Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pheaturing Van Dyke Parks

Good morning and welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. Happy Rosh Hashanah unless that's one of the sad ones. I'm still in Gainesville in case you didn't know. I asked the front desk of the hotel where the nearest Starbucks was and she told me but said I shouldn't bother going this early in the morning, they'll be a long line there with students already. What? Shouldn't you kids be in class? So, I took Uber yesterday and I heard about something called SNAP. But apparently SNAP doesn’t arrive at the snap of your fingers. SNAP stands for Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol. What the hell? I also learnt a very valuable lesson yesterday as well... Right over left. I learnt how to do the Gator Chomp properly. When in doubt, people, just remember right over left. Hey, not only is there a fee restaurants around here called The Swamp, and the stadium the Gators play is nicknamed The Swamp, I also found out a lot of kids get so much homework they are swamped. But there's a thing called Study Edge. I think it's supposed to rain today by the way... what is this, Rainesville? Ha. Okay, kids, let's see what else is going on...
Being truly seen isn't always a positive feeling. In fact, sometimes being roasted and being seen are one in the same. This definitely applies to Norwegian Air's latest ad campaign, which aptly roasted American culture while advertising affordable flights. Before we do a deep dive, just catch a load of this advertising imagery.

It's gorgeous, and it really has everything. First off, there's a white cop and a black cop, so it's like they were channeling a Rush Hour vibe, except with a whitewashed Jackie Chan which is very #onbrand for America. ON TOP OF THAT, the white cop is also larger and imbibing in a donut (fun stereotypes)! The black cop looks thoroughly OVER everything, which also feels... fitting for America in general, but particularly this whole dynamic. And, why cops?! Do Norwegian people travel to America to witness our fun prison industrial complex?! This is a very passive aggressive way for Norway to let America know they don't fuck with us too heavy. I think it's best to let the roast absorb into our souls. Because truly, is there anything about this ad that's inaccurate?! The donut eating method might be a tad overdramatized. But the passion of a Krispy Kreme knows no bounds. Hopefully, this will dissuade dozens of Norwegians from wasting their vacation time in America. They've been warned.
You've heard about Human Barbie and the Human Ken Doll, now meet Pixee Fox, the "living cartoon" who had 200 surgeries and 6 ribs removed to look like Wonder Woman. Spinning is easier than surgery, my dear. And when I say Wonder Woman, I mean the drawing of the Amazon princess, not the human Gal Gadot. Oh, the irony. Fox, 27, went on the British talk show "This Morning" to talk about her journey towards looking like a drawing, which so far has cost half a million British pounds (that's like a million U.S. dollars). "I've always been very artistic... as a child I always used to draw and paint and live in my own fantasy world that I created in my head. I had this vision of how I saw myself," she said. Fox sees herself as a "science project... pushing the beauty industry forward." "I've had so many surgeries I'm inventing my own surgeries," she said, before revealing that she went to India to have her eye color surgically changed. And she plans to keep going, hoping to beat the record with a 14.5-inch waist. Fox was the first person in the world to have six ribs removed, leaving her internal organs quite vulnerable. "The ribs are there to protect the organs, so if I get hit in the side, of course my organs would be more exposed, yes. But for health issues and reasons like that, as long as I protect myself I will be okay." I have reached Diana Prince for comment but have yet to hear back. I have to see what this woman looks like...

