Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Teachable Turkey Moment

Yet again, pure coincidence took me down a rabbit hole.

Waking up to a colder-than-necessary Thanksgiving Day, I nevertheless headed down to the river for a walk. Like Thanksgiving days past, the city was eerily silent with next to no traffic and few cars parked in Jackson Ward or downtown.

People are gone, baby, gone.

I was within spitting distance of home when I passed my car on a side street and, knowing there was plenty of parking right in front of my apartment, decided to move it. It wasn't like it would have been a far walk to the car, so there was really no compelling reason for me to climb in and re-park.

Except that the moment I started the car, it was filled with the sound of a monologue-type song I didn't know, though the voice and nature of the song caught my ear. Did I know it? If I did, my brain wasn't sure what I was hearing, so I sat and listened to find out who and what it was.

Turns out it was Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," which apparently has been played as a Thanksgiving tradition on radio for decades because the lyrics involve a real life littering incident that happened to him on Thanksgiving 1965.

I'm seeing a pattern. Earlier this week, I'd seen "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and recognized none of it and now here I was hearing a song long associated with Thanksgiving yet new to me, except for the title.

Who am I and how have I missed out on these Thanksgiving Day classics?

Given that I'd heard the song on Thanksgiving and I had absolutely nothing to do until my turkey dinner at 4:00, I proceeded to research the 18-minute masterpiece that is the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree."

Not sure how much time I lost (best guess: a fair amount) to learning that not only had it been based on real events, but that the song's overall purpose was as an anti-Vietnam war protest song. Well, that explained all those lyrics I'd heard about the draft board inanity of refusing to induct him because his littering offense made him of questionable moral fiber to kill Vietnamese and burn villages.

All I can say is, thank you WNRN for upping my cultural literacy by playing a song I should have known about 40 years ago. I like to think I increased my Thanksgiving bona fides today because of it.

Turkey with all the trimmings was taken with my favorite musician at Camden's Orphans' Thanksgiving where the rule is you have to be a party of three or fewer because the chef believes if you have four or more, you should cook your own damn turkey. That said, we were seated next to a five-top and midway through our yams, a four-top sat down on the other side of us.

Clearly, the three person rule is up for interpretation.

But our dinner was pretty wonderful - though I'll always prefer stuffing with hot sausage - and after downing a fine salad of mesclun greens to clear the arteries for that was to come, we got down to the main event: turkey, dark and light, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, stuffing and green bean casserole.

To wash it all down, I enjoyed a glass of Louis Latour "Cuvee Latour," a perfectly balanced white burgundy with an appealing floral nose that provided a refined note for such an all-American meal.

Only when it came to dessert did my dinner companion and I part ways. He was in an apple pie mood while no less than our server anticipated that I'd require chocolate pate. "And I know not to take your plate until you've cleared the last crumb off it," she joked, referencing the one time she reached for it when I had a bite or two left and was merely taking a breather.

The smart ones learn so I don't have to resort to using my fork as a defensive weapon.

We rolled out of there - leftover turkey sandwiches in hand - as the next wave was settling in, although I pity anyone trying to eat a meal that substantial so long after sunset.

Like Arlo sang, I had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. Another thing the two of us have in common is long-winded opinions.

And now I know how much I've got to be thankful for - though perhaps not quite as much as in past years - since unlike Arlo, I've never been arrested for littering.

I may finally be up to Thanksgiving speed.

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