The Illustrated Version of “Alice’s Restaurant”: Watch Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic

Alice’s Restaurant. It’s now a Thanksgiving classic, and something of a tradition around here. Recorded in 1967, the 18+ minute counterculture song recounts Arlo Guthrie’s real encounter with the law, starting on Thanksgiving Day 1965. As the long song unfolds, we hear all about how a hippie-bating police officer, by the name of William "Obie" Obanhein, arrested Arlo for littering. (Cultural footnote: Obie previously posed for several Norman Rockwell paintings, including the well-known painting, "The Runaway," that graced a 1958 cover of The Saturday Evening Post.) In fairly short order, Arlo pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge, pays a $25 fine, and cleans up the thrash. But the story isn't over. Not by a long shot. Later, when Arlo (son of Woody Guthrie) gets called up for the draft, the petty crime ironically becomes a basis for disqualifying him from military service in the Vietnam War. Guthrie recounts this with some bitterness as the song builds into a satirical protest against the war: "I'm sittin' here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the Army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." And then we're back to the cheery chorus again: "You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant."

We have featured Guthrie’s classic during past years. But, for this Thanksgiving, we give you the illustrated version. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who plans to celebrate the holiday today.

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This Man Flew to Japan to Sing ABBA’s “Mamma Mia” in a Big Cold River

Austin Weber traveled to Kyoto and sang ABBA's "Mamma Mia" in a big cold river. What made the resulting video so strangely compelling? Maybe, as one YouTube commenter noted, it's that the "video has about 100 pixels but every one is used to their full potential." Or maybe, as another YouTuber said, "it’s the synthy ABBA, the goofy zooms and editing, or the bittersweet premise combined with the song." Or maybe it's that the video simply "brings us back to the mid 2000's," when our YouTube culture all got started. It's hard to know. But maybe we shouldn't overthink it and just enjoy.

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Don’t Call 911 If You See a Coyote, Unless It’s Carrying ACME-Branded Products: The Office of Sheriff, Monroe County, New York

Someone in the Office of Sheriff, in Monroe County, New York, has a good sense of humor. And if you're from the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies generation, you will get a good laugh.

In other news, Warner Bros. just announced that it's developing an animated Wile E. Coyote movie, some 70 years after he first appeared on the screen. Appropriately the film is called, Coyote vs. Acme. Somehow that pummeled coyote manages to endure.




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A Vinyl Record Spins So Fast That It Shatters Into 50,000 Pieces

Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy, otherwise known as "The Slow Mo Guys," took a vinyl record and spun it so fast that it shattered into roughly 50,000 pieces--give or take a few. Thanks to a Phantom v2640 camera, you can watch things disintegrate in slow motion, at about 12,500 frames per second. In a previous episode recorded several years ago, Free and Gruchy pushed a CD to its physical limits. You can watch that here.

via Laughing Squid

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Newly Unearthed Footage Shows Albert Einstein Driving a Flying Car (1931)

During his lifetime, Albert Einstein apparently never learned to drive a car--something that also held true for Vladimir Nabokov, Ray Bradbury, Elizabeth Bishop, and Jack Kerouac. But he did manage to experience the thrill of getting behind the wheel, at least once. Above, watch a newly-discovered home movie of Einstein and his second wife, Elsa, visiting the Warner Bros. soundstage on February 3, 1931. The following day, The New York Times published this report:

Professor Einstein was surprised tonight into loud and long laughter.

Hollywood demonstrated its principles of "relativity," how it makes things seem what they are not, by use of a dilapidated motor car.

At the First National studio, German technicians persuaded Professor Einstein to change his mind about not being photographed and photographed him in the old car with Frau Elsa, his wife. He cannot drive a car.

Tonight the German technicians brought the film to the Einstein bungalow. The lights went out.

Then the ancient automobile appeared on the screen with Einstein at the wheel, driving Frau Elsa on a sight-seeing tour.

Down Broadway, Los Angeles they drove, then to the beaches. Suddenly the car rose like an airplane, and as Einstein took one hand from the wheel to point out the scenery, the Rocky Mountains appeared below. Then the car landed on familiar soil and the drive continued through Germany.

It was just a Hollywood trick of double exposure and a thrilling comedy, but not for the public. The master film was destroyed, and the only copy was given to the Einsteins.

That one surviving copy of the film eventually ended up in the archives at Lincoln Center, where it sat unnoticed for decades, until Becca Bender, an archivist, stumbled up on it last year. And fortunately now we can all enjoy that light moment shot so long ago.

To learn more about the discovery of the 1931 film, watch the video below. Or read this article over at From the Grapevine.

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Come on Down to David Byrne’s Giant Suit Emporium: We’re Burning Down the House with Savings!

A funny bit of comedy that accompanied David Byrne's recent visit to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he performed 'Everybody's Coming To My House,' the lead track off of his new album American Utopia. Pick up the album. Catch one of his concerts this summer. And don't miss his new uplifting web site, Reasons to Be Cheerful.

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via @dark_shark

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A Big Archive of Occult Recordings: Historic Audio Lets You Hear Trances, Paranormal Music, Glossolalia & Other Strange Sounds (1905-2007)

Aleister Crowley in ceremonial garb, 1912, via Wikimedia Commons

We've all had our wits scared out of us by films, images, and the written word, but somehow few forms work their haunting magic quite so effectively as sound alone. Think of the snap of the twig in the woods or the creak of the staircase in the empty house — or, to take it farther, the sound of possessed children speaking in tongues. You can hear recordings of that and other unusual phenomena at Ubuweb, which hosts the collection Occult Voices – Paranormal Music, Recordings of Unseen Intelligences 1905-2007.

The eerie recordings on offer include "audio documents of paranormal phenomena including trance speech, direct voices, clairvoyance, xenoglossy, glossolia including ethnological material, paranormal music, 'rappings' and other poltergeist manifestations as well as so-called 'Electronic voice phenomena.'"




A rich mixture indeed, and one that begins with those possessed kids, all of them recorded in the post-Exorcist late 1970s and early 80s; you can hear the eight-year-old "Janet" sounding not unlike the devil-filled Linda Blair in the recording embedded above.

Later we hear from mediums like Britain's famed Leslie Flint, one of the last of his kind to ostensibly speak directly in the voices of the channeled deceased, including figures as accomplished and distinctive as Oscar Wilde in 1975 (above), Charlotte Brontë in 1973, and Winston Churchill in 1980.

The collection also contains the voice of Arthur Ford, who made his name as a medium by claiming to have made contact with the spirit of Harry Houdini. In the clip above, you can hear five minutes of Ford's final Houdini séance, conducted in 1936.

No collection of occult materials would be complete, of course, without something from Aleister Crowley, surely the most famous occultist in modern history, and one known in his time as "the wickedest man in the world." Just above we have Crowley reciting "The Call of the First Aethyr," a piece of occult poetry he recorded in a 1920 session that produced the only known recordings of his voice.

Though Crowley, like many of the other spiritualists captured here, hailed from Britain, much of the material in the collection comes from Germany, especially the kind of paranormal music heard just above. But no matter where in the world these recordings were made, and whether or not you believe in the existence of other realms beyond that world, describing any of the recordings gathered here will leave you grasping for any adjective besides otherworldly.

Enter the archive of Occult Voices here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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