Author Archives: aeatkins@usc.edu

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.