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Clark: Mark Elvis’ 77th with rockin’ show, King-size sandwich

Sun., Jan. 8, 2012

Today is Elvis’ 77th birthday, and I’m betting a lot of you out there haven’t given much thought to how to properly celebrate this rhinestone milestone.

Fortunately, I’m here with a couple of King-size suggestions.

First is to make a Fool’s Gold Loaf.

That was the E-Man’s favorite sandwich and probably a contributing factor in his death in 1977 at the tender age of 42.

Well, that and all the drugs he gobbled.

To make the proper Fool’s Gold Loaf you’ll need the following:

A loaf of crusty Italian bread, an entire jar of Smucker’s grape jelly, a jar of Skippy’s peanut butter, a stick of real butter and, oh, yeah, one pound of bacon.

(I’ll give you the construction details in a moment.)

Suggestion No. 2 is healthier and will only cost you five bucks.

That’s the cover charge for Ben Klein’s all-ages “Elvis Birthday Bash” tonight (7-10 p.m.) at Ichiban restaurant, 202 W. Third Ave.

Spokane, if you didn’t know, is home to one of the planet’s best Elvis impersonators.

Sorry, Ben. “Elvis tribute artist” is the term the 31-year-old prefers.

Whatever. Klein is so great at what he does that we should change that dorky civic motto of ours to …

“Spokane. Near Nature, Near Presley.”

Last summer, Klein’s version of “Baby Let’s Play House” won him second place in the Ultimate Elvis contest in Memphis, Tenn.

In 2009 he took first place and $25,000 in a Wisconsin Elvis-off.

That same year Klein married his bride, Vanessa, whom he met in Canada after one of his Elvis shows.

On Tuesday, the young man embarks on a 29-day, multistate concert tour sponsored by Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Things are going well for Klein, and I couldn’t be prouder.

I gave Klein his first media boost in 2004. He was just 23 and not even a full year into the pelvis-swiveling game.

It was one of those stranger-than-life stories. Here was this kid – born four years after Presley’s fatal bathroom collapse – who didn’t listen to Elvis music until age 21.

Then, while listening to a borrowed CD, he starts to realize, “Hey, I can do that.”

What surprises me the most is that Klein has kept at this eccentric endeavor even though the Lilac City is not exactly the best location for an EP doppelganger.

Heck, mention a singer named Elvis and most Spokane residents will probably think you’re talking about Costello.

“It’s hard to be appreciated in this area,” Klein conceded over coffee on Friday morning.

“Most people don’t get it. They don’t know how much work goes into it.”

They can find out tonight at Ichiban.

Klein is not only talented but bears more than a passing resemblance to his musical idol in his handsome unflabby prime.

He will perform many of The King’s hits, like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Hound Dog,” “Heartbreak Hotel …” (It might be wise to call 509-747-8877 for reservations.)

Now as for that aforementioned sandwich …

Fry the bacon crispy while preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Slather the entire butter stick all over the bread.

Lawd-a’mighty! Elvis so loved his butter.

Bake bread 15 minutes.

Take out and slice the loaf in half lengthwise. Slightly hollow out the insides.

Now here’s the good part.

Fill one hollowed half with the entire jar of jelly.

Do the same to the other half with the peanut butter.

Place all the bacon over the peanut butter section before joining the two halves together.

Recommended servings: 8-20 humans, or Elvis.

A few years ago I conned my friend Carl Naccarato, a wonderful chef and owner of Cassano Grocery, 2002 E. Mission Ave., into making this sandwich for me.

Hilarity ensued. The sandwich?

Surprisingly tasty.

One thing, however. Keep a watchful eye on that bread while it’s in the oven. Don’t let it get too done.

Nobody wants a hunka-hunka burnin’ loaf.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or at

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