Thursday, November 15, 2018

Pheaturing Jake Bugg

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? On Monday, the man responsible for the Marvel Universe... Stan Lee, passed away at the age of 95. Lee's wide-spanning cultural influence all started in 1961, when he and Jack Kirby birthed Marvel with the Fantastic Four. Following that initial success, Lee went on to create Spider-Man, Black Panther, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man and the Avengers, all of which have become freshly relevant following the recent movie adaptations. In the wake of his passing, comic book fans, movie lovers, celebrities and collaborators alike have been posting tributes to Lee's legacy. From 1965 up until 2001 Lee wrote a monthly column called Stan's Soapbox in Marvel Comics. In 1968 he penned an essay about the evils of racism, one that sadly still resounds. That essay has resurfaced and gone viral in the wake of his death. The essay points out the ways racism and bigotry strip everyone of their humanity, and stop us from reaching our human potential. Here it is...

People have been pointing out just how relevant Lee's words remain to our current political climate. RIP, Stan Lee, you were a man with true vision.
Upon hearing the news of Stan Lee's passing, countless fans and celebrities took to social media to share their memories of Lee and their condolences. However, actor Armie Hammer took issue with the way that some celebrities were grieving, and called them out in a very strange way, He tweeted, "So touched by all of the celebrities posting pictures of themselves with Stan Lee... no better way to commemorate an absolute legend than putting up a picture of yourself." Armie, who hurt you? Are you just salty you don't have your own photo to tweet? Sharing a happy memory with a friend or an idol who has passed isn't making their death about you... it's showing gratitude for how they influenced your life. Is Armie's entire Twitter feed clogged with celebrities posting lingerie-clad thirst trap selfies and then writing "RIP Stan Lee?" Because maybe in that case, it would be selfish and disrespectful. Better luck next time, Armie. Growth is a journey.
Fox News loves a good boogeywoman, whether it's Hillary Clinton ("But her emails!"), Nancy Pelosi ("Why can't the woman just be quiet?"), and now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ("Her youth and vitality remind us of our own mortality and why isn't she rich and out-of-touch like the rest of Congress!!!!"). In trying to get their viewers to be terrified of Congresswoman-elect Ocasio-Cortez, the president's favorite "news" network keeps cutting solid commercials for her. Back in June, moldy potato Sean Hannity tried to spook his catheter-bound audience by presenting her platform, which featured such terrifying initiatives as "women's rights" and "support seniors." Now that Democrats have officially taken back the House of Representatives in a slow-but-sure blue wave, Fox News wants you to be afraid (very afraid) of the people of color joining the old boy's club. In a segment on her show called "The Freshman Insurrection," blow-dried bigot Laura Ingraham ranted about recently elected progressive women of color: Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. The women of color are coming! Like a sorority president terrified of being outshined by new pledges, Ingraham called the lawmakers "radical," blasting this terrifying graphic on your grandparents' screens. Here it is...

Did Fox News make this or did the Democratic Socialists? Is that... bad? Progressives on Twitter dragged Fox News for trying to make things like caring about the environment, getting rid of the Gestapo, and universal health care seem dangerous. Rep.-elect Ocasio-Cortez chimed in, mocking the network for uncovering the "vast conspiracy" to promote things like education, healthcare, immigration justice, and environmental justice. Sacre bleu! Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump and I assume (based on his face) Count von Count, is hawking Trump-branded Christmas ornaments for people with $60 to spend on a golden mini golf bag.

The featured ornaments each have a special meaning in the Trump presidency. There's the Trump helicopter, which won't fly to honor World War I veterans in the rain; Manhattan's Trump Tower, where taxpayers spent $100,000 to protect Melania before she moved to DC; and a golden golf bag in honor of the president's passion. If golf bags aren't your thing, there are other ways to keep the first family in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.'Tis the season to be jolly! MAGAlalalala la la la la. 
In 1966, America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a landmark study that said a gun in the home does not make everyone safer. This study contradicted one of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) major talking points, so it successfully lobbied to ban the CDC from researching the public health effects of gun violence. The ban is still in effect to this day. On October 30th, Annals of Internal Medicine released a report by members of the American College of Physicians that stated, “Firearm violence continues to be a public health crisis in the United States that requires the nation’s immediate attention.” The NRA responded to the report with a tweet that pushed back against the 154,000-member strong doctors’ group, telling them to “stay in their lane.” Healthcare workers responded with countless tweets of bloody ER rooms and gunshot wounds under #stayinmylane and #thisismylane proving they’re not only qualified to talk about gun violence, but they’re on the front lines of the epidemic. In the next few weeks I'll be showing some of the pics here on the Phile. Here's the first...

Do you like Channing Tatum? Well, he made another one of those "Jump Street" movies. Here's the poster...

Can't believe they are up to 28. You know sometimes people get their assses saved by a total stranger. Not all humans are the worst. Like this baby singing on a plane, and gaining a fan.

Awe. I love dogs but some dogs could be such jerks... like this one for example...

"Oh, heyyyyy." Haha. If I had a TARDIS I would like to go back to 1884 and see the construction of the Statue of Liberty...

