Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pheaturing Nik Kershaw

Hey, kids, welcome to the phire and phury of the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Real quick before we start I have to mention that this summer there's a lot of crazy trends. Spring was all about unicorns, but summer is all about charcoal. Colorists have been dying their clients' hair a deep gray shade... the result is smoky, sultry and isn't inspired by a Starbucks drink. It's not entirely black, and it's not quite silver and it has a hint of blue. Maryland-based colorist Maayan Birnstein says, “The balance between blue and gray is key.” And to make the color look its best, “The hair needs to have no orange remaining in it,” she adds. Maybe I'll die what little hair I have charcoal... what do you think? Today in horrifying news about the current state of America, white supremacists held a torch-lit rally at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday night. If muttering to yourself, "What year is it?" I would like to assure you that it is, in fact, 2017. Buzzfeed News reports that several hundred white nationalists marched onto the University of Virginia's campus, chanting things like "Jews will not replace us," "End immigration," and "White lives matter." They eventually started fighting with counter-protesters on the university's campus, and the two groups were separated by police. From the photos, you could see that the white nationalists are all carrying tiki torches and seem to have agreed beforehand to wear coordinating polo shirts and khakis. UVA's president Teresa A. Sullivan and Charlottesville mayor Mike Signer both condemned the rally. Sullivan called it "disturbing and unacceptable," while Singer called it a "cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance." Though there's nothing really funny about seeing something reminiscent of a KKK rally in 2017, all we can really do to cope is take a minute to laugh at the way these dummies executed it. One image from the rally in particular has been spreading as a meme on Twitter. You can't help but enjoy how mercilessly they're getting roasted.

It's like looking at 300 without CGI. I think one of the guys is yelling, "Where is the clitoris?" It's like open mic night at the Whitesplain Improv. Laughter will get us through these trying times. Be nice to each other, okay?
Samantha Heaton was working an ordinary shift at the Buffalo Wild Wings on August 5th, when something kind of out of the ordinary happened (and not in a good way), reports the "Rock River Times." The server (who happens to be gay) was denied a tip by a family of five because they felt that her rainbow equality tattoo meant she didn't "love Jesus." We know this because instead of leaving a tip on their bill of $60.55, they left a condescending note, reading, “Can’t tip someone who doesn’t love Jesus. Bad tatoo (sic).” Heaton told the "River Rock Times," “I went above and beyond for this couple, and for them to leave that (note) kind of hurt." Heaton's coworker took a picture of the receipt and the tattoo and posted it on Facebook, writing, "I would just like to say that being gay does NOT MEAN you don't believe in God or Jesus. And people who are 'religious' should not disrespect or act in such ways to other people. p.s., they spelled tattoo wrong." It's not like Heaton said anything about Jesus, by the way. It's not like she introduced herself to the table by saying, "Hi, I'm Samantha, I'll be your server today and I hate Jesus." In fact, Heaton is a Christian, and those people tend to like Jesus a whole bunch. In her interview with the "River Rock Times," Heaton made a very powerful statement, "I do believe in Jesus and God. I myself am a Christian. And, as a Christian, thou shall not judge. No matter how someone looks, you should love them for what’s in their heart and how they treat you... not for what is on the outside.... What if one day their kids grow up and want to be with the same sex, are they going to disown them? Throw them on the street?” Heaton added that the parents were teaching their children very un-Christlike behavior. “The kids are going to be under the impression that it will be okay to discriminate against anybody,” Heaton said. Heaton got a lot of support on Facebook, where people wrote messages of love and acceptance. The story is going viral, which is what Heaton and the coworker who posted the pic were hoping would happen. They're hoping to get the message to more people that anyone who belongs to or supports the LGBTQ community is not anti-Christian. Speaking to the "Rock River Times," Heaton said, “Someone asked me the other day if I would go back in time and get the same tattoo and I said, ‘No I would get it bigger." Right on!
Even as season one of "President Trump" makes headline after headline, one short-lived character on the real-life reality show has stood out more than most: Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director-to-be who lost his job in only 10 days. The bombastic mini-Trump was fired after giving a truly nasty interview to "The New Yorker"'s Ryan Lizza, in which, among other horrifying statements, he said, "I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own cock." "Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac." "Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.'" Wow! No wonder The Mooch claimed that he "made a mistake in trusting a reporter." Meanwhile, Lizza has repeatedly asserted that the interview was on the record. Scaramucci is now claiming that the writer didn't get his permission to record the interview. According to CBS News, "a phone call in Washington, D.C... can be recorded without the other party's consent." Then, on Twitter Wednesday night, Scaramucci compared Lizza to a reporter inextricable with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Linda Tripp. Tripp clandestinely recorded conversations with Lewinsky regarding her relationship with President Clinton. But if the reporter who talked to Scaramucci is "the Linda Tripp of 2017," then who's Scaramucci? But as the jokes got crasser and crasser, and the tweet got more and more viral, Lewinsky saw it. LEWINSKY SAW IT.

