Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pheaturing Sasha Papernik

Hello, welcome to the Phile, kids. How are you? I have to start with this... recently there has been three tragedies. The Boston bombing, the West, Texas explosion and C.I.S.P.A. passed in the House of Representatives. You will only be told about two of these.  This is old news I am sure, but Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon got arrested for disorderly conduct after she gave police a hard time for arresting her husband for DUI. She admitted that she had been drinking. She kept saying to the cop, “Do you know who I am?” Of course the cops put two and two together: actress, drunk... Lindsay Lohan? Apparently she told the officer she once played Johnny Cash's wife, June Carter. But they didn't believe her... because she couldn't “walk the line.”  There are rumors that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber are back together. I just want that adorable little girl to be happy again. Maybe Selena can get something out of it, too.  Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have finalized their divorce, and they did it two weeks before they were scheduled to go to trial. Even their divorce ended before it really started. Kim said it's nice to finally not be married after over a year of sort of not being married.  NBC has canceled its reality dating show “Ready for Love” after just three episodes. Other NBC shows were like, “They made it to three episodes? What’s their secret?” Viewers complained the show was complicated and confusing... marking the first time a dating show has been canceled for being exactly like dating.  U.S. intelligence agencies have put together a psychological profile of Kim Jong Un. They say he's a narcissist, and he is obsessed with Hollywood, obsessed with plastic surgery, and obsessed with the NBA. It’s a condition we know as "Kardashianism."   Computer hackers hacked into The Associated Press Twitter account and they faked reports about an attack on the White House. And I thought, “Wait a minute, the real news isn't bad enough? Now we're making up bad news?”  According to new poll information, Americans now think very strongly positive about George W. Bush. By God, maybe there's hope for me!  Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is back on Twitter. It's like giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini bar.  France legalized same-sex marriage. The next step is legalizing same-sex mistresses.  There is talk that Apple CEO Tim Cook might get fired because of the company's bad performance in the stock market. You can tell Tim Cook is trying to keep his job because he was like, "Have you tried turning the company off and back on again?"  The miniseries "The Bible" was a big hit. Now it's being cut down to three hours so that it can be released in theaters. And apparently theaters will be able to feed an entire audience with just one bucket of popcorn.  A woman in Florida crashed her car into a Target store. But in her defense, the store did have a giant target on it.  I believe in some weird things, kids, and one thing I believe in is the Multiverse theory. so, I was so happy when I discovered an inspirational poster about this.

This past week they released a new trailer for the next Thor movie. I am not sure what's going on, but I think Disney is cutting corners.

They are not cutting corners with promotions though. Check out this new monorail they revealed this week. It's cool.

One of the things I love to do in my spare time is go on Twitter and see what people are saying about certain things. One of those words I look up is Foghat. Here's one I found recently.

 No, I don't, Erika. What is "Slow Ride" about? LOL. I remember one day when my dad told me the song wasn't about driving. I was like, what is it about then... ooohhhhh.  Okay, so myself and some other fans of "Doctor Who" have a great idea. Bad Wolf Day which will be on June 3rd, 2013. Here's what you need to do... write "Bad Wolf" on slips of paper, sidewalks, anywhere in public and scatter them around and tag to #badwolfday2013. Let's try and get this global, kids. Okay, and now for some sad news...

George Jones
Sept 12, 1931 - April 26, 2013
He definitely stopped loving her...

Think of the most attractive person you've ever known. If that person was even halfway nice, or at least calculated enough to know that a little charm goes a long way, then she or he probably got a lot of passes when their less attractive qualities reared their less attractive heads. You could call it the Don Draper Dunk: good looks plus a smooth glide through tough situations wins every time. Oblivion, the new one from Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy), has the looks and the smooth thing down cold. Winning is another matter.  As much of the plot as you need to know: the world ended in 2017 and now it's 2077. Jack (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the last people on (or, rather, near) Earth, living in a glass cube perched high in the clouds over a planet ruined by aliens and nuclear weapons. Their job is to repair drones (robotic, squelchy-noise-making death-orbs that terminate stray alien "Scavengers" with precision; call them KILL-2D2 if you like... I did) and report their effectiveness back to home base contact Melissa Leo, a face seen only on a glitch-ridden, pixelated screen, her twang calling to mind Holly Hunter crossed with HAL-9000. But Jack has strange, impossible memories of a life before, one that he couldn't have known, memories that include a mysterious woman. What he learns from that memory and how he deals with it make up the secret plot twists that dominate the film's second half.  I won't be giving up any more plot details, but know that when this film doesn't live up to its own desires for transcendent soulfulness, it feels like a committee was responsible, the direct result of hiring an up-and-coming director whose contract doesn't give him final cut. From an opening packed with overwhelming exposition via Cruise's voice-over to some stumbling, narrative confusion and a seeming battle between an otherworldly quiet and typical crashing Hollywood space-beats to an ending that pulls punches you wish it wouldn't to a strange remote quality expressed by its star as he struggles to fit himself back into a traditionally heroic role, there's a lot of messiness mucking up the works. More than anything it will make you wish Cruise could unwind a bit more. Here he's impersonating Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey... There's even a moment where he more or less demands that pod bay doors be opened. If those bells don't go off in your head then it's because your head lacks bells.  But in spite of all this, Kosinki is no hack. He's made a gorgeous-looking experience, the kind they invented IMAX to accommodate. He's a pastiche artist, cribbing stylishness and building his own beautiful ice sculpture, lifting from Kubrick and The Matrix and Soylent Green-era grim futurism and even his own take on TRON, right down to M83's orchestral, obvious, pretty-pretty score that sounds like thump-less Daft Punk via Hans Zimmer. He also knows what he doesn't want, the kind of stupid heartlessness that infects so much of contemporary event sci-fi, where stuff gets blown up for no reason and heroes are cool customers who can't feel. At one point, Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" pops up on camera. That's the famous American painting of the woman sitting in field, leaning toward a home far away on a hillside, one she might never reach. Used in this movie it's clearly a gesture toward finding love and a home that isn't hovering around in space. Kosinki's aiming for a kind of emotional grandiosity, a new wave robot with a pulse, a spiritual reboot of Giorgio Moroder's shiny 1984 version of Metropolis.  So there's an aesthetic at work here. And I want to see this director keep working it out. In the future, provided Hollywood doesn't grind down his willfulness, he'll make his best film and it'll look impeccable like this one, and it will move like most shock-absorbed space ship ever invented, and it will connect the head and the hands through the heart like he clearly wants. But today isn't quite the future. From 1 to 10, Oblivion gets a 6.

