Friday, July 24, 2015

Pheaturing Andrés Velasco From Chikita Violenta

Hello, welcome to the Phile for a Friday. How are you?  So, Eminem rapped mockingly about Caitlyn Jenner to remind us all that he's edgy. Remember when Eminem was the bad boy of American music? That was before he was a middle-aged dad. But just because he's older, don't think he's lost any of that fire. As if to remind us all, Em appeared on SiriusXM's Sway in the Morning on Thursday and dropped an extremely angry 6-minute freestyle in which he ranted about everything from Miley Cyrus to Bill Cosby to Hillary Clinton. There were so many topical references, it was more like a late night host's monologue than a rap. But it was Eminem's lines about Caitlyn Jenner that got the Internet riled up against him. He rapped, "This a true statement, I see the bitch in you Caitlyn. I keep the pistol tucked like Bruce Jenner's dick/ No disrespect though, not at all/ No pun intended... that took a lot of balls." Despite his "no disrespect" disclaimer, the Internet has come down pretty hard of Mr. Mathers, labelling him a bigot and a transphobe. Do you think Eminem went too far this time? Do you think he's gone too far many times? Or do you buy his defense that, "I just say shit to say it." He also added that he'd just woken up. So obviously he can't help it.  A poem anonymously posted in a London bar is driving everyone crazy with its awesome twist ending. At first glance, this poem seems like something a mopey, angst-ridden teen would write.

But when you read it from the bottom up, it suddenly becomes very inspirational. I wish someone had shown this to me when I was a mopey, angst-ridden teen. I might have learned an important lesson about perspective. Nobody knows who posted this poem inside a London bar. Ronnie Joice just saw it and put in on Twitter, where it quickly went viral. But nothing stays secret on the Internet for long, and the origins of the poem were quickly discovered. As it turns out, it was written by a teenager: Chanie Gorkin, an 11th grader from Brooklyn, NY. The original was found on We may never know how an American high schooler's poem wound up on the wall of a London bar, but it's a good thing it did. A lot of people around the world had their day brightened by it, including me. And I'm still pretty angsty.  Hey, good news, people, we finally know who to blame for the scary rise in autism rates. If you follow medical news (or news at all), you're probably aware that autism rates are skyrocketing in the U.S. The neurological disorder, which many people hadn't heard of 20 years ago, is now diagnosed in 1 in 68 children. That's a startling 30% increase from 2012, when 1 in 88 children were diagnosed. These numbers are definitely scary, especially for any prospective parent, but there may be a less apocalyptic explanation. A new study published in the "American Journal of Medical Genetics" suggests that the reason more children are being diagnosed with autism is just that doctors are more likely to diagnose it. The study, titled "Comorbidity of intellectual disability confounds ascertainment of autism: Implications for genetic diagnosis," found that as many as two thirds of new autism diagnoses would previously have been classified as different conditions. Among older kids, that proportion rises to 97%. In other words: more kids have autism than before, but not nearly as many as we thought. The Penn State researchers who conducted the study looked at 11 years of special education enrollment data and found that the increase in the number of autistic children could almost perfectly be offset by a decrease in students diagnosed with other learning disabilities. It's difficult for doctors to diagnose autism because its symptoms vary so widely between patients. Some are high-functioning, whereas others are severely impaired, even nonverbal. And as doctors learn more and more about this mysterious condition, they're realizing that many different disorders actually fall under the umbrella of the autism spectrum. Even Asperger syndrome (still popular as a way to make fun of your awkward coworkers) is no longer considered its own disorder. Recent diagnostic guidelines for doctors have eliminated it entirely. These days, those patients are just diagnosed as high-functioning autistic. So tell that to the wiseasses in your office next time they make fun of you for eating at your desk. The Penn State study, while very interesting, is not conclusive. More research and peer review needs to be done to verify the researchers' claims. But it should come as tentatively good news to everyone. While autism is still a real challenge faced by families and doctors the world over, there probably isn't some medical boogeyman spreading it around at epidemic levels. We're just learning more about it, and that can only help.  Being Bradley Cooper must be awesome. He's a movie star, he's a sex symbol, he's a millionaire, he's the voice of a raccoon… you probably think his life is perfect, and on any other Monday, you'd be right. But this weekend, Cooper broke things off with his girlfriend of two years, Suki Waterhouse. Waterhouse, a 23 year old English model and actress, apparently wasn't ready to settle down with the 40 year old Cooper. In case you're not savvy, "not ready to settle down" is showbiz-speak for "holding out for Zack Galifianakis." Now, Waterhouse is celebrating her single life with a Clueless-themed girls' night out, while Cooper is being forced to deny having sex with Jennifer Lawrence. I have a tip for him though: have sex with Jennifer Lawrence.  Isis is a pretty name, when you think of it outside of the context of the militant Islamic State. Isis King, a high school student from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, certainly thinks so. When her mother named her after the Egyptian goddess, she certainly couldn't have predicted the rise of the militant Islamic State. Back then, ISIS was just the gleam in the eye of a couple of murderous, barbaric thugs with a perverted interpretation of Islam. Now, however, poor Isis is paying the price. In the last few years, she's been bullied more and more for her name (ironic, considering ISIS are the ultimate bullies). The ultimate humiliation, however, came when Facebook banned her from using her own name, on the grounds that it was "inappropriate and fake." After making her troubles public with the CBC, Isis was able to restore her Facebook account, but the bullying continues. She either has to wait for ISIS to be brought down (which would be good for many reasons), or finally give in and change her name to something less embarrassing, like Isis Queen.  Okay, so, with the success of the Magic Mike XXL movie, Disney decided to rerelease it's classic animated movies with male stripper like scenes. Man, this running joke seemed to go on for weeks. Anyway, this is the last one...

