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 wsj.com 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.
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."
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