Alright, you know what time it is, kids. Please welcome back to the Phile singer, patriot and renaissance man... Laird Jim!

Waiting on a client at the old New York World's Fairgrounds. And it dawns on me... My generation can remember going when it was open. I almost got my myself, Mom and Dad thrown out at age 3 for jumping into the water and splashing about under the Unisphere. My children only know it as the place where Will Smith beat the alien at the end of Men In Black. Sadly... my grandchildren will probably see it torn down to make way for new apartments and a Walmart. I heard a client of mine the other day on his cell talking about how it's "The greatest waste of prime real estate in New York."

Thanks, Laird. Good job as always. Alright, and now for the 30th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. His name is Chris Hamer, and this is one of his pieces...

Chris will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks or so.

Today's pheatured guest is a gorgeous Russian singer, pianist and songwriter whose new album "Victory" is available on iTunes. She will be appearing next tonight at Garden City Hotel Polo Club in New York City. Please welcome to the Phile... Sasha Papernik.

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

Sasha: Thank you! I’m well and very happy to be on the Phile.

Me: Thank you. Papernik is a very unusual name. Does it translate to anything?

Sasha: No, but my father still gets very excited that in British English my last name sounds like “paper – nick”,  meaning a paper cut. I have no idea why he likes that!

Me: That's what I thought when I first read your name. You have a Russian background, right? Are your parents Russian?

Sasha: Yes, they are!

Me: Whereabouts in Russia are they from?

Sasha: They are both from Moscow.

Me: Were you born in Russia or here in the States?

Sasha: I am the first of my family to be born here.

Me: I don't know much about Russia, have you been back there, Sasha?

Sasha: Yes, I’ve been there many times to visit family in Moscow. I’ve also been to dachas in the vicinity of Moscow and to St. Petersburg.

Me: Do you talk Russian as well?

Sasha: I do!

Me: The actress Mila Kunis is also from Russia, but was born there. That's two very beautiful women Russian's I know of. Do you have any siblings or any family back in Russia, Sasha?

Sasha: Haha, well thank you! Honored to be in her company. I like Mila... beautiful, and very talented. Yes, I have one older sister who immigrated with my parents. My aunt and cousins all still live in Moscow.

Me: Where do you live now?

Sasha: I live in Manhattan... uptown near 125th Street.

Me: Alright, I think we talked about Russia enough. I downloaded your new album "Victory" from iTunes and really liked it. You have a great singing voice. Did you take voice or singing lessons, Sasha?

Sasha: Thanks so much! So glad you like it. I’ve been singing in acapella groups all through high school and college and started taking formal singing lessons a few years ago. I always wanted to take singing lessons when I was a kid but piano took up all my free time.

Me: You also play piano, right? How old were you when you started to play piano?

Sasha: I sure do! I started playing when I was four and a half.

Me: That's way to young to play piano. What were you learning, classical?

Sasha: Haha, Jason. Yes, I studied classical piano all the way through a Masters in Piano Performance.

Me: Do you play on the new album?

Sasha: Yes. I’m playing piano, singing lead, and singing some of the background vocals.

Me: What do your parents think of your music and what did they think when you told them you wanted to be a musician?

Sasha: Oh boy, my mom still sends me articles about other professions she thinks I would be good at! Every good Russian-Jewish child takes piano lessons on their way to becoming an engineer, a mathematician, or a doctor. I think they were both horrified when I kept going with music! They are slowly coming around.

Me: I asked if you speak Russian, but you sure do sing it. You sing on the album a song called "Tonkaya Ryabina" in Russian. What does "Tonkaya Ryabina" mean?