Ugh. Her hair color is wrong.
A group of people known as "anti-fascists" have taken a hands-on approach to the issue of neo-Nazis and white supremacists being loud and proud in public in recent months. By beating them up. On Sunday afternoon, the Internet fully mobilized behind getting a Nazi beaten up. It began when the Twitter account @bigotbasher shared a photo of a man riding the bus in Seattle while wearing a swastika armband. "Nazi shit head seen on D line headed to downtown #Seattle," they wrote. "Submitter said they were harassing a black man on the bus." Around the same time, a photo of the man was also posted on the Seattle subreddit thread, where it went viral. And others who noticed the Nazi walking around Seattle were also tweeting about it. Anti-fascists quickly mobilized in to action, tweeting out information about the Nazi's whereabouts. And it seems the plan worked. Because not long after these tweets went up, someone on Facebook named Shaughn Patrick Ffud, real name Sean Patrick Duff, shared a photo captioned, "just watched a Nazi get knocked the fuck out." Duff told BuzzFeed News that he just happened to be passing by when the confrontation went down. And he didn't participate, mainly because he was blazed off his ass. He said, "I literally just got off a bus and was walking to a movie and saw some guy being obnoxious up the way. Which I'm used to in downtown Seattle, but then I saw the Nazi armband and realize we are dealing with a guy a little more than just obnoxious. I had eaten over 800mg of THC and was way too high for confrontation so I just held back with two other passersby to watch what would unfold." While other bystanders took to Twitter to report having watched the whole thing go down one guy documented the whole chain-of-events, summed it up in four words... "talk shit, get hit"... and went viral. Others are praising the "beauty" of justice in action. Video of the punch made its way to YouTube, where it has since been taken down. But not before someone captured the moment in Gif form. Of course, not everyone supports punching Nazis, on the grounds that violence is not the solution to any problems. Even Nazis. What do you think?
A student at Transylvania University, which I Googled and is definitely a real school, has been expelled after reporting an undocumented classmate. Karma came quickly for Taylor Ragg, who reportedly posted a screenshot of his classmate's Facebook page with the caption "Everyone go report this illegal at my school." A University spokesperson confirmed to The Tab that Ragg has been expelled for his actions. "Taylor Ragg is no longer enrolled at Transylvania University. Per University policy and federal laws, we cannot offer any further details into the matter." Taylor had allegedly been harassing Paola Garcia, his fellow student, on Facebook. Garcia responded with a video detailing the harassment, which included abusive messages like "I can't wait till your fucking cunt ass is gone", and "Hope you enjoy your visit back to the dirt floors of your homeland, stinky ass." According to Daily Kos, school administrators originally claimed they couldn't do anything about the incident. As of today, that stance was reversed. Ragg, I have just one word for you... bye.
Every human with a 9-to-5 has experienced a soggy salad at lunchtime on at least one occasion. And I know it's such a first world prob, but a soggy salad is the easiest way to ruin your precious lunch break. Turns out, Glad has had a solution for this problem built right into its containers for years, and we've been completely overlooking it. As pointed out by Facebook user Sarah Rose, the circular indent in the lids of Glad containers is actually a meta lid, so you can attach a tiny container filled with salad dressing (or chocolate sauce, it's your life) to the inside of the container. "UM. HOW AM I JUST NOW finding out that the circle on these lids are actually lids for the tiny containers?! " she captioned a photo of her containers. "Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who didn't know this." Sarah, you're definitely not the only one who didn't know this. In under three days, her Facebook post has garnered over 28,000 comments, most of which express shock at this revelation. Scrolling through multiple container pages on Glad's website suggests that the lids are designed that way to be "interlocking," therefore making storage more organized. Even the brand's "variety pack," which comes with containers that look small enough to attach to the inside of the lid, does not mention this function. The only product that does mention it is this one round container that comes with its own dressing cup. You can also buy the dressing cups separately. Okay, I acknowledge that I am diving a little deep here. They're only food storage containers, after all. But this just seems like such a great function, and it's puzzling that Glad doesn't play it up more. Glad's marketing team, I'm talking to you! And if you find this a little critical... don't get mad, get Glad. And get a rebrand out ASAP.
You what is one of the best things about the Internet is? You can easily look at porn. But that could be  problem if you are reading the Phile and all of the sudden get bored and wanna switch over to porn, so I had a thought... but then I thought you might be reading the Phile at work or in class... so I had another thought which was a fantastic solution. Check out out...

You. Are. Welcome. Look at that woman. Not even a million lols can describe it. Hahahaha. Hey, did see that Surge is back? I never liked that drink, but I do like its new ad campaign...

Yup. So, once in awhile I like to show you what people actually look like when they are reading the Phile. I think this guy is getting frustrated over a Mindphuck...

Don't get mad, bro. So, when students arrive from out of state to go to school at UF I heard they are given this nice map of Florida to help them out...

