Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Legends

Demon Dog

What is being performed?/Interview description
D: My grandma told me this story in Mexico. At a certain time she had to cross a river to get back before sunset. If you were to cross it before sunset you would see a demon dog. One time her and her sister were fighting over a banana but the sun hadn’t sat. She said that they saw the dog and the only way to outrun it was to cross the river and they all had to get under a table
AA: Have you ever seen the demon dog before?
D: No, but people talk about it, especially in my family.
AA: What does it look like?
D: It’s just a dog but it’s possessed and rabid.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?
AA: Why do you know this story?
D: My grandmother told me this story.
AA: What does it mean to you?
D: It’s just scary to me. I tell it when my friends tell ghost stories.

Context of the performance– where do you perform it? History?
This story is performed by Danielle around her friends but originates from her grandmother in Mexico. She performs it still in college and has performed it in high school.

Reflection
I think the concept of a demon dog is really interesting. I tend to think of dogs as pure or purer than humans so to have such an animal demonized is interesting. I can understand it though because of how scary rabid dogs can be or stray dogs. Getting bitten is a real fear and I can see how it gets manifested out through folklore.

Folk Beliefs

Baseball Hats at Baseball Games

What is being performed?
JJ: So if it’s late in the game and your team’s losing. You turn your hat, like, inside out and wear
it on top of your head to bring good luck.
AA: What teams do you do this for?
JJ: Well, I’m pretty sure all of baseball does this but you’re only supposed to do it for the team
you want to win.
AA: Have you ever done it?
JJ: Uh, yeah, at almost every game, actually. It’s a pretty big thing.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Where did you learn this trick?
JJ: I’ve been doing this since I was a kid and watching Red Sox games with my dad.
AA: Do you think it works?
JJ: I mean, I don’t know. But it makes you feel better. You feel like there’s still something you
can do and it’s not over yet.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
This is usually performed at baseball games or wherever people are watching baseball on TV.
This doesn’t happen in other sports but baseball fans participate.

Reflection
I am not a big baseball fan or big sports fan in general but this is interesting to me. I see this
mostly as a way that baseball fans, who aren’t on the field and have little control over what
happens in the game, get to feel as if they can control the fate of the game. I think it just shows
how serious people are about their sports teams and how much they can identify with a single
team.

Musical

Thanksgiving Song

What is being performed?
JJ: Have you heard the Thanksgiving song?
AA: No, what’s the Thanksgiving song?
JJ: Well, I don’t know if it’s called that but my family sings it before we eat on Thanksgiving. It
might be called Thank You for the Food.
AA: How does it go?
JJ: (singing) Thank you God for the food we eat. Thank you God for the world so sweet. Thank
you God for the birds that sing. Thank you God for everything. Amen.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Where did you learn the song?
JJ: My mom would make us sing it before we ate on Thanksgiving.
AA: Do you like the song?
JJ: Uhhh, I guess it’s kind of catchy, haha.
AA: It is catchy! What does it mean to you?
JJ: I guess it’s just about giving thanks. It’s nice and it reminds me of my childhood with my
brother and family.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
This is usually performed at Thanksgiving dinners before eating. It’s a catchy way of giving
grace and is Christian in nature. It could be performed outside of Thanksgiving but my informant
believes it is specifically about Thanksgiving.

Reflection
I have attached an audio of the song in the Folklore archive. My informant agreed for it to be
used for the folklore archive purpose but wants me to get rid of it otherwise. I think the song is
catchy and have never heard it before. I could see this being an important part of Thanksgiving
for religious families.

Folk Beliefs
Magic

Throwing Ice Cubes

What is being performed?
JJ: You never got to be around snow growing up so you wouldn’t know this but when I was in
elementary school, we all thought we could make it snow.
AA: How did you make it snow?
JJ: My first grade teacher, uh, I think it was first grade. Whatever. She told me that if you throw
ice outside your window at night then the next day it would snow.
AA: Wow. Has that ever worked?
JJ: Yes, actually. Everytime. But I think it was because whenever my teacher would tell us to do
that, there was already snow predicted on the weather forecast.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: What did that tradition mean to you growing up?
JJ: I mean now it’s just silly but when I was a kid I felt powerful. You know? Like I could control
the weather even though I was just throwing ice cubes out a window.
AA: Did you hear it from anyone other than your teacher?
JJ: The other kids at school believed it. I think my brother also told it to me growing up too.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
This is usually performed during winter in places where it snows. My informant is from
Newburyport, Massachusetts and claims that it was a big deal there. I am from Los Angeles and
have never heard of this so it must be performed in places where it snows in America to small
children.

