Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pheaturing Julian Grefe From Pink Skull

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Let's start off with a story about a Bayer ad promoting rape culture is winning awards. Yep, in Hmmm news... an aspirin ad that seemingly hints at nonconsensual videotaped sex just won Bayer's advertising department a major award. Yup. This is that ad, the subtext of which is unfortunately clear...

The print ad, made for Bayer's aspirin brand Aspirina, won a bronze award at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. According to AdWeek, Bayer has since ended this campaign. "We have asked that [the ad agency] BBDO discontinue any further use, dissemination or promotion of this campaign," said a spokesman for Bayer to AdWeek. "The concept was presented to our local marketing team in Brazil by BBDO as one of several campaigns that the agency intended to submit for this year's Cannes Lions festival. In order to meet the requirements for submission to Cannes, BBDO paid for limited placement in Brazil. Bayer has not advertised Aspirin through any channel in Brazil for several years." But how did any advertising agency think this was a good idea to begin with?
Kids, Switzerland is opening its first fellatio café. That's not a pun. It's easy to gently make fun of the Swiss, what with their neutrality, their punctuality, their secret banks, clockwork, chocolates and fellatio cafés. Wait, back up. One of those is not like the other. One aspect of Swiss pragmatism is that prostitution is legal and sex workers have permits from the government. Any business of two or more sex workers must be a licensed massage parlor... but apparently, massage parlors are also allowed to sell coffee, which is what the company FaceGirl will be doing. FaceGirl will open the country's first "fellatio café" in Geneva by the end of 2016, and it's innovative in more ways than one. Customers come in, pay an upfront fee of 60 Swiss francs (about $62, plus another $5 fee), order a coffee drink and a woman from the same iPad, and then sit at a bar. It must not be a normal bar, though, because you get a blowie while you sit there drinking your coffee. FaceGirl representative Bradley Chavet told the French newspaper Le Matin that the idea was taken from similar Thai cafés. Chavet further told the paper that unlike more relaxed coffee establishments, he expects men to be in and out of the shop quickly. ''In five or ten minutes, it's all over," he said, which some of his customers would probably half-heartedly claim wasn't true. As thrilling as it must be to people with dual sex and caffeine addictions, not everyone is pumped that Switzerland will be adding cream to its coffee. Some sex workers' rights organizations suspect the men setting up the business will be the only ones making a profit. And of course, being a barista always sucks.
According to both "The Mirror" and "Metro UK," a robot that "remembers and learns" has remembered and learned how to escape the confines of its lab in Perm (a city in central Russia), not just once, but twice. The implication is that somehow the robot, a Promobot IR77, has achieved sentience and now Short Circuit is real. Upon hearing this, you might be thinking, "Oh no, robot revolution, the end is nigh!" or maybe even, "HOORAY! THE SINGULARITY!" (ahem, guilty) but once initial excitement fades, perhaps you must admit that there's no way this can be real. Promobot claims that the first escape occurred when an engineer testing the robot in the courtyard left a gate ajar, allowing the robot to "escape," only to run out of battery in the middle of a crosswalk (ugh, typical, right?). The robot was missing for 45 minutes, during which time it was ogled by passerby in cars and on foot. If one were designing a publicity stunt, that sounds like a pretty good plan.
The company has the "escape" posted on its own website, with the headline "A robot fled the test site." Additionally, local news coverage of the robot's escape has been uploaded to Promobot's official YouTube page. If this robot's inexplicable sentience were actually a problem, it seems unlikely that the company would be broadcasting their design error. "Hey, buy our robots, there's a chance they might form an uprising and kill you, but theoretically they'll be able to give you directions to the nearest restroom until then." This is not a robot designed to get around. It moves very slowly and there doesn't appear to be any obvious means for righting itself when it inevitably falls off a curb. Mechanically speaking, it's not a whole lot more advanced than Rosie from "The Jetsons." So how did it even get to the street during its "escape"? Answer: it didn't. No proof, just a hunch. Kivokurtsev has said that they're considering "scrapping" this second version of the model, due to the minor problem where one of them seems to be alive and looking to flee captivity. However, he claims they're still proceeding with the release of the third version, scheduled for the fall. Hmm. If they were really so concerned with the "becoming conscious" problem, would they really still be on schedule to release the third version? Because that seems… unwise. Have these people ever heard of movies? Promobot has said that the other robots are "well-behaved" and this is the only one who's tried to escape. Kivokurtsev said, "We have changed the AI system twice, so now I think we might have to dismantle it." According to the "Metro," the plan to dismantle the robot has upset a "group of rights activists who say the free-thinking robot has earned the right to remain alive." Okay, NO, IT HAS NOT. There cannot be any ROBOT RIGHTS ACTIVISTS protesting the scrapping of the robot. Nor is the robot itself worried about being "scrapped." ("NO DISASSEMBLE!")
It is meant to assist in navigation, "broadcast promotional information," and collect customer contacts. It's no HAL 9000 (RIP, HAL). So there's probably no need to worry about imminent machine apocalypse. YET. So while it's terrifying/fun to think that this artificial intelligence has led to robot consciousness, it seems highly unlikely. Rest assured that if someone does design/achieve the singularity, it will not be by accident, and it will probably not be designed to get tourists to the correct airplane gate.
Last week, seven-year-old Peter Rapatas from Norridge, Illinois, was left behind by day camp counselors after a field trip to a water park. His sister, who also attends the same Salvation Army day camp, even claims she reported him missing to counselors as they left the water park. He used a lifeguard's cell phone to call his mom after he'd been left behind. Their mom, Gina Rapatas, spoke with CBS Chicago about the incident. She was mostly furious that she did not receive a call from the camp director once they knew her son was missing. "I was just so mad, and I was like I can’t believe you guys didn’t call me. He just walked away." The director did end up apologizing, though said there would not be a change in camp procedures. That's probably because either a counselor royally screwed up, or the kid didn't listen when he was told to get out of the water.
Many bros abroad in Britain are brexcited about the Brexit, which broils down to a brexpedited breconomic brexecution, brexpelling brexpats. Breplexed? Here's a quick brexplaination. Brexit, the celebrity couple name for "Britain" and "Exit," is a policy for a United Kingdom divorce from the European Union that passed Friday morning with a public referendum. The British people voted/broted to peace from the EU, with 52% of the British brublic voting to leave and 48% broting to stay. What is the European Union? Remember the time throughout basically all history when European countries were at war with one another? Like, there was literally a conflict called the Hundred Years' War? Surely you must remember World War I? And World War II, arguably the craziest one (and not just because it inspired the most movies), where England and Germany (at the risk of sounding too scholarly) bombed the shit out of each other? And that was only 71 years ago! Well, after World War II ended with a bang, postwar governments throughout Europe started a program to foster economic cooperation, because countries that trade with each other are less likely to go to war with each other (countries that trade together, stay together). Economic partnership bloomed into political partnership, a "single market" that allows both goods and people to move throughout the continent as if it were one country. Much like a singular country, the EU had its own parliament based in Brussels, Belgium, that makes policies about things like transport, the environment, and consumer and human rights. Why is Brexit? Well, many British chaps didn't like the idea of having to take "orders" from an entity across the English Channel, and having "foreigners" cross the Channel onto their shores so easily. Much like the rise of Trump in the U.S., the U.K.'s desire to leave the EU was largely enflamed by xenophobia. Nigel Farage, the leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), is like the British Trump, campaigning to get his way with posters of refugees lining up at the border of Slovenia, a member of the EU. Much like Trump blaming America's problems on immigrants (both Muslim and Mexican), Farage insists that the U.K. must "take back control of [its] borders" and stop letting foreign entities (in Belgium!) make decisions on policies like trade deals. Farage also campaigned for the Brexit using Trumpian fear tactics and a nationalism that boils down to "Make Great Britain Great Again." The triumph of xenophobic propaganda might even be indicative of a future Trump victory. But one thing is for certain: in today's democracies, facts seem to matter less than fear.
The movie Planet of the Apes kinda predicted what would happen with Brexit...

