Eating Elvis in the Canary Islands

By: | Thursday, September 18, 2008 //


A few years ago I went to Barcelona for a month with a crew of friends from Philly. We rented a two-bedroom apartment and somehow crammed 12 or 13 people in it for the duration of our stay. There were some logistical issues though. I believe my flight got in six hours before Rob’s and he was the one who had done all the paper work and had to get the key from the landlord. Without anywhere really to go, I just said I’d meet him at MACBA. So upon arrival in Barcelona, I went to the famed skate spot and proceeded to sit there with all my bags and camera gear. I couldn’t skate because I didn’t want any of the notoriously sketchy Moroccan’s to run off with my gear. Fortunately I’d brought along a little traveler guitar.

After a few hours of practicing my licks I spied this punker/skinhead dude coming towards me. He introduced himself as “Elvis.” Elvis was slightly drunk but seemed pretty harmless and asked if he could play my guitar. I let him at it and he immediately sung out a stunningly committed, heart-wrenching and head-wrenching acoustic version of the Circle Jerks’ “Wild in the Streets.” I acted impressed and I actually was to a certain extent. Until he split his thumb open from banging the strings so hard and started spattering blood all over my guitar; inside and out.

I yelled at Elvis to chill but he was way into the moment and there was no stopping him at that point. He finished the song and was actually kind enough to wipe the guitar clean with a napkin. As I learned, Elvis was a Swedish guy living (and drinking) in Barcelona for who knows how long. And he knew some skaters, or skated, or used to skate, or something. He continued to chat me up for some time.

When Elvis noticed that I’d been reading a book, he broke out his latest completed paperback to show me. It was White Line Fever, the autobiography of Lemmy from Motorhead. “Hey man, you gotta read this! It’s amazing. It changed my life. I just finished it and I want you to have it,” he gushed.

Being a Motorhead fan since my youth, I accepted the gift thinking it might be interesting. Before he gave it to me though, Elvis took out a pen and wrote “To Jon, From Elvis from hell. Don’t forget the cross.” Then he dotted the ‘I’ in Elvis with a swastika. Wow, what the f**k dude?! Anyway, thankfully my friends showed up at that point and I escaped to our apartment.

I went to Barcelona for a few days before the trip really started just to skate and hang with some people I hadn’t seen in a while. Alex invited me to a BBQ by the beach skatepark one day. It was fun skating, a tape player blasting punk and metal, slabs of beef, and cheap beer. What more could you really want?

A couple days later Alex said to me randomly, “Hey, my friend Elvis killed himself. He was crazy. Just f**ked up.” Then I realized we both knew the same Elvis and now he was gone. I told Alex the story of how I’d met Elvis and about the bloody guitar and the book, and everything. “Crazy,” I thought. Apparently Elvis wasn’t really a Nazi. He was just going for shock value. This he had achieved. Then Alex said, “You know Jose had his ashes at the BBQ.”

“Oh yeah, why?” I asked.
“He sprinkled some of them on the meat to remember him by.”
“WHAT?! Are you serious?”
“Yeah I think we ate some of him”.

I didn’t really know how to feel. Not really ill, but not really cool about it either. Maybe a little violated. Was that cannibalism? Am I now a cannibal? Once a cannibal, always a cannibal? I didn’t really feel like one. But still eating a human’s ashes in general isn’t too appetizing. Shit, what could I do? The deed was done. Gnar bars BBQ.

I decided to take it in stride and just worry about getting to the Canaries to skate. This we did for two weeks. It was warm and fun. The crew was rad, the spots were good and the bocadillos con queso y jamon serrano were completely consistent as usual.

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