But it's in Paris. Hahaha. So, maybe not. Looks cool though, right? So, I mentioned Fox News is getting dragged for accidentally making the "Radical Democrat Agenda" sound amazing. Well, look what they did...

Hahahaha. That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Hahahaha. That made me laugh. It's Thursday... you know what that means, right?

Fuck! I think I'm gonna be sick and throw up the Panda Express I had for dinner. Moving on... it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

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

Jeff: Hey, Jason. Always good to be back here on the Phile. Before we get started, I just want to say I'm bummed about the passing of Stan Lee. I have comic books as old (if not older) than I am. And they have are all because of Stan Lee. For a man who didn't want to get into comic books, he had a huge impact not only in the world of comic books but in the world in general. He lived a great life and he will be missed.

Me: I concur. Well said. So, there's a rumor that Jordy Nelson may retire from NFL after suffering through nine games with the Raiders. Do you think it'll happen?

Jeff: I hadn't heard that but I wouldn't be surprised if he did retire. Nelson has had a good career. He got to play with one of the best QBs of our time, Aaron Rodgers. I don't think he wanted to leave Green Bay, but I know he didn't want to play for a team as bad as the Raiders are right now. He deserves to go out on top.

Me: Did you see or hear about this...

Me: Ezekiel Elliott hurdled clear over the Eagles defender during a huge run. That's fucking crazy, right?

Jeff: Every once in a while you see a guy with serious jumps like that! That's impressive.

Me: What NFL news do you have?

Jeff: The biggest news is the Saints did sign WR Dez Bryant. Two days later he injured himself for the season. And thanks to the great week of Matt Barkley, the fans of the Bills got their wish. The team released QB Nathan Peterman. Yet he still threw four interceptions today alone!

Me: Usually about this time of the season I ask you who has good chance to make it to the Super Bowl. So, who do you think?

Jeff: It's hard to pick against the Chiefs making it out of the AFC. The Saints are destroying everyone in the NFC. But the Rams are just as powerful, so honestly it most likely is one of those two NFC teams.

Me: That is fair to say. Britain has taken over another team, Jeff...

Me: What do you think? I love the name... hahahaha.

Jeff: The Steelers made them look like Posh... nevermind.

Me: Ha! Okay, so, how did we do last week? Am I in the lead again? Please say yes.

Jeff: We both went 1-1 last week. The Steelers won. And I'll be damned, the Giants won. So I maintain my 2 point lead over you!

Me: Shit. Okay, let's pick this weeks teams... I say Redskins by 5 and Falcons by 4. What do you say?

Jeff: My picks for the week are Panthers by 6 and Chargers 4.

Me: Okay, so, next Thursday is Thanksgiving so there's gonna be no Phile that day but next Friday is my birthday and a birthday entry for my 50th so I will see you here then. Have a great Thanksgiving. See you hear next Friday.

Jeff: See you for your birthday celebration!

Haha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Another friend of the Phile has something to say about the passing of Stan Lee. It's time for...

Let's... sigh... talk about it... A Legends Passing. Legends never die. Legends stand the test of time regardless of what happens in the present and most importantly a LEGEND is defined by what they left behind and that will shape plus alter the course of history. Stan Lee was that VERY individual that was a man of imagination that compared to likes Walt himself. A lot of Stan Lee's work will go down as not just a work of art but a separate universe that we all know and love 'til this day and his idea of what a superhero was that's so pure that it stay's with me to this very day. For example, Peter Parker was just a average guy like me or you that suddenly had his life change once he was bit by the radioactive spider and yet... he still lived his life with just as many real world problems like the rest of us but with superhero powers included. He was the very embodiment of who we all wanted to be as a child. Or how about the X-Men and how the story was all meant about race and segregation that TO THIS VERY DAY still exist. Or Fantastic Four that taught us the meaning of family. This and so many of his work has inspired me and it's still to this very day hits me in my very core that he's out doing another adventure. He lived a long life and though I never knew him I can at least say this one thing that is true to me. Stan gave me a childhood I was proud of and for that I'm grateful for just being able to be surround by his amazing work he left behind. So one last time... Rest easy, sir! Excelsior!

You don't have to be British to laugh at this meme but it'll help...

Hahahahahahahahahaha. Now for some sad news...

Roy Clark 
April 15th, 1933 — November 15th, 2018
The options are apparently "take me as I am"or "let me go." Looks like option B.

Katherine MacGregor
January 12th, 1925 — November 13th, 2018
She skipped the series finale of "Little House on the Prairie" to go on a pilgrimage to India. That's probably why you don't remember her.

Stan Lee 
December 28th, 1922 — November 12th, 2018

From the guys who brought you "Leaving Jews out of Holocaust Remembrance Day" and "Iftar without Muslims" it's... Diwali without Hindus! The nation's best and brightest serving the country at the White House managed to screw up the official tweets about the president's Diwali celebration. It's an impressive feat, considering the fact that even MICHAEL SCOTT knows what Diwali is. Trump left out Hindus from his Diwali tweet, which is like describing "The Office" without Steve Carell (which yes, was really bad). People noticed. Trump is also a week late with his celebrations, as Diwali was celebrated on November 7th. He was also likely pissed to learn that Diwali isn't about de wall or Wall-E. While Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains do celebrate Diwali, it is primarily known as a Hindu holiday. Almost two billion Hindus around the world celebrate the holiday, and according to Pew, more than two million of them are in the United States. The president deleted the tweet... only to make the same mistake again. Alas, on his third try, the president finally acknowledged Hindus' role in the Hindu Festival of Lights. I know it's a lot to ask, but maybe the next president can get the $100 "Jeopardy" question correctly? Happy (belated) Diwali to all the Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and yes... Hindus!

