Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can't wait till February

You're thinking: Why's this guy eager for the dreariest, coldest part of the year?
Because that's when the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown gets an excellent traveling Smithsonian exhibit, "Elvis at 21: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer."
Keep checking The Reporter's Thursday "Go" section for the opening date.
While visiting old friends in Winchester, Va., I caught this remarkable set of spontaneous and candid images at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.
As the story goes, Wertheimer tagged along with the still-not-yet famous Elvis for a week in 1956, and happened to chronicle the Big E on the cusp of fame. He captures the young Elvis' raw star power and oozing sexiness in a context that has never been seen before.
At the time, Elvis could still grab a bite to eat unnoticed. All in that week, he appears on national TV on "Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey's Stage Show" and "The Steve Allen Show" in New York, makes out with a cutie (or maybe more, for all we know), and catches a train back to Memphis. He gets off the train a couple stops early to walk home to his mom and dad's because it saves having to get on a bus, which would make the trip longer. Wertheimer's photographic sequence of Elvis walking to the street, asking a black woman for directions, and going unmolested on his merry way, is priceless.
While he is home, we are told by Wertheimer, Elvis listens to a couple records and smooches with his girlfriend while shirtless. Understand that this is the 1950s, and that young lady was likely feeling most uncomfortable with this brazen amorous advance!
Hard to believe it today, but Elvis' conservative critics back in those days called him a "disciple of the devil," never mind that gospel was probably his favorite kind of music.
There's even video of those iconic TV moments in Elvis' career. Make sure you take the time to watch it.
Like Elvis, this thing is larger than life. Just look at its online presence:

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