Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SHORTCUTS

Lifestyles of the Rich and Elvis

September 09, 1996|PAMM HIGGINS

In the early years, he heaped his Elvisness on his own person (blue suede shoes).

And on cars (gold-plated bumpers).

Later, he lavished it on a neo-Southern manse in Memphis (scarlet portieres lashed with gold tassels) that still attracts millions of visitors a year.

In "Graceland: Going Home With Elvis" (Harvard University Press), pop culturist Karal Ann Marling, a professor of art history and American studies at the University of Minnesota, dwells on the spectacular aura of Elvis Presley's material world.

Some excerpts:

On the man and his mansion:

"His intense concern for personal style--what made Elvis, above all, a visual icon--meant that his person and his surroundings were precise mirror images. Long before he decided to cover the downstairs walls in slivers of looking glass, Elvis could sit back on the big couch and see himself wherever he looked. He was Graceland. Graceland was Elvis."

*

On the magic of decorating:

"[Elvis] looked up and saw the glint of gold around the ceiling, set off against the deep blue walls. He looked down and scuffed his toes deep into the wine plush carpet. In the pool of light at the bottom of the stairs, Graceland glowed as it always had in his dreams."

*

On the off-limits second floor:

"Is there something so grotesque up there that, were a tourist to see it, the whole Graceland enterprise would collapse overnight? Elvis on life support, in a gilded bed shaped like Ezekiel's chariot? Elvis fat and gray, drooling in a playpen? Elvis restored and living in connubial bliss with Natalie Wood? A prosaic toilet in a funky bathroom that smells vaguely of mildew? No Elvis? Nothing?"

*

On the pilgrims:

"Maybe they've come to think about death, a taboo subject in ever-young America. The grave in the garden is about their own--our own--mortality, about our families, our losses, our pain. About how we believed things would turn out right and seldom did. About the pleasure of getting things you'd always wanted and how the feeling fizzled out in emptiness."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|