Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Pheaturing Pete Townshend


Man, I'm glad I don't live in Texas. Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Wednesday. Texas is lifting its mask mandate, Gov. Greg Abbott said yesterday, making it the largest state to end an order intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than 42,000 Texans. The Republican governor has faced sharp criticism from his party over the mandate, which was imposed eight months ago, and other COVID-19 restrictions. It was only ever lightly enforced, even during the worst outbreaks of the pandemic. Texas will also do away with limits on the number of diners that businesses can serve indoors, said Abbott, who made the announcement at a restaurant in Lubbock. He said the new rules would take effect March 10th. “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility,” said Abbott, speaking from a crowded dining room where many of those surrounding him were not wearing masks. “It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed,” he said. The decision comes as governors across the U.S. have been easing coronavirus restrictions, despite warnings from health experts that the pandemic is far from over. Like the rest of the country, Texas has seen the number of cases and deaths plunge. Hospitalizations are at the lowest levels since October, and the seven-day rolling average of positive tests has dropped to about 7,600 cases, down from more than 10,000 in mid-February. Only California and New York have reported more COVID-19 deaths than Texas. “The fact that things are headed in the right direction doesn’t mean we have succeeded in eradicating the risk,” said Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. She said the recent deadly winter freeze in Texas that left millions of people without power... forcing families to shelter closely with others who still had heat... could amplify transmission of the virus in the weeks ahead, although it remains too early to tell. Masks, she said, are one of the most effective strategies to curb the spread. Abbott imposed the statewide mask mandate in July during a deadly summer surge. But enforcement was spotty at best, and some sheriffs refused to police the restrictions at all. And as the pandemic dragged on, Abbott ruled out a return to tough COVID-19 rules, arguing that lockdowns do not work. Politically, the restrictions elevated tensions between Abbott and his own party, with the head of the Texas GOP at one point leading a protest outside the governor’s mansion. Meanwhile, mayors in Texas’ biggest cities argued that Abbott wasn’t doing enough. Most of the country has lived under mask mandates during the pandemic, with at least 37 states requiring face coverings to some degree. But those orders are increasingly falling by the wayside: North Dakota, Montana and Iowa have also lifted mask orders in recent weeks. Ahead of the repeal in Texas, Democratic lawmakers urged Abbott to reconsider. “Texas will experience more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths,” state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, a Democrat from the border city of Laredo, told Abbott in a letter Monday. Laredo, whose population is predominately Latino, has endured some of the worst outbreaks of the pandemic, running out of beds in hospital intensive care units as recently as January. The international trade hub has been among Texas’ most aggressive cities in trying to blunt the spread of the virus, taking measures that have included curfews. “Elected by the people, your most fundamental obligation is their health and safety. Please do not abrogate your duty,” Raymond said. 

It’s happened to all of us: you leave the house, all ready to go, head out on your way… then realize you forgot your face mask. Maybe you keep a couple extra in the car. Maybe you get to the store and try to pull up the collar of your shirt, hoping nobody notices. But at a Pick n Pay supermarket in South Africa, one woman went a step further… yanking her underwear off from under her dress and pulling it on over her face. And to make matters worse, it was a thong.  As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, South Africa has been hit particularly hard. Since last year, the African nation has suffered 50,077 deaths and is just beginning to come out of a deadly winter spike. The so-called “South African strain” of COVID-19 is now racing around the globe; this serious virus mutation is reportedly more resistant to vaccination efforts, making it difficult to contain. But now the pandemic in South Africa is trending for a new reason. A viral video shows obtained by Newsflash shows an unnamed woman in Pick n Pay, a South African grocery store, refusing to wear a face covering. As a security guard tries to reason with her beside the checkout line, the woman can be seen reaching up beneath her long paisley dress, pulling off a black thong, and angrily strapping it on over her head as a makeshift mask. After waving her arms around causing a scene, the woman reportedly said, ”Well personally I find it acceptable, it is a mask… And quite frankly I think the bacteria on your knickers is less than on the mask.” I hope that someone explains to this super-spreader that the reason we wear masks is, indeed, so that they will pick up the bacteria. Better in the cloth than in our bodies! It didn’t take long for this ridiculous scene to blow up on social media. It seems that lockdown had produced two kinds of Karens: those who complain about wearing masks… and those willing to stick their dirty G-string on their face in public to prove a point about it. On February 17th, South Africa became the first nation to begin rolling out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Its use has now been authorized in the U.S. as well.)On February 28th, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus will be easing. With the rate of new infections dropping, Ramaphosa is eliminating strict limits on alcohol sales for the first time in months, shortening the nightly curfew, and allowing public gatherings of up to 100 people indoors. The mask mandate, however, will remain in place. And underwear does NOT count.

