Thursday, November 17, 2016

ARLO, ALICE,AUTUMN, AND A THANKSGIVING DINNER 1965, 20-year-old Arlo Guthrie was convicted of littering in the Berkshire 
   County town of Stockbridge, and the song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" was born.
The son of legendary musician Woody Guthrie, Arlo and a friend were spending 
Thanksgiving with Alice and Ray Brock at the couple's home in a former church. 
Alice asked the boys to take a load of trash to the town dump. When they arrived, 
they found that the dump was closed, so they threw the trash down a nearby 
hillside. Guthrie turned the story of their subsequent arrest and court appearance 
into a best-selling record. Thirty years later, he returned to the Berkshires. He 
purchased the former church building and converted it into an interfaith spiritual 
and social service center.The story of "Alice's Restaurant" begins and ends at a church in Great BarringtonMassachusetts. By the 1960s, the small, pine Gothic Revival building had lost its 
congregation. The Episcopal diocese put the building up for sale, and in 1964, 
Alice and Ray Brock purchased it. After a formal de-consecration ceremony, the 
young couple moved in.e Brocks were a creative and charismatic pair who had been influenced by Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat Generation. Ray was an architect and 
woodworker, Alice a painter and designer. Both worked at a private school in 
nearby Stockbridge. They transformed the former church into a quirky but welcoming 
place where their students and other young people could find refuge from 
"establishment pressures," especially the Vietnam War and the draft.
Ray and Alice served as surrogate parents for the young women and men who camped 
out, sometimes for weeks at a time, at the church. The neighbors were not happy 
about the arrangement. They viewed the Brocks and their guests as drug-using, 
long-haired hippies. Agitated residents honked their car horns and yelled as they
drove past; they wrote letters to the editor protesting the presence in their community of what they called a "beatnik commune."It was in this context that police officer Bill Obanhein reacted so strongly when the church group was implicated in the Thanksgiving trash dump. That evening, the 
Brocks received a call from Obanhein. He had spent "two very unpleasant hours
going through the debris until he found an envelope with the Brocks' name. Alice 
confirmed that Arlo and his friend were the culprits. Obanhein summoned the boys \
to the police station."Officer Obie" later admitted that he had no sympathy for longhaired,
nonconformist teenagers, although he conceded that they were basically "good 
kids." He decided to give them a scare and make an example of them so that the 
town would have no more trouble with hippies. He arrested the pair and put them in 
a jail cell until a furious Alice Brock bailed them out. Two days later, they
appeared before a blind judge and his Seeing Eye dog, who "viewed" Obanhein's 
photo evidence of the trash dumping and convicted the two young men of littering
He fined them $25 each and ordered them to clean up the trash.After paying the fine and completing the cleanup, Arlo Guthrie began coposingwhat would take up one entire side of his first album. Eventually 18 minutes long, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" evolved slowly over the next two years. The firstverses written recounted the events of Thanksgiving 1965. Later Arlo added lyrics
critical of the Vietnam War. When Alice Brock opened a restaurant in Stockbridge
in early 1969, the song found its refrain, "You can get anything you want at 
Alice's Restaurant." Then, finally, there was the draft. Called before his New 
York City draft board for a hearing on his fitness for military service, Arlo
faced a final question: "Have you ever been arrested?" In the song, his conviction for
 littering saves Arlo Guthrie from the draft. In reality he was classified 1A, but his lottery number never came up.When director Arthur Penn made a movie based on the song in 1968, he filmed on
location at the former church; a number of the participants played themselves.
Opening in the summer of 1968, one week after Woodstock, it was hailed as "one of 
the best films about young people ever made." The locals were not happy to see 
their town portrayed as a hippie haven, but many of them did enjoy being in the
movie. Both Arlo and "Officer Obie" played themselvesOver the years, many people made pilgrimages to the building they called "Alice's church." In 1990 one of those pilgrims was Arlo Guthrie. To Guthrie, the communitythat had gathered there in the 1960s was not the failed utopia depicted in the movie but a place that nurtured enduring relationships. As he gazed through the 
windows into the empty building, he decided that there was still a spiritual 
presence there. As Alice Brock once said, "They had a ceremony to take God out of 
the church before we moved in, as though you can pick God up and place him here or 
there. I don't feel like the church was deconsecrated. It was always a holy place."
Over the next five years, Arlo Guthrie raised funds to purchase the building as a 
home for the Guthrie Center and Guthrie Foundation, a nonprofit interfaith 
organization, which brings together individuals for spiritual activities as well

01  turkey in the straw - ewan dobson
02 100'000 turkeys - chris t t
03 be thankful for what you got - arthur lee & love
04 the autumn stone - small faces
05 autumn afternoon - stone ponys
06 autumn too long - bob & kit
07 forever autumn - moody blues
08 late november - sandy denny
09 now be thankful - fairport convention
10 i thank you - sam & dave
11 november night - peter fonda
12 thankful - joe cocker
13 thank you  - sly & the family stone
14 thankful heart - petra
15 autumn almanac - kinks
16 autumn wind - delicate balance
17 thanksgiving day - ray davies
18 thanksgiving filler - drive- by truckers
19 thanks - james gang
20 the thanksgiving prayer - johnny cash
21 late november - pavlov's dog
22 thank you - led zeppelin
23 thankful - caveman
24 alice's restaurant massacre - arlo guthrie


Andy Swapp said...

Wonderful stuff and I may not understand much about Thanksgiving but 'Alice's Restaurant' meant a great deal when it came out over here in the UK and I bought every Arlo disc subsequently. This is a treat and more than a mouthful! Thanks

larry said...

For next year´s comp I suggest:Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

larry said...

I stand corrected---its already there- said...

Thanks for Arlo. It's just not Thanksgiving until "I want to kill". <3


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