YOU CAN GET ANYTHING YOU WANT

 

One of the main attributes of any good hippie is buying into the concept of non conformity. We were down with counterculture, down with breaking traditions, down with zippers, free love, and expensive weed. Tha said, many of us did indeed hold on too, and some of us still do hold onto a Hippie Tradition every November. Alice’s Restaurant is our beloved Hippie tradition and just about anywhere you go in the country you can find a radio station playing Alice’s Restaurant Massacree at 12 Noon on Thanksgiving day. It’s written and sung by Arlo Guthrie based on a true story about a hippie commune celebrating love and life on Thanksgiving Day along the hilarity and banality of events that followed. With a touch of creative license Arlo lays down a folk song with a tale guaranteed to make every true hippie smile. The tune lasts for 18 and a half minutes but for us aging rebels it goes way deeper than just a funny song, it’s a memory of an era. A golden memory. I know this story is very similar to many other potheads of my era but this is how the tradition I still uphold began for me….

As soon as I turned 18 I made good on my threat to move out of my parents house so I wouldn’t have to follow all the ridiculous rules while I was “Under our roof” in the authoritarian gospel according to Dad. So now I’m on my own in a shitty basement apartment in Kings Park with my hair no longer an issue to deal with on an hourly basis. Finally able to indulge in herbal activities without needing to be by an open window while burning incense. But I still had to go to Thanksgiving dinner at home because I didn’t move far enough away, and you just couldn’t say no to Mom. I was at the age where family get togethers were more of a torture once you’re no longer sitting at the kids table. That didn’t mean I had to go there unenhanced.

I invited my closest friends over for a pre T-day dinner soiree to get us all in the right frame mind to combat the inevitable bevy of put downs and why can‘t you‘s. So I told them to come on over around 11,we’ll smoke a few bowls and listen to Alice’s Restaurant on the radio. That’s how I sold it and the response was overwhelming. Eight of my closest friends stopped by and each had their own version of temperament enhancing herb. So we sat in the living room of my basement apartment, which of course was also my bedroom, rumpus room, den, and dining room. We sat around on milk crates and bean bag cushions passing chamber pipes, chillums, sticks of Thai, and even a well weathered meerschaum pipe. We were all feeling exceptionally good and listened to Alice’s Restaurant on our rock station. As usual it had us all laughing and grooving without any thoughts to what lay ahead with the family function. Each of us had reasons to not want to go to our homes for thanksgiving, most because we would get the litany of when are you gonna cut your hair?, what college are you going to?, why do you dress like that?, you call that music?, anything to put us down in front of the family. Not wanting to make the convergence into fake family fun all of my friends stayed until 2 o’clock and left my humble basement room feeling like we could take anything our families had to give. Although none of us were truly sure our feet were on the ground we trudged of with our smiles surgically implanted on our faces laughing for no reason whatsoever. As each person left we swore to do it again next year, same time.

Thanksgiving dinners became so much more bearable that day and the tradition continued the following year. By year three, two of the group had moved away, I had moved four towns away, and life began to just sort of happen. By year four it was two friends, each of us with our girlfriends, and after five years all of us had gone our separate ways but promised to keep up the tradition wherever we were. This year at least two of our original group have passed away, another two are just missing by choice, one doesn’t speak with me anymore, and of the other three I’m still in touch with one thanks to Facebook. Every year since I have listened to a radio at noon wherever I am and reflected on the friendships both lost and sustained and have found other friends who do the same thing. These days I no longer reflect on the eight revelers in particular, but all my friends and acquaintances from that era, some whom I have reconnected with on social media, some better left in my past, and all those who have passed.

So every year, I celebrate the epoch of the best people that ever lived, my hippie friends from the early chapters of my life, new hippie friends who lived through similar times, and other people who just love to hear Alices Restaurant each Thanksgiving. That’s what I‘m thankful for… Friendships, love, and a shared desire for peace and equality . My computer will be streaming Alices tomorrow at noon on Q104.3… Tune in and Turn on!! Have a fantastic Thanksgiving Day…. Live and Love in Peace

The Birth Of A Hippie Thanksgiving Tradition

rest

If you say Alice’s Restaurant to an old school hippie around Thanksgiving you will most likely elicit a huge smile and happy reflective eyes. Why? Alice’s Restaurant is a Hippie tradition, and just about anywhere you go in the country you can find a radio station playing Alice’s Restaurant Massacree at 12 Noon on Thanksgiving day. It’s a song by Arlo Guthrie based on a true story about a hippie commune celebrating love and life on that day and the hilarity and banality of events after it to an at the time unpopular group of peace loving peoples called hippies. It’s sung by Mr. Guthrie in his trademark style, with a monologue center guaranteed to bring tears of laughter to all true hippies. The tune lasts for 18 and a half minutes and for many of us it goes way deeper than just a tune on a day, it’s a memory of an era. A golden memory. Many others have a tale similar to mine so lets just reflect on my first epiphany on how much this song really means.

