TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS 

TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS

GETTING WITH ELVIS Well, the onslaught is about to begin. Sequined jumpsuits as far as the eyes can see. Sideburns framing every otherwise shaven mug. Flash photography, a sea of candles, tears, obsession, and the memory (or recycled memory for those of us who came on the scene a little late) of one very special pelvis. Elvis week is upon us once again. It’s funny, in a way. In a modern world where the careful manipulation of the captured image of a pelvis or any other body part that might be deemed erotic is the cornerstone of commerce, it’s almost hard to imagine that the close-up on those hips (hips that swiveled to be sure) was deemed shocking, obscene. Imagine what would have happened if there was a blip in the time-space continuum and a sequence from Son of the Beach or VIP crashed across the consciousness of the 1950’s. Oh Pam, you harlot! Anyhow, I’ve decided that this year, I am going to be excited about Elvis week. Thus far I’ve carried a bit of a grudge, as one of Mr. Presley’s, uh, torch bearers trampled upon me when I first arrived in this fine city. I believe I’ve mentioned this before, and it probably doesn’t deserve much attention. In short--crappy independent film plus monk from the Far East plus Elvis impersonator to destroy said monk’s meditative artwork plus a fast watch on said Elvis’ wrist, equals an impersonator that arrives and leaves before his wildly expensive rental period expires, thus marring forever what was shaping up to be a forgettable experience, and even more forgettable film, anyhow. The whole thing was like a bad outtake from the movie Mystery Train. I still cry every once and again. OK, no I don’t. Not even a little bit. It’s strange, though, as a trail of Elvis clues led me to this city in the first place. Is there something to the myth that all paths lead to Memphis? Or maybe it’s that a clear path leads some people to Memphis. For me, it started with a soap dish. A really, really, tacky Elvis-in-leather kind of soap dish, which looked very suspect when covered in a layer of white residue. But you probably don’t want to hear about that. With this innocuous little purchase my twisted path was set into motion. The acquisition of my rock-god-in-leather bathroom accessory was soon followed with the highly significant coincidence that the only postcard that a friend sent to me from a sojourn across the US was of, you guessed it, our King in polyester himself. Are you following me? (Have patience, I’ll get you there in a moment if you aren’t) The next occurrence involved a roadside Floridian psychic in downtown Orlando. After putting my name and birth date into the supernatural calculator that provides all of the answers for those of us wayward enough to toss it $5, she informed me that I was in numerological alignment with.. oh yes, EP! We’re elevens, which means we’re of the disposition that is placed on Earth to save humankind. (That’s what she told me, at least, and I’m sticking to it.) Shortly after this very important revelation, Memphis swallowed my two best friends in the world. This ultimately sealed the seduction of this river city, and here I am. But what about the Elvis-shaped bread crumbs? The path of the King? The real power of a lasting cultural icon in the modern era is in their power to create significance for people. People need images, attachments. If I was a huge self-proclaimed Elvis aficionado (I’d say I’m a casual fan at best) the above anecdotal “evidence” would loom very significant on my personal horizon. You’ve heard it before. Elvis saved me. Elvis set me free. Elvis lent me $5 at the gas station just last week. Momentum is always spurred by meaning, or rather perceived meaning. This is how a phenomenon like Elvis happens in the first place. So, for the 75,000 or so fans expected to converge here in the next week or so, there’s probably a clear path that has led them here, at least in their own microcosms. Maybe others are spurred on by Shakespeare, or Picasso. Some might find their lives permanently altered by Regis, who knows? But the power of Elvis in the personal lives of the group that will be here next week has been strong enough to set them on the path to Memphis. And if nothing else, if he isn’t really the reason that I came here at all, Elvis has given me something to do for the next week or so. Thanks, Mr. Eleven.

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