Paul Coates

March 24, 1958

I’ve been accused of making some uncomplimentary remarks about Elvis Presley in the past.

I’ve been accused of saying that he struck me as the kind of child that
other children are traditionally "not allowed to play with."

I’ve been accused of making the comment that his abdominal gyrations
give me the same queasy feeling that I get watching somebody get sick
in public.

I’ve also been accused of hinting that Elvis was unkempt looking, that
he committed perpetual murder on the English language and that he
needed a haircut.

In fact, some people have gone so far as to accuse me of making the flat statement that I didn’t like Elvis Presley.

The only reason I stand accused on all of these points is because, at one time or another, I said all those things about Elvis.

But that’s all in my past now. I’ve said them. I can’t deny them. Everyone makes rash judgments now and then.

I only hope now that it’s not too late to patch things up a little bit.

You see, because of what happened yesterday I’d like to retract them. No. Not exactly retract them.

I’d just like to sort of rearrange my attitude toward Elvis.

I’d like to say that Elvis is really–

No. That’s not quite it, either.

What I’d like to make clear is that, after all, Elvis is joining a very patriotic organization.

There’s nothing subversive about this boy.

I’d like to add that now, for the first time, I’ve found a soft spot in my heart for him.

In fact, I feel downright sorry for him.

Because he’s not going in like the rest of us went in–quietly, with a
few tears from Mom, a slap on the back from Dad, and a modestly
inebriated farewell party.

When Elvis reported to his Memphis induction center yesterday, his
activities were documented and photographed for an entire world.

And as any man who has been through an induction center before knows, this definitely constitutes a certain invasion of privacy.

There are some traditional Army inspections which are nobody else’s
business, save the inductee, the doctor and the men standing fore and

But I’ve got to hand it to Elvis. Judging from the front-page pictures I saw, he took it all in stride.

I just hope that Elvis stands up under the pressures of his double life for the next two years as well as he did on opening day.

Because it’s obvious that he’ll be hounded by cameramen as well as sergeants until the hour he’s discharged.

There will be the stock shots of his first time amid greasy pots and
pans on KP, a ritual called latrine duty, and more flashbulbs popping
when he receives his initial $78 ($568.44 USD 2007) monthly paycheck.

Then, guard duty, inspection, target practice, bivouacs, barracks poker
games, marches and Elvis gyrating prone through the infiltration course.

Of course, there’ll be the great day when Presley completes basic
training and the greater day when photographers catch him sewing on his
corporal stripes.

He may not emerge the biggest hero the Army ever had, but already he’s a sure thing for the most shot-at.

My lone worry is, he may turn out to be such a good soldier that he’ll outrank Col. Parker.


About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Columnists, Paul Coates, Rock 'n' Roll and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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