Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pheaturing Wishnefsky

Rabbit. It's the first of July and my Grandmother used to say "Rabbit" should be the first thing you say on the first of the month for good luck. Anyway, welcome to the Phile, where we're having the most phantastic Summer ever. Are you still watching the World Cup? I gave up after Germany beat England 4-1. You can't spell FUCK without UK. By the way, they're playing football... not soccer. Anyway, a lot of people asked me what do the color cards mean in the game? A yellow card is a warning, a red card means you have to leave the game, and a green card means you can move to the United States. Tom Cruise’s underpants dancing scene in Risky Business was voted the single greatest scene in film history according to a recent survey of Ricky Martin. I didn’t see Valkyrie because Cruise was playing a Nazi. A heroic Nazi, but still a Nazi. By the way, a heroic Nazi is like an environmentally friendly BP executive. People make fun of Tom Cruise’s height. He’s actually 5-foot-7-inches, which is a reasonable size... for a girl.
Last Friday was the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death and it was also the one-year anniversary of people forgetting that Farrah Fawcett also died on this day. So, a new study found that children are more likely to choose food that comes in packaging with a cartoon on it than without. I never would have figured that. Thanks, Yale. A woman in Colorado crashed her car and claimed that it was because she had hallucinations of vampires. I think that vampire is probably “Count Crackula.” Vice President Joe Biden went down to the Gulf to see the oil spill. Haven’t the people down there suffered enough? Larry King announced via Twitter that after 25 years, he will step away from “Larry King Live.” He said he wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. That’ll fix her. Sunday is July 4, the day America declared independence from the British and their petroleum. If you’re planning to use fireworks this year, it’s important to check local laws and figure out how you can get around them. The third Twilight movie opened. They were predicting it to be the most successful vampire movie since Love at First Bite 2. As I said July 4th is this Sunday and there's already an inspirational poster for it. But I don't get it. Do you?

Okay, I have to admit, the 10th book in the Book Club wasn't supposed to be in the Book Club at all. The author Mark Mekkes was supposed to be on the Phile in April for Artist Month but I ran out of days, and he never made it. Luckily he wrote a book which I will now officially make it the 10th book in the Book Club. It's available at and it's...

Mark will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks as well.

Permanently disfigured by the terrorist (Malkovich, and yes that's the word they use in this movie set in 1876... more about that in a bit) who also killed his wife and child, Jonah Hex is an antihero who can't seem to die like he's supposed to. Instead he can re-animate the dead and speak to them, employing them as helpful information delivery systems unless he just feels like breathing life into them for a second to remind them that they're dead before he kills them twice. Anyway, as he embarks on a violent quest for revenge he also winds up saving the United States capitol, with help from prostitute pal Megan Fox, from Malkovich's proto-nuclear weapon. That there isn't a giant mechanical spider in this one like they had in Wild Wild West seems like a missed opportunity to pay tribute to another crappy contemporary comic-book-like Western. At 80 minutes long but feeling like 160, you can tell in every frame of this movie that something went horribly wrong. At every turn. With every element. Even my favorite thing, the crushingly heavy score co-created by metal band Mastodon, seems like it was chopped up and removed of all elements that would have made for a unique experience and then left to limp along on its own. Worse, this film was written by the guys who created the awesome Crank movies. You can feel it straining to be wild, to be irreverent, to be bold and gut-kicking, but someone with the power to do so muzzled and ruined it. Bummer. It had a horrible animated opening, cheap effects, stupid attempts at analogous Al Qaeda and contemporary terrorism references, inconsistent scar makeup on Josh Brolin, an onslaught of bloodless PG-13 deaths, hatefully boring chemistry between Brolin and Megan Fox (who wanders through the entire film sweaty and half-asleep), joyless jokes followed by references to earlier joyless jokes in which Brolin says stuff like, "I'm all outta wise-ass [comments]," which will in turn make you think to yourself, "Somebody said something wise-assy before this? Was I napping? Getting popcorn?" It's enough to make you want to kill the film reels, bring them back to life and then kill them again. What I did like was Megan Fox breaking through the surface of the water even thought it was like 3 seconds and where a crow living in Jonah Hex's throat pops out and flies away. It makes no sense, but it looks cool. Who would want tos ee it, apart from myself and Logan? Comic book nerds spoiling for a fight, Civil War re-enactors, vintage men's facial hair enthusiasts and anyone who wonders if Will Arnett can keep a straight face while saying his lines. He does. There, I just saved you guys the price of a ticket. Logan loved it, I give it a four and I will probably refrain from buying it when it comes out.

Robert Byrd
November 20, 1917 - June 28, 2010
Now, the early worm can get the Byrd.

