Monday, August 16, 2010

ELVIS: All American

Yep, I look good in a suit; no doubt about that. Now here's a handy tip for job seekers in this uncertain economy. All employers do drug testing these days, but don't bring a urine sample to your first interview. To some HR people, this comes off as a bit too eager.

Well, this week is the time to observe; Elvis is still dead, and yet very much alive. Turnout for this year's Graceland remembrances appeared strong as ever. It's impossible to draw a graph for future interest in Mr. Presley. While it's true that Valentino's grave doesn't get many visitors anymore, each cultural phenomena is a unique energy system, with its own unique attributes.

I've never toured Graceland, out of respect for the reverential. I just wouldn't want to try to keep a straight face that long. It'd be disrespectful to those who feel bonded with Elvis, for me to bust out laughing.

Elvis, I actually dig Elvis a lot. His final years appear incredibly lonely and sad to me, but I like a good yarn, and nobody could make up an Elvis, except Elvis.

Incredibly talented. I really can't say whether he was a better singer or dancer or actor. Yeah, actor! "Flaming Star" and "King Creole" are fine performances. "Loving You" is just great acting. Even "Kid Galahad" where you could already see beginnings of the Elvis formula movie, the boy held up well in an all star cast.

The later gaudy excess, it gets a pass with me. This is what happens when hillbillies get filthy rich overnight. To study a system, consider its extremes...
Elvis was about the poorest hillbilly who ever got the filthiest rich the overnightedness, and there ya go! That's what it looks like, OK?

All these kinds of cultural phenomena require a potluck of time, space and person. And that all came together in Elvis. I actually believe part of the enduring appeal is what a quintessentially American story his arc represents.

People still believe that anybody can make it here, with talent and some luck. That's a very new concept in human history, and still has little traction in places most of the Earth's population dwells. I shall now invent a brand new word!!!

Ameritocracy: The belief that one can rise as high as his talents enable, with only a modicum of pure dumb luck.

Now some may argue, such a belief is outdated in 2010. Why anybody would argue with ME, the smartest unemployed person in this whole dang country, I dunno, but they may.

Because as Yogi Berra once said, or probably thought about saying? "Just when you expect it least, the inevitable happens."

It may feel in 2010 like the cards are stacked. But it might've felt like the cards were stacked in 1903 when two bicycle mechanics changed the world. It might've felt the same to Henry Ford with his crazy idea to take automobile from luxury item to mass produced consumer item. And I bet it felt that way to young Elvis in the early 1950's. Probably the cards have always been stacked, but there's always a way to start a brand new game with revolutionary rules.