I’m not even Roman Catholic and I love this:
Archive for November, 2011
Every year at this time A Local Community Radio Station (all right, it’s WERU) plays Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”.
Several times. Various versions.
Although “Alice” has become a tradition at WERU, it doesn’t appear to be limited to reformed hippies with quirky musical tastes along the coast of Maine (I grew up on Paul Harvey News, Reader’s Digest and Lawrence Welk). No, Alice has become a cross-cultural nation-wide nostalgia item, part of the sub-culture of Thanksgiving Day USA; and for no good reason other than that the story (which is about littering, and not really about draft-dodging, protesting, Richard Nixon or Vietnam) is set during Thanksgiving Day 1965 when Arlo and a buddy of his got arrested in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. For littering.
We know it’s about littering (and not those other horrible things) because the thugs in jail all moved away from Arlo when they found out that’s why he was arrested. It seems there’s an honor among thieves in the slammer.
And the cops had the goods on them: “the twenty-seven 8-by-10 color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was, to be used as evidence against us.”
The rambling, 18-minute-and-20-second musical monologue might have escaped immortality if not for Richard Nixon. Remember the Watergate Tapes? And the infamous “gap” of 18 minutes and 20 seconds, suggesting that the tape had been erased? Chip Carter, son of president Jimmy, discovered a copy of the Alice’s Restaurant LP in the Nixon Library shortly after the Carters moved into the White House, and it made the news. Hmm.
And so, in the spirit of “Didn’t ya always kinda wonder,” Arlo updated Alice’s Restaurant after Nixon’s death in 1994, thus insuring immortality. For the song, not for Nixon.
Here is a live, more-or-less original version from 2005, forty years after the crime, showing Arlo as an aging but not-yet-reformed hippy. No mention of Nixon, and I pray they have made peace with one another.
[You may have to click the link below if the video doesn’t work]:
We’re having a major pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm here in Maine. Rain here on the outer islands, but heavy snow on the mainland and people can’t get here from there.
Daughter #1 is still in Farmington under 10 inches of newfallen and may rendez-vous with #2 and friends tomorrow, Thanksgiving, to make the morning ferry.
Daughter #3 is cooking up a meal with her running team-mates, safely in the other Portland (the one in Oregon) and no snow there.
Wife was in Bar Harbor this morning for a pie-selling fundraiser and got stuck on the mainland when the last ferry canceled, so I went over and picked her up in the Hope (a little hubbly between Sutton’s Island and Bear Island, but not bad at the time).
The telephone wouldn’t stop ringing through all of this but I got the lobster stew made anyway. It’s out on the porch keeping cool, company with the turkey until tomorrow.
Everybody is safe, that’s the point. Between good snow tires and kids with good common sense, we’ll all be together, tomorrow if not tonight. The turkey can wait.
May God keep your family safe and warm during the holiday season.
Today is Joni Mitchell’s special day. Who knows how many she’s had of them, and who really cares?
I’ve invited her to sing for us an old favorite, Big Yellow Taxi, live on stage 1970. For an acoustic version of Carey from last year’s birthday (and a self-portrait with feline friend), click here.
And here’s another self-portrait from Joni’s Dreamland album, 2004. She’s holding the flowers I picked for her.