Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Wednesday. How are you doing? Did you vote yesterday? Election night 2017 was a good one for Democrats, for once. A "blue wave" rolled through Virginia, New Jersey, and local races throughout the country. The sweetest victories weren't only the ones that stuck it to Trump at the ballot box, but also these lesser-known ones that got personal. Danica Roem defeats "bathroom bill" bigot to become the nation's first openly trans lawmaker. Roem defeated Delegate Robert G. Marshall, a 73-year-old man who prided in calling himself "Virginia's chief homophobe" and fought against LGBT rights for 13 terms in the state's House of Delegates. Marshall was such a dick throughout the campaign that he referred to Roem in male pronouns, and refused to debate her. His campaign focused on her transgender identity, and lost. Classier than all of us, after she won, Roem refused to speak ill of Marshall."I don't attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now," she said. After a New Jersey Republican John Carman shared a gross meme on Facebook about the Women's March in January, Democrat Ashley Bennett decided to get the ultimate revenge. Carman shared a meme asking if the Women's March "over in time for them to cook dinner," and now he's eating his words having lost re-election as Atlantic City freeholder. Bennett works as a psychiatry emergency screener at a hospital, and makes womankind proud. Chris Hurst, a former TV anchor, was disturbed by the indifference displayed by lawmakers in Virginia after his girlfriend Alison Parker was killed by gun violence at just 24-years-old. Motivated to make a change, he defeated incumbent Del. Joseph Yost, who was endorsed by the NRA. As many pundits have explained, in running for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, lobbyist Ed Gillespie did the Trumpian thing and ran a race-baiting campaign about gangs, Confederate statues, and kneeling NFL players. Fascinatingly, Virginia voters were more interested in talking about health care and gun control, and following the Trumpian playbook backfired spectacularly, as "Trumpism without Trump" just doesn't fly. He went full Trump, man. Never go full Trump.
First Lady Melania Trump got to experience super-enthusiastic South Koreans fangirling in her presence... just not for her. Melania co-headlined an event in Seoul promoting female participation in sports and Pyeongchang Olympics with heartthrob Choi Minho of K-Pop boy band SHINee. The First Lady smiles at the girl's reaction, thinking it's for her, up until the girl turned around to see Minho in all his glory.
The difference between the reaction to standing next to the First Lady of the United States and a sneaker-upper from young Minho is going viral in both America and South Korea. I almost feel bad for Melania for a second. It's like when you're in the high school hallway and you see your crush waving at you, so you wave back, only to turn around and see that he's been waving at the popular boy standing behind you this whole time. Not that it ever happened to me. No. Of course not. I was/am THE COOLEST. It's not the first time that Melania mistakenly thought she was having a moment. Back at the inauguration, Melania thought her husband Donald's loving glance was directed at her, though it was aimed at Jared and Ivanka. When Donald turned around, she gave a now-notorious grimace. And on this very trip, Donald awkwardly had to turn around and remember to kiss her goodbye after supporting the troops. ("So eager to get to work," or "so ignorant of his wife's presence"?) It's quite sad, but luckily for her, she's used to it.
In an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Speaker Paul Ryan sighed loudly and tsked the sad, lost atheists who criticized his Twitter response after a gunman killed 26 people in a Texas church. "People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say." The phrase "thoughts and prayers" has become a beacon for public shaming in the days following mass shootings, identified by critics as an easy way for politicians to act sympathetic without pushing for any real solutions. Exhibit A: Paul Ryan's tweets after a gunman killed 26 people in a Texas church. When Ingraham pointed to the tweets and called them the "reaction in the celebrity world to your call for prayers" (ignoring the hundreds of regular people with the same response), Ryan defended himself by doubling down. Instead ignoring the furious reaction or saying that prayers would only be his initial response before working on prevention, the Speaker of the House instead defended his tweet with a condescending monologue, "t’s disappointing, it’s sad, and this is what you’ll get from the far secular left. People who do not have faith don’t understand faith, I guess I’d have to say. And it is the right thing to do is to pray in moments like this, because you know what? Prayer works. And I know you believe that, and I believe that and when you hear the secular left doing this thing, it’s no wonder you have so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that. It is the right thing to do is pray in moments like this, because you know what? Prayer works." If saying "thoughts and prayers" gets you publicly shamed on Twitter, then saying that "prayer works" gets you publicly eviscerated. The response was definitely not limited to furious celebrities this time. Paul Ryan: pray-er of the House.