Hilaria Baldwin sure knows how to stay in the news. In December, Twitter came for Alec Baldwin‘s wife… for pretending to be a Spanish woman. I’ll get to that later. And now she’s broken the Internet again, after sharing a pic on social media that apparently includes a new baby! That makes the sixth child for Hilaria and Alec, the seventh including Alec’s 25-year-old daughter Ireland, from his marriage to ex-wife Kim Basinger. But there’s a reason that the growing Baldwin brood is shocking to so many fans. This newborn baby girl has appeared less than six months after Hilaria Baldwin’s last pregnancy. Hilaria Baldwin, born Hillary Hayward-Thomas, is a yoga instructor who married the actor Alec Baldwin in 2011. Over her past decade in the spotlight as a celebrity spouse, she has spoken with a primarily Spanish accent and made many references to her Spanish upbringing. But in December 2020, it was revealed that Hilaria is actually 100% white and grew up in Boston. She was lambasted for cultural appropriation. While presenting as a Spanish woman, Hilaria Baldwin has also crafted a public identity as a fitness guru. Throughout giving birth to five children in succession, she has maintained an enviable postpartum body and frequently poses alongside her young children. One such post... featuring Baldwin in lingerie while holding her youngest son Eduardo... was imitated by Amy Schumer as a fake holiday card last year. Hilaria Baldwin has had five children with her husband Alec: daughter Carmen Gabriela, born in 2013), Rafael Thomas, born in 2015, Leonardo Angel Charles, born in 2016, Romeo Alejandro David, born in 2018, and Eduardo “Edu” Pao Lucas, born in 2020. Or so we thought. Yesterday, the proud mother shared a photo on her Instagram that also featured a newborn, with the simple caption: “7,” followed by a heart emoji. The newest addition to the family was a complete surprise to fans since Hilaria Baldwin gave birth to her fifth child, Eduardo, less than six months ago! Presumably, the Baldwins used a surrogate mother to carry the baby girl whose name has been revealed as Lucia though it’s possible they adopted. So it looks like the details surrounding the youngest Baldwin will remain private, at least for a while. I don’t think anyone else wants to challenge dear old dad on that. 

A man was tragically killed by a rooster with a blade that was tied to its leg during illegal cockfighting in Southern India. Police stated that this brought focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decade-old ban. The rooster, which had a 3-inch knife tied, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish. The rooster managed to stab the man in the groin. According to Police Inspector B. Jeevan, the incident occurred in Kothanur village of Telangana state. Jeevan stated Satish was injured while he was preparing the rooster for a fight. The officer stated, “Satish was hit by the rooster’s knife in his groin and started bleeding heavily.” Unfortunately, the man died on the way to the hospital. Local authorities filed a case and we’re looking for over a dozen people involved in the cockfight. If proven guilty, the organizers can be jailed for up to two years. Illegal cockfights are usually common in Southern India States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu despite there being a countrywide ban imposed in 1960. Several animal rights activists have been calling to control the illegal practice, which is mainly organized as part of local Hindu festivals usually attended by hundreds of people. The cockfights are often held under the watch of a local politician and involve a large sum of betting money. Last year, a man was killed when a blade that was attached to the bird’s leg hit him in the neck during a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh. Back in 2010, a rooster killed its owner by slashing his jugular vein in West Bengal state. According to the police, the rooster involved in last week’s incident was among many roosters that were prepared for the cockfight wedding festival in Kothanur village. As the practice goes, a knife blade or any other sharp-edged weapon is tied to the leg of a bird to harm its rival. Such fights continue until one contestant is either dead or fleas, declaring the other rooster the winner. Officer Jeevan stated that the rooster involved was brought to the police station before he was taken to a local Poultry Farm.

