Friday, May 14, 2010

Elvis and the Volcano

Elvis and the Volcano

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
And plans we did have. Shira and I had been looking forward to our visit to the UK for many months. As the plane began its descent to Heathrow airport our anticipation grew stronger. We had left Los Angeles the day before; and even though the flight was long and tedious, we were energized by the prospect of touring England for the coming week and connecting with Elvis fans.
We were greeted at the airport by our host Mark Summers, a young talented ETA who was to perform at all the venues. I had only seen Mark’s act on the Internet; from what I had seen he looked very promising, and even emanated a quality I hadn’t really seen before. As it turned out, my expectations were exceeded the moment Mark stepped out on the stage and opened his mouth to sing. Immediately it became crystal clear that not only did he sound very much like Elvis when singing, but his speaking voice as he interacted with the audience was spot on. He was a Southern boy with every word he spoke, with no sign of his native English accent, making the whole experience even better.
We were having a great time, staying at a lovely old hotel in Clacton-On-Sea, a small resort on the English Channel. We had a view of the sea and the delightful pier and arcade just across the road. About halfway through our visit, however, we became anxious about something we never thought would have an impact on our travels. Within hours after we landed, all airports in the entire UK had been grounded, as well as tens of thousands of travelers, because of the volcanic ash cloud spreading from Iceland. By the next day the ash had spread throughout Europe, and all airspace was closed; which meant no planes in or out of virtually anywhere. Now millions of people became stranded. Oh, the plans of mice and men.
At first we thought we wouldn’t be affected; surely it would pass in a few days. But as time wore on, it became clear that the disaster was becoming ever more ominous. Hourly the BBC, Sky News and CNN issued updates; we could barely turn away from the TV and the Internet, and Shira kept checking her Blackberry for news. At one point we were told that we might have to remain in England for weeks - even months; no one seemed sure. We even thought of flying out of Spain, one of the few countries whose airspace was clear. One small problem: We were on an island, with no way off in the foreseeable future. Well, you can only imagine what we were facing. The only bright light in all of this was Mark’s performance, and my being able to interact with the fans. I told stories, answered questions from audiences whose appetite was immense. What I really appreciated was that the majority of questions asked really had some meat on them, questions that were centered upon Elvis the man, the inner Elvis.
Then, out of the blue a minor miracle happened. Shira and I were able to get on the very first flight out of England flying directly to California; our original reservation at that! It didn’t hurt that we had many, many friends around the world praying for our safe and timely return home.
Barely recovered from our anxiety overload and jetlag, we left a few days later for Palm Springs, where we participated in a weekend event at Elvis’ “Honeymoon House.”
The memories flooded me the moment I stepped into the house I knew so well. I remember the very first time Elvis and the group came there back in 1966. At first Elvis didn’t even want to visit Palm Springs, but the moment we arrived for the weekend, he fell in love with the climate and the town.
All in all, tired or not, I quickly became energized, re-connecting with Elvis fans and speaking to new ones. Kari, Cat and Darlene of Pink Caddy Entertainment helped with arrangements that weekend, and as usual did a great job. Their reputation in the Elvis world has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years; everyone who knows these special ladies falls in love with them. Their dedication to Elvis is exemplary and their energetic enthusiasm is contagious.
I thought perhaps after Palm Springs I might be able to rest for awhile. Not so. No sooner did we arrive back in LA than Shira and I hit the trail again, this time to Las Vegas to film for a Canadian documentary. I thought Palm Springs held a lot of memories, but staying at the Hilton in Las Vegas was major déjà vu. Although Las Vegas and the Hilton have changed in so many ways, it felt to me like yesterday that Elvis performed there for the very last time. So many dramatic things happened in December of 1976…but that’s for another time, another blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Larry and Shira, I am glad you returned home safely and had such marvellous times in all the Elvis' events. I live in Germany with my family and we of course were all concerned by the ash-situation too. My husband finally mad it to Naples/Florida where he's now trying to sell hour vacation home. Sad for me this is as I, no, WE loved this spot very much and always thought it was a present by GOD. Well, the economic crisis doesn't allow for that much luxury anymore I guess. You know, the one thing that really struck me about the vulcano situation was that this one little thing of a natural event - a vulcano eruption - could put the whole modern world to a halt! Isn't that amazing? Even though it has caused discomfort and anxieties in many of us, I still feel soooo reassured of GOD's presence and power and knowledge of things and more so, his power to create and form our earthly visit just as clay in a warm hand.It made it so clear to me that all things of earthly 'importance' are meant to pass and we need to be able to let go and be open for change, not define ourselves over earthly habits and personal goals. Having realized that, I felt very comfortable returning to daily tasks and duties, reassured that all that matters is that we try to do whatever tasks we are given with all our Love and Faith. Needless to say, with the tasks you have been given for the duration of your earthly visits - you're doing a wonderful job!!
    I also have a very personal thought concerning Elvis, a rather spiritual one, actually. (Just now, as I begin writing this letter, 'I just can't help believin' is playing over my German radio station. Very unusual of a Classic station...) Larry, have you ever seriously wondered whether fans' and impersonators' keeping up the 'cultish aspects', I mean all that is not part of a truly pure keeping-alive a loving and truthful memory of Elvis, whether these practices keep Elvis's spirit earth-bound? I mean from a purely spiritual-dynamics point of view. Are we perhaps keeping him earth-bound or inbetween-worlds while all he ever sought was spiritual and personal freedom and moving-on? Please don't misunderstand me I am not speaking of your loving service to your friend Elvis. I am also not talking of stopping remembering Elvis because I personally never will forget and do think of him some time of the day everyday. I would just be very much interested in your thoughts about this, LArry. Please feel hugged and lovingly thought of, dear Shila and Larry. Hoping to recieve some answer on my thoughts. Love, Claudia