Back in August, the owner of the Texas-based restaurant Dodie's Place Cajun Bar & Grill placed large scale transition photos of Caitlyn Jenner on the doors to the men's and women's bathrooms. While the photos have been up for months, it wasn't until a few days ago when the "Dallas Morning News" reporter Dom DiFurio disapprovingly shared a photo of the bathrooms on Twitter, that the Texas restaurant started facing backlash for transphobia. As if to dispel any possible doubt about the intentions of this decision, an August Facebook post from Dodie's Place Cajun Bar & Grill encouraged customers to "come meet our newest members of the Dodie's crew" in reference to the pre and post-transition photos. The women's bathroom features the "Vanity Fair" cover of Jenner, while the men's bathroom shows the former athlete at the 1976 Summer Olympics... years before coming out.
Sadly, a lot of people on the restaurant's Facebook rushed to defend the decision with claims that "it was just a joke." Still, many people on Facebook and Twitter expressed their disgust at the transphobia, with some pledging to boycott the restaurant. As one Twitter user wrote, "it's only a joke if you consider 'transgender people exist' as a punchline." In response to the backlash, the owner posted a full statement on the restaurant's Facebook page, it's less of an apology and more of a justification...
Hmm. While it may have been intended as a joke, making a trans person's transition a punchline is a deeply hack and unfunny move at best. At worst, it's another way cis people assert how comfortable they are mocking and questioning the life experiences of trans people. It's also notable that the restaurant is using Jenner's photos to designate bathrooms while politicians are actively trying to strip trans people of their rights to use the bathroom. This feels like yet another way to poke fun of the very real and often painful process of coming out. What do you think?
Hey! There's an app that tells you when McDonalds' ice cream machines are working. Fucking finally. There a few constants in this gorgeous mess we call life: death, taxes, and the fact that McDonald's ice cream machines are somehow always busted. Even with this disappointing truth firmly in tact, we persist by always acting surprised when we can't fulfill our ice cream wishes. Luckily for us and our dessert cravings, a brilliant woman named Raina Mcleod took matters into her own hands and designed the app called Ice Check. This is possibly the only good, pure invention to come out of 2017. I dare you to fight me on that. Now, we can spare ourselves a fruitless (or vanilla-less) trip to McDonalds by checking the app first. So, you must be wondering: how does this magic psychic dessert app work?! Well, first of all, it has you enter your address so you can spot the closest McDonalds locations. Once the closest McDonalds pop up on the screen, they'll show grey or pink icons. The pink icons mean that McDonalds is overflowing in delicious ice cream to put in your mouth. The grey icon means their machine is broken... much like humanity without ice cream. And if you arrive at a McDonalds and the machine is UNEXPECTEDLY broken?! Well, you can be the Good Samaritan and change the status to "off" (aka grey) on your own. This app truly provides an example of our country coming together to fight for what's right. It's going to be a total game-changer for our McFlurry cravings. Especially since McDonalds has been breaking our hearts with their wonky machines for YEARS. I'm just so relieved this national problem has finally received some much needed closure.
So, people in Florida sure try to get away with getting crazy shit on their license plates.
Haha. Hey, parents, I hope you don't get a note like this from your kids teacher...
Gabby has a serious problem... brie cheese rocks. So, I was trying to Google "button hole" and instead Googled "butt hole" and this is what I got...
That's so stupid... that's as stupid as...
Oh, man... that's so dumb. Hey, did you see the new slogan for "Fox And Friends"? No? Well, I have it here...
Haha. So, if I had a TARDIS I would like to go back in time to one of the first Olympics. But knowing my luck I'll end up on the Hindenburg over the 1936 Olympics. At least it didn't crash then.
So, Melania Trump tried calligraphy during the Trumps' trip to Japan... I think she did pretty well.
I have no idea what that is but she looks proud. So, my son and I were talking about when he used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. That show sure has changed over the years.
After having finally found the Pakistani child snuff porn he had forgotten the name of after three frustrating weeks, Ernie goes hands free and fills the bathtub with his unadulterated white ecstasy.
Ha. This one might be as obvious. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Alright, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.
Me: Hey, Jeff, how are you? How are you doing?
Jeff: Always good to be back here on the Phile!
Me: So, what do you think of Browns' WR Josh Gordon admitting he was on drugs during probably every game of his career? During an interview with "GQ," he opened up about his struggles with drugs, saying that “he’s had something in his system for ‘probably every game of his career.” When you play for the Browns, can you really blame the guy?
Jeff: Yeah, I saw the reports of what Gordon did. It's amazing that he didn't go out and hurt somebody or himself. There's a fine line of self control and self abuse. He probably snorted that line. And I would hope that you'd get that song lyric reference!
