Friday, September 12, 2008

Graceland, and other stuff.

Well, today was just gonna be the post about Graceland, but I got a call, actually several, late last night from my sister. She's got two cats that are sick, slowly dying, and she's decided to take them both in today to give them the shot.

One is about 18 years old and increasingly frail, unable or unwilling to eat. The other is diabetic and has to be given shots every day. Both are way past the time when life had any real value... The point where keeping them alive only serves to save us the pain of their departure. They're my sisters children, having filled a void, replacing a daughter that she lost at birth many years ago. She's not taking it well, as you can imagine, but she's gonna do the right thing.

I told her, consoling her, that this is the last duty we all have as pet owners. It's how we can pay these critters back for all the years of unconditional love they give us. I told her that if we were really "humane' to one another we'd take each other to get the shot when the time came, in stead of trying to extend life to the bitter end while the sick or old lay unconscious in a fetal position in a hospital bed or old folks home and shit in a bag. I sure as hell won't go out that way!

Anyway, I'm gonna go over there after work today and help her take both cats to the vet. I'll probably end up payin' for it too. She may surprise me though and go get it done on her own. We'll see. It's all very sad, but it's what you've gotta do. This means the regular Friday with Mom and Denise may be postponed to another day. We'll see.

It looks like we're gonna be inundated with rain from this hurricane over the weekend. The shit storm is expected to dump down on us at any moment, but just rain. The real wind and crap will be way off to the south. At times like this you realize how truly cool it is that Texas is as big as it is. People are already evacuating from the coast up to this area and the local high schools are canceling games or moving them up to get them played. My kids in Florence played their regular Friday night varsity football game Thursday night in Blanco. They lost. The girls volleyball team won though. They rule!

As far as how I'm doin', things are kinda up in the air around here. I haven't heard anything yet about the new gig in San Saba, and my personal life is stumbling along in a tediously familiar mine field, littered now and then with huge piles of steaming horse shit. I came home happy from playing pool Wednesday night (I won, shockingly, against a much better player) and ended up in a screaming fight. Things may be coming to a head, but I never can tell when it comes to these things. I'm too new at it. All I know is, this familiar refrain is getting really, really old.

As far as how I'm doin', things are kinda up in the air around here. I haven't heard anything yet about the new gig in San Saba, and my personal life is stumbling along in a tediously familiar mine field, littered now and then with huge piles of steaming horse shit. I came home happy from playing pool Wednesday night (I won, shockingly, against a much better player) and ended up in a screaming fight. Things may be coming to a head, but I never can tell when it comes to these things. I'm to new at it. All I know is, this familiar refrain is getting really, really old.

So, having bummed you out, let's talk about this trip through Graceland.

As I told you before, Denise and I payed our $32 each to get the head gear and the guided tour by tape recorder, boarded the bus and began the tour by taking a walk through "the big house".

As you can see from these pictures, the decor in the house is still stuck in the styles of the mid 70s. They don't let you use a flash in the house, or anywhere else, so all of these shots turned out dark. I had to photoshop them to try to lighten them up, and that's taken for-friggin' ever. Some times it worked out and some times it didn't.

It's funny, having grown up in the early 70s, walking through the place and finding yourself thinking stuff like "Oh cool, I love that couch", and then "Oh shit, green shag carpeting and Tiki chairs? Oh no he didn't!"

All in all, I have to say I loved the style of the place. It all looked WAY too familiar, reminding me of the stuff I grew up around back in the day. We all had those houses back then with a formal living room where you weren't allowed to touch anything, and then the comfortable den where you lived. Lots of dark wood paneling and yellow shag carpeting in my past.

I have to say that I've never really been much of an Elvis fan. I grew up with the older, Las Vegas version, and the bad movies. The pop culture folks of my era seemed way cooler to me than that. In retrospect though, I really love the young guy I saw in the pictures here. The guy who went to the army rather than pulling strings to get out of it. The guy who payed off other peoples mortgages and bought them cars (you can see the checks below). Walking through the house, thinking about that guy, morning the death of his mother, thinking about his life as an outsider in school, I really began to feel for him. I even teared up a few times.

Looking at the displays, you get the image of a poor kid, different and brilliant beyond anyones understanding, kind and generous to a fault, who was manipulated, used and coddled by others till he ended up dying way too young. Live fast, die young and leave a bloated, drug addled corpse. Of course, it turns out that many of my other pop culture icons from the 70s didn't end up much better than "The King". I guess none of us really will get out of this alive, as someone said.

The house was cool, and the tour tape you listen to was really well done. The grave site out by the pool was truly moving. I found myself really feeling sympathy for the guy by the time we got there. Sympathy for the kid who flashed onto the world scene and should have had better guidance.

But what the hell. He lived a rich, if short life, and his legacy today is not only millions of fans who still celebrate him, displaying a slavish love for him, but the fact that he's still earning money and paying the bills for all the hundreds, if not thousands of people who keep this place going every day.

