Monday, February 27, 2012

Pheaturing Martina Downey

Hello, welcome to a Monday entry of the Phile, I am your host Stinker Slacker Blogger Brit.  So, who watched the Oscars last night? Jean Dujurdin one best actor for his role in The Artist. I thought it was funny when he said, "I hope to become as popular in your country as other foreign stars such as Gérard Depardieu, Robert Benigni, and... oh shit."  Speaking of artists, A new study found that 16 percent of Americans under the age of 24 don’t have a job. There’s even a name for that group: Art History majors. Man, do I know how to segue or not.  Last week a toy store in Massachusetts accidentally received a liquor license, which explains that new toy... Call-Me-a-Cab Elmo.  Congressman Barney Frank is getting married soon... to another guy. Usually congressmen only do that sort of thing in secret.  Rick Santorum said he believes that Satan has his sights on America. Apparently Satan is still upset about the time he went down to Georgia and lost that fiddle.  Beyoncé and Jay-Z were spotted at a Knicks game this week. They found a last-minute babysitter... he guy who used to play point guard before Jeremy Lin.  A lunch menu from the Titanic is expected to sell for $150,000 at an auction next month. The menu starts out great, but once you get to the iceberg wedge, it’s a total disaster.  As bad as gas prices are here, the situation is worse in Europe. I'll tell you why. Because every time Europeans fill up their tank, they expose their unshaven armpits, releasing deadly toxic gases.
The reality is earth contains only so much fossil fuel. So the solution is obvious. If oil comes from fossils, then we should genetically engineer more dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong? I think we're going to be seeing more hybrid cars. The Prius is known as a hybrid because it can run on either electricity or the smugness of the owner. Man, I miss my Prius. Anyway, it's hard to look cool at a stoplight when you step on the gas and the car whines like a lady's electric razor.  Paris Hilton just released a music video for her new song, "Drunk Text." So, look out, Adele!  J.K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" series, is set to publish her first novel for adults. You can tell the book is for adults from its title, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Activia.”  A new survey found that the tooth fairy left about 42 cents less in 2011 than it did the year before. When kids lose teeth now, they’re like, "Ehh, I’m gonna hold onto this until the market improves.”  A company in the U.K. is selling a new device that lets you know if you’re driving badly. It’s called a windshield.  Let's talk about the Oscars again. What about that Gabourey Sidibe. Remember when Hollywood assured you that your weight wouldn't preclude your receiving film roles? Thank God that didn't happen. I look forward to seeing you in Precious 2: The Klumps.  Well, like you know, The Artist, the silent, black-and-white French film that has been seen by as many as seven dozen American moviegoers has won best picture. Its profile is sure to rise which is why I am thrilled to get my hands on this just-leaked, eminently quotable outtakes.

One of the higlights for me was Jennifer Lopez's nip-slip. I thought I was the only one that noticed it at first. For those that missed it, I will do you a favor and show you. Oh, you're welcome.

Everybody is talking about Jennifer's areola, but no one said a word about the markings on the back of that dog from The Artist

Speaking of movies, yesterday I went to see the new Ghost Rider movie and I wasn't impressed with the special effects they used on him. He just didn't look right. Check it out. 

Okay, we all know those brilliant Mayans predicted that in December the world will end. The Mayans are so smart, they are also great at giving advice. So, I thought once again I would invite a Mayan to the Phile to give some of his Mayan advice. So, please, welcome once again...

Me: Hello, Marvin, what advice do you have today?

Marvin: Nya b’a’n tu’n tcub’ neje, ex tu’n tcyija cyi’jxjal, aj toc ten b’etil ku’n b’e’x chi xjetw’elix timi× a mo tjosa.

Me: That's great, Marvin. But once again I am not Mayan and do not understand what you are saying. Can you translate in English please?

Marvin: It is not good to go forward and back while walking because this will cause abnormalities in your breasts or testicles.

Me: That's good advice and explains a lot, Marvin. Thanks again. Marvin the Modern Day Mayan, kids! That is so, so stupid.

