|Elvis Express Radio News
|A TOUR OF ELVIS PRESLEY'S GRACELAND
September 26 2017 - Forbes / Elvis Express Radio
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|If you find yourself in Memphis, Tennessee, you pretty much have to tour Graceland, the nearly 14-acre pastoral estate once inhabited by Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll.
The residence isn't far from downtown, and sits on a regular road. Across the street from the home, there's a massive complex devoted to all things Presley. But what's curious
about taking a stroll around the grounds is that it's less like touring the opulent domain of a once glorified musician and more like taking a deep dive into the abode of a man
obsessed with reflections and concealments.
At a certain point, in Graceland itself, you might find yourself on a short flight of stairs descending to a basement, and you'll look around yourself to see mirrors have been mounted
on the walls and the ceiling, and as you gaze at a vision of yourself reflected back at you, you'll wonder why a man who was adored by so many built a world of his own that was a
literal funhouse hall of mirrors.
Before you make your way to Graceland proper and after you plunk down $57.50 (for $5 more, you can tour the airplanes -- and how can you not tour the airplanes?), you enter
Elvis Presley's Memphis, which is located across the street from Graceland. It is a sprawling complex of Stores That Sell Things Related to Elvis, Museums Devoted to Things
Related to Elvis, and Restaurants That Sell Foods That Are Related to Elvis. But before you make your way through it, you are funneled into a room to watch a movie that celebrates
The King. When that ends, you are shuttled into a shuttle that meanders and winds its way down and around and across the street to Graceland. There, you wait in line while groups
of Elvis Fans and People Interested in Elvis line up to enter the Colonial Revival white and stone mansion. Finally, you enter The House Where Elvis Lived. At which point, you will
likely turn to your right and see the peacocks.
This is the music room. Graceland consists of over 17,000 square feet of residence and contains 23 rooms, but the glowing gold of the peacock room is among the most impressive.
Simply put, it is incredibly outrageous. Who would put massive stained glass peacocks in their front room? Elvis, that's who. From the start, it's clear that we're not in Kansas
anymore, and Toto has left the room.
Being at Graceland makes one -- or at least made this one -- feel uneasy. Every room is decorated in some outrageous fashion. In the basement, there's a wall embedded with
television sets. A retro surveillance camera lurks on a perch. Bizarrely, the billiards room is hung from walls to ceiling with a busily patterned pleated fabric. No one is allowed
upstairs to the second floor, which purportedly remains untouched since Elvis died in an upstairs bathroom. In this stuck-in-time place, life is forever frozen, and it's unclear if you are
the voyeur or under a microscope.
Arguably, the most outrageous room at Graceland is the den. It is known as "The Jungle Room." The green shag carpet is designed to resemble thick grass. The furniture is made
of heavy wood and upholstered in what looks like fur. The red glowing wall where a fireplace would go in the average suburban home features a gently burbling waterfall. The effect
is deeply 1970s Polynesian.
One doesn't typically associate Elvis with racquetball, yet if one stumbles from the disconcerting time capsule that is Graceland and strolls about behind the main house, one can
peek inside a series of buildings, one of which contains the newly restored racquetball court. According to the Graceland website, one of Elvis's favorite past times was playing
racquetball. The Memphis Flyer reveals that Elvis was part of a "racquetball mafia," and the King was no slouch at the game: "Elvis walloped the ball around the court like he was
strumming a guitar for the fun of it."
Technically speaking, Elvis still resides at Graceland. He is buried, alongside several family members, in what's called the Meditation Garden. "He became a living legend in his own
time, earning the respect and love of millions," his grave marker reads. "God saw that he needed some rest and called him home to be with Him." Tour takers stand nearby, taking
pictures of the fallen king.
After touring Graceland, you will be shuttled back across the street. Behold Elvis's plane collection. It includes The Lisa Marie, a Convair 880 jet. "On April 17, 1975, Elvis bought a
Convair 880 Jet, recently taken out of service by Delta Airlines, for the then-substantial sum of $250,000," Elvis Australia reports. "After refurbishing, the total exceeded $600,000."
This past March, Graceland opened Elvis Presley's Memphis at Graceland, a $45 million, 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex that includes the Elvis the Entertainer Career
Museum, the Presley Motors Automobile Museum, and Elvis Discovery Exhibits. There are white bedazzled jumpsuits. There is a 1955 pink Cadillac Fleetwood. Down the street, Elvis
Presley Enterprises spent $90 million to build The Guest House at Graceland to host a few of the 600,000 annual guests Graceland, including those who can afford up to $1,500 a
night for a room.
At Gladys' Diner, I ordered the peanut butter and banana sandwich, which was, the sign said, fried in "bacon grease." Frankly, while I had been optimistic about the sandwich, it
didn't look like much. I don't know if I spent too much time photographing the sandwich for Instagram, but by the time I bit into it, it wasn't very appetizing. This sandwich was a
favorite of the King. It is known as "an Elvis sandwich" or "The Elvis."
By the time I left Graceland, the parking lot was filling, and the fans were funneling in for their turn at the Elvis experience. Personally, my Elvis experience left me feeling uneasy.
What was the point of becoming so famous and so beloved if it prompted you to build a house in which most surfaces were reflective? In the end, the king stood alone, surrounded
by his mirror image.
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