You ever have that dream where you’re floating over a cooking show and out of nowhere Elvis barges in and bum-rushes the collard greens? Yeah, me neither. But now I won't have to, since I seared that very scenario into the fleshy tenders of my frontal lobe. But sleepwalking through someone else’s flashback while the rest of the region irons their pants is just part of the early shift. I know - having kicked off many a moonlit morning with lungful of generator fumes and one Jami Turner. Since then I’ve eschewed the A.M. gig, for I’d still rather chase calamity than babysit inanity. That said, there’s nothing I won’t shove my lens into, be it a SWAT team stand-off or a righteous plate of corn fritters. Maybe that's why I got orders last week to join a very pregnant Shannon Smith for a pre-dawn celebration of The King and the culinary wonders that helped kill him. Hey, it's not my idea of apppointment viewing, but after pressing RECORD a few grillion times, silly things like subject matter cease to register. I still got a thirst for a Murrow or two, but if I gotta camera-ambush Ronald McDonald to get through my Thursday, that clown is going DOWN!
But I digress...
Something I do alot of, which explains why - by the time I'd parked the live truck by the Culinary Building's dumpster entrance - I'd forgotten why exactly I was there. It all came rushing back to me a few minutes later, when - while innocently unspooling cable under a flickering streelight - Elvis Presley swaggered out of the shadows and extended a rhinestone-studded hand. I thinked I blinked twice, wondering for a moment if that leftover Pop-Tart I'd found in the pantry earlier somehow contained psilocybin. Then it hit me - What Would Elvis Eat? Next thing you know I'm high-fiving the Hillbilly Hepcat himself, or to be more exact, 'tribute artist' David Chaney. Now I'm no authority on The King, but I did devour every word of Last Train to Memphis AND Careless Love late last year. As a result, I can talk a little Elvis. So too could our impersonator of the hour. In fact he proved his mettle early on when, after setting up a little deejay booth at one end of the kitchen, he played Presley's schlocky gospel tracks and warmed up with a few heartfelt karate stances. Clearly, the man is committed.
Or should be.
But who am I to judge? I'm the schlub who erected a makeshift studio around a community college kitchen, traded highball recipes with a couple of amped-up chefs and talked babies with the Piedmont's sweetheart. All before sunrise. Compare that to a grown man shadow-jabbing pots and pans while dressed in tight white polyester and who, we ask you, seems schizophrenic then? Don't bothering answering; just know that Tupelo's favorite son would have approved of the whole endeavour - from the white boy doo-wap playing in the background to the barbituate free banana pudding on hand later in the show. By the time the sun was in the Eastern sky, we'd trundled out every cliche we could think of - which is something of a pre-requisite in morning television. As for David Chaney, he delivered just what our silly live shots needed and in the process proved himself a true Presley Apostle, and not just one of those jumpsuited supplicants mumbling in his spangled wake. Me - I left the location searching for a moral, but soon settled for the quiet knowledge that - when I least expect it - this job can still satisfy.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go dye my sideburns.