Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of the day when Elvis Presley decided to fake his death. For those in the know, the King of Rock and Roll finally passed away due to a heart attack in the late 1990s as accurately reported by the soon-to-be defunct Weekly World News.
It was a holiday of sorts to all aging housewives in stretchy pants, poseur Gen-Xers and connoisseurs of painting masters who use the medium of velvet.
The world was treated to the standard news footage of hysterical pilgrims at Graceland, dated retrospectives on the Biography Channel and movie marathons of the films "Roustabout", "King Creole" and "Speedway".
Those with a flair for the intellectual discussed the finer artistic merits of the singer's career and whether the slim, energetic "Young Elvis" was better than the dissipated, world-weary "Old Elvis". (This is easy - Old Elvis. I'm choosing "In the Ghetto", "Suspicious Minds", "Burning Love" and "Kentucky Rain" over "Jailhouse Rock", "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender" and "Heartbreak Hotel" when I'm dropping my quarters into the jukebox.)
As memorable as the day was we should not let it pass in idle revelry. No. Action must be taken.
How about naming something after him? Why not King County?
The King County Council, in one of its fits of collective race guilt changed the county's namesake from Democratic Vice President William Rufus de Vane King to civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King in 2005.
In 2006 the Council further spurned local graphic artist Mits Katayama by consigning the "Crown and Circle" trademark he created in 1971 to the dumpster. Katayama, born in Auburn, was interned as a teenager during World War II and later served in the U.S. Army.
Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about Seattle's past will know that MLK has little to no historical relevance locally. He made one visit to the Jet City in 1961, gave a speech at the University of Washington which was attended by 2,000 students, ate at a barbeque restaurant in the CD and left.
William Rufus King, on the other hand, was one of the founding fathers of the Democrat Party, was the first confirmed bachelor to be elected Vice President and was one of the longest serving President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. While leading the Senate in 1850, the Donation Land Claims Act was passed which is the sole basis why the Denny/Maynard Party was able to found Seattle, settle the region, create the Washington territory and incorporate King County.
Sadly King also happened to be a slaveholder. Which puts him in the same company as George Washington. There's also debate whether he owned as many slaves as Chief Sealth, Seattle's namesake, who was one of Washington's largest slaveholders. Since slavery is a historical wrong Seattle must revert to its original name; Duwamps.
Changing the county's name back to a dead Democrat and slave holder is verboten. Think how embarrassing it would be for the people moving here to endure that. But we can't just go around re-branding every historical place name for famous humanitarians. What next? Ghandi County? The City of Winston Churchill? Mount Jesus? Transforming the old Empire Way to MLK, Jr. Way. was good enough. Besides isn't there a separation between church and state? Wait till the ACLU figures out how to sue us for having a county named after a Baptist minister.
That leaves Elvis. The King of Rock and Roll. He left an indelible mark on the local landscape that was as wide as the hem of his bellbottom jumpsuit. His melding of white rockabilly tempo with a traditional black rhythm and blues beat inspired many of the local rock acts; including Jimi Hendrix.
There were multiple Elvis concerts in Seattle. In 1957 he rocked the poodle skirts off 16,000 teenagers at Sicks Stadium. More import he was part of the signature event responsible for putting Seattle on the map; the Century 21 World's Fair. One of Elvis' better films "It Happened at the World's Fair" might as well have been advertisement for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. (For those who haven't seen the movie the plot revolves around beating the tar out of Seattleites and seducing beautiful local women. Yeah, it's kind of fakey. I mean try finding one, let alone, multiple gals in Seattle who look like Joan O'Brien or Yvonne Craig).
I'm not saying that this will be an easy campaign but the rewards are worth it. Just think. Having every bus, police car, tax statement and governmental letterhead emblazoned with Presley's signature pork-chop sideburns will be worth it. And what better man deserves the honor?
Statesman. Philanthropist. Culinary enthusiast. FBI agent. Poet.
The King County. Has a nice ring to it.