As soon as I turned 18 I made good on my threat to move out of my parents house so I wouldn’t have to follow all the ridiculous rules while I was “Under my roof” in the authoritarian gospel according to Dad. So now I’m on my own, my hair is not an issue under my roof, and its okay to indulge in activities that I had to do by an open window while burning incense. But I still had to go to Thanksgiving dinner at home because I didn’t move far enough away, and you just couldn’t say no to Mom. I was at the age where family get togethers were more of a torture once you’re no longer sitting at the kids table. That didn’t mean I had to go there unprepared.

I invited my best friends over for a pre T-day dinner soiree to get us all in the right frame mind to combat the inevitable bevy of put downs. So I told some friends to come on over around 11,we’ll smoke a few bowls and listen to Alice’s Restaurant. That’s how I sold it and the response was overwhelming. Eight of my closest friends stopped by and each had their own version of temperament enhancing herb. So we sat in the living room of my basement apartment, which of course was also my bedroom, rumpus room, den, and dining room. We sat around on milk crates and bean bag cushions passing chamber pipes, chillums, sticks of Thai, and even a well weathered meerschaum pipe. We were all feeling exceptionally good and listened to Alice’s Restaurant on our rock station. As usual it had us all laughing and grooving without any thoughts to what lay ahead with the family function. Each of us had reasons to not want to go to our homes for thanksgiving, most because we would get the litany of when are you gonna cut your hair?, what college are you going to?, why do you dress like that?, you call that music?, anything to put us down in front of the family. Not wanting to make the convergence into fake family fun all of my friends stayed until 2 o’clock and left my humble basement room feeling like we could take anything our families had to give. As each person left we swore to do it again next year, same time.

Thanksgiving dinners became so much more bearable that day and the tradition continued the following year. By year three, two of the group had moved away, I had moved four towns away, and life began to just sort of happen. By year four it was two friends, each of us with our girlfriends, and after five years all of us had gone our separate ways but promised to keep up the tradition wherever we were. This year two of our original group have passed away, two are just missing without staying in touch, one doesn’t speak with me anymore, and of the other three I am still in touch with one, but every year since then I have listened to a radio at noon wherever I was and reflected on my eight friends. These days I no longer reflect on the eight revelers in particular, but all my friends and acquaintances from that era, many whom I have reconnected with on social media. So every year, I celebrate the epoch of the best people that ever lived, my hippie friends from the early chapters of my life. My radio is set, and today the tradition will continue. Peace

Thanksgiving Without Mom

tday

The night before Thanksgiving my phone broke the rhythm of the stereo by ringing out of tune at eight o’clock in the evening. The call was for me which in and of itself was unusual, but even more unusual was it was my Dad calling. Dad now lived alone in the big house we grew up in, my four brother and two sisters all having moved out starting our own families and seldom made the effort to call. Mom had passed away just last January and my Pops was a bit lost and confused. On top of coping without his soul partner and the foundation of our family this was the first thanksgiving for us without Mom. Dad wanted everything to be like a normal holiday gathering of the family so he had invited me and my family, two of my brothers and two sisters and their families over for the big dinner. We all agreed it would be the best thing for him and we all accepted, but his phone call had a somewhat ominous tone about at. “Hey kiddo, I know your coming over for thanksgiving dinner tomorrow but I was wondering if you could come over early and sort of help me get dinner together. Its our first dinner since your Moms gone and to be honest I have no idea how she did it or what to do.” I really should have known this would happen, me being a chef and Dad now on a strict diet of microwaveable dinners and can cuisine. “Of course Pops, how big is the bird?” I needed to know what I was up against, “I got a thirty pounder for everyone, it barely fit in the freezer.” He sounded proud but I was still unsure of what he meant exactly by ’help’. More like ’can you come over and make thanksgiving dinner?’ which was cool, I sure knew my way around a kitchen “Okay pops, you have it in the sink of the fridge?” The silence should have alerted me but back in those days I was slower to catch on due to my indulgence of herbal accoutrements if you catch my drift. “Well, ah, no son, its still in the freezer. Is that a problem?” Problem? Oh no, raw frozen turkey is how everybody does it! This time it was my turn to create an uncomfortable silence while I weighed options. Think hard buddy, what to do? “Okay listen Dad, put the turkey in the sink right now, leave it there overnight and I’ll be over first thing in the morning.” Looks like no “March of The Wooden Soldiers” for me this year.

