Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Woody Guthrie Bastille Day in the hood with superheroes


July 14 was quite the holiday in Echo Park this year. For over 12 hours there were events celebrating the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie, who was a resident of EP back in the day (Preston Street, where Steve McQueen once also lived). At El Centro Del Pueblo's pretty campus, there were bands, free food, free admission, sign-making workshops, organized by the Trailer Trash organization.

My daughter and I arrived late in the day to find an astonishing and delightful feast for our senses in the form of Superbroke. The 15-member band played South American, Irish, and other songs in the manner of New Orleans marching bands. They had five horns, a washboard, guitars, lots of drums, and, perhaps breaking from tradition, a theramin. Its members were dressed as original-character superheroes. Bicycle Man, Super Pickle, Boss Man in scuba mask on saxophone, Veggie Man on bass. Serving the superflow of the universe, fighting the anti-groove. According to the Boss Man, "wherever the superflow needs us, we will go." This means peace gatherings, Hen House studios in Los Angeles, and Woody Guthrie's birthday party in Echo Park.

It might have been merely goofy showmanship, healthy politics and fun, if they music hadn't been so good. Chicken Corner loved every minute of their show. At 6, the group led a march to the Echo on Sunset Boulevard, where a Woody Guthrie celebration show raised funds for a group called Skid Row Art and Activism. According to the doorman, all of the proceeds were to go to Skid Row Art. Scheduled performers included Pete Anderson, Michelle99, Jake and The Americans, Michelle Shocked, and OLMECA.

Meanwhile, the restaurant Taix was setting up to remember the storming of the Bastille with a special menu by Chef Hugues Quintard and the Musical Talents of "Elsie and her Strolling Accordion."

This traditional celebration may have been anti-groovy, but it most definitely was not "anti-groove." Taix knows how to throw a good party.

Speaking of radical, here are some of the verses from "This Land is Your Land" that the kids don't usually sing in school:

As I went walking I saw a sign there/ And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."/ But on the other side it didn't say nothing,/ That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,/ By the relief office I seen my people;/ As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking/ Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me,/ As I go walking that freedom highway;/ Nobody living can ever make me turn back/ This land was made for you and me.

More by Jenny Burman:
Sleepless in Yosemite
Woody Guthrie Bastille Day in the hood with superheroes
July 4 in Los Angeles
When doves cried
Festival of stories
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Previous story on Chicken Corner: July 4 in Los Angeles

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