Haha. I couldn't resist. The last entry I had a lawyer come on the Phile from a local law firm. Well, one of his partners wanted to come on to the Phile today and say something. So, please welcome to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Sid, how are you doing?

Sid: Not bad, Jay, you?

Me: Not bad. So, what do you have to say?

Sid: I have to let something off my chest... A friend of mine in high school worked at a pizza place. One of the delivery drivers was just ridiculously smart when I talked to him. Later I found out that he use to be a nuclear physicist. His wife was also a nuclear physicist, but left him for me

Me: Oh, man. What happened to the guy?

Sid: Well, he got screwed out of his kids, most of the assets, and had to pay a lot towards alimony/child support. He did the math, and figured out the tips he didn't get taxed on plus his minimum wage delivering pizza was more than keeping his job as a nuclear physicist. Plus he got a little satisfaction not having to pay her as much. The guy was really nice. I always felt bad for him.

Me: Well, that's nice of you, Sid.

Sid: Yeah, but when I order pizza I never tip the poor bastard. Have a good night, Jay.

Me: You too. I'm confused about that story. Haha. Sid Suetha from the law firm Suetha, Buggerz & Wynn, kids.

The 90th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Yoo-hoo! The great William Shatner will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks. Really. Now for some...

Phact 1. There was a second Fukushima nuclear power plant, 10km to the south, that suffered the same crippling tsunami damage, but was saved from meltdown by a capable leader and heroic staff.

Phact 2. There is a cathedral in Poland with “dragon bones” hanging outside.

Phact 3. There are about two million saunas in Finland, enough for the entire Finnish population to take a sauna at the same time.

Phact 4. The island of Vakkaru in the Maldives consists almost entirely of fish poo.

Phact 5. In 2011, Norway went through a nationwide butter shortage, where smugglers would often get caught smuggling butter and online auctions for one packet of butter reached as high as seventy-seven dollars.

Today's pheatured guest is an English musician, singer, and songwriter. His latest album "Hearts That Strain" is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Please welcome to the Phile... Jake Bugg.

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

Jake: Cheers, man, thank you.

Me: So, you're from England, what part?

Jake: Nottingham, I grew up on a council estate.

Me: You seem so young, Jake, how old are you?

Jake: I was born in 1984, so I'm not that young.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new CD "Hearts That Stain." I really like this CD. I love the song "How Soon the Dawn" which opened the album. That's a great song to open the album with, don't you agree?

Jake: There's a few dark moments on the album compared to it but it's still got the same sound in terms of production and music in playing and stuff, so yeah, it's a good way in opening the album I think.

Me: You have been compared to James Taylor and the Laurel Canyon vibe, Jake, what do you think of that comparison?

Jake: Yeah, a lot of people have said that. I take that as a compliment. I'll take that all day long for sure.

Me: When you were writing the album were you thinking about the comparisons?

Jake: Not really, no. I don't think about what I'm gonna write, I just tend to pick up the guitar and go for it really and see what comes out.

Me: You wrote that song with Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys, am I right?

Jake: Yeah, and Matt Sweeney as well. It's cool because I already met Dan before, we toured with him in America and few years ago so it was pretty easy to go into the studio with someone I already met.

Me: Who are your influences, Jake?

Jake: Glen Campbell... rest his soul. He's probably one of my favourite wrier and singers.

Me: That's cool. "Southern Rain" sounds like a song that Glen could have sang, that's a very countryish song. Was that one of the first songs you wrote for this album?

Jake: That song was the very last song we wrote for the album. We had ten tracks and I thought if we get another one in the same vein then we are there. I just wrote that one in my flat in London and Matt Sweeney kept telling me, "We need another song, we need another song." I was like, "Shut up, I got this one that I wrote the other day." He said, "Why didn't you tell me?" We recorded it the next day and it's one of my favourite songs on the record.

Me: Did you write most of the songs before you went to Nashville?

Jake: Most of them. I would write them home in my flat, go record in Nashville for a week, go back home, do it again. It was quite a nice way of working really. I wasn't trapped in the same place and far away from everyone.

Me: Was it hard to write in a flat? I'm sure you had other people around listening.

Jake: I couldn't be too loud because I'll keep the neighbours up. A lot of the songs are written in the lower range for me which is more comfortable to sing and its nice to have a lazy vibe.

Me: I think this is pretty cool, Jake, the Memphis Boys play on the album. What the fuck? Haha. Tell the readers who these people are.

Jake: Yeah, like Gene Chrisman and Bobby Wood who played with Aretha Franklin and Elvis and Dusty Springfield. It's not bad, is it? It's pretty amazing being in the studio with that caliber of musicians. I feel like for me it's an amazing experience because I was learning about something I really love which is pretty cool.

Me: Is it true about Nashville musicians they just clock in and clock out?

