Thursday, November 24, 2005

Alice's Restaurant

No, we don't really believe that we can get anything we want at Alice's Restaurant, excepting Alice. But it takes us back to a time when we believed we might get anything we wanted, even though we wanted the world, and we wanted it now!. Everyone we knew really could imagine fifty people a day walking into the draft board, singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out, creating the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement. And all we had to do was sing along the next time it came around on the guitar.

That's what Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says about Arlo Guthrie's timeless classic Alice's Restaurant. I listened to the record enough that I have most of it committed to memory. There was also a movie, which included footage of Woodie Guthrie himself but I don't think the real Officer Obie had a part.

There was a time when I imagined that my children would be able to hear my stories of the Sixties and be enthralled but I got over it. Years ago when video rentals first started I was delighted to bring home The Yellow Submarine, knowing how much fun the kids would have with the music and seeing those marvelous graphics of Peter Max. I waited until we could see the film together, anticipating the fun we share across the generations.

Well that isn't what happened. After about twenty minutes they got bored and went into the kitchen to start something else, leaving Dad out there in the family room to watch his old movie. The magic was not there. The excitement was to be mine and mine alone, and any story-telling from me was like those walking-home-from-school-for-miles-in-the-snow stories I had heard from my parents. Sigh... So much for teaching anything to the next generation. Thankfully I have been somehow able to teach some more important basic values. All our kids give us much of which my wife and I can be proud, but make no mistake about it. Their's is its own generation. And the best I hope to garner from them about accounts of my own wonderful development is patient tolerance, transparently tired but polite.

My peers and younger readers with time and curiosity, then, can now link to A Thanksgiving Ritual for '60s-Style Activists, the back to the Thanksgiving post at Talk Left, which talks about the annual ritual on radio station KBCO radio station at noon to hear the 25 minute version of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant. I have to be at work today, so I will have to rely on my memories, but as long as they remain clear, I won't need the radio. I still have the record, of course, but we no longer have a record player. Sigh...

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