San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Sunday, May 10, 2009


In the early fifties I was smitten with the music of Little Richard, George Shearing and Nat King Cole. And a few others.  "Elvis the Pelvis" was not among my most cherished entertainers.  It was not until, some thirty years later, I was forced by a friend to watch "Jail House Rock," that I came to be a real live, honest-to-goodness ... well, I can't say a true groupie fan, but I certainly came to appreciate his talent more than I had as a teenager.  SEE!  You can be born again!  

That said (and I hope I don't get too many of you die-hards agitated enough to throw rotten tomatoes at me), I wish I had never visited Graceland; shoulda stayed happy just enjoying his music .  It was, in a word, deplorable.  OK, two words:  also gross and offensive. The sole purpose of the Elvis commercial compound is to sell stuff. Stuff made in China; chintzy, cheesy, cheap stuff.  OK?  So here's how I spent my day at the Elvis Presley exhorbitantly-priced superstore that is called Graceland.
First, enter the ticket office.  Oh, I forgot:  I did spend the night at the RV park behind Heartbreak Hotel -- very expensive.  It too sells Elvis stuff.  On to the ticket lobby -- made me think I had been magic-carpeted to Las Vegas -- glaring lights and Elvis blaring through loudspeakers and on video screens.  A cacophony of mind numbing agitating, distraction...AAAAK!    At one of four or five ticket windows you can buy three or four tiers of tour tickets, each one more expensive than the other.  I chose simple and least expensive, which was to visit the mansion only; visiting Elvis' wheeled and winged toys was included in the next tier.
While you wait for the van to take you across the highway to the mansion, there's a veritable cornucopia of shops in which to lose your money without traveling to Las Vegas.  "Elvis Kids," "Elvis Music and Videos," "Elvis Pottery."  Elvis junque everywhere!

Then stand in line and receive your very own, personal tour guide -- no extra charge. The best thing about him/it, was that you could shut it off at will!

Arriving at the mansion, we were admonished for umpteenth time that no flash photography was allowed. That will explain why many of the interior photos that follow, taken with "available light," turned out grainy, out of focus and weirdly colored.
Some rooms, while a little on the gaudy side (for my taste) were still beautiful.  

Upstairs is locked and guarded.  No one, has ever been allowed upstairs.  Off limits. Period.
Elvis liked mirrors.  Mirrors on the ceilings, on the walls, in the bar, in stairwells. Where there weren't mirrors, some of the walls and ceilings were carpeted -- in that icky 70's  green.

One of his dens... to a bar with surround-mirrors, of course.
This is the Hawaiian room, though I've never seen anything like this in Hawaii!! There's water cascading down the far rock wall (that looks like it's glowing).  A very strange room -- lots of leather, animal hides, animal trophies and skeletons on the tables, another bar, lots of dark, carved wood -- uber masculine!  And butt-UGly!

And little Lisa Marie's favorite chair and teddy bear. 
But my favorite room of all, the game room, was interesting because it was sheathed, ceiling and all three walls, completely with colorful folded fabric; and the ceiling fabric sort of glided from the center and attached to a wall.  Were it not for the Tiffany light fixture and pool table, I imagined myself in a tribesman's tent in Africa. It was an incredibly imaginative use of fabric; perhaps some Hollywood set designer put this room together. 

A special temperature-controlled museum was built just to house the enormous collection of Elvis memorabilia, including his honors, trophies, scores of gold and platinum records, stage costumes, movie props, and so on. 

It is SAID that Elvis is buried at Graceland along with his parents and grandmother. Are you one of those believers?
What an unique talent he was.  And such a sad, sad, premature ending.
I hope this snarky, heathen post doesn't offend too many.  I wish I'd left well enough alone, simply appreciating Elvis' gifts, and stayed away from Graceland.