Alice's Restaurant
November 24, 2010 10:32 PM   Subscribe

This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant; that's just the name of the song, and that's why I call the song Alice's Restaurant.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now, it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant. But Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And living in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Having all that room, seeing as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the city dump.

Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down.

That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from Officer Obie.

He said, "Kid,we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage."

After speaking to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the telephone we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the police officer's station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the police officer's station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed. And I said "Obie, I don't think I can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on." He said, "Shut up, kid. Get in the back of the patrol car." And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the quote Scene of the Crime unquote.

I want tell you about the town of Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here,they got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars, being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station. They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was going to put us in the cell. Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your wallet and your belt." And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings." I said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?" Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape.

Obie was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice (remember Alice? It's a song about Alice) Alice came by and with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had a another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he sat down. We sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog. And then at the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry, 'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.

And we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not what I came to tell you about.

I came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected. I went down to get my physical examination one day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning. `Cause I wanted to look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York, and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the seargent came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall, getting more injections, inspections, detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no part untouched. Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there, and I walked up and said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenomena, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW, kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean and ugly and nasty and horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand,and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing, father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the Sergeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-know-details-of-the crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing- you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting-officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there, and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read thefollowing words:

("KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?")

I went over to the sergeant, said, "Sergeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself. I mean, I mean, I mean I’m just, I'm sitting here on the bench, I mean I'm sittinhere on the Group W bench, 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after being a litterbug?"

He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send your fingerprints off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do. Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in and say "Shrink, you can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant." And walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them . And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singing a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singing a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it's a movement.

And that's just what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar. With feeling.

So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar here, and sing it when it does. Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

That was horrible. If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud.

I've been singing this song now for twenty-five minutes. I could sing it for another twenty-five minutes. I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.

All right now.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant (excepting Alice)
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum...
At Alice's Restaurant!
posted by Miko (164 comments total) 534 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bwahahaha! Another ridiculous dream fulfilled.

Happy Thanksgiving, US-ian MeFites and other celebrants!
posted by Miko at 10:33 PM on November 24, 2010 [12 favorites]


I love this song.
posted by khaibit at 10:34 PM on November 24, 2010


oh my goodness, wow. great post.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 10:35 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the song, but it seems like I never quite get through it all at once. This post is the same way, sort of. It's going to take me a while to get through it all. But I already know that I love it.

Wow. Thanks, Miko.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:38 PM on November 24, 2010


And once you've had enough pie, and everyone has enough pie, given enough pies, though everyone denies it, you can wander on down to Mathowie's Community Blog and have yourself a rant, or maybe learn a thing or two about the Treaty of Westphalia.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:39 PM on November 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


CAN'T NOT SING ALONG.....
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on November 24, 2010


(Years ago, I had a friend with whom I had bonded over this song. So when we met up, we would greet each other by shouting "KILL", "KILL!", "KILLL!!!" etc... which is probably not, on reflection, the best way to greet people across crowded train stations...)
posted by pompomtom at 10:44 PM on November 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Amazing. How long did it take to put this all together?
posted by thecjm at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2010


Interestingly, the 'burn women' link showed up as already-visited for me...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:47 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, this is great. Took my mom to see Arlo just last week, and, weirdly enough, this afternoon I heard this song playing at a discount store. The "blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth" part was playing while I browsed the gift wrap aisle.
posted by Knappster at 10:47 PM on November 24, 2010


whohooho.. shudder... my long haired head band wearing beaded moccasin toting teenage dope smoking self comes back to haunt me via the pages of metafilter.

And not with some tiny little single link youtube post either.

No. Oh, no. Nothing so kind.

Instead, it's every single damned word to Alice's restaurant. With links. History. Pictures. Annotations.

Multiple instances of musical accompaniment!

It's enough to make an increasingly conservative old man cry..

[THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER MIKO, AND YOU ARE AWESOME!!!]
posted by Ahab at 10:49 PM on November 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Great memories. When I was in high school and one us did something odd, the others in our little group would say, "And they all moved away from him on the bench."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:50 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ba ba da da, okay... mmHmmmm... Big yellow joint, the big yellow joint, I'll meet ya down at the big yellow joint.
posted by Corduroy at 10:52 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom first had me listen to this song on the drive up to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving, when I was 12 or 13. Now I never let a Thanksgiving pass by without listening to it.
posted by rachaelfaith at 10:53 PM on November 24, 2010


maaaaaaan... i don't think I can handle this, maaan...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:57 PM on November 24, 2010


Pfft - this is not what Meatfilter is for. Pfffffffft.
posted by item at 10:57 PM on November 24, 2010


Wait, this is exactly what Metafilter is for. Wowza.
posted by item at 10:58 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


epic. i give thanks.
posted by mwhybark at 10:59 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Besides being one of the most thorough and unbelievable posts of all time, I just wanted to say that Arlo Guthrie pretty much singlehandedly started me on folk.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 11:01 PM on November 24, 2010


This is my favorite metafilter post of all time. Thank you.
posted by serazin at 11:05 PM on November 24, 2010


Also: be aware that the December Awesome Post Contest doesn't start until December.