Me: Barenaked Ladies' "Alcohol." Ha! So, another story you might of saw was Bucs WR Mike Evans suspended for laying out a Saints player and punching him. He was only suspended for one hame though... are you surprised? Should he be suspended for more?
Jeff: Mike Evans wasn't the only one who got the NFL and the WWE mixed up this week. WR AJ Green got shoved and then grabbed the guy by the neck, tossed him to the ground and began punching him in the head. The guy he was punching? Yeah, he still had his helmet on. That's probably not the wisest decision someone can make. I think both should have gotten multiple game suspensions.
Me: I thought this was funny... the Eagles scored so many times against the Broncos, they ran out of celebratory fireworks. That's crazy, right?
Jeff: Hahahaha. I was watching that game on TV. It got so bad the network switched the game "to something a little bit more competitive." You don't see teams running out of fireworks too often. Maybe Disney should help them with that since they have a lifetime supply of fireworks...
Me: So... the Giants won... the coin toss. They are doing really bad this year, aren't they? What can they do to save themselves? Nothing I don't think.
Jeff: This season is a big ol jumbled failure for the Giants. There is talk of putting in all back ups just to give them a chance to play, including benching Eli Manning. I do believe he has the longest active streak of games started for QBs so I honestly don't know how I feel about that.
Me: I hope not. Alright, so, how did we do last week, Jeff?
Jeff: Could this be the turning point? You went 2-0 last week! I went 1-1. So you gained on me! The Steelers had a bye week while the Giants won (a coin toss). So as it stands the I lead 26-13. But like I said, a lot of those points are Steeler points. They have 5 more wins then the Giants do all season, so if we were going just by predictions it would be 21-12. But we're not.
Me: No. Sad face. Okay, before we do this week's picks another team was taken over by Disney...
Me: I like it... do you?
Jeff: The Browns are going to Never Never Going to Win Land!
Me: Hahaha. Okay, let's pick this week's picks, Jeff. I say Redskins by 2 and Falcons by 4. What do you say?
Jeff: My picks are Jaguars by 5 and Lions by 10.
Me: Okay, I'll see you back here next Thursday. Have a good week.
Jeff: See you next week!
Phact 1: In 1903, after camping with John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt established Yosemite as a national park to preserve its “majestic beauty all unmarred.” As President, Teddy signed into existence four other national parks, 18 national monuments, 55 national bird and wildlife refuges, and 150 national forests.
Phact 2: In 1919, William Little, an African American soldier who fought in World War I, was lynched because he refused to take off his uniform when he got back home to Blakey, Georgia.
Phact 3: Pulp Fiction was originally rejected by TriStar, with them saying “This is the worst thing ever written. It makes no sense. Someone’s dead and then they’re alive. It’s too long, violent, and unfilmable.”
Phact 4: Albert Göring, the younger brother of the head of Luftwaffe Hermann Göring, helped many Jews and dissidents survive in Germany by forging his brother’s signature and falsifying transit documents.
Phact 5: JFK had a younger sister, Rosemary, who received a lobotomy which made her unable to walk or speak. This was his and his brother’s main motivation for all they did for individuals with special needs.
The 69th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Phile Alum and author will be the guest on the Phile next Thursday.
Today's guest is one of my favorite Phile Alum ever. She's the lead singer for the band 3 Kisses whose latest CD "Read 'Em & Weep" is available now on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Tish Meeks!
Me: Tish!!! Welcome back to the Phile! How are you?
Tish: I’m doing great, Jason. How are you?
Me: I'm okay. Last time you were here you had the band with you. You have the same members still, right?
Tish: Currently, the band is transitioning. I am going to be leaving Alaska next year, so many changes are in the air. I am going to be doing some writing over the next few months, but there is no official line-up, at the moment. Zach Adams is staying on bass and we plan to collaborate with former 3 Kisses lead guitarist, Nate Lankford. He was my co-writer on the “All or Nothing Hero” and “Cardboard Cutouts” albums. We’ve had such success with licensing songs from those albums, my producer, Eric LaBrosse, suggested we write some more tunes together before I move.
Me: How long has the current band been together now, Tish?
Tish: The last line-up was together for 3 years, with the exception of Zach. He joined about a year ago.
Me: Okay, so, I have to mention this, when I first interviewed you, you were living in Houston... I believe that was nine years ago. Man, where does time fucking go? Anyway, you're now in Alaska... do you like living there still? Why are you moving?
Tish: I was living in Brenham, Texas, midway between Houston and Austin. I launched the band in Austin, but we played all over in Texas. Dude, I have no idea where the time goes. I am now up to 10 albums with numerous collaborators over the years. Alaska has changed a great deal since I moved here, and not for the better. Aside from the bitter winters, crime and vigilante justice are growing more severe by the day. I moved here to raise my kids near my family, which has been wonderful. I will miss them and the friends I’ve made here, but most of it I won’t miss. I’m very much looking forward to the next chapter of my life.
Me: Houston got hit recently by Hurricane Harvey... a lot of your friends who live there who I have interviewed still live there. Have you heard from any of them?
Tish: I have been keeping in close contact with my Houston area friends and family. I actually just spoke with Madalyn Sklar, who ran the GoGirls Music organization for 20 years. The city is devastated. I have several friends who have suffered flooding and water damage, but all of my people are safe. That’s the only thing that matters. Material things can be replaced, even though it is still an emotional loss for them.
Me: When was the last time you were in Houston, Tish?
Tish: 3 Kisses performed at 19th Hole in Houston just this past March with Chaotic Justice and The Smashed Idols. We were in Texas for SXSW and we also hit Houston and San Antonio, in addition to playing Heart of Texas Rockfest and the Music Gorilla Showcase during SXSW.
Me: You did some traveling this summer, right? But you were supposed to do a tour... are you upset that 3 Kisses didn't tour?
Tish: I did do some traveling this summer. I spent 5 weeks in the Lower 48. Crushed, devastated, deflated... doesn’t even come close to how upset I am that the tour had to be cancelled.
Me: Where did you travel to and was it for fun or business?
Tish: I spent 3 and a half weeks in the Milwaukee area with my producer and close friend, Eric LaBrosse. I also spent a week and a half in Nashville with a dear friend and her family. The trips were both business and pleasure. I checked out school districts in both locations, but much fun was had, as well. Eric is like a brother to me and he is a major positive influence in my life. I went to spend time with mostly because I needed to decompress. Anytime I am with him, it is a healing experience.
Me: Where is your favorite place you went to? I saw this pic of you standing in a stream... where was that? Was that fun?
Tish: Hard to pick a favorite, we did so many fun things. In Wisconsin. We went to The Dells, Summerfest multiple times, had wings and drank local beer, sampled a ton of cheese, went to two 4th of July parades and fireworks shows, checked out some local live music, went to Bastille Days... it was all wonderful. In the Nashville area, I went to the Bell Witch Cave... creepy and cool, Lynchburg and toured the Jack Daniels distillery, went downtown and checked out some live music. Did you know that the Jack Daniels now has permission to serve samples of their whiskey, even though they are in a dry county? You get 15 minutes in the tasting room, not a minute more. The samples are small, but you get to sample some of their finest whiskey. The entire trip was full of great experiences. The picture you speak of was taken at Montgomery Bell State Park. It was a hot Tennessee day and I expected the water to be cool... but it was like bath water!
Me: Nice! So, I always ask about your kids. How are they doing? They are young adults now, right?
Tish: Thank you for always asking about my kids, Jason. They are my heartbeat. They are indeed young adults and both doing fantastic. Benji will be graduating with his Associates degree in May, then he and his girlfriend will be off to Germany to continue their education there. Hannah just turned 16 and she will finish high school by Christmas, if not before. She is doing a home school program through one of our local schools and it has allowed her to get quite far ahead. She and her boyfriend will be going with me when I move.
Me: Wow! Is Benji still DJing? Are any of your kids getting really into music, playing instruments?
Tish: Benji is still DJing and composing EDM. He has also picked up acoustic guitar and has become quite good. Hannah picked up ukulele and she is also quite good. Plus, she sings and has the voice of an angel. Benji dabbles at ukulele, too. Sometimes, we all just set around and play together. Beatles songs are a favorite of ours to play.
Me: I love that! Okay, let's talk about your music... I love the new CD "Read 'Em & Weep." Where did that title come from?
Tish: Thank you, Jason. I’m so happy you like it. The title came from a line in the song “Dead Man’s Hand.” It spoke to all of us and was a unanimous decision for the album title. There was little discussion... it just felt right.
Me: It's talking about cards, right? Do you play cards, Tish?
Tish: It’s a metaphor about cards. Funny you should ask. I did play blackjack for the first time while I was on vacation. Not much of a gambler, myself, but it was fun. Winning is always fun, though, isn’t it?
Me: Yep. Did you do all the songwriting yourself, Tish, or did the band help?
