Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Justin Levinson

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you? I'm very sick, and in a lot of pain and probably have a fever. But I'm still here. Don't ask me why. Let's get on with it, shall we?
Less than a week after Fox News fired Bill O'Reilly, its most popular anchor, over sexual harassment allegations, it looks like a similar fate could befall his heir apparent, Sean Hannity. Over the weekend, he was also accused of harassment. In a radio interview on Friday, former Fox News contributor and conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel said that during an event they were both attending in Detroit, Hannity asked her to come back to his hotel. When she turned him down, she was not invited to appear on his show again. Schlussel said, "This kind of stuff is all over the place at Fox News and anything that has to do with Sean Hannity." If advertisers started dropping Hannity like they did with O'Reilly, it would be bad news for the network. O'Reilly and Hannity have long been its two largest talking heads, both figuratively and literally. If Fox News were forced to fire Hannity as well, it would be up to Tucker Carlson to save the network. In other words, Fox News would die.
On Sunday, former President Bill Clinton took advantage of a new installation at the Clinton Center in Little Rock, Arkansas to throw major shade at his successor, Donald Trump. Standing in front of a giant grasshopper statue, he tweeted the following message...

The reference to the center being "bugged" clearly seems like a reference to President Trump's repeated claim that President Obama ordered an illegal wiretap on him at Trump Tower, an accusation that Trump has offered no evidence to support, and which has been widely refuted by the intelligence community. It's also one hell of a dad joke. The "bugging" pun is bad enough to make anyone cringe, even without the visual aid of an enormous insect. Clinton may have once been the most powerful man in the world, but now he's a corny grandpa.
What do the people who work at McDonald's wear? I swear I've never even looked. I feel like I can recall a visor with the golden arches on it, and maybe a polo shirt... red, or black? Honestly, I can't even imagine caring. Nonetheless, McDonald's is compelled to occasionally roll out new uniforms for their employees, lest someone malign their fashion aesthetic while ordering a 20-piece box of McNuggets. So in 2017, you can expect to start seeing... this.

Drab, gray, geometric: This is the future of fast food, and you better be lovin' it. Please do not point out how similar these threads are to the stuff worn in dystopian science-fiction and horror films for the last half-century or so. The new McDonalds uniforms look like they’re from a ravaged future where mazes are run and games are hungered. On the "bright" side, bet that color really hides the inevitable grease stains.
A brave member of the resistance busted out a Sharpie and got to work this weekend, scrawling "Fuck Trump" above Donald Trump's name on his Hollywood star. According to TMZ, who nabbed photos of the freshly defaced granite slab, this isn't the first time that Trump's star has been destroyed. Back in October, a vandal by the name of James Otis took a pick ax and so thoroughly chiseled the star that it had to be completely replaced. According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, replacing the star costs $30K. Oops! But it looks like this magic marker job will just take a bit of rubbing alcohol and some elbow grease. Stay vigilant, and keep resisting! Especially since Trump's 100 day approval ratings are the lowest of any president since Eisenhower.
Seventy-one-year-old John Hughes of Revere, MA was sentenced on Thursday to two years probation (including three months of home confinement) after pleading guilty to one of the most shortsighted cons we've ever heard. Hughes, the administrator of a city-owned cemetery since 2007, had apparently been selling unused burial plots at a discount since 2011, even though those plots had already been sold to future occupants. He kept his scheme secret from the town and pocketed all the money, selling a total of 13 double-booked graves before he was caught. How rude! While the news of his crime will definitely come as a disappointment to everyone he conned, at least he was found out before any of the purchasers actually died. Imagine going to a loved one's funeral, only to find there's already someone in the grave. It's like the awkwardness of walking in on someone in the bathroom, multiplied by 100. Plus grief.
So, are you kids Harry Potter fans? There's so much Potter merchandise out there but some stores take it just a little too far...

That should be a Mindphuck. Alright, so, Disney... the greatest company to work for ever... sometimes like to change their look of the characters. I think they are taking it a bit too far...

I don't get it. There's a new Lego movie coming out and all I could think of when I saw the trailer was  how quick those Lego movie makers are. Here's a screenshot...

Speaking of of movies, I got my hands on a spoiler for the new Star Wars movie The Last Jedi. Han Solo comes back as Han Solo the White. Here's proof...

One of the most popular uses of the Internet is porn. Unlike a lot of things on the Internet you can't really look at porn when you are working, so that's why I decided to do a good service. You can read the Phile and see porn that is safe for work.

You're welcome, people. Last week President Trump invited Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent and Kid Rock to the Oval Office. This week he invited a lot of other folks.

What a party. Yee-ha! So, have you tried the new Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino yet? I was thinking about trying it then I saw this ad for it...

