Author Archives: Marty Cooper

Two Wolves

--Informant Info--
Nationality: German
Age: 54
Occupation: Therapist
Residence: Austin, TX
Date of Performance/Collection: April 18, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): german

So, there’s this story I heard one time  –or maybe I read it in a book, I don’t remember. But it’s a Native American parable. Like, a Chief was teaching his grandson or a Chief was teaching a young warrior. Anyway, he says, “A fight is going on inside you.  It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger and cruelty, ego and regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, insecurity, guilt, resentment, shame, etc..”

“The other is good – joy, and love and compassion, kindness, hope, love, generosity, faith, peace.  The wolves are always fighting inside of you.” The grandson/warrior thinks about it for a bit and then asks, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Chief replies, “The one you feed.” For me, this story is about how you get more of what you concentrate on. Like, where you put your energy is where things grow, so it’s a little warning, a reminder, not to let yourself dwell in the dark places in your psyche. The thing I think I say to my clients the most is, “No positive change can come from a harsh place of judgment.” Like if you feed the Harsh Judgment Dog, you just get more harsh judgment. In my clients, this often translates into paralysis and perfectionism.

 

Context & Analysis: This piece was collected from a 54 year old white woman who lives in Austin, Texas. She is a therapist by trade, hence the references to clients. I think her interpretation of the tale is spot on, and I like her addition of the Harsh Judgement Dog. If she propagates this legend, maybe naming one of the wolves the Harsh Judgement Dog will be one of the oikotypal variations.

 

Miss Susie

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Students
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

[Assorted singing] (Wait, start over, I have to transcribe this) [A and B singing over each other]

 

Miss Susie had a steamboat,

the steamboat had a bell,

Miss Susie went to Heaven,

the steamboat went to–

 

–Hello operator,

I’m caller number nine

and if you disconnect me

I’ll chop off your be–

 

’hind the ’’fridgerator,

There was a piece of glass

Miss Susie sat upon it

And broke her little–

 

–ask, me no more questions,

tell me no more lies.

The boys are in the bathroom

zipping up their–

 

–flies are in the meadows,

bees are in the park

Miss Susie and her boyfriend are kissing in the

D-A-R-K,

D-A-R-K,

Dark, dark, dark,

 

Darker than the ocean,

darker than the sea

Darker than the underwear my mommy puts on me

 

My mommy is Godzilla

my daddy is King Kong,

my brother is the jerk that made me sing this song

 

A: is that a thing? Miss Susie went to heaven–

B: Camp songs! Camp songs are a thing. Baby shark.

[more overlapping talking] (So do y’all have any other camp songs or is that it?)

A: We went to different camps.

B: …bazooka zooka bubblegum! Bazooka zooka bubblegum!

(So how did y’all learn these?)
A: Camp counselors.

[rousing chorus of Camp Grenada]

B: They sample a classical piece for that song.

 

 

Context & Analysis: This piece was shared by my informants H and N at an informal house gathering. Myself, N, H, and one other were sharing pizza and talking. They started telling stories, and I immediately wanted to record some. It was difficult to get H and N to explain their camp songs to me as I believe they were distracted by how much fun they were having. I did some research into this piece because I remembered learning a slightly different version, and found there are in fact significant regional oikotypal changes, proving that as the song traveled and was passed from camp counselor to camper, the lyrics changed according to whatever the people in the area found the funniest or most clever. 

 

Eso Si Que Es

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican American
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Dallas, TX
Date of Performance/Collection: April 16, 2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): spanish

Um, a saying… I don’t think it counts as a proverb, but um… my mom would always say “eso si que es” (I know that! That’s such a proverb!) Oh yeah? I thought it was too silly to be a proverb. (No, that doesn’t matter. I like the silly things. Anyway, keep going.) It, it just means “it is what it is,” which, I guess, yeah. But, there’s also like the joke to it as well, where it’s like, you’d ask, “how do you say- how do you spell socks in english?  So, ¿cómo se deletrea calcetines en inglés?” And the joke is, it’s “it is what it is, S O C K S (NB: ess oh see kay ess, eso si que es)” And that’s like the “ba-dum PSHH,” but my mom would always say it in important moments.

 

Context & Analysis: D is a 21 year old Mexican trans woman. She was born and currently lives in Texas. I asked her if she had any traditions or celebrated any holidays in a particular way, and she told me about a few. This informant learned this piece from her mother. This conversation was recorded and transcribed. I think it’s very telling that D learned this gesture from her mother as women have performed folklore since its inception (Mills 1993). I love the double meaning; I think that is the reason this saying is especially popular among American hispanic folks as many of us know both Spanish and English. I like that D’s mother would use it during serious moments to lighten the tension. While folklore is often used as an educational or parenting tool, with a moral and everything, proverbs such as this are often humorous enough to remember and abide by.