Feast of the Most Precious Blood, celebrating the blood shed during Christ's Passion and reassumed into His body at Resurrection. Yum!
The date proposed by Churchill for the start of WWIII, where U.S. and British forces were to meet Russian forces in Poland with a two pronged attack, using 47 divisions. It would have been a terrible mistake to attempt what both Napoleon and Adolf Hitler failed to accomplish.
Atomic Bomb testing begins, using the Nagasaki-type implosion bomb, at Bikini Atoll.
Mary Reeser spontaneously combusts in St. Petersburg, Florida, after taking a couple of sleeping pills and settling down with a lit cigarette.
Michael Landon, star of I Was a Teenage Werewolf, dies of pancreatic cancer just three months after its initial diagnosis.
Gian Luigi Ferri steps into the San Francisco law offices of Pettit & Martin at 101 California Street with two full-auto TEC-DC9s and a .45 semiauto pistol. In the span of four minutes, Ferri kills 8 and wounds 6 others before blowing his brains out. Almost as quickly, the victims' families file suit against Intratec, the manufacturer of the TEC-9, as well as the owner of the Las Vegas pawn shop where he bought one of them.
The body of Margeaux Hemingway is found in her Santa Monica, California apartment after the actress apparently overdosed on Phenobarbital.

Today's guest is a composer/musician/singer who founded the alternative band Jabberwock in the early 90s. Now he is going solo and making some damned pretty good music. His new album "Idiot Proof" is now available at iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Wishnefsky.

Me: Hello, welcome to the Peverett Phile. So, is Wishnefsky your first or last name?

Wishnefsky: Many thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. Wishnefsky was the original surname of my father’s family in Russia. When my great-grandparents came through Ellis Island, the name was changed and Americanized – a common story in those times, especially for Jews. I learned of the name around the time my old band Jabberwock was formed and adopted it as my music pseudonym. My great-grandfather, by the way, was the Czar’s pastry chef and ended up baking at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. Unfortunately, however, none of that culinary talent was passed down - unless you count burning toast, for which I have a prodigious talent.

Me: It sounded Russian. Where are you from?

Wishnefsky: I’m your basic American mutt. As you now know, my father is of Russian descent. My maternal grandpa was a tall blue-eyed Irishman and my maternal grandma was a short blue-eyed German. My Irish grandfather’s family is the genetic source of my musical inclinations. His aunt used to improvise organ music in movie theatres over silent films. I would LOVE to do that, especially if I had never seen the movie. I was born and raised in LA, though we lived in Pennsylvania for a few years when I was a kid. My parents were divorced and remarried, so I was moved around a lot – kind of like an army brat, except the war was between my parents. I’m overselling that – they never tried to kill each other, at least not outside of the courtroom. They actually get along swimmingly now and have for years. I’m still trying to get over it, nonetheless. Years of psychotherapy and songwriting have helped, though not necessarily in that order.

Me: How is it living in South Pasadena? Do you get a lot of fires in your area?

Wishnefsky: South Pas is like a small mid west town stuck in the middle of the greater LA metropolitan area. Perfect for kids. Lots of smart people live here and work at nearby Cal Tech and JPL. Our next door neighbor leads the Mars lander mission. My younger daughter is in the same elementary school class with his genius son. She throws unsolved Rubic’s Cubes over the fence and he throws them back - solved - two minutes later. I’m basically the village idiot.
No fires in South Pas (unless you count burning toast). However, lots of fires in other parts of LA and they’re a huge problem. Besides the obvious tragic stuff, like people losing their house and all their possessions, there are terrible mudslides as soon as it rains on the burned out hills. For such a beautiful place, it’s essentially disaster central.

Me: Tell me about your first band Jabberwock. You must be a Lewis Carrol fan. When did Jabberwock form and split up?

Wishnefsky: Jabberwock was born in the early 90s when I started working on material with drummer Dave Rodgers, bassist Rod Clark, and keyboardist Todd Jameson. Rod is an incredible musician, but we ended up splitting apart from him. I played bass on our recordings and we would bring in a guest bassist for live shows. The idea was to combine our eclectic tastes into something original. During the early days, we discovered that Rod and Todd could both recite the Jabberwocky poem by heart, and because we couldn’t think up anything else better, that became our name. Yes, I am a fan of Lewis Carroll – absolutely brilliant stuff.
Bob Ezrin, the guy who produced the Wall and a bunch of other great records, loved our band but absolutely detested the name Jabberwock. He begged us to change it. We had a studio set up in a friend’s garage in Van Nuys and recorded a ton of songs from around 1991 until 1997, many of which were never released. Michael James mixed almost all of our stuff and was a great sonic mentor for the band. We released the CD "Southland" in 1994. We released an EP called "Wishful Sinking" in 1996. We were about to release our second CD "Letterbomb" when we broke up in 1997 or so. Even though we are not back together, we released "Letterbomb" in 2007 and posted a bunch of unreleased songs on the Lost Dog website. There’s a lot more info about Jabberwock (and my other work) at Was that a shameless plug? Most likely it was.