I am currently more than a little bummed out. I went to my local multiplex, dropped ten bucks on a 3D matinee ticket expecting to get my mind blown by my favorite lunatic, Nicolas Cage, and my favorite lunatic directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the men responsible for Crank and Crank 2. I expected that the urinating fire sequence I'd already seen would be merely the jumping off point of an insane 90+ minutes. I expected more than Cage turning into a motorcycle-riding, damned-soul-collecting skeleton on fire, because I got that in the first movie. I expected molten crazy from a story about Ghost Rider saving a holy-born child from turning into the Antichrist. And if you're the kind of person ready to go see something like this then that's what you would be expecting, too. And I got... I don't know... not enough. Of anything.  This is a worse feeling than sitting through something you assume will be another empty Hollywood template filled with connect-the-dots action, plot and emotion. And it's a worse feeling because I know that Cage, at this point in his career, represents the badass rejection of taste and quality, a man who seems bent on devouring all the B-movie roles he can and vomiting them back into the faces of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And I like that about him. I like that about him quite a bit.  I also know that Neveldine and Taylor can't possibly be this lazy. It feels like they've been shackled somehow. Maybe it was the low budget, the eastern European location, the stifling quality of an imposed PG-13 rating, or maybe Eva Mendes passing on the script and Richard Carpenter objecting to them using his former band's music this time around. Who knows what, really, but when these guys can't make you holler from surprise, something is wrong.  Yes, there's a certain amount of fun here for Divinity school students. They'll enjoy the parlor game of sorting out the baffling theology of a Satan-owned motorcyclist who wants to use his powers for good. And there are a couple of action sequences that earn their keep. And that's all. It stubbornly refuses to go balls-out. Every chance it gets it squanders. And it makes me feel cheated and sad. Like I want to go write a song for Adele to sing about it. So please, people involved, don't do us wrong no more. Make Werewolf Women of The S.S. or something. Anything. Just no more of this snoozy bullshit. It gets a 6 and I will not be buying it at all.

The 13th artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is the creator of the comic strip "Camden Bottoms". This is one of hie pieces.

Scott will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday, kids. 

Today's guest is an old school R&B singer whose new album "Sign Posts" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Martina Downey.

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

Martina: I'm terrific and really glad to be here.

Me: Where are you from, Martina? 

Martina: Paterson, New Jersey a mid size city in Northern New Jersey.

Me: Where are you living now? 

Martina: Still living in North Jersey.

Me: So, you have a really good voice, Martina. I am guessing you sang at a few churches in a choir, am I right? 

Martina: Yes, I sang in several church choirs. I grew up Roman Catholic but starting singing gospel music as an adult.

Me: Is that where you first started to perform? 

Martina: Absolutely, it where I got to sing my first solos.

Me: Have you always wanted to be a singer? 

Martina: Yes, I always dreamed about it and I've been writing songs since I was 17. Every morning before going to school and after my parents had left for work, I would have this fantasy solo concert.

Me: Okay, if I had to guess, I would say Aretha Franklin or Joan Armatrading were influences, but one of your major influences is David Bowie? Is that right? 

Martina: Yes, I grew up listening to Motown and Rock and Roll at the same time. My mother used to play the Aretha Franklin gospel album religiously throughout the house. I discovered Joan much later when I got to college. I like the stories that she told about relationships. It was the song "Fame" that caught my eye on David Bowie. I heard it on the juke box and the radio and I couldn't get enough of his music.

Me: Did you listen to Bowie growing up, Martina? What about Bowie turned you onto him? 

Martina: Yes, I could not get enough of Bowie. It was one thing to be mesmerized by his music but he was a sight to see. I was amazed by his theatrical performances, use of make up and real showmanship. I used to watch him on TV in high school long before MTV: "The Midnight Special's 1980 Floor Show" and the Ziggy concerts. My sister bought me my first Bowie album: "Station to Station". I would play it all night long until the grooves wore out, that is vinyl grooves. Bowie's music was the soundtrack of my youth. Give me a year and I could tell you which Bowie records I was listening to at the time. I lived in the music library in High School. I went there everyday. It was part of the main public library. I would listen to all the Bowie back catalog and many other musicians and genres of music. It was great way to get saturated with all kinds of music for free when all you had was a weekly allowance.