I think it sums Florida up pretty good, don't you think? So, I thought this was Gator Country... but apparently they changed the name...

So, what's the deal with this, people?

Do people say, "Let's go meet at the fries?" What the hell? Guess where I am going after I'm done with this blog today...

Wait. Do they serve gluten free pizza there? Ugh. Do you know here in Gainesville they have their very own Oreo cookies? No? Let me show you.

Hahahaha. It's been many years since I was in Gainesville, I used to come here every weekend in the late 90s. Anyway, things are a little different now...

That was taken just this morning. Haha. Hey, so, yesterday I asked you guys to send me pics of dogs in pajamas to make me feel better and I already received a few. I'll pick out the best ones and post them here. So, keep sending them.

He looks so happy in his bunny pajamas. Awe. THAT'S what I'm talking about, people. Alright, it's Thursday, so you know what that means...

A man found part of a severed finger packed inside a pint of frozen custard he'd bought from a Kohl's Frozen Custard shop, and officials said it belonged to a worker injured in a food-processing machine accident there. The customer, Clarence Stowers, said he put the finger in his mouth, thinking it was a piece of candy when he opened the pint at home. Stowers said he spat the object out, and "I said, 'God, this ain't no nut!' So I came in here to the kitchen and rinsed it off with water and realized it was a human finger and I just started screaming." The custard shop owner, Craig Thomas, said that the 23-year-old employee who lost the finger had dropped a bucket while working with a machine that dispenses the custard. He tried to catch the bucket when the accident occurred. Thomas said that as several employees tried to help the injured worker, a drive-thru window attendant apparently scooped the chocolate custard into a pint before being told what had happened. Hmmm.

Ha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, there's a lot of important people that come from Gainesville. There's Don Felder, Maya Rudolph, Steve Spurrier, and Terry Jones who gained national and international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn Qur'ans. But there's someone who is also very important that was left off every list. So, I thought I would invite him back on the Phile for a second time. So, here we are, once again, it's...

Me: Hey, Squirrel, welcome back to the Phile. How are you?

Squirrel: Howdy! Yee-haw! Go Gators! I am good. I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park!

Me: Okay then. So, do you have any more jokes for us?

Squirrel: Sure do, buckaroo! What do you say to a FSU football player dressed in a three-piece suit?

Me: Ummm... I don't know. What?

Squirrel: “Will the defendant please rise.” Git it? Ha!

Me: Yeah, I get it. Do you have another?

Squirrel: What’s a good reason not to go to FSU?

Me: I don't know.

Squirrel: You already have a high school diploma.

Me: Haha. Okay, give is one more, Squirrel.

Squirrel: What’s the difference between a litter of puppies and Florida State Seminoles fans?

Me: I don't know.

Squirrel: Eventually puppies grow up and stop whining. They are babies! Yee-haw!

Me: Well done, Squirrel. Before you go I have to ask what do you think of President Trump?

Squirrel: He’s nuttier than a squirrel turd!

Me: Ain't that the truth. Squirrel, the Red Neck Gator Fan, everyone!

Oops, he did it again. Forget covfefe, President Donald Trump invented an African country while speaking at a lunch with African leaders: Nambia. David Mack of BuzzFeed News tweeted a clip of video where Trump brings up Narnia... I mean Nambla... scratch that, I mean Nambia. Hey, at least Nambia's healthcare system is increasingly sufficient. That's impressive, considering they don't even exist. It turns out he was going for "Namibia," which was what a lot of people guessed. Well, people familiar with countries in Africa that actually exist, that is. Just wait until Trump complains about how the media spun his words, or FAKE NEWS, or how Nambia actually exists, and he shot someone there, and didn't even lose a single voter. I bet Trump thinks this guy is the king of Nambia...

Okay, so, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, some crazy things happen in Florida that happen nowhere else in the universe. Some of these things happen right here in Gainesville. So, once again, here is...

This police sketch looks more like a crappy CGI cartoon character than a guy who pees on women.

