Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Thoughts

It's Friday...Mama sent me these.

-More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

-Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

-I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

-Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

-I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

-Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?

-There is a great need for a sarcasm font.

-I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really, really gets it.

-How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

-I would rather try to carry ten plastic grocery bags in each hand than make two trips to bring my groceries in.

- I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

- I'm convinced that when my daughter texts me and uses "LOL" it really means "I have nothing else to say".

- I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

- Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

- How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

- I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent some asshole from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

-What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

- MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

- Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

- I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

-Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

-I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

-Bad decisions make good stories.

-Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....

-You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.

-Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

-There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

-I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my multi-page document that I swear I did not make any changes to.

- "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this. Ever.

-I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. "I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?"

-I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

- I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

- As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

-It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

-I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

-Honestly, even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it.

-Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone in time to answer it, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the "snooze" button from three feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...

-It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

-I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I Bleed Ford Blue

The long national nightmare called C.A.R.S. is finally over. And perspective is setting in.

I knew this program was going to be a train wreck when (A) the government talked about what a great deal it was for the American people and (2) when I saw the administrative manual. It was 136 pages long.

Any time the Federal Government talks about how great some program is for me I start guarding my backside.

And, to give you an example of how out of touch our government is with reality, the administrative manual devoted six pages--six--to instructions on how to disable the engine of the traded "clunker". Like I didn't know already how to destroy an engine. dealership had its share of "clunkers" brought to our door. Normally in the mountains where I live we would call these vehicles "trades" but the government, in its infinite wisdom, classified them as "clunkers". They were drivable, but now we have to crush them and verify to the Department of Transportation's satisfaction that they have been destroyed. Thank God there were no Competition Yellow Mustangs or Flame Red Falcons out there. I would have had to break the law.

We entered our first deal at 6:00am on a Saturday morning since it was impossible then (and every time after that) to get into the federal computer system, powered by Oracle (another nightmare). We felt a sense of accomplishment when we submitted it and it was accepted for review.

Then it was rejected. As were the next three. So far we haven't heard on the other fourteen. I have a feeling, though.

I can take rejection. I sell cars for a living. However, it's hard to take a $72,000 rejection.

So now we wait for the government to reimburse our dealership.

Too bad we're not a GM (Government Motors) store. GM is taking your tax dollars, which bailed them out after bankruptcy, and reimbursing their dealers for the money the government owes them. Which, in a way, is the same thing.

I've never been prouder to sell Fords.

I grew up in a Ford store. My first car was a red Ford Falcon. There are five Fords in my family now, and I don't plan on owning any other brand.

I had to go to the parts store the other night to get some freon to charge my Explorer's air-conditioning system. The guy behind the counter saw my Ford shirt and told me he only drives imports. I told him he was part of what's wrong with this country.

After September 11, Ford gave ten million dollars to the American Red Cross, matching employee contributions of the same number, plus ten Excursions to the New York City Fire Department. They also provided Emergency Response team services and office space to displaced government employees.

Toyota? Nothing. Honda? Zip. Nissan, Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu? Zilch. Hyundai, in their defense, gave $300,000 to the American Red Cross.

I'm unapologetic-ally patriotic. I love my country and believe that American know-how and industrious hard work made us great and will continue to do so. I believe you ought to buy American whenever possible, not blindly but because most of the time products made in the USA are as good as, or better than, anything imported. As well as because of what I mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

A little over two years ago Ford Motor Company hired a new CEO, Alan Mulally. When he came in he sold off Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover in short order. He managed to obtain cash for Ford at a time when it didn't look like the company would need it. Then came $4-dollar-a-gallon gas and Ford, being primarily a truck company, looked like it would crash and burn in that market. That was before it became a "world-car" company again. Now, with vehicles like the Focus, Fusion, the new Taurus and Fiesta along with the mainstay F-150, Ford Motor Company has turned the corner and is positioned for the long-haul.

When Chrysler and GM were slumming around Washington looking for a bailout, Ford was building vehicles with proven quality on par with the best the imports had to offer.