It's hard to read that far into an emoji, but we'll just assume that Lewinsky doesn't favor the comparison. This is why we have Twitter.
Walmart fucked up, big time. And not just by selling guns and underpaying their workers. But by selling guns, underpaying their workers AND this horrendously bad sign placement spotted at one of their stores by a Twitter user named Anthony...

Mind. Phuck. Oh wow, that is bad. Really, really bad. As you can see, someone placed a back-to-school sign that reads "OWN THE SCHOOL YEAR LIKE A HERO" above a rack full of guns. We don't yet know if this was the work of a prankster with a twisted sense of humor, or an extremely distracted/stoned/asleep store clerk. But the tweet went viral, and, to their credit, Walmart responded quickly on Twitter with an apology. They are sorry! Soooooo sorry! But then Walmart, who just claimed to have "removed the sign" themselves, switched up their story by saying there was "no such sign posted." Ummmm. Okay. Also, someone named Jordan shared the same disturbing photo and it, too, went viral. Walmart apologized to him, too... they are SOOOOOOO sorry.
Think before you tweet, people. Or you, too, could become an ignorance-fueled meme. Recently, a Canadian reporter named Michael Kane saw some Muslim women come out of a lingerie store in Toronto, Ontario. So he minded his own business and kept walking. JK, that's not what he did. Apparently this man couldn't wrap his confused brain around the idea of women in traditional Muslim garb buying underwear, so he decided to share about it on Twitter. A website that is public. He wrote, "I'm just a reporter: saw two modestly-dressed women with religious headgear come out of Victoria's Secret store in the Eaton Centre." The tweet has since been deleted, but the Internet never forgets. Someone screen grabbed the tweet before he took it down, shared it, and trolled him for tweeting about such a mundane occurrence. Just to be perfectly clear: Muslim women wear underwear, not that it's anyone's business. One good thing has emerged from all this. Meet your newest meme: "I'm just a reporter." The Internet: turning bigotry into comedy since around 1991 or whenever Al Gore invented it.
It's Sunday... I shouldn't be doing this blog thing, I should be listening to this record...

On second thought... nah. Ever go to Goodwill? I only been there once but I think I wanna go again of they sell this there...

I'd buy that. So, I think Mark Hamill is one of the most wittiest autograph signers in the world. Take a look at this trading card he signed...

Hahahaha. Kids give the sweetest gifts sometimes... even though it might not like it. Check this out...

Ummm. There are no words. So, most people know about me is that I like following rules... but I don't think I follow rules as much as this dude...

Moron. I was in the book store the other day and I saw a children's book that I am not that sure is suitable for a kid...

I bet it's a good book though. Football preseason has started! I'm so happy even though the Steelers beat the Cowboys. Anyway, some football fans are like me... they're also Star Wars fans... like this guy...

