Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pheaturing Phile Alum Wesley Stace

My God, what time is it? I betcha you were thinking I forgot about the Phile today/ Have I ever let you down? I worked today so the Phile is just a little tiny bit late. At least you had a bunch of football games to pass your time. Anyway, welcome to the Phile, kids, on a Sunday evening.  Well, as you know this week Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans entered into the government shutdown/debt ceiling negotiations with a long list of demands, including the delaying and dismantling of Obamacare, denying birth control coverage to women and relaxed environmental regulations. The American public counter-offered with historically-low popularity and humiliating political defeat, which the GOP snapped up just before a 81-18 Senate vote and a 285-144 House vote sent a bill to the President's desk to re-open the government. On the bright side for conservatives, Ted Cruz is now a household name. That government shutdown was like seeing a morbidly obese chain-smoker almost get hit by a car. Seems like nowadays you can't even shove a gun into somebody's face on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil and force him to relinquish his motorcycle to you without getting shot multiple times and ending up begging for your life on the Internet. What exactly is this world coming to?  Los Angeles songwriter Toby Sheldon spent the past five years and most of his life savings plastic-surgerizing himself into a thing that looks kind of like Justin Bieber. Were the multiple painful procedures, including Aquamid injections and hair transplants, that cost nearly $100,000 worth it? Well, the results speak for themselves.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered for some reason that all mammals urinate at around the same speed. After timing a bunch of animals... including rats, dogs, elephants and goats... doing their business, the scientists determined a "law of urination," which holds that they all take approximately 21 seconds to empty their bladder. Use this information as you will.  So, are you into baseball? Get this... After outfielder Shane Victorino launched an offspeed pitch into the stands for a game-winning grand slam, it's starting to look like the infamous Boston Red Sox curse of not winning the World Series three times within a span of nine seasons might finally be coming to an end. That is if they can beat the St. Louis Cardinals, who have been struggling under their own curse of not winning the World Series three times in five seasons since 1946.  A Houston purse-snatcher who is really giving purse-snatchers everywhere a bad name saw his attempt at snatching a woman's purse the other day ruined by the woman's 8-year-old son, who calmly reached into the purse and pulled out its valuables before chasing the hapless thief into his car and away, all while wearing only one shoe. One would have to assume that the purse-snatchers board of the greater Houston area is currently considering revoking his purse-snatching license.  During a recent interview with "60 Minutes", former Vice-President Dick Cheney revealed that he lived in fear that evil terrorist assassin might attempt to hack into his robot heart and kill him with a jolt of electricity. The "credible" threat exists not only in the dark recesses of his mind, but also on the television show "Homeland", on which a war-mongering vice-president character is killed via his pacemaker. Clearly, the "Homeland" writing staff needs to be rounded up and packed off to Gitmo for enhanced story-breaking techniques. I hacked Dick Cheney's pacemaker and made it skip a beat whenever he saw Janis, his mature, full-figured Ralph's florist.  The University of Mississippi may have pulled off a surprising 27-24 win over Louisiana State yesterday, but two Rebel linemen allowed true victory to slip from betwixt their fingers when they were unable to locate their coach Hugh Freeze and ended up wandering bewildered around the field with an un-dumped container of Gatorade. Yesterday was a big day for upsets. Others included #5 FSU's 51-14 win over #3 Clemson, #24 Auburn's 45-41 victory over #7 Texas A&M, Tennessee's 23-21 squeaker over #11 South Carolina, Vandy's 31-27 win over #15 Georgia and gravity's thrashing of Vandy's kicker. I don't know how I know this, I don't follow college football.  A Japanese firm that already has the misfortune of sharing a name with the infamously radioactive Fukushima nuclear power plant went ahead and created an adorable anthropomorphic hard-boiled egg cartoon mascot and actually literally for-real named it 'Fukuppy.' They might as well have named it… Actually, that's the very worst thing they could have named it. So, essentially, they preemptively stole my joke. Check it out.

