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Monday, January 14, 2013

ELVIS IN HAWAII



Today was the first day for my final phase of life.  Pearl passed away more than three years ago now, my roof is totally cleared awaiting a re-lining, my thumb is sort of well (but the thumbnail is soon to fall), I donated to the Friends of the Library all of my CDs/record albums/cassettes/etc, I gave my fish away and my stairs have been cleaned.  Totally relieved, I had a fabulous day.

It was exactly forty years ago that Elvis Presley's "Aloha from Hawaii" was beamed to 40 countries and more than a billion people (this figure has been challenged as much too high) across Asia and Europe.  There was no charge to the audience, although a donation was suggested, and the Kui Lee Foundation got $75,000.  He was a local composer who wrote I'll Remember You, one Elvis' hits.  Actually, Europe got it in prime time the next day and the USA an augmented version nearly three months later.  

Why do I mention this today?  Well, the music concert will be shown tonight at the same Honolulu International Center, now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.  This version will be high definition and re-mastered with enhanced audio, whatever that means.  Tickets are still available.  Call 800 745 3000.  Want to watch the entire 1 hour 4 minute video?  Click here!  

In 1973 Elvis had just turned 38, and was again in ascendancy.  President Richard Nixon had in 1972 visited China, and Colonel Tom Parker, Presley's manager, decided that it would be impossible for Elvis to play every major city, so what about a worldwide satellite broadcast?  They both loved Hawaii, having previously given another free concert in 1961 to raise funds for the U.S. Arizona.  

He lost 25 pounds preparing for the Aloha concert.  However, he got divorced from Priscilla that year, became bloated, was dulled by pharmacopoeia, and died only four years later.

Arguably, he is the best selling individual artist of all time.  The Beatles sold a few more, but both are in the range of a billion.  Elvis had 31 #1 hit, more than the Beatles.  His three biggest were It's Now or Never, with sales of between 20-29 million, and the double-sided Hound Dog / Don't Be Cruel, around 13 million.  He starred in 31 mostly forgettable films, but....

I best remember him in Blue Hawaii, which came out in 1961 when I was a senior at Stanford.   His Blue Hawaii is one of my karaoke songs.  After graduating, I spent a few months on Kauai and frequented the Coco Palms, the highlight site of the film (right). 

Finally, in 1973 I again returned to Hawaii to begin teaching at the University of Hawaii.  I lived only two blocks away from where "Aloha from Hawaii" was being held, but don't remember any of this.  Thus, I just had to go to the showing tonight.

The evening began at Le Guignol, across the street from Elvis' concert:



I splurged on a Stanford University Governor's Selection Highway 12 Sonoma Meritage (in a Riedel Somelliers Bordeaux Glass, the ultimate, which I brought, with the wine), and had a fine sunset view beyond the venue:


I started with a combination of mesclun (just means mixed) greens, vichyssoise, and escargots:


Absolutely fabulous, although the vichyssoise was, maybe, Ala, a tad too salty.  My second course was a combination of Creme Brûlée and French Onion Soup, with a cup of coffee:



I like contrasting senses at each course.  This twosome was cold/hot, sweet/salty...etc.  The whole meal with tax and tip was $50.

Then on to Elvis' Aloha from Hawaii, the best $35 investment I ever made.  Only in Hawaii, as we were greeted by hula dancers:


Tom Moffat introduced Governor Neil Abercrombie, who 40 years ago was in the nosebleed section:


He announced an Elvis proclamation, which was accepted by a representative from Graceland.


The program began with a personal note from Priscilla (wife):


She did not look 67-years of age, but this was real time.  The arena was 3/4s full:


Elvis is a showman, and he passed out, oh, maybe double digit sweaty shawls, and seemed to enjoy the exhibition:


The audience--and I was about the median age--made the event worthwhile.  Plus, there were enhancements, for the hour-long concert began at 7:30PM and ended at 9:30PM, with a special mini-appearance of Elvis' gospel singers (but not the Sweet Inspirations, one member who was the mother of Whitney Houston, and somehow Dionne Warwick is in this mix), clips from his three Hawaii films and assorted miscellaneous additions.

Tomorrow golf and karaoke.  What a life!

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