The King is (still) dead

First, a quick backtrack in time to says, “Happy birthday, Elvis.”

He was born on Jan. 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Miss., and gave up the big hound dog on Aug. 16, 1977. In a way, we’re lucky the big ‘E’ keeled over in the full bloom of his peanut-butter-and-Maalox prime. If he were alive today and celebrating No. 62, the King would probably be a dreary and depressing mess—even more than when he fell off the can and kicked it almost 20 years ago. No doubt he would have had a wall full of graduation certificates from this country’s finest detox farms by now. Diplomas from facilities filled with counselors whose earnest desire to help would have left him a semi-reclusive madman—holed up in Graceland, surrounded by black velvet paintings of himself, washing his hands 30 times a day while ranting about germs. In short, acting like a weird king. Elvis Aaron Presley died young, left a pretty big corpse and was too damned rock ‘n’ roll to be a member of the Rat Pack.

The next time you dust the entertainment cabinet, please remember, according to a recent show on PBS that rarely lies about this kind of stuff, approximately 90 percent of household dust is human skin flakes. Those flakes are what keep all those microscopic mites in your bed, carpet and furniture happy. It seems impossible that life on this planet could get any grislier.

Do you know how to coax people from California to get in their cars and get in a nice, long line? Just close an interstate highway during really rotten weather. Yep, just make the announcement and stand back. Those Fornians will come a-runnin’ in no time flat. Stacks of ’em, eschewing the theaters, bars and good-time party palaces of the Neon Babylon in favor of non-stop, sittin'-in-the-car, expletive-laced bile-blowing.

One year ago, if you stood on the corner of Kietzke Lane and South Virginia Street and looked west, you would have seen one commercial building, the Albertson’s Mega-Mart. Now, you see not only Albertson’s but a Safeway Super Foodery, a Boston Market, a Michael’s Art Mart, a Home Place, an Office Depot, a Wal-Mart and a Circuit City—all in buildings big enough to host the NCAA basketball tournament. When asked about the speed with which this alarming tumor of credit-mangling outposts appeared, a planner replied that it was a case of slow, controlled growth being carried out just a tad bit faster than the normal slow, controlled growth. This Classic Van Dyke ran on Jan. 15, 1997. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Bruce will return next week.