Those crazy Japenese. Haha.  A few minutes ago I mentioned Brazil... well, they released the new poster for the Olympics in Rio.

I like it.  Well, it's Breast Awareness Month, hence the pink sky in the logo. And all through October I have been showing you clever but controversial breast awareness posters. Like this one for instance...

The poster was designed at Liwa Advertising Design & Production, Dubai, by creative director Suhas Rege. The controversial part of this breast cancer ad is the 'subliminal' use of twin children as a metaphor for two breasts.  In a few weeks it's Halloween and even though I don't celebrate Halloween I figured you might need help looking for that perfect costume. Well, I am here for you. Actually, this might be a bad idea.

Supermarket giant Asda was forced to apologize and withdraw Halloween costumes that mental health charity workers condemned as "disgraceful." Asda offered its sincere apologies for a "mental patient" costume that featured a man wearing a blood-stained straitjacket and wielding a meat cleaver. Asda, owned by the US firm Walmart, apologized in a series of tweets and said that it would make a donation to the mental health charity Mind. Okay, and now for some sad news...

Bum Phillips
Sept 29, 1923 - Oct 18, 2013
Looks like he's back with the Saints now.

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, well, there wasn't an entry yesterday and the Phile is late today with half of the NFL games played or being played as we speak. But still, I am gonna talk football with my friend in a pheature I call...

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back.

Jeff: Always good to be on The Phile.

Me: So, Jeff, what's the NFL news this week?

Jeff: The biggest news in the NFL is the great comeback from Tom Brady against the New Orleans Saints. Brady really doesn't have any of his weapons around him, which shows on almost every other possession. The Patriots are near the top of the league in drops by wide receivers. But when it counted? They made the best of one of the best quarterbacks and won one of the most exciting games of the year, defeating the previously undefeated Saints. The other big news is the tragedy of Adrian Peterson. For those that don't know his two year old son was killed by his mother's boyfriend. And somehow Peterson played on Sunday, just days later. I don't know how he did it.

Me: I dunno how he did it either. Alright, so how did we do with our picks last week? I know Lori is still kicking our arses, right?

Jeff: As far as the season goes, Lori is indeed still in first place. Lori and I both went 1-1 this week with our teams winning while you had another off week, Jason. You went 0-2 with yet another loss by Eli and the Giants. So Lori has 27 points, followed by me with 13 points and you are behind me with 12 points.

Me: Aggghhhh. I am losing again. Okay, Jeff, so, this week is a little different as it's late on Sunday and half the games are over so we are only picking later games. I say Ravens will beat the Steelers by four and Green Bay will win by 30. Crazy, eh? What do you kids say?

Jeff: I am going to go with the Packers by ten points and 49ers will win by seven points. I think you are crazy to pick a spread of 30 points, for the record!

Me: Yeah, I do as well. What does Lori say?

Jeff: Because Lori likes winning, and not duplicating other's picks. She picks Denver by 5 and Kansas City by 3.

Jeff: Okay, see you next weekend. Good job.

Okay, with the government shut down now over, there's a few questions I don't know the answers to so I thought I would invite a friend of the Phile here to explain. He's the Executive Director for Organizing for Action. Please welcome back to the Phile... Jon Carson.

Me: Hello, Jon, welcome back to the Phile. So, does it seem to you after this whole shut down business people are frustrated?

Jon: Hi, Jason. After 16 days of a government shutdown that didn't have to happen, I don't blame anyone for being frustrated or embarrassed.

Me: And is that the message the OFA is hoping to get that message across to leaders in Congress?

Jon: Yes it is.

Me: So, what happens now?

Jon: Now's the time to get back to the real work they were sent there to do.

Me: Do you think it'll happen again?

Jon: We can't let the people who led us into crisis do it ever again.

Me: So, who won this fight do you think, Jon?

Jon: There were no winners in this fight.

Me: With the shutdown lasting just over two weeks how do you think it effected the country?

Jon: This standoff set our economy back and put us at risk of defaulting on our debt.

Me: How much money did this whole thing cost the country do you think?

