Author Archive
Customs

Pick-Up Beer for Truckers

Context:

The subject is a white man from Dallas, Texas. We were talking about his grandmother and his own personal family history when he told me about this custom. I live this custom because I was told it so far removed from the source culture. Modern day truckers may not know what this is, but some people who have never driven a truck in their life think of it as a ‘trucker’ thing. I think it could also be related to hobo culture which is also dying out.

 

Piece:

“There was a guy who used to live in St. Augustine, he was a drug trafficker and he had like connections to the mob, he was a scary dude. He ran a liquor store. He ran the St. Augustine liquor store, and he had um, ah I just forgotten the name of it. He would sell liquor and he had a cooler right by the door that was free beers for people going their way through you could take a beer. And there was a specific name for it, like a pick-up beer or something. Cause it was connected to truckin’ like truckers would go through there and like pick up a six-pack to make it through their thing. This was the old days, apparently this was pretty common on the roadside stops.”  

 

Legends

Hatchman Campfire Story

Context:

The subject is a white man from Dallas, Texas. We were talking about his family and his upbringing in Texas when he told me this story. Scouting groups are full of folklore and this is a pretty common story I’ve heard from others.

 

Piece:

“My dad did it, cause he was the cub scout leader for my cub scout troop. So when we’d go on camping trips he would always tell stories. He was great at telling like Native American stories. The best one is Hatchetman. Hatchetman was a thing he’d brought up every year and told the story every year, it was alway, it was a scary story. It was about a scouting troop that went to camp at a camp much like this one. And they would be doing thing and it would be, and this mysterious man in a rain jacket with the hood commed up [pronounced like come-’d, I think he means came as in his hood was pulled up] with only one hand, his other hand was a hatchet. [The next part, Jackson cresendoes his voice to a climax] He’d slowly sneak through as they were in the middle of a campfire all telling stories with each other he’d sneak up behind them and stab ‘em with the hatchet. It was always, when we were little it was always a joke, but then my last year there to uh become a boy scout, he was leaving as cub master, it was the big last campout. He told Hatchetman story and he had his friend, who was one of the dads, dress up as Hatchetman as he was telling the story. He was like “as they sat around the campfire, all telling a story, their eyes fixed up front, Hatchetman was creeping up behind” and like the guy was creaching up behind with the hatchet and he scared all of us so much. One of the kids pooped his pants.”

 

Proverbs

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

Context:

The subject is a white man from Dallas, Texas. We were talking about his family when he told me this proverb. I like this idea of the proverb being an engineering saying, an occupational proverb.

 

Piece:

“When my dad was teaching me, um, woodworking and we were getting into making. And that was the start of me getting into engineering there was an axiom that’s like everywhere in engineer but he specifically drilled it into me so I always think about him that is KISS which is Keep It Simple Stupid”

 

Folk speech

EmPHAsis on the wrong syLAble

Context:

The subject is a white man from Dallas, Texas. We were talking about his family when he told me this proverb. I’ve heard this dite a lot and wanted to collect it. It’s not too interesting.s

 

Piece:

“My dad would always say “put the EmPHAsis on the wrong syLAble” whenever he messed up saying something or I messed up saying something, so that just ran into me.

 

Legends

Lizard City Under Los Angeles

Context:

The subject is a white man from Dallas, Texas. I asked if he knew any urban legends and this was his response. This reminds me of the Sewer Alligator or Molepeople of New York and I like to think that all cities believe that there is another one underneath them.

 

Piece:

“There’s this myth that there’s this lizard world underneath LA that people are like lizards who live in caves and have their own community. Like there were these two guys were went to go find them like early on in LA history and never came back. I think the city was meant to look like a lizard. I remember reading about it online. Something in the 30s, I think the lizards were either aliens or related to ancient civilizations, or maybe bomb testing, super weird. I don’t think it’s true.”

 

Digital
Legends

Creepy LA Hotel Death (Elisa Lam)

Context:

The subject is an Asian woman, born in China, who has lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. I asked about Los Angeles urban legends and she told me this story. I’ve seen this story online and only online before, so much of the story is in the video which appears on several websites. This is a good example of online folklore.

 

Piece:

“Remember there’s that happened a couple years ago. There’s this girl, asian girl who disappeared in a hotel in LA. And then like weeks later they found her body in like the boiler room in like a big can of water where like people shower from. People were either saying that she was possessed and like kill herself, cause like theres footage of her, I need to look this up, it’s very recent, couple years. She went inside the elevator and she was like talking to like invisible man inside the elevator and she was like kinda wandering around. And then like she walked out and no one see her ever again after like that elevator. They found her dead. So no one really figured out how she got from point A to point B. I read it online when it just came out. Yeah, the internet. It wasn’t official, like LA times, but it was some sort of news website, I would like to say Buzzfeed. Really creepy videos online. It turned into this whole mythical, like she was possessed.”

 

Here’s a Buzzfeed video of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48jBi86ih5Q

Legends

Tupac Isn’t Dead

Context:

The subject is an Asian woman, born in China, who has lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. I asked about Los Angeles urban legends and she told me about Tupac. She did not seem to know a lot about Tupac’s death or the conspiracy that he is still alive, but she was very adamant that he was. This devotion shows a legend is as strongly held even if the facts are unknown.