Jake: Yeah, and it is nine to five. I like that though. It's not like that for me but it's a good balance I think. 

Me: You do a duet on "Waiting" with someone named Noah Cyrus. How did that happen?

Jake: Well, we already recorded the song and then when I went back home to write some more the producer, David Ferguson, played it to Billy Ray Cyrus because he's a friend of his and he got Noah to sing on it. I didn't hear it until I got back and when I heard the result I thought it was pretty cool. I was like, "Can you not sing the whole song?" I think it was really nice of me as a writer to write something for somebody with more of a pop background to sing and for it to sound not too far out of place. I was really happy with that.

Me: I was surprised with the sax solo in the song, Jake. Was that your idea?

Jake: It wasn't my idea, it was my producer's idea. It was a big show. It was risky, there were a few looks around the room but it worked. I felt all the parts were the right ones, and a little tasteful. It's nice to drag those elements that I wouldn't normally enter in music. As long as it's not in every song and has taken over the tune I think it's alright.

Me: I love the song "In the Event of My Demise." I think I want that song to be played at my funeral. What is that song about, Jake?

Jake: That was written with Dan and Matt again, and that's a song with a dark thing about it. There's some guy on his death bed and these people around him want what's coming to them after he's gone. When we were writing it it was the line "the darker the line the louder the laugh" really was a pretty wonderful line to write.

Me: Do you write on guitar or piano, Jake?

Jake: I wrote "The Man On Stage" on the piano. I only know about four chords, but lucky they are in the same key. I didn't play piano on the record because I had Bobby Wood, so obviously I let him. He would ask, "Is it something like this?" "Yeah, that's it." Hahaha.

Me: When I write a song I start off with a title or a cool phrase. How do you start?

Jake: With "Waiting" that was with the lyric, I started singing the song, hunting around for the melody. Sometimes I will find a word and base it around that or sometimes I might have the melody but the words I'm singing inside the melody is too cliche. It'll be a task to find the thing that is different but hooky at the same time.

Me: I love the guitars you play. What are they?

Jake: A Martin from the 40s and a Robert Johnson signature which is not the best guitar in the world but it's really small and its got that bluesy sound. On the recording I bought a 1930s Martin in Nashville and I used that for all the recording on this record.

Me: You worked with Rick Rubin. My dad and was supposed to work with him but it never happened. What was that like?

Jake: He's like a song guru. I came up with a song and he's like, "You need to finish that tonight." That was it, that's all I get so I had to make sure its finished now or he's not gonna want to record any more. Rick was really cool, I had an amazing time working with him. I've been very lucky to work with the people I have done and I feel I learnt a bit because of it as well.

Me: What is your best Rick Rubin story?

Jake: He locked me in his house once. I went to play him some songs on the guitar and he just turned around and said, "Alright, I'm off for dinner." He closed the door behind him and turned his Spotify off as well. I think he somehow forced me to write a song in house because I had no other choice, I wasn't going to be picked up for a few hours. He gone out for dinner and I thought this is not weird at all. I was with my guitar and I think he did it on purpose, I think he knew what he was doing. I wasn't even doing that recored with him, that's what I didn't get. Haha.

Me: Has your songwriting changed since your first album a few years ago to this new album?

Jake: Yeah, it something that is gonna happen naturally because I'm not experiencing the same things I was when writing that first record. It's always gonna be difficult to relate to that life and I know that probably a lot of people probably want that still. If I did that now I'd be lying to them, to myself so I have to write about what is happening. Sometimes I write about stories as well, things that are relevance to myself because that's something exciting about music, is it takes you on a bit of a journey where its a form of escapism definitely for me. I like to use my imagination when writing as well.

Me: How old were you when you started playing guitar, Jake?

Jake: Twelve-years-old. It was all football before then really. That all went out the window when I picked up the guitar. My uncle brought it around for me and I just fell in love with it straight away. I couldn't put it down to be honest.

Me: How old were you when you started writing?

Jake: About fourteen, all the music I loved by then was by all these guys who were doing it for a living writing songs so I realised that what I had to do. Then I started gigging right after that.

Me: Back to the album before you go, why did "Hearts That Strain" get to be the album title?

Jake: To be honest I couldn't think of anything else. I was being lazy and it's always the hardest thing to do. I needed to find the title that is going to be the definition of every song on the album really.

Me: That's cool. Jake, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Continued success and please come back soon.

Jake: Thanks, Jason, thanks very much.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz, Cadence Hall and of course Jake Bugg. The Phile will be back Sunday from Clermont Comic Con once again. The guest will be legendary actor Ed Asner. 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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Pheaturing Mavis Staples