I got up extra early because I was expecting other disasters to appear not knowing what my father had in store for me. Within minutes of being there I was not disappointed as the first disaster reared its ugly turkey neck. Still ¾ frozen I began running water over the cryo-packed turkey and turned to my father. The look on his face could best be described as a combo of bewilderment and confusion, “Okay, what else do we have for dinner Pops?” Mr. Bewildered looked at me sheepishly and by way of firm reply said, “Well, I have a bag of frozen onions and a box of frozen baked stuffed potatoes……Can you use that?” I thought about saying in my typically sarcastic tone, “Oh perfect old man, the fourteen of us can share two potatoes while we dine on Butterball popsickles” but a wave of sadness fell across me. Here was my old man, a dude who never spent a day behind the stove, a man whose cooking talents are limited to a few things on the grill in summer, this lonely man just wants to have his family over for Thanksgiving like we did when his wife, our Mom, was alive. To top it off, he was depending on me, probably his most undependable child. The veritable black sheep of the family, the one who Mom complained always “Danced to the beat of your own drum” the rebellious name ruining prodigal son was being asked to save the family celebration.

“Say Pops, why don’t you go clean up the living room and dining room or something and I’ll take care of dinner. I’ll call Jake (not the State farm guy, my next oldest brother) and together he and I will create a Thanksgiving dinner Mom would be proud of.” I know he’ll never admit this but he turned away quickly so I wouldn’t see the tear of part pride for his son and part profound sadness from missing his lifer partner. No sooner did he leave the kitchen I opened the window, lit a joint, and called Jake. “Jake, buddy, you gotta come over here quick man, we got to shop and cook the turkey dinner for tonight.” I could tell the silence was a quick option weighing silence combined with a how can I get out of this silence so I sweetened the pot. Literally. “Look dude, I got some primo gold weed here, we’ll puff a few on the way to the store then some more once we start cooking.” Successful arm twisting worked and he was on his way over.

Now I am a trained chef, and I know it goes against common protocol, but I added more hot to the running water, and took the bird out of the wrapper and set it up so the water ran directly into the cavity. Jake honked his horn and I jumped in his car and lit another joint. By the time we got to the grocery store we were laughing like friggen banshees. We tore through the store and filled our cart up with red bliss potatoes, fresh asparagus, corn, carrots, and broccoli, sweet potatoes, stuffing mix, and all the accoutrements needed for a good chef created T day dinner. Also in our cart was a box of ring dings, oreo cookies, devil dogs, and chips and dip, proving once again the theory that one should never shop for food after smoking pot. But, Hell, what’s done is done, so we paid and split.

By the time we got back to Dads, the turkey was close enough to at least remove the gizzards and neck and season the bird. A bunch of veggie trimmings in a roaster and first things first the turkey went in the oven. So we did the most natural thing. We lit another joint and smoked it blowing the smoke out the window. Just like old times when we both lived under their roof blowing it out the window while burning incense as a cover. The next few hours Jake and I had a blast, puffing joints, cooking together, and laughing our asses off. Well not completely off, more like halfway off.

By three in the afternoon Dad finally peeked his head in the kitchen to see where we were. “Should I set the table like Mom used to do, so we can have our Thanksgiving dinner just they way she made it?” I thought for a moment, then replied, “No Dad, the truth is no one will ever be able to make dinner the way Mom did, no one could come close. So how about this, a new tradition. I’m gonna make this a Thanksgiving buffet, put all the food on the dinner table and we can all make our plates and eat in the living room. I could never compete with how much Mom put into dinner.” The tear returned, this time he didn’t hide it but wiped it away, “I love you guys so much, this is gonna be the best Thanksgiving possible.” He left, Jake and I looked at each other and the teardrop must have been infectious because we had each developed one too.

When the time came I set a carving station up for Dad, with turkey, vermouth gravy, and pumpernickel artichoke stuffing, then arranged everything else around the table. Traditional sweet potatoes, red bliss mashed potatoes with four cheese, steamed broccoli and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, caramelized pearl onion, green beans almandine, fresh corn shaved off the cob and tossed in buerre noir, and baby carrots braised in maple syrup. And I’ll tell you this, the Thanksgiving dinners my Mom made were jam packed with love and hard work and each of us always appreciated what she accomplished, ans I couldn’t have done it on my own the way she always had, and it certainly did not have come close to what Mom would have made, but it was one tasty damn meal and there was all the love at the house we all needed.