Yesterday... Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America Day... Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that six Dr. Seuss titles would cease publication: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. The decision is due to imagery that’s been dubbed “hurtful and wrong.” Over the past few years, Dr. Seuss has been widely criticized more and more for the “racial undertones” that have been drawn in his books. Dr. Seuss books have been an iconic staple in children’s literature, but a national educators organization is determined in “cancelling” the author in the name of change. Learning for Justice, a left-wing educators group, has been fighting for the famous cartoonist to not be highly recognized and acclaimed as he normally has throughout history. They claim that Theodor Seuss Geisel’s children’s books have “racial undertones,” and that schools should avoid Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss, a national holiday on March 2nd  honoring Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The group under the Southern Poverty Law Center promotes radical teaching views, believing that racial and social justice should be taught to students as young as five-years-old. Learning for Justice cited a study from St. Catherine University in a magazine article called, “It’s Time to Talk About Dr. Seuss,” that claimed that, “Dr. Seuss’s children’s literature is rife with ‘orientalism, anti-blackness, and white supremacy,'” referring to 50 Dr. Seuss books. The researchers concluded that there was simply not enough diversity, especially since many of the books were written in the 50s. They said, “Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are 45 of color representing two percent of the total number of human characters,” and of the 45 characters of color, 43 “exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes.” The organization also expressed that many of the non-White characters in the books were men who were “subservient” to the other White characters in the books. They wrote, “It’s also important to note that each of the non-white characters is male and that they are all ‘presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,’ especially in relation to white characters.” Banning Books? Talk of banning Dr. Seuss books in Loudon County, Virginia brought new attention to allegedly racist aspects of the deceased cartoonist’s work. Gearing up to Read Across America Day, Loudoun County Public Schools announced a plan to diversify reading material and de-emphasize Dr. Seuss books following the study which identified “strong racial undertones” in the work. Contrary to reports, the board released an official statement denying that Dr. Seuss books were ever going to be “banned.” But those rumors had already incited a national discourse over the fate of Dr. Seuss’ legacy. A nationwide celebration of Dr. Seuss takes place annually, on Read Across America Day. The special day was started by the National Educational Association in 1998 to promote children’s literature; the date of March 2nd was chosen specifically to honor with the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who died in 1991. Often the day is observed at schools by reading classics like The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, with young kids donning stripey, floppy top hats. Why didn't we do this when I was a kid? And while this year’s Read Across America Day was bound to feel different, with remote schooling due to the coronavirus pandemic, the growing controversy surrounding Dr. Seuss seems to have overshadowed the meaning of the day. Unlike his predecessors, President Joe Biden did not acknowledge Dr. Seuss in his official statement for yesterday's Reading Across America Day. And now Dr. Seuss Enterprises has announced the official cancellation of six Dr. Seuss books containing offensive portrayals of people of color. The Associated Press reports that in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, an Asian person is pictured “wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl.” The accompanying text reads, “a Chinese man who eats with sticks.” If I Ran the Zoo portrays “two bare-footed African men wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.” Some experts have said that the “racist” portions of Dr. Seuss’ work were done while he was still a cartoonist... before writing beloved books like Horton Hears a Who, The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go! But Learning for Justice claims that anyone who defends Dr. Seuss is a “racial apologist” making excuses for why “bigotry doesn’t matter.” They believe that teachers should directly discuss Dr. Seuss’ racist past with not only young children but also older students. Since older students were exposed to his books as young readers, they asked teachers to explain racism, how to spot it, and when they could expect it. They said, “You can address these arguments directly, discussing the degree to which cultural norms excuse biased language or actions, how harmful stereotypical representation can be, and whether... and how... a person can make up for hurtful mistakes.” 

Okay, speaking of books, my second book is available on Amazon right now. Check it out...

So, once you are done reading this entry of the blog go and purchase yourself a copy. If I had a TARDIS I would go to France, believe it or not, and watch Samuel Reshevsky, age 8, defeating several chess masters at once in France in 1920. 

It seems he was not simply copying the moves of others. By the point of this photo, he had been playing chess for half his life, and had been identified as a prodigy. He began playing simultaneous games at age six and became a Grand Master despite never really playing professionally. Do you know what makes me smile? When people reenact photos from when they were younger. Like this one...

That's great. Okay, sometimes I like to get on to Twitter and look up a certain word to see what people are talking about. One of those words is "Foghat" and this is one tweet I saw recently...

That's great. Okay, so on Monday's entry I interviewed Michael Nesmith who was in "The Monkees." Well, did you know I was originally in the Monkees before I was replaced by another Brit? No? Well, check this out...