Citizens of Gainesville, Florida should be advised that a giant thumb with crooked hair and really fake-looking pasted-on eyes and lips is on the loose and peeing on women near the University of Florida campus. While it is possible that the serial urinator is actually some sort of poorly designed computer-generated character, or perhaps a sentient collage of cut-up photos from "Us Weekly," it is definitely not a fully human organism. Or maybe he is. I don't know. I suppose it's always possible that this sketch is simply the work of a really lazy police artist trying to render the image some creep who gets off on micturating on strange women. But my gut's telling me that this mystery piss monster is something beyond our understanding. And my gut has never been wrong about a piss monster yet.

A Gator fan and a Seminole fan are sitting in a bar watching the 11:00 news. They look up on the TV screen and see a guy standing on the ledge of the bridge. “Bet ya 100 bucks he jumps,” says the Gator fan. “You’re on,” says the Seminole fan. Sure enough, the guy leaps off the bridge. The Seminole fan starts reaching for his wallet and the Gator fan laughs and says, “No man, I can’t take your money. I saw it already on the 6:00 news.” The Seminole fans says, “So did I. I just didn’t think they guy would be stupid enough to jump again.”

The 66th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Chas Hodges will be on the Phile a week from today.

An adjective is a word that when preceded by "the most" and followed by "ever" makes clicking an Internet link worth your time.

This is pretty cool, kids. Today's pheatured guest is an American composer, arranger, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and actor. His latest album "Songs Cycled" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Van Dyke Parks.

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. It's so cool to have you here, how are you?

Van: I am great. So, where are you from?

Me: England originally but I live in Florida now. Where are you from originally, sir?

Van: Hattisburg, Missisippi but raised in Louisiana. Do you know what the taxi drivers in Orlando's motto?

Me: Ummm... no, I don't.

Van: It's very important and on their coat of arms they have the expression "boldly going forward because we can't find reverse." Ha.

Me: Hahaha. It's good you can give me and my readers a bit of Orlando culture. So, I love the album "Songs Cycled." Was it a fun album to record?

Van: Thank you, and it was a hard album to record. I think everyone's getting the idea that albums take work. They just do and I enjoy that work. Basically I believe in work and I believe in music and I think all I really understand is the work. I don't really understand anything else. It's like when the work is done explaining it is impossible for me. My wife, when we were courting, she said two things that her mother told her... a southern gentlemen should learn how to say... one is "yes, ma'am" and the other was "whatever was I thinking." Haha. And that kind of applies the way I feel about my own work and everyone's work too. I'm a skeptic and and I'm highly self critical and I just pray that the work will be supportive, hopeful and confirming and delightful to the ear. I hope it means something to someone else.

Me: Well, I think it does that. With an album like "Songs Cycled," do you go into with an idea what people expect with a Van Dykes Park record?

Van: No, no, no, I have no preconceptions. I never had a preconception on any album but I think an album should hang together, even if they're non-themeatic in a way. And I think they should somehow be a pleasant experience for people who have time or will take time to listen to an album. Every particular cut of this album is highly different from many other and I know that. It's a mixed bag for sure.

Me: I love the song "Wall Street" from the album, sir. I love that line about the birds being on fire. It's a very interesting image. That song is about 9/11, right? Is that what you were thinking with it?

Van: Yes, but it's not my idea, it's what happened and that's what is most unfortunate about it. My friend, Art Spiegelman, did illustration's which blessed the album... one was about greed which is for the "Money is Greed" song and the other the picture of the man and woman jumping from the building. Many people jumped to their deaths rather than suffer death by fire. My friend Art at that moment on 9/11 was at the second tower that collapsed. He was picking up his daughter Nadja was at an elementary school four blocks away from Ground Zero which is what they called it. She looked up and she said, "Dad, the birds are on fire." That was a terrible thing for a child to witness. And for him he would regret it but he said those were people. He didn't want to lie. So at that moment my daughter was running from the building, she was going to attend NYU that morning at eight o'clock. Of course that put a top to her going to study something. She was running north talking to me on her cell phone. I was in Los Angeles at that moment getting out the morning shower and I for to the phone and I saw on television what was going on. It was totally surreal, I thought perhaps it was somebody's idea of a new action adventure movie or something. I didn't realize it was real and I was happy to hear from her and she told me where she was. She was seven blocks away and was running she could see the wall of ash. She said, "Dad, what should I do?" I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "I'm running north as fast as I can." I said, "That's a good idea. You keep it up." I said keep it up. She got to 23rd street and she found a shelter. So, I wrote these reflections down in a song but of course I didn't want to capitalize in any way on such a sorrow event so I hid it away. It took some time to admit to it but I thought it was an important thing to do. That's why it's there on the album. 

