Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Liuzhou’s Historical Nightmare

In order to mark the Dragon Boat Festival, and perhaps today’s Children’s Day, Liuzhou Museum mounted one of its occasional temporary exhibitions. These can sometimes be wonderful. This one wasn’t.

Entitled “Historical Memory”. it consisted of a load of piss-poor water colours depicting scenes from around the city. You know, the same clichéd crap you get every time. Postcard standard, if you like really crap postcards.

But this is not what offends me so much. Nor what prompts me to use “Nightmare” in my description.

When I visited a few days back, they were playing some background music. The Carpenters’ Yesterday Once More, the song every foreigner comes to hate, if they didn’t already. If you didn’t hate already you are my grandmother or need aural correction surgery immediately.

But I’m a patient sort of guy, so I ignored it while looking at sad paintings. Finally, it limped to an end in its usual linguistic chaos.

Then it started all over again. Yes, they have the damned dirge on a continuous loop and are playing it from 9am to 5 pm everyday, except Mondays when they are closed to give the staff time to consult their therapists.

What is it about China and that miserable song? It’s 44 years old and was shit then, too. It is 34 years since Ms Carpenter died. And the song bears no cultural relevance to China (or anywhere else for that matter).

It kicks off

When I was young I’d listen to the radio
Waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played I’d sing along, it made me smile

No you didn’t! When you were young the radio only played reports from Liuzhou Tractor Factory announcing heroic increases  in production (all Fake News!) and proud statements on how the CCCP was responsible for everything from the weather to Ms. Carpenter’s healthy diet.

Those were such happy times and not so long ago
How I wondered where they’d gone

If the memories were lost 44 years ago, perhaps they should have been left to fester.

It then descends into linguistic gobbledegook.

Every sha-la-la-la
Every wo-o-wo-o, still shines
Every shing-a-ling-a-ling, that they’re startin’ to sing’s, so fine

This is what every Chinese student learns as English!

The tune is unremittingly negative, depressing crap and the lyrics even more so.

There is, of course, some post Maoist connection. Although it was released during the latter stages of Mao’s cultural revolution, it was banned then as was pretty much everything including education. But there have been periodic attempts to re-Mao the country – we are in one now – and look whose face shines out of every banknote.

In many ways, Yesterday One More does sum up the country or, at least, it’s leadership. That is their goal.

But its use in this exhibition is just aesthetic philistinism. I’m voting for All Tomorrow’s Parties instead. A much higher class of misery.

. This entry was posted on Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at 7:31 pm and is filed under About Liuzhou, Chinese Holidays, Education, Museums, Music, Propaganda, Stupidity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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