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Memphis: Long Live the Kitsch

The conference I attended included, as part of the registration cost, a group tour of Graceland on the first evening we were there.  I’ve never been an Elvis fan, but I was curious about the place, and it was no additional cost, so I went.

Graceland seems to consist of 2 parts.  There is the mansion itself, with its grounds and other buildings, and across the road, where all the parking is, there are a couple of restaurants, Elvis’ car museum (he owned a number of vehicles), and at least 6 different gift shops (each selling a different theme of memorabilia, e.g. music-related stuff, movie-related, etc.).  When we actually went to tour the mansion, we rode across the street in shuttle buses (even though it would have been a 3-minute walk).  Each person was issued an audio player with the tour guide recording on it.

Here are the gates to the estate, seen from near the gift shops across the road:

gracegate

The front of the mansion, with attendant lion statues:

gracefront

gracelion1

gracelion2

No flash was allowed for photography inside the place, so some of my pictures are dark and/or blurry.

Here is the front parlor/music room:

musicparlor

The stairway (the public isn’t allowed up to the second floor):

stairblue

The dining room:

gracedine1

gracedine2

The kitchen, which looks like a lot of 70’s-era kitchens, really:

gkitchen

From there, the tour went into the basement, where things got a bit weirder.  Here is Elvis’ TV room:

gtvroom1

gtvroom2

Note the mirrored ceiling:

gtvroom3

The room is all done in yellow and navy blue, and it has 3 TVs because Elvis wanted to be like Lyndon Johnson, who purportedly watched all 3 networks at the same time when he was president.

Just after that, we saw the pool room, in which the walls and ceiling were decorated with many, many yards of fabric:

gpoolroom1

gpoolroom2

We then ascended to the “jungle room”, at the back of the house:

jungleroom

This wall has water trickling down through the stones:

jungleroom2

We then went outside to visit some other buildings.  Here’s the back of the mansion:

graceback

The bulk of exhibits of Elvis’ stuff is in the Trophy Building.  This includes a gold lame suit (I don’t remember when or where he wore it):

goldsuit

All of his gold and platinum records hang here:

recordhall

Here are items of clothing from some of his concerts:

leathersuit

jumpsuit1

Just before I left the building, there was this interesting painting:

cheezpaint

We then proceeded to the former racquetball court, which held more memorabilia:

bighall

especially more jumpsuits:

jumpsuit2

jumpsuit3

jumpsuit4

After that was the shrine where he and his family are buried.

gravefount

shrine1

elvisflame

Here’s the King’s grave itself, followed by his mother, father, and grandmother:

elvisgrave

elvismom

elvisdad

elvisgma

The King is watched over by the King of Kings:

elvisjesus

And thus conlcuded my visit to Graceland.  Parts of it were more garish than I’d expected, but parts looked like almost any other American home from the period.  It was certainly an eclectic mix.

Next post: a different King.

Posted by seaking on 08-09-2009 at 04:08 pm
Posted in Other

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