(I wanted to post this on his real birthday, but in a later post I’ll explain why I couldn’t…)

The other day would’ve been The King’s 74th birthday. I knew this only because the radio dude reminded me but my sister would remember because she looooooved him.

It was an unrequited love, of course, but as far back as I remember she watched all of his movies every time they were on, knew all of of his songs, and was thus the inevitable target of much mockery.

Mocking Elvis came early and easily. It was the ’70s and this was the height of his cliché period: the Vegas shows, the over-sweating, the bejeweled white bell-bottomed jumpsuits, the whole bit…

yah baybayyyy…

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I’m sorry but he couldn’t act.

The ability to mock him was reinforced by knowing my sister loved him and later by visits to the late-lamented “Elvis is Alive Museum,” located nearby and where they took his aliveness very seriously.

The museum tried to explain how they had proof he was alive but I never quite got it – something about undercover work for the FBI? – but I had to really try not to laugh because they were so serious about it.

This was part of their proof:

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Huh?? Yes, of course that proves he’s alive…

The real charm of the Museum was in the individual rooms, each of which was surrounded by the various framed proofs of his aliveness:

  • the funeral room: where the Elvis mannequin rested in a real coffin, complete with sad funeral music playing and bad fake bouquets. The “corpse” didn’t even look like him and not just because his head was a little off-center. His head was off-center because it got damaged in shipping and the head fell off. Not surprisingly the museum didn’t have a professional conservator to repair it so the head was delicately balanced adjacent to the body.
  • the wedding “chapel”: Really just a plastic archway with tacky plastic flowers around it. You could rent it for marriage ceremonies. And remember there was framed “evidence” of his aliveness around this room, so it really added to the celebratory ambiance.
  • the research room: full of primary sources like the National Enquirer, Star, and other documentation proving his existence. You could sit and page through the “evidence.”
  • the movie room: I remember laughing a lot but do not remember one thing about the video proof that he is alive.
  • the gift shop: The real reason any of us goes to a US museum is for the tschochkes (sp?). I don’t remember any of those either, but I DO remember they had things with Graceland price tags on them. Not surprisingly the Museum was being sued by Graceland, but for some reason the woman in the store thought that subpoenaing Priscilla and Lisa Marie would help them. No, of course it made no sense.

That’s probably why it eventually went under.

The guy who ran it was a real estate agent – minister – restaurant owner who apparently thought he was Elvis’s twin brother: he wore a white jumpsuit, drove an old ’70s convertible Caddy, had dyed black hair (and was too old to carry it) and “the glasses.”

The museum visits simply reinforced everything I thought about him: tacky, dated, can’t act, dead.

Fast forward many years…I heard an Old Navy commercial and loved the song so much that I went to their website to look it up. Turns out it was a Paul Oakenfold remix of Rubberneckin’ and once I went through denial, anger and acceptance, I got a copy of the song.

It snowballed from there. I heard Suspicious Minds somewhere (another commercial?) and then rediscovered and listened to A Little Less Conversation, which is a little dated because he uses the word “groovy” but is still catchy. I’ve added all 3 to my “boppin’ in the garden” playlist.

Now, I have a good friend who works at a major travel company and she got 4 of us plane tickets and we all met up in Memphis a few months ago. I’d always wanted to go to Graceland but we all thought it such a cliché and tacky but I knew I’d regret not going. I needed the full picture, not just the Elvis is Alive Museum picture…

We ended up going and oh my god…it was everything I imagined and…everything I imagined.

The rooms with all the awards and costumes were amazing…

Look at all these awards. This is one room, about 1/2 way down the corridor. Photo is crappy but you get the sense of how many awards / gold records the dude got.  And this is only half of one hallway!!

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More crappy pictures showing another award room in the former racquetball court:

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And how about the infamous TV room…what’s up with that monkey?!

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Here’s the adjacent fabric ceilinged and walled billiard room. The ceiling was actually done really nicely, with some serious pleats ‘n’ stuff:

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But really, nothing was more impressive than one of his planes, the Lisa Marie. For example, check out one of the bathrooms on the plane:

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See that cushion on the right? That’s really the toilet seat (leather of course). The sink? Gold-plated.

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All the seatbelts have gold-plated seat clasps. I’m hoping to god that the plastic was not present when they were using the plane. That would be tacky.

Of course, nothing could surpass the sofa bed. I’m betting it was used more as a bed since I think he got this plane during his pill period…How many women went on that plane hoping to join the Mile High Club with Elvis, only to find out that the King needed a nap?!

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And again, let’s hope the plastic wasn’t on the bed when it was in use.

So on this, the King’s non-74th birthday, I have to apologize to my sister all those years of Elvi-torture. More importantly, I hereby publicly acknowledge that I do like some of his songs. The dude couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag but still, he was (in many ways) the King.

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