Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pheaturing Pete RG

Hey, kids, welcome to a Wednesday entry of the Phile, how are you? Me? I am still trying to figure out this new Blogger set up. They sure don't make it user friendly anymore. I know... waa waa waa.  Well, what's going on? Newt Gingrich's campaign is something like $5 million in debt. He is now so broke he's no longer attacking the poor because he is one.  Lakers star Ron Artest, also known as Metta World Peace, that's his name now... was ejected from Sunday's game for a vicious elbow to the head of Oklahoma's James Harden. It was such a cheap shot he was offered a contract with the New Orleans Saints. But we live in a society that rewards bad behavior. Metta World Peace just picked up an endorsement for elbow macaroni. I haven't seen an NBA player take an elbow like that since Kris Humphries got between Kim Kardashian and a camera.  A New Mexico company has petitioned the federal government to become the first U.S. business to offer horse meat for human consumption. You can get horse meat on the menu in some restaurants now. So if you're in Albuquerque, avoid the Philly Cheese Steak. Last entry I think it was I said I would try dog. I think I would try horse as well.  I'm enjoying this Secret Service scandal. It turned out to be a frisking that got out of control. One of the Secret Service agents had this woman, and the deal was $300 and he gave her $30. I'm thinking, now wait a minute. I've got no problem with a guy trying to save taxpayer dollars. These are jobs that should've gone to American hookers. It now appears that as many as a dozen members of the Secret Service were involved in that Colombian prostitution scandal. Now six of the agents have been reassigned. The other six are now party planners for the GSA.  In celeb news, Kim Kardashian, who I just mentioned, is dating Kanye West. Her publicist says it's for real. In fact they're already planning the sham wedding.  Time magazine has come out with their 100 most influential people issue, and Newt Gingrich is not on the list. In fact, he's not even on the list of the 100 most influential Newts. The NFL draft is going to be this Thursday. That's a huge night for college players. That's the night they start being paid over the table.  Well, it's official, Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. They've already broken out the non-alcoholic champagne.  Do you guys like Reeses Pieces candy? Well, did you see the latest ad? I think this might turn you off, kids.

Man, I totally apologize. What is wrong with me? Kids read the Phile!  DogTV, a new on-demand channel made specifically for dogs, recently debuted in San Diego and enough suckers there are paying five bucks a month for it that DogTV will soon be offered nationwide. The channel features “footage and soundtracks designed for stimulation and relaxation”... meaning lots of traffic, nature scenes, and, of course, canine-centric twists on human favorites.  Here's a poster for one of the shows on DogTV.

That looks kinda creepy.  Well, over the last two weeks, collisions with birds have forced two planes to make emergency returns to New York City area airports. It's a problem that stretches back to 2009, when Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger famously ditched the Airbus he was piloting into the Hudson River after a birdstrike disabled the plane's engines. Is it a coincidence? I dug deep to find the real cause of this dangerous phenomenon.

Okay, kids, before we continue I have to tell you something... no, the Phile is not ending yet. But it is about the Phile. All through May it's gonna be Star Wars Month here on the Phile. No, I am not gonna have Star Wars themed guests, but there's gonna be lotsa Star Wars stuff. It's to celebrate the movies and myself working one whole year at Star Tours in Disney's Hollywood Studios. So, let your nerd and geek friends know. It'll be fun. Alright, now from the home office in Phulfortha City, New York, here is this weeks...

Top Ten Other Warren Buffett Rules
10. Surround yourself with lackeys and yes-men.
9. Never eat sushi at a strip club.
8. To impress a lady, buy her roses... or tell her you're worth $44 billion.
7. Why pay for wi-fi when you can steal it from your neighbor.
6. Allergies are a character flaw.
5. Don't be afraid to try a little "manscaping".
4. For the last time, it's especially not exspecially.
3. There's no such thing as too much eyeliner.
2. Pineapple on pizza? That's nonsense.
And the number one other Warren Buffett rule is...
1. Bacon goes with everything.

Alright, so, this week the Senate may not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. I don't know to much about it so I thought I would invite a friend and a woman to the Phile to explain everything. Please welcome back to the Phile, Chair of the Democratic National Committee... Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Me: Debbie, welcome back to the Phile. So, is this unusual the Violence Against Woman Act might be reauthorized?

