Posts Tagged With: hippie

You Can Get Anything You Want . . .

. . . at Alice’s Restaurant. The original restaurant under Alice’s name is long since gone, but the song that made Arlo Guthrie famous in the mid-1960’s is still a satisfying entree. All 18 1/2 minutes of it. It’s actually not a song but a funny, rambling monologue that’s clever satire and wry war protest laced with an irresistible chorus that will lodge itself in the back of your mind and stay there for days.

And it’s a true story. Or at least, as Hollywood might put it, based on true events. “Alice’s Restaurant” starts with Thanksgiving dinner at Alice’s home in a remodeled church in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, wanders off to an escapade of illegal garbage dumping, meanders through a court hearing with “8 x 10 color glossy photographs” of the evidence and a judge who is blind, and ends up with a draft physical where Arlo, with his conviction for littering, is relegated to the “Group W bench” with the other undesirables rejected for military service because of their criminal records.

A brief digression: Until recently the treasurer’s office was on the second floor of our county’s elegant old courthouse building. You could walk up the sweeping, curved marble staircase on either the right or the left side—not without a passing thought of Scarlett O’Hara in a ball gown—to get to the open hallway in front of the office. Opposite the service windows were two long wooden benches like church pews where you could sit while waiting in line to get your license plates or pay your property taxes. As the person at the end of the bench was called up to one of the windows, everyone in line would slide to the right. The benches had to be the most thoroughly polished pieces of furniture in Pennington County.

Once, when it was my turn at the window, I told the clerk I always thought of the waiting line as the “Group W bench.” He was a man about my age; I didn’t have to explain the reference.

Though I wore my hair long and straight and appliqued more than one heart-shaped patch onto more than one pair of bellbottoms, I was never a hippie. I did not protest the Viet Nam War. The only college building I ever occupied was my dorm. I never participated in a sit-in, a love-in, or a be-in. The only mood-altering plant substances that have ever passed my lips are coffee and chocolate.

But I loved the irony and humor of “Alice’s Restaurant.” Still do, actually.

So I was pleased—at first—to see a news item this week announcing a new tour by Arlo Guthrie. He looked good in the accompanying photo, quite familiar in a cowboy hat with his curly hair flowing past his shoulders. It was a bit disturbing to note that the hair was white. The real distress came, however, when I read the full article. This tour is to celebrate the anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant.”

The 50th anniversary.

Apparently, you can still get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant. You just have to order it off the senior menu.

Categories: Remembering When | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Overdoing the 60’s

It's a good thing that old peace medallion necklace is still in the bottom of my jewelry box somewhere. I might want it any day now.

This past week I had one of "those" birthdays. As one of my sisters delicately phrased it, "one that ends with a zero." There's nothing wrong with the zero—it's that six in front of it that's the problem.

At least it was until a couple days ago, when I was hiking with a couple of my grandkids and had a life-transforming revelation along the trail to Harney Peak. I realized I've been given a unique opportunity. I have a second chance to experience the 60's.

There's the joke about, "If you can remember the 60's, you didn't fully experience them." That would be me. I lived through that decade with modesty, sobriety, restraint, and high grades. I didn't ingest or smoke any strange substances. I went to class regularly. The only time I attended a campus protest, I wandered in by accident. I didn't burn any bras (not that anyone would have noticed) and never even ironed my hair.

Now, I get to do the 60's over again. It's the perfect opportunity to try some of the things I missed the first time.

Like drugs. Well, maybe not so much. By the time I take my daily multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin D, fish oil, and estrogen, the last thing I'm interested in is another pill to pop. I suppose I could try smoking my new hemp Tilley hat, but after that whole skin cancer on the nose experience last year, I need the sun protection more than the high.

Peace? I'm all for it. Just give me a universal jamming device to shut down all those obnoxious television sets in waiting rooms, bass-thumping speakers that damage the eardrums of people three cars over, and cell phones being shouted into by anyone in a public place. I'd be glad to give that kind of peace a chance.

Fashion? This one is too easy. The 60's are so In right now, in a retro sort of way. Never mind that anyone old enough to remember a fashion from its first incarnation shouldn't wear it the second time around. Bellbottoms? Absolutely. So what if the bell is a little rounder and swings a little lower than it used to. Love beads? Well, maybe; are love handles close enough? Long, beautiful hair? Never mind; I don't even want to talk about it.

Sit-ins? Tell me where and when, and I'll be there. I am an expert sitter. I'm willing to sit anywhere, anytime, for hours. Just as long as I have an ebook reader, an Internet connection, and a nice comfortable chair.

Free love? Absolutely. The more the merrier. I'll bring all my friends. Maybe the grandkids, too. What? Oh, wait. I thought you said "free lunch." Never mind.

Questioning authority? Challenging the establishment? Back then, I was too busy being well-behaved to get involved with any of that hippie change-the-world idealism. Now? I've learned just how important that idealism can be—especially when it's combined with some life experience. This time through, no more little miss nice girl. I am grandma; hear me roar.

A 60's do-over. I can't wait.

But in case anyone cares, let me add just one reassuring note. I promise I will never "let it all hang out."

Categories: Just For Fun | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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