Author Archives: cdjohnst

About cdjohnst

Class of USC 2020

Bloody Mary

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Arizona
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 13 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: Have you heard about the legend of Bloody Mary?

Informant: Yeah man, that shit used to scare the hell outta me when we were kids. 

Interviewer: what exactly did you have to do to make her appear?

Informant: Well at my elementary school, I know there was only one bathroom that everyone said it would work in, which was the girls bathroom funnily enough. We’d have to get in there, turn off the lights, and stare at the mirror while saying Bloody Mary 3 times, I honestly never did it myself though because I was scared enough of the dark on its own hahaha.

Background:

My informant was born and raised in Southern California. He went through the public education system and has extremely liberal views. He now lives in Arizona for college. 

Context:

I spoke to my informant over a zoom facetime call during the 2020 Coronavirus Epidemic.

Thoughts:

It’s interesting how such a massive legend can have so many little details that change from place to place. Also, I was amused that the kids at my informants elementary school thought it would only work in the girls bathroom… so everyone who knew the legend must have gone to that bathroom to do it? Legends are definitely more believable through a child’s eyes, and that’s probably why some legends have been able to last for so long. A child learns it in their young age, and it sticks with them so much that they end up passing it along to the next generation. 

If You Keep Making that Face, it’ll Get Stuck That Way

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 15
Occupation: NA
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 - 20 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So did your parents used to tell you any funny things growing up to get you to behave?

Informant: they still do haha they think I’ll actually believe a lot of that stuff even though I can just look it up on my phone.

Interviewer: haha yeah I guess scare tactics don’t work as well if you can look up the truth a second later. What kind of stuff do they tell you?

Informant: Well my mom loves to tell me to not make funny faces or else my face will get stuck like that, but I know that’s not true so I just do it more now and it’s way funnier haha

Background:

My informant is a teenager living in Southern California, currently attending highschool. He is the last one of his siblings to still be living at home, and his Dad travels a lot for work, so it is mostly just him and his mom at home. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over a facetime call during the 2020 Coronavirus Epidemic. I was going to meet with him in person, however, the quarantine made that impossible to do. 

Thoughts:

I thought it was funny how different my informant reacted to what his mom would tell him than how people my age would. It’s only a 4-5 year gap, however, my age group didn’t have iPhones growing up so we couldn’t research everything on the spot. I trusted what my parents said as the truth until much later in life, and even after getting an iPhone, I never thought to fact check everything they’d say. Maybe it’s a rebellious teen thing to want to prove your parents wrong or something like that, and iPhones have made that easier than ever. 

Razor Blades for Halloween

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Environmental Scientist
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 26 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So do you remember when we were kids trick or treating, and our parents used to tell us to be careful and check all the candy we got?

Informant: Yeah, dude, that was crazy! I remember my mom got all worked up about there being razorblades and prescription pills mixed in with what I got haha but I never got anything like that and neither did anyone I know literally ever…

Interviewer: Yeah same, do you have any clue where that rumor started?

Informant: I’m pretty sure it was just some online troll trying to fuck with people and then I think the story actually hit the news so parents started to freak, you know? I think it was all a bunch of bullshit though like I’ve actually seen people saying there’s molly in kids candy now but It’s gotta be just some hype-story so they can get people worked up and get more clicks and all that. 

Background:

My informant was born and raised in Southern California, fairly close to where I was raised as well. The area is more or less crime-free and very safe to raise children in. 

Context:

I spoke with my informant over a zoom facetime call during the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic. We had plans to meet in person, however, the virus made it impossible to do so.

Thoughts:

It’s funny how some people messing around on the internet can lead to a nationwide panic about something that’s not a real issue. This whole “Razor blades in candy” thing started as a joke online, and blew up when people started thinking it was actually happening in their hometowns. The fact that their children were potentially at risk was probably a huge factor in driving this legend to the point it is at today. 

