Monday, August 28, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Mike Gent From The Figgs

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you doing? So, last night Sunday night had so much going on in the world of TV... the "Game of Thrones" season finale, the 2017 VMA's and the fifteenth episode of "Twin Peaks: The Return," and I didn't watch any of it. I'm boring. Haha. Let's start with a story about Texas...
Eighteen senior citizens have been rescued out of La Vita Bella assisted living facility in Dickinson, Texas, thanks to a viral tweet. Yesterday morning, Timothy McIntosh tweeted a photo of the senior citizens stranded in waist-high water, many of whom were in wheelchairs. His mother-in-law, who owns the facility, sent him the photo. McIntosh posted it on Twitter with the cry for help, "Need help asap emergency services please RETWEET." According to The Galveston County "Daily News," David Popoff, the Dickinson emergency management coordinator, has confirmed that all 18 people have been rescued. “We were air-lifting grandmothers and grandfathers,” Popoff said. McIntosh thanked followers for retweeting the cry for help and asserted that the viral photo put the residents at "#1 on the priority list." There are plenty of ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey from afar. Aside from sharing cries for help far and wide, you can help by donating to the Red Cross online or by texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Parents and students in Auburn, Alabama have raised a petition with the local high school to remove the rainbow Pride flag from the school's campus. The petitioners are drawing a comparison to the offense that others get from the Confederate flag, says The Daily Dot. The local news published a copy of the letter that was sent to Auburn High School's principal. "The flag creates a hostile and provocative learning environment for students not comfortable openly supporting the LGBTQ Community," it reads. "It’s unprofessional for the teachers to openly display their political views in an unbiased and socially neutral public setting... creating a hostile and uncomfortable learning environment." The flag was on campus as part of the yearly club fair, flown by a club dedicated to classroom diversity. According to the petitioners, the Pride flag can be compared to a "Confederate" or "Heterosexual" flag. In return, student Brandon Sinniger started a counter-petition on As of Tuesday evening, it has almost 6,000 signatures. Sinniger writes, "The pride flag and the AHS Educate club has served to provide a healthy environment for our LGBT+ peers to feel comfortable being who they truly are. The flag represents this safe space, and frankly, the sentiment for removing the pride flag is an affront to the work that has been done nationally to fight for recognition of the community." The debate is certainly divisive enough, but as someone pointed out in Twitter, there are far more signatures for the flag than against it. The district superintendent released a statement, which acknowledges the issue without taking a clear stance: "In our country today, people are often seen addressing their objections through violence and hate. It is my sincere desire to assist our students in learning to address their opinions and their values in a calm and respectful manner. "
Have you heard of vagina nail art? It is realistic enough to scratch down the patriarchy. Portland nail artist Asa Bree, owner of Fingerbang Nail Salon... yes, that's the real name... created two accent nails that depict a pretty shockingly accurate miniature female anatomy. (The remaining four nails were covered in glitter, exactly like some vaginas.) Health teachers, this is the perfect nail design for you. Asa created the design with five different shades of pink gel polish, finished off with a shiny pearl. As BuzzFeed News reports, the entire look took about two hours.

