The Crawling Ear column: the truth about Elvis (he’s probably dead)

The King is dead, long live the King! James is sceptical, but it seems many people really do believe Elvis is still out there...

Yesterday was Elvis Presley’s birthday. Had he survived his famous 1977 drug-induced heart burp, we would have seen a spry 73 year-old King on the news last night, blowing out his candles in a brand new lavender jumpsuit with his latest trophy wife and what’s left of the Memphis mafia by his side. Ryan Seacrest would have conducted a satellite interview for a brief Access Hollywood piece in which the Prez probably would have thanked “th’ Lurd Jeshush Chraist” for his continued health and success, teased his wife by smearing cake frosting on her face, and made a few solemn remarks about how he’s “thinkin’ ’bout our boys ovuh thar in that midd-uh-luh eastuhn mess.”

Yessir, it would have been one heck of a Graceland birthday celebr – wait, what’s that, you say? Elvis is… alive? He walks among us, wandering our supermarkets and hardware stores anonymously, generally unnoticed by the Youtube and frappuccino-obsessed masses? That may have been him in front of me in the Boston Market drive-thru last night, leaning out of the beat-up Buick Lesabre to make sure they heard his “extra gravy” request? Improbable, I say, but there are those who believe it’s a distinct possibility. One such individual is filmmaker Adam Muskiewicz, who’s been working on a documentary called The Truth About Elvis for a couple of years now that might possibly get to the bottom of this enduring pop culture mystery once and for all. So convinced is Adam that Elvis may have faked his death to escape the pressures of fame and retired to a life in the suburbs that in August of 2006 the director (with backing from U.K. company William Hill) offered a $3,000,000 (1,519,401 GBP) reward for “legitimate proof” that Elvis Aaron Presley is still alive.

“In the event that Elvis Presley turns up alive,” his press release stated, “the reward will be paid out to the person that finds him. No impersonators or people who have changed their names can collect the reward. It must be THE Elvis Presley.”

This undoubtedly provoked much dumpster diving and trash rummaging on the behalf of people who always believed their former high school algebra teacher or childhood babysitter was the Big E in disguise, not to mention an increase in the general harassment of dark-haired chubby guys who mumble a lot. No one ever came forward to claim the impossibly large prize, but one has to wonder, what, aside from the living, breathing body of Mr. E. A. Presley age 73, exactly qualifies as “legitimate evidence.” Discarded phone bills detailing hours of calls to Lisa Marie? A garage full of empty peanut butter jars, banana peels, and a deep fryer? A rhinestone encrusted mailbox? I want to know what to look for. I could certainly use scratch like that myself.

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The Truth About Elvis, which features interviews with friends, lovers, cops, alleged grave robbers, assorted hipsters, Burger King employees, and Michael Masden, was slated for released last August to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis’s death. However, shortly before this date, Muskiewicz was contacted by several distributors in other countries anxious to get in on what may be a landmark and extremely controversial film. Adam and his producers (those of American Pie and Final Destination) decided to take the foreign markets up on their offers, pushing the release date back to an unspecified time until all the deals are finalized. Little has been heard from the Truth About Elvis camp since that announcement five months ago; hopefully this exciting doc has not been squashed by Presley’s surviving relatives and will soon see the light of day.

For I cannot think of a greater accomplishment mankind could possibly achieve this century than final confirmation of the death or non-death of a pill-popping, karate-loving, mutton-chopped rock n’ roll singer whose popularity peaked four decades ago. This stupid, southern-fried mystery has haunted us for long enough. The burden must be lifted off our rounded, acne-ridden shoulders. May Adam Muskiewicz finally lay to rest this ultimate musical myth, this undying urban legend, so that we may move on to more important, pressing issues (global warming, what to do about Britney Spears, why less and less monkeys are being shot into space every year, etc).

For more on The Truth About Elvis, including trailers, photos, and fan speculation, check out the website. Hail to the King, baby.

James writes every Wednesday at Den of Geek. Find his last column here.