Debbie: Jason, since this bipartisan legislation first passed in 1994, it's been reauthorized twice without a hitch. And it's been tremendously successful in helping to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Me: So it should be a no-brainer, right?

Debbie: Not to the Senate GOP, not in an election year, apparently. Republicans are willing to throw away the entire law now that it helps protect lesbians, gay men, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans.

Jason: Do they believe acts of violence committed against these groups don't matter as much?

Debbie: The Senate's voting on the Act any moment now, and we need to put pressure on the GOP to pass it.

Me: What should we do, Debbie?

Debbie: Before the vote, stand with me for all victims of domestic violence... no matter who they are:

Me: Has it been a good law, Debbie? Has it helped or worked?

Debbie: Since this law passed, it has helped reduce the annual rate of domestic violence by an astounding 53 percent. The rate of women killed by an intimate partner has dropped 34 percent. Its programs, including violence prevention programs, shelters and rape crisis centers, and funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes have made a world of difference in giving victims of violence a safe place to turn. It has without a doubt saved thousands of lives. And Senate Republicans are ready to roll back all our progress. This year's Act would make sure that LGBT Americans receive equal treatment for services, it would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to come forward as victims and provide temporary visas in certain cases, and let Native Americans on reservations go to tribal courts for abuse cases. With these additional protections, the GOP has promised to fight it every step of the way.

Me: What would happen if Congress votes against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act?

Debbie: All of these programs could grind to a halt, and the hundreds of thousands of women who rely on them will once again be left on their own.

Me: And the GOP resistance? Why do you think they are doing this?

Debbie: The GOP's resistance is just another example of putting women's health and well-being on the line in order to score a few cheap, political points with their base. We can't stand by and let them take away this critical legislation.

Me: Thanks for informing us, Debbie. Keep the pressure on.

Debbie: We will, and thanks for your help, Jason.

The 19th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club is...

This is what Amazon says about the book: Few record producers possess the musical facility to back up such a bold promise but in over 40 years behind the glass Todd Rundgren has willed himself into becoming a not only a rock guitar virtuoso an accomplished lead vocalist and a serviceable drummer vocal arranger and keyboard player but also a master of perhaps his greatest instrument of all the recording studio. Throughout his career Rundgren has ping-ponged between the worlds of producer and recording artist with varying degrees of critical and commercial success. After learning his craft as a songwriter and arranger with Nazz Rundgren gained attention by engineering recordings by The Band. His reputation was cemented by a string of noteworthy productions beginning in 1971 with Sparks and continuing with classic albums for Grand Funk, The New York Dolls, Badfinger, Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf, Patti Smith Group, Psychedelic Furs and XTC. All of this alongside his own solo albums Researched and written with the cooperation of Rundgren himself "A Wizard A True Star" is a fascinating authoritative account of four decades of making magic in the recording studio. Paul Myers will be a guest on the Phile next week, kids.


Okay, today's guest is a singer-songwriter whose new album "New Eyes" is now available on iTunes and Bandcamp. Please welcome to the Phile, the very talented... Pete RG.

Me: Hello, Pete, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Pete: I’m great, thanks. How are you?

Me: Tired, but not bad. Okay, I have to ask you about your name. RG is a very unusual last name. What's the origin?

Pete: It’s Irish. My family dropped the “O” (as in O’ RG) when they came to the US. Haha!... No, seriously, my last name is Argyropoulos. A good ol‘ Greek name. But, since it’s a mouthful, I went with my childhood nickname, RG. Also, I like the simplicity of the RG logo. I wasn’t able to come up with an elegant solution for Argyropoulos.

Me: Before you were a solo artist you were in the band Last December. That band broke up, right?

Pete: Last December  is on indefinite hiatus. We’ve considered recording some new songs and doing some shows. But, we’re more happy than ever working together on my solo stuff. Scotty and Adam have performed on nearly every Pete RG song and other projects that come my way to produce. Plus, I’ve been including some Last December songs in my shows and Scotty and Adam will join me on stage this year.