Bottom line, that kid who burst onto the worlds consciousness in the early 1950s is still the coolest thing there ever was. Can you imagine how cool he'd be if he were still around today? But you can say that about way too many of the pop culture icons of his day. It's very sad, but what can ya do.

By far, the coolest stuff I found was in the private plane museum and car museum. It was hilarious to see the 1970s TVs and stereo equipment all over the place. I though his taste in cars was mostly questionable. The Stutz Blackhawk was about the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

I loved this purple thing though. Any ideas what this is? Come on, Lin or Bruno, spill it. I found The King had much better taste in motorcycles. Those were cool as hell!

This big trike reminded me immediately of the stuff I saw when a friends dad took us to a car show in the early 70s in Missouri.

See what I mean? Very cool!

As we wound around the house, to the hand ball court and almost to the grave out by the pool, I started to have issues with my camera. The batteries were wearing down and I hadn't thought to toss a few extras in my pocket. So I repeatedly turned it off to save power and then turn it on again to take another shot.

I've found in the past that when the thing tells me the batteries are dead I can turn it off, let the charge build up again and get a few extra shots out of it. So I was doing that, over and over, more than ever before, until the camera began to behave in strange ways.

It would go dead on me, but unlike the usual occurrence where the camera shuts down and the lens folds back into the camera body, this time the lens would stay extended. When the camera was turned back on the focus would extend to it's maximum level and then stick there. I had to force the lens back into the body while turning it on and off again.

After the thing died on me I cussed myself for not carrying extra batteries, and then I realized that I could still take pictures with my phone. Shitty pictures, admittedly, but still... After getting through the house and the grave site I walked in the steady drizzle back to the car and got new batteries for the camera. But the friggin' thing still didn't work. No change.I would turn it on and then the lens would extend all the way out and stick there. That's when I was REALLY cussin'. I thought I was truly fucked, having abused this poor little piece of Chinese crap beyond it's capacity.

Then it hit me. I started to console myself, thinking that I'd gotten my moneys worth from this one and now I could go out and get one of the slimmer, more portable (concealable), better cameras I always love to fondle at the store.I forced the lens down one more time, put my camera in my pocket and continued to walk through the private plane museum and the car museum, taking shitty pictures with my phone. By the time we got most of the way through the cars the phone was filling up. SHIT!!!! So I started to send the pictures to my hard drive and erase them, one by one, so I could take more. FUCK!!!!

Out of frustration, hoping for the best, I took my camera back out and tried it again and the friggin' thing worked perfectly! Relief! I walked back to the start of the car museum and ran through it quickly, taking better, but still dark shots of the cool stuff there. The camera still works fine today, so my lust for a smaller, lighter, cooler camera has once again been put on hold.

In the end, after walking past all the t-shirts that i knew I'd never wear and other souvenirs that were up for sale I ended up getting two Elvis CDs, one Blues/Rock and the other Country, and the drink cozy you see above (the head didn't come with it, but it completes the picture, don't you think?). After listening to the country music CD I ended up giving it away. Yuk! But the first half of that Blues/Rock CD is WONDERFUL!

By the time we got through all of that, we'd been walking around this place for about 4 four hours! Pooped, to say the least, and soaking wet. With the rain showing no signs of letting up we decided to blow off walking down Beale street and our plans to eat good BBQ and listen to good music. We can come back next year and do that another night.

Who knew that as we drove on west, into Arkansas, that the countryside would be completely friggin' bereft of other, decent food options. We ended up going without, driving all the way to the outskirts of Little Rock and staying the night in a cheap, unpleasant little hotel right off I-30.

By then Denise and I had gotten on one anthers very last nerve and the vibe was chilly. It didn't get much better until about half way through the next day. More about that later.

Enough is enough for now. I'll put an end to this road trip drama in the next post. It's gone on way to long on this blog and I'm getting sick to death of talking about it. Of course, if I could rewind and do it all over again I'd jump at it. Next year can't get here fast enough. But we'll talk. Cheers.


Suldog said...

Hey, you're being a good bro. God bless you.

Nice shots of the stuff at Elvis's place. And I don't get tired of hearing about your road trips, not at all. Good stuff.

pat houseworth said...

I understand your sister's pain....and best of luck with the aftermatch of "Ike".

Great shots of Graceland.....

*Goddess* said...

Sorry to hear about your sister's cats, but WOW! 18 years?! She got a lot of love and devotion in those 18 years, I bet.

BTW, Elvis' place isn't as gaudy as I thought it was going to be. Well, the pool room is a bit "busy," but the rest of it looks pretty nice.

Mushy said...

Yeah, we got to talk!

Anyway, I've already commented on your photos over at Flickr, so you know I liked them.

Stay strong my brother.