Monday, April 25, 2016

Pheaturing Loren Smith

Hello, kids, welcome back to the Phile for a Monday. What's up? How are you? In Texas, the Austin Independent School District has decided to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary, and while that decision was itself controversial, that's not what this story is about. This is about the fact that, for reasons unbeknownst to all, they asked the public to chime in online with suggestions. The result was... predictable. Here's a very partial list of what the community is suggesting...

Now, Bruce Lee was a pretty cool guy and John Cena actually holds the Make A Wish Foundation's record for visiting the most sick kids (Drew Brees is fine, whatever). Schoolie McSchoolface is obviously a nod to Boaty McBoatface, but clearly the cherry on this bad-idea sundae is the Adolf Hitler School For Friendship And Tolerance. Good job, Internet. So, if you ever wonder why southern states are taking so long to get rid of the Confederate flag, maybe it's because they're afraid the citizens will vote to replace it with a crude drawing of genitalia. Because, let's face it, that's what we'd do.
Say adiĆ³s​ to your childhood, because the voice of Dora the Explorer, Fatima Ptacek, was caught vaping in the bathroom at school. ABC 7 News is reporting that the 15-year-old actress was caught vaping in the bathroom of Manhattan Avenues, the private school she attends. But that is not what got her in trouble. Actually, the fact that Ptacek hardly received any punishment at all is what got her involved in a lawsuit involving a 14-year-old classmate. Let's break it down so it's as easy to understand as an episode of "Dora the Explorer." A 14-year-old identified only as "M.S." and Ptacek were caught smoking out of a vaporizer in the bathroom of Manhattan Avenues World School, but M.S. was expelled while Ptacek was only given three days suspension. The lawsuit against the school claims "The fact that [Fatima Ptacek] is a known actress for being the voice of Dora Explorer may have played a role in why she was ultimately not expelled even after the school threatened as much, and M.S. was expelled instead as a scapegoat". The lawsuit was filed by M.S.'s parents, Nadia Leonelli and Fredrik Sundwall. Sundwall and Leonelli think that due to Ptacek's acting resume, she was given preferential treatment. According to their court filing, they are seeking $40,000 in damages and want their daughter reinstated back into the school. They also claim that M.S. has never been in trouble before, and only smoked the vape because she felt peer pressured to look "cool" in front of Ptacek (Dora would definitely argue that vaping is not cool). Looks like they found Dora to be a bad influence. Neither Ptacek or Nickelodeon has commented on the controversy, and school representative Bruce Bobbin has only said that disciplinary matters are "private and confidential."
On Saturday, April 2nd, a 20-year-old dude named Juan Carlos called an Uber and allegedly told the driver to drive him from Philadelphia to Herkimer, New York. According to the "New York Times" (and presumably the driver's GPS app), the trip would take approximately five hours. At some point in the soon-to-be disastrous trip, the Uber driver, Corey Robinson, told Juan Carlos to take the wheel. Robinson, apparently, wanted to take nap in the backseat. Umm, WTF? He did have to drive back, too, but still. So, Carlos hopped into the driver's seat while Robinson took a nap. That nap ended about a hour and half in the journey, when the Carlos crashed the car into a guard railing in Colesville, New York. Yup, that's what you get for letting some stranger drive your work car. And how the heck did Carlos manage to drive the car into a railing, you might ask? Gawker reports that when Carlos drove on I-81 towards upstate New York, "police say he sped past cops at a speed of 86 miles per hour." The authorities tried to pull him over, but Carlos refused to stop. He kept driving and apparently managed to lose the cops temporarily. Throughout all of this, however, Robinson was snoozing in the backseat. After being awoken by the guard rail and learning from Carlos that police were trying to catch the vehicle, Robinson ordered his customer to give him back the wheel. Carlos declined. Inevitably, police caught up to the car after Carlos wasted valuable escape time crashing into that rail. Both men were sent to a local hospital for minor injuries. Carlos was, of course, arrested and charged with a handful of misdemeanors. On the other hand, Robinson was given no charges. Basically, the police just told him to go home. Go home and sleep, Mr. Robinson. Lord knows you need it.
Sarah McBride had to pee, so she used the bathroom, and in doing so, broke the law. BuzzFeed reported that the 25-year-old transgender woman didn't use just any bathroom... she used the women's bathroom in the Mecklenburg Government Center, a government building in North Carolina. Then, she took a selfie. North Carolina recently passed House Bill 2, an anti-LGBT law that says that people have to use the bathroom that aligns with the sex that is on their birth certificate. When Sarah was passing through the state, she figured she would make a statement by using the women's bathroom and snapping a quick selfie to be all like "F-you HB2!" Her courageous selfie (bet you never thought you'd hear those two words together) has gotten a lot of attention and been shared and liked thousands of times. McBride lives in Washington D.C. where she is closer to change-makers and can also pee in whatever damn bathroom she wants.
Yesterday, photographer Evan Carter posted a picture from the end of the Prince show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on April 14th... the last show Prince played before he died. There was apparently a no cameras or phones policy at the concert, which Carter followed until the very end of the show, when he couldn't resist getting just one quick photo.