Speaking of football... here's the first pic of Jay Cutler in a Dolphins uniform...

Hahaha. That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

So, back to school has started and kids are already being smart asses... like this kid who did this...

Hahahaha. That's something I would of done. One of my favorite things in life is cleavage... hahaha. But some cleavage someone might call in appropriate. For example in September of 2010, singer Katy Perry stopped by "Sesame Street" to perform a duet of her hit song, "Hot 'N' Cold," with Elmo. In the video Katy and Elmo sang and danced in typical Sesame fashion, but it wasn't Katy's singing skills that ended up drawing the ire of outraged fans, it was her outfit. Perry, who is well known for having a gorgeous d├ęcolletage, was wearing a tiny bustier that barely contained her bountiful bosoms, and many parents who saw the online preview of the clip were scandalized that she would dress in such revealing clothing while appearing on a children's show. The producers of "Sesame Street" yielded to the public outcry and decided not to air the clip on the show. Thanks to the power of the Internet though, you can still see it online. Here's a screenshot...

And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Trump Did On His Vacation
5. Wrote sweeping, uniformed tweets from a different toilet than usual.
4. Reconnected with what's-her-name and the kid.
3. Decided which beaches Chris Christie should close for when Trump wanted to hit the shore.
2. Worked on his spray tan.
And the number one thing Trump did on his vacation was...
1. Enjoyed some of his last, sweet days of freedom.

That's a terrible Mindphuck. If you spot it though let me know. So, few weeks ago on the Discovery Channel it was Shark Week. The last few years I have invited a very funny shark onto the Phile to tell jokes to compete with Shark Week. This year, I totally forgot... well, I invited him back and he is here. So, please once again welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hey, Feargal, welcome back to the Phile. How has your summer been? Anything new?

Feargal: Just GREAT. I was gonna just show up but hated to turn up outta the blue sea uninvited.

Me: You could of. So, any jokes for us today?

Feargal: Yeah. What was the sharks favorite Orson Welles movie?

Me: Hmmm. I don't know.

Feargal: Citizen Kane-i-kokala.

Me: I don't think that's a real movie, Feargal. Try again.

Feargal: What does a snowshark give you?

Me: I don't know... I never heard of a snowshark. What?

Feargal: Frost bites.

Me: Haha. Okay, do you have one more?

Feargal: Sure. Whats the Great White Sharks favorite candy?

Me: I have no idea... what?

Feargal: The Jaw-Breaker!

Me: Ha! Thanks, Feargal. See you back here next year.

Feargal: So, I'm fin-ished?

Me: For now, yeah.

Feargal: Okay, back to the once I go. Bye.

Me: Feargal the Shark, everybody!

So, are you planning on going on a date real soon or wanna sound smart at work tomorrow? well, I am here to help. Once again here is a pheature with just the...

Phact 1: To be a London black cab driver, one is expected to know over 25,000 roads and 50,000 points of interest and pass a test called The Knowledge. To pass the exam, applicants usually need twelve appearances and 34 months of preparation. (My cousin Pete is a London black cab driver.)
Phact 2: During the 1950s, the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. An elderly Eskimo wanted to escape government settlement. His family took away all of his tools to force him into the settlement. He made a knife out of his own feces and frozen spit, killed a dog with it and used its ribs and organs to make a sled, tied it to other dogs and rode off.
Phact 3: During the process of becoming a butterfly, the entire caterpillar will break down into a liquid.
Phact 4: Many personal checks written by Marlon Brando were often never cashed as his signature was usually worth more than the amount on the check.
Phact 5: In 1997 when McDonald's cut the price of the Big mac by 75% if bought with fries and a drink, the sales actually dropped because consumers were confused.

Are you a lazy person? If so, I bet you're not as lazy as this guy...

Ever have deep thoughts in the shower? I do. So, once again here is a pheature called...

Unless life also hands you sugar and water, your lemonade is going to suck.

