Arlo Who?

When I turned 30 years old, old woman that I was, I had a mind to treat myself to a fancy haircut of fancy proportions.  After all, I was surely deserving of such a fine treat, seeing as how I was a fine, upstanding member of a fine, upstanding society complete with a fine, upstanding career and a fine sort of marriage if you didn’t look too closely.

So I moseyed on over to a fancy local salon full of handsome young people wielding scissors and combs and all sorts of instruments of beautification.  These groovy youngsters washed their subjects’ fine hair in bubbles of water and they utilized various electrical appliances and chemical accouterments to shape and pull and shear and blow and inflict bouncing, burning curls onto the locks of fancy, high-paying customers such as myself.

I walked right in and settled on down into the whirly-twirly chair of a handsome young man who had as distinctive a look of familiarity as ever I had seen.  This handsome young man twirled my chair around to face his mirrored glass wall surrounded by twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures of fancy hair-do’s.  He proceeded to wield his scissors and combs and bubbles and blows until I looked like no one remotely recognizable.

And that is when I recognized him.

I said, “You look just like Arlo!”

With as blank a face as ever I had seen, he said, “Arlo who?”  He continued to snip-snip-snip at my limpy-skimpy, old-lady locks.

And I said, “Why, Arlo Guthrie, of course!  Don’t you know who that is?”

“Never heard of him.”  Thud.

Thud… snip-snip….  Thud… blooowwwww… sounded the silence as I took a nosedive down the rabbit hole known previously and remotely as the generation gap, fancy head of hair leading the way, all while twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures of fancy hair-do’s helplessly looked on.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

That was nearly 30 years ago.  It was the first time in my life that I knew what it felt like to be old.  Or, at least, older.  Or, at the very least, growing older.

I was reminded of all this the other night when I caught Tavis Smiley’s interview with a nearly 70-year old Arlo Guthrie on PBS.  Arlo looked like Santa Claus after half a century of smoking weed.  I don’t know why it comes as such a shock when I see a famous person that I haven’t seen in quite a while and discover that they have aged.  It feels personal.  How dare they succumb to the vagaries and ravages of time?  Oh, heavens-to-Betsy, has that happened to me, too?  “Yes, dear,” responds the little voice in my head, calmly primping her own imaginary hair-do.

But then I stopped obsessing, quieted down, and opened up.  I listened.  I learned.  And I enjoyed a trip to the past where I found hope for the future.  Mr. Smiley did a wonderful interview, and Arlo charmed.

Arlo recounted what it was like growing up as Woody Guthrie’s son.  Remember Woody?  In the United States of America, Woody’s musical and poetic efforts on behalf of the downtrodden and against war earned him the label of communist.  Apparently he was a sympathizer, but never a member.  In the 1940s, Woody was part of the Almanac Singers, where a long friendship and collaboration began with Pete Seeger (another American folk singer and social activist–for any too young to know–and an actual member of the Communist Party for a time, for which he paid dearly).

Arlo, born in 1947, spent his formative years absorbing the music, poetry, politics, and drama of his surroundings.  And in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, he first performed what would become probably his most noteworthy, long-lived, far-reaching, heart-stirring, laugh-inducing musical opus, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”  His father, Woody, was blessed to hear the demo copy shortly before he died.

That was 50 years ago.  Imagine that.

Arlo went on to enjoy his own long friendship with Pete Seeger.  My favorite part of Mr. Smiley’s interview was when Arlo talked about walking with Mr. Seeger, then in his early 90’s, 30 blocks through New York City to join Occupy Wall Street demonstrators at Columbus Circle on a cold October night in 2011.  There they found young people singing snippets of old protest songs, switching from one song to another before finishing any simply because they didn’t know all of the words.  Pete took out his banjo and he and Arlo led the night-time gathering in song.  Teaching words.  Sharing stories.  Crafting connections through the power and magic of song.

When you get old enough, you can be cool again.  As long as you have stayed true (or come back to your truth–it is, after all, so easy to become separated).  True to yourself, your beliefs, your ideals.  True about your past and humble in the face of your future.  And, most importantly, honest with those who come after.  After all, it is a very particular gift to have traveled your road far enough, long enough, and awake enough that you gather even a glimpse of the bigger picture.  You might as well be honest once you get there.

Thank you, Arlo.  And thank you to all who have gone before.  Thank you for your ageless voice and timeless message, your poetry, your song, and your humor.

Oh, and by the way, you’ve still got great hair.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

You can find Mr. Smiley’s April 14, 2017 interview with Arlo Guthrie through the following link:

And, for a youtube recording, complete with lyrics, of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” here is a link for you:

Please, enjoy!

Breaking News!!!

Made ya look.

Absolutely no new news here, breaking or broken, unglued or reglued.  But I figured I would continue with my curmudgeonly theme and talk about something that has been bothering me for ages.  TV news.  Not radio news.  It helps that most radio stations only allot a small fraction of time to the news.  It helps even more that radio news lacks cameras.

