Paul Simon & Politics

2017-03-14 17.55.22I am a Paul Simon fan. Big-time. I’m not sure it’s reciprocated.

It went like this.

It was the late 80s. It was New York. And I had just moved into a beautiful building on Central Park West.

I was heading up the elevator with my brilliant five-year-old daughter. (If I were allowed to write about her, I would tell you just how brilliant she is.) The doors opened, and he got on.

Said 5yo started to stare – in that way you know is trouble. He was wearing a baseball cap. She peered under it and asked in all sincerity: “Are you a man?” He responded with both a glare and a “Why?” She answered openly, as only smart five-year-olds do: “Well you’re very short, so I’m not sure.”

You don’t need to worry. I, the mother of the brilliant 5yo, pulled it out: “We’re your new neighbors, and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was my high school graduation class song, and I think you are most talented songwriter of my generation alongside Barry Manilow of course.”

Needless to say, there was no reply and I never ran into him again, although I’m told he still lives there.

Paul is one serious guy, and, as a result, he doesn’t always interview well. But his interview with David Axelrod, who speaks way too slowly and thinks too methodically to be a great interviewer, is worth the listen. They had me at hello.

At 54:35, David asks him about politics, and Paul discusses a television special he did back in the day, which was being sponsored by AT&T. It was the only one he ever did. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was played behind footage from the funerals of Martin Luther King, Jr., President Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy.

“They told us we had to change that. We said, ‘Why’? And they said, ‘It’s not fair’. And, we said, ‘What’s not fair?’ And they said, ‘Well, they’re all Democrats.’ And we said, ‘Really? We think of them as all assassinated people.’”

I can’t get it out of my head. I really can’t, because it is such a brilliant example of how we have lost sight of everything that is important in our country today. Instead of asking ourselves if what is in front of us is right for the country, ourselves, and our children’s future, we just see who is placing it in front of us, and that’s the end of that.

In the interview, Paul goes on to talk about his classmate Andrew Goodman, who was killed in Mississippi working for Civil Rights. He talks about its effect on him.

Listen to his interview. You can’t spend a stronger hour.

God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson…

Going to the candidates’ debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at it you lose

He was a prophet projecting then what is still true today. Thanks, Paul. Sorry about the elevator.

Postscript: I received this in an email after this posted, and I wanted to share it.  Good Sunday morning. After reading the latest Freesia Lane, I have to share a story with you. I had a very dear friend at a boys’ school. He got in a fight with his father so went and joined the army at 17. His name was PD. His older brother and I were in the guitar group at our church. P got sent to Vietnam. I received regular letters from him – we were quite close. One Saturday morning, sun shining, beautiful summer Michigan day I received a letter. Pat was going out on a mission so couldn’t write for a while. In that letter, he asked us to learn the song Bridge Over Troubled Water and dedicate it in our hearts for the troops when we played it at mass. An hour later, his brother David came to the door to tell me Pat was MIA. I said impossible because I had just received a letter. It was the last one he wrote. Six weeks later, his body was recovered. We sang Bridge Over Troubled Water at his funeral. Of note, in all my tender 17 years, I had never seen my father take Holy Communion, he did at P’s funeral. I go to the Vietnam Memorial each time I am in DC for P. He died on July 20, 1970. My father died July 20, 2009.

Invader Got in By Hiding in the Grocery Bag

Invader in my house.

It was terrible. I’m not sure, but I think he got in through a grocery bag, hiding underneath the grapes, turmeric, coconut milk, fresh Atlantic salmon, and lemons. I had no idea. Swear. And, before I could call the police for help, he disappeared into the abyss that ends up on my thighs with nary a trace charting the roadways it took to get there. Evading the authorities yet again.


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It's Women's History Month and I’m Not Celebrating.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m oh so very proud of the hordes of women who have gone before me. My female ancestor who sailed over in Mayflower times with Thomas Hinckley (she probably thought he was nuts for making her come). My mother-in-law, who taught me that if you need to use the restroom at a friend’s house, you should go home because you have been there long enough. Gloria Steinem. Ruth Bader

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Marching is Good. Changing Our Own Behavior is Better.

Long, long ago, in a country now far, far away, a man of color took the stage at the Democratic Convention in the United States of America and rallied a nation around the notion that the United States of America is about all of us.

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino

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My GD Neighbors Who Clearly Don't Use Electricity

Every few months my electric company sends out an e-mail telling me how my energy conservation compares to my neighbor’s … and it’s never good news. Anyone who reads Freesia Lane knows I’m a competitive person and that I get anxious if I don’t perform well, so when I first received this email, I thought, Gotta get on this! But every month it’s getting worse — this month they say I’m 32 percent worse than

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Dear Nebraska

I went to the University of Nebraska in 1972 and stayed four glorious years. During those years I cheered for the Cornhuskers on many a cold and rainy day. I became a PiPhi sorority girl; I had found a home at a time when my own home was so very far away and newly fractured. I went to Alliance Nebraska and stood up for my BFF when she took her vows. I made friends with

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The Morning After 11/9

There is a famous story that when they woke the Emperor of Japan to tell him that the bombing of Pearl Harbor had begun, he responded, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” (There are those that dispute it was ever said, but I have always loved the quote and the sentiment.) He was right. And I will say that after the first

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Election Day

It’s Election Day, and here is a picture of me voting in 2008 for the first black candidate for President of the United States. (Note to self: your daughter is right, you have had the same glasses for years and you need to get new ones. Maybe that’s why things look blurry around this election.) I wrote about my excitement after he was elected. My hope for our future.

Today I will vote again for

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Halloween Angst

It’s Halloween, and I’m starting to stress all over again. Last year you might remember I had to contend with my neighbor’s “Look at me I’m so cool” décor, which ultimately made me want to move to another neighborhood. And now I’m going to come clean about the rest of the Halloween issues that trick me every year.

Okay, let’s start with the candy issue. Did you know that $7.9 billion is spent on Halloween

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Nasty Women

Over the last ten days I’ve watched Michele Obama blossom as a speaker giving voice to that feeling inside so many of us for so very long. Stronger than the Versace gown she wore at her last State dinner (was that fabulous or what!), she stood tall in New Hampshire (not a state that has been particularly supportive of her or her husband) and spoke about assault on women. Not the kind of assault that

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