Glen Campbell 
April 22nd, 1936 — August 8th, 2017
He released his last album just 2 months ago. It was titled "Adios." So, yeah. There you go.

Don Baylor 
June 28th, 1949 — August 7th, 2017
That's what you get for crowding the plate.

The 64th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Gary Gerani will be the guest on the Phile tomorrow.

A cousin is the child of one your parent's siblings who you've got to admit was looking pretty hot at Christmas.

This is really cool! Today's guest is an English singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He has two recent great albums out... "No Frills" and "Ei8ht." His 62 weeks on the U.K. singles chart through 1984 and 1985 beat all other solo artists. Please welcome to the Phile... the fantastic Nik Kershaw. My sister would be jealous. Hahaha.

Me: Nik!!!! Holy shit, you're alive! How are you? It is so cool to have you here on the Phile.

Nik: Thanks... yeah, I'm alive. Hahaha.

Me: You're from England I know, but what part, Nik?

Nik: Bristol, but grew up in Ipswich.

Me: Your parents were musical, so is that why you decided to write songs, Nik? Did you write your own songs? 

Nik: Kinda. I was about thirteen or fourteen... I remember being full of teenage angst.

Me: Do you remember the first song you wrote?

Nik: Yeah, "when is my life gonna start, I'm getting sick of the introduction" was the first line in the first song I ever wrote. My mum found it and got extremely worried. I used to write stories when I was young, writing about gnomes and England queens and fairies. In fact, I dug some out of my mum's attic a few years ago. When I started to get into music I just picked up the guitar... it was the obvious progression really. Although I did very little of it, I did this one thing and then there was this massive gap.

Me: Did you ever join a band?

Nik: Yeah, when I was seventeen. That's when I started writing in ernest really.

Me: So you play guitar? Was that the main instrument you were using?

Nik: Yeah, mainly guitar. At the time I was annoying my first attempt learning how to play on my dad's old acoustic guitar, trying to bash out three chords.

Me: Who were your influences growing up, Nik?

Nik: When I went through my prog stage I was into Genesis and Gentle Giant and that sort of thing. My parents had a some classical records, they loved the classical music. My mum was a singer and my dad was a flautist. They also had "The Battle of New Orleans" by Lonnie Donegan. That was the one song I tried to sit down and learn. And a really weird song called "Come Outside" by Wendy Richard the actress. The flip side was "He Taught Me To Yodel." Anthony Newley... really weird stuff in the early 60s. And they had a Simon and Garfunkel album which I guess must've sunk in and something must of remained in my head somewhere. I always loved Simon and Garfunkel.

Me: Did you listen to a lot of radio growing up?

Nik: Yes. I was in respect. I used to record "Pick of the Pops" on a Sunday evening on an old mono reel to reel tape. That was the only radio I remember actually. I used to play it back throughout the week. It was the only was I was exposed to the new music. You didn't go to school to have someone play you a song on their iPod. Before that it started with my a parents' very small and bizarre record collection. They had a radiogram... those of a certain age don't know what a radiogram is. It's a radio basically but you plug a turntable into it and just use the radio as an amplifier.

Me: Did you play live back then? I bet you got a lot of positives feedback music wise...

Nik: We had so few gigs I didn't a whole lot of feedback. The only feedback I got was from my band members. I was just happy to be out of the house playing music somewhere. I was listening too everybody, not just me. I was very hungry to find out how things worked. I dismantled songs from other people, like Ritchie Blackmore guitar solos. I tried to figure out why did that sound so good and I'd try to figure out what chord progression happened. You know, things like that.

Me: What kind of gigs did you do then?

Nik: Mostly functions or jazz fusion gigs in pubs.

Me: And you never recorded with this band?

Nik: We did have an attempt to record a few original songs at the time. The keyboard player was the main writer and he had a record deal under his own name and we were his backing band. I got to write a couple of songs and one of those was a version of "Human Racing." And "Wide Boy" I wrote at that time as well.

