Article Of The Day

To Cover China, There’s No Substitute for WeChat – Li Yuan conducts much of her work on the WeChat mobile app, including spotting trends -and prodding sources to get back to her”

I know, I know, you’re inundated with lists of articles to read every day, and if you’re like me, you end up reading none of them. Information overload has consequences. I never go to the movie theatre, except on my birthday, because it’s a tradition (along with a hot fudge sundae and a pastrami on rye), not because I hate the movies, not because I’m protesting, but because I don’t have the time. Never mind driving to the multiplex, the film doesn’t start when I get there, it’s not on demand, like the rest of our culture. And unlike gigs, it’s not live. I mean going to a concert is an event, is that what movies are going to turn into? Quite possibly.

So I don’t understand all this excitement about awards season, because I haven’t seen the flicks, and most others have not seen many either. Used to be I lived for the movies, before they became so high concept as to defy reality, before the golden era of television.

And speaking of television, with nearly 500 scripted series a year, who can get a handle on it, other than the critics. That’s who awards shows are for, the critics and old wave media, stuck in a circling the drain paradigm that the public wants no part of.

I mean who cares who wins the Oscar?

Same deal with the Grammys, although we’re always interested whether it will be a rapper or a woman or both. That’s more important than the music, because most people have not heard it. We’re all down in our niches, if we’re paying attention at all. That’s right, just like I’ve excised movies, waiting for them to come to TV and ignoring them once they do, there are people who’ve completely tuned out music.

Not that the industry acknowledges it.

The music industry is the same as it ever was. Focusing on radio and a Top Ten. Sure, it’s now streaming instead of sales, but despite being on demand, there’s no kowtowing to the public’s desires, no effort to make it comprehensible.

And I read four newspapers a day to try to get a hold on things. I mean you can learn about music from kids, which I don’t have, but the world issues? Everybody’s ignorant these days, that’s the dirty little secret, if someone tells you they know, they probably don’t.

And the papers are all different. As are their owners. Do you believe Jeff Bezos led with his unit? Isn’t that interesting, how we never really change, how business is always secondary to lust and desire and love. Hell, Sumner Redstone summoned escorts.

And the flaw of the “New York Times” is too often it’s living in the past, it’s anti-tech.

But starting a few months back, they began this new series, about how their reporters utilize tech, it’s published on Tech Thursday.

What bothers me is people covering tech who don’t have all the services, who don’t use the latest tech. When they say a 6s is enough. Sure, have a Samsung, as a matter of fact you should have both! But get the latest edition. And subscribe to all the video services. It’s your gig, you can write it off, I have a hard time taking your opinion seriously if you didn’t buy a ticket.

And this week’s story is on the China correspondent.

And she uses WeChat.

Most Americans have no idea of the power of WeChat, as Li Yuan says, it’s “the equivalent of WhatsApp plus Facebook plus PayPal pus Uber plus GrubHub plus many other things.”

Whew!

Got that?

On one hand, you don’t want to give one company that much power.

On the other hand, think of the ease of use! The connectedness!

And most people in China skipped the laptop and went straight to the mobile phone.

Which is why you must not still be using your 5s, never mind your 6s. You need the power and the features to experience the present, never mind the future.

And China’s a nearly cashless society.

But it’s a censored society.

And in this one brief article you get more insight into China than you do hearing the blubbering of the D.C.’ites.

And speaking of D.C…

Are we really talking about physical walls when technology does such a good job?

The issue with China is not tariffs, it’s how the nation has already superseded us in so many ways, and will continue to gain power. For all those America First, USA! USA! people, this is unfathomable.

But if you read this article, not so much.

The Sopranos

Now the criminals are techies. They hide in plain sight and get a pass from the government, because with billions of dollars they define the game.

Like the Mafia used to, with a lot less cash.