Mind you, the show came out in 1966 and I was born in 1868. Hahahaha. It’s no secret that some of you really struggle with flying. Those who struggle will do pretty much anything to avoid it. But for one passenger who reads the Phile, the best solution for their unavoidable flight was to book an extra seat, to give them a little breathing room. But the Phile reader realized it wasn’t going to be so simple when the flight turned out to be open-seating. Later, they wondered if they were wrong for standing up for themselves. They asked...

"Was I wrong for not letting a woman have the seat next to me on the plane? I recently had to fly across the U.S. to deal with certain company matters. My company apologized profusely to me because I am terrified of flying, but seeing as it would have been a 25 hour drive, I obliged. For the trip, my company paid for my seat, but I decided to also reserve the seat next to mine. Again, this is an anxiety issue. I would have fit just fine into my seat, but if I needed to vomit/started to get panicky, at the very least I wanted to have a buffer between myself and the next person. I had an aisle seat in a three-person row, and people were shuffling around changing their seats before takeoff. I do not know how it works, but apparently, people can occasionally just sit down wherever they want and the flight attendants don’t have to deal with it? The seating arrangement was me... open seat (mine)... a teenage girl I’d place around the 7th grade. Right before we started getting taxied, a middle-aged woman abruptly sat down in the middle seat and fist bumped the teen. Immediately I told her that I had reserved that seat, and she started by being very considerate. She quietly told me she was getting away from a bad situation, and really wanted to sit next to her daughter. During this explanation, she repeatedly pointed out her daughter sitting next to her, as if I would be a monster for depriving her of that seat. I stuck to my guns though and told her that I would get the cabin attendant if she didn’t go back to her seat several rows back in the middle. She called me on my bluff, so I flagged one down. He asked if I really needed the middle seat and I said yes. Then he politely asked the woman to move, which she did, but not before calling me a ‘dickhead.' Since she did this rather loudly, several people were clearly looking at me, and I couldn’t really read what they were thinking. I kind of feel bad about it now, and after arriving safely I wonder if I should have just given up the seat.” Well, you had a right to the seat after paying for it. I understood that by reserved, you paid for the seat. If you did you are not wrong. I don’t get why people don’t check seats before getting on the plane and choose with time how they are going to be seated, they feel entitled to bother everyone. Should you have given her the seat then potentially barfed all over her? No, though it might have been a good lesson for her. You should have told her why you bought the extra seat, because you don’t like flying and might vomit on the person next to you. I bet that would have got her back in her seat quickly! While an explanation might be nice, you are in no way required to give an explanation. All you had to say is I paid for two seats, and I am getting two seats. And who cares what a bunch of strangers on a plane you will never see again think. You’ve done nothing wrong. None of them will give it a second thought the next day. It was undoubtedly frustrating for the mother to not be able to sit with her daughter throughout their flight. But knowing what we know about the your flying conditions, it was probably for the best that the mother didn’t sit next to you. If you have a problem you want my advice on then email me at 

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, let's take a live look at Port Jefferson, shall we? 

Looks like a nice day there. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...

Top Phive Reactions To It Being March... Again
5. March really has some nerve showing his face here again.
4. Hello, March... I spent the past year staring into a refrigerator.
3. Here we are again in March. Or did we leave?
2. Messaging all my co-workers, "I can't believe it's already March" until I get fired. 
And the number one reaction to it being March again is...
1. A moment of silence for all of our selves from a year ago who knew nothing of toilet paper shortages, drive-by birthdays, and virtual school.

 The most tragic victims of irony are the trees cut down to make copies of The Lorax.

Today's guest is an English guitarist, singer and composer. He is co-founder, leader, principal songwriter, guitarist and secondary lead vocalist of the Who, one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s. His novel Age of Anxiety is the 146th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile the great... Pete Townshend!

Me: Hello, Pete, welcome to the Phile. It's so good to have you here. I had Roger on the Phile before and now you. How are you? 

Pete: I'm good. Thank you. 

Me: So, you novel Age of Anxiety is the 146th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Can you tell the readers what it's about? 

Pete: Yes. It tells the story of two generations of Londoners fighting to make their mark in the music and art worlds, and the creative wells they pull from runs dry. 

Me: Has that ever happened to you before. sir? Your creative well running dry? 

