Monday, April 3, 2017

Pheaturing Nozart

Good afternoon, my lovely people, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? I'm okay, but autocorrect still thinks I wanna say "duck" twelve times a day.
Let's start off with a story about a t-shirt I can't decide has a typo or not. This t-shirt that’s for sale in the Trump Tower gift shop in New York City makes absolutely no sense.

Politico's chief Washington correspondent Edward-Isaac Dovere tweeted the picture of the t-shirt, which reads "shut the fake up media." Wait. Is the shirt meant to say, "Shut up the fake media" or perhaps "Shut the fake media up"? Is it meant to be some kind of word play on "Shut the fuck up, media"? In that case, the shirt is missing a comma. No matter what the intention was for this t-shirt, something definitely got lost in translation. Hey, Donald Trump hardly makes sense when he speaks, so why should his merchandise be any different?
As an incredibly lazy person, I'm always on the lookout for news that supports the continuation of my sedentary lifestyle. So I'm very pleased to report that a study comparing bathing to exercise found they shared similar benefits. Metabolic researchers at the U.K.’s Loughborough University were behind this experiment, in which the effects of a hot bath (or "passive heating") were compared to those of physical activity. What they found is that warm baths burn as many calories as a 30-minute walk... although not as many as riding a bike. And while they cautioned that exercise "still offers the greatest overall benefit to weight control and metabolic health," they noted that hot baths also help to combat chronic inflammation and dampen blood sugar spikes after meals. All of which is to say: The next time you're lounging about in the tub, idly making castles out of the mountains of bubbles while you listen to your favorite Enya playlist, and someone impatiently knocks on the bathroom door, you're free to shout "Go away, I'm working out!" Because now the science has your back.
Last Sunday was Mother's Day in the U.K., and a creative ad agency that happens to be named Mother itself wanted to make a big, bouncy statement for the occasion. So they put a giant inflatable breast on top of a building in London's Shoreditch neighborhood.

I love it! While the massive mammary was certainly worth gawking at no matter the context, the agency explained that it was meant to highlight the stigma mothers feel about breastfeeding. "It’s hard to believe that in 2017 U.K. mothers still feel watched and judged when feeding in public, by bottle or breast," the company wrote in a blog post. "This was our Mother’s Day project. A celebration of every woman’s right to decide how and where they feed their children without feeling guilty or embarrassed about their parenting choices." The building itself was plastered with signs bearing the hashtag #FreeTheFeed. I personally have no issue with women feeding their infants wherever and however they want, but if it takes more public displays of enormous inflatable breasts to bring other people over to that point of view, well, I fully support that. Heck, bring a pair next time.
After surviving alone in the wild for an entire year, reality TV show contestants on the show "Eden" finally emerged from the woods having fought off hunger, fatigue, and difficult social dynamics while living in a remote area of the British Isles. But, most of that won't be seen on the show, as it stopped running back in August, after only four episodes. Here's the concept for the original premise of the show, which included 23 contestants, according to a promotional statement for the show, "With no prescribed infrastructure, the group will take in with them only what they can carry and the basics needed to kick start their experience, including the tools of their trade. What they do and how they do it is up to them. The series will follow the groups’ journey as they debate their own rules and laws, decide if they want to live together or separately, accept majority decisions or do as each of them pleases. Over 12 months, how will they work together to build their own shelter, grow their own food and raise their own livestock?" But, according to the "New York Times," all but 10 of the contestants quit before the year was up, citing "concerns about health and safety, boredom and swarms of tiny biting insects called midges." The remaining 13 who stuck it out maybe got the worst deal of them all: learning you had just spent a year building a civilization while being tortured by small insects, and it didn't even make you famous. Apparently viewership of the show dropped drastically, from 1.7 million watching the first episode, down to 800,000 on the fourth, after which the show was cut. Though that still doesn't explain why the show and network didn't alert the contestants once it was canceled, and get them out of the wilderness, where the conditions were clearly less-than-desirable. Maybe the show didn't have the appeal of "Survivor" because it wasn't a competition; there were no winners and losers. "The appeal of 'Eden' is that it was a real experiment," Channel 4, the British public service station that created the show, said in a statement. "And when filming began we had no idea what the results would be and how those taking part would react to being isolated for months in a remote part of the British Isles." So, next time you congratulate yourself for going "off the grid" for a weekend by renting out a cabin on Airbnb with four of your besties, just remember you ain't got nothing on the "Eden" contestants. And they don't have much to show for themselves either, save for a few bug bite scabs.
At long last, Bob Dylan has finally accepted his Nobel prize. Months after the announcement he barely acknowledged, the ceremony in December which he didn't attend, the 75-year-old singer-songwriter received his award at a small gathering Saturday afternoon (April 1st), "Billboard" reports. The venue for the intimate ceremony was the hotel next to the conference center where Dylan was playing later that night. (I'm sorry that is the saddest sentence I will write today.) But apparently, the ceremony was exactly what Dylan wanted. Klas Ostergren, a member of the Swedish Academy, told the AP, "it went very well indeed." The only attendees were members of The Academy and one of Dylan's staff members, which was "in line with the singer's wishes." When Dylan first ignored, then later refused, his invitation to attend the ceremony in Sweden and accept his prize, the Nobel committee’s chairman called him “impolite and arrogant," but it could be that Dylan is just a shy, awkward dude. Of course, he made the whole thing a bigger deal by refusing to act normally about the award, thereby creating more attention than he would have by simply attending. The other thing people forget is that Dylan didn't ask for any of this. Did you know in order to get the award money ($894,800) that goes along with the award, he has to give a lecture within 10 months of December 10th, 2016? And according to "The Washington Post," when he first found out he won, Dylan said, "If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I’d have about the same odds as standing on the moon." Fair, considering Dylan probably never thought of his work as "literature" before that. Later that night at his concert, Dylan made no mention of the award or the day's ceremony that had happened hours before, perhaps because he truly is a humble, strange guy.
So, Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, occasionally changes the look of their characters to keep up with the times. They updated one character recently and I have to say it looks good.

