From: James Kelly, VETERAN CL SCRIBE
To: Roni Sarig, CL MUSIC EDITOR
Are you sure you don't want to run something on the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death? He never recorded or toured with a DJ, but he did have a No. 1 remix single in Europe recently. And he had a posse and spent all his money on jewelry, fast cars and mansions long before anybody even thought up hip-hop culture. He is only the single most important artist in the history of rock music, which should count for something. I think it is irresponsible to ignore him.
From: Roni Sarig
To: James Kelly
It would be irresponsible to ignore Elvis, but to ignore the 25th anniversary of his death?! Come on, is that really a major event?
Besides, following your argument that we should give coverage based proportionately on historical/cultural significance, we should be doing stories on the Beatles and Stones every week -- and Jesus should be on the cover each week. Obviously, we don't want to do that. Instead, we want to write about things that are interesting (not to mention, things that are news -- hence the name newspaper), and do it in a new and fresh way. Elvis is interesting, but find me a way to cover him in a new and fresh way. Ain't too easy. I'm open for ideas, though. -- Roni
From: James Kelly
To: Roni Sarig
>Come on, is that really a major event?>
To anyone over the age of 35, it is. Maybe that's not the demographic Creative Loafing is interested in anymore. Do you remember where you were when you heard that he died? I didn't think so. I barely remember first grade myself.
>Besides, following your argument that we should give coverage based proportionately on historical/cultural significance, we should be doing stories on the Beatles and Stones every week, and Jesus should be on the cover each week.>
That's a leap of logic, isn't it? My point is not that the Loaf should cover history, but anniversaries are pretty dang important to people. Wonder what's cooking for Sept. 11, 2002? Christmas, Passover, Allah's birthday, etc. They all mean something to somebody. In terms of popular culture, Elvis' image is second only to Mickey Mouse in terms of worldwide recognition. In Atlanta alone, there are several restaurants and bars that maintain Elvis shrines to this day. Who knows how many people are walking around with Elvis tattooed somewhere on their body? And I bet a day doesn't pass without one of his movies showing somewhere in America. He is an archetype in every sense of the concept, and not a day goes by that the influence of his image and legacy is not acknowledged. Have you seen the new Eminem video? Elvis IS everywhere.
You are right, CL is supposed to be a "news"paper, but it is also supposed to have a finger on the pulse of popular culture, art and music. Elvis has left a permanent mark on the world that surpasses the Beatles, the Stones, and maybe even Jesus in some places. If that's not justification for some reflection, I don't know what else to say.
My own personal connection to Elvis is probably typical of a lot of people my age. I loved him, then hated him. Then, once I grew up, I deeply respected what he did. When I was about 8 or 9, I got kicked out of Catholic Vacation Bible School one day for drumming my fingers on the desk (nuns are mean as hell). Walking home, I passed Col. Parker's house in Madison, Tenn., and a black limo was pulling out. A shadowy figure with unmistakable black hair and glasses waved at me as I stood and watched them pull out. It was the King. Years later, I was in Memphis looking for an apartment the day after he died, and got stuck in the damnedest traffic jam, as Elvis Presley Boulevard was overrun by mourners. I tried to go to the viewing, but it was utter chaos. I regret missing that opportunity to this day.
I know dozens -- actually, hundreds -- of people with similar stories, and who have been touched in some way by his work. If you haven't, it's your loss.
From: Roni Sarig
To: James Kelly
>Do you remember where you were when you heard that he died? I didn't think so. I barely remember first grade myself.>
I was riding in the car with my brother and my dad. We had just stopped at the 7-Eleven, and I got one of those Slurpees that used to come in a little baseball helmet. I knew all about him because we used to listen to that Elvis From Hawaii live album. And for your information, I was about to enter the SECOND grade.
Still, marking 25 years after his death is just not important to anyone, no matter what age. That's not to say HE isn't important, just that the anniversary of a death day is not high up on the landmarks of a person's life. It's certainly not important to him! But again, if you can think of a way to inject some relevance into this date, I'm totally happy to hear it.
>Wonder what's cooking for Sept. 11, 2002? Christmas, Passover, Allah's birthday, etc.>
Sept. 11 is current events. Christmas is much more inescapable than Elvis, and actually, we don't do any articles alerting people that Christmas is coming, much less the other holidays.
>In terms of popular culture, Elvis' image is second only to Mickey Mouse in terms of worldwide recognition.>
And we don't do articles noting the death day of Walt Disney, either!
>He is an archetype in every sense of the concept, and not a day goes by that the influence of his image and legacy is not acknowledged.>
You don't need to convince me that Elvis is a huge cultural force, but that still doesn't tell me what an article about him could say that hasn't already been said.
>Elvis has left a permanent mark on the world that surpasses the Beatles, the Stones and maybe even Jesus in some places. If that's not justification for some reflection, I don't know what else to say.>
Worthwhile reflections are the only justification to make reflections -- in public, at least. Again, I can't think of any that haven't already been said a million times.
That's pretty crazy about Col. Parker's house and the limo, though. Great story. Something like that, we could use. But still, I'm not sure what great relevance that incident has to Elvis and popular culture. Any ideas?
Maybe a collection of those stories would make for a good memorial piece, but they'd have to be really unusual. Not any "I loved Elvis and he shaped my outlook on the world" type of stuff.
-- Roni (who, as of 6 p.m., will have left the building)
From: James Kelly
To: Roni Sarig
I will think about it some more. I see your point about relevance and existing coverage, and I am trying to sort out my own personal agenda of making sure that the event is remembered for those who care.
Thanks, JKelly The 25th anniversary of Elvis' death is Fri., Aug. 16. www.elvis.com.
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