Me: Holy. Shit. I noticed that "The All Golden" is on this album as well as the original "Song Cycle" that came out the year I was born. What was the reason you redid that song, sir?

Van: Basically I wanted to illustrate the very basic idea how can you miss me if I won't leave. Haha. Remembering Mozart's admission, when somebody caught him with a familiar riff that they heard in one of this other works he said, "I'm paid to repeat myself." Now that's Mozart, so I figured he might know something. Basically to tell you the truth the underlying reality to the record and that is the more things change the more they stay the same. That is illustrated especially punctuated in the song "Dreaming of Paris." But to answer the question about "The All Golden," basically that's the same world. The song is touched by thoughts of racism, of war... I think it's kind of candy coated. It's a song of protest and it's because nothing essentially has changed. We have come from a militaristic 20th century. After Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince, got murdered in Sarajevo and World War I blossomed forth we spent the rest of that century in wars hot and cold. And it seems to me we've come out of it not learning very much. So I put that song again on "Song Cycles" for that very reason as a caution. Also because I'm happy with it. It is the way I am and in that song I admit to it. I say a place, Los Angeles for example, it mentions Silver Lake and it's a tribute to my friend Steve Young who died last year in Nashville. He's the guy who wrote "Seven Bridges Road" and "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean." He is the guy who was Waylon Jennings' role model for the outlaw cowboy. So it just covers a lot of autobiographical bases. And then on the aesthetic level "The All Golden" had been in my first album "Song Cycle" the singular present tense... I was accused of obscuring but I didn't know what that word meant. "The All Golden" had that. I went into the studio at 24-years-old and was fascinated by effects and all the things the studio could provide and the record is overwhelmed by that obsessionI had. I decided this is a good song so why don't I put it out again? Leave and stripped and bleeding very simply so it can be more closely examined. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Me: You have been in the business for a long time, sir, and have written so many songs. How old were you when you first started songwriting?

Van: Well, I was four and it was called "Brown Dog." It had four words... it repeated "brown dog" and then said, "or man." I stooped as I was rather disappointed with the result so I stopped writing songs until 1964. I had about a year to reflect on Bob Dylan's "The Freewheelin' With Bob Dylan," that was his first record. And I reflected on that. Like many other people when they heard Bob Dylan's voice they thought well if he can sing, I can to. Or if he can wrote songs I can to. So I decided to write a song and I wrote my first song which was called "High Coin." Now "High Coin" was a very interesting song... "When times and places effervesce, in words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time. In words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time. It looks like high time baby, to stop our lovin nickel dime, We're in the high times baby, Where words are lost and tempest tossed in lemon lime, When times and places effervesce, In words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time." That was my first song. I was working with a group called The Brandy Wine Singers, just playing guitar. I was making over three thousand dollars a week which was a lot of money even in these days. I wish I had I had that kind of money. I was paid a lot of money playing casinos in Reno, Nevada. I think it was a two week job there, or three weeks. I got in car, I'm not saying convertible with Hal Brown the bass player and he was about six feet, five. After that experience Hal became the Supreme Court Chief Justice of Alaska, just to tell you he was able. He was smart enough to escape from music before it collapsed from business. So, Hal Brown got behind the wheel and he put is upright bass into the car and I had my guitar in the trunk. And we went down into an almost ghost town. I say almost ghost town because it hadn't quite died. It looked like an old western set but was a real town. It was called Silver City, or was it called Virginia City? I'm not sure... it escapes me now. We got out of the car and were sightseeing the wild west. We walked into a saloon, I took my guitar, he took his bass and there we saw a group of four guys who were in a corner by a table. They were in a cloud of smoke and smelt funny. They were the house band and they all looked like Neil Young on a bad day with long hair and everything. They were called The Charlatans and one of them was the late Dan Hicks... that's when I met that that guy. I must've looked 18-years-old, I was very young in appearance but I was just 21. We said would you mind if we played a song and they looked at me in a weird way as I looked like a square, like a preppy. I didn't like a hippy. But I was happy not looking like a hippy. They had no idea what was going to happen but I sang that song called "High Coin" and they fell on the floor, That was it. I was the greatest thing they ever heard and they wondered if I'd mine if they were to record it. I was just so delighted because with the counter-culture and they were pretty hip. They took that song... I went back to Los Angeles, quitting The Brandy Wine Singers, and I was not doing very well financially and was living on the edge getting yesterday's vegetables from behind the super market at dawn before the other people came to get them. I was broke, but not broken. And I got the news that "High Coin" was on the air in San Francisco and was a turntable hit. That established me with the counter-culture. Isn't that an amazing story?