Unless you're in some sort of ultra-New-Zealand which is so far East you're already in December....
posted by pompomtom at 11:07 PM on November 24, 2010


This is the father-raper of all posts.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:09 PM on November 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


For some reason, the link to the dump was my favorite.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:18 PM on November 24, 2010


This is, indeed, an amazing post, and furthermore, I'm willing to give a turkey leg* to the person who starts a timer, clicks the first link, and doesn't stop the timer until the last link is read. Then, you must post the time it took to read it, along with your own personal feelings on the post.**

* Offer not valid in the continental U.S., or outside of the continental U.S. Shipping not available. Turkey leg may be picked up from the Ghidorah household. Offer not valid if you take too long to claim your turkey leg, because it may very well have been eaten by that point.

**Your personal reflection essay should, like the post itself, be littered with a healthy, no, make that insane number of links. In turn, another member of MetaFilter will offer a similar bounty for a report of the perusal of your report. Considering the time frame likely to be involved, most likely the prize would be something Decemberish, perhaps latkes, because they are indeed delicious.

posted by Ghidorah at 11:22 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow.
posted by kmz at 11:23 PM on November 24, 2010


This is pretty awesome. I've never actually heard the song though. Guess I'll be listening to it, and clicking all these links.
posted by shinyshiny at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2010


Wow. Thank you.
posted by Sailormom at 11:25 PM on November 24, 2010


Stupefyingly fantastic. Thank you!
posted by blucevalo at 11:26 PM on November 24, 2010


Also: be aware that the December Awesome Post Contest doesn't start until December.

Fuck it, it's Group W December.
posted by maxwelton at 11:28 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Love for miko. Awesome post! My kids are hooked on this song, although they don't know what a father-raper is yet. My flatmates and I also bonded over this song at uni, and no road trip was complete without it.
posted by tracicle at 11:29 PM on November 24, 2010


Also if my husband or I go to the shop and ask the other what they got there, the standard answer is "I didn't get nothing. I had to pay fifty dollars and pick up the garbage." Ah yes, Alice's Restaurant is intrinsically woven into our lives.
posted by tracicle at 11:33 PM on November 24, 2010


Alice's PDP-10:
You can hack anything you want, with TECO and DDT...
posted by grouse at 11:43 PM on November 24, 2010


Absolutely brilliant!
posted by Ardiril at 11:51 PM on November 24, 2010


Oh, so father-raping jokes are OK now? This is getting really confusing.
posted by jewzilla at 11:54 PM on November 24, 2010


I first heard this while going through my dads old reel to reel tapes, it was in mono on one track of a stereo tape mixed with american pie on the other so if you didn't have the settings right it was one crazy mashup. This was Australia in the 80s and I'd never heard anything like it... Great post and great memories.
posted by mikw at 11:54 PM on November 24, 2010


Oh my god, so awesome!
posted by the_bone at 11:55 PM on November 24, 2010


Ho Lee Crap.
Most excellent post Miko!
posted by Duke999R at 12:45 AM on November 25, 2010


I declare this post a legend of the internet. Long may it teach the people that this is exactly what good Metafilter looks like.
posted by seagull.apollo at 12:54 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am so happy right now.
posted by victors at 1:16 AM on November 25, 2010


Please, Please, Pretty Please,...Please Give Miko a T Shirt.
posted by adamvasco at 1:21 AM on November 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


:-)
posted by mosk at 1:23 AM on November 25, 2010


This is great! I look forward to your next post, on the significance of the pickle!
posted by TedW at 1:55 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very nice!
TedW: I think the pickle has something to do with the next TSA plan to keep us safe. So remember, the next time you're flying with someone, both of you need to pipe up and sing, in harmony, "I don't want a pickle..."
posted by frodisaur at 2:23 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just wanna ride on my moooootor...sickle.

AWESOME POST.....
posted by Duug at 3:16 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Great post, Miko. Wow!
posted by rmmcclay at 3:27 AM on November 25, 2010


I think the pickle has something to do with the next TSA plan to keep us safe.

And I don't want to fly
I'd just rather ride on my motorcy...cle
posted by TedW at 3:42 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I took my dad to go see Arlo last October. He did not sing Alice's Restaurant. It seemed strange. He did close the show with a "This Land Is Your Land" sing along, which was sweet and unexpectedly emotional.
posted by MaritaCov at 4:08 AM on November 25, 2010


Thanks for this, it will give me something to do while small children destroy my house today...

I've seen Arlo twice (both times at the Ark in Ann Arbor, where nobody sites more than about 25 feet from the stage!), and he sang Alice's Resturant both times... If you get a chance to see him perform, do it, he's even better now than he was 40 years ago....
posted by HuronBob at 4:15 AM on November 25, 2010


One of my good friends was arrested at the protest at the groundbreaking for the Atlantic Yards project here in Brooklyn (I swear this is relevant). In fact, he was the ONLY person arrested. And technically, what happened was that a cop went out to where all the protesters were making noise and told them all to stop, and he was the only one who didn't. So technically his arrest was for, and I quote, "using a drum to make noise".

Because he was the only person who got arrested, they shipped him off to a nearby stationhouse for processing, and he ended up in a holding cell with a lot of other minor arrests -- drunk and disorderly, shoplifting, things like that. And he says when he told them what he got arrested for, he started getting some really funny looks...and he also says that thats' when "Alice's Restaurant" started running through his head. And it did not stop for about a week.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on November 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Holy crap. Bravo sir.