The fingers in question belong to local Portland artist T Ngu, whose shop Project Object supports handmade goods from women, LGBTQ, and POC designers. "Asa and I had been talking about doing some vagina... or vulva-inspired nails for a while," Ngu said. So when the artist behind "The Post-Structuralist Vulva Coloring Book," Meggyn Pomerleau, threw an event at Project Object, the time was right. "It just felt appropriate to just kind of make a statement on my nails," she said. Asa prepped for the design by dipping into medical research about the female anatomy. Her hard work clearly payed off. Asa shared the look on Instagram with the perfect caption, "Pussy Power." Since then, it's already gotten thousands of likes and plenty of supportive comments from people who can't wait to turn their nail art game PG-13. Fingerbang creates more than just artful vaginas, which include everything from gems to rainbows to Beatles portraits.
A new Hunger Games theme park concept is in the works. No, really. Based on the best-selling books and the dystopian movie franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games are apparently the perfect backdrop for a theme park. Lionsgate Entertainment Company announced the Hunger Games land at the Lionsgate Movie World theme park in South Korea. I can’t wait to see what this land entails. While details are sparse, fans are already speculating that an elaborate recreation of the Capitol has to be part of the mix, but will District 12 also make an appearance? What kind of rides will theme park guests line up for? I'm a little concerned there may be a reaping, in which case, may the odds be ever in your favor. Lionsgate Movie World will include seven different themed lands, including one that’s based on the Twilight series, and another magical Now You See Me zone, as well as one for the upcoming Robin Hood remake. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement,  "We're pleased to partner with our friends at Landing International, one of Asia's premier developers, on our first branded outdoor theme park and one of our largest and most exciting location-based entertainment destinations." So far, there are no specifics about rides, but the press release notes,  "Visitors can experience actual movie scenes through state-of-the-art rides, attractions and 4D Intellectual Property (IP) reproduced streets and towns. Each zone will also feature themed restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and entertainment performances." Look for Lionsgate Movie World to open in 2019. In 2015, Lionsgate announced a Hunger Games land in a Dubai theme park, with rides to include a roller coaster that simulates a bullet train to the Capitol as well as recreated parts of Panem and the Capitol.
Racism is everywhere, even in the blue liberal bubble that is New York City. According to a Facebook user named Ziggy Chau, an employee of Cornerstone Cafe in Manhattan's ultra-trendy East Village used the racial slur "Ching Chong" on the receipt of an Asian woman who ordered steak and eggs. "This just happened to my friend's mother... right here in NYC!! Please boycott this place Cornerstone Cafe NYC until they publicly apologize. Better yet, call them directly and let them know they have a racist staff," wrote Chau in a message accompanying a picture of the receipt in question. "Racism has no place ANYWHERE. Asians friends... speak up for ALL... not just when it affects you, please." Around 11:30 p.m., Chau updated her post to inform people that the restaurant's manager, who identified himself only as Rocco, posted an apology on Cornerstone's official Facebook page. Although Rocco does not name the employee who wrote the slur, he did write that she was fired. "It definitely does not reflect the way the Cornerstone staff or I think because of one individuals stupidity," wrote Rocco in the apology post. "As manager I still take full responsibility and I humbly asks for forgiveness to all who got offended , but most of all to the person who's heart was broke and made sad today. This deeply grieves me. Anyone who knows me and the staff knows that our main role everyday is to see people enjoy themselves and to leave Cornerstone happy. And that we are not racist to anyone. I really love everybody."Although commenters were still mad and pointed out that Rocco only apologized after being flooded with outrage via social media, Chau urged people to accept his apology, "Everyone, let's be civilized now. There are many people that are employed by the restaurant whose livelihoods depend on their jobs there and should not suffer because ONE IGNORANT employee thought it was ok to make a racist remark. This just one of many incidents of people putting racist shit on receipts, although it is much more common for the server to be on the receiving end of the hate. But that is not always the case.
Hey, the Phile has new sponsor...

Yum... but they are not gluten free I don't think. Sad face. Haha. Do you like Hamburger Helper? I never had it myself but I saw their ad and I thought it was amusing...

Haha. One thing about me you might know is that I like to follow the rules and obey what I am told. Some people though take it a little bit too far...

Hmmmm. It does say "any direction." I don't know about your state, but here in Florida some people get pretty creative with license plates...

Do you know what the "alt-left" looks like? I'll show you...

So, recently President Trump was back in New York and the New Yorkers weren't happy...

There's a new remake of Stephen King's IT coming out but this time it's not a clown that is the villain...

Hahahaha. The Internet is a great invention, and a lot of people I am sure look at porn on it. The problem is someone might wanna look at porn instead of reading the Phile. I came up with a solution but then realized someone might be reading this at work... so I came up with another solution. Porn that is safe for work...

You're welcome. So, I don't know if you know this about me but I do not cook. Cooking is tough. I'd have to buy all kinds of ingredients, and get all manner of gadgets and tools and dishes dirty just to get a half-assed grilled cheese on the table. Plus, I'm never going to be as good at it as Gordon Ramsay... but I do swear a lot and I am British. Anyway, so many people tell me that I should start cooking for myself over the years. Well, I might now that I have seen this...

Breakfast in bed might score me a million points with a significant other. Breakfast in bed with heart shaped eggs? There isn't even really a calculation for how well that's going to go for me. Seriously... someone is gonna flip out like an olympic gymnast. Hmmm. So, I saw this pic yesterday and it reminded me of something...

And then it hit me...

Haha. See what I mean? So, do you ever have deep thoughts when you are having a shower? I do sometimes. So, once again here is...

If you punch yourself and it hurts, are you strong or are you weak?

That's a pretty lame Mindphuck... I am sorry. But if you spot it please let me know. Okay, so, wanna sound intelligent with some useless facts? Well, I am here to help you...

Phact 1: A man named Hanry Magee killed a cop who was executing a no knock warrant in Texas. The man ultimately was not charged (with killing the cop) because he thought someone was breaking into his home. In Texas you can use deadly force to defend self and property.
Phact 2: Before the 1930s, it used to be illegal for men to be shirtless on U.S. beaches as it was felt that the sight of a man's bare chest in public was immoral and that women and children had to be protected from that sight.
Phact 3: Google hires a flick of 200 goats regularly to chew away the grass in their lawns rather than using land-mowers.

President Donald Trump woke up this morning, did some knuckle cracking and finger stretching, and as usual, got busy on Twitter. Only today he wasn't about tweeting, he was all about retweeting. And one of the things he chose to retweet was a quote by Mother Teresa. MOTHER TERESA. Trump just quoted Mother Teresa. Cannnot stop smdh. Anyway, the quote is actually accurate; it's so rare when a Trump tweet doesn't contain a lie.

Maybe go back to just tweeting, Donnie. Because Mother Teresa you are not, and you could probably power an entire town based on the energy she's creating spinning in her grave right now.

The 65th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

One of the author's, Mike Stoller, will be the guest on the Phile this coming Thursday.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is a Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter who began her career as a country music artist but has since crossed over into the masturbation fantasies of non-country fans.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and the lead singer of one of my favorite bands... The Figgs. Their great album "The Man Who Fights Himself" was just reissued on vinyl and it's great! Please welcome  back to the Phile... Mike Gent!

Me: Mike! Welcome back to the Phile. How are you, sir?

Mike: Thanks, Jason, good to be back. I'm doing alright, how are you?

Me: Not bad. It's been a few years since you and Pete Donnelly were here. How is Pete? Is he working on a new solo CD?

Mike: Pete is great and just graduated from Skidmore College a few weekends ago. He put his college education on hold around the time we got our Imago deal, and decided to go back to school a few years ago. Not sure if he's working on a new solo record. I know he made a full record for a class assignment. I don't know if he will release it though.

Me: So, I had Wesley Stace on the Phile again awhile ago... did you ever meet him, Mike?

Mike: Yes! He throws an annual charity event at his home, and we performed at that a few years ago. We had a blast! Wes got up with us along with Eric Bazilian and did a set with us ("Maggie's Farm," "She Belongs To Me," "Rock & Roll," "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better," and" Like A Hurricane"). It was so rocking, someone in the neighborhood called the cops! Wes is great, and I hope he has us back someday. A lot of fun. Eric is a great guy as well.

Me: I, of course, have to talk about Graham Parker. You have opened for him recently, right? How was that?

Mike: Always nice to see and catch up with GP. The shows are always great. I love opening for him because his audience always listen. Sometimes it's hard to pay attention to a solo, acoustic, opening act! They pay attention, and seem to enjoy my sets. I also had the chance to perform a song with Brinsley Schwarz, which was an honor. These guys are rock and roll legends.

Me: It's been over twenty years you have known him now. That's fucking crazy, isn't it?

Mike: It is crazy. We met in 1995 maybe? So a little over 20 years, yes. He's a good friend, and it's been a privilege to make music with him, and one of my greatest accomplishments in my 30 year career. I remember going to see him in 1995 at the Bottom Line with The Episodes. I was sitting at a table watching the show, and my girlfriend at the time leaned over and said, "you guys should be his backing band." Well, it was surreal that the following year, we were his backing band! It was wild!

Me: Okay, speaking of Graham, I was recently sent a CD called "One Stop Clearance" by a fan of the Phile. I know Graham doesn't want anyone selling this CD, but I didn't buy it. The fan of this little blog said he knew I was a die hard fan of GP and sent it to me. I was shocked, and happy. Then I found out The Latest Clowns... you and Ed Valauskas (who I once interviewed) and Professor "Louie" Hurwitz played on it. I have to say I played this great CD over and over again, and it should be released to the public. I know the story behind it was about publishing rights... Squeeze did the same kinda thing with the "Spot the Difference" CD. Anyway, whose idea was it for this CD?

Mike: Wow, I haven't thought of, or listened to that record probably since we finished it. I think it was his publishing company's idea to put together a sampler of music spanning his career, in order to pitch songs to place in movies and on TV. I think they wanted to officially release it, and I remember telling Graham that I didn't think it was a good idea. I didn't want to touch or mess with The Rumour period material, although there are some later songs on it that could possibly be better than the original versions. Is "My Love's Strong" on that? I don't remember. I need to listen to it. I also remember being bummed out at the final mix of the record. I played drums on that one. There's no kick drum! Maybe that's part of the reason I was against it being released! I haven't heard the Squeeze record. Here is GP's take on the whole affair...

Me: I love the song choices on it... did Graham pick put all the songs or was it a joint effort?

Mike: Mostly Graham picks. I may have suggested some of the later material.

Me: I take it the album was recorded ten years ago when you and those guys toured with Graham, am I right?

Mike: I think so. It's weird, I usually have a great memory for this kind of stuff, but with this record my memory is vague, probably because I had mixed emotions about the idea.

Me: How long did it take the album to record and where was it recorded?

Mike: I don't remember it taking very long, just a few sessions. We did half of it here in Boston with Ducky, and half in Woodstock with Louie.

Me: Do you have a favorite track from this "best of" CD?

Mike: Hold on, I am going to find it and give it a spin.

Me: I have to show what the cover looks like...

Mike: "She Wants So Many Things" is good, but the original is great so... "My Love's Strong," "Wake Up (Next To You)" are good versions.

Me: It must've been fun recording session's reimagining those songs, right?

Mike: Well, sessions with GP are always a lot of fun no matter what we are cutting.

Me: Okay, let's talk about The Figgs... you just rereleased the 2010 album "The Man Who Fights Himself" on vinyl. That's so cool. It's a fantastic album! What made you guys decide to rerelease the album on vinyl?

Mike: Well, when we released it, it didn't come out on vinyl for some reason. We recently got a lot of our masters from the 90s back and are starting to go through those to see what we want to officially release or re-release, but before we got into the 90s recordings, I thought it was important to do this project first. In addition to being remastered, It's also remixed so most of the mixes on this new vinyl release are different from the CD. Spot the difference!

Me: Is that one of your favorite albums, Mike?

Mike: I've always thought that most of the songs on it are very strong and work well live. It was a hard record to make. Some very difficult sessions to be honest and it seemed like it took forever to finish. Doing the new mixes and vinyl release shed some new light on the record for me, and I enjoy it more than I did when we released it 7 years ago. Hopefully people who missed it the first time around will pick it up... soon, we only pressed 300!!

Me: So, I have to ask... who is the man? It could almost mean Trump presently, right? LOL.

Mike: Yes. The Man Who Should Never Open His Mouth Or Use A Phone.... The Man Who Fights Himself is someone who lived in our hometown and would wander around, occasionally throwing out a punch or karate kick as if he was fighting someone...but there was never anyone in front of him.

Me: Where did the album title come from?

Mike: I was looking at the liner notes for "Low-Fi At Society High" one day, and noticed that we thanked The Man Who Fights Himself, and thought, "that's a good title for a record."

Me: So, I read the album took two years to record back when it was recorded originally. Why did it take so long to record?

Mike: Like I mentioned before, it wasn't a great period for the band. I think we were kind of burned out. Since we started the band in 1987, we have never taken a full year off. Not once! We made "Palais," "Songs Of No Consequence," "103 In June," "Continue To Enjoy The Figgs Vol 1" and "2,"  and "Follow Jean Through The Sea" from 2003-2006. All of those records were very fun and easy to make. I think that would have been a good time to take a break, and catch our breath. We were fried when we started working on "The Man Who Fights Himself." Having a producer for that record may have helped the situation. Maybe not, who knows...

Me: I have to ask you about the song "Ravena." Who is that song about? That's an unusual name.

Mike: Ravena is a town in upstate New York. I think Pete got the idea and inspiration for that song from that area, and some close friends and a performer up there in Hudson, New York. I think...

Me: Hey, you just did a tour of Japan. Did you tour Japan before? Do you play overseas often?

Mike: We have never played in Japan, so this is a very exciting time for the band. We haven't been out of the country for a long time. Too long... I think the plan in the next few years is to focus more on touring in other countries and less in the U.S.A.

Me: Fuck overseas... you guys need to come back to Florida. Do you still like touring, Mike?

Mike: It has been awhile since we've hit Florida. Hmm... good question. I don't really know if I do still like touring. It's very catch 22 right now for me. If we haven't played outside the northeast in awhile, I get the itch to play in different places, but then, once we are out on tour, I just want to be home with my family watching movies. The actual traveling part and all of the down time can really do a number on me. It might be from all of the years of intense touring we have done in the past. I'm not sure what it is. I still love playing shows, but the other stuff that comes with touring can bum me out. The idea of playing in places we have never been to appeals to me and the band though and seems to be the direction we are heading. We also seem to be really enjoying making records this decade which is very important, moving forward always. New places, new faces. Other planes!

