Hello, once again, fellow fans of pop culture travel. In the year or so since writing the introduction to my last book, we’ve had some wonderful adventures. I can speak for myself and my family when I say we’ve logged some of the best miles in our lives; meeting people and standing where spectacular things happened. And I know from the communiqués I’ve received from many of you that you’ve also been out exploring. To that end, I’d like to first thank you for all of the great ideas, suggestions, critiques and support. It makes this process much more fun and memorable.
If you’ve been with me through the books leading up to this one (James Dean Died Here and/or Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here), welcome back. If you’re new to the adventure, welcome aboard. Here, in what I’ll refer to as Volume III, the same rule applies: pinpoint the exact places where things happened. Just what things am I referring to? Pop culture landmarks, of course. Events that have shaped our memories and public perceptions, thrilled us, mystified us, horrified us and everything in between. Historic events. Not-so-historic events. Events that, for some reason, have gotten stuck in our collective consciousness (or that maybe should have gotten stuck if they haven’t already).
What makes this book different than the last two? One thing I’ve done more of this time out is to trace as many origins as I could think of—the exact spots where things like Memorial Day, Flag Day and “America the Beautiful” were inspired. Birthplaces of famous corporations and classic American brands where our foremost captains of industry changed the world, from Coca-Cola to Kool-Aid to Hilton. (Though I came up short locating exact site of the first Denny’s, then called Danny’s, back in 1953 in Lakewood, California. Anyone?) Places that inspired such famous paintings as Grant Wood’s American Gothic or Georgia O’Keefe’s The Lawrence Tree.
With this collection I’ve included other little-known origin spots such as where Alcoholics Anonymous was created, a section of where certain religions were formed and a collection of sites related to children’s literature.
Couple that with the inclusion of more exact sites from rock and roll, jazz, film, crime, TV, Americana and the just plain weird and you’ve got, well, the next book I always wanted to write. You’ll discover hundreds of places and events, arranged in clear order, loaded with the facts, figures and trivia that I hope helps bring it all to life.
So there you go. In case you’re interested, from here I will continue mining this concept of travel related to pop culture history. I have begun to outline the book that will result in the European version of this idea. I’m also currently working on The Ruby Slippers, Madonna’s Bra, and Einstein’s Brain— a book which locates specific cultural artifacts, as opposed to sites where events took place. And a few other projects I’ll save as surprises.
I would once again like to thank you most sincerely for being a part of this ongoing adventure. Without your support and interest, this would be a much different kind of project, and so I am indebted to you. Also, I want to acknowledge the many people I have met in researching these books, who have helped piece the places and events together. Historians, librarians, townsfolk and others, from all around the country—thank you for the stories and good remembrances. You help bring these events back to life so others can experience them.
Until our roads cross again, remember to appreciate and cherish that ground you walk upon every day. After all, something interesting may have happened on that very spot.
The author of Hello, It’s Me has published numerous other books, including James Dean Died Here; Led Zeppelin Crashed Here; Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here; Roadside Baseball; and The Ruby Slippers, Madonna’s Bra, and Einstein’s Brain. He has contributed articles to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Westways, Travel + Leisureand Preservation magazine. Epting is also the national spokesperson and consultant for Hampton Inn’s Save-a-Landmark program, which recently won the Preserve America Presidential Award. He lives in Huntington Beach, California, with his wife and their two children.
“You might think, after amassing two other seemingly comprehensive tomes about the places where something interesting happened, that the indefatigable Chris Epting might start running out of material. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, for a couple of good reasons. One is that American history still contains many rich lodes just waiting for someone like Epting to mine them. The other is that pop culture is not like fossil fuel — it’s a renewable resource. . . . Epting’s other two books in this series, James Dean Died Here and Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here, have spawned a movement among people who, like the author, like to go and stand on a spot where an event of cultural significance occurred. For these fans, Elvis Presley Passed Here will provide many months and untold miles of fascinating exploration. But the great thing about this book is that physical travel is optional. The book is a journey in itself, a sort of hop-scotch game through American culture that leaves the reader with an overview utterly unlike a standard history narrative. . . . A delight for aficionados of the random-page approach to reading, it’s just as good as a linear experience. Cover to cover, Chris Epting has most definitely done it again.”
“You’ve done Graceland, Dollywood and toured the stars’ homes. But have you been to Maria’s Hair Design in Aberdeen, Wash.? Owned by the mother of Nirvana drummer Krist Novoselic, it’s where the famous ’90s grunge act practiced in their fledgling days. And what about the Aquarium and Pet Center in Santa Monica, Calif., where Britney Spears bought her dog Bit Bit? If you’ve never heard of these offbeat attractions, or don’t know where to find them, check out Elvis Presley Passed Here, a book by Chris Epting that lists info about these and hundreds of other nearly unknown pop culture locales.”
—New York Daily News
“Chris Epting just keeps on happening. The author of James Dean Died Here andMarilyn Monroe Dyed Here has just published Elvis Presley Passed Here (Santa Monica Press) another delicious compendium of pop culture landmarks you didn’t know existed. . . . Great, fascinating reading or just browsing.”
—Palm Beach Post
“Just when you thought author Chris Epting had listed every place even remotely associated with famous people in his two previous books (James Dean Died Here and Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here), out comes this installment, subtitled “Even More Locations of America’s Pop Culture Landmarks.” A browse through the 332 pages turns up the high school where the Velvet Underground debuted, for instance; the site of the largest train robbery in U.S. history; and the “birthplace” of the now-iconic Coca-Cola bottle.”
“ELVIS PRESLEY PASSED HERE, by Chris Epting (Santa Monica Press, $16.95). In the great tradition of James Dean Died Here and Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here comes the latest installment of Chris Epting’s eclectic collection of Americana and pop culture landmarks. First, let’s put an end to any morbid speculation a reader might reasonably have: The title has nothing to do with the demise of The King. It refers instead to De Neve Park, a lovely spot of green a block north of Sunset Boulevard in L.A., where Elvis and his entourage engaged in “spirited touch football games” while he was living in Bel Air and making those unbearable movies for the Colonel. According to Epting, the Elvis team’s favorite opponent was Ricky Nelson and his band. Sounds lopsided to me. Any existential questions Presley fans might have are presumably answered at another venue, the Elvis Is Alive Museum, which is off Exit 199 on I-70 in Wright City, Mo. That’s a pilgrimage for die-hard fans, no doubt. But for the rest of us who just might want to know where volleyball was invented (Holyoke, Mass.) or the location of the farmhouse that inspired Grant Wood 75 years ago (it’s on the corner of Burton and Gothic Streets in Eldon, Iowa), this wonderfully amusing book is just the ticket. It will satiate curiosities you didn’t know you had.”
—New York Newsday