Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beej Weir's Guide to Graceland: Chapter 3: Big Boss Man

As always, please click on the thumbnails to see the pics. It adds to the view count on my flickr page and makes me think I'm popular.

Elvis liked guns. A lot.
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

He didn't seem all that interested in shooting animals, though, which is fine by me. He seemed more interested in shooting TVs. We'll get to that.

Elvis also liked badges...Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

We'll get back to that, too.

Elvis liked being in charge. Guns and badges are symbols of authority- so it doesn't surprise me he was drawn to them. Of course, when you're a rich, famous rock & roll star- you don't really need a gun or a badge to get people to do what you want. But, Elvis liked them nonetheless.

Let's back up a bit: before we went on our tour of Graceland in January of 2008, Donna was telling me about the time she and her family went there years before...

(as you may recall from Chapter 1- Donna and her family considered Graceland to be the Pier 39 of Memphis, TN. But, that didn't mean they hadn't been there before. Hey, I'll admit I've been to Pier 39. More than once, even. Who doesn't love New England clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl? Or sun-basking sea lions? And they have a great hat store called Krazy Kaps).

Anyway, the one thing that stood out in Donna's mind about Graceland was the firing range Elvis had set up in his backyard...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

The firing range was situated rather close to Lisa Marie's swing set (it's in the building directly behind the swing set)
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

In fact, Donna remembered seeing what appeared to be a bullet hole in the bottom left corner of the slide.

It would appear she remembered correctly...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

My guess is this is what brought an end to the "brief period in the sixties when Elvis and the guys used this room as a firing range". Needless to say, Sam Elliot doesn't bring this up in the audio-guided tour.

As I mentioned earlier, to the best of my knowledge, Elvis wasn't into shooting animals. But, TVs? That was different story. The 'Elvis After Dark Museum' portion of the tour featured one of his victims- a TV he kept in his upstairs bedroom...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.07Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

But, this wasn't the only TV he shot. Why would Elvis- a guy who LOVED to watch TV- treat them so badly?

(His TV room alone had 3 he'd watch at one time! He even had one in his kitchen, for God's sake)
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.04Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08

Donna and I were talking about it. She said she remembered hearing somewhere that Elvis shot a TV because Elliot Gould was on it. "Elliot Gould?" I said, incredulously. "What did he have against Elliot Gould?!"

A little research revealed it wasn't Elliot Gould- but the late Robert Goulet, who incurred the wrath of The King. And if Goulet is to be believed (and really, why would he lie?)- Elvis shot a lot of people on TV. Maybe he shot at Elliot Gould's image, too. We'll never know.

Let's turn our attention now to Elvis' other authoritarian fascination: badges. Elvis collected them from all over. But, perhaps his greatest acquisition was the badge given to him by President Richard Nixon.

Elvis wrote to the president asking to be made an agent of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs so he could help keep the young people of America on the straight & narrow vis a vis drugs (I'm not sure if this falls under coincidence or irony) and President Nixon went along with it. You can read all about it and see the famous pics here and here . They made a movie about it- but I've never seen it.

At this historic event, Elvis gave Nixon a vintage Colt .45 which is on display at the Nixon Library & Museum- probably the Pier 39 of Yorba Linda.

Here's the badge. Not a bad photo if I do say so myself...
Graceland, Memphis, TN 1/18/08.06

Elvis did help educate people to the dangers of drug abuse- but he didn't need a badge to do it.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of my Guide to Graceland!

Part 1
Part 2