Author Archives: Cole Garrett

London Cheese: Fergie Spoof

My informant is a 19-year-old college student who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, then moved out to California where she now attends the University of Southern California. Both her parents are from a Jewish background and her ethnicity is Dutch, Russian, Lithuanian, and English.

This piece of folklore is a very common form of song variation for young children. They will take a popular song and interchange the lyrics with just about anything as long as it follows the same structure as the original song. For example:

Informant’s song:

When I come to the market step aside (oh shit),
All the dieters cant deny (oh shit),
Although it has fat, its just like that (oh shit),
But who the heck cares its cheese (oh shit).

How come every time I come around
My London cheese its gets all green and brown?

Original song by Fergie

When I come to the club, step aside (oh, shit)
Pop the seats, don’t be hating me in the line (oh, shit)
VIP ’cause you know I gotta shine (oh, shit)
I’m Fergie Ferg, and me love you long time (oh, shit)

How come every time you come around
My London, London bridge wanna go down?

Informant: “I just learned it from another one of the kids on the playground. When something like this is brought up at school, especially in elementary school, it catches on really quick. Once you hear it, it gets stuck in your head, next thing you know you are singing it around school and even back at home. In this way, the song gets spread everywhere. The lyrics are kind of ridiculous so it would be easy to see there being multiple variations of this song out there. Also the fact that the original song was such a huge hit really helps the song carry. When people here a widely popular tune, it is much easier to remember.”

I thought that this was piece was very interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, my informant is collecting folklore as well and when she brought this up, it reminded me of how many songs I knew from my childhood that I would sing like this and how many songs I have heard young children sing. Many of them I can still remember every word of. It made me realize how often we use songs for folklore as kids. It is also interesting that for the most part, as kids, we are replacing popular song lyrics, rather than creating our own new songs. I think this most definitely says something for American culture and how much influence popular culture has on children. Also, the amount of exposure children get to popular culture reflects the ways we make these songs.

Tebowing

Informant: My informant is a close friend who I have known for many years. He is a 23-year-old college student and has lived his whole life in Orange County, California. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he attends the University of Southern California and comes from a prominently Scottish heritage.

I began this interview a little different than my other interviews because we are such close friends. I started with very casual conversation and because I thought if I put him on the spot asking him to give me folklore, he might freeze up and not be able to think of any. I was interested to see if he knew of any cyber lore so I started talking about cyber lore that I had seen in the past and the first thing he said to me was, “what like Tim Tebowing?” This is where this piece of folklore came from.

Me: What exactly is Tim Tebowing?

Informant: “It is when you, like, just do the Tebow pose pretty much anywhere. You drop on one knee and put your head down like your praying to god”

Me: Where did you learn about this?

Informant: “I saw it online first, but for a while you could see people doing it for pictures on the street.”

Me: So for the most part it is done on the Internet?

Informant: “Yea I guess, cuz that’s where it spread. Like there are forums on the Internet of people “Tebowing” in ridiculous places and I think that’s where it spread the most.”

Me: Have you every Tebowed?

Informant: (Laughing) Maybe once.

Me: Why do you think Tebowing isn’t prominent anymore?

Informant: “It was just a trend, like anything else, it comes in fast and leaves just as fast, plus Tebow isn’t even playing anymore so he is kind of out of the spotlight”

Analysis: The Internet is quickly becoming a vastly popular way to spread folklore. People are constantly on their phones and computers, so when something becomes popular, it can go viral so much faster. In this sense, these new trends become well known across the entire globe within days. Something as simple as posing for a picture can instantly become known by millions of people. It seems as if this genre of folklore is rapidly spreading because of its accessibility and I think in the years to come we will see more and more folklore appearing over the Internet as the performances and speech begin to dwindle.

That’s What She Said

Informant: My informant is a close friend who I have known for many years. He is a 23-year-old college student and has lived his whole life in Orange County, California. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he attends the University of Southern California and comes from a prominently Scottish heritage.

I actually collected this piece by somewhat of an accident. As I was talking to my informant and further explaining folklore after we had been talking for a little while, I mentioned to him that it could be something that allows for variation and multiplicity. To make it clearer, I gave him the example of a joke I knew and then said, “see you have this element in the joke but if I wanted to I could, take it out and put this in”. To which he replied, “that’s what she said”.

