LARRY DONN writes for Now Dig This
'Parade', the magazine that comes with the Sunday
newspaper, usually has little of interest to me, but I always
scan through it to see if anything jumps out. This time, it was
the name Elvis. At first I thought they were referring to my
Uncle Elvis, but as I began reading, I realised it was Elvis
Presley, instead. The small article was about "the best Elvis
websites". I thought a website was that corner of my workshop
where spiders keep building them, but apparently, I am behind the
times. Now, it seems, spiders are building webs in computers.
The story mentioned a website called "Disgraceland"
(http://www.nwlink.com/timelvis/), and says it may be "the
largest collection of web links to Elvis sites". The proprietor
of Disgraceland is a fellow who calls himself "Tim-Elvis", and it
features a budgie (parakeet) Elvis impersonator called
"Friz-Elvis", and "The Elvae Room", a collection of autographed
photographs of Elvis impersonators.
There is also a site for people who think they've seen Elvis to
report sightings and read others' sightings
(http://ace.cs.ohiou.edu/personal/). (Now surely that last address
should be http://get.a.life/you.sad/pathetic/people? - Ed.)
The most interesting site to me is "The First Presbyterian Church
Of Elvis, The Divine"
(http://chelsea.ios.com/-hkarlin1/welcome.html). I'd like to
know more about this one, as many of us have long maintained that
one day Elvis will be a religion. I may have mentioned before
that I had included in a book I've been working on a chapter in
which the hero gets captured by a band of Elvis-worshipping
savages whose village is on the ruins of Graceland after the
Great War in the distant future. They intend to sacrifice him to
Elvis until they find out that he knows all the words to the Holy
Songs and can actually play the Sacred Guitar. I eventually
removed that chapter from the story, as it seemed to be too
drastic a departure from the main story line. Perhaps one day
I'll make a complete story out of the new chapter.
The idea of Elvis-worship is not new, as you will see from the
following piece I wrote on January 12th 1960, modelled after the
Bible's 23rd Psalm. Of course it wasn't a serious work, as I had
no intention of worshipping Elvis, although I was a devoted fan
by that time, but I'm sure there are some who consider it
blasphemy or some similar relgious offence.
Elvis is my shepherd; I shall not listen to Ricky Nelson. He
maketh me to sing to strange people; he leadeth me before the
wild children; he restoreth my faith in the teenagers of America;
he leadeth me in the paths of recording stars for my name's sake.
Yae, though I wiggle through the hall of the shadow of Beethoven,
I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy guitar and thy
records comfort me. Thou preparest a recording session for me in
the presence of the big wheels from RCA; thou anointest my hips
with wiggle; surely, teenagers and talent scouts will follow me all the
days of my life and I shall be covered in gold records forever. Amen.
What would one do at an Elvis worship service? Sing Elvis songs
certainly, and pray to Elvis, I suppose, though I can't imagine
what one would pray for, as Elvis wasn't in the business of
forgiving sins. I'm sure of one thing, he would drop his bowl of
poi and fall out of his hammock if he thought people were
worshipping him like a god. On the other hand, if he knew it was
all in jest, he might have a good laugh about it. I really don't
think any of the so-called Elvis worshippers have any delusions
that they're actually involved in a serious religion, but it will
happen sooner or later, if the world lasts long enough.
BIG WORDS I try to keep my stories on an intelluctal level
between Albert Einstine and Ignorant Donkey. Using big words and
abstract phrases cuts into that group of readers who don't know
what they mean. If you had to use a dictionary to read my
stories, you might not be reading them very much, thereby missing
out on all the great wisdom and household hints contained herein.
My goal is to communicate information, opinions, ideas and other
thoughts, and any word that hinders effective and complete
communication by its unfamiliarity is contrary to my purpose. If
a writer's readers can't understand what he writes, they won't be
readers for very long, unless they are literary masochists or
psychologists. Personally I don't spend my otherwise valuable
time thinking up this stuff to have you turn the page because you
can't understand it, so I resist whatever urge I might get to
become grandiloquently verbose. Hypermagnitudinal verbosity can
make one's opinions inscrutably enigmatic, and inscrutably
enigmatic opinions aren't worth a Hoover (the water-retention
facility in the state of Arizona, not the rug-sucker).
Big words take up too much space in the brain. If you don't fill
it with words that are unnecessary for communication with people
of reasonable inteligence and education, you'll have more room
for the things that really matter in life, like favourite song
lyrics, including all the words to '99 Bottles Of Beer On The
Wall' and 'Honey Bun', women's phone numbers, matching the month
and year with NDT back issue numbers, the number of Elvis
imitators in the world (which keeps going up) (sadly - Ed.), the
words to every Jerry Lee Lewis song, your name, your address,
your age... (no, cancel that last one... since I hit 27, I don't
think about age anymore)... remembering your wife / husband /
girlfriend / boyfriend's name after a few cold ones while he /
she / it is out of town, remembering to post your subscription
cheque to NDT, and remembering my address in case you ever get an
extra Hawaiian cruise ticket (Bono, Arkansas 72416).
So, you may be assured that I will, in the future dissertations
of my ruminations, try to avoid literary loquaciousness and
sententiousness (though it will be tough), and eschew
amplitudinous and magniloquent verbiage, as well as keeping a
rein on my copiousness and diffusiveness. I hope that makes you
feel better. My brain hurts.
UNLESS YOU'RE A NICE PERSON... I long ago stopped being awed by
stars. I learned that from Carl Perkins in '59 when we shared
dressing rooms (stock rooms in nightclubs, with cases of beer to
sit on). He put his pants on just like I did, though we didn't
wear the same style underwear, and he also occasionally revealed
some of his worries and problems in our conversations - enough
to tell me that, aside from his fame, he was just like a
regular, non-famous person, and quite a friendly one, too.
Record stars are just people who happened to write and/or record
a song that caught the public's fancy, and to Carl, everybody
was a star.
Everybody has talents... things they can do well. For some, it's
music, for others, sculpture or painting, or it could be a knack
for mathematics or some branch of science or cooking, and the
list goes on. But talent is far down the list from the really
imporant things. I really like Scotty Moore's guitar playing on
the early Elvis records, and he deserved far more credit than he
got, but what I like most about him is that he is a nice guy.
Every time I've seen him in the last ten years, he's had a big
smile and a friendly greeting. Talents are fun and they make
other people happy, but the most important things are
friendliness, courtesy, kindness, compassion, honesty, patience
and fairness, among others.
I don't care how famous you get or how much money you make, or
even if you get elected King of the World, you won't get my vote
unless you're a nice person. I'm not impressed by your diamond
rings, gold bracelets and Rolls Royces, but I am impressed by
your smile, your courtesy, your willingness to help when someone
is in trouble or just needs an extra hand, your compassion for
those who are poor, ill, and mentally and physically impaired (it
could have been you, and some day it might be), and your
unwillingness to do anything that might hurt someone else. If
everybody in the world adopted these qualities, crime and hunger
would stop, we could fire most of the policemen, disease would
take a drop, and wars would become extinct. Don't expect this to
happen next week. Maybe the week after...