Seeing Some Old Friends
Well, the Reuben Awards is over for another year. Once again, a group of tireless comics created an opening stage act worthy of Broadway—and then the awards began.
So many wonderful talents, so many awards! The National Cartoonists Society has expanded since I joined in the late 70s. I found it hard to recognize the people whose hair was dark, and whose skin still fit properly. The old guys, I can pick out right away. We are the ones who’ve grown old together over the past 40 years.
Visiting Sun Studio
The event was held in Memphis this year. I took a musician friend with me, which was a very good idea. Professional musicians know folks all over the planet, and Paul had two right there in Memphis. Lana, a singer with the most amazing voice, and her partner, Rev, are professionally called Deering and Downe.
With them, we saw the workings inside the fabled Sun Studio, where Elvis recorded with legends like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Besides being a tourist destination, it is still an active recording studio.
Because there were so many NCS members wanting to see Graceland, we were able to take over most of the complex for our farewell party. I had imagined Elvis’ house to be large, gaudy, and overdone. In reality, it is a lovely family home with enough space for company and some recreation. The interior was left as it was in the 1960s. There are some whimsical features, like the mirrored stairwell, and a billiard room completely decorated in ornate fabric, but the house itself is warm and inviting.
As we walked through it, we had a sense that we were intruding, somehow. Several outbuildings hold exhibits, like Elvis’ car collection, and his many gold and platinum records. There are a couple of restaurants, and the inevitable gift shops.
On a busy day, there would be lineups for everything, but we were able to look around in relative quiet. There are four graves in the garden. On Elvis’ stone is a particularly moving family tribute. He loved and was loved, and the experience left us all with the feeling that we had known him. The man was evident in everything around us. I was never an Elvis fan, but after this experience, I feel lucky to have been around when he was alive and well, and performing at his best.