Monday, November 22, 2010

Burnin' Love: MS Man Takes Passion for Elvis to New Levels

Holly Springs, MS, doesn’t have the honor of being Elvis Presley’s birthplace (that belongs to Tupelo, MS), nor does it have the distinction of being the city that bestowed upon him the metaphorical crown (that one belongs to Memphis, TN). No, upon first glance this dusty, southern burg doesn’t appear to offer much in regards to the pelvis-thrusting, karate-chopping, jewel-encrusted jumpsuit-donning King of Rock and Roll. It doesn’t appear to offer much in regards to anything, for that matter. But when surrounded by enough rough, even the brightest, gaudiest diamonds can be overlooked. Such is the case with Graceland Too – the diamond of Holly Springs.

It’s a (currently) bright blue, century-old residence complete with two lion statues wrapped in Christmas lights and barbed wire perched on the front porch. The exterior is, however, but a minor harbinger for what’s to come. Paul McLeod – said establishment’s enigmatic proprietor – has created an alternative to the Mecca of Elvis fans that is Graceland, and five bucks is all that’s needed for a journey into, as a certain chocolatier might say, pure imagination.

The innards of the home are inundated with everything Elvis, from LPs to posters. In any shrine this is to be expected. And while the exhaustive collection of Presley paraphernalia is certainly intriguing, it’s the tour guide that’s the true show. Paul speaks with an impossible, near-nauseating stream of consciousness. The transition from “Jailhouse Rock” to Charles Bronson’s death to something about CBS and the Princess of Monaco is made while the listener is still trying to register the extraneous information from five minutes prior. His visitors are assaulted with a merciless and oftentimes incomprehensible onslaught of numbers and figures, past exploits with countless celebrities, and, of course, ceaseless proclamations asserting his allegiance to the King.

The senses are bombarded and logic is defied. Before long the tourist becomes sedated by the abnormality of it all. Earlier, one might have asked, “Paul why is there a picture of Princess Diana in the corner? Why do you keep talking about Montel Williams? And how, really, did you come into possession of all of this?” But it takes only minutes inside the walls of Graceland Too before the visitor realizes this is Paul McLeod’s world and to attempt to make sense of it would ultimately prove fruitless. It’s as if he found a void in reality and filled it with everything he saw fit: Elvis records and candy bars, plastic aliens, shopping carts filled to the brim with empty coke cans, pink limousines and more.

One would be able to discern more meaning from a conversation with an anthropomorphized and inebriated Jackson Pollack painting than from Paul McLeod and his otherworldly tour. It’s preposterous. It’s absurd. It’s nonsensical. It’s Graceland Too, baby.

For a mere peek inside, click here.

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