Me: What made you decide to go solo instead of starting a new band?

Pete: A couple of things. First, many of the new songs I’d written didn’t seem suited for L.D. They’re folky and somewhat introverted. More importantly, the band had been beaten up a bit by the music industry and hadn’t worked together in a few years. Collectively, we were a little out of gas and lacking direction. Singularly, we were all very active. Ultimately, it was more inspiring, as well as somewhat liberating, to move forward as a solo artist.

Me: Do you have a regular band that plays with you, Pete?

Pete: So far, I’ve been performing solo or as a duet, joined by Brina Kabler, my co-producer and engineer. But, I’ll begin performing some shows with a band this spring. After that, I’ll mix it up between solo/duet shows and band shows.

Me: You have been putting singles up on Bandcamp and your website to download for free. You know, you cannot make money giving your stuff away, Pete.

Pete: Actually, I think you can. Recorded music’s always been more of a calling card than a money maker for the artist. And, what do you want to do with calling cards? You want to get as many of them out there as possible to bring in more clients (ie, fans)! In the past, the record labels took most of the money from sales of the recordings. Today, the public takes most of the recordings for free via file sharing. So, nothing’s really changed for the artist. Throughout, though, one revenue stream’s solidly remained in the hands of the artist: the live show. Tough to take that one away. Plus, for most every artist I know, myself included, there’s nothing more rewarding than playing live. Nothing. It’s worth nearly all the money in the world. Keyword to that last sentence is nearly, :).

Me: You came out with a new album as well. Does this have the singles or brand new songs?

Pete: It’ll have all six of the singles and four new songs. Of the six songs already released, two will receive notable changes. Frankly, I was fine with just releasing singles. But, the world still wants albums.

Me: How long have you been writing and playing, Pete?

Pete: Since I was a kid. I was writing before I knew I was writing. Always making things up with each new instrument I learned. Recorder, clarinet, viola, drums; typical stuff you dabble in as a kid. I got serious about it, the writing and playing, that is, once I began playing guitar. In fact, my dad (he’s a guitarist and songwriter, too) was the one who suggested I put more attention to songwriting, in particular.

Me: Growing up, I am guessing you were influenced by Bruce Springsteen, am I right? Who are your main influences?

Pete: Ha, you found me out! Is his influence that obvious? Yeah, I’m a pretty big Bruce fan. Again, my dad was a big influence here. He was taking me to Bruce shows when I was a really little kid. I guess he wanted to make sure I was properly raised. He’s still making sure to do so: he took me to a Leonard Cohen concert a few years ago. Amazing! As far as my other main influences go, like most artists, there are too many to list. But, if I had to narrow it down to just a handful, I’d add U2, Radiohead, Chopin, George Dalaras (incredible Greek singer), Frank Sinatra (another really great singer, if you haven’t heard of him ;) ), Gordon Lightfoot and the Beatles. That said, I’m already feeling ill thinking about the artists I’ve left off that list. Oh, BTW, U2’s at the top. They’re my desert island band.

Me: Pete, where are you from?

Pete: Born and raised in Los Angeles. Venice Beach, more specifically, for the most part.

Me: Is that where you still live?

Pete: Yeppers! Though, in Santa Monica now. No longer in Venice.

Me: I take it you have been playing a lot of shows, Pete. What has been your favorite gig you have ever played? I am sure you played some great shows with Last December.