Pete: Yeah, you know I had an alcohol problem for a few years and when I stopped drinking in 1982 I spent a few years kind of rampling around trying to figure out what to do and I found a book called The Artist's Way by a woman called Julia Cameron and that greatly helped me. I think that I needed some guidance. 

Me: Do you think creative wells running dry happens to a lot of people? 

Pete: I think yeah, everybody had periods in their life when they kind of go blank. Whether they have a blank page or a blank tape machine or a blank computer and they can't get anything to come. 

Me: Yeah, it happens to me sometimes. Do you think that's terrifying when it happens to you? 

Pete: Well, Elton John has spoken about it, hasn't he? He was on Instagram and he had done an interview with somebody and he mentioned that when he gave up drugs and alcohol he thought he'd never be able to perform again. Of course when you look at the film Rocketman most of the time he was off his head when he's on the stage. That really wasn't my story. But this story, the book is about more than creativity, it's about in a sense more about what creativity can lead to in the working of the brain. And its not a medical book, it's not a self help book, but it is about a young musician who is psychic I suppose is the best word to describe it. He starts to hear what is going on in the minds of his audience and he tries to capture that as music. That's really the central premise of the story. 

Me: Why is this something you wanted to write about? 

Pete: I think I wanted to write mainly about what it is that he hears. If I had any success at all as a musician and songwriter it's because I've been jacked into my audience and the Who's audience. So what I try to do when I'm writing songs, when I'm performing, when I'm touring, when I'm speaking, when I'm doing anything is when I'm on. When I'm "on show" is to try and do what my audience really want me to do. That's why I'm there, I'm a service provider, I'm an entertainer. What actually happens is if I suddenly turn to my audience and I try to find answers to that, I find actually they're so incredibly not self obsessed but they're caught up in a vortex, a fear of society, about money, about the future, about climate change, terrorism, polarization in politics, a deadly virus, all of those things which obsess so many of us today. Remember my audience is an older audience, so I'm not trying to reflect the feelings of Millennials, god knows how they feel, well, we know how they feel. 

Me: Speak for yourself, Pete. Haha. So, that's what Walter, the character in the book is worried about? 

Pete: This guy tries to open himself up to his audience and what he actually hears is fear and anxiety. 

Me: So, there's another guy in the book who gives Walter advice, right? 

Pete: Yeah, a former rock star who tells him, "Waiting is the black art of creativity." 

Me: What do you mean by that? Do you ever give advice to other musicians? 

Pete: One of the things, and I do mentor other musicians and I produce other musicians and if I wasn't so busy with the Who I'd probably end up as a lecturer at a university. I certainly do my time, I love to work with other musicians. One of the songs on the latest Who album is called "I Don't Want to Get Wise," when we get old we end up getting pretty wise. I don't want to do an old-plaining to a young-plaining, what do they call it? Man-splaning? 

Me: Haha. I love old-splaning, Do you think you're old then, sir? 

Pete: Yeah, I'm so old now that I know everything. It's the illusion that we live in. But I think anyway the idea is this older guy has been through a very similar thing, he's been a big artist in a big prog-rock band and he decides he wants to be in a movie and he acts in a movie and he gets to the end of the movie and he realises that he just wants to quit. He does, he quits and he starts to draw. and he draws really strange apocalyptic paintings and if anyone reads the book they'd get more detail obviously. But his agent is a dealer in outsider art, he's the narrator of the whole story, he's called Louie and he is a dealer in paintings of mad, and he is also the godfather of Walter and he puts these two guys together. And then it was up to me to put myself inside the older guy and say what would he say to the younger guy. And I think what I would say many, many times to younger musicians, what do we call it? A black period, a period of being shut down and unable to write or to work and even to contemplate that possibility is just wait. Just wait and be ready because the moment will come, and this is something I do believe. I had to learn to do that. People talk about inspiration as though it's some magic thing that comes out of the sky when we snap our fingers. If I go the right lake, I meditate, I will automatically be inspired. No I won't, I think this is all stuff we don't really understand. 

Me: Can you give me a moment of when the time sort of came to you? 

Pete: Wow. I think it's pretty much every time. 

Me: Really? Every time? 