Hello, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Happy Veteran's Day to all who could never be replaced by a drone. Last week in politics saw the Democrats winning the House (House party, anyone?), Trump firing his Attorney General and placing a hot tub salesman in charge of the Mueller investigation, and another mass shooting that killed twelve people. If you were thinking, "Hey, the one thing this week is missing is a report that President Trump was heavily involved in the criminal conspiracy covering up his affairs with porn stars," then do I have the report for you! The Wall Street Journal just broke the news that Trump directed the payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, the campaign finance violation Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to in federal court. WSJ reports that in 2015, Trump met with his friend David Pecker... owner of The National Enquirer... and arranged for Pecker to buy women's silence by purchasing the "exclusive rights" to their stories. The Journal says that that meeting is just one of many instances in which the president was directly involved in suppressing news that wouldn't jive with his new evangelical alliance. This is yet another controversial Trump Tower meeting that Trump and is team have lied about. They also raise the possibility that the president of the United States violated federal campaign-finance laws.Oh, and LORDY, there are tapes! "Mr. Cohen, who complained to associates about Mr. Trump’s frugality, was also worried his boss would balk at reimbursing Mr. Pecker. He secretly recorded Mr. Trump discussing the deal," the Journal writes. The key fact here is that Trump allegedly told Pecker and Cohen to "get it done," and keep Stormy and McDougal quiet, and doing it for the purpose of helping his campaign. Pecker is said to have "researched campaign-finance laws before entering into the McDougal deal," which sure seems like some sort of consciousness of guilt. While we're mostly desensitized to Trump controversies at this point, this is a big fucking deal. Republicans will do absolutely nothing about federal prosecutors having proof of possible crimes committed by the president, but the new Democratic House (!!!) starting in January might. The Wall Street Journal has the nitty-gritty on how the Devil's Triangle of Trump, Pecker, and Cohen issued the payments. Read the whole thing at but finish reading this entry of the Phile first.
Last weekend on "Weekend Update," Ariana Grande's ex Pete Davidson riled up a lot of people when he made a joke about wounded Navy SEAL vet and Texas Republican Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw. Crenshaw wears an eyepatch, received from an injury during his third combat tour in Iraq, and Davidson joked that it makes him look like a "hitman in a porno movie." The joke was, IMHO, not that cruel besides taking the low blow of making fun of someone's appearance. But yeah, maybe mocking a wounded veteran the weekend before Veteran's Day wasn't a great move, especially considering how despicably we treat our veterans in this country. Both liberals and conservatives got in their feelings about it (as Davidson joked, the left and the right finally agreed on something, "that I'm a dick"). And Sean Hannity even told "Saturday Night Live" to "go to hell!" You'd think the man who's taken actual bullets could take a relatively tame "SNL" joke about his appearance, and it turns out, he can!!! Because Crenshaw himself appeared on "Saturday Night Live" last night to accept a very sincere apology from Pete Davidson and then throw back a few zingers of his own, in a segment I'm calling "lol aren't Republicans funny when they're not propping up a racist, sexist, corrupt and extremely dangerous political regime?!?!" Okay, fine, this Dan guy seems pretty cool and he made some good points. And if there's ever a time to put aside our political differences it's while showing respect and gratitude to people who have risked their lives to serve our country. Then tomorrow, we can all resume wildly hating each other.
World leaders have gathered in France this weekend to attend events in honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. However, a bit of rain put a damper on Donald Trump's willingness to participate, as he canceled a visit on Saturday to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in France, where fallen American soldiers were being commemorated. Trump claimed that his cancellation was due to so called “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather." By this we can only assume that he means "logistically" he cannot leave his hotel room if it is raining because he does not want to. I'm tempted to make a joke about Trump being afraid of melting in the rain, but I honestly don't think he is impressive or cool enough to be compared to a witch. People were quick to criticize the president, and many took to Twitter to share photos of Barack Obama in the rain. Claims of Trump's helicopter not being able to operate in the rain were also refuted with photos of Obama boarding the helicopter in the rain. There's nothing quite as satisfying as a drag of Donald Trump that simultaneously praises Barack Obama. Once again, Obama reminds us what leadership looks like. Now, if only we had the behind the scenes footage of Trump furiously looking scrolling through his Twitter feed and screaming at the photos of Obama.
The midterms, besides being an opportunity to exercise your civic duty and vote, were an important reminder that social progress isn't linear. Once rights are attained through legislative reform and/or the transformation of social attitudes, they don't necessarily stay that way... but change remains possible. Someone who understands this phenomenon profoundly is Davis Hammet, an activist who first moved to Kansas in 2013. His Facebook post about LGBTQ rights in the midwestern state has gone viral, and for good reason. Davis lies parallel the state of gay rights in Kansas and his work as an activist, beginning in 2013 when he painted the rainbow-colored Equality House directly across from the Westboro Church... a notorious hate group hostile to queer people. The post resonated with thousands of people, including many current and former Kansans who appreciate his local activism. Arguably most heartwarming was an exchange between "Nancy" and Davis's actual mom. Keep fighting the good fight, Davis. And thank you for sharing the painstaking reality of effecting political change at the state level... it's not necessarily as fun as Instagramming marches and cursing Trump out on Twitter, but it's always worth the effort.
Thursday's mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California was the 307th mass shooting of the year. The violence has become so routine that there is a predictable cycle to fill the time before the next one. Thoughts, prayers, dry, rinse, repeat. It is because of the National Rifle Association's lucrative iron grip on Republican politicians that prevents them from bringing forth solutions that'll save lives but sell less guns. With legislators locked down, the NRA is now bravely standing up to another group of professionals that has the balls to say that many murder machines are bad: doctors. That's right, the American College of Physicians on Twitter wrote up a report on reducing firearm injuries and deaths, outlining policies that would cut into the NRA's profits. The NRA tweeted out a release with a corny stock photo of a dude in a lab coat supposedly representing "anti-gun doctors," telling these physicians to "stay in their lane." A day after this tweet was published, a gunman killed twelve people at a bar in California. Much like the teens, healthcare professionals are calling BS. Doctors are slamming the NRA for telling them to shut up about gun violence.