Jon: Economists estimate that the shutdown cost our economy $24 billion, on top of putting hundreds of thousands out of work for more than two weeks, and forcing millions of families to go without vital services.

Me: So, what will Congress do now?

Jon: Congress has important work to focus on... including finishing the job of fixing our broken immigration system. That's what we elected these people to do, and we need to send a strong message that we'll be standing with anyone who's moving the country forward.

Me: And if there is anyone in Congress who thinks they can try this again, what would you tell them?

Jon: They need to know OFA will be right there on the front lines making sure they fail.

Me: Thanks so much, Jon. It's late I know, but is there anything else you wanna say real quick?

Jon: Some people are already saying that the people who put us through this mess are just going to fight harder next time. I want your Phile readers to make sure they know that OFA will be right there on the front lines to make sure they fail.

Me: Thanks, Jon. Talk to you soon.

By the way, the Packers are winning by 11 in the fourth quarter.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and folk/pop singer-songwriter and author who used to go by the stage name John Wesley Harding. He has a brand new album out called "Self-Titled" and he will be next appearing at City Winery in New York, New York on October 24. Please welcome back to the Phile one of my favorite singers of all time... Wesley Stace!

Me: Hello, Wes, welcome back to the Phile! I cannot believe you are here again, how have you been?

Wesley: Very well, thank you.

Me: Okay, so, for years you have recorded under the name John Wesley Harding, but for your new album "Self-Titled" you released the album under your real name... Wesley Stace. What made you decide to do so after all this time?

Wesley: It's too long an answer but basically it's quite a personal selection of songs and lyrics, and, in two songs ("Goodbye Jane" and "We Will Always Have New York"), I actually refer to myself... because I was quoting other people as "Mr. Stace" and so it seemed absurd to keep calling myself Mr. Stace on the record and then release the album under the name John Wesley Harding. Also, I've been writing novels under my real name for some time, and it gets weird having two names. Time to bring it all under one roof!

Me: Makes sense. Was it a hard decision to do so, as most people know you as John Wesley Harding, or am I completely wrong?

Wesley: Not hard at all. It was a relief. It might make things slightly more difficult for my various representatives... for example, my agent has to explain to the promotor that the show will be under Wesley Stace and they shouldn't list as John Wesley Harding etc, and the promotor might think this will affect the draw etc, which makes that simple phone call probably quite tedious! But everyone whose life it might have made a little bit more complicated was very supportive of the change. And for me it wasn't a hard decision at all.

Me: Anyway, I love the new album, Wes, and it is full of amazing songs. I am currently writing songs for my own music project called Strawberry Blondes Forever and I find it hard to come up with ideas, but you have released so much good material over the years. Does songwriting come easy for you?

Wesley: It does. Particularly these songs. Once I'd started to write them, I couldn't stop. I had 50 plus songs for the record; we recorded 21 and released 16 on the record. I haven't written a lot since however! I never try to write. I used to but now I don't bother: I just wait until the moment arrives. I jot things down all the time for when the moment comes.

Me: When you write, do you do the lyrics first and then the music or vice versa?

Wesley: Generally the lyrics come first for me, although often they arrive with a bit of melody attached. I tend to write lyrics in very organised, classical, structures, as regards scansion and rhyming, and therefore they tend to sing quite easily.

Me: I love the single "We Will Always Have New York" from "Self-Titled". Was that song written in New York, Wes?

Wesley: No, it was written somewhere on the west coast, I think in San Francisco when I was on my book tour for the last novel. In the Hotel Monaco, I think! It isn't even really the single, though by chance it was the first video.

Me: Was New York the first state you came to when you first came over here from England?

Wesley: The first time I came to America was to California, in particular L.A., to record my first Sire album, "Here Comes The Groom".

Me: What is your first American memory? We came over from England in 1974 to New York and my first real memory is going to the drive-thru at Jack in the Box.

