Monday, November 27, 2006

"You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant"

(In which we conclude the song and if there's any leftover turkey still lying around your house, you might think about moving it on.)

I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you 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 your in a situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in 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 singin 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 singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's 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 come's 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


There was Thanksgiving 2005, of course, which saw me back at the family table and mumbling through a prayer vague enough to exasperate a Unitarian. Or Thanksgiving 2003, when President Bush got on a plane of his own and presented a plastic turkey to the (vetted if not yet veteraned) troops in Baghdad. Which reminds me yet again that every single holiday under his watch has been a wartime holiday. There was Thanksgiving 2001, where the collective determination of the nation could have pulled every balloon in the Macy's parade by willpower alone and the commercial for the USPS featuring Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" and a montage of the ordinary postal workers of the nation had me crying through three balloon characters and a marching band. That year is now bookended with this year's Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans.

There was this Thanksgiving, which saw me cooking pies and making the turkey gravy from scratch over at my brother-in-law's where we all played host to the three members of Josh Lederman y Los Diablos, the visiting Boston band on its first-ever west coast tour. Over turkey, I discussed the latest project offered to me by Culann's Hounds. "They want to do some Bay Area Celtic Music showcase," I said. Non-committal grunts from the boys reaching for seconds. "But I've been thinking." Indeed, I was thinking right there out loud, "I've been thinking more like a whole American roots thing. Inclusive. You could get a number of the Bay Area scenes going with that." Rick, the drummer, brightened. "Oh YEAH, that's a good idea!" And full-mouthed but still quite enthusiastic agreement from the table. So that concluded the market research on the feasibility of a Bay Area Folk Punk-Roots Festival and the more I think about it the more I like it. It can also be a benefit for the National Veterans Foundation, which Culann's Hounds has already done some community work for as well. There could be a whole day of ukulele jamming, some of the bluegrass, some klezmer. And who knows what the kids are up to on Grant Street?

I also sent around the bit of Alice's Restaurant quoted above to my lit-group list. One of them wrote back:

I'm sure you know there really was an Alice's restaurant, a coffee shop in Stockbridge, Mass., which is a beautiful town next to the one I grew up in in the Berkshires. The basement bar in the Red Lion Inn, a 200 year old big, wonderful inn, is still there, but no longer features Arlo singing, as it did when I hung out there in the 60s. Alice's was right around the corner, in what is a very small, picturesque New England town. Because of the number of colleges, prep schools, writers, poets and estates, the Vietnam War was heavily protested way out there in the woods, as the Bostonians refer to it and the hippie movement hit it in full force far quicker than the Boston area, which eventually came around.

Stockbridge looks like a movie set to this day, although Norman Rockwell's small house gallery has moved to a large estate overlooks a large pond and includes a barn workshop for artists, a house for fundraisers and a museum designed to feature all of his work in perfect style. Most of those covers for Post were 6 ft. x 6 ft. paintings. Some of them are breathtaking - such as the Thanksgiving one, the moon walk, the brotherhood faces - some are heartwarming and some are quite humorous.

Thank you for this message. Obviously it hit a cord with me, a jog down memory lane, knowing that we need this sentiment today. My son and I were talking about this yesterday. His generation didn't do it (35 yrs. old), his sister's didn't (30 yrs.), but it's time for another 60s type thing to happen to slow down everyone's march for things bigger and better. Much as they seem like babies now that I'm over 50, I realize it does take energy and idealism of the very young, the 20 -25, those of college age, to start a movement, then the older join in. While the anti-war started the 60s movement, it was carried out via changes in education, psychology, workplaces, whole communities - a slow down and smell the flowers. 'Course, once the pendulum starts to swing, it seems to go way too far, and needs to head back a bit, but heads back too far also. Will we ever get it right?!

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