Stop the world, I want to get off: Elvis is dead.
Old news, you say? Not to readers of the nothing-too-strange-to-print tabloid Weekly World Report, which reported two weeks ago that Elvis, the king of rock ‘n’ roll, had died May 14?
This time, the tab said, diabetes felled him in Tennessee; presumably he’ll stay dead this time.
What shocked me was that the Weekly World News would so readily end its string of Elvis stories, which it had turned into a cottage industry. It was the News, after all, that told the world on May 24, 1988, that Elvis hadn’t died on Aug. 19, 1977, but lived in seclusion.
It was the News that told us when post-dead Elvis broke his leg and when he was sighted at a St. Louis movie theater (Silence of the Lambs was playing that day). It was the News that reported his remarriage to Mississippi waitress Karen Crane. And it was the News that showed us grandpa Elvis when he snuck into a Tampa hospital to visit his grandson, born to Lisa Marie.
But there it was, right on the front page in those gargantuan black headlines: ELVIS IS DEAD. Something that bold you know must be true.
There was more, however.
Buried in the News’ seven-page eulogy to the dead-again King was a little note that caught my eye.
In listing the sightings of Elvis in recent years, it mentioned that Elvis had been seen in Waco in July 1991.
In Waco? Now this was news to me. I tried to remember if that was the person whose Elvis lamp sang to her, which rumor placed in Waco, but which I could never confirm.
What I suspect is that with the Mount Carmel incident landing Waco into the pages of the Weekly World News — a May 18 cover story, mind you, with the headline FACE OF SATAN SEEN OVER WACO — the buckle of the Brazos has now made the geography of the tabloid.
In the News’ eyes, Elvis may be dead, but Waco is alive.
The Mount Carmel story was a natural for the tabloid, an irresistible blend of violence, sex, scandal and strange religion; for whatever reason, the News didn’t exploit it as much as I thought they would.
With national media coverage fixing Waco into millions of minds, though, the News finds itself with a new locale where the strangest things may start to happen. Even better, the name Waco is short enough to fit even in the tightest of headlines.
So, brace yourself, Waco. Judging from the News’ track record, weird things are about to happen. How weird? Try these headlines on for size:
• ALIENS BUZZ WACO FOR KORESH. Waco residents report strange lights in sky in the days after the Mount Carmel fire. Noted UFO-ologists from Bolivia, who are almost as active as their Soviet UFO-ologist counterparts, report that the aliens obviously are seeing if the Branch Davidians are relations.
(Truth is stranger than fiction: During the Mount Carmel siege I did receive a phone call from a California journalist checking on a rumor that a spacecraft had been seen hovering over the compound.)
• BIGFOOT FOUND IN WACO POTHOLE. A Waco motorist driving her kids to day care sights a large, hairy creature huddled in a pothole, “as big as a cave.” Bigfoot-ologists theorize that the wilderness creature was laying an ambush for Sunday dinner. “He probably thought cars were giant, shiny animals,” one said.
• MIRACLE WACO DIET MELTS POUNDS, ZITS. Food-ologists believe a diet of Dr Pepper and Plantation Foods turkey, chased with a gallon of Big Red every night, not only causes easy weight loss, but clears one’s complexion.
• GATOR BABY IN WACO WATER. A Lake Brazos fisherman spots a baby with a two-foot alligator jaw swimming two miles downstream from a chromite spill. Gator natalogists speculate that the croc kid could grow into a Texas-sized Nessie.
• WACO WACKOS WANT WAMPUM. T-shirt sellers at the Mount Carmel ash site make killing with tourists wanting the latest in disaster souvenirs. (The headline also could refer to the annual city budget process, but there are some things the News just won’t touch.)
• KORESH WAS ELVIS’ EVIL TWIN. A confidante of the King, an experienced Presley-ologist, points out that Elvis-Aron-Koresh clues: Elvis dies shortly after David Koresh survives, as reported by the News.
Both loved music. Both were religious, sort of. Both had a strange relationship with the FBI. Elvis’ father was named Vernon; Koresh’s given name was Vernon. Aron, the public name of Elvis’ presumed-dead twin brother, is a misspelled version of Aaron, a name from the Old Testament; Koresh is a name from the Old Testament. Graceland and Mount Carmel have an odd number of letters. Women were drawn to their charisma. Both had active hips. Both names spelled backward make no sense.