As a teenager, I used to call the U.S. Army Recruiting Bureau's 800 number at least once a week, and sing Alice's Restaurant at them until they hung up on me. Always one of my favorite bits of antiwar awesomeness.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 4:37 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It never occurred to me that "Group W" really meant something. Still checking out the other links . . .
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:45 AM on November 25, 2010


I took my dad to go see Arlo last October. He did not sing Alice's Restaurant. It seemed strange.

I've seen him perform probably four times and only seen him play "Alice Restaurant" once. If you're doing several shows a week, a 20-minute song probably gets to be a drag.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:09 AM on November 25, 2010


Fantastic post and a really fun song. Wish I had the time to read it all!
posted by therubettes at 5:14 AM on November 25, 2010


This beats last years post by a mile. Also if you want to hear the Watergate version of this, if you can stand Real Player, go here, and click on November 25 2007, its worth the listen.
posted by wheelieman at 5:35 AM on November 25, 2010


As a Delawarean, I can't tell you how proud I am that the "47-words-37-sentences-58-words" details of the crime link is to a version of the Army's Moral Waiver posted on the Delaware National Guard web site (DNG, as we know it).

And I want to add my thanks for this post.
posted by mmahaffie at 5:37 AM on November 25, 2010


Nicely done.
posted by briank at 5:37 AM on November 25, 2010


I thought this was a cool post before I clicked the [more inside]. Holy crap, this is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by TurkishGolds at 5:41 AM on November 25, 2010


My mom took me to see Arlo back in '75 when I was a kid and I've seen him a few times since. Mom was a civil rights and anti - war activist and I associate Arlo and his contemporary folkys pretty strongly with her. This is most likely her last Thanksgiving so we're so going to have to play this for her today. Thanks Miko for a wonderful post.
posted by octothorpe at 5:46 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh man, does this bring back memories of being a little kid... listening to this on record at thanksgiving (yeah, i had hippie parents). awesome post, Miko! it's gonna take me days to work through all those links.
posted by lapolla at 5:46 AM on November 25, 2010


oh man, octothorpe - that was a little synchronicity, there. my mom took me to see arlo, too - probably a couple years after you first saw him. my mom's no longer with us, and this really brought back a flood of memories. my thoughts go to you and your family, and i hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving with your mom.
posted by lapolla at 5:51 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very well done. Thank you.
posted by kalessin at 6:05 AM on November 25, 2010


I just started the movie on Netflix streaming. While it does feature Arlo Guthrie, so far it seems to cover a different story.
posted by sourwookie at 6:09 AM on November 25, 2010


You know how people are always debating whether or not various forms of entertainment can ever reach the threshold to be considered art? Photography, animation, video games, athletics, and more have all had their detractors and supporters at various times. This, my friends, is "MetaFilter post as Art". Well done, Miko.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:14 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this. This has been part of my Thanksgiving tradition since my sister bought that record when it first came out.
posted by pasici at 6:14 AM on November 25, 2010


everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it

The story reproduced at the link doesn't mention that it was published in The Berkshire Eagle, the daily newspaper that covers the Berkshires. I have a copy of that story tucked into my Alice's Restaurant LP; it was published on Monday, November 29, 1965. Thanksgiving was Nov. 25. In the screamonline.com version, for some reason there's an ellipsis in place of the words "on Saturday afternoon" — that sentence should read "They did so on Saturday afternoon, following a heavy rain."

So justice was pretty swift — the story and the song agree that the dumping was done on Thanksgiving Thursday; the arrest and conviction took place the next day; restitution was made on Saturday; the newspaper story was gotten in on Monday.

For an idea of what Stockbridge itself looked like at this time, have a look at Norman Rockwell's 1967 painting, Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.

The song helped put Stockbridge on the map. In 1965, the town's centerpiece, the Red Lion Inn, had been closed for some years (note that it's dark in the Rockwell painting), and in 1968 it was slated to be torn down to make room for a gas station. It was rescued from that fate by Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick; the town has been a tourist destination ever since.
posted by beagle at 6:20 AM on November 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


Brilliant and touching and great work! Thanks, Miko.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2010


Fact check: You link to Prospect Street in Great Barrington, MA as the "scene of the crime." Are you sure that's where it happened?

This article claims it was "Prospect Street, a residential section of Stockbridge consisting largely of estates on the hill ..." The problem is, I can't seem to find a Prospect Street in Stockbridge, but there is a Prospect Hill, and I am thinking this is probably where it occurred, rather than the location in Great Barrington that you suggest.

Furthermore, Prospect Street in Great Barrington appears to be flat, while Prospect Hill in Stockbridge is atually, well, a hill, also more accurate in the context of the song and news report.

Just a suggestion. I may have missed something in your post or elsewhere, but I am curious to clear this up.
posted by TurkishGolds at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2010


Oh my God. This deserves to be preserved as the ultimate Annotated Alice.

Thank you, Miko!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:32 AM on November 25, 2010


I happen to live in Stockbridge, Prospect Hill is indeed a hill.

Thank you so much for the post!
posted by alfanut at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2010


One more link: the judge, not named in the song, was James E. Hannon. He was indeed blind. In the movie, he and his seeing-eye dog Susie played themselves.
posted by beagle at 6:35 AM on November 25, 2010


Miko, this is clearly a labor of love, thank you. I hope there's a radio station that plays Alice's Restaurant today, so I can listen while I cook.
posted by theora55 at 6:35 AM on November 25, 2010


TurkishGolds is correct, of course — the crime took place in Stockbridge, on Prospect Hill, or Obie would not have arrested them.
posted by beagle at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2010


Woke up depressed facing another Thanksgiving day all alone and saw this first thing.
Wow! Just, wow. Thanks for that Miko.
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you. That was awesome. :)
posted by bryghtrose at 6:38 AM on November 25, 2010


Hey! I'm so glad folks are enjoying this.

