Welcome to the final installment of our desperate attempt to wring content out of our vacation exciting travelogue! Once we left the excitement and beauty (and horrific swamps) of New Orleans, it was time to head back home to, as my four-year-old nephew calls it, “Stinky Cincimmati”. But we weren’t quite touristed-out yet. There had to be something on the road that we could visit, something noteworthy enough to pull us away from our own sweet beds for one more night, yet stupid enough that we would bother to write about it. Perhaps a city on a major waterway with a tourist attraction like nothing else in the country. And a pyramid, for some reason…
How about Memphis, Tennessee? Don’t mind if we do. But what will we do while we’re there?
How about motherfucking Graceland?!
If you’ve never been to Graceland, fuck off back to China, you pinko. Graceland is the embodiment of everything that’s good about America – wealth, rock n’ roll, and exploiting death to garner even more wealth. It is a triumph of the human spirit. I have been there three times now, and I will never not go to Graceland given the chance.
Our first night in town, though, we decided to go hit up Beale St., famous for its blues clubs. Turns out, Beale St. sucks. It’s mostly chain bars and shitty tourist traps, just like Bourbon St. We did find a nice quiet place to stop in for a beer or three and watch the first of the NBA finals games between Oklahoma City and Miami, during which Sarah screamed at the television and cursed Lebron James with the kind of vehemence she usually reserves for pro-life activists. It was wholly entertaining, but not much to write about.
Our last night there we went to see Prometheus, but you already know how that turned out.
Between those disappointments, though, there was Graceland. Why am I so pumped about the King’s house? Because I fucking love this guy.
The thing that makes Graceland a glorious paean to posthumous capitalism is the way the place is structured. First, you pull into a parking lot that costs five bucks. Then you start down a covered concrete path and are greeted by this:
The path leads you to the visitor’s center, or whatever the fuck you want to call it. What I want to call it is a collection of souvenir shops, a couple of chintzy mini-museums and the counter where you buy your absurdly overpriced tickets, They offer several packages: you can get the basic mansion tour, the platinum tour (which includes admission to the separate museums housing Elvis’ cars and his two private jet planes) or some super-toddy VIP horseshit that, as far as I could tell, only got you an additional souvenir laminate for forty additional bucks. We chose the basic package because we’re cheap and Sarah has no interest in cars. I will say this, though: I have seen the car museum and if you like old cars it’s pretty sweet.
After you purchase your ticket (we managed to get a reduced rate because the lady accepted my six-month expired AAA card and Sarah’s ten-year-expired student ID) you wait in line. While you wait in line, you are forced to have your picture taken in front of a chintzy painting of the gates to Graceland, so that you may purchase the picture later on. You know, like they do on roller coasters, except the likelihood of you making a hilarious face or vomiting in the picture is severely reduced. Apparently we broke their filthy capitalist apparatus, however, because our picture never materialized. That’s five fewer of my dollars you got, Lisa Marie.
Once you’re through the line, you are given an audio tour device and put on a bus. The bus literally drives you across the street, and then you’re at Graceland.
First off, you tour the mansion proper. The sitting room is the first stop on the tour, and it contains some of the most amazing terrible stained glass work you will ever see:
Given Sarah’s love of peacocks, we probably could have just ended the tour right here. But we did not, friends! We moved on to Elvis’ parents’ bedroom, which has the world’s most amazing wallpaper in the bathroom:
Next, you walk past the tantalizing steps that lead up to the sacred place where Elvis bought his last farm. Unfortunately, as per E’s custom, nobody is allowed up there, so instead we move on to the dining room, which isn’t really that interesting. The next part of the tour takes you to the basement. My last time here, I was with my ex-wife, who was in a wheelchair at the time. There is no way to get a wheelchair down there, so they moved her on outside the building where you can watch a shitty video of all the awesome stuff you missed. Moral of the story: don’t take a cripple to Graceland.
But we’re all able-bodied here, so let’s go downstairs to witness the TV room!
This room began my quest to document the monkeys of Graceland. I now present them to you in all their glory:
…aaaaaand, that’s it. Turns out, there were only those three monkeys at Graceland. You can understand my disappointment.
After the TV room is the pool room, which is the kind of thing you sincerely have to see in person to fully understand.
The walls in this room are covered in like 3.8 million yards of fabric that the King himself picked out. And if anyone is known for being understatedly stylish, it’s Elvis motherfucking Presley.
After your mind recovers from the curb-job it just received in the pool room, you head back upstairs to the greatest accomplishment in interior design that has ever or will ever be achieved. A room so glorious that its name is known far and wide. A room where three of Elvis’ last albums were actually recorded because the baffling design choice actually provided for sound studio-like acoustics. I am speaking, of course, of the Jungle Room.
It’s not easy to tell in these pictures, but that heinous carpet on the floor…is also on the ceiling! Everything is teak and looks horrifically uncomfortable. And there’s a fucking waterfall on one wall.
Now if you ended the tour right here, in my opinion, you would be getting your money’s worth. But, my friends, this party is just getting started. From here, you go outside to the building that housed Vernon Presley’s office…
…and a small brick room that Vernon turned into a smokehouse, which Elvis subsequently decided would be better served by being a shooting range. You can take the boys out of Mississippi, but you can’t take Mississippi out of the boys.
Next you wander past some horses if you’re into that sort of thing, then on to the trophy room. This building houses a timeline of Elvis’ career, an immense collection of memorabilia…
…many of Elvis’ gold and platinum records…
…tons of movie posters…
…this glorious painting…
…and the motherfucking black leather suit from the ‘68 Comeback special!
…plus other stuff, like Priscilla’s wedding dress, E’s army uniform…you know, stuff that’s not as cool as that black leather suit.
After the trophy room you continue on to the racquetball court, which has even more outfits and gold records.
I took the time to genuflect in front of a particularly stellar white jumpsuit.
Finally, you exit the buildings and get a taste of what you really came here to see: graves!
That’s right, you came for the house but you left with the idea of Elvis’ moldering corpse laying beneath this bronze plaque. There’s a wishing fountain there, just behind the eternal flame. I wished that zombie Elvis would rise from his grave and begin devouring people right then and there. I swear, my wishes never come true.
And that, my dear friends, concludes our journey. We had some laughs, we shook our asses, we drank our faces off and saw a dead rock star. We hope you’ve enjoyed our reportage, and that you’ll donate generously to the “Send Andy and Sarah around the world so they can keep writing these stories” Kickstarter that we’ll be setting up any day now.