This Land Is Our Land

Arlo Guthrie's musical passion and tireless charity keep the heart in folk

Guthrie, whose father-in-law resides in West Palm Beach, has been visiting Florida from his Massachusetts base for what he terms "decades." He has occasionally staged benefits on behalf of sea turtles in South Florida. But it wasn't until he began his tutelage under Ma Jaya that he began trying to infuse environmental groups with a human consciousness. "You've got a lot of environmental people who don't realize that humans are part of the environment," he says. "They had a little lady livin' on a houseboat twenty miles south of here. They kicked her out of the river because they said the houseboat was creating shadows that were killing the grass. There was no fucking A excuse me A there was no grass in the river. But it was the policy that kicked her out. I hate that. That's not environmentalism any more. That's craziness.

"There's a lot of people who are happy to save whales, but they don't want to do nothin' for their next-door neighbor. Something's wrong there. It's not that everybody's got to do everything. Don't get me wrong. It's great that some people are doing whales. But they got to respect the people who are doing people. You can't have everybody doing everything or we'll get nothing done."

Guthrie's stage show included not only his son's band, but backing vocals by his teenage daughters Sarah Lee and Annie, who've adopted the Indian names Gopi and Pavarty respectively. After relating one of his father's stories, concerning two rabbits holed up in a log by a pack of dogs, Guthrie told the crowd, "People ask me what I've been doing for the past twenty years and I tell 'em I've been home...breeding."

The son of a singing rambler and a Jewish mother is, on this day, living in the moment. In his newsletter he has written about this A "With a little practice, almost anyone can see that it is only in the now of a moment that anything actually takes place. Nothing ever comes in the future, nothing remains in the past. It all seems to happen now."

Not that one can't ponder what is to come. "I think what you ought to do is what's in front of you to do," he says. "If you go looking around all the time for what to do, you're not doing the right thing. So I'm learning, like everybody else, how to do what's in front of you, how to see what's in front of you so you can deal with it. 'Cause I got a sneaking spiritual suspicion that God puts in front of you what He want you to deal with. He don't put it off to the left. He don't put it off to the right. He don't put it up above you. He don't stick it down below you. He sticks it right in your face. That's what to do. Do the thing in your face. Everybody's got a different thing in their face. Then we'll all be doing what we're supposed to do."

Arlo Guthrie's "Oughtabiography" and a one-year subscription to his newsletter, The Rolling Blunder Review, are available for $5 at the Guthrie Foundation, P.O. Box 657, Housatonic,

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