As to how long it took to make, if I hadn't already outed myself as a nerd here, I might be ashamed to admit this, but it's kind of been a few years. The idea to do it struck me maybe three years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, and I started hunting for links and created a Google Doc to save the links in, but of course it was too big a project for a busy holiday. And then I forgot about for a while until a couple weeks before Thanksgiving last year, and things got busy and I had a new job and I just couldn't assemble enough logical and decent and informative links. Finally I decided that THIS was the year and have been working on it every few days over the course of the month, for 2-3 hours over various weeknights and sometimes, I admit, quiet times at work. I just copied the lyrics into the Google Doc and then added links bit by bit. I tried to find relevant links and ones that added something new to the song.

Over the course of the work I really noted how, despite the focus of the song being in another direction, Alice Brock seems to be a really neat person who's had a very interesting life.

I grew up with this song - my dad is a Vietnam vet (who transitioned pretty quickly into a veteran-for-peace type of person), and he and one of his Army friends used to have an acoustic duo and would get together for reunions and play this around the dining room table while hanging out late into the night. I remember the chorus from being a little child, and remember that I found it funny. In high school, I got fascinated by the counterculture and anti-war movements and also learned to play guitar, and this was one of the first songs I learned. Even used to do it at a campfire on occasion. I've seen Arlo do the song in a couple concerts - my parents took me to one when I was maybe 14 or 15, and he did the "Watergate version" at that show. For a while we subscribed to his print newsletter, the Rolling Blunder Review, which was a sort of proto-internet random social network, in a nice way. also, it came with free pencils.

I love that other people use the phrases from the song as friend-and-family shorthand; we've done that too! My favorite example is, when something surprises you and didn't go the way you thought: "But there was a THIRD possibility we hadn't even counted upon...."

Beagle, I had forgotten about the Eagle being the local paper. So neat. One of the cool things about the song is the site-specificness - these are all real places and you can visit them - the Guthrie Center church, the cafe, Stockbridge...even Whitehall street..it connects with public history on the landscape in a cool way. People do make little pilgrimages, which is fun.

Anyway, it was fun to do and to have such a perfect place to do it in MetaFilter. I hope people click through and have fun, and don't feel like so many links are an assignment. Some are silly and some are one-off visuals, and some are longer meatier stories, but have fun with what interests you - this is not one where people will be shouting at you to RTFA, least of all me.

Happy Thanksgiving!!
posted by Miko at 6:41 AM on November 25, 2010 [16 favorites]


Cute song and all but illegal dumping is no joke. He should have gone to jail. Another celebrity spawn who gets off with a slap on the wrist while the rest of us get the shaft.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Turkish Golds, you raise a really good question and I admit I am not sure of the exact location. Maybe beagle can help. I was working from the identification of the location as the "Nelson Foote property" and looked around and the map and took a guess. i bet you guys are right. There may be a clue here, too -- one of the links says


So they started driving around, until Arlo remembered a side road in Stockbridge up on Prospect Hill by the Indian Hill Music Camp -- which he went to one summer -- so they drove up there and dumped the garbage."


I bet you're right and I kind of got confused there - the closed dump was in Great Barrington, but of course they got arrested for the illegal dumping in Stockbridge.
posted by Miko at 6:46 AM on November 25, 2010


Those of you looking to buy the song today may, like me, check iTMS and be disappointed to discover that you have to buy the whole album in order to get this song. While a lovely song, it's not quite worth $9.99 to me. Happily, it turns out that "Alice Restaurant" is just 89¢ as an MP3 from Amazon. Have at it. :)
posted by waldo at 6:46 AM on November 25, 2010


After hearing this song, I asked my Vietnam vet and New Yorker father if his draft notice told him to go to Whitehall Street. He said it did indeed and that it came with two subway tokens attached so you had no excuse not to show up.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


I grew up in Litchfield CT; spent my summers in Sharon, CT and we'd often head up to Lenox, MA for concerts at Tanglewood. I remember having dinner before a James Taylor* concert at Alice's Restaurant (Alice at Avaloch) -- the one she had in Lenox in the late '70s. Still recall my meal -- Veal Picatta.

* - Any time he plays Sweet Baby James at Tanglewood or the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield the Berkshire crowd goes wild at the verse:
"Now the First of December was covered with snow
And so was the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frostin'
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go"
James Taylor now lives nearby in Washington, MA.

posted by ericb at 6:52 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


this Google Books result identifies Indian Hill Music Camp as one mile from downtown Stockbrige. It looks like there's still an Indian Hill Music program but the location is shown as Littleton, MA, so maybe it moved.
posted by Miko at 6:54 AM on November 25, 2010


102.7 forever. Thanks for this, Miko.
posted by mintcake! at 6:57 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I would have clicked the links before writing that, I would be a better man, but Glenn Jones is always worth a listen.
posted by wheelieman at 7:00 AM on November 25, 2010


Fantastic post, thanks. Just saw Arlo on the Macy's Thanksgiving parade singing "This Land Is Your Land" for another surreal moment.
posted by fixedgear at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2010


This reminds me of cherished memories from my childhood of my father, working in his studio with him, listening to the folk music he loved so much and wanted me to love. Oh and I do, now. This also reminds me of the torture I felt as a kid, forced to listen to 18 minute long songs by goofy-ass folk dorks that my equally dork-o dad loved so much.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I gave [thanks]
posted by Eideteker at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2010


Coming in from Los Angeleeeeeeez
Bringin' in a couple of keys
Don't touch my junk if you please
Mister TSA man...
posted by AJaffe at 7:50 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those who want to carry on a Philadelphia radio tradition:

Greetings!


