The Great Tax Bazaar (7/31/97)
It's Gotta Be The Heat (7/18/97)
Those Competing Tax Plans (7/4/97)
Love Me Tender, Love Me Long
By Charles Bierbauer/CNN
WASHINGTON (Aug. 15) -- I'm heading for Memphis on the 20th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.
To be honest, it's a coincidence, not a pilgrimage. I just realized that our Saturday flight would come on August 16th, the date of Elvis' drug-induced death. I suspect the plane to Memphis will be full.
I had figured I'd wear jeans and western boots. Should I drag the sequined jumpsuit out of mothballs instead?
Will the airline show "Blue Hawaii"? Probably not a movie flight.
Will they serve fried banana and peanut-butter sandwiches? Even Elvis might think twice about his favorite food in these more diet-conscious days. But then he wasn't too terribly careful about what he subjected his body to, was he?
I cannot say I ever considered myself an Elvis fan. He sold a billion records. There's one old Elvis LP among my dusty collection.
Most Americans are not Elvis fans -- 55 percent are non-fans, according to this week's CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. Yet many Americans seem to retain a fascination, perhaps morbid, for the entertainer. Or is it just the dog days of August?
Life and news, for the most part, are transitory. But the Elvis anniversary, if that's what we should call it, got me thinking. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you learned of Elvis' death?
I was driving home from a college class when I heard that John Kennedy had been killed. I was in my London office when the bells rang on the wire machine to tell us Richard Nixon had resigned. I was working in Bonn, Germany, when John Lennon was shot. But I had to check the calendar to tell myself I was probably in Philadelphia the day that Elvis died.
Is he dead? Four percent of Americans think he's still alive, according to that same CNN poll.
That would be news to break the summer doldrums. What's news is relative, of course. On this slow news day, I found myself asking which of this week's news headlines will we be talking about 20 years from today?
-- President Clinton invokes the "line-item veto" to strike provisions of the recent tax and spending agreement. This may not even survive the year if the courts strike down this veto as an unconstitutional executive power.
-- Clinton's "executive memorandum" on guidelines for religious expression in the federal workplace. These merely anecdotally spell out what the law already provides. They change nothing.
Clinton and his politically conjoined twin Vice President Gore didn't need to make the announcement Thursday at the White House. It helped fill the August news void for a day. Clinton is looking to shape his legacy, while Gore is hopeful he'll get the chance to have one. But they could have emulated Congress and gone on vacation.
-- The UPS/Teamsters strike. May it end before I finish this.
-- Timothy McVeigh, at his sentencing for the Oklahoma City bombing, revived the memory of the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis by citing a 1928 Brandeis opinion. Brandeis deserves the recollection nearly seventy years later. McVeigh's notoriety will live after him, marking the day Americans lost their sense of inviolability.
-- India and Pakistan celebrated fifty years of independence from Great Britain. Not fifty years of peace and harmony. They've fought each other. Suffered internal coups and assassinations. Half of Pakistan became Bangladesh. Yet India still stakes its claim as the world's largest democracy -- in terms of population. When you consider the Soviet Union -- no democracy -- rose and fell in some seventy years, the Indo-Pak prospect for longevity is more promising.
-- Footprints in the sand. Scientists in South Africa reported their discovery of fossilized human footprints. They appear to have been left by a barefoot young woman on the shore of a lagoon more than a 100,000 years ago. Now that's enduring.
How long will traces of Elvis last? And where will we find them once Graceland crumbles?
It's a slow news day, remember. I checked the Internet.
Punching in just one word -- Elvis -- tallied 89,070 documents. Or so the search engine told me. I did not check them all.
But I could have ordered an "embossed raised-image lithograph" of the King of Rock and Roll. Or throw rugs, tote bags, pillows and footstools with "shaker leg." I was all shook up.
I could have entered the "Elvis Slept Here" interactive page. "Touch... and become an enlightened soul." I resisted.
I read a couple of poems attributed to Elvis. But the dates on them were 18 years after his death. Or were they?
"I Saw Elvis at 1000 Feet" turned out to be the biography of drag racer John Force.
Elvis Edward Productions is a fortuitously (coincidentally?) named photo service in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Did Elvis sleep there?
And the Elvis Telecom is an Internet service in Russia. It's home page told me I was the 60,323rd person to visit the site. How many of them do you think were looking for Elvis in Russia?
"This is a decent, fine boy," Ed Sullivan told America on the little black and white screen we watched before television blossomed and Elvis exploded into an international mania. Both phenomena have survived.
On our nostalgic TV, Elvis is king for a day again. For surprisingly many that's an everyday emotion. It makes sense to some, and it's inexplicable to others.
I'm flying to Memphis Saturday, 20 years after Elvis Presley died there. But I'm just changing planes for Colorado.
Maybe next time I should go to Graceland.
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