And there's posters all over England that kinda says it all...

Haha. So, I love the news, and turned on the news to see what is going on with Brexit and this is what I saw...

Haha! Noooo! Alright, enough about Brexit... it's summer and one of the best things about summer is the bikini. Well, I am showing you this summer sexy bikini pics with something not so sexy on the background.

I hope she stashed poopie bags somewhere in that two-piece. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard At The House Democrats' Sit-In
5. I'll tell you when I'm leaving: the next time Pelosi sharts!
4. Damn, I can't access PornHub in here! What was the First Amendment?
3. That's right, I need 25 large pizzas... yes, charge it to the "American Taxpayer"...
2. I've been sitting here for 19 straight hours. I hope Obamacare covers hemorrhoids!
And the number one thing over heard at the House Democrats' sit-in was...
1. The Republicans have ignored dozens of mass shootings... but THIS will get their attention!

If you spot the Mindph... wait, this one is too similar than the last Mindphuck. That's bullshit. Here's another...

That's better. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Haha. And now for some sad news...

Ralph Stanley
February 25th, 1927 — June 23rd, 2016
The bluegrass legend is helping the green grass grow.

Umm, excuse me, but the definition is over here.

The 50th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheaturd guest is one part of the band Pink Skull whose new EP "Neil Blender" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Julian Grefe.

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

Julian: We're great. How are you?

Me: I'm really good. Okay, I have to say, you come up with some very cool and unusual song titles, Julian. "Either the Luminescent Wallpaper Goes Up, Or Do I" (is that the right title?), and "Bee Nose" stick out. What is a bee nose?

Julian: It is 'Either the Luminescent Wallpaper Goes, Or I Do"... a reference to Mr. Oscar Wilde's last words. And, as I told a friend of mine recently, a bee nose is the hole in a bee's head in between its bee eye balls.

Me: Good point. In a past album you had a song about Peter Cushing as well, right?

Julian: We had a song entitled "Peter Cushing." It was not about Peter Cushing, but it did mention him. I was more of a dream logic cliff notes about a film I envisioned. Interspace trade espionage and a worm that can be inserted in one's throat that would act as a truth serum.