He said, "I felt like I was stealing it at the time, but at this point I just feel lucky and honored to have been there and to have taken a picture that makes one of my heroes look exactly as I always wanted him to. Never would have imagined it would be one of the last." No one did.
Alright, so I just mentioned this whole stupid bathroom transgender deal, well, someone came up with a solution... which I am no too sure about.

Hmmmm. So, there's a rumor that Darth Vader is gonna be in the new movie Rogue One. Here on the Phile I have proof, but I don't know why there's a bloody product placement.

Sign of the times I am guessing. I was supposed to mention this yesterday, but I forgot... I love kids, and I love it when kids draw. Sometimes they might draw something that is innocent but comes across as inappropriate. Like this one for example...

Jesus definitely didn't wear purple pants. Are you kids fans of the TV show "Game of Thrones"? well, if you go to your Dish dealer you can sit in an exact replica of the throne.

I have personally never seen the show. I need a good reason to watch it...

Huh. That'll do it. Haha. Moving on. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Reasons Why Michael Strahan Is Leaving "Live With Kelly & Michael"
5. After four years, he still couldn't get Regis Philbin's old-man stench out of his dressing room.
4. He kept bumping his head on all the Kelly Ripa-sized doorways she demanded.
3. "Good Morning America" promised they'd keep out a dish of those M&Ms that he likes.
2. Would YOU turn down a chance to hang with George Stephanopolous every morning?
And the number one reason Michael is leaving 'Live..." is...
1. She's an irritating harpy, obviously.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, this year as you probably are aware of is the Phile's 10th anniversary. A few other things happened in 2006, so that's why I have a pheature called...

Coldplay's "Speed of Sound" was the one billionth song is downloaded on iTunes.

Remember "Speed of Sound"? It was the big Coldplay song between "Clocks" and "Viva La Vida"...

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrating the climax of the 1956 film The Ten Commandments.

The 47th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Todd will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's guest is a singer from California whose singles "Break Free," "Beautiful Smile," and "Always Remember" are available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Loren Smith.

Me: Hey, Loren, welcome to the Phile, man. How are you?

Loren: I’m wonderful, thanks! Thanks so much for having me!!!!  

Me: You're welcome. Loren is an unusual name... does it mean anything or were you named after somebody?

Loren: My family looked up my name in a book. Personally, I think they gave me a unisex name so my father, Leslie, wouldn’t feel alone.

Me: You and I have something in common... we both worked for Disney. I have been working at Disney World for 28 years, and you used to work at Disneyland, am I right? Were you a performer there?

Loren: True! I spent a small amount of time at the House of Mouse.  

Me: What kinda shows did you perform?

Loren: I sang in a vocal group for the holidays.  

Me: And you worked at Universal in California as well? Were you a performer there as well?

Loren: I did! I was Curtis Blues in the Blues Brothers R&B Revue.  

Me: Cool! So, which company did you like working for better?

Loren: Truthfully, 6 on one, half a dozen on the other.    

Me: You have been performing for a long time, am I right?

Loren: Very true. Sang my first solo at age 3, and been singing professionally since Junior High School.  

Me: Are you glad you are finally recording your own music, Loren?

Loren: Absolutely! My goal is to build a catalog of music that lives long after I die.  

Me: You performed at the Special Olympics opening ceremonies as well... where was this and what was that like? Did you do your own material then?

Loren: This was the Summer Games in Long Beach. It was completely inspiring. I didn’t have material then, but I was honored by their invitation and had a blast every time!!!  

Me: You were a back up singer for Andy Grammar... I am not sure who that is, but I am guessing again you like being the front man. Ha!!

Loren: My “day job” so to speak, is the work I do as a background and recording session singer for artists, as well as television and film. I love that part of my life very much, but nothing beats standing on stage singing my material.  

Me: What took you so long to finally record your own stuff?

Loren: It took a while to figure out who I was and what I wanted to say.  

Me: You have recorded a few cool singles which we will talk about in a minute... do you write your own material, Loren?

Loren: I do. I also have a wonderful support system of writing partners.  

Me: I watched your videos and you look like you are enjoying yourself... do you like being on video?