Me: You play everything in the band, right? Do you have a band for the road though?

Wishnefsky: Yes, it’s just me in my studio at present. I’m a bit of a control freak. I like being stranded on my little artistic island. I am joined by guest artists on occasion. I was lucky enough to have Eric Sands play a great fretless part on a song on "SinTax". Michael James played guitar on a few tracks on "SinTax". He is playing a lot of guitar on the next record. I’ll tell you more about Sophie Wellen in a second. I do not have a live band at the moment. I do want to start playing live again. I’m thinking of doing an acoustic album next, so I may play some solo acoustic gigs. Obviously the logistics and finances are easier. If the demand and fiscal wherewithal materialize, I’d love to do a more elaborate show.

Me: Who is Sophie Warren? She does backing vocals for you, which are nice. Does she have her own band?

Wishnefsky: Thanks! Sophie is my daughter and has a great voice, he said with fatherly pride. She is also a good songwriter and we have been working on some songs together. She is in the Children’s Choir at the Colburn School of Performing Arts and is performing with the LA Opera next month. She is 13 and, like every kid, has a zillion things going on. So she’s not in a band. She’s not quite ready for that level of insanity.

Me: I purchased both your albums on iTunes... "Sin Tax" and "Use Your Words". Are you working on an album this year?

Wishnefsky: Thank you! I really appreciate your support. I hope you enjoy the records.
Michael James and I mixed the next Wishnefsky record, entitled "Idiot Proof". I’m quite excited about it. It’s more guitar driven and organic than the first two records, but there are still synths and electronic parts going on. Mike did some killer guitar parts.

Me: Who did the fish cover for "Use Your Words"? I don't like fish but like that album cover.

Wishnefsky: You and me both. I don’t have any particular affinity for slimy things that breathe through gills, but I do love great visual art. The cover is a painting done by a very talented student at a local art school. My wife bought the painting and unfortunately lost the artist’s name! I really wish I knew because the Unknown Artist deserve kudos and I’d love to see more of his/her work.

Me: You worked with Michael James who also worked with Hole, Jane's Addiction and the New Radicals. Did he have any good stories for you?

Wishnefsky: Oh yes, he has stories which, unfortunately, I can’t repeat for fear of violating a host of privacy and obscenity laws, not to mention getting Mike in deep shit. Courtney Love is really something and we’ll leave it at that. That answer kind of sucked. I’ll ask Mike if anything can be shared publicly.

Me: What ever happened to the New Radicals anyway?

Wishnefsky: No idea. I’ll ask Mike.

Me: Tell me about Veneer. What does that mean, and who is in that band with you? What do you like better, being in a band or being solo?

Wishnefsky: Veneer is the name for my piano based projects. According to (great website), one definition of “veneer” is “a superficially valuable or pleasing appearance: a cruel person with a veneer of kindliness.” In my book, that is quite an apt name for a band based in LA. After Jabberwock broke up, I wanted to do something that sounded a lot different. So I wrote a bunch of songs on the piano. I recorded a few of them with some of the Jabberwock musicians (Dave, our live bassist Archie Frugone, and our live guitarist Steve Bock). That was the first Veneer project. In 06-07, I recorded a second batch of Veneer songs, which became the album On That Note. I have another batch of piano songs that will turn into another Veneer album when I get sick of doing Wishnefsky projects. I would also like to record a piano-based, 90 minute, rock opera entitled "The Traitor" which I wrote when I was a teenager.

Me: Okay, sir, go ahead and plug your website or anything else. I enjoy your music and wish you all the luck. Peace.

Wishnefsky: First, thank you very much for taking the time to interview me. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Great questions. Many thanks for your support and best of luck to you. Okay, plug time. Please check out and www.myspace. com/wishnefsky. There is plenty of free music to stream and lots of info about my projects. Please feel free to join my email list. I enjoy corresponding with music fans and striking up new cyber-friendships. Peace and love.

That just about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Wikipedia and of course Wishnefsky. Next week's guest is someone who has a name you might've read a thousand times. If you have a CD or an album, chances are his name is on the back of the sleeve somewhere. Mastering engineer Bob Ludwig will be next week's guest. And like I said, chances are he mastered some of your favorite albums. I am now gonna go gave lunch, and Logan and I are going to go see The Last Airbender. Airbender... that's what I call my farts. Anyway, thanks for reading, spread the word not the turd, don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you bye.

1 comment:

Taz said...

Great post! I am a great fan of Star Wars Costume and I have a huge collection of star wars costumes.
I remember when i was in college, we had a play in our college and my collection of Star Wars Costumes was useful and appreciated by my friends and teachers.
Vow! you guys look overwhelming in those costumes.