"Stay in their lane"? Bish, saving lives is their lane. Doctors all around the country called out the NRA's stupidity. Dr. Joseph Sakran, a trauma surgeon at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, asked the NRA, "Where are you when I'm having to tell all those families their loved one has died?" There's a difference between being "anti-gun" and "anti-bullet holes in human bodies." Doctors shared their devastating stories of encounters with gun violence victims. Dr. Mary Brandt shared studies showing that lax gun rules equals more gun deaths, and started a hashtag: #ItIsOurLane. Preventing death is their lane. The American Academy of Pediatrics called for more safety, which contrary to the NRA's belief, does not mean more guns. Among the many anti-gun control policies that the NRA pushed for was one that prevented federal money from being used to study gun violence, because they might not like the results. Perhaps a repeal of the Dickey Amendment is something that the incoming Democratic House (!!!) could actually get done.
Instead of writing this blog I should be listening to this album...

Ummm... maybe not. You know sometimes people got their asees saved by a total stranger. Not all humans are the worst. Like these commuters bonding over the daily grind...

I love dogs but sometimes they could be such assholes...

If they could talk they'd say, ""We thought the floor was too boring." If I had a TARDIS I would go back to see the Empire State Building in 1934, but would lose my mind if I saw these acrobats balance at the top...

I was gonna get another tattoo but someone had the same idea as I did...

Haha. You know what makes me laugh? Old people wearing inappropriate t-shirts...

I know, I know, that's not a t-shirt. I realize that now. So, are your kids in school as witty and clever as this kid is?

Hahahaha. They tell me I would see some weird sights at Walmart, I didn't believe it until I saw this...

That's me in about ten years. Haha. Do you like Fruit Stripe gum? Have you seen their new ad slogan?

I didn't know they still made that gum. Okay, so, one of the best things about the Internet is you can look at porn for free and so easy. The problem with that is you might go to a porn site without going to a blog such as this one. So, I had an idea... what if I showed a porn pic here on the Phile. But I don't want you to get in trouble at school or work so I came up with a solution.

You're welcome. Alright, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's stuff that happens here that happens no where else in the universe. So, once again here is the pheature called...

Maureen Pacheco, a 51-year-old woman in Palm Beach, Florida, went to the hospital to have back surgery to help the pain she experienced after a car accident. Not only did she leave the hospital with less pain, but she also had one less kidley. WFSB reports that one of Pacheco's surgeons, Dr. Ramon Vazquez, "mistook it for a cancerous tumor and removed it from her body without her consent, according to an administrative complaint from the Florida Department of Health." Pacheco adds that Dr. Vazquez wasn't even her doctor... he was just in the operating room to help out with the cutting. She recently settled a lawsuit against Dr. Vazquez and her own two doctors. I hope she got a gazillion dollars and at least one of their kidneys.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, in the past I had a few layers on the Phile who like to advertise and talk about their law firm here. So, here once again is...

Me: Hello, Bill, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Bill: I'm friggin' good, Jas, how are you?

Me: Not bad. So, any interesting cases lately?

Bill: Not really. I will tell you someone who used to drink in a local bar was getting divorced whilst he was building a new house, they had to get the place valued and then determine how much they would each get from the sale of it. Before the surveyor came round he plastered up the ceiling where the stairs were and said it was only a single story house with a big loft. Crazy, eh?

Me: Ummm... yeah. Is that it?

Bill: Yeah, that's it.

Me: Terrific. Bill Buggerz from the law firm Suetha, Buggerz & Wynn, everybody.

Bill: Have a good day, Jas.

The inventor of rolled toilet paper filed an original patent in 1891 that included illustrations of the paper hanging OVER the roll, not under it.

The Camp Fire that broke out early Thursday in Butte County has devastated the area. At least nine people have died and over 6,000 structures have burned down, making it the most destructive wildfire in California's history. Doing their best to mitigate the damage, California asked President Trump and FEMA for assistance, requesting they issue an emergency declaration that would clear the way for federal aid. Trump responded characteristically with a tweet that was equal parts callous and ill-informed...

That was it. No declaration of sympathy for the victims, their families, or anyone whose home or business was destroyed in the blaze. Trump responded to a massive environmental disaster by basically saying: good luck, and don't fuck it up. If you can believe it, people are... perturbed by our President's comments. Yes, let's go with perturbed. I keep running out of adjectives to describe the kinds of epic douche chills this guy's statements induce. I shudder to think of the next flood, hurricane, or tornado that will impact some region of the country... not just because of the potential damage and lives lost, but because Trump's comments will undoubtedly compound the pain. He's a living, breathing example of the maxim "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." The White House should hire an intern whose sole job is to prevent Trump from tweeting in the forty-eight hours following a tragedy. You know what? I volunteer.