Pete: Yeah. I think the other thing I would say is that if I've been around for a while as I have what could happen is I could work, I could write. If I was a painter I could paint, if I was an author I could auth... I think what I can't do is guarantee what I'm going to do is going to be any good. What I'm doing is relying on my craftsmanship. I know how to do it. What I do is is I write a lyric, or I play a few chords on the guitar, then I start my recording device, I out it all together and I play it to the singer and he says, "Wow. This is junk." Or I do that and one day he says, "Wow, this is great." I don't necessarily produce good work just because I do it but one of the things that is important is to keep doing it. If I keep throwing the mud at the wall in the end something good does appear. In a sense I'm kind of contradicting myself in the fact of the idea of waiting, What I'm saying is I have to wait for the good stuff. I really do, I have to really keep patient because the good stuff will come. 

Me: So, I think it's cool you have you audience is mind, Pete. Were you always that way? 

Pete: My history was I was working at an art college for four years before the band took off and one of the things that happens when I was at arts college is that I'm taught I need to have a reason to do anything. That reason has to be a profoundly important reason, either for me or for my community or for my client, whoever that client may be. Whether its somebody who wants me to paint their dog, or somebody who wants me to write a commercial for selling cars. I came out of arts school waiting for a commission, waiting for somebody to say, "Hey, Pete, here's what to do." Because I really didn't know what to do. The Who had one hit record with a song called "I Can't Explain" which was really a sort of love song, "I love you but I can't explain that I love you." That was the song, it was kind of a teenage song about the problem the boys have or had in those days is expressing their feelings. So what happened was a bunch of kids came to a show and they said we really love this song, we want you to write more like it. I said, "More songs that can't explain to his girlfriend that he loves her?" They said no, no, no, we just want you to write more songs that we can't explain. We cannot explain what we feel, we don't have the words. So I felt like that I had a brief. So immediately I had an audience, I had a client, I had a brief, and I knew what to do. From that day forward I always had an audience in mind. People that expect me to come up with something which says what they might not be able to say. 

Me: When you hear that song what do you think now? 

Pete: That recording changed my life. I remember hearing it on the radio driving from London back to college one day and thinking, "Wow, I'm a songwriter, I've got a hit." And I think about a year later I stopped going to courses at college and just stuck with the band. 

Me: Did you have an idea you guys were gonna be huge? 

Pete: No, I thought if the band only lasted a couple of years I could always go back to college. In a sense maybe with this novel I am going back to college because I'm hoping this novel would lead to a big music project which would be exciting on a whole number of different levels, maybe leading to an art installation. So that was the kind of thing I want to do at art school so I might just be closing that circle. I have a good feeling. 

Me: I wrote a novel over summer last year, finished another one and am writing another. I now have two books out. Did it challenge you creativity like it did for me? 

Pete: It is a sense but the main reason I wanted to write a novel that was as carefully plotted as this one is I wanted it to have a beginning, a middle and an end and not have people say to me, "So what happens when Tommy gets to the top of the hill? Where does he go then?" Or "what happens at the end of Quadrophenia to Jimmy? Does he die? Does he live?" In this case I wanted people to know what exactly what happens to all of the characters and the only question I want to hear is "when are we going to get a sequel?" The book meant to be rock solid to create a really good platform to what happens next. So writing it I kind if fell in love with all the characters I created. There's one character, a female character, I won't give too much away but the very end of the book I was so enamored with this female character I created I gave the whole book to her, I have her the last word. I think that happens when I'm writing, I heard other writers say this, Is that how you felt? 

Me: Oh, yeah, I love my characters, and love writing them. Was it hard for you to write a novel? 

Pete: No it wasn't hard, it didn't feel new. I was an editor at a publishing house for a long time and I worked with a lot of fiction writers and I understand how fiction works. I've never tried it myself but it came very naturally. I had a wonderful editor. I'm really please at the response to it. 

Me: So, the Who finally had a new record out after 13 years, is. What took you guys so long? 

Pete: What I've been doing for the last 13 years I've been working on this project. The Age of Anxiety is a novel but it also is a series of songs, its a series of soundscapes, electronic music, art installation, it's a whole load of things. The reason the Who didn't make an album for 13 years was because it felt like there was no point. 

Me: What? What do you mean by that? There's always a point for new music, sir. 

Pete: What's the point putting out a record when we had this incredible legacy of 40 or 50 songs and we could only play about 15 of them in two hours. What's the point of adding to the pile of material that people want to hear that we don't have time to play? Also is it possible to top songs like "Pinball Wizard," "Beyond Blue Eyes," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Baba O'Riley," they're such primal miracles that happened through a whole bunch of different accidents that the challenge then really just kind of dissipated. Then more recently in the last five years we got the the point either if the record sells a hundred million we only make about a hundred bucks so what's the point? I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean. 