Me: So "Fame" was the first Bowie song you heard? Where were you when you heard it?

Martina: I heard it on the radio in 1975 and I would play it on the jukebox. Then it was TVC15. 

Me: Did you ever see him in concert? 

Martina: Many times. I was afraid to ask my parents to go the Stage concert at Madison Square Garden in '78 because I knew they would never let me. I was too poor a college student to make it the Let's Dance Tour but I didn't miss the Glass Spider Tour and every tour after including the Tin Machine shows.

Me: Another one of your other favorites is John Lennon, I am a big Beatles fan, so I have to ask, are you a fan of The Beatles more or John's solo work? 

Martina: I grew up listening to the Beatles. History was being made and I was a part of it. I remember seeing them on the Ed Sullivan show and watching Yellow Submarine when it first aired. I think I was a fan John's work more than the Beatles themselves because John got personal. He dealt with human suffering, love and war while it was going on. So while the Beatles were early influences and it was John's music that really spoke to me on a personal and spiritual level. I started listening to his music in high school and through college.

Me: I know you like all genres of music, Martina. Did you listen to any Foghat? Just wondering 

Martina: No, I did get a chance to check them out.

Me: Well, get to it. LOL. Anyway, you sang with rock bands as well as choir groups, am I right? Who are some of the rock bands you sang with? 

Martina: In the early 90's I got interested in the BRC (Black Rock Coalition). I called up the secretary on the telephone and she liked my voice. She liked it so much that she asked me to come down to one of their rehearsal's to check out the band. I auditioned and the next thing I knew I was in the band. It was called Nu Lyf. I played several BRC gigs in New York. In the 80's I joined this band called Ball. I remember two things: rehearsing in dank cellars and the in fighting. During one of these rehearsals, I fell down cellar stairs and hurt my foot. I kept on singing while in pain during the rehearsal and went to the ER afterward.

Me: So, how would you describe your music? I think it's very soulful with a touch of the blues, am I right? 

Martina: It's somewhat dreamy, soulful, bluesy for sure with a message.

Me: Let's talk about your new album "Sign Post". So, how did "Sign Post" get to be the album title, Martina? 

Martina: I am drawn to the spiritual and the album kept telling me that it's about one's spiritual journey and the lessons that are learned in the process. The Sign Posts are the lessons one learns in life or the lessons that are repeated if we don't listen to those messages. The Sign Posts come from within rather than the outside.

Me: Okay, I have to ask you about a few songs on "Sign Post". One of the songs is called "Catch the News". Is there anything in the news that song is about? Politics, entertainment? 

Martina: Yes, it's a political song but not in the traditional sense. It's about the life of a grass roots leader who contributions are long forgotten but rediscovered by the youth. It's an opportunity for the elderly to connect to the next generation and for the youth to honor their elders.

Me: Another song is called "Tired, Sick and Lonely". You're not any of those things, I hope. Are you? 

Martina: This song is about an abusive relationship, but it's at the point where the person being abused has decide to take back her power. I've known many people that were in abusive relationships. In this song, the victim transforms herself and is no longer the victim. She walks out and in tact.

Me: Martina, who plays in your band? And are they the same group of people who play on the album? 

Martina: There are several talented musicians in the album. I worked primarily with Robert's (producer Robert Urban of Urban Productions). There is Steve Sullivan on bass. Robert Urban on guitar, drums, flute and keyboards. Barbara Tone on sax.

Me: So, what's next for you, Martina? A tour? Are you already planning a new album? 

Martina: I'm always writing new songs so stay tuned for my next CD.

Me: Thanks so much for being here on the Phile. Please come back when your new album comes out. Hey, and maybe one day you can do a duet with Bowie. Go ahead and plug your sites and everything, and continued success. 

Martina: You can learn more about me and what I'm doing at

Me: Thank you, Martina, and take care. 

There you go, that about finished up another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Martina for the interview. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with bass player Jayen Varma. Then on Sunday it's artist Scott Quick and Monday it's musician Pete Donnelly. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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