Me: Speaking of "Wide Boy," my dad was the lead singer in Foghat and they had a song called "Wide Boy," but that was about a sort of Del Trotter person. So, who is your "Wide Boy" about?

Nik: I don't know who it as about, I don't know who the wide boy was. I guess it's having a go at pop stars really. It wasn't my intention of being a pop star, I was just in band playing fusion music. It's an ironic thing as it's just a pop song. I need to check out your dads "Wide Boy" song, Jason.

Me: Sure. It's on the "Girls To Chat, Boys to Bounce" album, and was a single. Here's what the single cover sleeve like...

Me: It's a lot different that your sleeve cover...

Me: Hahaha. I love the song "I Won's Let the Sun Go Down On Me." Why not? Hahaha. Do you remember what that song was about?

Nik: Oddly, that is one song I do remember where it started. I was living in a crummy little farmers cottage in Essex... a really damp, cold, horrible place it was. And I remember sitting on the bedroom floor with an acoustic guitar strumming the chords and singing over it. It's one of the few songs that happened like that. At the time I didn't have access to recording facilities, all I and at that time was a little tape recorder and some paper and stuff like that. So I made a tape playing the song, not in its entirely, but the chorus. And then I dictated to myself what was gong to happen. Because the songwriting wasn't just words and the music, it was the keyboards parts and the bass parts. So I made a tape explaining to myself what the parts were. Unbelievably that tape turned up on YouTube somewhere and I have no idea where it came from. Someone sent me a link and I was gobsmacked when I heard it. I tried to get to the bottom of it but I still have no idea how that tape still exists.

Me: There's a line in that song that could be describing Trump... "Old men in stripy trousers rule the world with plastic smiles." You weren't being political when you wrote that though, right?

Nik: Kinda, yeah. It all sounds very young and naive to me the whole thing. I sort of jumped on to some of the big themes and sang about them. It was an assumption about me that I was gonna make a difference to anybody. Back then it was a massive thing, we forget now, but back then in 1982/83 there was a real shadow over the world. The cold war was still on and that was always in our mind, the whole nuclear holocaust thing was right in the front there. The CND was still marching so that was a thing to have a go at.

Me: Okay, so, your song "The Riddle." You were once on "Saturday Superstore" in England, which was a kids show and you said something like you were gonna say what the riddle was. I never did find out. So, what was the riddle? How much thought went into it? Help me, Nik!

Nik: LOL. That song was written very quickly. I wrote the music and I had only two weeks to write "The Riddle" album apart from "Wide Boy" which was written already. That was the last one to go because the producer came over to the house and listened to the tracks and couldn't hear a single so literally the last day of those two weeks I out the tune together for "The Riddle." As far as the lyrics... I didn't have a clue what it was about, so I made up a load of nonsense. I was fully intended to write it, mind you, but it never got rewritten.

Me: Wot? Nooo!!! In the 80s you became such a big pop star heartthrob... I think my sister Lucy had a poster of you on her bedroom wall. You played Live Aid and that kind of stuff. Do you think being an 80s heartthrob overshadowed your music in someways?

Nik: Yeah, it was kind of frustrating... more bewildering really because that wasn't part of the gig that I was prepared for. You have to look at tees kind of things philosophically. Have people not thought of me like that they might've not bought the records. You don't know who's buying the records and you don't know why they are buying them. Success teaches you nothing, it's only when failure is coming along I started to anaylse stuff and figure out why did that work and why didn't that work. I think a part of it was I was the in the right place and had the right face in the right time. I have to admit that, because I did have kind of two distinct people listening to the music. There were eight-year-old girls and a bunch of musos listening to the music as well and nothing in between. It was sort of bizarre. You'd turn up at gigs and got screamed at for two hours, and at the back of the hall there were these grown men looking rather shapish...the musos that turned up looking to see what was going on. But that was only in England, and maybe Germany.

