Monday, March 7, 2011


There is a city ordinance in Memphis that one cannot visit without going to see Graceland. Naturally, rather than leave with an unwanted ticket, we made our visit. Remember the camera situation? Well, our credit card company assumed that someone had stolen our wallets, went to the WalMart in West Memphis, Arkansas, bought a camera and was now expecting admittance to Graceland. So our initial attempt to buy tickets was declined. What are the chances that thieves would actually be that cool?

In any case, once the situation was cleared up, we made our way to the Graceland mansion. I specifically avoided looking Graceland up online before going so I would be surprised. And surprised I was. I thought that Graceland was situated in the countryside among rolling green hills. Perhaps it was in 1957, but today the road leading to it is peppered with used tire shops and shacks selling pulled pork sandwiches.

The mansion itself is modest by today's standards. Modest in size, at least, but not in decor. It has moments of absolute elegance; and then there's the Jungle Room. On seeing the whole place, I got a sense that Elvis was a conflicted man. Self-conscious of his lack of higher education, he wanted all the symbols of high culture as we saw in the dining room. But also, he had a taste for camp too, which he indulged elsewhere.

Coming away from the tour, I was touched by what a kind, gentle soul he was throughout his life. He never stopped feeling grateful for his fans and his rise to fame. He gave to charities and individual citizens copiously; the countless cancelled checks can be found alongside his gold and platinum records in the Trophy Room.

And who doesn't admire a man who loves his Mama and Papa?

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