I think I am gonna have nightmares now. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Phacts About The U.S./Mexico Border Wall
5. While Mexico won't pay for any of it, China has agreed to loan us the money to build it.
4. They're shooting to complete it on Cinco de Mayo for that extra symbolic touch.
3. The DEA estimates that a wall will prevent nearly all illegal drugs from coming across the border... except for the 99% which will now be flown across.
2. A section of the wall will be rerouted in order to knock down a Nordstrom in Phoenix.
And the number one fact about the border wall is...
1. Because of a budget shortfall, it will only be two feet tall.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, you probably know by now I live in Florida. Well, there's stuff in Florida that happens no where else in the Universe. That's why I have a pheature here called...

Pretending to be a cop and pulling over drivers may seem like a victimless crime, if you're an idiot. But if you're doing it, you're probably an idiot already. After all, you never know who's going to roll down the window. Marcos Pacheco-Bustamante of Miami-Dade County, Florida learned that the hard way recently, when he pulled over a real detective in full uniform. With a blue flashing light attached to the top of his dark green Ford Crown Victoria, Pacheco-Bustamante made a traffic stop on I-95 during the middle of rush hour. Unfortunately, the vehicle he stopped turned out to be an unmarked police car driven by Miami-Dade Detective Alton Martin, who immediately saw through the ruse.

It doesn't take a detective to realize this POS is not a cop car. Cop cars have matching hubcaps.  Pacheco-Bustamante was charged with impersonating a police officer and jailed on $5,000 bond. Under questioning, he revealed that this wasn't the first time he'd played Cops and Robbers. Police also found a realistic-looking BB gun by the driver's seat. Despite this damning evidence, he insists his motivation was pure... he usually only pulled over drivers who were speeding or texting. So he's not really a crook, he's just an amateur vigilante. Like a low-rent Batman.

Erin Moran 
October 18th, 1960 — April 22nd, 2017
Joanie Loves Formaldehyde.

President Donald Trump said NATO was "obsolete" on the campaign trail, one of his many statements that infuriated people who know even a tiny bit about the world. (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is "the largest and most powerful military alliance in history," and its members are sworn to defend one another from attack and keep the peace in Europe.) Donald Trump has since back-tracked. But in a baffling interview with the Associated Press, Trump defended his earlier position. He only said those ignorant things because he... seriously, he admitted this... didn't "know much about NATO." From his interview with the AP, Trump said, "They had a quote from me that NATO's obsolete. But they didn't say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn't in government. People don't go around asking about NATO if I'm building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf... asked me about NATO, and I said two things. NATO's obsolete... not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO... NATO is obsolete, and I said, 'And the reason it's obsolete is because of the fact they don't focus on terrorism.' You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism." (NATO has officially fought terrorism since 1980, according to The Hill, including in 2001 when it invoked Article 5 to respond to the 9/11 attacks. Article 5 is the "mutual defense" clause, according to the "New Yorker," "that says an attack on one nation is considered an attack on all of them.") Here are three metaphors for this situation: It's like going to a job interview to be a chef, knowing you're only qualified to be a fry cook, and when they ask you about how to fillet a sea bass you just say, "fuck it, NATO's obsolete." It's like doing a book report on a "My Dog Spot," but you were supposed to read "To Kill a Mockingbird," so you just say "fuck it, NATO's obsolete." It's like running for president, with absolutely no idea what the president does, so you just say "fuck it, NATO's obsolete." It's exactly like that. For the record, Donald Trump repeated his "obsolete" claim in January, according to Business Insider.

The giraffe is nature's peeping Tom.

Today's guest is a fantastic musician and on of my favorite musicians I met because of this stupid little blog. He's a Phile Alum whose new CD "Yes Man" is available now on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Justin Levinson.

Me: Hey, Justin! Welcome back to the Phile, man. How have you been?

Justin: Doing well!! So busy my heads been spinning. Nice to finally have a new album out.

Me: I have to congratulate you... didn't you recently get engaged?

Justin: I did thank you. Lots to celebrate... I think listeners might see my renewed faith in love.

Me: Last time you were here in 2014 I think you were just starting to date her, am I right?

Justin: Yeah, that prob sinks up time wise.

Me: Okay, so, if I had to guess I'd say you proposed to her in a romantic and original way, am I right? How did you do it?

Justin: Ha... the morning before Valentines Day... you can't predict me. I'll take points there.

Me: So, when is the big day?

Justin: It might be a year or so. No official date yet. Toying with Vermont or Malibu. Gotta talk to the fam a bit still.

Me: You're originally from Vermont, but now live in Los Angeles, am I right? How long have you lived there?

Justin: Correct. I've been in L.A. about a year and a half. I love it here... great weather and opportunity. The sunny atmosphere has definitely been an inspiration here as well. There's a lot of magic in this city.

Me: Do you go back to Vermont often?

Justin: I wish I could go back more but I've been too busy. I'll likely make it home for the holidays. I have a 27 show run in Europe September/October so a lot of my travel time is geared to that.

Me: Your hair has grown out a lot since you were here... you can almost play my dad if they ever made a Lonesome Dave movie. That's him in the blue jacket.

Me: You can play him, right?

Justin: Ha... that's a great picture... def my kind of fashion. You could photoshop me in.

Me: What does your future wife think of your new look?