Who are those people?  So, there's a new pregnancy test that's out that pretty much says what you might be thinking.

You heard of the wailing wall in Israel, right? It's this...

Well, did you know Greece has a wailing wall as well?

Told you. Ha.  Okay, it's summer and all through summer I am showing you different bikinis or bathing suits you might see at the beach or pool.

For some reason, this screams "Tim Burton's Batman Movies." So, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's stuff that happens in Florida that doesn't happen anywhere else. That's why I have a pheature called...

When a Twitter user asked her followers to bring her pot, she didn't expect a response from her local sheriff's office. How many times do you think this exact sentiment has been tweeted? A million? A billion? Probably a billion. So you can't blame @Rosa_Sparkz, A.K.A. Jasmine of Jupiter, Florida, for assuming only her friends would see it. She certainly didn't expect it to be seen by the Palm Beach Country Sheriff's Office. But they did see it, and then they replied with an offer. "Where should we meet you?" Bam. If I had been in Jasmine's shoes, I would have freaked out. But she responded with the chill of a seasoned pothead who's long since gotten past the paranoia. "@PBCountySheriff follow back so I can DM you the location." Unfortunately, the PBSO didn't follow her, which is just bad police work. They'd almost cracked the case! Jasmine, on the other hand, wasn't nearly done having fun. The more the cops' tweet went viral (currently over 41,000 retweets), the more she seemed to enjoy it. "I'm famous Yall!!!" Famous just for loving weed. She's living the dream right now. I hope she enjoys her moment. More importantly, I hope she remembers to only smoke indoors. She doesn't want to meet those cops for real.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know.

Keep looking. Keep looking. There you go.

Today's guest is the lead singer for the Mexican City rock band Chikita Violenta, whose latest album titled "Tre3s" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Andrés Velasco.

Me: Hey there, Andrés. Congrats, you are the first band and guest from Mexico I ever had on the Phile. You're from Mexico City. What are your favorite things about the city?

Andrés: Yeah, born and raised in Mexico City. Quite frankly we like it a lot, it's a huge, crazy and chaotic city, but with a lot of charm and culturally very rich. You never get bored here, it's so big there's always new places to go to, it's a party town for sure, museums, shows, old and modern neighborhoods... BUT maybe the greatest asset is the people, warm, fun and hospitable... Oh, and also, there's mezcal, delicious mezcal...

