No particular place to go

All right, this will be one of those off-the-top-of-my-head posts – so who knows what you’re gonna get out of reading this.

I’m just sitting here on a rainy Saturday afternoon listening to Elvis.

Blue HawaiiI’m getting back into vinyl after pretty much being all CDs all the time for the last twenty years. I pulled out my old collection, and the first one I played was Blue Hawaii.

I couldn’t believe how incredible it sounded on record. I sense a new obsession coming on.

The good thing is, I already have about 25 LPs and 25 45s from the old days before I had a CD player, so those should tide me over for awhile.

* * *

So, there were a bunch of great posts around the web for Elvis Week 2012. My favorite was probably Indisposable Johnny’s “When Elvis Moved On” over on The Round Place In The Middle blog. If you haven’t already, be sure to read it.

One post that I didn’t want to read because I knew what was coming was “Treat Me Nice”, a farewell of sorts by Thomas Melin over on his Elvis Today Blog. After five years and 500 posts, he’s taking an indefinite break from blogging about Elvis in order to spend more time with his family. It’s hard to fault him for that. I’m sure gonna miss his posts, though. Best wishes to Thomas.

While Thomas’ absence leaves a huge void, all is not lost. For instance, Sheila O’Malley continues her excellent series of Elvis Essays on The Sheila Variations blog. Meanwhile, artist Joe Petruccio just began a brand new blog called My Elvis Journal. Petruccio’s unique posts are definitely worth checking out.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

* * *

August 28 Update: I’ve just found that there is yet another new Elvis blog, and it’s one I definitely want to mention. Elvis audio expert and frequent For Elvis CD Collectors Forum poster elvissessions recently began elvissessions.net, which will cover “Elvis Presley in the studio — and beyond.”

I love his informative FECC posts, so I’m looking forward to following elvissessions’ blog. Here’s a recent entry about obtaining Ernst Jorgensen’s autograph on his copy of A Boy From Tupelo during Elvis Week 2012.

Speaking of FTD’s mammoth SUN project, my copy will supposedly be in the mail this week. No autographs, though. I guess that’s one of the many perks of being in Memphis during Elvis Week. Either way, I can hardly wait for this release.

From 1956 to 2012: Follow Elvis’ journey through Richmond

Despite his enduring popularity, Elvis Presley is rarely given his due as an artist. Though this has improved considerably over the last ten to twenty years, the general public still tends to latch on to things like wacky souvenirs, bad impersonators, and “alive” hoaxes.

My favorite Elvis writer of late has been Sheila O’Malley of the Sheila Variations blog. With a fresh voice, she presents new perspectives on Elvis the artist. Rarely fluff pieces like you might see on other blogs (including this one), Sheila’s posts tend to be demanding reads. Invest the time and there are always insightful payoffs.

I discovered the Sheila Variations not through Elvis but through baseball. A few years ago, I was writing a post about baseball movies for my now-extinct pop culture blog. One of my favorites is Field Of Dreams, adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe. While researching the film, I came across Sheila’s blog and a number of extremely helpful posts.

When I find a new blog I love, I tend to search it for other topics of interest. Though it was only one post, I was delighted to find a reference to Elvis there as well. The 2005 post promised of more to come, eventually. “I’ll know when I’m ready,” she said at the time.

I bookmarked the blog and checked it every now and then. Always finding something to enjoy while patiently waiting for the topic of Elvis to return. It took over six years for Sheila to know she was ready to write about Elvis, but when she was, the resulting series of Elvis Essays that began last August 16 and continue to this day have been nothing short of astounding. I’m hoping that she will eventually compile her observations into a book, a documentary, a multi-media experience, or all of the above.

I was quite happy, therefore, when Sheila last month posted a short preview of a future Elvis post centered around Richmond, Virginia. Inspired by the excellent “In Search Of Elvis In Richmond, VA” posts on the Smithsonian’s Elvis At Twenty One blog, Sheila took a road trip from New Jersey to visit some of Richmond’s Elvis sites in person – as well as take in the Elvis At 21 exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. This turned out not to result in just one post, but four.

The Sheila Variations: The Richmond Saga

Part I June 30, 1956: Elvis Presley in Richmond, Virginia – Moment By Moment

Part II The Jefferson Hotel

Part III The Mosque and The Monuments

Part IV The Train Station, the Water Tower, and “Elvis at 21″ at VMFA

Sometimes, I’ll read something and think, “I wish I had written that.” This is definitely one of those times.
The Sheila Variations
My favorite random moments:

  • “I showed the really nice guy at the front desk the things I wanted to see. […] I asked him if it was ‘walkable’. He said, ‘Oh, no. It’s about two miles.’ Just one of the many cultural differences between living in NYC and living somewhere else which is more of a car culture.” (from Richmond Snapshots)
  • “Peter Guralnick, in his introduction to his second volume of Elvis’ biography, says that the years from 1958 until 1977 were all about ‘the disappearance’ of Elvis Presley, a sentiment I disagree with entirely. He did not disappear. He was always there. It’s just we didn’t get to see him anymore, unless we went to the movies, or, in the 70s, saw him in concert. […] I know Guralnick means “disappeared” on another level, but I disagree with THAT level as well. How you can say that someone who put out the two gospel albums he did in the 60s […] disappeared is a mystery to me. How you can feel he disappeared when you consider his record-breaking appearances in Vegas [and] at Madison Square Garden, the albums from the 70s, especially Promised Land […] the continued innovation in his music, the continued personal aspect of it […] The nerve of that Elvis guy to follow his own path.” (from Part I) [This segment, which should be read in context in its entirety in the original post for full effect, literally left me wanting to cheer. –Ty]
  • “The Jefferson Hotel certainly isn’t hurting for customers, but they do say on their website: ‘Stay where Elvis stayed!'” (from Part II)
  • “New York often doesn’t honor its history, architecturally anyway. I never even saw the original Penn Station, but it is like a wound in my soul to think of what was torn down. […] But there the Mosque stands, now called The Landmark, with a giant Lion King banner, and the ghosts of Duke Ellington and Ethel Barrymore and Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley literally shimmering in the foreground.” (from Part III)
  • “What would Elvis at 21, strolling down that hallway, have thought if he knew that one day an entire exhibit devoted to his time in Richmond would be on display at the Museum there? It’s all so strange. And beautiful. And perfect. Elvis couldn’t know, he couldn’t predict. He could just believe in himself, and keep launching himself out there into the spotlight. That is what he did.” (from Part IV)

