Elvis Died For Your Sins

August 16, 2007

It’s the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis. You aren’t at work, are you? Of course you aren’t. You’re at home, wearing a sequined jumpsuit and reflecting on where you were 30 years ago today.

I know where I was.

I remember not because I loved Elvis, but because our neighbor Selma* loved, loved, loved Elvis. When Selma learned that Elvis went to the Great Hereafter she stood in the road and sobbed. She didn’t just cry, she wailed. Like a banshee.

Then there were the candles. Eventually there was a neighborhood caravan up to Graceland, which I was not part of. At least in my memory there was a caravan. I don’t really remember if they actually went, my overwrought Elvis-loving neighbors, or if there was just a lot of talk and beer consumption by the light of Selma’s shrine. It was a lovely shrine, under the palm trees in her front yard.

I was very young, so it’s kind of a blur.

There was live coverage blaring from the crappy AM radio Selma usually took to the beach. The grownups drank lots of beer and talked about Our Great National Tragedy.

They didn’t know about the toilet yet, not that it would have mattered. He was, after all, the King.

Yankees get drunk and plot roadtrips to Florida. Floridians get drunk and plot roadtrips to Graceland. It’s the Cycle of Life.

At any rate, if you’re reading this you’re probably not at Graceland today. That means (I hope) that you’re at home, watching the TCM Elvis movie marathon and making dinner from recipes in Are You Hungry Tonight?

The hagiography at the Graceland site not enough Elvis info-tainment for you? Too lazy to search google? Here’s some suggestions for you:

You can visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Elvis Induction Page.

You can read the remarkable list of hundreds of songs about Elvis and/or Nixon. (sadly, with no links or mp3s, but the novelty wears off prettty fast, anyway).

You can groove to the sounds of Jesus Presley.

You can visit the First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis (who I would swear used to have a better website, but maybe that was a different Elvis Church).

You can go to Vegas and get married at the Elvis Chapel.

You can catch up on the Girls Guide to Elvis.

You can read about the saga of the Elvis statue in Memphis and the efforts to have it restored to it’s former glory:

The statue was popular with tourists. It was so popular tourists climbed onto the base of the statue and managed to pry loose the metal fringe on the jump suit. They also treated it like the front wall at Graceland until the statue was tattooed with well wishes and not-so-well wishes. “I touched Elvis’ butt,” seemed particularly egregious.

That probably would have continued had locals not begun complaining about the condition of the statue around 1994. The question of who was responsible for the upkeep and, more important, who would pay for the needed cleaning and renovation of the statue hit a web of City Hall red tape.

Enter Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, local eccentric and self-professed visitor from another planet. Mongo claimed the statue as his own since no one from the city would take specific responsibility.

He announced he would remove the statue, take it in for repairs, pay for the repairs, gold plate it and then install it as part of his former Front Street nightspot Prince Mongo’s Planet. When he showed up at the plaza one morning and a large crane followed, Memphis police were ready. The move was put off when police told Mongo the crane couldn’t park there. Mongo pledged to come back the next day. But his interest waned. Shortly thereafter, the statue was repaired by others.

[read the whole article]

Last, but not least, don’t forget the Elvis Lives fanclub.

*not her real name.

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August 16, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

This rocks. So I had to give you a mention. ;)

August 16, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

Hawai’i (or TV Land) didn’t want to be left out, so two weeks ago a statue of Elvis was unveiled out in front of the arena where the “Aloha from Hawaii” 1973 concert was held.

That’s a WaPo article, but the image has disappeared. Here’s the video of its unveiling.

August 16, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

Great link, Link. “More people watched the Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii concert than the landing of Apollo 11 moon landing.” I don’t know whether to be alarmed or amused by that funfact.

August 16, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

My only gripe is that there was little-to-no public input about this statue; it suddenly appeared one afternoon, full-blown from the minds of the TV Land people, on the grounds of a public building, with our crooning Mayor (idiot to the stars!) presiding.

August 16, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

Maybe they learned a valuable lesson from the Elvis stamp. Amazing that even hiding behind the saintly Elvis, anyone would dare put art/statuary on public grounds without at least 900 public hearings, 4 ballot initiatives, and a half dozen lawsuits.

Someone who really craved publicity could file a seperation of Church and State (nuisance) suit. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’d want to mess with the Elvis crowd. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but that doesn’t keep you out of a body cast…

August 16, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

my American history teacher at my catholic high school was an Elvis fanatic. Southern with an accent straight out of Georgia, you have to imagine her saying this which was part of her introduction on our first day of class”

“Jesus Chris is Lord, but Elvis is the King”

August 16, 2007 @ 6:38 pm

I remember where I was: at my best friend Andrea’s house, thinking her teeth-gnashing and Dusty-and-Nugget-and-Suntan-Tuesday-Taylor-hair-pulling fit was perhaps more a measure of her household’s intricate mesh of day-to-day repressions than mere Messiah-loss.
Also I was thinking that this might mean the cancellation of my 7th birthday party, the next day (it didn’t; instead it meant that the Zoo Room at Farrell’s was free). (I wasn’t as coldly untouched-by-Elvis as it sounds; it’s just as an already-jaded latch-key iconoclast that yr I was deep into ELO.)

August 16, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

So, here I was walking into the men’s room at the office when I was accosted by the unmistakable scent of Aquanet. There’s a guy who sort of looks like Elvis at the sink doing his hair. His outfit, in all its technicolor glory, was hanging in a stall.

Okay, so I just assumed it was going to be “one of those days” and moved on. A few hours later, I’m in the men’s room again, and a different Elvis walks in. W.T.F?!

Turns out there was a gaggle of Elvii at my office for a taping of a teevee show. Surreal.

August 17, 2007 @ 12:04 am

Now we can officially wish you a happy birthday. Jessica. An east coast time happy birthday, anyway. Maybe I can send you some of Samer’s Elvii…

August 21, 2007 @ 12:07 am

I think we saw that Elvis story late that night, but it didn’t stick in my brain beyond vaguely registering I should tell Samer.