I wanted to let you know what time on Thanksgiving I'll be playing "Alice's Restaurant". There will be three playings: 10am, Noon, and 2pm. The noon playing will be the updated version and at 2pm on vinyl! I hope you can spend some of your Thanksgiving with me!

Cheers,

Pierre

Miko, I'm tearing up a bit, thinking of the years I turned on my little radio to hear Pierre Robert honor Arlo and Alice. Thanks. And don't you dare go annotating Bruce's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," because then I'd turn into a giant, wet puddle of nostalgia.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:08 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, this is just a wonderful post!

I first heard of Arlo, as I suspect many of my generation did, in an middle school filmstrip on genetics, talking about how he would have to wait until he was forty to find out whether he had Huntington's disease. I went home and asked my dad about it, and it turned out he had the album, so he pulled it down and played it, and then played a bunch of Woody's stuff as well, then some Dylan, and a Phil Ochs record, and Tom Lehrer... One of my best memories of my father.
posted by steambadger at 8:15 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


So...I've never heard the song before. It looks like there are a couple different versions out there - one is about 15 minutes the other just over 18 minutes? Which one is the one I want for the first listen? And/or does anyone have a streaming link for me?
posted by dnash at 8:19 AM on November 25, 2010


Holy fuck this is an undergraduate class.
posted by The Whelk at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


my dad and I listened to this song every year as we drove up from Long Island to Mass. It brings up such incredible memories for me. Thank you!!!!
posted by foxinsocks at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2010


Well done - great to see someone have so much fun with a post. Thank you.

One of my favorite memories of my stepdad is him quoting this song, me not knowing what he was talking about, and us immediately getting in the car to drive to the record store to buy the album. When we got home we listened to it two or three times - each time with him mouthing along to his favorite parts. Of course, when I moved out on my own years later I took the album with me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:28 AM on November 25, 2010


dnash, it would be smart to start with the 1967 version, then watch the movie, then listen to the 30th anniversary song.
posted by wheelieman at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2010


Miko: As to how long it took to make, if I hadn't already outed myself as a nerd here, I might be ashamed to admit this, but it's kind of been a few years.

How bummed would you have been to sign onto MeFi this morning to post this and see a SLYT "Alice's Restaurant" FPP? That would been have the worst.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:34 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yay!!!! I got to stop off and eat at the newest incarnation of the restaurant this summer, and many of the people with me had never heard of the song. "But it's a Thanksgiving song," I said. "Whoever heard of a Thangsiving song?" they asked. Now I can send them a link of all the people who've heard of Thanksgiving songs.
posted by dame at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2010


My parents had a commune with their friends in the 70's and they called it Group W because of this song.
posted by Toothless Willy at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2010


How bummed would you have been to sign onto MeFi this morning to post this and see a SLYT "Alice's Restaurant" FPP? That would been have the worst.

One of the mods would probably delete that and keep this up. So if anyone out there have done a very well researched FFP, and you log on and you see this skinny post about your same topic, just post it anyways, the mefites will fight for your post, trust me.
posted by wheelieman at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2010


I remember being in high school, in homeroom, where we were allowed to listen to the radio (usually top-40, Jackson-5, 3-Dog-Night, etc.). I remember this song coming on, and all of us stopping what we were doing to listen to it. Complete silence and stillness as we listened, including the teacher. We couldn't believe something like that could be played on the radio. IN SCHOOL. It was wonderful. And I probably haven't heard it since then. Thanks.
posted by acrasis at 8:53 AM on November 25, 2010


Amazing post. Really completely stunning.

Am I a bad person for pointing out that it's the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", not "Massacre" as you have it at least once in your text?
posted by hippybear at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2010


The post of the year! Incredible!
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2010


I hope you can find a contact for Arlo Guthrie/or agent and send him this post--it is absolutely fantastic--humorous, witty, respectful and art itself
posted by rmhsinc at 9:08 AM on November 25, 2010


Stunning. Amazing post. Cancel the contest -- we have a winner. I haven't listened to the song in 20 years, but as a child of the 60's, it's just part of my DNA.

Also, I totally have the cookbook.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not December yet, ack!

Full of win. Which is a great way to be before full of pie. Thanks Miko.
posted by jessamyn at 9:12 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Standing ovation!!! All hail Miko!!!!
posted by Sublimity at 9:13 AM on November 25, 2010


you really CAN get everything you want at Alice's Restaurant! I've shared this with my partner-in-crime for whom no Thanksgiving is complete without spinning this classic Arlo track! Thanks for all your work!!
posted by kuppajava at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2010


This is fantastic. Thank you so much for this post!
posted by pemberkins at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2010


the link for somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder is a paywall BTW
posted by wheelieman at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2010


Well, the movie was a waste of time--two hours of padding to get to the good part-- but the Joni Mitchell funeral song "Aging Children Come" gave me the chills.
The scene with that song. A little maudlin I admit, but hey, late 60's Joni Mitchell.
posted by sourwookie at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2010


Mel, Kiss mah grits.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:43 AM on November 25, 2010


Thanks for this.