In the last month or so, almost every person driving on our lot says just about the same thing. They won't buy anything Chrysler makes because of their lack of quality or they refuse to do business with GM because they took federal money. It's tragic, but as someone in government said, they brought it upon themselves. Were it not for some foresighted leadership, Ford might be in the same boat.

Henry Ford would be proud. Walter Chrysler, the Dodge brothers, and William Durant are turning over in their graves.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

She's Gone. Again.

My baby, Emily Brooke, left this morning for college, hopefully her last semester. Only one thing has kept her from graduating before now.

Quantitative Methods.

The course is described this way: Collection of mathematical and statistical methods used in the solution of managerial and decision-making problems, also called operations research (OR) and management science.

More like a collision of math and statistics.

Now, Emily ain't stupid, but when it comes to math, almost our entire family managed to avoid that talent. Probably because we were wading in the shallow end of the gene pool.

John and Carder whizzed through all kinds of math. Jennie has the ability. I need a calculator to add two and two.

Of course it doesn't help when you have to take the same course three times in order to graduate. Emily didn't get through four years of college by not applying herself or failing courses. She says the problem with this course is not the material but the professor. From how she's described him, I know I've seen his type--disdaining to students, out of touch with the real world, always proving a point, just showing off.

If you're reading this, Doc, let's get one thing straight. Either she passes this time, or you get a major 55-gallon can of ass-whup all over Lakeland, Florida. I'm not a well man, but I come from a long line of, let's say, determined people.

But back to the point. My youngest pulled out of the Dawsonville Chick-Fil-A about 8:30 this morning for what I hope is her last haul to Southeastern University.

Her mom teared up. So did Em. I didn't. Not until I was on my way back to Dahlonega.

I can't stand her leaving, but I am so proud of her. Someone once said that a daughter is always "Daddy's little girl," and for me that's true. But there's more.

I remember bringing her home from the hospital, our first (and only) girl. Most babies are butt-ugly when they're born, but not Emily. She was gorgeous from the start, thanks to her mother.

She was always--always--sensitive and kind-hearted like her brother Carder, and blunt-force honest like her brother John. She loved being around people, but if she didn't like you, you could forget it (and several people had to).

She's the life of the party, the "go-to" girl if you need encouraging, a hard worker, and some blessed man will make her his wife. If he passes the gauntlet of her daddy and two brothers.

She's the apple of her daddy's eye, the pride of her mama, and a fantastic friend to all who know her. She's beautiful, with eyes that look deep into your soul. She knows just what to say and when to say it. She has her own language, with words and expressions that make you laugh when she uses them--and only she can make her language work.

She's inimitable and one of a kind. I'm blessed to call her my daughter.

She's my little girl, and her own woman, full of God and love and adventure.

And she's gone.

My heart is breaking. Again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Thought I Wuz Smart, Part Two

I found out just today that researchers have released an index which reveals the brainiest--and dumbest--states in America.

Without commentary, here are the top ten most "brain-healthy" states, in descending order:

Washington, D.C, Maryland, Washington State, Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire.

The bottom ten? Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, and, in dead last, Louisiana.

Now the commentary: who the hell did these tests?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that's who.

Before you think these entities are located inside the D.C. Beltway, think again. CDC? Atlanta, Georgia. NIH? Bethesda, Maryland. Department of Labor? Washington, D.C.

Of course they'd put the CDC in Atlanta. So the latest, and all future, epidemics would come from the South. But I digress.

Let's get the top ten out of the way first. Did you notice that the list chose to distinguish between Washington, D.C. and Washington State? I'm not impressed, since only a moron wouldn't know when you list D.C. first that it stands to reason that the next "state" you mention by the name of Washington would be the one on the West Coast. And--AND--when did D.C. become a state?

We dummies take college football teams as a good barometer of a state's intelligence. Maryland, Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, and New Hampshire all have outstanding college football teams. I just don't know who they are. Wait, that's not entirely true--Colorado has the Buffaloes. Number 6 on the smart list was brilliant enough to have a live bovine as their mascot, right up until some genius allowed it to get loose and it impaled somebody. Maryland has the Terps (those great thinkers chose one of the slowest creatures on earth as its mascot) and Massachusetts has the Boston College Eagles. Their mascot--and I am not making this up--is named Baldwin the Eagle. Vermont has Ben and Jerry's. I don't eat their ice cream. I can't see putting money into the pockets of people who think I'm an idiot.