Pete: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’ve never reflected on what was my favorite gig. Yeah, I’ve had some great shows with L.D. While we did get up to playing 1,000-1,500 seat venues, the early ones in packed, sweaty clubs were the best. Audience pressed up against the stage. Nothing like that. In fact, as I’m thinking about it, it was probably a specific one of those gigs that was most memorable. I’m not very good with quick stories... My roommate, at the time, worked in the lounge at a posh hotel. AC/DC was staying there for a while. She befriended the band and eventually gave the lead singer, Brian Johnson, one of L.D.’s demo CDs. A few days later, he came back to her and asked to go to our next show. She invited him to one the following week and asked me to add him (as well as a couple others from the AC/DC crew) to my guest list. In the meantime, she’d already mentioned to me that she’d gotten to know the AC/DC guys and given them one of my CD’s. But, I didn’t think anything of it until she came to me about the show. That’s when I thought, if they do show up, Jason,  lead guitarist, will die! He’s a huge AC/DC fan! I had strong doubts they’d show up. But, I did mention it in passing to Jason as we were sitting backstage before our show. He gave me a big, rolling eyes smile in total disbelief. Anyway, we hit the stage to a full and enthusiastic audience. We play the first song and segue into the second. As we finish the opening two songs, there’s this loud voice that rises above the cheering of the audience and screams with an Australian snarl, “Fuckin’ right, Last December! Real songs!” We couldn’t miss it, even from the stage. Jason looked at me, jaw somewhat dropped. But, still in disbelief. We continued with the show. Another song finishes and we hear it again. Keep in mind, we’re in a small club (200 people). So, we can hear everything. But, the stage lights are right in our faces and we can’t see past the first row. That said, the voice is unmistakable. It’s Brian Johnson. Jason staggers. Seriously, he staggered. He could bare keep himself up. I thought he was gonna faint. I almost died of laughter watching him. Once he regained himself, we carried on with the set and Brian Johnson carried on with his outbursts of support between each song. But, the best is yet to come. As we begin breaking down our gear once we finish our set, Brian Johnson jumps on stage and grabs a guitar amp and takes it off stage. He’s helping us load out our gear! LOL! Hilarious! I was ready to call an ambulance for Jason. He was thoroughly stunned. Could barely move. We stayed up til dawn at the club (the manager kindly let us stay), hanging out and drinking beer with Brian Johnson, the AC/DC bassist and a member from their crew. They were great guys... What a night.

Me: What a great story. I have to tell my son, he's a big AC/DC fan. As well as music, you are also a pretty good photographer. That one of the hot chick smoking in the jacket is really cool. I have a picture of it here.

Me: Where was that taken, and do you know her?

Pete: So, you’ve downloaded a picture of a smoking hot chick and you have it right in front of you. Hmmm, maybe I should be selling those pics. LOL. I got a new lens... Canon 70-300, a couple of weeks ago and was out in my neighborhood, Santa Monica, testing it. I saw this girl step into an alley nearby the shop she was working in for a cigarette break. I asked if I could take her pic. She said sure and I snapped off a dozen pics. It was that simple. I didn’t even get her name. But, I knew right away I had some good pics. Haha! That probably reads pretty bad.

Me: Is this like the normal stuff you take photos of?

Pete: In the sense that the subject is something/someone I stumble upon and find interesting to shoot, yes, it’s normal. But, in the sense of shooting pretty girls or people, no. In fact, I didn’t think I had a normal or a style of my own until several fans recently pointed out that, to them, my style is that of a unique observer; one who sees the world from an angle less noticed. I found that to be quite the compliment and quite accurate. I am somewhat the voyeur to whatever situation I’m in.

Me: So, if you could only choose one, which one would it be? Photography or music?

Pete: Oh, music. No question. It’s my lifelong passion and profession as well as an integral part of who I am. Photography’s a nice compliment and welcome distraction.

Me: My wife is into photography as well, so I have to ask, what kinda camera do you use?

Pete: Nice! I use a Canon 5D Mk II with a few nice Canon lenses and a couple cool filters. Good gear helps me to get the shot right so that I have little or nothing to do in post.

Me: Pete, I am a fan of your music and wish you lots of luck. Can you come back onto the Phile again soon?

Pete: Thanks so much! I really appreciate the time you’ve given me. I’ll come back to the Phile any time!

Me: Great! Go ahead and mention your website, Facebook and everything else and please come down to Florida to play sometime. All the best, and continued success, Pete.

Pete: Again, thank-you very much! The pleasure was mine. Best to you!

Well, kids, that about wraps it up for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Debbie Wasserman Schultz and of course Pete RG. His album is great. The Phile will be back on Sunday with Alumni Chris Nelson, then on Monday with singer Lila Rose. Next Wednesday it's musician Lisa Brigantino and there's gonna be a special entry next Thursday with author Pete Myers. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I will leave you with another piece of Logan art.

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