Sasha: “Tonkaya Ryabin” means “Thin Mountain Ash Tree.” It is an unrequited love story about a Mountain Ash that is in love with an Oak treebut will never be able to reach him (because she is… a tree). It is one of the most beautiful songs and ideas I have ever come across. My original song on the album called “Whispering Tree” is an English version of this old folk tale. The song is called “Whispering Tree” because I discovered that one of the folk names for the Mountain Ash is Whispering Tree. One of the best lines in the Russian text is that she wished to be close to him so that she could “whisper with his leaves”... so “Whispering Tree” was perfect. If you want to learn the story, listen to “Whispering Tree.”

Me: On the title track you sing, "you sold me your heart for all my kisses". Is that do wrong song based on any one in particular? If so, what an ass.

Sasha: Hahaha. Jason, of course, that song is too honest not be based on someone in particular. In this case, I took a thought and embellished it a little. He wasn’t necessarily such an ass. His answer to “Was I just a victory?” was “Of course not! Are you nuts?” but I wanted to write a song that Dusty Springfield could sing... and therefore the lyrics really had to go for it.

Me: Sasha, who are your influences music wise? I hear a lot of 60's style music in your music.

Sasha: Yes, I love 60s pop music. I love the orchestration and lineage to jazz and classical that you can hear... and I love the clear form and strong hook. Right now I’m really into 20s and 30s stride piano and especially the great Russian-American songwriter, Irving Berlin.

Me: "Victory" is your third CD, right? In the past you had a band called The Indulgents. What happened to those guys? Are they still your band?

Sasha: Yes, "Victory" is my third... and first in many ways! I still play with my Indulgents, Jason. My bassist and guitarist have been with me since the beginning, and my drummer has been my go to guy for almost three years. But, as I have been exploring a more acoustic sound, I sometimes play solo and I’ve had lots of fun playing with different musicians. I like the freedom of using different people to curate a certain sound that I am hearing for a show or a recording. New York is amazing like that... the musical community here is small and extremely talented.

Me: Next year you're gonna be playing Carnegie Hall in New York. That's really cool. Are you doing a whole concert there? Not many people play in Carnegie Hall, Sasha.

Sasha: Thank you, yes, I am beyond excited. When I was 16, I won a piano competition in Boston (where I grew up) and the prize was to play a piece in a recital at Carnegie Hall. My whole family (and my best friend’s family) came to the big city to hear me play. I remember my piano teacher telling me before the recital that I might never play there again so I better make it good... and I remember thinking to myself that I’m going to come back someday! I’m going to make it happen! So this was really incredible that it actually happened. I’m playing as part of a concert with two other international musicians in Carnegie’s popular educational series, Musical Explorers. Kids from all over New York City are going to study some of the Russian tunes I perform and then hear them live at Carnegie Hall. 

Me: Up to date, what has been the biggest and best show you have ever played?

Sasha: This past November, I played a Meet The Artist show at Lincoln Center. It was amazing because I was able to present my bilingual concert, I Speak Music, to a great audience and at a wonderful venue with the best sound team I’ve ever worked with. I rounded out the band with two violinists and a banjo player. I also worked with two dancers who choreographed new pieces to several of my original tunes. It was so fulfilling to be given the chance to fully realize what I saw and heard in my imagination. Also, I almost fell through the floor at the moment when a friend told me that my picture was on Lincoln Center’s website! The show was a great success, and I’m excited to be playing a few more of them next year.

Me: I have to ask you about the album's cover. What is that you are holding on your head and whose idea was it? Does it have meaning?

Sasha: It’s a beehive! Like the ‘60’s hairstyle... but real.I found it in a forest while hiking in my favorite park near my hometown in Massachusetts. It was so perfect (and huge) that I had to take it home... to Manhattan. When the photographer came over for the photo shoot, I asked her to photograph me with it. Months later... after I tried to make the hive into a table centerpiece, my boyfriend insisted that we had to throw it away. I saved it from the trash at least twice and finally drove it all the way back to the park where I left it pretty much in the same spotwhere I had found it. I sometimes get weirdly superstitious about things.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions to my guests thanks to a game called Tabletopics. Are you ready? What life experience has strengthened you the most?

Sasha: The first that comes to mind is living abroad in Paris. At 20, I didn’t have any money but I soaked up as much art and music as I could. I got as many student tickets to music as possible and I spent much of the year sitting in the bleacher seats under the ceilings of many of the most beautiful concert houses that were ever built. Good thing that some of the most beautiful paintings are up there because that’s all I could see. We live in a global world... and I believe that living abroad is very useful and really fun!. I would recommend the experience to anyone.

Me: Sasha, thanks for being on the Phile. I hope it was fun. Do you wanna plug your websites?

Sasha: Thanks so much, Jason! This was so much fun. Yes, please find me on Facebook at My official site is and my Twitter handle is sashapapernik.

Me: Take care, okay, and please come back sometime, Sasha.

Sasha: Thanks and you too! I would love to! Have an excellent day.

Me: I'll try.

There you go, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Sasha. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer, and professor Rees Shad then next Sunday... singer Sarah D. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!


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