Enough already. Time for the bottom ten.

Notice that Georgia is not on this list. I am extremely proud of that fact, and I don't care to know where they placed. However, the fact that seven of the ten bottom-dwellers are from the SEC makes a loud statement.

Know their state nicknames? We've had this lesson before. South Carolina is the Palmetto State, Arkansas is the Natural State, Tennessee's the Volunteer State, Alabama is the Moron State...well, you get the picture.

If I was smart, I'd think there was a conspiracy afoot against the South. But I'm not smart.

I only thought I wuz.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

I flew out of Orlando, Florida, on a Monday morning, destination: Memphis, Tennessee.

Ostensibly, I was headed to do some research on starting a new church in our area. Actually, I was going for more than that.

I was heading to Graceland.

Flying into the Memphis airport, the most obvious thing I noticed from the air was the FedEx hub, white/purple/orange planes as far as you can see. Once in the airport, the most obvious thing was a larger-than-life mural of Graceland with the caption "Welcome to Memphis, Home of Elvis Presley's Graceland."

I was already there.

My buddy and I got in our rental car, hit I-55 South, and exited on old Highway 51, "the Blues Highway," and were met by a forty-foot long wall shouting "ELVIS PRESLEY BOULEVARD."

I was surprised that Graceland was not out in the country, as I learned later it once was, but rather in a rather run-down part of Memphis. This has changed in later years since the owners of Graceland have purchased property up and down the road.

Wilson Inn (now Heartbreak Hotel) was on the right just past where we turned off the exit, and just past that was an airplane, the Lisa Marie. On its tail was a lightning bolt with the initials "TCB". That was Elvis' jet, Taking Care of Business in a flash.

Graceland Plaza was on the right as well, with a pink Cadillac out front, and directly across from it were those famous gates with the music notes and a wrought-iron pair of young Elvises. Up the hill, in all its glory, was Graceland Mansion.

We bought our tickets to the house, got in the bus, and rode up the driveway. The Christmas decorations were still up in January, and the house was decorated as well. As we entered the house I looked up and saw a small window directly above the front door.

When I walked into Graceland, I knew exactly where everything in the house was located. Jungle Room? Behind the kitchen. TV Room? Down the steps on the other side of the kitchen wall. The bathroom? THE Bathroom? Upstairs directly above the front door (the little window above the front door is in that bathroom).

Out back was the office, where Vernon did all the business for his son. The original furniture was still there, along with Vernon's handwritten sign making sure everyone knew this office was for "business only".

I saw the old handball court where Elvis spent his last night. The piano where he played his last song, "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain." A Stutz Bearhawk, the car he drove home from the dentist the night before he died.

I wondered what he must have thought when he felt the first inkling that something was wrong. Did he think of his mama, who had died at the same age? Did he think about what people would think when they heard how he died? Did he pray to the God he first knew in that little Assembly of God church in Tupelo? Did he even know what was happening, or did it hit him all at once?

I'd like to think that his passing was quick and easy. Having seen him at various times during the last years of his life, to me it was obvious that he was slowly dying and couldn't--or wouldn't--stop it.

Elvis Presley accepted the Jaycees' Outstanding Young Man in America award in 1971. At that ceremony we probably got more insight into his personality than any other time in his life. He said in his acceptance speech,

“When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend - without a song.' So I keep singing a song...”

My daughter asked me when she was a little girl if I thought Elvis was in heaven.

God's grace is sufficient to save and strong enough to preserve. Do I think Elvis is in heaven? Absolutely. Is he in the choir? Nope. He's the lead singer in the band.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Elvis Kissed Mama...

...well, not exactly.

Mama and Daddy never missed a chance to see Elvis when he came to Atlanta. The most memorable weekend was in 1976 when he played the Omni (located on the present site of the Georgia World Congress Center).

Elvis set attendance records that weekend that were never broken as long as the Omni was operating. Two shows were originally scheduled, an evening show Saturday night and a matinee on Sunday afternoon.

