Graceland, Troy, & Tar Heels

January16/ 2000

  Maybe I need a break … on Friday I visited Elvis’ Graceland and (via the silver screen) Troy.  With both I found myself relating what I saw and heard to college sports rivalries and the various “characters” and rationales that fester there. How was a “Tar Heel” received at Graceland … and who are the modern day warrior equivalents of Achilles, Hector, and dirty rotten King Agamemnon?

   Although I’ve visited Memphis 3-4 times over the past 10 years, I had never taken the time to visit Graceland.  Figuring there might be a column paragraph hiding there I made it part of my itinerary this time.

   Pretty much what I figured.  Surely when “The King” developed the place he did not envision miles of used car lots, pawn shops, second rate fast food joints and endless “strip centers” that now line Elvis Pressley Boulevard in both directions. Easy to find, less than 10 minutes from Memphis Airport.  

   As I purchased my ticket for “the Mansion Tour” ($18.00 and includes “memorial park”) I was approached by a survey taker.  It seems that on this day the data being collected from Graceland pilgrims related to “Did you go to college … and if so, where?”  I was glad to cooperate.

   I graduated from “North Carolina” I stated proudly.  

   “Oh, that’s nice” the 18ish surveyor noted.  “That Philip Rivers sure was a good player.” 

   “Well, yes he was; but I went to “the sister school” to where he went. I went to Chapel Hill.”  

   She looked at me kinda funny and asked if I could delay my tour for a just a few minutes.  She wanted to get her supervisor. The supervisor; a somewhat corpulent fellow wearing a lime green leisure suit and corfam loafers, invited me into his sparsely furnished office.

   “Mr. Swagger, you say you graduated from UNC @ Chapel Hill and yet you bought a ticket to tour Graceland.?”

   “Well yes … is there anything wrong with that?”

   “No, absolutely not … but since the mansion opened to the public following Mr Pressley’s unfortunate passing, we have had only one other visitor admit that they were educated at Chapel Hill. Of course we take folks at their word but folks “from Chapel Hill” don’t normally admit to an interest in, shall we say, tacky blue-collar ‘touristy’ attractions like Graceland.”

   “Oh, now I get it.  Yes, I can see where that might be the case.  In truth ‘folks from Chapel Hill’ have about the same interests as other folks it’s just that they have this ‘hoity toity image’ that they like to maintain.  You said there had been one other UNC grad visiting here that answered your survey.  Do you recall their name?”

   “Easy to find.  We keep records by alma mater. Lets turn to the ‘Carolina’ page’ … it’s a quite short list.  Ah, here it is.”

   I should have known.  If I had given it a minute’s thought I coulda guessed.  What other UNCer had a strong enough sense of self and disregard for “what others might think” … to do and say exactly what they wanted to … there it was

Boots” from Burgaw NC 

UNC ’84

Kappa Delta

Inside the beltline T-ball Mamma.

   “Do you know her?” asked the survey guy.  

   “I’m quite proud to say I sure do.  So “Boots from Burgaw” visited Graceland huh.  I bet you can’t guess where she is this very weekend.”

   “Well a lot of Elvis fans are in Charlotte for the big NASCAR Coca Cola 600 race.”

   “BINGO I exclaimed … ‘Boots’ is right there pulling for “Little E” and the #8 crew.”

   “A Carolina coed who admits to being an Elvis fan AND a NASCAR fan … our records show that is a very rare species indeed.”

    INDEED … probably quite a few more out there … but getting them to loosen up and not take themselves so gosh darn seriously is the trick.  Ms Boots did marry herself a doctor … so it ain’t like she totally let down the sisterhood.


Swagger Stumper

Where did Will Scarlet & Alan-a-Dale live?


   BobLee LOVES Trojan War stuff.  Actually I love most any costume adventure stuff but especially Trojan War and gladiators and Romans and Braveheart great big battle scene stuff.  Hey, it’s a “guy thing”.

   Having just finished Clive Cussler’s latest, Trojan Odyssey, I was primed for Brad Pitt’s current large scale “epic”.  From Graceland I scurried over to Memphis’ Paradiso Cinema for an afternoon delight movie.  Going to a matinee movie on a weekday is a wicked pleasure one should enjoy every once in a while.

   I liked this one.  It was reasonably close to legend since most scholars think Ol’ Homer made it all up anyway. Sure it is a marketing gimmick to draw giggly little girls to see Brad’s bare butt on at least three occasions; but I thought he was a good brooding warrior.

   Lots of guys get stabbed in the neck and Brad, as the almost immortal Achilles,  shows Rudolph Nureyev moves in his sword fights … think Keeanu Reeves in Matrix … but I was fine with it.

   What struck me was the whole “why are we fighting” and the “respect among warriors” aspects of the plot.  I saw Heels and Wuffies in the Greeks vs Trojans.  Each “team” had its signature warriors … Achilles, Hector, Ajax, Odysseus, Rivers, Jordan, Peppers, Thompson … Hector is really the most noble albeit tragic “hero” accepting his fate as he fulfills his destiny.  The opposing armies scenes dwarf Braveheart, Patriot, and even Lord of The Rings.  Either they used computer graphics or they hired half of Europe as “extras”.

   The “Helen” is not as drop dead gorgeous as the one in the TV-movie of a year or so ago but she was OK.  Paris is a wuzz … and Agamemnon is a baddie though not as rotten as the Dragoon in Patriot but maybe as rotten as Long Shanks in Braveheart.

   I’ve told you all you need to know to go see it.  I’ll let you decide which Heel and/or Wuffie “legends” best compare to Homer’s team.

    We could do 6 months of trivia from Young Frankenstein and/or Blazing Saddles.  Frau Buhler was always accompanied by a horse’s whinning.  “Hump … what hump” … “Walk like this” … “Put the candle BACK!”

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    Why the movie critique … our most recent column drew some quite funny reader responses.  One compared BobLee to Joe Bob Briggs “The Redneck Drive-In Movie Critic” which we consider a compliment.  A true blue Woody Durham disciple was quite “miffed” and compared Swagger to Howard Stern for the sacrilege of gigging her “Voice of” hero.  We know and respect Woody … He has a MUCH better sense of humor than his puckered butted fans.

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