Hey, Memphis, it's Elvis Week!
I know. You don't care. Neither do I, really. For locals, Elvis Week has about as much resonance as Arbor Day. But that won't be the case for thousands and thousands of people from around the country and the globe who will come to Memphis to pay tribute to the late great King of Rock-and-Roll. For those folks — and for Elvis Presley Enterprises and for the Memphis economy — it's a very big deal. And for that we should be thankful.
The E-tourists will be all over downtown and lower Whitehaven — the Germans with their black socks and sandals, the Japanese with their cameras, the Brits in their cargo shorts and black Elvis T-shirts, the Aussies ... in their cups.
And this year they can all go to Elvis.com and download the Elvis Week app for their smartphones. It will keep them updated on the week's schedule, which includes morning and evening "walkups to the Meditation Garden," Hound Dog Tours of the city, night after night of Elvis Tribute Artist (ETA) contests, Elvis Bingo, Elvis concerts, "meet and greets" with various Elvis cohorts, friends, and historians, memorial masses led by George Klein and others, and, of course, the final-night Candlelight Vigil — after which Elvis rises from the dead.
Not really. But you have to admit it's all a bit cultish. When I first moved to Memphis, 20 years ago, I was fascinated by all this Elvis stuff. And I loved how the locals sent up the whole Elvis mania with the "Dead Elvis Ball" at the P&H Cafe. The actor Chris Ellis used to create memorial T-shirts each year. I think I still have a couple buried deep in my closet. I even went to the vigil a couple of times.
This is also the week when I usually get an email from an Irishman named Maurice P. Colgan, who for decades has been campaigning to get the Memphis airport renamed the Elvis Presley International Airport. To which I say, why not? Considering the dearth of flights coming in and out of that place these days, it could only help. We could change MEM to TCB. It's not a bad idea, really.
Speaking of bad ideas, really. ... Last week, Great Britain's Daily Star "reported" that hip-hop genius Kanye West was considering buying Graceland for his girlfriend, the lovely and obliquely talented Kim Kardashian. Of course, the story's only source was an unnamed "Kardashian insider," which, to be slightly crude, does not narrow the field much. But on the eve of Elvis Week, the bogus story no doubt effectively garnered lots of web traffic, even if it was sort of a cheap trick. (No, no, not you, Kim.)
Not to be outdone when it comes to cheap web-trafficking tricks, The Commercial Appeal and Flyer websites immediately "reported" on the Star's reportage. Which, I guess, only goes to prove we're all Elvis fans at some level.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
The rain is coming down, slow and persistent from a low gray sky. It soaks the grass, fills the gutters, and falls hard on the flowers left on the Beale Street sidewalk outside of B.B. King's club ...
I attended the White Station High School graduation ceremony last weekend. My stepson crossed the stage without incident, got his diploma, and is now ready to fly the nest, come September. He's a great kid, a good student, and we're very proud of him. (Not as proud as a few families, who, despite pleas from the principal to refrain from applause and demonstrations of enthusiasm, went nuts when their family member crossed the stage — signage, horns, etc. We opted for the restrained and tasteful, "Whoo!") ...