Me: And on the new album "Psychic Welfare" there's a song called "Janine Aubergine." Who is she? 

Julian: She's a strictly fictitious heroine, a spinster at the end of the world, and... aubergine rhymes with Janine, which is handy in a song. Aubergine is also the color of an eggplant, or IS an eggplant, depending on where you are in the world. It's also the color she would turn if she was suffocating, which she does in the song.

Me: Ahhh. Back to Peter Cushing. Are you guys big Star Wars fans, is that why you wrote a song about Cushing?

Julian: No. We're not big Star Wars fans. I wrote a song about Peter Cushing because of The House of Hammer horror film series. I find he cuts quite a figure. I really like his profile. He has really minor role in Star Wars anyway. Who was he? Grand Moff Tarkin? Who cares about that dude? Not me. That movie is highly overrated. Give me Silent Running any day.

Me: He was Tarkin and this interview is done. Just kidding. While we are talking about names, is it a crazy coincidence you have three members in the band with the initials J.G.?

Julian: Indeed, it is.

Me: While we are at it, who is in the band?

Julian: Myself, (Julian Grefe) Justin Geller, Jeremy Gewertz, Mike Hammel, Sam Murphy, Robin van der Kaa, Adam Sparkles and occasionally Billy Dufala.

Me: So, "Neil Blender"... who is he?

Julian: A skateboarder.

Me: Ahhh. Have you all been making music together for long?

Julian: Yeah, I guess so. Justin and Billy have been making music together for about 15 years and Jeremy and have been off and on since about '99. Sam and Mike before that in various bands.

Me: You guys started off as a duo, right?

Julian: Sort of. Maybe a trio, if you count Ian St Laurent as an active member. He was like a kind of house cat who smoked cigarettes and sat on the couch as we worked. We'd have to feed him once in a while when he was awake... But he was definitely there. The first group effort was the "RVNG Intl." mix CD that we worked on and that was the beginnings of the group. That was the three of us.

Me: I listened to a lot of your music and I have to say you sound a little like Daft Punk. Are they an influence on you guys?

Julian: Really? I don't see that at all. They’re not an influence on our music. I mean, I like Daft Punk, we (the band) all do to some degree. They're really great. I think one of the song's melody line is similar to an older Daft Punk song. Other than that, I don't really see any similarities except for the fact that there's lots of synthesizers. Maybe it’s more like a cross between Human League and Jean Pierre Massiera? This Heat and Lou Reed? I dunno.

Me: Yeah, you don't dress as robots. Maybe one day you can write the score for a Disney movie as well. Would you ever consider scoring a film?

Julian: Absolutely. I'd love to. It's a beautiful marriage of art and functionality. Music with a specific, focused purpose. I like the idea of working in collaboration with visuals.

Me: When I first heard the name of Pink Skull, I thought you guys were gonna be a punk or heavy metal band.

Julian: So did we.

Me: Where did the band name come from? I know, I am talking names again.

Julian: I think, at the time, I was trying to come up with a name that would sound like an unsuccessful Japanese psyche band. ironically, I think Jeweled Antler has a CD-R imprint, also called Pink Skulls. So in a way, it's kind of dead on. It's actually comes from a taxidermy term. It unfortunately has also been a visual embraced by the Hot Topic set. Or so Google image leads me to believe.

Me: Where are you guys from?

Julian: Currently we all reside in Philly, except for Robin who lives in Berlin. Before that, we're all from the general mid-Atlantic region, with the exception of of Robin who's from Rotterdam and Sam who's from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Me: Is that where you recorded your albums?

Julian: We recorded all of the albums in Philadelphia. We mixed the last one in Brooklyn but they've all be tracked in the City of Brotherly Love.

Me: I imagine you guys would be pretty popular in Europe, have you ever been over there to play? 

Julian: Popular in Europe? That'd be really nice, wouldn't it? I'll settle for popular in St. Louis at this point. We've been over there to DJ, but not to play live. The live show is kind of a production and I don't know that our level of fame allows us to schlep the entire crew over. It's not very cost effective. I have DJ'd in Europe many time but it'd be wonderful to take the whole band over there. I'd love it. We’ve had a couple of opportunities this past year but they didn't pan out. We're just waiting for the beck and call...

Me: When I was a kid when you bought an album often you would get a poster, stickers, tattoos, or something extra inside, and you are doing that with your vinyl versions of your albums, right?

Julian: For "Psychic Welfare" yes... The record cover unfold's into a gatefold 6 panel poster with stills of some video art that was done by Justin, myself and our good friend and filmmaker, Adam Carrigan. On the flip side there's a poem hand written by Ira Cohen, who recently passed away. He was a figure in the beat scene in the ’60 in New York and internationally. Kind of like the cover for Hawkwind's "Space Ritual." Maybe some more goodies will be in there.

Me: Thanks, Julian, for being on the Phile. Is there a website you would wanna plug?

Julian: or @pinkskulldoods on Twitter.

Me: Thanks again, and come back onto the Phile again soon.

Julian: We'd love to. Thanks for having us. It's been really nice.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Julian for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer VanDeRocker. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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

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