I am sitting in a hotel room in Tucson with my under-powered laptop, so even if I had the time, I couldn't fully enjoy any of the video links.

I look forward to spending a day with this post later this weekend after I get home.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!
posted by mmrtnt at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2010


Truly awesome! Thanks, Miko! This is a brilliant work. I'm not sure whether to call it an interpretation, mashup, fantasia, or what, but it's great. And whenever I see anything like it in the future, this will be what I compare it to.
posted by fartknocker at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2010


Wildman Steve Radio is playing Alice's Restaurant right now, if you want to follow along....

Awesome awesome post, miko!
posted by ourroute at 10:17 AM on November 25, 2010


Sorry, took too long to post - it just finished.
posted by ourroute at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2010


The next spin of Alice's Restaurant on Radio Paradise is at 3:00pm PST. First one was 9:00am this morning. Annual tradition.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2010


Heh. Several years ago, I was waiting in line to get into the M-Shop in Ames IA for an Arlo show. Kid in front of me- piercings, baggy pants, the works- looks at me- sixty, bald, white beard, sez "How do you know about Arlo Guthrie?" Kid, you couldn't handle it.
And way back then, when I'd just learned to fingerpick that sucker... one night at a "gathering" I lit into it, just intending to pick through a coupla bars to show off.... somebody knew the whole damn thing and I was stuck for a half an hour. Cramps and all.

this is a wonderful post- good work!
posted by drhydro at 10:22 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


As to the precise location of the crime, I'm sure someone will weigh in with that, but here's a Google map showing Prospect Hill Road. At about a mile from downtown Stockbridge, on the right, is Rattlesnake Mountain Road, a dirt road without much habitation on it, which seems like a good candidate.
posted by beagle at 10:43 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. Thank you so much, Miko. This is exactly what MetaFilter is for.
posted by dogmom at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2010


I've been reading this post now for twenty-five minutes.

I could read it for another twenty-five minutes.

I'm not proud...
posted by anthill at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


...or tired....
posted by tzikeh at 11:15 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, Rattlesnake Mountain Road - used to be a favourite place for me to walk, about a twenty-minute walk away from where I lived. It's possible that was the dumping place, but there are more obscure candidates also.

I lived in Stockbridge for a year off during my college years (early-mid 70's), at my great-aunt and -uncle's house (she was from an old Stockbridge family.) My mom also grew up in the Berkshires. Stockbridge really was the quintessential small town where it seemed like everybody knew everybody. (The village of Housatonic even more so.) I guess there were still some of the usual hippies vs. straights (remember when that meaning was still in use?) tensions, but overall, a pretty mellow vibe. (If I may relapse into period argot for a moment.)

At the same time, that area of the Berkshires was (and still is, I'm sure) home to a lot of famous or semi-famous artistic types, and the community took celebrity in stride; Arlo's notoriety, if that's the word, didn't stand out particularly. Norman Mailer & Norris Church lived a ways up the road from me, though none of us ever saw them; Reinhold Niebuhr's widow Ursula and playwright Robert Sherwood's widow Roz were both (quite friendly) neighbours of mine.

I worked at the Red Lion Inn's restaurant, first as a dishwasher and then as a sous chef and dessert chef, alongside Ray Brock's (Alice's husband) kids from his first marriage, Fletcher & Rebecca. Really nice people… One of the bellhops for the upstairs inn told a tale of being sent up for room service and having the door opened by a naked Marlo Thomas… (She may have been in residence for a production at the nearby Berkshire Playhouse.)

I took my then GF out on our first date to Alice's restaurant (then in its second location, not in Stockbridge) & ate Alice's soup at the harvest fair.

Bill Obenheim (Obie) was still the local constable. One of my relatives on my great-aunt's side had been married to Norman Rockwell's abstract artist son. Jane Fitzpatrick loaned me her station wagon when I needed to move across town that summer. I sublet a house from Arlo's producer's GF. Arlo would show up with friends sometimes for a drink at the Inn's downstairs pub, the Lion's Den, run by the Fitzpatricks' daughter, which had a regular folkie open mic (though he didn't play there during the time I lived there.) Had I continued to live there (I went off to school in Boston) I'm sure eventually I would have gotten to know Arlo and his circle of friends - it was really a special place.
posted by Philofacts at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Happy Thanksgiving! :)
posted by ellipticals at 12:18 PM on November 25, 2010


Bless you Miko. :)
posted by arachnid at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2010


I had forgotten that this was where my family's use of "implements of destruction" for anything from flatware to grooming tools to garden implements originated. Thanks, Arlo. Thanks, Miko.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:28 PM on November 25, 2010


the link for somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder is a paywall BTW
posted by wheelieman at 12:20 PM on November 25 [+] [!


That's odd - it's not for me, and I'm not a subscriber. Any way to fix?
posted by Miko at 1:29 PM on November 25, 2010


A great post for a great song.

This post - and wonderful personal comments like Philofacts' - are why this site remains so amazing, despite all the cruft. Brava!