I was just watching the episode where Adriana gets whacked. Christopher leaves her T-Bird in long term parking at the airport. Not only was I worried about fingerprints, old school, but cameras, new school. Blue collar crime is passe, there’s a camera everywhere, especially in the U.K. That’s how they found those Russians who poisoned the ex-spy and his daughter, they went to the film, you always go to the film these days, it’s a regular plot point on television and in movies.

But the rich people don’t even have to hire lawyers, the IRS has been neutered and they hide under the rubric of being job-creating envelope pushers who make our society great.

Not that I’m anti-tech, but the last year has been about the turning tide in tech, but we’re still only at the tip of the iceberg.

In the twenty years since the Soprano family used flip-phones, a lot has changed.

Steve Jobs tacitly agreed not to poach from Google.

Facebook sold your data and its site to the highest bidder. As for the vaunted social graph where you can connect with everybody, you’ve got to pay for that now, otherwise you can’t reach anybody.

Amazon puts you out of business if you don’t sell to them, this has happened so many times that it’s not only well-known, there’s a chilling effect, why start a company that will be crushed or sold for pennies.

Or laid off on the highest bidder who will bury it, like Tumblr and Yahoo.

Marissa Mayer got whacked and then Tumblr had no champion, without porn it will never survive, it’s too 2007.

And Tim Armstrong laid AOL off on Verizon and then got canned when it all didn’t add up. Meanwhile, we ate the bill, those of us invested in the telco, and you probably are, even if it’s via an index fund.

And for those with little, the joke is on you.

That’s what the Mafia was about, the dream, of a high life for the uneducated, the street smart. “The Godfather” gave the Mob gravitas. “Donnie Brasco” illustrated that the family was based on small time crookdom, but…

Those without portfolio could get a leg up. They could rely on their brothers. Like those at Georgetown Prep, or the college fraternity.

Once again, there’s a dividing line, and chances are you’re on the wrong side of it.

Meanwhile, you keep hearing about how these companies made it legitimately, but the dirty little secret is…

They did not.

Forget the foreign bribes, how about Microsoft insisting that manufacturers pay for Windows on every machine, even if it wasn’t installed. That put a dent in Linux way back when.

Yup, you work hard, you follow the rules, and you lose. Even if you got an education.

As for those without, they’re so disillusioned they’re on drugs. They started on opioids prescribed by pill mills, Purdue Pharma got rich, and then they ended up buying heroin and fentanyl on the street and we want them to go straight, but why, so they can get a minimum wage job that doesn’t pay the bills?

And what I loved about “The Sopranos,” and it is my favorite TV show of all time, and I believe it is the best, is the way real life was illustrated, how Meadow suggested punishing her by taking away her gas credit card.

Forget the fact that no one uses a gas credit card anymore, they use Mastercard, Visa or Amex for the points, this middle class existence doesn’t exist either. Mom and Dad are both out working. You’re on your own. And if you happen to get in trouble, it’s someone else’s fault, like the teachers, those damn schools, why are they always singling out my child?

And those with money live a completely different lifestyle, often behind gates, they go to private schools, oftentimes fly private and don’t want anybody taking their spot at first class institutions, which are need blind, which you probably don’t even know the definition of, which is the way they like it.

The poor and the rich, the lower middle class and the upper middle class, don’t even mix.

And sure, the standard of living is higher in many ways, everybody has a smartphone and a flat screen, but hope has been eviscerated, upward mobility has been eviscerated.

Which is how Trump got elected. The downtrodden feel screwed by the elites.

But the joke is now on the elites, because they’re not elite enough. They can’t afford concierge doctors, never mind NetJet accounts.

So everybody with a brain and an education buys insurance, metaphorically anyway. Used to be your parents told you to be a doctor or lawyer, but those professions no longer rain down enough cash, now they tell you to become a banker. Or maybe a techie, but competition is too rough in that field.

So the winners live a lifestyle most people are unaware of, they’ve got no real idea how the truly rich live.

And these are not rock stars, rock stars don’t make billions, never have. These are faceless nerds, both male and female, who worked hard and then realized…there was no law, there was no oversight, so…

They raped and pillaged.