Reflection
I really like this folk belief and find it funny. I could see little kids throwing ice outside of their
windows hoping for snow. I had never heard of this before but my roommate from Boston has
and remembers throwing ice outside of her window.

Foodways
Material

Pabellón Criollo

What is being performed?
TV: In Venezuela we eat something called Pabellón Criollo or creole. It’s basically just black
beans, white rice, shredded beef, and plantains but it’s symbolic of Venezuelan history and
culture.
AA: What does it symbolize?
TV: The brown and yellow in the dish are for indigenous peoples, the white is for European
people that colonised, and the black is for the black slaves. Each ingredient is separated to pay
tribute to each of the peoples.
AA: Is this eaten at a certain time?
TV: It’s a very regular meal and a staple in the Venezuelan diet, there’s just symbolism that
goes along with it.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: When was the first time you heard about the dishes symbolism?
TV: My dad told me when I was very young. It sort of just got ingrained in my food palate.
AA: What does it mean to you?
TV: I enjoy making it, I enjoy eating it. It is a way to appreciate Venezuelan history.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Tata makes Pabellón Criollo herself. It is served as lunch or dinner in Venezuelan culture and is
something she will continue to make for her family. It is simple but meaningful and has been
apart of her diet for as long as she can remember.

Reflection
This meal seems both tasty and important. I can’t think of a single meal that I eat that I’m well
aware of it’s cultural relevance and significance. I think it’s cool to have something be so apart
of your diet but also a constant reminder of your ancestry and heritage. I will have my informant
make me this dish one day.

Game
Riddle

Erre con Erre

What is being performed?
TV: There’s this little riddle Venezuelan’s teach their children to learn how to roll their “r’s”
AA: How does it go?
TV: Erre con erre cigarro. Erre con erre barril. Rápido corren los carros, cargados de azúcar del
ferrocarril.
AA: What does it mean?
TV: Nothing real, it’s just a way to practice rolling your “r’s” by saying as many “r” words as
possible.
AA: What could it translate to?
TV: I guess roughly it translates to R with R, uh, cigar, R with R, barrell, the cars go fast and
they’re carrying sugar from the railroad. It’s a lot of gibberish.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Has this helped you?
TV: It actually has. It sticks with you and it’s fun so you get good practice rolling your “r’s.”
AA: What does it mean to you?
TV: I see it as a way I can help my future children embrace their Venezuelan culture and learn
how to speak with an accent when speaking Spanish. The Venezuelan accent is very different
from other Latin American accents, too, so it’s a way to embrace that.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
AA: Where do you perform this?
TV: It’s mostly performed amongst young children in school as sort of a little competition or
between a parent and a child as practice.

Reflection
I think this is a very catchy and fun way of practicing rolling “r’s”– something that’s fundamental
to proper pronunciation in Spanish. I think it’s a special trick that gets to be shared with families
and passed down. I also think it’s a celebration of Spanish and a language that is very beautiful
because of it’s pronunciation.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Magic

Venezuelan New Year’s

What is being performed?
TV: There are actually a lot of folk traditions that go along with New Year’s for Venezuelans
AA: Okay, like what?
TV: Well, for one, you’re supposed to wear yellow underwear on New Year’s for good luck.
AA: Does it bring you good luck for the day, forever, or is it just for the year?
TV: It’s for the year, but I don’t know why. I guess it could be cause yellow is a happy color.
There’s also the tradition of running around the block with a suitcase after dinner. It means that
you will travel during the year and everyone I know does it except for me.
AA: Do you believe in that?
TA: I think running around with a suitcase makes you want to travel and maybe that makes you
more likely to book a flight and actually go. But I don’t know how magical it truly is.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: What do you get from this tradition?
TV: I don’t usually partake in it but my family takes it pretty seriously. I guess I see it more as a
symbolic way of hoping for a good year than a magic trick.
AA: Who did you learn it from?
TV: I learned it from my parents and other relatives that wanted to share what color their
underwear was, haha. The suitcase one I just saw happen when I was a kid and still see
happen every New Year’s.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
AA: When is this performed?
TV: It’s only performed on New Year’s Eve in Venezuelan culture.
AA: And are you going to perform this with your children?
TV: I think I will.

Reflection
I think these are very interesting traditions and have never heard of them. I think of yellow as a
bright color and could see why it could be connected to luck and good fortune. I think what’s
most interesting is that it is associated with New Year’s. As my informant noted, it seems that
there are a lot of folk traditions that revolve around New Year’s and New Year’s Eve. I definitely
want to try running with my suitcase. It seems a little funny but it means well.

