Friday, June 13, 2014


A few months ago Bob and I visited the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California and I saw once again this famous photo of Nixon and Elvis Presley:
The National Archives gets more requests for permission to reproduce this photo than for any other image, including the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution.

Elvis had written a five-page letter to Nixon requesting a meeting. He wanted to talk about his desire to be appointed to the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs as a "Federal Agent-at-Large." It wasn't that he wanted to join the fight on drugs; rather, he hoped to have a badge that would allow him to carry all the drugs and weapons he wanted to with impunity. Nixon invited Elvis to the Oval Office on December 20, 1970. Either Nixon believed Elvis's claim that he wanted to be a force for good in the fight against illegal drugs, or Nixon was just plain star struck. It's hard to believe, but Nixon got him the badge.

Elvis came dressed for the occasion in a purple velvet jumpsuit, a cape, and a heavy gold chain, and he brought Nixon several gifts, including a silver-plated World War II-era Colt-.45 pistol that, along with Elvis's letter to Nixon, is on display in the Nixon Library.

We Americans have a weird fascination with Elvis. In some ways, he was the Justin Bieber of his day--a pretty boy gone a little crazy.

The other day I ran across a wonderful poem that hooks Elvis up with another American icon: Emily Dickinson. A more unlikely pair is hard to imagine, but then Tricky Dick and Elvis weren't exactly running in the same social circles either.

by Hans Ostrom

They call each other 'E.' Elvis picks
wildflowers near the river and brings
them to Emily. She explains half-rhymes to him.

In heaven Emily wears her hair long, sports
Levis and western blouses with rhinestones.
Elvis is lean again, wears baggy trousers

and T-shirts, a letterman's jacket from Tupelo lHigh.
They take long walks and often hold hands.
She prefers they remain just friends. Fover.

Emily's poems now contain naugahyde, Cadillacs,
Electricity, jets, TV, Little Richard and Richard
Nixon. The rock-a-billy rhythm makes her smile.

Elvis likes himself with style. This afternoon
he will play guitar and sing "I Taste a Liquor
Never Brewed" to the tune of "Love Me Tender."

Emily will clap and harmonize. Alone 
in their cabins later, they'll listen to the river
and nap. They will not think of Amherst

or Las Vegas. They know why God made them
roommates. It's because America
was their hometown. It's because

God is a thing without
feathers. It's because
God wears blue suede shoes.

Finally, here is an added bonus, a reading of the poem by the poet himself:


  1. I don't know much about Emily Dickinson, but I enjoyed the video and the sentiment that there will be change after this life. God wearing blue suede shoes? It has been ingrained into me that salesmen wear blue suede shoes. I wonder if God has to sell anything, or if he just commands and it is done?

  2. This is fabulous! Emily and Elvis are as believable as Elvis and Nixon.

  3. That was one awesome belt buckle!