Those tickets (in the days before Ticketmaster--back when you had to physically stand in line to get them) sold out in 45 minutes.

Concerts West then added a Sunday night performance. Then a Saturday matinee. Then another Sunday matinee, and another Saturday matinee.

My parents went to the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee performances. Saturday night Daddy decided he had to have a pair of boots like Elvis wore, so Sunday afternoon they went to the Florsheim store on Peachtree Street and he ordered a pair of white patent leather ankle boots just like the King wore. Daddy still owned them when he died, and I still have them today.

Sunday afternoon Mama said Elvis was singing "Love Me Tender" when he looked up where she was standing and waving. She said he looked directly at her and blew her a kiss. Mama said it, so I know it's so.

Les Paul, 1915-2009

Les Paul, the "Wizard of Waukesha", died early this morning of pneumonia.

I was a benefactor of his wizardry, playing the Gibson guitar which bore his name in every band I played in. He was the originator of the modern electric guitar, making his first one out of an acoustic with the body cut in two and wired pickups attached to a block of wood placed in the center of the body where the sound hole used to be.

There was--and is--nothing like a Les Paul. Look at a photograph of any guitarist in any band anywhere and you're likely to see him playing a Les Paul. Even Eric Clapton, who almost exclusively plays a Fender Stratocaster, is shown early in his career (when he made music like "Layla" with Duane Allman, also a Les Paul man) handling a Les Paul.

Les Paul gave a gift to music. I doubt he ever knew what he did for me, and countless others, by rigging that first pickup. But I know, and am eternally grateful.

I never met the man, but I feel like I knew him well.

Are there Les Paul guitars in heaven? Today, there have to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

I was eight years old. The Ritz Theater in Barnesville was in its (my) heyday. I could go see a movie, have popcorn and a Coke, talk Mr. Richard Wilson (Dicky's dad, who also owned a go-kart track out Highway 36 toward The Rock, Georgia) out of a candy bar, all for less than $2.00.

It was a weeknight--a school night, I think--when I met Gaines Abernathy and Tim Keadle at the Ritz to see Elvis in "Viva Las Vegas."

I'll never forget that night for at least two reasons.

One, I didn't really go to meet Gaines and Tim. I couldn't have cared less if they were at the movie or even in the same universe. I was meeting Diane Steinback, the Queen of the Third Grade. She was wonderful, I was stupid. It was great for about the first twenty minutes of the movie. Which leads me to the second reason.

I saw Ann Margret for the first time that night. She made, shall we say, an indelible impression on me. Red hair, sultry voice, large...hands. She had it all.

I fell in love. I was Elvis and she was my girl. I drove a race car in the Las Vegas Grand Prix and she was waiting at the finish line. My eight-year-old imagination went wild.

Looking back now it's apparent that Elvis met his equal in Ann-Margret. I didn't understand why they didn't get married. Of course, in fairness to me, I also didn't know that Elvis had Priscilla stowed away at Graceland the whole time either. I never liked Priscilla. I think Ann-Margret spoiled me.

I wanted to dress like Elvis after Viva Las Vegas. Mama went to Rich's and bought me a double-breasted burnt orange jacket like he wore in the movie. When I put it on my left leg started to quiver, my lip curled up on one side and I uttered "Ah thank Ah'm gunna sang me uh song and have me uh fight."

Of course there was no Las Vegas Grand Prix. And the last time the King had played Vegas back in the late '50s he was hooted out of town. But his time was coming.

After a truckload of formulaic movies through the '60s (all of which I saw), many people thought Elvis was a joke, a result of what rock'n'roll would do to a person. It wasn't cool at my school to be an Elvis fan. Beatles? Great. Creedence Clearwater Revival? Cool. Elvis? You gotta be kidding.

John Lennon once said, "Before Elvis, there was nothing." In 1968, Elvis decided to restore the cool and filmed what is now known as "the '68 comeback special" (more on that tomorrow). But in the back of his mind he had something to prove that could only play out in Sin City.