I think it's Mulan. Did you see the trailer for the new Spider-Man movie? I thought just Iron Man was supposed to be in it... then I saw this...

I have no idea who that guy in the orange is. I'm excited the Thing is in the movie though. Hahaha. How was your spring break? Some people's spring break end in total disaster, like this poor fifth wheel...

If he needs mouth to mouth he's outta luck. Hey, are you kids fans of "The Walking Dead"? Did you know Negan had a record out? No? Well, he did...

I definitely wanna get that. So, recently I have been watching the Harry Potter movies and kinda like them. There was one scene that kinda didn't need to be put in the fourth movie.

Expecto petroleum. Hahahaha. One thing I like to do in my spare time is to go on Twitter and look up certain words. One of the words I look up is "Foghat" and this is one tweet I found a few years ago...

So, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's things that happen in Florida that happen no where else in the Universe. That's why I have a pheature called...

It's almost prom season, which means it's "promposal" season. Promposals seem to bring out the best, and the worst, in teens. And this horrifying promposal photo that went viral on Twitter is the worst of the absolute worst...

She might have said "yes" but everyone else is saying "noooooooooooooooo!" Not only is this racist "cotton picking" joke insanely offensive, but it doesn't even make sense! This is just so many levels of wrong. Turns out, the teens who made the signs are currently students at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, Florida (ugh, Florida, why does it always have to be you?? Why???), Yahoo confirmed. Jon Aro, an alumni of the school, spotted the pic on Instagram and shared it on Twitter. "It is two thousand and fucking seventeen," he wrote. His tweet has been retweeted more than 8,000 times... A few people are asking why the black girl in the photo "allowed" this to happen. Aro, 18, and currently a student at Palm Beach State College, told Yahoo he has no regrets about sharing the now-viral photo. "I decided to post it on Twitter because it is 2017 and stuff like this is completely revolting," he said. "I had thought we had been past the plight of racism. Apparently we hadn’t."A receptionist at Monarch High School confirmed to Yahoo that the teens are currently students there, and said the principal is "aware" the racist promposal photo exists. Stay tuned for updates.

Ha! This is pretty easy. If you spot the Mindphuck please let me know. Okay, two things before we move on. The other day I was thinking of an old Phile Alum who in 2012 ran for president... Lee Abramson. I was gonna invite him back to the Phile and see what he thought of Trump being president. So, I looked Lee up and was shocked to find out he passed away on January 20th, 2016. I was also lucky enough to interview his mom Janet Abramson. RIP, Lee.

Another thing I have to mention is that on April 22nd, my sister Leila is putting together an event here in Orlando called Hops For Hope and I wanted to advertise it here.

Leila is gonna be the guest on the Phile next Monday to talk about it, but I felt I should plug the even here as well. Alright, so, I'm old. Not that old, but still pretty old. After all, next year I turn 50. Anyway, one plus thing about being as old as I am I understand a lot of things. There's this comedian who is a lot older than I am... he's 100-years-old and occasionally he likes to come on the Phile and tell jokes. Well, the problem is os that most people have no idea what he's saying. I fortunately do and can translate pretty good. So, with all that being said, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Alan, welcome back to the Phile.

Alan: Salutations, Jason.

Me: Alright, let's hear a joke.

Alan: A forward girl being in company of two or three with her mother, must needs whip her hand up her petticoats and scratch her. "Lord, child," says the mother in a pet, "what are you about?" "Only laying the itching of that which you have often plagued my poor father to do for you."

