Burnin’ Love: Paul & The King

My first post is a bit of a cop-out. I basically pulled it from an old, now aborted, blog I started months ago.  Nevertheless, I chose to rehash this post because it pertains to something quite dear to the thumping organ in my chest. Below is a little project I did for one of my journalism classes last semester. The topic concerns Paul McLeod, self-professed “Universe’s, Galaxy’s, Planet’s, World’s Ultimate #1 Elvis Fan.” Paul adulates the King, and I adulate Paul. I love the man, and I’m shamelessly evangelical about his operation. The video and its accompanying introduction are mere sneak peeks into his world, just tips of the Paul McLeod iceberg. I do, however, promise further, more in-depth documentation in the future, be it in the form of writing or video. Until then, take a gander at what little I do have, and, please, if you’re ever in the area, make the trip to 200 E. Gholson Ave. in Holly Springs. Paul’s flame burns brightly, but considering it’s fueled solely by 24 cans of Coke and a couple hours of sleep a day, it’s sure to fizzle before long.

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Holly Springs, MS, doesn’t have the honor of being Elvis Presley’s birthplace (that belongs to Tupelo, MS), nor does it have the distinction of being the city that bestowed upon him the metaphorical crown (that one belongs toMemphis,TN).

No, upon first glance this dusty southern burg doesn’t appear to offer much in regards to the pelvis-thrusting, karate-chopping, jewel-encrusted jumpsuit-donning King of Rock N’ Roll. It doesn’t appear to offer much in regards to anything, for that matter. But when surrounded by enough rough, even the brightest, gaudiest diamonds can be overlooked. Such is the case with Graceland Too – the diamond of Holly Springs.

It’s a (currently) bright blue, century-old residence complete with two lion statues wrapped in Christmas lights and barbed wire perched on the front porch. The exterior is, however, but a minor harbinger for what’s to come. Paul McLeod – said establishment’s enigmatic proprietor – has created an alternative to the Mecca for Elvis fans that is Graceland, and five bucks is all that’s needed for a journey into, as a certain chocolatier might say, pure imagination.

The innards of the home are inundated with everything Elvis, from LPs to posters. In any shrine this is to be expected. And while the exhaustive collection of Presley paraphernalia is certainly intriguing, it’s the tour guide that’s the true show. Paul speaks with an impossible, near-nauseating stream of consciousness. The transition from “Jailhouse Rock” to Charles Bronson’s death to something about CBS and the Princess of Monaco is made while the listener is still trying to register the wave of information from five minutes prior. His visitors are assaulted with a merciless and oftentimes incomprehensible onslaught of numbers and figures, past exploits with countless celebrities, and, of course, ceaseless proclamations asserting his allegiance to the King.

The senses are bombarded and logic is defied. Before long the tourist becomes sedated by the abnormality of it all. Earlier, one might have asked, “Paul why is there a picture of Princess Diana in the corner? Why do you keep talking about Montel Williams? And how, really, did you come into possession of all of this?” But it takes only minutes inside the walls of Graceland Too before the visitor realizes this is Paul McLeod’s world and to attempt to make sense of it would ultimately prove fruitless. It’s as if he found a void in reality and filled it with everything he saw fit: Elvis records and candy bars, plastic aliens, shopping carts filled to the brim with empty coke cans, pink limousines and more.

One would be able to discern more meaning from a conversation with a mumbo jumbo-muttering Jackson Pollack painting come-to-life than from Paul and his otherworldly tour. It’s preposterous. It’s absurd. It’s nonsensical. It’s Graceland Too, baby. But words can only do Paul so much justice, so view the video to get a preview of the man, his tour, and his burnin’ love for the King.

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