This joke is very common and it is very widely used. I asked my informant where he first heard this joke and he said, “I have no idea”. Which is understandable because a joke like this is said so much it is really hard to figure out where you originally learned it. I then went on to ask him about the context of the joke and where he usually uses it. He replied, “well definitely not around my mom, that would be weird, but it’s really dumb to be honest, you just use it anytime someone says something kind of sexual and then just interrupt them with that’s what she said. I have also heard people that began to use it way out of context, that kind of became a thing for a while, like someone would just say something normal like “hey pass me the green beans” and someone shouts out that’s what she said. Really stupid but kind of funny I guess”.

This joke is interesting because unlike a lot of jokes, this joke never really made its way to written form because it is situational. You have to look at a situation and apply it, and in this sense it can be used a lot and it was used a lot by many people until it became lame to use it. I think this style of joke also shows a type of obsession with sexuality in our culture. Also it is somewhat taboo to talk about sex so this is another way that people find a way around saying something actually sexual when they put it into the context of a joke.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

My informant is my mother. She is 53 years old and is Spanish, Croatian, and Yugoslavian. She was born and raised in Florida, but keeps up many of her ancestors’ traditions from these countries.

I asked my mom to tell me any story that her dad had told her. Her dad was a very clever man and seemed to always bend the rules and switch things around to make them humorous. I asked her if he told any stories that had some moral context in the end. She told me “The Story of the Ant and the Grasshopper”, as told by her father.

Informant: “The ant was very hardworking. He spent all year collecting food so that when winter came around he had enough supplies to live. The grasshopper on the other hand was always messing around. The ant would warn the grasshopper that he was going to be in danger when the winter came. Well, winter came and the ant was ready for the harsh weather but the grasshopper was screwed. The ant looked at the grasshopper and told him, “I told you so”. So the grasshopper ate the ant and took all his food. My dad did stuff like this all the time, he would always twist endings like this and we thought it was hilarious. The real ending is that the grasshopper dies and the ant flourishes because he had worked hard, but this was my dad’s take on the story. I still remember the story because of the element of humor, I don’t think I would remember it if it was told the normal way.”

Analysis: This piece is interesting because it offers a view on the anti-climactic story. Many of these stories are popular in America. The story seems to be leading you somewhere and then it just drops off and takes itself in a whole new direction. It is also interesting to note the presence of work ethic again in these stories told by Americans. It seems as if this is a reoccurring theme in America because of the heavy influence of the “hard worker” ideal. From the vastness of these stories come these variations with anti climactic endings that offer a more humorous ending to these stories that are supposed to give some moral lesson by the end.

Yugoslavian Strudel Recipe

My Grandmother is 76 years old and she is predominantly Yugoslavian and Spanish. She has lived her whole life in the United States.

My grandmother’s mother was very Yugoslavian, she came over to this country from Yugoslavia when she was a young girl. With her she brought many of the recipes that she learned from her hometown. My grandmother is a very good cook and loves to bake, so the first piece of folklore she could think of was a recipe for strudel that her mother taught her how to make.

Informant: “I learned how to make it from my mother and she learned from hers and so on, who knows how long it has been in the family, but it’s damn good. You make it with really thin dough and the other ingredients can be variables, but it always has cinnamon sugar. She could make it so thin and then would cut it into pieces and then bake them until they were perfect golden brown. I am telling you it is the best thing you would ever taste. I still don’t think I can make it like her, there is something about the way that your mother makes something that is almost impossible to recreate. She would always make the strudel on Sundays because she didn’t like going to church so it was sort of her way out. I always go to church but because she always made it on Sundays, Sunday is the only time I ever make it. I don’t know why but it just doesn’t feel right if I made it on any other day. I guess it kind of celebrates her life in a way. I think about her whenever I make it and this recipe is something I hold very dear to my heart”.

Analysis: In many cultures, food is something that is very important. Culturally, a group of people can be known specifically for their specific types of food they make. It is one of the most important elements for the obvious reason that it keeps us alive, so whatever a culture is making, is important and becomes a part of their identity. The strudel represents a part of my grandmother and a part of her Yugoslavian heritage. It may seem a bit silly, but things like this can be very important to people because it helps them stay connected to their roots. Things like food create identity and bond people together who share this specific identity.