There's this guy that loves the 90s so much he still acts and lives the 90s. He wanted to come back on to the Phile and say something. So, once again here is...

Me: Hey, Ed, what do you have to say today?

Ed: Hey, man, how are you?

Me: I'm good. So, what's up?

Ed: Do you get spammed a lot, dude?

Me: Yeah, by email and on my cell phone.

Ed: Well, spam calls in 1998 is like, "Hey, my name is Daniel, would you like to buy a subscription to Readers Digest?"

Me: Ummm... okay.

Ed: Well, you probably get calls like this... "The IRS and the FBI have issued a joint warrant for your arrest. You are being sought in connection to many crimes."

Me: Kinda.

Ed: Sorry, man. I gotta run. Chat soon.

Me: Ed Enistink, the guy who lives in the 90s, kids. Now for some...

Phact 1. Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor, was left stranded on a deserted island, but survived for over four years, partly by using feral cats to protect him from ravenous rats that attacked during the night.

Phact 2. Janusz Korczak was a man who accompanied 192 orphans to a concentration camp, refusing to save himself, while cheering and entertaining the children. He boarded the trains with them and was never heard from again.

Phact 3. 350 million years ago, there existed a twenty foot tall mushroom in Saudi Arabia. It was likely the largest living thing on dry land at that time.

Phact 4. The song “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison was originally titled “Brown-Skinned Girl," but was changed to “make it more palatable for radio stations.”

Phact 5. Some deaf people with Tourette syndrome involuntarily swear in sign language.

Today's pheatured guest is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist. She also is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame. Her latest album "If All I Was Was Black" is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Please welcome to the Phile... Mavis Staples.

Me: Hello, Mavis, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Mavis: Hello, Jason, how are you? It's my pleasure. I'm all right, I have been around for a long, long time.

Me: I'm good. I heard that you say something like you are going to bring joy and inspiration before your shows, am I right?

Mavis: Well, that's exactly what we are about. I want them to leave happy, I want them to leave rejoicing, and we want to give positive vibrations. We want them to leave on a high, just up. It's just trying times right now for a lot of us. We just want to bring some joy into their hearts and keep them moving, give them reason to get up in the morning.

Me: Do you think the times now are really hard?

Mavis: Yes, it really is. I just try to carry on, especially for the fans that come out to see us. I want them to have a good year. Stay positive. Don't let nothing get you down, don't let nothing turn you around. Just keep moving, just keep moving upwards, keep pressing on.

Me: I love the new song "No Time For Crying" from your latest album "If All I Was Was Black." In that song you sing "we've got work to do." What kinda work?

Mavis: Actually, the work I've been doing all my life. I can't stop. I can't take a break. Because I've got work to do, I've go to continue with my journey. All my life, 68 years now, with my family. We started with Doctor King. It's all back. This is the 21st Century, and this is stronger than ever, the bigotry. I can hardly stand the word, I hate to say it. There's a reason. I know why but I don't want to talk about certain reasons. The people know. Well, we have in the U.S., we have a person in the White House who is the leader of all this. He has followers so it blossomed up again. Everything was getting better. It was really getting better, I was happy. Then I starting watching the news, and I feel like I'm living in the 60s again. I'm seeing it all over again.

Me: The Staple Singers used to open up for Doctor King, and you feel that this is all similar to you? 

Mavis: It is. For awhile it felt like it was going away but we've got things that are happening in the states that is just happening all over again. We had one city in Charleston, we had guys just marching through the city. We know they're the Klan. But they're so bold now, they didn't have sheets over their faces. They're just showing their faces. What is so hurting about it these are young guys. They look like college students. That hurt me so bad. I still talk to Doctor King, I still talk to Pops and let them know what's going on and what I'm still trying to do. I'm still on the case, on the job. I won't quit.

Me: Jeff Tweedy from Wilco produced the album. What was it like working with him?

Mavis: God bless Jeff Tweedy who produced the record. I'm grateful to him for bringing these strong lyrics. We've got work to do.

Me: I have to say I love the Staple Singers song "Freedom Highway." It's good, right?

Mavis: Yes. "I won't turn around, my mind is made up." You know what, Jason, I keep that song on our list. I keep the freedom songs in the mix. Because they're super relevant. They're still relevant. Why am I treated so bad? "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)" was Doctor King's favorite. We'll be going to the meetings in the evenings and down in the parking lot he'd tell Pops, "Now, Stape, you're gonna sing my song tonight, right?" Pops said, "Oh, yeah, Doctor, we're gonna sing your song 'Why? (Am I Treated So Bad).'" That song was written for nine black children who were trying to integrate into high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, And I'll tell you over the years I met some of them, just recently. We would sing before Doctor King would speak. "March of Freedom Highway," that was the very first song that we wrote for the movement. It's amazing how a song is still so strong.

Me: Is it frustrating that a song like "Freedom Highway" is so relevant?

Mavis: It's frustrating but peoples got to hear it. It makes me feel good that we have a song like that that for that time and still time. That's what's so killing. This was '68, and it's been over fifty years. We're still marching up freedom highway. We're still trying to bring us together. At one time Pops would tell the songwriters, "If you want to write for the Staple Singers read the headlines. We want to sing about what's happening in the world today. If there's something wrong we want to sing a song and try to fix it." So that's my life, being informative and bringing positive messages and try to bring us together.

