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3765 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Memphis, TN 38116

Now, donít get us wrong; we understand and appreciate the Elvis myth. Mary even has a metaphor for America based on Elvis. Ask her sometime. But we felt less enthusiastic about going to Graceland than obligated.

We werenít any more excited when we saw that it has turned into a serious amusement park racket, with a giant visitorís center, separate admission for different sections of Elvis-folly, and $54 t-shirts.

Visitors now have to take a shuttle just to go across the street to the mansion and tours are entirely electronic, featuring way-too-somber-and-serious narrative. We didnít expect Albert Goldman-style gossip and snark, but when Elvis and the Memphis Mafia are depicted as a fun-loving group of guys involved in wholesome hijinks, and there is a nary a mention of TV shooting (or guns at all) and pills donít enter the picture until the last moment when an addiction is mentioned in connection with his death, you know the thing has been sanitized and hagiography rules the day.

Plus, how can anyone describe those interiors, the archetypal example of how 1970ís design lost its mind, in any positive way? We appreciate shag carpeting as much as the next guy but perfectly preserving this time capsule space and expecting anything other than giggles and pointing is just plain silly.

We were also surprised to see how small the house really is. Itís strange in these days of MTV cribs to see such a mega-star living on a relatively modest scale, although maybe in retrospect thatís kind of refreshing. Really, just because you can build a 50,000-square-foot shrine to indulgence doesnít mean you really need one.

Shots of the grave site donít show the perspective accurately; itís just a few steps away from the pool, and we wonder how Vernon or anyone else who kept living in the house after Elvisí death could ever enjoy the backyard again.

Somehow, all of this ties into our Britney Spears meditations from day 1: do any of the hungry, ambitious, driven kids from small towns see this as a cautionary tale and realize they have to make an effort so that their path diverges, that they do not end up gone long before their time with shuttle buses ferrying people to their former home so they can snap pictures of the ugly furniture?

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