(I learned marble carving from Rockwell's sculptor son - is that the one you're distantly related to, Philofacts?)
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2010


Holy what the. Great praises to you, Miko.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2010


That's odd - it's not for me, and I'm not a subscriber. Any way to fix?

I think they have one of loathsome new systems where you can read n stories per month before you have to register, meaning that nobody can ever know whether or not a link they want to share will actually work for the recipient. That said, it doesn't seem to be a paywall, just a free-registration-wall.
posted by enn at 1:53 PM on November 25, 2010


I do hope the mods can change "Massacre" to "Massacree" everywhere it appears in the lyrics. It really does make a difference.
posted by tzikeh at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2010


Er - for clarification:

Massacre: The indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people or (less commonly) animals; carnage, butchery, slaughter in numbers; an instance of this. (OED)

Massacree: The Ozark English word for an event so wildly and improbably and incredibly messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe.
posted by tzikeh at 2:36 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Marvelous post. Brava Miko! I always loved that song. It has a special quality to it that has stayed with me all these many years, like an invisible friend that sticks around to especially enjoy the quirky moments in life.

Tiny anecdote: I have a cute Alice Brock beach stone with a simple drawing of a naked woman on it, holding her hands to her face, like this one she also drew, but a woman.

And Happy Thanksgiving to you.
posted by nickyskye at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


do hope the mods can change "Massacre" to "Massacree" everywhere it appears in the lyrics. It really does make a difference.


Well, that's pretty interesting. Another contribution on that is here. I've always thought it was a folky/creative pronunciation of "massacre," for countryfied emphasis. Your definition and the one here add some nuance. Since Arlo's father was from Oklahoma and Texas, I wonder if he might have learned the word via family context. Thanks, tzikeh, I had no idea.
posted by Miko at 4:51 PM on November 25, 2010


(I learned marble carving from Rockwell's sculptor son - is that the one you're distantly related to, Philofacts?)

Though this is def. OT (my bad), I think the sculptor is his brother. Jarvis Rockwell (painter - unless he took up sculpture too and I didn't know, which is possible) is the one my relative was married to (and the only Rockwell I know.) They're both remarried and still good friends.

In thinking about the friendliness of the Stockbridge area arts & music community, I'm reminded of the time a few years ago when Bob Dylan returned to the Newport Folk Festival for the first time in decades; great show, but he was totally distant and uncommunicative to the audience. Though I was witnessing history, I suppose, it left me kind of cold. I had only gotten a ticket for that day of the festival; the young couple with whom I attended it, friends of my niece, went back the next day when Arlo was playing, and reported back that he was the polar opposite of Dylan: warm, engaging, telling anecdotes between songs, responding to people in the audience, generally behaving like he was sitting around in his living room, albeit a really big one, with some good friends.
posted by Philofacts at 5:21 PM on November 25, 2010


"I think that Woody's road might have run through here sometime..."
posted by HuronBob at 5:30 PM on November 25, 2010


[The Red Lion Inn] was rescued from that fate by Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick...

Ah, yes. The founders/proprietors of Country Curtains which still operates in the back of the Inn.
posted by ericb at 6:04 PM on November 25, 2010


At the same time, that area of the Berkshires was (and still is, I'm sure) home to a lot of famous or semi-famous artistic types...

It still is, as is Litchfield County, CT just minutes south from the Massachusetts border.
posted by ericb at 6:08 PM on November 25, 2010


[The Red Lion Inn] was rescued from that fate by Jack and Jane Fitzpatrick...

Ah, yes. The founders/proprietors of Country Curtains which still operates in the back of the Inn.


Yeah, that was already doing quite well when I was there. Jane pretty much ran both businesses; Jack was an amiable and sometimes quite drunk state senator. They were both quite pleasant to their employees, at least as far as I could see - and it was really nice of Jane to lend me her car that time I was moving. Not a typical attitude of a lot of bosses I've had.
posted by Philofacts at 6:15 PM on November 25, 2010


So inspired by this, I downloaded the original version from Amazon to play to my mom. In addition to her cancer, she has advanced vascular dementia which the chemo is making worse. She's pretty confused on a good day and she hasn't had a good day since she started the treatments. When I went to pick her up this afternoon, she didn't even know who I was and frankly I almost didn't recognize her since she's lost so much weight since I saw her in October. She was very quiet and distant and didn't talk much.

We got into the car to go to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's and I turned on Arlo and she immediately perked up said, "I can't believe that you have this". She listened intently and laughed at all of the jokes and by the end we were both singing along with it as it came around on the guitar.

It was a really sweet moment and I felt that for those eighteen minutes, I almost had my old amazing mom back. So thank you Miko and Metafilter, I would have never thought to play it for her without this thread.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 PM on November 25, 2010 [35 favorites]


Stockbridge really was the quintessential small town where it seemed like everybody knew everybody. (The village of Housatonic even more so.)

Over the past few decades Housatonic has flourished as a haven for artists (i.e. the Housatonic Artists Community, etc.).
posted by ericb at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2010


Okay octothorpe, my allergies seem to have just kicked in. Big time!
posted by ericb at 6:25 PM on November 25, 2010


for those of you moved by the song... take the time to watch the movie... there's a lot there, perhaps much of it only relevant to those of us that grew up during that era... but... much to think about..

happy thanksgiving, metafilter...
posted by HuronBob at 7:10 PM on November 25, 2010


Thanks, everyone.
posted by mistersquid at 7:17 PM on November 25, 2010


So awesome.
I have a sister named Alice, and parents of the 60's, so we listened to this song every Thanksgiving, singing the chorus. I knew it by heart once.
So, obviously, I am forwarding. This is all kinds of awesome.
Thanks so much.
posted by cogpsychprof at 7:31 PM on November 25, 2010


Awesome awesome awesome!
posted by Vindaloo at 7:38 PM on November 25, 2010


Thanks, tzikeh, I had no idea.