For more information about the “Razor Blades in Candy” story, check the History.com article, “How Americans Became Convinced Their Halloween Candy Was Poisoned” at the link: https://www.history.com/news/how-americans-became-convinced-their-halloween-candy-was-poisoned

How to get rid of the Hiccups

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 25
Occupation: Artist
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 18 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So you’ve obviously had the hiccups at one point or another in your life… Do you have a special method of getting rid of them?

Informant: Oh I’ve heard a bunch of things. Like, get scared is a pretty big one that people say but like i’ve never seen it work. I’ve also heard of drinking a glass of water upside down but I’d rather just have the hiccups for 5 minutes than go through the effort of doing that haha

Interviewer: Yeah I’ve heard about the getting scared and drinking water upside down tactics too from some elementary school friends. So if that doesn’t really work, what do you do?

Informant: Well I forgot who actually told me this, it could have been my mom, but any time i get the hiccups i just take as deep of a breath as I can and then hold it in for as long as possible… and if you hiccup again you just start over until they’re gone… and that tends to do the trick for me haha

Background:

My Informant was born and raised in Southern California. Her parents immigrated from Europe and she is a first Generation American. She is a model and an artist and has exceedingly liberal views. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over a facetime video-call during the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic. We had plans to meet in person, however, the quarantine made that impossible. 

Thoughts:

It’s crazy how many different stories there are that are promised to “cure” the hiccups. I would be interested in a scientific study which tests which methods actually work (If any) and which methods are completely made up. Either way, it seems like hiccup cures are generated more within a family or smaller social group than throughout an entire society since there are not only so many different ideas, but they all vary so widely from one another as well so it seems like they were not derived from one another. 

Jumping off the Couch into the New Year

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Danish
Age: 54
Occupation: NA
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 22 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So do you have any New Year’s traditions that you take part in?

Informant:Yes I do! Every year at midnight, everyone has to get up on the couch and jump of right as the clock hits midnight so that we’re jumping into the new year. My mom used to do it in Denmark and I always loved doing it so I saw no reason to stop.

Interviewer: and no one else you know does that?

Informant: Not that I know of…. Some of my American friends like to take a shot at midnight haha but i feel like our way is a little more sentimental. 

Background:

My informant is a woman in her 50’s, originally growing up in Denmark and moving to the United states in her early 20’s. She has exceedingly liberal views, and has been a mother for a majority of her life. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over the phone during the 2020 Coronavirus Epidemic. 

Thoughts:

I love the idea of “Jumping into the New Year” as a sentimental way of not just finishing off a year, but having a good start to a new one. The differences between Danish culture and American culture are also highlighted here, since most special occasions are celebrated with drinking in America, while family, friends, and good virtue take precedent in most European culture. This definitely doesn’t mean that Danish people don’t like to drink, however, because they definitely like to party

Liquor before beer…

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 26
Occupation: Musician
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 22 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this term before, but I wanna get your understanding of what it means if that’s good… the saying I’m talking about is,”Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear, beer before liquor, you’ve never been sicker.”

Informant: hahaha yeah I’ve definitely heard that one, even if it’s been a couple years. Pretty sure it just means exactly what it sounds like haha just dont take shots after you’ve already been drinking beer for a while and I just honestly say it’s good advice. Pretty sure most people just take it as “don’t mix your alcohol,” though.

Background:

My informant is in his mid 20’s, born and raised in California. His parents immigrated from Italy and are extremely conservative, while he has adopted much more liberal views. He is also an electronic music producer.

Context:

I talked to my informant over a facetime call during the 2020 coronavirus Quarantine 

Thoughts:

I’ve actually heard this saying before, and after doing some research, I found that it makes no difference whether you drink beer or liquor first, you just tend to drink more if you start with beer and then start by taking a bunch of shots. 

Happy Birthday (On Channel 4)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Environmental Scientist
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4 - 25 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So how did you sing the Happy Birthday song growing up?

