. When I lived in Providence for eight years (4 in college and 4 after that) I was only just discovering what Lovecraft was really about. There was an added patina of experience to read stories like 'Charles Dexter Ward', knowing that I was mere blocks from where much of it took place. I did not know, however, that I lived a block from the shunned house for two years, passing it every day at least twice. My favorite pizza place (Checker's- R.I.P.) was the house where his aunts lived.

    It's a colorful city for sure.

    1. That's awesome, Paul.

      I really need to get out there, and think we will sometime next year. Meet me for slice in remembrance of Checker's, and the kooky Old Gent.

  7. Zhool! hehehe.

    Did ye ever talk to Jefferson about any experience he may have had relating to the HPL influence while there?

    I'll bounce it off him next time I sees him. Also, since he just got back from yet another sea voyage and is embroiled in his deep sea exploration, I'm sure it's still a relevant talking point.

    Be well, cuz!

    1. Please do, cousin.

      My time chatting with Jefferson was so sadly short all those years ago on the Boettger Farm. Tell him to drop me a line next time you see him. Us Grausts are notoriously horrendous at staying in touch, but he and I have some things to discuss.