Justin: She's big on the 60s fashion... it definitely helped me get out of my skinny jeans and into some bell bottoms. Hopefully I'll get the trends moving.

Me: Justin, last time you were here you said you were gonna take a break from music... I think that's what you said. Did you take a break?

Justin: Yeah, I haven't been touring in quite some time. This will be my comeback tour for sure. I was burning out with my management and the grind. Things are in a much better place now.

Me: Okay, I have to tell you I love the new album "Yes Man." How did you chose that song to be the title track?

Justin: Well, I think I was sort of becoming a yes man a few years ago. Now I'm living a lot more on my terms. I thought this title would set the mood of the album. The rest of it is quite positive.

Me: It's very 60s sounding... which is cool as the pic of my dad when he was in Savoy Brown was taken in the late 60s. Are you heavily influenced by 60s music?

Justin: Yes. Beatles, Beach Boys, Hendrix. I love it all. That's cool about your dad, I'll have to dig into their catalog! I also really dig a lot of 40s music lately.

Me: What's your favorite band from the 60s?

Justin: The Beatles hands down but The Beach Boys are my favorite American band.

Me: How long did it take you to write and record the album, Justin?

Justin: It took about a year and half. I spent much more time on this album and I'm more proud of it. My producer Adam Popick really deserves the credit... he spent a lot of time dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

Me: The last song on the album is "Colleen Compassion." Who is Colleen?

Justin: She's more of a fictional character. I wanted to explore the impact someone can have on you when you don't even know them. It's easy to obsessive over things/people you know nothing about. You build this narrative... sometimes you'd rather not ever know them cause the narrative is easier.

Me: I enjoyed the video for the single "Together Forever." Who came up with the concept for it?

Justin: Jacob Stark was the brains behind the operation. It was a fun shoot for sure.

Me: Where was it filmed, Justin? Not Vermont I'm guessing.

Justin: We went out close to Joshua Tree in the desert. So beautiful out there... it's nice to get out of the city sometimes.

Me: Do you like making videos?

Justin: Yeah, it can be awkward but with the right team you can make it fun. Videos are still a big part of PR these days it's different then the MTV days but it still has an impact on promoting records. 

Me: I kinda recognize the girl in the video.. is she an actress?

Justin: Kylee Wofford. Yeah, she is it's quite possible.

Me: The album cover is very detailed... who did the artwork for it? It's very 60s looking, I like it.

Justin: Zelda Grimm. She's so talented and such a nice person. Lucky to have her on my team. She really created exactly what I imagined.

Me: So, have you been touring behind this album?

Justin: I will be in September in the EU... right now I'm just playing as much as possible at Hotel Cafe in L.A.

Me: You gotta come play in Florida, man. And I have to take you and Marley to Disney. You've been, right?

Justin: Yes, I love it. Spring training baseball is great there too. Hopefully I'll get that way soon.

Me: I have to ask what kinda of keyboards do you play on the album?

Justin: Fender Rhodes and real piano. We used some great plugins too.

Me: You had one of your songs in a movie called The Den... That's a scary movie, right?

Justin: Yeah my friend Zach Donohue wrote it. Check it out it's spooky.

Me: I'd watch to hear you song but I don't like scary movies. Do you?

Justin: I don't, I'm a comedy guy. With all the gloom and doom in Washington these days if I can't laugh I'm just gonna cry.

Me: I think I mentioned Champion Community Services last time you were here... if not explain what that is.

Justin: I helped people with developmental disabilities. It was such a rewarding job. I'm focused more on my music here but I'll never forgot the work I did there.

Me: How long did you work with them?

Justin: It was almost a 6 year run..

Me: That's really cool that you did this, Justin. So, I have to ask you about the promo pic of you in the record store... where is that store and what is it called? I love record stores!

Justin: Amoeba Music is a legendary store here in Hollywood. It literally had everything... hope it never leaves.

Me: Do you buy records?

Justin: Sometimes but streaming services sadly rule the roost.

Me: If you come here I have to take you to Rock N Roll Heaven, a record store a friend of mine owns. I looked at the picture carefully to see if there was any Foghat records in the pic. LOL. What's the last record you purchased?

Justin: Ha nice! I think "Sweet Baby James" might have been the last. My folks have a much better collection.

Me: What does your shirt say, Justin? Is that a band?

Justin: That's a vintage Stones shirt. Don't like to brag but I've seen it listed over $400... it's a gem! 

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile again. I said in the intro to your interview that you're one of my favorite musicians I met doing this stupid little blog and I mean that. What's next for you, Justin?

Justin: Thanks, man, I appreciate you! Just touring and writing for me. I've gotta grind while the album is hot.

Me: Please come back on the Phile again soon before the next few years. Go ahead and plug your websites and everything and continued success. And congrats on the engagement once again. Take care.

Justin: Thanks, man here, are my links: justinlevinson.comtwitter.com/jxlevinson, instagram.com/jxlevinson, facebook.com/justinlevinsonmusic,  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Levinson.

Me: Great job, and take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Justin for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Monday with Troy Richardson from Love Like Suicide. 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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