And I know you can’t utilize the term “rape” anymore, but while the politically correct police are checking your language, Sheryl Sandberg is pulling the wool over your eyes, saying you can have it all when the truth is only she can have it all, and she’s doing everything in her power to keep it that way, screw morality.

That’s just like the Mafia, it’s never enough. The Mob never gives an inch.

But the truth is the law decimated the Mob.

But there are not enough lawmen left. The government won’t fund the people who go after white collar crime. The FBI has been denigrated, courts are overbooked, and you think it’s about keeping immigrants from crawling over a theoretical wall to take your job.

They don’t want your job, they’re doing all the stuff you won’t do.

As for your job…

You’re angry it’s a dead end, from which you’ll probably get fired anyway. You’re trying to climb a greased pole, but when anybody tells you that, you deny it, believing the USA is better than socialist countries like Denmark, where there’s free education and free health care, because you’ve got the American Dream.

But the American Dream is more achievable in socialist Europe than it is here, just check the “Wall Street Journal,” they published the figures.

So you’re mad as hell and you’re not gonna take it anymore. So you vote against your interests, and get hung up on irrelevant issues like gay marriage and abortion when the truth is you can’t make it here.

Which is why you used to wake up in the morning and get yourself a gun but…

All those bad guys have been caught, use a gun and end your life, you can wreak a lot of havoc, but you’re not gonna escape.

And your mama may have told you you’d be the chosen one, but the call never comes, you never get your chance.

But you’re looking good on Instagram so you think you’re making progress, when the truth is you’re only making Zuck’s pocketbook fatter.

But still, if you tune into “The Sopranos,” all these years later, you’ll find more truth than you’ll get in the newspaper. Hell, wasn’t Manafort a Soprano?

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame-SiriusXM This Week

Tune in tomorrow, Tuesday January 8, on Volume 106, 7 PM East, 4 PM West.

Phone #: 844-6-VOLUME, 844-686-5863

Twitter: @siriusxmvolume/#lefsetzlive

Hear the episode live on SiriusXM VOLUME: HearLefsetzLive

If you miss the episode, you can hear it on demand on the SiriusXM app: LefsetzLive

Bohemian Rhapsody

So what have we learned?

It was the worst-reviewed Golden Globe winner in 33 years:

Bohemian Rhapsody Is the Worst-Reviewed Golden Globe Winner in 33 Years

Not that I needed Rotten Tomatoes to tell me this, I’ve been tracking it all along. Excoriated in the press, I’ve yet to find one person who didn’t absolutely adore it.

This movie should have been a nonstarter. Aged rock band’s surviving members shepherd a biopic to the screen. The story is too old, not intriguing enough, and everybody will tell you you don’t want the subjects involved, they can never agree on anything and they want a whitewash.

But “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the highest grossing biopic of all time, with a $743,677,266 gross, with $193,644,966 of that in the U.S.

Furthermore, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the song, was not that big of a phenomenon when it was released back in ’75. “A Night At The Opera” was a breakthrough for a band who famously listed “No Synthesizers” in the credits. Their debut, back in ’73, came out on Elektra in the U.S., the home of another band that resurfaced decades later, the Doors. It was Columbia and Warner Brothers who could push this stuff, not Elektra.

But the second album got more traction and the third established a true beachhead, primarily “Killer Queen.”

But the amazing thing about “A Night At The Opera” was its breadth, its different styles. To tell you the truth, “I’m In Love With My Car” and “39” and “You’re My Best Friend” resonated with me more than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not “Stairway To Heaven,” it was not “Free Bird,” it did not sit atop the annual Memorial 500, it was just another arty track in a healthy, diverse scene.