 

Piece:

“I think, I believe Tupac is alive. So first of all, the way he, so he was shot in the passenger seat when he died and people were like “its a planned death by Biggie”, and then. But I think, eh, ah, it’s too easy. Just think of on the road, and theres a police putting off the work not getting to investigation when like the crime happened, the police, LAPD were not fully involved in to investigating, they just looked at their crime and just like close the case right away. I think thats a little suspicious, I think he was trying to like get away with this whole like, cause he, well ok like Tupac, I feel like Tupac and Biggie beef wasn’t personal, it was more like a fanbase thing like “oh it was west coast or east coast” or whether it was who’s music was better. Totally made up thing, and personally Tupac and Biggie wasn’t like explicitly like having a beef or competition cause like that’s how media tried to portray them. I don’t think anyone killed Tupac. I think Tupac fake death himself. It’s so easy you just pay a lot of money to the police for someone who fake do the crime and you like declare your death. It’s so easy, my family can do it, and so can Tupac. White people can’t tell black people apart, like he can change his hair and be in Cuba somewhere. Biggie was also shot to death, I’m not sure about Biggie. I think he’s alive, more of a Tupac fan.”

 

Customs

Dark Side of Oz

Context:

The subject is an Asian woman, born in China, who has lived in Los Angeles for most of her life. She has been smoking weed for several years by this point and so when interviewing them, I asked if there were any stoner folk legends. This was her response. I do not think she actually knows a lot about the custom/ legend. It is also fascinating to me because I can not easily categorize this practice. I know it is folklore because one learns it from another person, and some versions say to start the song late or play it several times so there is variation. But it is not easily a legend or a custom.

 

Piece:

“Dark Side of the Oz. Ok so on 4/20. So there’s this I would say there’s this saying that if you sync up Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of the Oz [She mean The Wizard of Oz], the movie, together they sync up really well. I don’t knwo where I heard it, but it’s a thing. So on 4/20 me and some friends, Ian, Jackson, Ben, the other Jackson, were just chilling and then Manny was like guys, we should watch Wizard of the Oz and listen to Dark Side of the Moon cause apparently they sync. So it was a really weird experience ‘cause you see people on screen talking and the like this movie but you hear the music being played. Its a weird concept. I think I enjoyed it. I think it comes from lip-dubbing, like videos on Youtube. The first people were probably some stoners. Like they put it on and were like “oh my god” then the posted it on Reddit and next thing you know, its a thing. I didn’t know it was a thing until Manny brought it up the other day.”

 

Legends

Placing Consciousness Into A Coca-Cola Can

Context:

The subject is a white, gender non-binary individual who is a native Angeleno. I asked the subject if they had ever had a ghostly experience and this is was their response.

 

Piece:

“It was me and my two guy friends and they got me into it. We were hanging out at my house and one of them was doing this whole thing were he was like playing with putting his consciousness in other objects. And at one point, he’s like doing that. And pretty much he got possessed. He got possessed and my other friend freaked the fuck out. He just was not acting like himself at all and was being pretty fucking weird, but pretty much when he had gotten possessed — he got possessed one time and then stopped and then  he was like “I’m going to do this again blah blah blah”. And pretty much, it was like the same spirit and pretty much like put his consciousness into a coca-cola can, an empty coca-cola can, which I was then carrying around. And then, pretty much, I whispered into the coca-cola can, because I thought they were fucking with me. I was like “hey, if you actually like are like in here like say toast when you’re back in your body” and what does he do when he’s back in his body is come up, give me a hug, and whisper toast in my ear.”

 

Festival
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Hippie Hill: Stoner Festival

Context:

The subject is a white, gender non-binary individual who is a native Angeleno. They have been smoking weed since age 13. We celebrated 4/20 a couple of days before I interviewed them and I knew they had gone to this event, so I asked them about it. Stoner culture is folk culture because for so long it was illegal and now that it is legal this festival is being encroached on by corporations which is fascinating.

 

Piece:

“Hippie Hill is a tradition where at the Golden Gate park, at 4:20, on the day 4/20, stoners meet up, thousands of stoner’s meet up there and just smoke ridiculous amounts of weed together and it’s been going on for decades. So I went and it was fun and there was ridiculous amounts of people. I don’t know exactly who started it, probably Deadheads back in the 70s or 80s or something. It opened at 9am, there was not a lot of people there. But pretty much these people hanging around this park and there were these booths were like there was like a lot of like bougie weed companies promoting themselves. The amount of times I heard the phrase “UberEats for weed” was ridiculous. And they were giving away swag and stuff. And uh but then there was also all these really ghetto people that were like selling weed but like, I don’t wanna say really ghetto, but they were really ghetto. And it was like slowly over the course of the day more and more people showed up and there was like area that was like munchieland where they had all these foodtrucks. It was organized by this one weed company which specializes in growing, but like it used to be super underground. It’s only been medical for like a little bit and this is the first year it’s been recreational. I don’t know when the companies started hoppin’ in, but the festivals been going on since the Deadhead were a thing. I have no idea, this was my first year.”

 

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