Me: Yeah, it's unbelievable.

Van: It really is... you can't make up this kind of stuff. It's amazing. I had a very fortunate life, and I'm very grateful. I have to tell you the truth, I have no complaints honestly. I know so many people who have greater abilities who never had my opportunities.

Me: You seemed to have had a charmed life from an early age, didn't you? I was reading about you performing at the Metropolitan Opera when you were 10 and appearing in The Swan with Grace Kelly... getting to encounter Albert Einstein and all these crazy things.

Van: Oh, it's been an amazing chain of events. Every now and again I think someone must think of me as mad, or reinventing, but at my age (I am over 70) to have somebody who out of nowhere as a man did in Holland. I was down there doing a concert and a man about my age, slightly younger than me, came to see me. He was in an opera in Amsterdam, he had the night off, and came down to see me in my concert. I said at the show it was so sweet he came, we haven't seen each other in 50 years and you know, I think sometimes I am making this up... I keep telling people how Einstein accompanied me on the violin and this that and the other and he said it's all true, I was there. I was in the group. And don't you remember we went into the doctor's house and in that house we stayed in the kitchen for hours singing. Well, I had forgotten that. What my point is having somebody to confirm what you've been through becomes more important, so precious, in later life. When you're young it doesn't dawn on you. You think you'll remember all these things that are happening to you. That's not so. A memory is a very tricky thing. But to have somebody tell you yes, I was there and I could remember, is just so precious. So, yeah, I had a really wonderful time. It's been an uphill battle but it's been anything but boring.

Me: Okay, so, when you start writing a song, what do you do, sir? Start with a lyric or a melody in your head both?

Van: That's a great question because I don't know. It took me a long to learn how to say I don't know, but I learned how to say that. There is no formula for song writing, we all know that. It's interesting to me that Elton John makes music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics. Which comes first, the music or the words? Well, they say the phone call is the old joke. But in fact I have a very hard time looking at words, then getting an idea for music.

Me: Okay, so, you have done so many things, worked with so many people, what do you think the highlight of your career was?

Van: The most infamous or famous event of my life in pop music, which I don't think necessarily makes it more important... I don't think fame in necessarily a litmus for excellence, is "Smile." Now, in the case of "Smile" every single word is built in a preexisting note. The notes came first, the melody came first, not once did I ask the musician to change a single note. I thought that would be stupid. So naturally because of the irregularity of the melodies, the words found an irregular place as well. A dream that was a departure from Joe Average music of the time when cars songs were still important... cars songs with girls in back seats. That was all very important then and "Smile" railed against that and sought another opportunity. But the melodies made "Smile" what it is... in my view. Words: second. Even, I confess, I'm hard pressed to listen to lyrics. I get an impression of the music as a casual observer and that happens a lot. It's funny to me that you can listen to a song... I listened to some afro-pop yesterday... when you hear music that has a song in another language I think you get a very deep impression about what's going on in the lyrics. You get an idea of feelings, even thoughts come up. Most of the time I'm right. Sometimes I'm wrong.

Me: Van, did you grow up doing a lot of reading? Somehow I think you did.

