Monday, December 24, 2018

They Got A Wall In China | Lefsetz Letter

They got a wall in China
It’s a thousand miles long
To keep out the foreigners
They made it strong

Paul Simon’s solo debut, not counting the “Songbook” album that was rushed to the American market after the success of “Sound of Silence,” was a commercial disappointment. Sure, “Mother and Child Reunion” was a hit, and “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard” had impact, but the audience was expecting Simon & Garfunkel and got something darker and more introspective.

But those who purchased the LP were rewarded with some of Paul Simon’s best work. Like “Armistice Day” and “Duncan.”

And seemingly pissed at the lack of acceptance, little more than a year later, Simon released an album with a hit that dominated the airwaves and sold prodigiously.

That LP is entitled “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”

At this point, Paul Simon is seen as an appropriator of foreign sounds, known primarily for “Graceland,” and one must applaud Simon’s continuation of exploration, his decision not to rest on his laurels, but if you go back and play “Rhymin’ Simon” you’ll be stunned, it’s one of the best albums ever made.

They say rock is dead. The call Elton pop. But back in the early seventies, it was a big tent, it was all rock. Guitars were king, piano accepted, real strings too, and we appreciated it all.

Now when “Rhymin’ Simon” came out, FM radio was in full swing. But every car did not have that band installed, so AM still counted, and “Kodachrome” was ubiquitous, so somehow in rock history “Rhymin’ Simon” has been forgotten, seen as not hip enough, neither fish nor fowl, then again the best stuff always is.

And the above lines from “Something So Right” have been going through my head the past week or so, as the government approached a shutdown and then closed. You see it’s about the wall.

Nixon visited China in 1972, knowing that you could not ignore a nation this large. But now, as our country is entwined with the foreign power, we’ve got a White House that’s trying to separate us from it, teach China a lesson.

But those days have passed. Why do Republicans want to jet back to the past? We live in a global village, globalization happened, it’s to our country’s advantage, you’ve got to adjust to it.

But our nation abhors change, no one can lose their job, no one can sacrifice, meanwhile the Silicon Valley titans sewed up the globe.

Think about that, a prodigious wall built a century ago. Has China maintained it? No, other than as a tourist attraction. It’s kind of like guns, if you think they’re going to keep you safe from government overreach, you know nothing about technology, a world in which a drone can kill you in your own home. Building a wall to keep foreigners out in the twenty first century is not only ignoring technology, but practicality, what’s preventing immigrants from utilizing a really big ladder? There cannot be guards on its entire length… We’ve got invisible dog fences, but somehow nitwits see a giant edifice as a solution. Then again, what is the problem? Net immigration from Mexico is zero, once again, it’s about preserving a past that no longer exists, our nation is no longer white, it’s more homogeneous, did you ever watch MTV decades ago, have you ever looked at the ethnicity of the hit parade?

Now as I’ve been playing “Rhymin’ Simon” today, another track jumped out. That’s what’s intriguing about great art, it’s set in stone, but it reveals itself over time, you grow with it, as you age and gain experience.

You got to learn how to fall
Before you learn to fly

This is why I’m against outsiders in government, people with no experience coming in to “fix” things. Politics is a profession, experience counts, as does failure, isn’t that the mantra of Silicon Valley?

Oh, and it’s the same old story
Ever since the world began
Everybody got the runs for glory

Men driven by testosterone, looking for attention and accolades, whipping out their members to show how powerful they are, what a joke. This is why women run the world, they’re more balanced, they’re big on a sense of community, men are oftentimes solo vessels, believing they need no one else when that could not be further from the truth.

And every day there’s news from the White House. As Trump whipsaws the country.

As “Learn How To Fall” continues, it says:

Nobody stop and scrutinize the plan
Nobody stop and scrutinize the plan
Nobody stop and scrutinize the plan

It’s all over Twitter today, there is no adult supervision, there is no plan.

Now if you’re rich and you support Trump, I get it, after all, he lowered your taxes.

If you’re anti-safety net, I get it too. But just admit it, you want no takers, you want everybody in America to fight on their own. Then again, be sure you yourself are not a beneficiary of government money, just read about Harlan County, Kentucky in yesterday’s “Times”:

“Where Government Is a Dirty Word, but its Checks Pay the Bills”

Then again, you probably don’t read the “Times” if you’re a Trumpster.

And I don’t expect to convince you, and don’t expect to convince me, I’m just lying on the floor listening to a forty five year old record with more wisdom than anybody in the executive branch.

They Got A Wall In China


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