Tish: Songwriting is very much a collaborative effort. I do write all the lyrics and melody and always have. But the guitars, bass and drums breathe life into those lyrics and melodies.
Me: I love how your songs are almost stories... do you like coming up with stories in your head?
Tish: Most of my songs are about real-life experiences, either my own or those I observe in people I know. I am not a true writer of stories, I wouldn’t say. A lot of my song ideas come to me all at once in a flood of words and poetry.
Me: I bet you can write a really good novel. Ever tried writing like that?
Tish: I am working on an autobiography. Writing a really good novel would be quite the undertaking. I’m not saying it’s out of the question. Nothing creative is out of the question. I expect my life to look a lot differently in the next few years. Having an empty nest will be a huge change. I’m sure I will keep myself occupied with all sorts of endeavors.
Me: I'll visit you wherever you move to. So, when you write what comes first, music or lyrics?
Tish: Yes. LOL. It never works the same way twice. Sometimes it is the music, sometimes it is the lyrics.
Me: It seems that you do more singing and less guitar playing in the pics and videos I saw... is that true?
Tish: That has been the case, recently, but you can expect more guitar playing in the future.
Me: I love the song "Dead Man's Hand," Tish. You sing really fast on that song... is that hard to do?
Tish: It is challenging to sing fast. I do this to myself often. “Dead Man’s Hand” is not the only song I have that I push my limits on getting in all the words. I suppose it is one of my trademarks. Cool that you dig the tune. I like it a lot, too.
Me: There's not one slow song on the album. It rocks all the way through. You're not into writing slow songs, are you?
Tish: I’ve written my share of slow songs, but no... it is not really my thing. I like writing high-energy aggressive songs that tap into deep emotions. Not that slow songs don’t do that, but it just isn’t my way.
Me: I also love the song "Goodbye Home." That's an autobiographical song I take it... am I right?
Tish: You are correct. I wrote the lyrics for that song on the airplane when I moved to Alaska. I don’t think a lot of people realize that I did not want to leave my home, I did not want to leave Texas. It was emotional and terrifying to move to a remote, wintery place and leave all that I loved behind. I did it for my kids. No more, no less. It is an intensely emotional song.
Me: I watched the video for "Kill Shack." That's scary... do you like scary stuff?
Tish: I am a huge fan of horror. I started watching horror movies and reading guys like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker in my teens. Pretty much nothing can scare me. I’ve been delving into some of the extreme shock horror lately and it leaves me unshaken. I think I’ve been through so much actual horror in real life that fiction, no matter how evil or perverse can come close to some of my experiences. I still quest for terrifying fiction, though. I dare you to scare me!
Me: Who came up with the concept for it?
Tish: A few summers ago, we played a show on a floating dock in the middle of Big Lake, Alaska. As we were traveling from shore to the middle of the lake, we passed a dilapidated old shack. It was creepy and ominous. I said to one of my band mates, we should write a song called "Kill Shack" about a serial killer. We decided to make the killer a woman. Let it be known, this is one song not based on my personal experiences. haha.
Me: Were they friends of yours in it?
Tish: They were actors hired by the director.
Me: That's a cool effect, the beheaded head... is that the right wording? Hahaha. Anyway, was the head made especially for the video? I have to show it here...
Tish: That is Greg’s actual head. We did not have a head made... it is all in the magic of outstanding filming and directing.
Me: I love the album cover... who designed it, Tish? Does the skeleton have a name? He should be the 3 Kisses mascot... if he isn't already.
Tish: Drew (former lead guitar) is also an artist. He designed the album cover. The skeleton doesn’t have a name, yet, but I am definitely keeping him on as the 3 Kisses mascot. I’m glad you think that is a good decision!
Me: So, any new tattoos since you were here last?
Tish: Oh, jeez. I’m sure there are a few. I have so many now, I’ve lost track of when I got what. My right sleeve is almost finished, other than fill-in work. Beginning to add to the left one.
Me: Tish, thanks for being back on the Phile. Mention your website and I hope to have you back here soon again. I am sure you're working on the next CD, am I right?
Tish: Rock on. Thanks so much for having me, Jason. You have been ever so kind all these years. Always a joy to participate in the Phile. Our official website is 3kisses.com, and of course you can find us anywhere and everywhere else from there. I do have a couple of completed songs and there will certainly be more to come in the next few months. I will never stop writing music as long as I live.
Me: Great! I'll have you back here soon. Good luck with your move.
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and of course Tish Meeks. The Phile will be back on Monday with singer Declan McKenna. 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