Wesley: Mine is getting lost on the freeway and getting off at the wrong exit, coincidentally finding the right street and then (stupidly, because we didn't realise) driving down that street, rather than getting back on the freeway, assuming (as you would in England) that the address was just around the corner. The address was a motel on Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake. It took us thirty minutes and was very slow going.

Me: Do you get to go back to England often?

Wesley: Yes, once or twice a year. I'm going back for Christmas this year. My music takes me there infrequently; the books take me there; my football team takes me there; my family in Hastings takes me there.

Me: How do you compare your European fans to your American fans?

Wesley: There are less European ones! They like my books much better than my music over there.

Me: You have a new band that plays on the album, Wes. Who are they, and how did you come about working with them?

Wesley: The English UK are the band that I got together for the second Cabinet of Wonders in NYC, because I realised at the first show that I couldn't do a show like the Cabinet without a house band. So they became my band and we've played together ever since. Our first recording was the last JWH single ("Making Love To Bob Dylan/The Buzz"), and now this new record. The only difference is that the drummer on the new record is not our regular drummer, Adam Gold (who is now back in the band) because he was getting married in Australia (for quite a time!). On the record we have my friend from Philadelphia, the great drummer Patrick Berkery.

Me: I have to ask you about your Cabinet of Wonders shows, which are shows you put on featuring different musicians. How did you first come up with that idea to do these?

Wesley: It originated as an album release party, with the idea of bringing together my writing and recording careers (rather as I am now finally doing with my name change.) The first show was great fun so we kept doing them... and then we changed venue to City Winery, and then we ended up on NPR. But it's the live show that's the really amazing bit. It's been a fantastic ride and I love doing the shows. Just check out what's upcoming at we often remark, the band and I, how lucky we are.

Me: Is there anybody you'd love to take part in the Cabinet shows that haven't?

Wesley: David Bowie, Sparks... those are two that immediately spring to mind.

Me: Speaking of shows, you'll coming down to Tampa in January. You're playing at the University, am I right? Let's meet for lunch!

Wesley: We're playing Jacksonville the night before. Let's see when we get to town!

Me: Okay, I read there's a course at a University called The Allusive John Wesley Harding. That's not a course on you, is it?

Wesley: Yes it is.

Me: Where is it and are you allusive?

Wesley: I allude to things, so yes. It's not implying I'm elusive. I'm at Central Connecticut State University.

Me: What do you think about this course?

Wesley: I am honoured, and sometimes amused. And I offer them my service as much as I can. I like students to understand that art isn't some private club to which only the elite are invited. Anyone can do it. And it's good to practice a lot because you get better at it.

Me: Next year you are releasing a brand new novel called "Wonderkid". Do you like writing as much as playing music?

Wesley: No one possibly could! Writing is private, lonely and really hard work. Playing music is social and fun and involves alcohol. The former could involve alcohol too, and well might, but only to ease depression and loneliness. Writing is thankless.

Me: I'd love to have the book be part of the Peverett Phile Book Club, and have you back on here. What do you think?

Wesley: That would be great.

Me: Alright, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics, so here is yours... This is fucking stupid... what's the most amazing weather you've seen? I get the great Wesley Stace on the Phile for a second time and that's what I ask him?!

Wesley: I had a very shitty car journey back from Rahway, N.J. after a show... torrential rain on the New Jersey Turnpike. But the worst weather I ever drove in was snow on that same road on a Saturday morning a few years ago. Absolutely insane. Cars flying off the road right in front of me. I should have stopped. But I had an instore in Falls, N.J., so I manfully strove onward. Of course, nobody actually got to the instore except me. Other than that, there's nothing in the world nicer than a very late Seattle summer. I once had ten nice days in Tahiti.

Me: Wes, thanks for being back on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website and please come back soon. I hope this was fun.

Wesley: It's my name with a dot com on the end of it. Thanks for doing the interview.

There, that about does it for this Phile. It's almost passed my bed time, kids. Anyway, thanks to Jeff Trelewicz, Jon Carson and Wesley Stace. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the kids from the band Wise Girl. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

No comments: