Monday, August 21, 2017

Pheaturing Travis Crowley

Turnaround, every now and then you get a little bit lonely in anticipation of the total eclipse of the sun. Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Man, the eclipse is already making everything dark. Well, not really yet. If you haven't heard, today the moon will completely cover the sun for a total solar eclipse, the first one visible from the contiguous United States in 38 years. Everybody's all like "I need eclipse glasses!" and I'm over here like "this seems like a perfect opportunity to take a nap. Congratulations on being the 500,000th person to tell me not to look at the sun during the eclipse. Good luck out there and remember, don't. Stare. At. The Sun.
In honor of today's solar eclipse, plenty of people have scavenged eclipse glasses, taken off work, and even planned vacations to the path of totality. As noted by Business Insider, some McDonald's employees will be able to enjoy nature's wonders from the comfort of their workplaces's own parking lot... but there's a catch.

If you can't read that... this Mickey D's will be closed from 1:17-1:20pm, for just three minutes. Hey, a three-minute break is better than no break, right? Hopefully the Chicken McNuggets are okay on their own for three whole minutes. Someone in the McDonald's corporate office is evidently a big fan of the solar eclipse. Business Insider adds that select McDonald's locations are also selling highly-coveted eclipse glasses, which are the best tool for safely viewing the solar eclipse. (Seriously. Do not look directly at the eclipse.) TBH, eclipse glasses are way better than a Happy Meal toy. For those who will be at work during today's eclipse, it's not too late to gently suggest an office-wide three-minute break to your boss. And in case your motion gets denied, a slightly-long "bathroom break" should be just enough time to catch a glimpse. (But again, only if you have the proper eyewear. Please please please.)
Students at San Benito High School in Hollister, California are protesting their school's sexist dress code in a big way. On their first day of school on August 10th, around 50 female students were reprimanded for dress code violations including off-the-shoulder tops, Yahoo Style reports. Though technically these types of shirts are prohibited by the school's dress code, the students said they were surprised to get in trouble, because up until last Monday, school administrators had never enforced the rule. In fact, one student pointed out on Twitter that a huge number of girls had even been allowed to wear tops that showed their shoulders in their senior yearbook photos. "The dress code policy hasn't been an issue the past two years I've been here," a female junior told Yahoo Style. She noted that the "administration says that it is for our own safety, but I don’t understand what they are keeping us safe from." In response to such a large number of female students getting "dress coded" for off-the-shoulder shirts, many San Benito students decided to protest by wearing just that... including the boys. One male student, named Andrei Vladimirov, who wore an off-the-shoulder top to protest the dress code told The Huffington Post that while the administration insists that it's enforcing the dress code rules to "keep kids safe," he believes it's just plain sexist."What I find problematic about this [keep kids safe] response is that if someone did try to assault a woman, the responsibility should lie solely on the attacker, not the victim," Vladimirov told The Huffington Post. "A woman never ‘asks’ to be objectified, assaulted or raped... and such thinking is what creates harmful consequences. Women deserve to be treated with respect... and to be treated with respect is to be given the freedom to express one’s self, and hold agency as an individual."He continued, "The notion that women should clothe themselves because it is ‘distracting to men’ undermines both the agency and volition of women... which has long been suppressed... and the maturity of men, and reinforces the idea that all men are only concerned with sex." Yup. San Benito's principal Adrian Ramirez told Yahoo that the dress code protest has been productive, in that he's actually been sitting down to listen to what students have to say."It’s been a really good process for me as principal to sit down and hear where issues arose," Ramirez said. "We wouldn’t blame a female student at all. We would never blame a female student for another student being distracted by something they wore. The other thing is as a school, we should be looking back and looking at how consistently we address the dress code across campus, and that’s something else students have brought up." Looks like these kids are making a difference. Plus, they all look great in off-the-shoulder tops.
Another one bites the dust! As of Friday afternoon, the White House's controversial Chief Strategist has been fired from the Trump administration, reports ABC News. Prior to his removal, rumors were swirling that Bannon has been clashing with other White House staff, including Chief of Staff John Kelly. Before joining the Trump campaign, Bannon served as the executive chairman of far-right news site, Breitbart News. ABC News added that earlier last week, Trump seemed to foreshadow a career change for the alleged white supremacist. "We'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon," Trump told reporters Tuesday. According to one reporter, a source expects Bannon will return to Breitbart News.Although Trump's team is pretty jam-packed with shady people with sketchy pasts, Bannon has to take the cake for being the most dangerous. A rumored neo-Nazi, Bannon has reportedly requested his wife not send their children to a school with a significant Jewish enrollment, called Breitbart a "platform for the alt-right," and under his leadership, the website praised multiple white supremacists, including Richard Spencer.Bannon is just the latest person to leave the Trump Administration, and his ill fate joins the likes of Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Michael Dubke, Walter M. Shaub Jr. and Michael Flynn... to name a few. I can't say I will miss Steve Bannon, but I can say with almost certainty that the White House will be a little less crusty without him.
Donald Trump’s "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz has tweeted that he thinks the president is going to resign in the very near future. On Wednesday, Schwartz went off on Trump on Twitter, calling him a "toddler [with] reactive attachment disorder" who has a "deep sense of inadequacy & self-hatred." He went on to predict that within a matter of months, Trump will be out of office. Schwartz thinks that Trump will make a deal for immunity in the Russia investigation in exchange for his resignation. Trump is, after all, very good at deals. In 2016, Tony Schwartz worked on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign for free. "This is my penance for having created a man who has become a monster," Schwartz told CNN in September. "I’ve spent 30 years feeling bad about it." Schwartz may have helped pen Trump's best selling book, but he has made it clear that he was never a fan of the reality star-turned-president and is one of his most outspoken critics. When asked to name one thing he liked about Trump, he struggled, "There was nothing I found appealing," he said. "This is a man who I really believe lacks a conscience at the deepest level, so there really was nothing. He was effective in certain ways, he’s a dominant, aggressive personality and he pushes and he pushes and he pushes and he gets a lot of what he wants." According to The Huffington Post, Schwartz said he will donate his profits from "Art Of The Deal" to the National Immigration Law Center, an organization that helps low-income immigrants.
Yet another Nazi who participated in the tiki-torch lit "Unite the Right" (read: NAZI) rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was fired. This makes him the third Nazi of the month, that I know of, to lose his job as a result of exposure from the rally. Let's keep that number rising!!! Twitter has been at work trying to name, and shame, the people photographed marching on the UVA campus on August 12th, some of whom were wearing swastikas and chanting racist phrases like "white lives matter" and "the Jews will not replace us." One of them was Nigel Krofta, a white supremacist from Ridgeville, South Carolina, who was photographed at the rally standing next to James Alex Fields Jr., the man accused of murdering counter-protester Heather Heyer with his car. After he was identified on Twitter, people took to the page of his employers, Limehouse and Sons Construction, asking them to fire him. They promptly did, and released this statement this afternoon condemning his actions. They wrote, "In light of what has just come to our attention, we here at Limehouse & Sons Inc. would like to take this time to assure our friends and our customers that we do not condone the actions of the people involved in this horrific display that has taken place in Charlottesville, VA. We also do not knowingly hire criminals but when it comes to our attention that we have someone within our organization that fits this description we deal with it in a timely manner and we turn it over to the proper authorities, people like this have no place in our society." Now THAT is how you fire a Nazi.
Good job employers on upholding values of basic human decency by firing LITERAL NAZIS, I guess. Seriously though, employers, and Internet, good work. Keep it up.
So, I have never been arrested in my life which is a good thing. If I ever was arrested and had a mug shot taken I hope I wouldn't be wearing a t-shirt like this guy...

Hahaha. One thing I will say about me is that I follow the rules quite a bit but some people take the rules just a little bit too far...

Some people here in Florida try to get away with different things to put on license plates like this one for example...

I have no idea what that means... wait... "fucking a"? Is that it? It's football preseason and some people are like me... they're Star Wars fans and football fans.

I'm not a Lions fan though. Kid's are back in school here in Florida. I am sure some are very creative when it comes to taking tests like the kid who did this...

So, with all the Nazi stuff happening nowadays I didn't realize they had their own store. Here's an ad for it...

Crazy, right? Recently Trump was back in New York and New Yorkers were pissed and weren't afraid to show it...

So, one of the best things about the Internet is you can look at porn on it. The problem is that if you are looking at porn you are not reading the Phile. So, I came up with a solution to show a pornographic pic here... but then I thought you might be reading this when you're working and I don't want to get you in trouble so I came up with a solution that might just work...

I hope that did the trick. Well, another Confederate statute was taken down this weekend...

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

That's pretty clear, right? Hey, if you go to the beach this summer you might end up seeing this sign...

So, ladies, are you looking for a new bra? How about this one?

The Solar Power Bra generates enough electricity to power an iPod or keep a mobile phone charged. Very cool bra indeed. Alright, do you like stand-up comedy? There's a gentleman that loves to come onto the Phile now and then and tell a joke but there's one slight problem... he is so old no one knows what he is talking about. The good news is is that I do. I am able to translate what he is trying to say so you totally understand. Well, he's back today with another joke. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hi, there, Alan, you have a joke for us?

Alan: Salutations, Jason. A lady of fashion, who had taken lodgings at a breeches makers, in, or near Piccadilly, whose sign was the Cock and Breeches, told her landlord soon after she came there, that she lik'd her appartments very well, but was asham'd to tell her acquaintance at what sign she liv'd; to which the landlord answer'd, That if she did not approve of his sign, he'd make any alteration she should think proper. "Then sir," says the lady, "I desire you to take down your breeches, and let your cock stand."

Me: Hahaha. This is a simple one... A fancy woman moved into an apartment above a pants-maker's store, but was embarrassed to tell people she lived above the store with the rooster (aka "cock") and pants on the sign. When she told her landlord, he said he would change the sign. The lady then explained that she only wanted the pants removed from the sign, but that the rooster could stay, which she phrased as "let your cock stand." Great job, Alan.

Alan: Thank you, Jason.

Me: Alan Raglafart, the 100-year-old comedian, everyone.

That's a simple Mindphuck. If you spot it let me know. So, when you shower do you ever have deep thoughts? I do. So, once again here is...

Have I ever ad the same dollar twice?

Jerry Lewis 
March 16th, 1926 — August 20th, 2017
Comedien de la mort.

Dick Gregory 
October 12th, 1932 — August 19th, 2017
If you were a black civil rights activist during the Trump Presidency, you would have keeled over right about now too.

The Internet pretty much exploded on Friday afternoon when news broke that Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon would be leaving his position at the White House. Though many people on Twitter celebrated, it appears that President Trump isn't quite ready to let the bromance go yet. In his tweets on Saturday, President Trump praised his ex-chief strategist, recalling fond memories of their time together on the campaign trail.

I guess it'd just been far too long since he brought up "Crooked Hillary Clinton." In a second tweet later in the afternoon, Trump looked forward to Steve Bannon's return to the alt-right "news" publication, Breitbart. I'm sure this is definitely not a ploy by the president to get Bannon to write nice things about him. Jury's still out on whether their bromance is still alive and well or if Trump is just trying to save face and look like the bigger person in the midst of a bitter breakup. Only time will tell!

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

One of the authors, Mike Stoller, will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Well, that's no moon.

Today's pheatured guest is a young singer songwriter whose new album "The Trouble Tape Kid" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Travis Crowley.

Me: Hey there, Travis, welcome to the Phile, man. How are you?

Travis: Ayy, thanks for having me! I’m doing pretty well. I’m all caffeine’d up and ready to go.

Me: Before I heard your music I thought you were a country singer... even though you are not wearing a cowboy hat... but then again Keith Urban doesn't... anyway, do you get that a lot?

Travis: Not usually, but I see where you’re coming from! Travis Crowley, especially delivered with a southern twang, could definitely be a country singer. Throw me on a bill with Kacey Musgraves and I’m good money.

Me: Haha. What genre would you say your music is?

Travis: The songs I make borrow sounds and styles from all sorts of different genres, there are some folk influences, rock n roll, country. There’s a rap song on the album too. I think everything still sounds like a cohesive work, so mash that all together, and I call it alternative. To me, it’s a nice way to say “a little bit of a lot of things.”

Me: You live in New York City, right? Is that where you are from?

Travis: I do! I lived here for the first couple years of my life, but grew up for the most part in a very small town about 45 minutes north of Manhattan. Both of my parents are from the Bronx, so we always spent a ton of time here. I always knew I’d come back.

Me: You and your brothers got a start making videos for YouTube singing different covers. What was your favorite cover to do?

Travis: This is an easy one: back in 2010, we did a cover of the song “Naturally” by Selena Gomez as a Valentine’s Day gift from me to her, and we spent the whole weekend trying to get as many people as possible to send her the video. She ultimately did end up watching it and tweeting me, it was a very big deal for me. Shout to Selena, she’s still killing it.

Me: That's cool. Whose idea was it to start making those videos?

Travis: My older brother Brian and I made the first one, a cover of “Whatever You Like” by TI. At the time, I thought it was a one-off, but he insisted that we do more. Turned out to be a pretty good idea!

Me: You kids got lot of hits from those videos. Did you ever think you'll become so popular?

Travis: Oh absolutely not, and I’m so grateful that the videos became what they did. It afforded us opportunities to do all sorts of fun stuff with music. We made a full-production music video for one of our songs, we were able to play some amazing shows, we met a ton of great people that are still friends. The community that YouTube was back then was pretty great.

Me: You guys were on "X-Factor" four years ago. I have a pic of you and your brothers from that show...

Me: What was that experience like?

Travis: The experience with "X-Factor" was pretty terrible actually. We did virtually no singing, and an unbelievable amount of waiting... like I think there was one day they had us sit in a room for 15 hours that ended with no performing. It just wasn’t what I love about music. That being said, I’m glad we auditioned. We met a bunch of cool fellow contestants with whom I am still in touch, Simon Cowell was great, and the obvious best part: I had never been to California! Got to go to Disneyland, that was fun.

Me: Demi Lovato compared you kids to the Jonas Brothers, or was it Hanson? Did you like being compared to those other groups?

Travis: Demi hit us with the Jonas Bros comparison, which makes sense because those are her pals. Jonas Bros was particularly poppin' at the time, so that’s the one we got most frequently. I never minded it at all, I love those guys. We were compared to pretty much every band-of-brothers, save for maybe the Allman Brothers. My only request was that people took the time to listen, so they could note both the similarities AND the differences.

Me: So, when you decided to go solo what did your brothers think? Are they working on new music as well?

Travis: The first one to bow out was actually my younger brother Jeffrey, who is more of a movie guy than a music guy. He’s in the process of making a full-length feature film right now. But everyone was cool with me making my own music because of the way our friendship as brothers works. Nobody was actively excluding anyone else, no one was kicked out of the band. As far as I know, nothing specific is in the works, but I DO think music from Brian would be extremely good. I would love to work on a project like that.

Me: So, with the title of the album I have to ask... are you a trouble kid?

Travis: I sure am. I think it’s important to learn how to get in trouble. It’s all the thrill of doing the things you’re not supposed to do, without anyone getting hurt.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your album, "The Trouble Kid Tape"... did it take a while to write the songs?

Travis: It’s a bit of a mixed bag on that. Songs like “Slow Dance” took a bit longer. I had been sitting on those chords for a very long time before I figured out exactly which story to tell to that music. On the other end, I wrote “I Met a Girl” in practically no time, and without any instruments actually. I sat at my desk at work and scribbled out very crude guesses as to what the notes in the melody might be, and the lyrics came all at once. It just depends on when I figure out exactly what I want to say and how I want to say it.

Me: I love the single "Pretty Little Adelaide." What is the story behind that song?

Travis: Thank you! I used to work in a tea store that was a few blocks from where Adelaide lived, and I met her when she stopped in one day. The song tells the story of how I had difficulty connecting with her, which was tough considering how hard I fell for her. I used to leave work after close and walk up Broadway toward her apartment (she invited me, I wasn’t being weird, I swear), and I would end up standing across the street from her building, waiting for her to pick up the phone or call me back. I realized it was crazy to devote as much time as I was to waiting, but ya know, I really liked her. And then at some point during one of my walks, I just decided that I had to go home. Parts of it were sad, but we just weren’t in the same place, literally and figuratively. I hold no negative feelings toward her at all though, she is a really sweet kid. I sent her the song when it was done as to avoid her stumbling upon it herself and having to ask “what the hell, Trav?” She likes it!

Me: Another song I have to ask you about is "Cocaine and Yoga." There's two things I would never wanna try. Have you tried both? You don't have to answer that. Haha.

Travis: You know, I was wondering when someone might ask this, and it’s tough to answer. If I say yes, I’m a bad influence and/or a narc. If I say no, I’m a poser and/or still probably a narc. So I’ll put it this way: I don’t do yoga, it makes me anxious. I don’t like to focus on breathing, it’s a strange kind of awareness to me.

Me: Where did that song idea come from?

Travis: That one is about a night out in Brooklyn that took a turn I was absolutely not expecting. Through the events detailed in the song, I made observations about duality, about how people can be two extremely different things at one time. To me, cocaine and yoga are weird opposites, but opposites nonetheless. I was so fascinated by the girl I’m singing about in that song, she was smart and beautiful and interesting. She was cool as hell. It was just never going to work out.

Me: So, you play both electric and acoustic guitars, right? Which one is your favorite to play?

Travis: Oh, I love them both so much, so I guess it just depends on the day. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the electric solos on the album.

Me: Which one do you use to write on?

Travis: I usually write using the acoustic, or the piano. Most of this album was written on a combination of both of those, but “Circle of Hell” was electric and “The Tuesday Blues” was the ukulele!

Me: I was trying to figure out your influences musically, but it could be so many people. Who did you listen to growing up?

Travis: Both of my parents always listened to a wide array of music, so I picked up their fondness for various genres. The first song I ever loved was “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill. The first CD I ever owned was Shaggy’s “Hot Shot,” and the first CD I ever purchased with my own money was “X&Y” by Coldplay. I always loved the Foo Fighters, The White Stripes, Linkin Park (rest in peace to Chester Bennington, that man and his voice changed my life). Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nas. Amy Winehouse. My all-time favorite is Jason Mraz. In recent years, I fell in love with roots-y country and folk like The Civil Wars and Margo Price. I mentioned her up there already, but Kacey Musgraves is my current favorite. This is always a tough question to answer because I could list things forever, and these are just contemporary musicians!

Me: Now that you're solo what do your brothers think of your record?

Travis: They love it! My older brother can be a tough critic, and I know he would tell me if it sucked. In addition to that, they both provided backing vocals on “I Met a Girl.” It was a nice Crowley Bros reunion.

Me: Do you think you'll be performing with your brothers again?

Travis: Every so often, Brian will come up during one of my sets and we’ll do a couple songs, and I am contributing music to Jeffrey’s film. I’m sure he’ll have a hand in all of that. Even though we don’t play out as a band anymore, we all still love music. And don’t get me started on my little sister Eva, who is going to be better than all of us combined.

Me: So, now the CD is out are you gonna be touring?

Travis: I would love that! I already have a bunch of shows lined up through the fall in the New York City area. Expanding beyond that will definitely be next, I’ll go play anywhere!

Me: So, what's next for you? Any long terms plans?

Travis: The next step I guess is to get this album out to as many people as I can. I don’t mean that in the “let’s make a ton of money off of it” way either, I just genuinely want people to hear the songs. I worked a lot on every aspect of them, and I am proud to share everything. Honestly, you don’t even have to buy it. Just listen, tell your friends. Come see me live. That’s what I want most out of “The Trouble Kid Tape.” But long term? I already know what the next album is called. Wink.

Me: I have to ask about the album cover... didn't one of your brothers do the artwork for it?

Travis: Yes!! Jeffrey made it, with help from his (our) friend Sterling Mahoney, who does great work in graphic design. I called him one day and gave sort of a vague description of what I wanted it to look like, being unable to actually create it. To most people, my ideas and suggestions would have been effectively useless in their vagueness, but the final product was exactly what I wanted. I was so impressed.

Me: So, what's with the publicity photo? Why the bar over your mouth? I noticed you swear in a lot of your songs on the album.

Travis: Ah yes, my mother yells at me all the time for cursing. But that’s not actually why I added the bar over my mouth! Jeffrey took that photo as one of many for reference in creating the album artwork. He sent them all to me, and while they served his purpose quite well, none of them particularly worked as a press photo or profile picture. I like the way this one looked, except that I’m chewing my lip in it. And not in a fun, cool guy way. I look ridiculous. So I said, “eh, I’ll put a little censor bar over it and it’ll look like an artistic choice.” And here we are.

Me: Ha. Great job, Travis. Good luck in the future and please come back on the Phile soon.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Travis for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Alumni Harmful If Swallowed. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. The total solar eclipse you've been waiting for all weekend is finally here! So sit back, put on your eclipse glasses... or don't.

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

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