Me: Hmmm. That's a hard one. Okay, here goes... A girl reaches under her skirt in public to scratch her vagina. When the mom asks "What the fuck?" the kid replies, "I'm just scratching my vagina like you're always asking dad to do for you."

Alan: Good job, Jason.

Me: Thanks. Do you have another joke for us?

Alan: A Welchman shiting from a bridge, good shit, by Davy, said he, what a devil no plump? For he expected to hear his excrement fall in the water, but all the while shit in his coat-pocket.

Me: Hahahaha. What Alan was trying to say was... A man shits off a bridge and is surprised when he doesn't hear it plop. It's because he accidentally shit in his coat pocket. Good one, Alan. alan, the 100-year-old comedian, everybody!

Now that Donald Trump is president of this great nation, he's worried he might not have time to deal with small matters like civil lawsuits. In fact, he's so worried that he's bringing the matter to court. TMZ reports that Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, filed court documents in New York arguing that former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos' defamation lawsuit against the president should be dismissed, since it could distract the president from his public duties and subsequently hurt the country. Zervos is suing Trump for defamation after he allegedly ruined her good name by calling her a liar for her sexual assault claims against him. Kasowitz is citing the Constitution's supremacy clause to back up his claim that the sitting president can't be sued in state court while in office. He claims that the Supreme Court left this particular issue undecided when they ruled against Bill Clinton in the '90s. (The Supreme Court did firmly decide that he sitting president is not immune to private litigation, however.) Zervos' lawyer, Gloria Allread, isn't buying it. Allread said on Tuesday that "no man is above the law and that includes the president of the United States." Donald Trump may not have time for defamation lawsuits, but don't worry. He still has plenty of time for weekend golf vacations.

Today's guest is a musician from New York whose latest single "Puppet" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Nozart.

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

Nozart: Pleasure to be be here. I'm great, thanks for asking.

Me: Okay, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say Nozart is a take-off of Mozart, am I right?

Nozart: You are. I really admired Mozart growing up and since my music has a lot of classical influence, I felt like the reference made sense. It’s meant to be a little humorous, just like Mozart was himself.

Me: Are you a classical music fan?

Nozart: Yes I am. Right now I'm listening to "Mahler's 7th Symphony" on repeat... though the repeat only occurs about once every hour and a half.

Me: What music did you listen to growing up?

Nozart: When I was really young, I used to listen to a lot of Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart, but then I spent my early teenage years listening to two-thirds jazz, and one third soundtracks. Since then, I've gone through listening phases of a multitude of different types of music, but I always come back to the same combination of genres I love. A couple of my biggest influences are musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim, jazz pianist Brad Mehldau, and electronic producer/composer Ryan Lott of Son Lux.

Me: Your father was a musician, right? Mine was as well. Mine was the lead singer in Foghat... I am sure you heard of that band. What kinda music did your dad play?

Nozart: What!? Well, my dad was never a rock star, but he used to play classical piano wonderfully. Listening to him play is the reason I started playing myself. Now I return the favor by giving him jazz piano lessons from time to time.

Me: Did you grow up wanting to be a musician?

Nozart: I grew up wanting to be the best jazz pianist that ever walked the earth... it didn't work out.

Me: I have no musical abilities myself except I play the kazoo. You play keyboards... how old were you when you started to learn?

Nozart: My dad started teaching me by ear when I was three. I learned a lot by ear, but never learned to read music. Truthfully, I didn't make much progress until I was around 11, but I did start building up my ear from an early age.

Me: How did you pick the keyboards to be your instrument?

Nozart: I played the jazz drums in the jazz band at school, but we had another drummer. The day the keyboard player quit, I took over and since then I haven't stopped playing keys.

Me: Was it easy to learn?

Nozart: Yes and no. My ear was always way ahead of everything else, namely my technique and my ability to read music. I actually didn't even learn to read music until I was around 16, which did slow me down in some ways. I was once at an advanced jazz program and out of embarrassment, I pretended I could read music, faking my way through until the day of the concert, the conductor asked to hear just the rhythm section. At one point, there was complete silence, and everyone started laughing. That's because I was supposed to be playing. Thankfully, one of the teachers took me aside and spent the next two hours teaching me all the parts by ear. Then I got dressed and played the concert.

Me: Wow. So, where are you from originally and where do you live now? New York, right?

Nozart: I’m originally from Syracuse, NY. Now I live down in New York City. Sometimes I miss being surrounded by the woods back upstate, but there’s no place like New York City.

Me: Nozart is your own project but you recently toured with Elliot Moss... what was that like?

Nozart: Honestly, it was super thrilling. I’ve been a huge fan of Elliot’s music since the moment I first heard it. Playing it in front of thousands of people is a fantastic experience.

