Thanksgiving Tradition: Alice’s Restaurant

What would Thanksgiving be without Arlo Guthrie singing Alice’s Restaurant?

Though the song does mention Thanksgiving, the tradition has as much to do with its duration as anything – it is said that in the old days radio disk jockeys would play it on Thanksgiving because being more than 18 minutes long, it made for an easier holiday shift.

But I really like the monologue’s ironic look at the justice system. The storyteller is turned down from serving in the Vietnam war because he was once arrested for littering. When asked if he has rehabilitated himself, he responds by saying:

Sargent, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I’m sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug.

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Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

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