Van: Well, my family had a long wall fall of books. They started out with "Grey's Anatomy" so when I was very young I could know what the naked body looked like and it's innards. Then it went on to latin and Greek, all the classics, Shakespeare second addition.... big stuff. Ideas. You see, books to me are what our lives are. There's a difference between living and simple existing. if you want to live I think you have to read so I fell in love with language early. Eleanor Roosevelt lived in the White House with her husband FDR for four terms and she said, "great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." I know she's right. And I tried to discuss issues without hitting them with a hammer. I try to use language and make life more beautiful... to change hearts. To soften the blow that society delivers. People are strange things... born to disappoint and they could do it in a tantrum like a child. Just like the president is. They could be pestilent and shurly and cruel... and filled with resentment. The idea, to me, and all that I do, is to make language as sharp, definition of a better world and one that we should pursue. So, I feel very, pardon me, to me it's a high minded adventure writing a song. All said and done I've got more recognition than money in the process to tell you the truth. So music to me has been an uneconomically uncertain life, something that I would recommend to anybody else. I pity people who send me demos or finished products asking ME what I think of them. That really is absurd to me because I'm hardly a role model for anyone. Haha. Don't make my mistakes... make new mistakes. One thing for sure it's less safe to pursue music now that I don't want to lose my urgent conviction that we need to do everything we can to support the arts, music and all its variety. By the way, I never criticize anybody's music. I'm just relieved they're not making bombs. I'm relieved they're not in ammunition. I'm relieved they're not turning swords into dil shares. I am heartened that they want to make the world more beautiful with music. So I try to feel arrogant about anybody else's music because I'm not that good.

Me: I bet you wouldn't say that if you heard Strawberry Blondes Forever. Hahaha. Okay, you mentioned "Smile," and I have to talk about that. You're probably one of the rare people that collaborated in a room with Brian Wilson. What can you tell me about that album and those songs? 

Van: I like to talk about it in passing because it's been so long ago and I just don't want to get any of it wrong. A lot of nuances of those events have been lost, but I can tell you "Heroes and Villains" was the first song. That song was finished in a day. That was amazing. And I just stated the obvious... I came to California looking at it as a frontier. I was a new resident of California and I thought you just write what you know. That was it. I knew "Heroes and Villains" should tell a story. And I looked at it like what they call a ballad. So, that was the first one. Then I believe "Surf's Up" came next. You see all this got shot from guns, out of a cannon, in pretty short order until the house of cards collapsed and things got so crazy I quit the job. The rest of the group was not anything I expected and I never had a conversation with the group except that one confrontation we hear about where Michael asked me what the words mean and I told him I couldn't tell him didn't know. In fact, I knew what they meant to me and I had no apology for them. Just sorry that I was inconvenient to the group. I was always told don't be where you're not wanted. My mother told me that. You don't want to be where you're not wanted. And she was right about that as well as many other things.

Me: Didn't you contribute to "Sail On, Sailor" a few years after? How did that happen?

Van: Yeah, I made up the words "sail on, sail on, sailor" with the melody that is attached to it. I went over to Brian Wilson's with one of two walk-man recorders. They had just come out and sent to me. I was at Warner Brothers, working in A & R and directory of audio and visual services... the Beach Boys record had come and was called "Holland" and every Monday morning at the A & R meeting they would commented that this was unreleasable. They could not release it the album and Mo Osten, who was the head of the company looked at me and said, "You brought me this guy... you deliver." So, I went over to Brian Wilson's her she was rehabilitating from his psychological collapse we say and down and I taped that session with Brian. That bluesy melody was so beautiful. The reason I was concerned about him, there's no reason to dance around to, Lowell George had put out "Sailing Shoes" he did it without my name on it. I thought I was going to be called collaborator on that song and Randy Newman did a song called "Sail Away." I thought a good way to agitate these two fellas is to take this marine theme to Brian Wilson. So I did that and that's the truth. I took the tape back to Warner Brothers the next Monday and played it at the meeting. The song was in disarray with no lyrics on the verses and they sent that tape or a copy of it, I'm not sure which, to Holland and seven to twenty-four people climbed on it, claiming to be writers. Bearing out the old adage that is you contribute a word, you get a third. I was not credited on the first pressing of the record. I couldn't believe it. That's the thing about show business, you got to expect it, everybody is going to try and get their snout in first. That's not been my objective.