TV news, not so much.  On most TV news shows:

  • Everything is breaking!  Even stories that broke days ago continue to be labeled as breaking news as reporters dig through every detail in search of some tantalizing tidbit that can be labeled as the next surprising item.  Even better, an exclusive breaking item!
  • Celebrity deaths are milked until you are ready to vomit.  R.I.P. Prince.
  • Warnings that the upcoming video may be disturbing are given gleefully over and over and over and over again as viewers are tortured with near-death and even real-death events.  It reminds me of futuristic movies I saw in my youth where death became just a part–a tool–of the larger goal:  entertainment and money.  (Has anyone else seen the 1975 film “Rollerball,” starring James Caan?)
  • Teasers drive me nuts.  “Tune in tonight for the full story!”  I was hoping to be asleep by then.  Or watching something that I actually might enjoy.  Please.  Just tell it to me now.  If you don’t, please know that I will not be tuning back in just for that snippet.  I’ll find it later on the internet if I am really that interested, thank you very much.
  • Newscasters barely out of their teens reflect the sorry state of our educational system when they can barely string a proper sentence together even when it is spelled out for them in detail.  And then, heaven forbid, something goes wrong with the teleprompter.  The result is likely to be an embarrassment to us all.
  • Most weather girls and half the female newscasters believe that professional dress means bare arms and daring necklines.  What isn’t exposed is stuffed into tiny, tight outfits better suited for date night.  Note:  If you don’t want to be called a “girl,” and would prefer to be treated like a professional woman, please dress like one.  If you don’t want someone to stare at your chest, please cover it.  It is really that simple.  Oh, God, I have become such a curmudgeon.
  • Donning hip boots and wading into rushing waters after six more inches of rain fell than you forecast two days ago does not raise my estimation of your heroic forecasting abilities.  You just look like a little idiot.  A wet little idiot.
  • By the time the weathercaster gets to the part you want to hear–after spending the bulk of their time describing the weather you and others have witnessed with your own eyes over the past 24 hours–you’ve tuned them out.  The jaded part of me, which grows larger by the day, thinks that is probably their intention.  Oh well.
  • Weathercasters think it is necessary to tell you how to dress each day, for each part of the day…  Jackets at the bus stop…  short sleeves at lunch…  umbrella in the afternoon…  hip boots yesterday…  I can figure that out myself, thank you very much.  Just tell me what I don’t know, like the forecast.  Like, now.
  • … … …

Okay, wait a minute.  I actually have some breaking news.  It fits all the criteria:  It is of timely, critical importance, weather plays a vital role, we receive relevant wardrobe guidance, video might be fun, and it is news to me.  Tomorrow is World Naked Gardening Day!  I discovered this golden nugget from nothing other than this evening’s news, oh my!

What gives this pronouncement such tremendous value?  Nothing less than its practical application to real life–my real life–which is as it should be.  Tomorrow I had been scheduled to help plant a tree as part of my volunteer duties.  The lovely volunteer coordinator heard my tiny squeak loud and clear a couple of weeks ago when I noted that I am not the best person to put in a situation with kids, and I was put on bathroom and cabin cleaning duty instead.  Oh!  How fortunate we all are!

Happy World Naked Gardening Day, everybody.  Hopefully some of our local newscasters will show up to promote the event.  Just be careful with those shovels, ladies and gents!



Happy Fat Tuesday!

Today our RV park had a Mardi Gras parade.  Industrious participants decorated a pickup truck in purple tissue paper and a million beaded necklaces.  Costumed revelers sat in the truck bed (one lovely lady donned a chicken hat) as the truck blasted its horn and played music while riding up and down rows of RVs. Candy and beads were tossed to the crowd.  Dawny picked up a few necklaces … ain’t she perty!!!

Dawny and I stuck to the rear of the parade, as there were lots of doggies there, and Dawny… well, Dawny continues to think she is boss of the world.  One four-legged participant, Bella (a dachshund-yorkie mix), trotted along  in the middle of the crowd as if she were the Queen, dressed in a glamorous outfit with an assortment of glittery beads and other bejeweled items.  She was magnificent.  I cast my primary vote for her:  Queen Bella!

People danced to the music and blossomed in their costumed glory.  It was a really sweet time.

After the parade, I attended the party of el Capitan and his lovely first mate.  As noted in my post of November 1, 2015 (“I Have a Friend”), el Capitan bought a new-used sailboat recently.  This pre-launch party celebrated all of the effort that has gone into making his ship seaworthy, strong, and beautiful.  Ah, dreamers.  Where would we be without dreamers?

A week or so ago, a gentleman we often encounter on our walks commented that Dawny would probably be happier if she were off-leash.  Yes, he is absolutely right.  But that is not her world now, at least not literally.

It’s mine.

And it is the world of those around me.

I look around at so many of my friends, my neighbors, and I see people who are living outside of the box.  Many are retirees who are getting the most out of their lives and doing so on their terms.  I suspect that’s how many of them lived their lives prior to retirement, while others may be late bloomers.

Not all are of retirement age.  Some are finding ways to earn a living and travel in their homes on wheels, making ends meet in one fashion or another.

All look pretty off-leash to me.  Dreamers, taking charge, making it real.  Put strands of Mardi Gras beads around their neck, a silly hat on their head, and it looks absolutely natural.  Year round.

Would that we all could be so free.  So celebratory.  Always.