Informant: Umm most of the time it was pretty normal with your average happy birthday to whomever and all that, but I remember this thing kids used to do where they would finish singing the normal song and then be like, “On channel four, theres something more, on channel five, you’re still alive, on channel six…” and so on but yeah I’m honestly glad no one does that anymore haha 

Background: 

My informant is in his early 20’s and was born and raised in Agoura Hills, CA. He’s lived in the same neighborhood throughout his entire life, other than when he was in college at Virginia Tech. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over a zoom video call during the 2020 Coronavirus quarantine

Thoughts:

It’s incredible how many different versions of Happy Birthday there are. It seems like every other family has their own idea of what it should be. My own hometown did the “On Channel,” whatever thing, but with different rhymes. I’ve also heard a ton of completely different joke-endings to the song, all with different lyrics and melodies. 

The Game

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: NA
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 - 28 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So tell me a little bit about “the Game”

Informant: well for starters, you just lost it haha

Interviewer: Basically the entire point of the game is to just not think about the game, so if you forget it you win. But any time you ever think of the game, you have to publicly announce it to the people around you so that they also lose the game. It’s pretty pointless but my friends have been playing for like 10 years at this point and it’s just a funny thing to bring up.

Background:

My Informant is a 21 year old male who has lived in California for over 20 years. He originally lived in Utah, but moved too early to remember it there. He has very liberal views and works a full time job. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over a phone call during the coronavirus epidemic. 

Thoughts:

I think its cool how a seemingly unimportant game that was played in elementary school can not only spread across the entire country. But also last a lifetime for the people who actually know what it is. 

For more information about “the Game,” see https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/the-game

Don’t put your shoes on the Table

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Danish
Age: 54
Occupation: NA
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 - 25 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: So i’ve always thought it was bad to put my shoes on the table, but you think there’s another reason not to, right?

Informant: haha I mean I don’t know if I actually believe it but my mom always told me that if my shoes touched any table, it would be 10 years of bad luck. It scarred me for life since I’m pretty superstitious… but i still used the same tactic to get my kids to behave haha

Informant: and how did that work out for you?

Interviewer: It actually worked like a charm haha, i told my kids one time and then they started policing each other about it any time one of them would put their shoes on the table. 

Background:

My informant is a woman in her 50’s, originally growing up in Denmark and moving to the United states in her early 20’s. She has been a mother a majority of her life and travels with her kids at least twice a year. 

Context:

I talked to my informant over a facetime call during the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. We had planned to meet in person, however, our meeting was cancelled due to the virus. 

Thoughts

I think it;s interesting just how much folklore comes out of parents trying to scare their kids into behaving. The whole “7 years of bad luck” for breaking a mirror or walking under a ladder all have similar vibes and it makes me think that superstition arose out of children believing the surreal stories their parents would tell them as they grew up.

Water Assassins

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: NA
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 - 28 - 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and the interviewer.

Interviewer: You remember that game we played in highschool, water assassins?

Informant: Oh yeah! How could I forget? That shit was so much fun, dude. 

Interviewer: you think you could explain a bit about what the aim of the game was?

Informant: for sure, we basically just got the entire senior class to get into teams of 5 or something like that and then we all got a target who we had to eliminate by spraying them with a water gun. Whoever got the most eliminations moved onto the next round and then whoever got the most by the end won the whole thing and then a pot of prize money.

Background

My Informant is a 21 year old male who has lived in California for over 20 years. He originally lived in Utah, but moved too early to remember it there. He has very liberal views and works a full time job. 

Context:

I spoke to my informant over a zoom call during the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic. 

Thoughts

I think the idea of water assassins is great. It gets everyone in the entire senior class involved and makes them actually think of strategies and plan ahead for how to win. It is also interesting to see how far-reaching this trend is, as i have heard of people playing this as far as the east coast and even in the UK.