One can argue quite strongly that the subsequent “We Will Rock You”/”We Are The Champions” had greater impact two years later, but neither “A Day At The Races” nor “News Of The World” were as consistent as “A Night At The Opera,” the band’s apotheosis. And after the relatively hitless “Jazz,” which did contain “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Race,” the band came back with “The Game” and the infectious “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites The Dust” and then Queen was done, they switched labels in the U.S. and never had another hit, and in the rest of the world the situation was not a whole lot better.

But now they’re LEGENDS? SUPERSTARS? How did this HAPPEN?

That’s right, we had not only Zeppelin, but the Eagles, and before they died, Skynyrd. The truth was, there was a plethora of great acts in the seventies, an era where there was 24 track recording and enough money to get the sound down and the bands could play live and the PA’s could support them.

Credit “Wayne’s World.” It’s just that simple, Wayne and Garth made “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a nearly-forgotten classic rock track, a national staple.

Just like “The Sopranos” gave credibility to Journey and made Steve Perry a legend.

The question is…WHO ELSE CAN BE BROUGHT BACK FROM THE DEAD?

It seems we’re just a placement away from bringing old acts back. But it can’t be manipulated, it’s got to be serendipitous, which makes it so hard to accomplish.

And everyone knows Freddie Mercury died of AIDS.

BUT THEY WENT TO SEE THE MOVIE ANYWAY!

And like I said, the critics savaged the film. Proving their worth in the internet world.

And speaking of the internet world, it’s the endless repeats of “Wayne’s World” on cable and streaming that kept the legend of “Bohemian Rhapsody” alive.

So what is resonating with the public? Which knows the story and the song?

THE NARRATIVE!

The classic rock narrative is irresistible. People with nothing do hard work and ultimately succeed doing it their way.

This is radically different from today’s music paradigm.

Then again, wasn’t this the story of N.W.A. and “Straight Outta Compton”?

Act too dangerous, too out there for the business, plays by its own rules and resonates with the public.

In other words, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is “Behind The Music” on steroids.

But that formula became long in the tooth. And most acts are not as charismatic as Queen and Mercury.

Now I’m not sure movie studios should rush to do biopics, they usually fail. But “Bohemian Rhapsody” tapped into something.

The power of music.

The power of rock and the roll.

The power of outsiders.

The power of doing it your way.

We’re looking for dominance, for a beacon, something to believe in, and Freddie Mercury and Queen fit the bill.

In a country that’s divided, that doesn’t resemble the seventies whatsoever, the public hungers for something better, a time where music was more important than politics, when a musician was richer than a banker, when the rock star life was truly lived by rock stars.

I doubt “Bohemian Rhapsody” will win Best Picture at the Oscars.

But that doesn’t matter. Because it will play ad infinitum on cable and streaming services. Funny, oftentimes film outlives the music it is based upon.

In other words, the remaining members of Queen achieved their goal beyond their wildest dreams. Queen is now forever, watch those ticket counts soar.

But if Freddie Mercury were still here he’d be laughing.

You see it was not like today, you didn’t make music for mainstream attention, to be a member of the group, you reveled in your role as an outsider, the world came to YOU!

Shows sold out, you were rich, and your lifestyle…let’s just say that smartphone cameras have killed the road, at least sexually.

You were the other, you not only won the game, you defined it.

You didn’t study hard in school, you didn’t take a traditional path, you created your career out of whole cloth, you gave the middle finger to the establishment.

And your audience couldn’t get enough of you.

It’s this ethos the public is hungry for.

We don’t want brands, we want personalities. Who can’t manage perfume companies and the rest of the mercenary penumbra in today’s world.

We want people who can say no. People others are begging to perform, be involved with.

We want leaders, beacons, people who take hold of the system, shake it up, and made it work for them instead of vice versa.

That was Queen.

But it was so many more.

Queen was not the Beatles, they weren’t even the Eagles when it comes to hits and ticket counts. But now they’re the biggest band in the world, decades later.

When you get it right, you get it right for all time.

Take risks, do it your way, the public will clamor for you.

But that’s not today’s paradigm, not really.

But people don’t change, that’s still what we’re looking for.