Me: Are you still able to wake up and be hopeful?

Mavis: Well, yes, I am. I never give up. I won't give up. I won't give in. You see that's what certain people want us to do. But I'm still here. I started out with Pops and Doctor King and all of my friends who have gone on. I am still here. I still have my voice. God has kept me. I'm pretty much up in age. But I feel myself getting stronger every day. Any time I go on stage I've got something to tell. I'm going to tell it with robust. I just can't be grateful enough to people like you. You keep us going to. You let your readers hear me. I appreciate you.

Me: Thank you. No one has ever really said that. That kinda makes what I'm doing on this stupid little blog worth while. Doctor King inspired you back in the 60s, who's inspiring you now in 2018? 

Mavis: Oh, man. It's hard. We've got this little guy, Chance the Rapper, he's from Chicago. South side.

Me: I read that you were going to get him on the new record, is that true?

Mavis: I tried. I tried to get Michelle Obama. You know that one song that's her. "When they go high we go low," that's where that title comes from. She gave that speech and I wanted her to do a spoken word thing. But she and Obama are still hiding out. I don't blame them. They've done a lot. And the little guy, Chance the Rapper, he's just so hot and so busy we couldn't get him. He's a positive force. 

Me: So, what do you think of all the marches that take place?

Mavis: We need these youngsters, this new generation. You see these kids marching, they're bringing these marches together for the guns. I feel so good seeing these young people.

Me: A few years ago you recorded a song with Prince called "Blood Is Thicker Than Time." What was your favorite moment working with Prince?

Mavis: Oh, man. Prince. A favorite moment. Every moment working with Prince was my favorite. He would tickle me a lot. A favorite was he was doing a special on TV. He asked, "Mavis, do you think your father would sing on your record?" I said, "Oh, yeah, Pops will sing on the record." It turned out Pops sang and played on the record. When he did the special this particular song was one Pops sang on so he had to be there. We were rehearsing and Pops is sitting on a stool picking on his guitar. Prince comes by and asked Pops, "You gonna sing tonight, junior?" Pops said, "What you call me?!" By this point when he said "you gonna sing tonight, junior?" he broke off and ran. Pops yelled, "What did you call me?!" He came back and said, "Junior." And he ran again. Pops said, "You better not let me catch you!" That was funny. Pops said to me, "That little guy called me junior."

Me: Hahahahahaha. So, Pops didn't like to be called junior?

Mavis: No, no. Pops was old enough to be his grandpa twice and he called him junior. He was comical like that. He'd keep you laughing.

Me: He worked with your sister Yvonne as well, right?

Mavis: Yeah. He told me one time my sister Yvonne, my sister who just passed, was always with me. Mostly Prince would talk to her instead of me. For a long time he wouldn't talk to me. He'd just talk to Yvonne. Yvonne and me would do "Melody Cool," and Yvonne had seen this wine cellar that he had in the basement and she wanted some wine. He said, "Alan, get in here. Get in here. Get some glasses and some wine. Yvonne wants some wine." When he brought him some wine he poured him a glass, poured Yvonne a glass, poured him a glass and said, "You can't have any, Mavis. You're about to sing." If it hadn't been about it I would have given him a little bit of trouble. But the song was fast so I really didn't need that wine.

Me: I interviewed Robbie Robertson last October from the Band and totally forgot to ask him about the song "The Weight." I didn't realize the Staple Sisters performed that song with the Band. That song is amazing! What was it like working with them?

Mavis: Man, I've got a good story about Levon Helm. Levon and Pops were partners. And so they would do things away from the rest of us. They'd do little shows of their own. At one point we had little break doing "The Weight" and Levon seemed like he wanted his drums. Pops said to Levon, "Levon, are you smoking two cigarettes at once?" He was smoking two cigarettes at a time. Levon was the only one who ever called Pops by his first name.

Me: What was his first name?

Mavis: Roebuck. Levon said, "Oh, Roebuck, oh, Roebuck, you've got to just try one." He had two different kinds. Pops said, "Man, I don't want that mess." Levon said, "Oh, Roebuck, you're missing out." It was funny. Levon and Pops were comical together. And Amy, his little daughter, I adopted Amy when she was a little baby. We go to Levon in the garage and so we wanted to rehearse a song and Levon didn't want to go into the studio where his drums were. So, Amy, his little baby, they called him the Mayor. Levon got on this babies drums, the tiny drum kit. It was something to see. He said, "I'm christening them for her, Mavis, I'm christening them." That was some funny times. That other little guy, Rick Danko, he was the funny one. He would just keep you laughing. He's just do crazy stuff. He'd jump around, get in my face, make faces. All those guys were just really sweethearts.

Me: Cool. So, do you still get a thrill from playing live?

Mavis: Yes, indeed. Do you play an instrument, Jason?

Me: Yeah, I play kazoo. Ha.

Mavis: A kazoo? Alright, I'll keep that in mind if I ever need a kazoo player.

Me: Cool. Mavis, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon. Take care.

Mavis: I had fun. Thank you, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Mavis Staples. The Phile will be back on Thursday with musician Jake Bugg. 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