* * *

Today was the final day of the Elvis At 21 exhibition here in Richmond. Though I regret not being able to make it out to see photographer Alfred Wertheimer when he visited the museum for an Elvis panel discussion in January, I did at least have the opportunity to take in the exhibition one more time a couple weekends back.

For my return visit, I brought along my Mom, who became an Elvis fan in 1956. It was nice to walk through the exhibit without having to worry about writing a review this time. We followed the museum visit up by watching Elvis ’56 and my Mom’s all-time favorite, Aloha From Hawaii. It was a perfect day.

Elvis At 21 is not over, though. The tour continues at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas, starting April 7 (more info here).

From an art museum to a Presidential library . . . maybe Elvis really is starting to get his due.

Around the Elvis web in 80 seconds

Today, I want to point you over to some great posts that I’ve recently found around the web.

The Elvis Shuffle, Revisited. A couple of months ago, I told you about the incredible, thought-provoking Elvis essays that have been cropping up lately at The Sheila Variations blog. Well, those high-quality Elvis posts have continued. For example, here is an excerpt from Elvis Shuffle: Notes Taken By Hand On Flight to Chicago:

“‘Solitaire’ – ‘A loonely man’. Who could imagine that the jiggly boy in 1955 could sing like this? No wonder people still have a hard time taking EP whole. They still feel the need to break him down, piece him apart, make him manageable, palatable. He is neither.”

He Touched Me (FTD, 2011)Elvis was focused during the He Touched Me session. Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick would have us believe that Elvis’ attention was wandering during this session, but the new FTD release seems to tell otherwise. Over on Elvis Today Blog, Thomas Melin has posted a well-written review of the FTD Classic Album version of He Touched Me, Elvis’ 1971 gospel album that earned him his second Grammy.

A daily blog on everything Elvis Presley. Finally, I want to mention Elvis Day By Day, a news blog that has been tracking events in the Elvis world since January 2010. As someone who struggles to get a half dozen decent blog posts up a month, I can tell you that trying to compile a daily news blog is much tougher than it looks. It’s not a challenge I would want to take on, I’ll say that. Elvis Day By Day does a fantastic job of compiling news from various sources, doing a service to Elvis fans by giving us a quick, at a glance view of what is going on each day. Highly recommended.

Potatoes, Secret Movies, and Elvis Blogs

A legendary potato

I’ve posted about the Mr. Potato Head Elvis Presley here a couple of times in the last week or so. Most recently, I had some fun with the idea and speculated about what some of the rejected marketing slogans for that dubious product might have been.

Other Elvis bloggers have also handled this hot potato. For instance, Phil over at ElvisBlog surmises that a 50s gold lamé suit incarnation of the big spud will follow the 70s white jumpsuit and ’68 special leather suit versions already in the works. If you’re going to insult Elvis fans, it’s only fair, of course, to insult fans of every Elvis decade. That way, no one feels left out.

In Phil’s post, you’ll see what amounts to a rogue’s gallery of mostly awful Elvis “collectibles” in the same vein as the potato. One that I apparently missed when it first arrived on the scene is “Plush Piggy Elvis” – which admittedly is even worse than the Potato Head. While the potato is official, I’m really hoping that piggy was an unauthorized product, though. Not even EPE would be that stupid, would they?

The secret Elvis On Tour movie

Well, I’m not going to let the potato get me down. Elvis On Tour‘s looming Blu-ray release is enough to satisfy me for 75th anniversary products. Last week, I also told you how Fandango, AMC, and others are advertising a theatrical showing of the film on July 29 at various theaters across the United States (billed as Elvis On Tour 75th Anniversary Celebration).

As far as I’ve seen, there’s still been nothing official posted from sponsors Warner Home VideoElvis Presley Enterprises, or Fathom Events. However, I can assure you that the tickets are very much on sale now – as I purchased mine from Fandango over the weekend.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Elvis On Tour in the theater. I just hope enough word gets out that I won’t be the only one there!

Seriously, seeing Elvis On Tour on the big screen will make the 75th anniversary a memorable one for me. I can’t think of a better way to remember Elvis than to see him live in concert in the closest way we can.

300 posts and counting

Speaking of milestones, Thomas is celebrating the 300th post over at his Elvis Today blog, so congratulations to him. Having read all 300 of them, I can safely say that Elvis Today sets itself apart from the rest of us by being a very personal and insightful blog of consistent high quality. When it comes to blogging, Thomas sets the ideal. I just wish he’d hurry up with the next 300 posts.

They’re not all bad

Besides Elvis On Tour, another upcoming, authorized Elvis product actually looks pretty terrific. I’ll have a post about that within the next few days.

Until next time, have fun everyone!