Tag Archives: Guthrie

Woody Guthrie, “The Naked Ape,” and Swimming Pool Sex

Woody_Guthrie_NYWTS[1]The_naked_ape[1]There was a comedian (I think it was George Carlin) who said “If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck, somewhere, will buy it.”  This hammering process, in the context of reminiscing, has been my “thread approach” this week.  I see no reason to change that now – this one is three things nailed together, that shouldn’t be, probably.  [And, by the way, Emily, you are not to read this post!  – I am sure that will stop her.]

In 1974, I think it was, there was a huge Rolling Stone article about Bob Dylan and his admiration of Woody Guthrie.  Dylan found Woody in a sanitorium in New York when the latter was dying from Huntington’s Chorea.  He would visit him daily, play his guitar and sing him songs.  This magazine (in those days it was more like a newspaper – remember that?) article was the inspiration for a road trip.  My best friend in College and I decided we were going to Okemah, Oklahoma that fateful July to find Woody Guthrie’s grave.  At the time, there was a news story about how the city of Okemah would not let a group of musicians (a large group of different acts who had produced two albums covering Guthrie’s music) build a library in honor of Guthrie.  For some reason, it sounded like a place we wanted to go to.

The semester before we went on our road trip, I had read a book by Desmond Morris called The Naked Ape: A Zoologist’s study of the Human Animal. Morris speculated in the book that the reason we humans were hairless (relatively speaking) apes was that we spent a large amount of time in water once we had climbed down from trees.  We evolved to make life in the water more efficient.  This digression becomes salient, later.

Getting to Okemah was not difficult.  We found a police officer sitting on a chair on the porch of the Police Station.  He told us where the cemetary was and where the former home of Woody Guthrie was.  We asked him why the people of Okemah did not want to have the Library built that was meant to honor Guthrie.  He said something to the effect of “We didn’t want any library honoring a shiftless and communist guitar picker built here.”  We said thank you, and quickly departed, before anyone could cue up banjo music or make requests of us to make animal sounds.

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