Me: Did you ever see the musical "The Music of Brian Wilson"? I wanted to, but never saw it.

Van: Yeah, I went to New York to see it at the O'Neil Theater and "Sail On, Sailor" went through the roof. It raised the audience of their seats when they heard it. I just stands the test of time.

Me: Of course Brian Wilson was also involved with "Orange Crate Art," right? I love that album. 

Van: It is a good album. You know, the thing is "Orange Crate Art" was when Brian was totally disinvolved from the industry and I thought that was just unspeakable. So, when I had that opportunity to do a record and I preferred his voice... I wanted him to sing on "Orange..." And it turned out somebody and to get him out of bed and I did it. That's the rubicon to me. That record represents the moment that Brian Wilson got back into the business making music in a studio. I think it gave him a great deal of confidence, although he wasn't really involved with the record. I hoped this would lead us to collaborating, but in fact, nah, he kinda just hung back... he would ask me what I wanted him to sing next. It was phrase by phrase, and I arranged the backgrounds and all of it. But the point is it was a gateway for him and it's exactly what I should have done and I felt very good about it. We finished the record and it sank without a trace. The point is you can't do something if your aim is just to get noticed. You should do something to essentially be true to yourself. And I knew that was the right thing to do.

Me: What do you want people to remember about you in years time, sir?

Van: I would like to be told that my music is available in my lifetime... after my lifetime, quite frankly, I don't give a damn. A lot of people seek immortality... the hell with immortality, I would like to matter while I'm here. Forgotten but not gone.

Me: So, writing recently? Any new music coming out?

Van: All the mysteries about song writing but what a puzzling and more perplexing question is what dies "out" mean? When you finish a song, what do you do to put it "out"? I don't know. I don't know that either. I think what it means that I better have it mixed and if no company says there're interested I'd better be ready to dump it on YouTube and not make a dime.

Me: Ha! Sir, thanks so much for being on the Phile... you are a legend and I love talking to you. I hope you will come back on the Phile again soon. Do you have anything you wanna plug real quick? 

Van: Do you have Twitter?

Me: I do, but I hardly use it.

Van: I have Twitter and I do it daily. One short anecdotal thought... It doesn't really develop but that's good. It's just kind of like a freeze frame, it's not even slo-mo. I do a thought everyday and I try my very best to deal with communication at the minimum. So I make thought in the morning, I do a crossword puzzle, have a cup of coffee, and then I do my "twit." I "twit" because the President of the United States does a Twitter and I thought while he's doing it I better too. Because I always want to move forward technologically, I don't want to get lost in reciting old victories. I don't have any old victories. I need a victory so I Twitter. And I do that to flog my merch like "Song Cycle," which is one of the finest albums of its genre... it is a genre, it's called pop music... so I promote it on Twitter and my Twiiter address is @thevandykeparks. How's that for a plug? Is that okay?

Me: Yeah! Well, I love your music, and think you have been one of my favorite guests here and I hope you will continue making music as great as you made it before.

Van: Well, all that is a product of not knowing... a product of uncertainty. And I think that's good enough. I think that's good enough to be uncertain and still make a statement. I think it's very good as a listener also to be more inquiring leave an experience like that and encourage to inquire. I don't think it's important to have a punch line. But I'll tell you this... when I told my wife I was having an affair she said, "who's catering?" Haha.

Me: That's funny! Sir, thanks for being here on the Phile. Take care and I hope you'll come back on the Phile again soon.

Van: Okay, Jason, be strong. Lots of love. Bye.

Now that's what I call an interview, boys and girls. What an interesting guy. I didn't get to ask him about his acting. Maybe next time if he ever will come back here on the Phile. Anyway, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Squirrel and of course Van Dyke Parks. I was gonna ask him if I should change my name to Truck Lesbian Drives but decided against it. Hahaha. Thanks to the staff at Shands hospital for taking good care of me, and the students at UF. The Phile will be back on Sunday with Phile Alum Anna Coogan. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I'll be back to Gainesville soon, kids.

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

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