No problem, Miko -- least I can do. It's a spectacular post.
posted by tzikeh at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2010


thanks! thanks! thanks!
posted by anadem at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2010


That was one of my favorite songs as a little kid, but I was always mystified by what the whole thing meant.. it's been years since I've heard it now, and listening to it again (1, 2), it's like hearing it for the first time.

Thanks!
posted by chebucto at 8:46 PM on November 25, 2010


oops - that should have been (1, 2)
posted by chebucto at 8:54 PM on November 25, 2010


Well, well, tzikeh. Today, after 40 years of laughing at what I thought was a spontaneous usage, I learned that Masacree is actually an Ozark English word. The people who post here never cease to astound us. octothorpe's very personal contribution is an example of this too. So thanks so much for having the courage to post that, octothorpe. Flagged as fantastic. <
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:03 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since Arlo's father was from Oklahoma and Texas

Oh, hell no, Texas doesn't get to take credit for Woody Guthrie.
posted by norm at 9:11 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since Arlo's father was from Oklahoma and Texas

Oh, hell no, Texas doesn't get to take credit for Woody Guthrie
.

Yes, it looks like Woody only went to Texas in his late teens out of pressure from his dad, who moved there first and sent for him only much later. Woody lived a lot of places around the country, including LA & NYC, but I wouldn't claim he was an Angeleño or New Yorker, any more than the 12 years I spent in SF makes me a Californian, or my schooling from HS on and early adulthood in Massachusetts makes me "from" there (and even though my mom's family was from Mass. I was born in Europe and grew up there and NJ. That's where I'm "from.") And the fact that Woody left Texas for California, along with a lot of other Okies, as soon as the Depression hit, should tell you something.

Now take Dubya, on the other hand: though he definitely wasn't born in Texas (New Haven, CT), he certainly embraced the place, and it can and should take full credit.
posted by Philofacts at 10:16 PM on November 25, 2010


My day has been so absurdly busy (we hosted, had 15 people) that I totally missed this post! Even so - and even though I am far from New England - it's not a proper Thanksgiving for me without this song. I listened to it and sang along while I prepped veggies and such this morning. Thanks so much, and thanks, everyone, for all the stories and background!
posted by rtha at 10:22 PM on November 25, 2010


Wait, this isn't the queue for the Alice's Restaurant Antimacassar Movement?

One over, you say?

Crap. You wouldn't believe how long I've been standing here.
posted by eritain at 11:01 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that I'm a native Texan does not bias this at all, I'm sure. But I read a Woody Guthrie biography many years ago, and his years in Texas, while certainly not the most joyous days of his life, seem to be significant years in terms of his career development. . He drew lots of material from the way the Depression hit the local area and I wouldn't be surprised if he were exposed to a bunch of new traditional songs to add to what he learned in OK. And there's even a good argument that an outsider/observer status in his adopted Texas town helped him develop the persona that became his hallmark.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Miko. I was just talking yesterday with a few friends about how not enough radio stations play "Alice's Restaurant" on Thanksgiving Day any more. Classic song, classic post, definitely not a turkey. Perhaps more of a ham.
posted by QIbHom at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2010


> For some reason, the link to the dump was my favorite.

I have been to that dump. To dump garbage. That is my personal story to add to this wonderful thread set off by this wonderful post, perhaps the best post in the history of MetaFilter. And Miko, after three years' work, was generous enough to post it on Thanksgiving rather than waiting a few days to blow the December competition out of the water. She should get a gold star, and she should get it now.

I was on the other side of the country and my draft board was in Long Beach; I still have my 1-O card.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is an awesome post.

Metafilter is now intricately tied to Alice's Restaurant in my mind, as I was introduced to it by Cortex's epic Metafilter themed version. Hard to believe no one's mentioned it yet (sorry, though, if Miko linked to it in her post. I've been going through the links but there are so many!)
posted by aldurtregi at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2010


I was introduced to it by Cortex's epic Metafilter themed version. Hard to believe no one's mentioned it yet ...

It was in the thread's fifth comment. ; )
posted by ericb at 9:12 AM on November 26, 2010


Epic post. Wow.
posted by GatorDavid at 12:16 PM on November 26, 2010


I didn't know about cortex's version until this thread, or I certainly would have included it!
posted by Miko at 3:00 PM on November 26, 2010


Really?
posted by crossoverman at 3:47 AM on November 27, 2010


No, seriously, awesome post!
posted by crossoverman at 3:47 AM on November 27, 2010


After nearly five years of radio silence, this post is so great (including the comments) that I uncloaked to applaud Miko and the Blue. Huzzahs to all.

Getting nostalgic for those '70s Thanksgivings when I snuck away from the family to listen to WNEW-FM's annual airing.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:21 PM on November 27, 2010


Heh, in one of the links, Googlemaps places Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe in Kyrgyzstan. Proving once again to me that Arlo Guthrie is indeed Meatbomb.
posted by not_on_display at 3:50 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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