Friday, November 20, 2009

A King is Born

Bizarro is brought to you today by Menage a Trois.

I've always been fascinated by the Elvis phenomenon, not because I am a "fan" per se, but because he epitomizes the mythical American dream.

A poor, relatively uneducated backwater goon with nothing more than good looks, a voice, and a talent for musical interpretation (as opposed to songwriting or musicianship) becomes one of the richest and most influential celebrities of modern times. (Sinatra would fall into this same category, of course.)

As reported by those who knew him personally, he was also more than a shade on the lunatic side. And although the prosecution of the "hippie drug culture" was one of his passions (he asked Nixon to make him a "Federal Agent at Large" with the intent of infiltrating "hippie groups" and busting them) he died of a drug overdose. Conversely, The Beatles, whom he derided for their drug use and anti-American sentiment (huh?) have not.

In spite of what some people (me) would consider to be a veritable treasury of unappealing traits and a relatively small window of actual talent (though his talent for singing was truly great, that's pretty much all the guy could do) he is perhaps the most widely impersonated person in the world. Hordes of people have even elevated him to deity status.

I'm a fan of some of his work, many of his early hits are amazing, but not a fan of the man. Still, I once had a small breakfast room in my house dedicated to Elvis, with statues, murals, photos, and various bright colors on the walls and ceiling. All for camp value, of course, but I eventually got tired of explaining to visitors that I was not "one of those Elvis nuts." Well, I was (and am) but for different reasons.

I'm still a little obsessed with the weirdness of Elvis, as evidenced by the photo at left. CHNW and I were married by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas and it was the most entertaining wedding I've ever been to, by far. And not at all because it was ours. Personally, I think marriage ceremonies are just about as campy as Elvis, so why not vamp it up? Thankfully, it was the 1950s Elvis, not the fat, BeDazzled Elvis of the 70s.

One thing I learned recently that is firmly in Elvis's favor is that he was a huge fan of Monty Python and watched "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" repeatedly. This surprises me, I always imagined Elvis would have had a George-Bush-style sense of humor: corny, simple, slapstick, crude. I guess I misunderestimated him.

So here is my cartoon parody of the famous "Elvis has left the building" story. Hope you got a chuckle.

12 comments:

Jym said...

=v= You're blaspheming my religion, Elvis Underground (The Church).

I was hoping that one of those links would go to your "Nothing But Elvis Fanatics Next 100 Miles" cartoon.

doug nicodemus said...

welcome back ...our local elvis impersonator and doesn't everywhere have at least one is "elvis himselvis" and he isn't bad...unfortunately i was a fan of the young elvis and rockabily soooo most impersonators ain't got the pipes to do that...it is weird the older elvis got the worse he got which is not the way it usually goes....still he had movies and vegas and so much on his mind that well...

shipping troll said...

I'm sure you probably know this, and other people will point it out, but just for those who may not be aware, While Elvis did indeed die of a drug overdose, he never considered himself to be a drug abuser, A) because he claims to have never imbibed in "illegal" drugs, and 2) All of the drugs that The Big E took were prescribed by his personal physician. The fact that he NEEDED that many drugs to get through his days and nights never seemed to make him think that there might be something actually wrong... Funny how Michael Jackson's Death has such parallels.

Kahomono said...

HORDES dammit! Not HOARDS! Geez. You?????

Hermite said...

Hey, my son got married in that same place, unless there's more than one Elvis Chapel in LV.

I share your opinion of the big El though. Even though I was a young girl when he first got famous, I was always, "What's the big deal?" Nice voice, but something creepy about him. So I, too, am surprised that he liked Monty Python.

Eric said...

Spot on Dan. I wonder if Elvis, ironically, discovered the Monty Python lads thanks to the Beatles, specifically George.

In the Beatles Anthology, one of the many priceless recollections is when they all met Elvis in L.A. (None of them completely agreed on what Priscilla was wearing; I think Paul said she sported a tiara.) Anyway, George made a reference to the Memphis Mafia, with Mafia pronounced "Maffia." Elvis was already enveloped in his entourage--Ringo referred to them as sycophants--and they knew they'd never be able to get to know him.

In Ken Burns' "Baseball, " Gerald Early said there were three beautiful things that were uniquely American: the Constitution, baseball, and jazz music. I'd add the "American Dream" into this category, save the part about it being beautiful or even real.

Lori said...

Ha, did you recently watch that documentary about Monty Python, too? I learned that fact about Elvis from that documentary. Apparently he often quoted lines from the Holy Grail on a regular basis.

I wonder if he impersonated the British accents (as I and my friends always do when quoting Python) or if he just said it in his normal voice. I wish there was an audio recording of it so i could find out.

Jodie said...

Elvis had many facets. That's why many of us like the Young Elvis and abhor the older Las Vegas fatter sleezier Elvis. I've only been to the gate of Graceland and never been a fanatic. Although as a child I used to tell people that my favorite singers were Elvis and the Beatles. I was a kid in the '60s... so all I knew was what I heard on the radio or saw on Ed Sullivan. ;-) Sometimes innocence is best isn't it. Too bad that we can't regain it once it is lost.

Rebecca C. Brown said...

You might have confused your hordes/hoards homophones, but you correctly included a terminal "s" in "Elvis's." I'm glad someone on the intertubes knows the difference between a singular possessive noun and a plural possessive noun.

Jym said...

@Jodie - Young Elvis and Old Elvis are a cosmic duality, a reminder that a pathetic human being could be like a god, and vice-versa. This is why Elvis Underground (The Church) celebrates two holidays: the day of his birth and the day of his disappearance.

@Rebecca - For a personage of Elvis' stature, either form can be correct. The tricker problem is getting around trademark law, which is why The Flying Elvises had to change their name to The Flying Elvii. (Not a technically correct plural, but "Elves" would cause even more confusion.)

The Cheese Face said...

OMG! I love Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

alt-gramma said...

If you have ever dressed up as Elvis, you may have found, as I did, that you channel some amount of his personality. Many, many years ago, for a work Halloween costume competition, my entire department dressed as Elvis--actually as the Flying Elvii, making us impersonators of impersonators. It is strange and really fun to temporarily be Elvis.

Thaynk yuh. Thaynk yuh veruh muhhch.