Seasons Greed-ing’s

turk

No Virginia, There is no more miracle on 34th street

Thanksgiving is this Thursday and there are some who are seriously in need of your help this year. The disenfranchised franchises of retail stores. Due to “calendar irregularities” the shopping season is six days shorter than usual which may force several CEO’s of major retail stores to cut back on their caviar this year, or worse, be forced to get their children practical gifts this holiday season. But that’s not what worries them most, they’re real concern is about us, the hard working shopping public. That’s why these stores, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, JC Penny (they are personally responsible for keeping the JC in Jesus Christ-mas),K-Mart, Target, Old Navy, Kohls, and Macy’s will have someone ready to wait on you in their stores Thursday. I know I mentioned Macy’s twice but their underpaid accountants project that the stores profits may sink below 40% this year meaning its gains may be less than 6 ½ billion by years end. So taking into account that combined with their concern about you and your family get to-gethers I felt they deserve extra mention. Anyway, I’m asking you to show your support for these struggling companies who are so desperate they are willing to force their low level underpaid staff to get off their lazy asses and get into work on a family holiday. Go shop, to Hell with family. Thank you CEO’s, your generosity borders on patriotic.

So please don’t make plans to stay at home with your family this Thanksgiving, help the CEO’ sit proud in their boardrooms. Open your hearts and your wallets and pull out your credit cards and spend the day (as well as all the money you have, plus some you don’t have yet) the way the Pilgrims would have if they hadn’t been so busy sharing food with Americans. Maybe they did, maybe history is wrong and it wasn’t a feast but a flea market where the Native Americans traded the foods they farmed and the game they slaughtered for whatever the Pilgrims put up for sale. Designer feather headdresses at Gimme-Mart, Cooking pots from The Cellar at Mayflower Stores, trinkets from WM Penn-iless, or the latest in colonial technology from Pilgrims Plug In. So maybe these generous companies aren’t just trying to make huge profits on the backs of their minimum wage employees, maybe they are merely celebrating in the true spirit of Thanksgiving by opening their stores the way the Pilgrims did for the natives. So be patriotic, forgo family fun, get out to the stores and spend spend spend. Not spend time with family, spend your money so the CEO’s can comfortably spend the day with their families, with caviar, extravagant gifts and all. You can get the whole family together for a day of love and sharing any time, but the sales only last for a limited time. While supply last. I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be the one to deprive big business of an opportunity to make a few million in profit, that’s downright inhumane. To hell with family, get out there and do the right thing, shop till you drop.

This year we all have a chance to make a difference and get a good jump on our holiday shopping instead of connecting with the ones we love. Be thankful? For what, we deserve what we get! Sure there are thousands of our fellow American who are homeless and starving but people will always go hungry in our country, that’s just how we roll. Besides, I have no clue what their circumstances are but they no doubt brought it on themselves by being lazy waiting for handouts. Screw them, they can have all the empty cardboard boxes after Christmas. Or you can be one of those liberal so good protesters who vow they won’t shop this Thanksgiving day because they’re outraged at the way the company shows distain to the lower classes. Truth is the companies don’t give a shit about the protests, they know your as addicted to spending money as they are addicted to stockpiling it. Their focus groups show we’ll just spend the money in their store on another day and within three years time we will all be so used to stores opening on Thanksgiving the magic behind the holiday will fall prey to commercialism just like Christmas has. By this time three years from now the day will become juts another holiday we can stretch into a 5 ay weekend to get drunk, watch football, and go shopping, because we all know there aren’t enough Sundays to do that in regular football season…

As for me, I‘m going to spend the day as I usually do, inviting family and friends over for a fanfuukkentastic meal, awesome wine and beer, and great conversations. At 12 noon I will stop everything for a half hour while I listen to Alice’s Restaurant Massacre, a hippie tradition I have held up since 1971, and reflect on all the wonderful people that have had passed through my life. If you shopping is part of your tradition go for it, its your option, but consider first to take one moment in time, one day of the year in which no one gives a shit about politics, religion, or any other distractions that seem to rule our lives and put all the garbage aside to appreciate how much we love, and how much we are loved. Love, Peace, and Hope. You can’t find that on sale anywhere but if you really want it anyone can afford it ….PEACE