Coming into Los Angeles | Arlo Guthrie

©2023 michael raven

Hip woman walkin' on the movin' floor
Trippin' on the escalator
There's a man in the line and she's blowin' his mind
Thinkin' that he's already made her

My bit last night about “radical kindness” in the manner of Alice’s Restaurant got me thinking about Arlo Guthrie and I had to give a couple songs a spin on the streaming service just for smiles.

In case you are wondering what I exactly meant by that in my piece, it comes from this bit of lyrics on Alice’s Restaurant Thanksgiving Day Massacree at the end of the song:

…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 singing 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 singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may think it’s a Movement.

And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement.

Arlo Guthrie

Take that, except with the idea of being “radically kind”. Can you imagine fifty people practicing, unconditional radical kindness. My, that would be a total guerilla kind of approach towards the rudeness out there.

They might even join in…

I went through my hippie phase in the late eighties. Picked up a beat-to-hell acoustic guitar, taught myself how to play (and it shows), wore army greens and paisley with my hair most of the way down my back. I drank occasionally, maybe a little weed — but this was the time before I started drinking heavily. Paganism was relatively a new scene — those practicing in Mpls since the early 70s might disagree, but it was still in the infant stages if everyone’s being honest — and a lot of it was very hippie- and granola-crunching- flavored paganism. So I was hanging with the witches and druids, playing guitar badly on the street corner for smokes and change, looking more strung out than I really was…

And one of the early songs I actually did moderately well in spite of being a pretty awful guitarist was Coming into Los Angeles. I wanted to do Alice’s Restaurant, but didn’t have the skill or patience, so it was this song, along with a bunch of Neil Young tunes, my version of She Moved Through the Fair, some Bowie, Under the Milky Way, No New Tale to Tell, and a touch of Wonder Stuff (I know, strange mix) that I had in my busking repertoire.

And when the war came, well, I was ever so popular [/sarcasm] with the ROTC boys by going to peace protests on campus and, when they called me a long-haired commie faggot, I’d blow them kisses and hand out flowers. Protest marshals always grabbed me by my long hair and tossed me to the back to protect me from a royal ass-beatdown, so I would dance with the drummers playing Middle Eastern beats while our coin belt girdles jangled in the open air. Or maybe one of the local tribal drummers would gather their big drum and beat on it.

I don’t recall why I cut my hair and tried to be a normie. I think it might have been that I was tired of the constant verbal abuse dished out by what was a fairly conservative culture at the time. In fact, after the garage punk, then goth, then hippie… It might have gotten real old by the early 90s.

Or it might have been being forced back to the States because immigration didn’t like how I looked when I tried to travel abroad.

Whatever the reason, I’m growing it back. At least for now. It’s lasted longer than other attempts, maybe because I largely work from home.

Don't touch my bags if you please, mister customs man...

4 thoughts on “Coming into Los Angeles | Arlo Guthrie

    1. Yeah. By the mid 90s it wasn’t so radical to be a longhair, as I recall, what with grunge hitting the fashion scene and all, and metal becoming mainstream instead of an easy satanic panic target. Raves were the thing that made parents nervous by the early 90s.

      I was refused an application at a clothing store in 86 because I was too far ahead of the fashion curve. Lol. Five years later, what I wore that day had become mainstream. It was a funny period.

      Liked by 1 person

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