Me: How was the American audiences?

Nik: Slightly different... more mixed.

Me: You have written songs for other artists as well which I didn't know. Is that something you set out to do?

Nik: Not really. Occasionally I get an email or a phone call from a manager of an artist who asks do I fancy doing something? I don't go looking for it anymore because it involves too many meetings and talking to A&R men. I don't really think I am in the business anymore which is kind of a relief to an extent. I did it for about nine years in between '89 and '98 and that's kind of all I did. You don't know how much politics is involved in writing and making records, it just got really frustrating really. Too many pairs of hands on the same thing you never really got to chance to express yourself. There was always somebody's else's idea of your idea really. Anyway, it got all watered down and dilated and made generic.

Me: I never knew you wrote the hit Chesney Hawkes song "The One and Only." Man, that song is so fucking catchy. What came first on that song? The chorus?

Nik: I think so. It's a very significant song for me obviously but it didn't seem so when I was writing it. It was just another song I was writing. When I finished it I stuck it on the shelf and it sat there for a couple of years. It really didn't leap out at me for being that significant. But it wasn't until I went to look for another deal I went to Warner/Chappell and I left them a demo tape and that was one of the tracks on it. Chesney's dad walked into the Warner's office the next day and picked up the demo tape... they didn't sign me and we hand;t had a discussion about signing me. They played him the demos and "One and Only" was one of those and he said, "yeah, I'll have that one." It's just weird the way songs become significant, they become popular, they become part of peoples lives.

Me: You also did some work with Elton John over the years... I didn't know you played on "Nikita." Is Elton someone who would change your song as he records it?

Nik: I was completely gobsmacked when he called me up in about '93 0r '94... I can't remember exactly when it was but I knew I wasn't recording anymore. I got a phone call from him and he asked me have I got any songs. I thought to myself you're Elton John, what are you asking me for? But he just wanted to do a duet and he didn't have a song in his mind and he asked me if I'd fancy writing one. Again I was in a big hurry as he wanted to have something by the weekend. I think it was like a Tuesday when he phoned me. I wrote two songs and threw them over to him and fortunately he liked one of them. He just totally trusted me, and I couldn't believe it. I thought we were gonna just have a little fiddle with this and fiddle with that and then nothing. He let me produce it, we booked the studio, he came in, I directed his vocal, he took direction beautifully, it was really easy. It was astonishing.

Me: Nice. Okay, let's talk about your last album "Ei8ht" which came out years ago. Did you reach a point where you wrote a bunch of new songs and thought it was time to put them out?

Nik: No, this time, apart from one song, I didn't have anything but thought it was about time I had a record out. So I really did go sit down in the studio and thought today is the first day of my new album. I don't remember particularly productive day but I decided that day I was going to make another record. It was hard work, I was just trying to get myself in the zone. Trying to get my head into the space of new ideas.

Me: Were you happy with the album?

Nik: It's just a bunch of songs! There's no concept.

Me: Hahahaha. Way to sell the album, Nik.

Nik: I don't have to sell it, it came out in 2012.

Me: Where did the title come from?

Nik: It was my eight studio album. I don't consider "No Frills" an album really as most of it was acoustic covers of my old songs.

Me: Well, I love the "No Frills" acoustic album the best. That was so good. How did you come up with that one, Nik? Do you know when you recorded your records what kinda album they were gonna be?

Nik: I don't think I'm gonna make a folk album, I'm gonna make a rock album, I'm gonna make a pop album, or a synth based album... there was none of that. I just make an album.

Me: Well, I like all your music but acoustically the best. Nik, thanks so much for being here on the Phile. It's just a big thrill. Go ahead and mention your website and anything you want. Good luck, and I hope you will release more music soon.

Nik: Thanks, Jason, 'bye.

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Nik for a pretty good interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum and author Gary Gernai. 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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