Monday, August 13, 2007

Mort d'Elvis

Elvis Presley died 30 years ago this week. People who know me have often wondered if my obsession with Elvis was just some goof I was pulling. The answer is emphatically no. While Elvis sadly lapsed into self-parody toward the end of his life, in his early days he was a force of nature, a true American original. His primal energy and raw sexuality was like a thunderbolt during the dull, gray Eisenhower years; there was no existing frame of reference for him or what he represented. As Keith Richards put it, the arrival of Elvis was like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy first arrives in Oz; a black and white world suddenly turned into Technicolor.

For those who have no idea of what I'm talking about in the paragraph above, find and view the Elvis 1956 DVD. This collection of concert footage and television appearances documents the sort of cultural revolution that Mao only wishes he could've accomplished. Elvis's performance of Baby Let's Play House on The Dorsey Brothers Show almost burns a hole in your television screen; even over 50 years later, watching it is like making contact with an electric wire.

Elvis also inspired the conceptual artist in me. When I bought my last house in California, one of the bedrooms was painted a garish pink----it was the bedroom of the seller's young daughter. When I saw it, my first thought was "this looks like a bedroom in Graceland." And then it hit me; I knew exactly what I was going to do with it: make it a guest bedroom with an Elvis theme!

You can see the results of my inspiration above. Sadly, the Elvis Guest Bedroom is now history, but it will live on forever in the hearts and memories of those fortunate enough to witness it firsthand.