City Paper is not for tourists
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Justin wrote Iceland, a blog about his band’s American tour. Justin isn’t on tour anymore, but Iceland continues, twice a week, on City Desk.
“When I saw Elvis…that was the finest moment of my life,” an older gentleman said. As we played cards, he spoke of olden times with a palpable sense of nostalgia. “I used to run this club over in the Midwest. Music, you know? Country bands, pop, whatever. I went broke in that business. Twenty miles from Peoria. Heard Elvis was playing in St. Louis, so I got about 20 tickets. Me and 19 of my best customers. We caravaned down there. This was 1971, 1972. We had good seats, let me tell you, boy. Elvis was out of the army by then. He looked better than ever. Slim, you know? Sounded great. Boy, let me tell you, that man could sing. You wouldn’t believe it. Especially that gospel stuff. Boy, it just blew our minds.”
“When Elvis died—-boy, I was devastated,” the gentleman continued. “August 16, 1977. I was driving out to Vegas and stopped in Nashville. Listened to Elvis on the 8-track the whole way. Four days driving out there. Was with some friends downtown, and one said, ‘You see that old feller over there?’ So I saw the guy and I said, ‘Yeah.’ So my friend says, ‘Well, that’s Elvis’s uncle. Go talk to him.’ So I thought, ‘Goddamn.’ So I get up and go over to the old feller. He’s sitting there, maybe like two teeth in his mouth. He’s an old country guy, you know. So I says, ‘Sir, I don’t want to trouble you, but I just want to say, boy, I love Elvis. I just love Elvis. I’ve been driving to Vegas listening to Elvis four days straight now.’ So the old feller looks at me and says, ‘Four days? You been listening to Elvis for four days straight?’ So I look right back at him and say, ‘Yes, sir. Four days.’ So the old guy looks back at me and says, ‘Well, son, you sure are an Elvis fan.’ Can you believe it? That’s all he said! Ha!”
“Your story moves me,” I commented. “I have always admired the Elvis performance clips I have seen on YouTube, a popular Internet Web site.”
“Yeah, boy,” the gentleman continued. “Last year alone Elvis made $58 million and he’s been dead 30 years. He’s the biggest star that ever lived!”
“Indeed,” I commented. “Economic comparisons of Elvis and Michael Jackson or Elvis and Britney Spears might prove fruitful, but mere statistics cannot compute how that deceased artist many refer to as ‘The King’ shaped American popular music and culture.”
“Well,” the gentleman said. “Well.”
“Do you have anything to eat?” I queried.
“Of course, ” the gentleman replied. “We have lasagna.”
“Unfortunate,” I replied. “I am a vegetarian and will not consume animal flesh,”
“Interesting,” the gentleman said. “Don’t you have to take a pill for that?”
“Well, there are nutritional considerations,” I stated. “For example, one must ensure that one consumes enough protein, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. These are basic building blocks of life easier to access via a meat diet. One must also watch one’s carbohydrate consumption. Twinkies and potato chips are vegetarian, of course. When I first became vegetarian on February 15, 1995, I often ate Twinkies and potato chips to make up for lost calories. As a result, I consumed too many carbohydrates. In reality, my meat diet was much healthier than my Twinkie-and-potato-chip diet and, as a result, I had to modify my grazing behaviors.” I yawned and folded a hand. “So, in response to your question: Yes, you do have to take a pill for that.”