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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/3/17

Alice of 'Alice's Restaurant' Is Back in Town

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On this year's Thanksgiving Day (November 23rd) I was thrilled to view the PBS replay of the 50thh anniversary concert celebrating Arlo Guthrie's eighteen-minute hilarious musical monologue, "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," that recounts the quirky events which inspired the 1969 film Alice's Restaurant.

The anniversary concert was originally performed at the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield Massachusetts May 21, 2015, and aired on PBS on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, 2015.

Guthrie's song dramatized the defining issues of the explosive era of the 1960's that forever changed the direction of American life.

The PBS program reminded me of an article I wrote ten years ago based on an interview with then artist and author Alice Brock, when she returned to the Berkshires for an exhibit of her artworks.

I decided to publish a revised and updated version of the article, since Alice's reminiscences casts light on the phenomenon of "Alice's Restaurant" and her life after the restaurant.

Note:The earlier article was published July, 2007 in UPI's Religion and

Yes, Alice is back in town (July, 2007) -- and she's still cooking; not cooking food but cooking in her current life as an artist.

Alice Brock's story was featured in the 1969 film Alice's Restaurant, starring Arlo Guthrie. The film became a metaphor for an era. At that time young people were "dropping out," disaffected by the Vietnam war, the draft, hypocrisy, and an uptight American society bound by restricting conventions.

A group of counterculture teenage and "20-something" drifters searching for meaningful identities found their way to the home of Alice and her husband, Ray, in a deconsecrated church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. They were called "the family."

Then Alice opened her famed restaurant in Stockbridge, MA, where, as the hit song written and sung by Arlo Guthrie said: "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant."

The film filled me with nostalgia--for the era and for Guthrie's wry take on it. So you can imagine my delight when I heard an interview with Alice on Northeast Public Radio about her art show and reception scheduled for the coming weekend at "The Bookstore" in Lenox, MA, just a mile from my farmhouse. I rushed into my car and headed for town to get the details.

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Bernard Starr, PhD, is author of The Crucifixion of Truth, a drama set in 16th century Italy and Spain that captures the themes of this article. He is also author of "Jesus Jews and Anti-Semitism in Art" and "Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the (more...)

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