Loren: I do! I love that with film; I can reach more people than those that get to see me in concert.  

Me: I love the song "Break Free." Break free of what? Haha.

Loren: Ha! Whatever prison you’re locked in, you possess the key to free yourself. Break. Free.   

Me: Speaking of videos, that video looked like it was a lot fun to make... was it?

Loren: It was an unforgettably amazing experience. It was my first video, and I was so nervous! I had never been on a film set before, so I invited a lot of my close friends to be in it, and we shot the whole thing in 5 hours. I remember my shoes broke during filming so if you look very closely, you’ll see the long line of black tape we used to keep my right shoe in one piece.  

Me: On that song you collaborated with poet Jeremiah Blue... I should interview him on the Phile. Anyway, what did he do on the song? Is he on the single or just the video?

Loren: Jeremiah composed and performed spoken word specifically for the “Break Free: Late Night Mix” music video.  

Me: How did you two meet and get to work with each other?

Loren: We met in college, and I’m so proud of the outcome of our collaboration literally years in the making. Looking forward to making more art with him.  

Me: You also worked with a member of LMFAO, am I right? Which guy is that? The one with the crazy hair? 

Loren: Ha. No. I had the privilege of being produced by Josh Stevens who co-wrote, engineered and toured on the LMFAO's "Sorry for Party Rocking" album and tour.  

Me: Were you a fan of LMFAO's music, Loren?

Loren: I’m unashamed to say “Party Rock” was stuck in my head just like everyone else’s!  

Me: Not mine. So, who are your influences, who did you listen to growing up?

Loren: I studied Whitney, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Lauryn Hill among many others and I come from a family of singers whose influence on my music is immeasurable.   

Me: You have been described as "the Luther Vandross for the next generation." What do you think of that? That's a pretty big deal. 

Loren: I’m so humbled! I respect and admire Luther a great deal. I have no desire to compete or replace him, nor could I, but I plan on continuing to create my own mark in this industry just as he did.  

Me: You're based in California, am I right? Is that where you're originally from?

Loren: Yes, sir!! Originally from Oakland, but I’m currently in Los Angeles.  

Me: What does your family think about your music?

Loren: My family is amazingly supportive. I’m so grateful for their support and their cooking.  

Me: "Break Free" was featured on NBC’s "Today" show... what did they say about it? Were you on the show?

Loren: I wasn’t on the show, but they were awesome enough to give the song some exposure. I hope they’ll have me soon. I can’t wait to sing LIVE on television. It’s gonna be great!  

Me: Being on the Phile is better though, right? Haha.

Loren: You took the words right outta my mouth.

Me: You seem like a pretty positive person, Loren. Is that true? Are you always happy?

Loren: Thank you! I work at it. I’m not always happy, but I believe life is a classroom and no matter your age, you never stop learning. There’s always something to learn.  

Me: Alright, so, you are active in anti-bullying, LGBT rights and suicide prevention. Most people pick one of those topics... why all three?

Loren: I feel a great urgency to share my message. My brand is all about LOVE. For others and for yourself. I believe it’s my job to speak for those who won’t or can’t speak for themselves, and tomorrow’s not promised.  

Me: Did you go through a lot of bullying growing up?

Loren: I did, unfortunately. I later realized the greater tragedy was owning the lies bullies told me about myself.  

Me: I think all kids do, but for some reason nowadays it's in the news. Back in my day a hundred years ago it wasn't. 

Loren: I couldn’t imagine being a kid in today’s world where everyone’s armed with an opinion and an instant public forum. Eeeeekk!  

Me: This is a hard question, but if you could only pick one to be active in what would it be and why? 

Loren: Suicide prevention. I’ve been without a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never been without hope, and it’s saved my life.  

Me: Alright, back to your music... you release a few singles, are you gonna put them on a full length CD?

Loren: That is the plan. But I’m taking my time and not rushing the process. I’m working on new music as we speak, and I can’t wait to share it with you!  

Me: Will you be doing a lot of touring, Loren?

Loren: Absolutely!! I have an incredible band of Southern California’s finest human beings and musicians, and if you haven’t seen me LIVE, you’re missing out!  

Me: Alright, thanks so much for being on the Phile, I hope it was fun. Mention your website and anything else you want and please come back soon. Continued success. 

Loren: Thanks so much for having me! I insist everyone come say hey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube: @sanglorensmith. You’ll sleep better if you do, and I’m sure you could use the rest. This was great! Please have me back often.

Me: Great job, Loren.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Loren for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Monday with Mark Sarro from Lost Souls On Broadway. I'll be watching my nephew in a play on Sunday so only one entry next week. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Tooting is the best!

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

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