Me: Anyway, back to the album... you're a fan of vinyl, am I right? I am. What was the last vinyl record you purchased? Funny enough, mine was a Rumour album they did after Graham left.

Mike: Vinyl for me since I was very young. I buy records as often as I put gas in the car! Some of my recent purchases... "Sgt. Pepper" remix, Mudhoney "Vanishing Point," Bowie "No Plan" EP. Recently, I have been exploring my very large cassette collection. I never really bought pre-recorded tapes though. I made tapes for my car, whatever kitchen job I had, the band van's/tours, etc... Lots of live stuff taped off the radio... Plus I have boxes and boxes of Figgs cassettes, not that I listen to those often.

Me: "The Man Who Fights Himself" has a great cover... that's a perfect pic. I am guessing you had a lot of cool pics to chose from. Am I right?

Mike: Both of the photos on that LP were taken by Joeseph Duell from Saratoga. He has been doing sound at Caffe Lena's forever, and is also an excellent photographer. We've known Joe for our entire career I think. He took the back photo in a crawl space at a club we played a lot in the 90s called The Metro. The sign was left, as is, with our name on it!

Me: I have to ask you about the song "I Won't Go To Miami" from the album "Follow Jean Through the Sea." I love that album by the way. Who wrote that song and what was the story beyond it? I can relate to that song in more ways than I can say.

Mike: Pete wrote "Miami" when we were still writing what was planned to be this concept record about a woman named Jean. That's where the title track comes from, along with some other songs that didn't make the record once we scrapped the concept idea... "The Lovely Miss Jean," "She Can't Say No," "She Can't Say No Either," "Victim Of Slumber," "Without Me Around," and a few others. "I Won't Go To Miami" was part of the story I think.

Me: So, what's next for you and The Figgs? Any new music, Mike?

Mike: Always a lot of plans and ideas, Jason! We usually change them, never do them, or are slow to get around to them. In January we went into the studio to start what was going to be a triple record, then in February, our dear friend and keyboardist Ted Collins suddenly passed away. We are still recovering from this very heavy loss. We recorded enough material with Ted for a double record so that is the direction we are heading in the moment. He left us all of this beautiful music. We did another session in March which was very difficult, sad, and bittersweet. Doing overdubs and having Ted in my right ear. It was too intense at times. Hopefully we will continue to work on it in the fall and have it out by next spring. Another project in the works is a reissue of our first record "Ginger" which was only ever released on cassette. We had the tapes baked and transferred. Pete has been remixing it here and there for the last few months. It's going to come out on vinyl with a card that will have a bunch of outtakes from the sessions. We hope to have this out in December. I have also been going through our archives and every couple months we put up a show for sale on our site.

Me: Cool! Any plans to record with Graham again?

Mike: My 5th solo record is coming out in late summer hopefully. It's called "Headphone Music." I made it in my house, and played everything on it. It has two co-writes with Graham. We wrote almost an entire record of these bizarre songs. Very strange stuff! I put two of them on this record.

Me: Okay, I have to mention two great guitarists who passed away recently... Chuck Berry and J. Geils. Did you grow up listening to the J. Geils Band? They are one of my favorite bands ever and I was bummed when J. Geils passed away. Did you ever cover a J.Geils Band song?

Mike: I grew up listening and loving both. I've had the pleasure of playing with Seth Justman several times over the years. He's a really nice, sweet guy. I think I initially impressed him with my knowledge of everything J. Geils Band.

Me: And of course Chuck... you were definitely a fan of his, right?

Mike: Of course! Actually... 3 of the first songs I learned to play on guitar and sing at the same time... "Johnny B. Goode," "Bye Bye Johnny," and... "Love Stinks"!!

Me: What was your favorite Chuck Berry song? "My Ding-A-Ling"? LOL. That's a great song!

Mike: Its hard to think of a Chuck Berry song that I don't love. I do not love the studio version of "My Ding-A-Ling." Have you ever heard that? It's terrible.

Me: I have. It's funny. If you could record with anybody, Mike, who would it be?

Mike: I mentioned this in another interview with someone recently, I would love to write and record something with Chrissie Hynde. She is still making interesting records. Always loved her singing, writing, swagger, and style.

Me: Thanks so much for being back on the Phile. Mention your websites and anything you want, and tell GP he needs to come back on the Phile again soon. Take care. Come back soon yourself, Mike. 

Mike: Thanks, Jason. Always a pleasure to chat with you! Visit for your vinyl, CD's, and digital needs...

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Mike for another great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with legendary songwriter and author Mike Stoller. 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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