Me: Apart from you guys in Chikita Violenta, the only Mexican bands I know of are Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys. What are some Mexican bands we should be listening to?

Andrés: Haha, never been in a list with Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys before! There's definitely a good batch of bands to check out: Bam Bam, Movus, Rey Pila, Los Fancy Free, Los Amparito, Nos Llamamos, Hypnomango, just to name a few...

Me: Growing up in Mexico, what bands did you listen to? Did many of your favorite bands come to Mexico City to play?

Andrés: Well, like any teenager in the 90s, Nirvana, grunge, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, NIN were all over the place... We liked them, but we were really drawn into the indie"/lo-fi acts from the 90s, like Sonic Youth, Pavement, Built to Spill, Polvo, Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo, Archers of Loaf... Also loved shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Back then not too many international bands came to play Mexico City (now they come all the time!). Some special gigs we got to see here when we were kids were Radiohead in a Hard Rock Cafe, David Bowie, INXS!

Me: How did you and your bandmates come together? Did you know each other before?

Andrés: We all came together in high-school. We're best friends from back then, and have remained together until now. A couple of us are cousins...

Me: I just downloaded your latest album "Tre3s" from iTunes and really like it. I also downloaded your iTunes exclusive "SXSW EP." Anyway, "Tre3s" is your third album, right?

Andrés: Yeah, it's our third album. Glad you like it! The first one we self-recorded, distributed and produced ourselves, the last two have been done with our producer and friend David Newfeld.

Me: I interviewed a singer from a band from Houston called Ledaswan years ago whose release is all about numbers, it's even called "NUM83RS" and I was explained where that 'spelling' come from. Who came up with the idea to spell trees that way?

Andrés: Well, it's kind of a "play on words" so you can read the title as Tres (Spanish number 3) or Trees. In a "numerology" perspective, it's our third album, three years past between the second and third albums, it was recorded in three trips to Ontario... On the other hand, it has to do with an experience we had while recording in Ontario. We spent the first 3-4 days there planting trees with Dave on his new studio grounds, before recording a single note of the album. We always say it's kind of a Mr. Miyagi experience, learn to plant trees then record album...

Me: There's an owl on the cover of the album as well, not a tree. There must be a story behind that, right?

Andrés: Well, our good friend and designer Leo Torres developed the artwork around the "Trees" concept, and started out with trees, explored the mythology of trees, ended up with an owl we thought fit well...

Me: Anyway, I love the album. I was guessing you recorded it in Mexico but you said it was recorded in Canada. That's a long haul for you guys. What made you decide to go all the way up there to record it?

Andrés: We had already recorded our previous album with producer David Newfeld and became good friends. We really liked working with him, and decided to go up there again. Now he has a great new studio he built in a 19th century church, which gives you loads of room to play with and record, it was a lot of fun...

Me: I mentioned SXSW just now, and you guys obviously played there, just like pretty much everybody I interviewed. Was that your first time there? What is the experience like? Did you see any other bands perform there?

Andrés: We love SXSW, it's one of our favorite weeks of the year for sure. This was our third time there, and definitely the best one yet... We had a busy schedule and didn't have too much time to watch other bands that year. In the past we've seen great bands, Spoon, Broken Bells, BSS, Annuals, Mew, etc. Our first year there we hopped around bars with a backpack full of CDs, giving them out. We landed some cool stuff... Highly recommend SXSW, always will.

Me: One thing I didn't ask you, what does the name of the band mean?

Andrés: In a straight literal sense it translates to "violent little girl" or something like that... The name was given to us by a good friend in high-school, who printed the name in our first ever flyer for a gig. He says it derived from a Blonde Redhead album called "La Mia Vita Violenta."

Me: Cool. I know you are busy and have to go. Thanks so much for being here on the Phile, you guys really rock. I am a big fan, and hope you can come back to the Phile soon.

Andrés: Muchas gracias! Hope to be back here soon too... Salud!

There you go, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Andrés Velasco for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Monday with hot female singer Van Muller. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a good weekend.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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