So, in early 1969, he signed a contract with Kirk Kervorkian to be the second-scheduled performer at the newly-opened International Hotel (later the Hilton) on the Vegas strip. Barbra Streisand opened the hotel for two weeks and then Elvis came to town.

It wasn't the '50s anymore.

"Elvis Summer Festival" played in Vegas for the next eight years, setting attendance and gate records, never to be equalled by any performer in the same venue. Vegas set the stage for Elvis to tour again for the first time since 1957, and his concerts became legendary. The only thing missing was Ann-Margret by his side.

And me in my burnt-orange double-breasted jacket.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blue Hawaii

Blue Hawaii is my second-most favorite Elvis movie of all time. King Creole is the first, simply because Elvis was at his bad-ass best in King. It's the difference between Danny Fisher and Chad Gates (the characters in each film). It's the difference between the lyrics "if you're looking for trouble, you've come to the right place" and "rock-a-hula, baby, rock". It's the difference between the Big Easy and the Big Island. No comparison.

But there's something about Blue Hawaii. I was five years old when it came out, and our whole family went to see it at The Ritz theater in Barnesville (now a parking lot/community gathering spot). From the first strands of the title song to Elvis coming home from the Army, I was hooked. It didn't hurt any that the home office for "Chad's" daddy's pineapple business was in Atlanta. It didn't matter that a pineapple business headquartered in Georgia made about as much sense as a pinestraw business out of Honolulu. I loved that the King thought enough of his Southern heritage to make them mention Atlanta.

I became an Elvis fan through and through that night at the Ritz. I sang all the songs (ain't it funny how much you can remember when you're young?) and acted out all the parts. I was Elvis, and we were invincible.

It wouldn't last, but it was real then.

Night and me and Blue Hawaii.

Oh yeah.

And I Thought I Wuz Smart

A break from Elvis Week:

If you ever feel a little bit stupid, just dig this up and read it again; you'll begin to think you're a genius.

Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?

Answer: "I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever." --Miss Alabama, Heather Whitestone, in the 1994 Miss USA contest.

"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." --Mariah Carey

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life,"
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,"
--Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country." --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC.

"Half this game is ninety percent mental." --Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark (my neighbor when I lived in Vero Beach, Florida. Along with Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershisher. Just for you, Mike.)

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." --Al Gore, Vice President

"I love California . I practically grew up in Phoenix." --Dan Quayle, another Vice-President. I see a trend here.

"We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?" --Lee Iacocca

"The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." --Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.

And my favorite: Early in his career, a reporter asked former quarterback and Federal Corrections System guest Michael Vick what he thought his greatest strengths were. He replied, "I have two great strengths: my arm, my legs, and my brain."

And I thought I wuz smart.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Elvis Has Left the Building

I was a summer missionary in the summer of 1977, and August 16, a Wednesday, was our team's last day in the last church we would visit during that summer.

I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on two specific occasions: when JFK died (riding home from Gordon Grammar School in the back seat of Mrs. House's 1953 Plymouth) and August 16, 1977.

Mama and Daddy had brought my car, a 1970 fire-engine red Impala, to me the night before. I came back from an activity that afternoon and showered. When I got out, my partner, Fred O. Pitts (Fred-O), was waiting.

"Roscoe," he started, "the King is dead."

I didn't have to ask who he was talking about and he didn't have to tell me. He knew I loved Elvis. I talked, sang, and acted like him constantly. Fred-O wanted to be the one to tell me.

In disbelief I drove down to the 7-11 to get an Atlanta Journal, which was then published in the afternoon (the Atlanta Constitution was the morning paper). I knew it was true when I saw the "Blue Streak" edition of the Journal, only published under special circumstances. The headline told me the same thing Fred-O had: "THE KING IS DEAD". I still have the paper. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal said it best: "A Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard".

I had seen Elvis in concert at the Macon Coliseum less that two months earlier. He was wearing the same powder-blue suit they would bury him in. I was shocked at his appearance and told my date, "He won't last six months." He didn't.

This week I'll be sharing my favorite memories of Elvis. I grew up with him, and, like most Southern boys, dreamed of being who he was: good-looking, talented, and rich.

Two out of three ain't bad.