Proverbs

An Eye for an Eye Makes Everyone Blind

What is being performed?
DA: There’s this saying that goes, “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind.”
AA: What does it mean?
DA: It means, uh, basically that striking back won’t solve anything.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you know this proverb?
DA: I remember growing up hearing it in the context of the civil rights era.
AA: Why do you like it?
DA: I think it’s important to advocate for nonviolence with logic and I think that’s what this saying
is about.
AA: What do you mean with logic?
DA: I just mean that this quote simple enough to understand logically and that’s why it’s
effective.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Delward Atkins has shared this proverb with his children as they were growing up and had to
learn how to deal with people on the playground. He sees it as an important life lesson that
especially needs to be taught to the younger generations.

Annotations
Quote Investigator, quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/27/eye-for-eye-blind/.
This annotation shows the many people who have coined this phrase. Notably, Mahatma
Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Louis Fischer, and Henry Powell Spring have said variations of
this proverb. This publication also shows the different ways this proverb has been used. For
example, instead of just “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind” there’s also “an eye for an
eye makes the world blind.” The publication gives a chronological timeline of how the proverb
has changed over time and famous people that have helped change it.
Dear, John. “An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind.” The Huffington Post,
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Nov. 2016,
www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dear/an-eye-for-an-eye-makes-t_b_8647348.html.
This article shows how the proverb is used in a more recent context. It uses the phrase to
discuss the Paris terrorist attacks and shows how the phrase is still relevant- from protest signs
to songs and other forms of art that are being created to push for a world of nonviolence. It is a
proverb that might’ve been most famous in the 60s but is still present in the 2000s and can be
used as a strong argument for the cyclical nature of violence.

Reflection
I see this proverb as extremely important and relevant today. With the Syrian crisis going on and
the proxy war that now surrounds it, I think it’s important that we remember grass root political
movements and why nonviolence can be so effective for them. I think this proverb is about
creating change that is positive and doesn’t have to harm others in the making. I think that’s
what we need today.

Humor

Guitar Players Without Girlfriends

What is being performed?
DA: I have another musician joke.
AA: What is it?
DA: What do you call a guitar player without a girlfriend?
AA: What?
DA: Homeless.
Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you know this joke?
DA: I probably heard it on rode from a musician friend.
AA: Why do you like it?
DA: I think it’s kind of funny, but also somewhat real. It’s hard to make money doing music and I
think this joke is able to laugh at that pain.

Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
AA: Where do you perform this joke?
DA: I usually perform this joke to young musicians to instill a sense of reality in them but also to
my older musician friends to share struggle and laughter with them. I only really share it with the
musician community, although, I think anyone could get the joke.

Reflection:
I really like this joke because I feel like even if you’re not a musician, you can get it. I think it’s
straight forward and highlights the struggle of being a guitar player while adding another
element of dependency. I think it’s interesting to view the girlfriend in the joke as the person who
is economically supporting the relationship.

Humor

Rattle Snakes and Trombone Players

What is being performed?
DA: There are a lot of musician jokes. Since that has been my career for the past 35 years, I
have heard a lot. Trombone players are usually at the butt of them too.
AA: Why trombone players?
DA: No one ever needs a trombone player so they’re seen as irrelevant.
AA: Oh, wow, well give me a trombone player joke.
DA: Okay. What’s the difference between a rattle snake in the desert and a trombone player?
AA: I don’t know.
DA: The rattle snake was on his way to a gig.

Why do they know or like this piece? where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to
them?
AA: Why do you like this piece?
DA: I’ve been hearing it for a long time now and it’s kind of just this insider between musicians
everywhere. It’s a way for us to laugh at how hard and stressful it is to actually get a gig and
say, “well at least we’re not trombone players.”
AA: Where did you learn this from?
DA: I can’t remember but it’s pretty old. I definitely heard it on tour a long time ago.
Context of the performance- where do you perform it? History?
Delward Atkins tells this joke to his musician friends and most notably remembers telling it while
on tour. He doesn’t share this joke with many people outside the community or with many
trombone players. The trombone players he has told, however, have seemed to laugh.

Reflection
I really like this joke but I also understand that I would not be able to understand it if it was not
explained to me first that trombone players have an especially hard time finding work. I see this
as a unifying thing for the musician community, but for me it’s just a good laugh.

[geolocation]