Finally, after all the waiting, debating and angst about quitting my job and shlepping around the US, intense internal struggles over which shoes I could be arsed to lug around for three months, getting here and traipsing across the north east of the country, finally >>>
WE WERE AT THE GATES OF GRACELAND
Elvis Aaron Presley's actual living, breathing pile on the edge of Memphis. There were probably a few of his cell particles still knocking about. I was so excited I broke out into star jumps by the ticket desk. Just writing about it now makes me feel a bit weird. So, in order to keep the hysteria at bay, I've decided to portray the wonder, garishness and downright opulence of the King of Rock and Roll in this here pictorial.
Feed your eyeballs.
Platinum ticket purchased sending happiness levels buzzing at full volume. If you go onto the Elvis website, you can get a coupon for $4 off the entry price. More money for souvenirs, such as Mr Potato Head Elvis's:
HOUND DOG ONE
Elvis accumulated such a vast amount of wealth that by the mid 70's, he was able to buy a Convair 880 aircraft, gut it, restyle it and name it after his only child, Lisa Marie. Who's the daddy? The plane has a conference table, bar and king size bed with a gold plated seat belt over the entire thing. No cattle class on this vessel.
Sitting in the huge chamber that is Elvis's Car Museum is the magnificent piece of poetry that is this pink Cadillac. When I was little, my dad bought a miniature version of this for my grandma, and it now sits on my shelf at home, next to a set of Russian nesting dolls and an alligator head. Elvis bought this for his own mum, Gladys.
Seeing it in real life is something else. It's dainty and feminine, like a sugared almond, but also a beast of machinery that could smack you up if you got on the wrong side of it. I like that Elvis embraced pink - he also had a pink striped golf buggy that he used for tooling around the Hawaiian islands and later, the grounds of Graceland.
Across the street from the restaurants and exhibitions on the man and his life sits the Graceland Mansion itself. From the armies of shuttle buses we thought the house would be an arduous trek away, the sketchy path prone to bear attacks and prowling packs of Elvis fanatics. It was in fact, just across the four lane road which go-getting pedestrians could easily walk across thanks to a efficient zebra crossing. Still, keen to fit in and intergrate, we hopped aboard the shuttle and slid the cheap headphones attached to the personal audio guide onto our ears. Through the front door on the right was the Presley living room, decked out with festive decorations so we could imagine the yuletide extravaganza that would have taken place here every December before 16th July 1977.
Out of respect to Elvis and the Presley family, visitors are denied access to the upper rooms of the mansion, where Elvis's private quarters would have been. That's a shame - I'd have liked to see his bedroom for interior design tips to deck out my own house, when I get it together enough to get one.
This was my favourite room in the house. It's Elvis's billiards room and the walls and ceiling are completely covered in what looked like antique oriental fabrics, pleated towards the centre of the ceiling.
LEAVING THE BUILDING
It was the weirdest thing, but throughout the tour, Leah and I had been gawping at pictures of the young Elvis, slowly crushing hard on this dead guy who was gone long before either of us were a gleam in our respective fathers' eyes. Yet when we found ourselves in front of Elvis Presley's grave, we both clung to each other looking folorn and sniffling slightly, feeling this loss for a talent we never knew for ourselves firsthand.
What a wardrobe. What a legend. What a man.
(what a cheeseball I am)