OT: Alice's Restaurant: The Trashing of a Legend

By Gene Weingarten Sunday, July 4, 2010
Like many middle-age people, I wear more than one hat. I'm a husband, a father, a journalist, a role model to a generation of idealistic young Americans, etc. But one of my favorite hats, the floppy felt one that still smells faintly of the sweet smoke of a controlled substance, is "former hippie." We children of the '60s tenaciously hold on to this self-image, even though our mirrors tell us that in terms of sheer hipness, we look more like Arlen Specter than Arlo Guthrie. And that is why I am on the phone right now with Arlo. I need him to clear up a little problem I am having, and reassure me that everything is okay in my world. Arlo Guthrie became a hero to my generation in 1967 when he recorded his iconic, self-deprecating, darkly comic, antiwar counterculture proto-rap masterpiece, "Alice's Restaurant." The 18-minute song tells the true story of Arlo's teenage arrest for littering, and his subsequent defiant confrontation with a Vietnam-War- era draft board over his "criminal" record. The strength of "Alice's Restaurant" is its feel of truth -- and how it speaks that truth to power. I had occasion to reread the lyrics recently, and for the first time, my instincts as an investigative humorist kicked in. I detected a dissonant note. Hence, this phone call. Me: So, you were arrested for illegally dumping a half-ton of garbage that you scooped up from the floor of Alice's home, and took away to dispose of as a favor, right? Arlo: Right. Me: And you were nailed by the fuzz because Officer Obie found your name on an envelope in that half-ton pile of garbage and phoned you. And in the funniest line of the song, you solemnly admitted to Officer Obie that you had put that envelope under that half-ton of garbage, right? Arlo: Right.
Me: Why was your name in the garbage from Alice's restaurant? Wasn't that all Alice's garbage? Arlo: In 40 years, no one ever asked me that. Me: Well, someone is asking now. Arlo: Bravo. I will hate you forever for this. Me: Arlo: Okay, we have to attribute that line to creative license. Obie actually found a paper with Ray's name -- Ray was Alice's husband -- and Ray directed them to me. But it worked better in the song the other way.
Me: So, no biggie? A misstatement is okay because it "worked better"? Arlo: Me: I don't want to overstate my disillusionment here. But this is like hearing Jesus say, "Okay, I didn't turn the water into wine, exactly. Actually, I just added some Kool-Aid powder and turned it into a nice, refreshing beverage." Arlo: I don't know what to say, man. Me: Are there any other untruths in the song? Arlo: There's one. The 27 8-by-10 color glossy photographs with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was? They were not in color, they were actually black and white. Me: Did you learn your ethics from your dad? Might it be that this land was really made for just him and a few of his cronies? Arlo: You know, it's possible! I've heard that song sung at Republican conventions. Me: Ha-ha-ha-ha! Arlo: Yeah! Me: Wait. What were you doing at Republican conventions? Arlo: I'm a registered Republican now. We talked a bit longer, Arlo and I, and it was amicable, but it all went by in a blur. My mind was cartwheeling. By becoming a Republican, Arlo Guthrie has shredded the last remnants of my faith that our hippie principles had any lasting meaning. How can he do this to us? I'm a peaceable man, but if I had a hammer ...
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By becoming a Republican,

Attributed to Winston Churchill and others... I pharaphrase “Any 20 year-old who isn't a liberal doesn't have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn't a conservative doesn't have a brain.”
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This from Arlo's Wiki page:
Politics Guthrie endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for the 2008 Republican Party nomination. He said, "I love this guy. Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of the United States had he been there. I'm with him, because he seems to be the only candidate who actually believes it has as much relevance today as it did a couple of hundred years ago. I look forward to the day when we can work out the differences we have with the same revolutionary vision and enthusiasm that is our American legacy." [5] He told the New York Times Magazine that he is a Republican because, "We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition."[6]
Seems as good a reason as any, and better than most, to join a clique.
R
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Robatoy wrote:

[...]
I was around during the '60s and I have no idea what you're talking about. 'Course I was taking ROTC, then worked for Goldwater, and so forth.
As I matured, I put away the foolish ideals of youth and became a conservative.
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... , the foolish ideal of middle age ...
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How in the hell are we to know if we are in the middle right now? When we know for sure it is too late.
wrote:

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" You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant, cepten Alice" Joe G
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