Me: Did you have to audition to be in his band?

Nozart: We knew each other for a long time before I ended up playing in his band, so he already knew me as a musician and knew I would be a good fit.

Me: I do have to say congrats on being the youngest person to be in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency. Where and what is that?

Nozart: The Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency is a fantastic program in Washington D.C. that brings a group of talented jazz composers and performers from around the world together to study with jazz legends. Being a pianist, it was really exhilarating to work with Dr. Billy Taylor, who unfortunately passed away soon after. It was also magnificent working with jazz legend Curtis Fuller, who I had known for some time from the Skidmore Jazz Institute. When I was at Skidmore, I got a really bad spider bite on my hand and ended up on steroids to bring down the swelling after I went to the emergency room. They tired me out so much I could barely keep my eyes open, so Curtis used to remember me as the kid who kept falling asleep at the piano.

Me: You also went to the Brubeck Institute... where is that?

Nozart: That’s a really interesting fellowship program at the University of the Pacific in California. The way it worked when I did the program was that every two years, they accepted one person on each instrument. A total of five people were in the program at any given time, and they made up a band that toured the country.

Me: What did you study there?

Nozart: Mainly jazz piano and composition, but I also branched out taking electronic production lessons, synthesis, mixing, and also vocal lessons.

Me: Was it fun to be in the Institute?

Nozart: It was one of the most fun and beneficial experiences of my life. It was the first touring experience I ever had. We spent the first three months or so of our first year of college on the road. We always had 24-hour access to our own band practice room with a grand piano and drum set.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your music... you have a single called "Puppet." It's a really nice song, Nozart. What was the inspiration behind it?

Nozart: "Puppet" is a song about feeling chained down and breaking away from that metaphorical claustrophobia. It’s about putting all of your frustration and anger into one outlet and letting it take on a life of its own.

Me: I like to ask songwriters and musicians what came first the lyrics or the music... so, what came first?

Nozart: For me, it actually depends on the song. But the majority of the time, the music comes first. Sometimes, I actually create an orchestral soundscape before even starting a melody. I find that establishing the space, instrumentation and some kind of chordal color creates enough emotional context for me that I can take it from there and build the rest of the song.

Me: Are you working on an EP or album?

Nozart: I’m finished with my first full-length album, which will be coming out this spring. I also have a second album in the works at the moment.

Me: I like the picture of the single cover... it reminds me when I saw Michael Jackson and his kids at Epcot years ago... his kids were wearing Mardi Gras masks. Is that you in the pic?

Nozart: Did you see "Captain EO"? I’m a big fan of that video.

Me: Yeah, I worked at Epcot and was a coordinator there after Michael passed they started to show "Captain EO," which his estate owns. I originally saw it in 1984 when it was there originally. Anyway, is that you wearing the mask?

Nozart: Yeah, that’s me. I brought a few visual ideas to a talented photographer and we had a great time putting together the photos.

Me: Why not a pic of a puppet?

Nozart: I think of "Nozart" as a storyteller. The Puppet is one of the characters in a fantastical story that he’s telling to the listener. I actually see the guy in the mask as our real-world interpretation of the Puppet.

Me: I have to ask you about the promo shot as well of you spitting something out... what are you spitting and why are you spitting?

Nozart: Good question. When I went in to make these photos, I had a couple of visual ideas in my head, all based around telling stories. For the mask, in my mind I envision the paint actually moving around telling the stories of the characters in my songs. In terms of the dust, I imagine that all of the dust particles will come together and form a picture of yet another story.

Me: I was thinking your music was very soundtrack like and read you did a few scores for some shorts. What were they, Nozart?

Nozart: You have a good ear. I am very musically influenced by soundtracks, and I have scored multiple shorts. At the moment, I’m working on a variety of short films. One of them is a documentary about the cancer research center at Upstate University Hospital that I’m very excited to be the composer on that project. I’m also co-composing along with another talented composer, Alba S. Torremocha, for another really interesting project called "To Be With Hamlet," which focuses on creating a live virtual reality theater experience of Hamlet for viewers across the world.

Me: Are they fun to do?

Nozart: I really love working on scores. The collaborative process always yields a unique musical result, inspired not only by the film itself but also the vision of the director.

Me: So, what's next for you? More Nozart music?

Nozart: Yes, lots more will be on its way. I don’t want to speak too soon here, but I’m really inspired right now and I’m working on a lot of music. I’m eager to keep getting it out to the world.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile... plug your websites and everything and please come back again soon.

Nozart:, All the best. Thanks for having me! It’s been a pleasure.

Me: Cool. And I'll have you back here real soon.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Nozart for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Monday with my sister and Phile Alum Leila Peverett Coe. 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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