Thursday night brain tapas

It's PBS pledge drive season, and that means they break out all their big music specials.  One I watched was Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert.  This show was fascinating, recorded live August 16, 2002, the 25th anniversary of Elvis' kingly demise.  Elvis' band was sharp and tight, despite their advancing age, and the King himself was young and thin, his voice sounding better than ever in his 66 years.

Especially since he'd been dead since 1977.  Elvis' performance came from 1973, and the legendary Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii concert, which was seen live by over 1 BILLION people, plus another 500 million on delay.  Over 50% of the American tv audience tuned in; and it's still the most-watched entertainment program in history. 

The producers of the 2002 show took Elvis' filmed performance from 1973, then hired his 1973 band to play live as the King sang on a giant screen.  Their hair had gone gray, but they could still rock.  It was an amazing effect, kinda creepy, really, because you couldn't really tell that Elvis wasn't there.  I understand it was all editing and incredible synchronization by the musicians, but you could almost believe Elvis was there singing. 

Again, except that he'd been dead for a quarter century. 

It was interesting that almost all of his band was still living and still performing all those years later.  One exception was J.D. Sumner, leader of The Stamps Quartet, one of E's backup vocal groups.  (I noticed this only because I'd interviewed J.D. before he died, ironically in a feature marking Elvis 60th birthday (also because he had the deepest voice I've ever heard anywhere–he made James Earl Jones sound like Conan O'Brien))

All of that leads me to this thought: I think it would be just cooler than hell if I could take an earlier, younger, thinner, hipper version of myself and have it do things here in the present.  What if I could have, say, the 17 year-old Tom go out and play golf or racquetball or basketball for me, or the 22 year-old Tom go out on a date? If we could pick ourselves at some point in our lives, and substitute that self for today's self, would we do it? Interesting concept, although I doubt the 17 year-old me could handle it were he suddenly transported to the age of cell-phones and easily accessible internet porn. 

Elvis, Part Two:

I know more music by Elvis than by Pearl Jam, Beck, and Britney Spears combined.  My mom played him a bunch when I was a kid, then I ended up as Production Director at an Oldies radio station.  I always liked the 60's and 70's Elvis–the Vegas Elvis, if you will–better than his earlier incarnation.  Maybe it's the kitsch factor, but I turn it up when I hear "Burnin' Love" from 1972.  I've never bought so much as an Elvis single, but I dig the guy.  He had style.  I doubt anyone will put on a similar show 25 years after Kid Rock dies.

Elvis, Part Three:
If you like non-mainstream films, check out Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train.  It's a haunting trilogy of stories set in a rundown Memphis hotel, and Elvis makes a ghostly appearance.  Plus, I like just about any film with Steve Buscemi in it, especially when Screamin' Jay Hawkins plays the hotel night clerk, and Joe Strummer of the Clash appears as a hot-tempered drunk guy. 

Stupid TV Commercial Update:
Lord help me, the X-mas holiday shopping season is well underway, and I'm about ready to scream from all the happy snowy besweatered idiots in TV ads.  Two people I really want to smack are in jewelry store ads.  One has a man walking through the mall with a shiny black Zales Jewelers bag in one hand.  Another man walks by, sees the bag, and high-fives the guy for his exemplary taste. 

I'm sorry, but in the real world, whatever's in that bag would be in a pawn shop vault before this doofus made it to his Lexus.  If I were to buy diamonds in the mall, the last damn thing I'd do would be walk around with the bag hanging casually from one hand.  I'd probably put the Zales bag inside a sack from Taco Hut or Ptomaine's Ptasty Sub Emporium.  "Sorry it smells like peperoncini and salami, sugar-booger, but Merry Christmas! (burp)"

Come to think of it, I think the other dumb commercial is also for Zales.  In this one, a man and his wife are walking up their driveway, when the woman notices a Zales bag hanging from the snowman's arm. 

Again, I don't know where these people live, but it's no neighborhood where I've ever lived.  

OH! A third offender, also a Zales ad! A man and his wife are walking through a Christmas tree lot, when the man points to a tree.  "This is the one."
"Why this one?"
"Because it comes with a present already under it."

The present? Of course, a diamond whatnot from Zales.  The most likely way for this to play out would be for the man to arrange with one of the Christmas tree merchants to place the present beneath the tree, and guard it somehow.  I understand that I live in a strange part of the world, but most of our Christmas trees are sold by Christmas tree gypsies.  These folks come down from the mountains for one month a year, and set up camp in the Kash n Karry parking lot.  The whole clan–ma, pa, and the young'uns–sell trees and live in a camper right there along the busiest road in town.  You give one of these folks a diamond to guard, and they'd be out of town before you could say "yee haw, everybody gets shoes this year!"

I know, I'm far too cynical.  But these things just get to me with their inane cuddly happiness.  Plus, it's pathetic when I realize that next to these, Chad and the dorks from the cell-phone commercials look positively intellectual. 

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