Try to imagine a Christmas without Santa Claus. What about a Twilight Zone without Rod Serling? Try to picture a '39 Yankees without Lou Gehrig, or an '85 Bears without Walter Payton. The picture never quite comes into focus, does it? Some people are only guests at the table your James the Younger for instance, or Thomas, or even Peter. They fill in the background, round out the story. But without Jesus, why have a Last Supper at all?
Following is the text (word for word) of a letter I sent off after a recent vacation. And following that is the response I never thought I'd get.
The Honorable Oscar B. Goodman, Mayor
400 Stewart Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Dear Mr. Mayor,
Five friends of mine and I took a trip to Las Vegas the weekend of January the 8th. While we all enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement that only your city can deliver, we returned home bitterly disappointed in one key respect: the lack of Elvis and general Elvisness during our stay.
As you may or may not be aware, January the 8th marked the 70th birthday of Elvis Arron Presley, the one and only King of Rock and Roll. Since he came to your town as a headliner in the 1960s, Las Vegas has benefited incalculably from its association with the man, his music and his legend.
The prominence of his name and image in Las Vegas’ current promotional media stands as proof positive of that association’s endurance to the present time. And with that association in the minds of so many visitors, is it any wonder that my friends and I had Elvis expectations that Saturday night as we set out from our hotel to walk down Las Vegas’ world-famous Strip?
Yet what Elvisness did we encounter that night – or indeed, at any point during our stay? Was there, perhaps, an Elvis parade down the Strip, featuring recreations of the racecars driven in the film “Viva Las Vegas”? Was there a skydiving exhibition featuring the Flying Elvii from the film “Honeymoon in Vegas”? Were there street vendors selling fake stick-on sideburns and oversized rhinestone-studded novelty sunglasses?
No, there were not. There was nothing. The length of Las Vegas Boulevard all the way to Freemont Street… nothing. No, I take it back, there was something worse than nothing: upon return to our hotel we retired to the lounge where my friends implored the house band to play some Elvis standards. In response, they asked a member of the audience who sometimes worked as an Elvis impersonator – but I must stress was not working that evening and was not in costume – to get up on stage and do a few impromptu numbers.
An Elvis impersonator who couldn’t get work on Elvis’ birthday. That says it all, doesn’t it? For shame, Mr. Goodman. Shame on you and your office for letting such a regrettable state of affairs come to pass.
In less than five years time it will be the 75th anniversary of Elvis’ birth, and most of my friends and I intend to return to Vegas to celebrate the King’s Jubilee Year. We very much hope to find the situation improved.
February 10, 2005
Chicago, IL XXXXX
Dear Mr. Spaulding:
Thank you for taking the time to write to my office. I find it extremely unfortunate that your visit did not meet your expectations. With all that Las Vegas has to offer, I know that it can be disappointing when you are looking for a specific attraction and are unable to locate it.
It is my hope that you will visit Las Vegas in the near future and I have provided some information about several Elvis-themed attractions for your convenience. Las Vegas offers various Elvis-based shows including “All Shook Up” and “King in Concert” at the Elvis-A-Rama Museum, “Legends in Concert” at Imperial Palace, “American Superstars” at The Stratosphere and Steve Connolly’s “Spirit of the King” at Fitzgeralds. In addition, you will find Elvis Weddings at many locations including the Aladdin Hotel Chapel, Silver Bell Wedding Chapel, A Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, Cupid’s Wedding Chapel, A Hollywood Wedding Chapel and Shalimar Wedding Chapel.
I have also included the contact information to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority below so that you may contact this agency prior to your next trip to obtain specific information on Elvis-themed attractions.
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
3150 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
It is my hope that your upcoming visit to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s birth will fulfill your expectations. Las Vegas is a vibrant city like no other and we are continuously working on new and exciting attractions. I believe the best is yet to come!
Again, thank you for your correspondence. I wish you the best of luck in all of your endeavors.
Oscar B. Goodman
City of Las Vegas
Copyright 2005, Steve Spaulding
Image: Monica Schrager
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