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Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant Massacree - They Sure Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To!

Posted Mar 23rd 2011, 10:23 by Penguin Pete

Politics! Would it be goin' too far out on a limb here to guess that politics is on the minds of the young people these days, especially the fine, upstanding citizens of the Internet Generation? I mean, every day on the RSS feeds it's "FOX News said this!" an' "The Tea Party done that!" and there's protests and re-protests in Wisconsin and Washington and the guys in the Guy Fawkes masks saying they're Anonymous goin' after the people tryin' to shut down Wikileaks... And in the middle of all this flurry of activity, with all the protesters protestin' and Wikileaks wikileakin', you just gotta ask yourself: "Why don't they do it with style anymore?" Like Arlo Guthrie did.

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" is about eighteen minutes long in the shape and size you'd find it online, but Guthrie reserves the right at live performances to go on playin' it until he's tired of it. It's very little about Alice or the restaurant and very much about a minor trash-dumping incident which got him and his friends in trouble with the law when he were a young'un, and how that subsequently got him out of bein' drafted to go to Vietnam back in the '60s. Now, don't take it all so seriously; Guthrie's a funny guy and this is a funny song, but we don't know how much is truth and how much is fiction.

There really is a Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and through its various identities over the years it did, indeed and by-jingo, belong to one Alice M. Brock once upon a time. She's since retired from the restaurant business - she's more of an artist and illustrator now and in fact her and Guthrie have collaborated on things like children's books and whatnot over the years.

And the church is real too, or at least it was a church, the St. James Chapel built in 1829. It's now been renovated as the Guthrie Center hosting a folk music revue. And in the interim, it did indeed serve as a residence for Alice and family.

But wait a minute, what about the littering fine and the draft? Well, it's sorta true, but you have to understand is that it's what we call "embellished non-fiction." We don't mean to suggest that you can get out of a war just by droppin' some garbage. Don't try this stuff at home.

But what we're meanin' to point out here is that the Alice's Restaurant Massacree Movement really did shape into something there. With a nice, friendly song - not breakin' no laws or nothin' - Arlo Guthrie got more people on his side than all the wearing scrary masks and launching DDOS attacks on Paypal will ever do. The song came out in 1967, it was the year of The Summer of Love and the Monterey Pop Festival, which blew away any Woodstock year you'd care to mention as the one-and-only authentic peak of the hippie movement. Just get this cool again, folks, and the battle's in your favor. 'Kay?


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