Me: Yeah, of course. So, what changed? 

Pete: So, this time what I decided to do was to write songs for Roger, not for the Who, not for a Who album. 

Me: Why would you want to write songs for Roger? Hahaha. 

Pete: He's the guy I go out on the road with. And I got fed up with the fact that he was happy because he was singing, he's such a good singer, and his voice is getting better in my opinion. He's looking after it, he's doing a lot of exercises, he did surgery and stuff to keep his voice in shape. I thought what about me, I'm seeing as a creator and songwriter and I'm not doing new work. So I will insist, I say to Roger, I will tour but only if we have a new album out. He said, "What's the point? We're not going to sell any records. Nobody is going to listen." I just said, "I don't care. I just want to do really good work and have that in my back pocket and when I shake hands with somebody know in my own soul that I can still do this stuff." Of course now we can't tour and I can't shake hands with anybody, but... 

Me: Ha! Good point, So, like I said Roger was here on the Phile talking about his new book and we ended up talking about you. This is what he said when I asked him how you and he are getting along now. "Oh, can't stand each other. We're kind of brothers. Like he says we've been 'married' for 60 years. Not quite like that, but it's more than friendship, it's kind of more than family, there'd a deep, deep empathy. I could only speak for me but I'm sure what I get from Pete is a deep caring about me and I care deeply about him." What do you think of that? 

Pete: I think it's great. When he said we can't stand each other I thought good, he stuck to the script. Then he comes out with all that lovely dove shit. I'm like oh, my God, "darling I love you. I've always loved you. I hate you and I love you." He's right, what's interesting is that it's really deepened in time and it's that think I was saying, I don't want to get wise, I think time has a function which we don't always understand, we come to value people that we care about and we come to care about people that we're with all the time because of they short comings. I'm not perfect and he's not perfect, but one of the things we love about each other is that we are still working together. We are still in debt at woking and each others mysteries and eccentricities and difficulties and strangeness and I think we both are very peculiar people. He's right, I met over at school when I was 15. He was the kind of the school bully and I needed to be in a gang and when he invited me into his band I thought oh, great, I'll be safe in the neighbourhood. 

Me: Hahaha. Pete, this is so cool to have you on the Phile for the last year. I am glad I got to interview two members of the Who. Thank you so much. 

Pete: You'e welcome, and all my love to you and you family. Your father was a gentlemen, Jason. 

Me: Thank you, sir. Take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Pete Townshend for a cool interview. The Phile will be back on Friday with Samantha Newark from "Jem," if you remember that show. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Kiss your brain!

Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam, somebody said it could be here. We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year. I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one they all just fade away...

Monday, March 1, 2021

Pheaturing Michael Nesmith


Rabbit. Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile. It's March already. Crazy, right? I think there's gonna be a rapture this month. Over the past few years, Dr. Seuss has been widely criticized more and more for the “racial undertones” that have been drawn in his books. Dr. Seuss books have been an iconic staple in children’s literature, but a national educators organization is determined in “cancelling” the author in the name of change. Learning for Justice, a left-wing educators group, has been fighting for the famous cartoonist to not be highly recognized and acclaimed as he normally has throughout history. They claim that Theodor Seuss Geisel’s children’s books have “racial undertones,” and that schools should avoid Read Across America Day with Dr. Seuss, a national holiday on March 2nd honoring Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The group under the Southern Poverty Law Center promotes radical teaching views, believing that racial and social justice should be taught to students as young as five-years-old. Learning for Justice cited a study from St. Catherine University in a magazine article called, “It’s Time to Talk About Dr. Seuss,” that claimed that, “Dr. Seuss’s children’s literature is rife with ‘orientalism, anti-blackness, and white supremacy,'” referring to 50 Dr. Seuss books. The researchers concluded that there was simply not enough diversity, especially since many of the books were written in the 50s. They said, “Of the 2,240 (identified) human characters, there are 45 of color representing two percent of the total number of human characters,” and of the 45 characters of color, 43 “exhibited behaviors and appearances that align with harmful and stereotypical Orientalist tropes.” The organization also expressed that many of the non-white characters in the books were men who were “subservient” to the other white characters in the books. They wrote, “It’s also important to note that each of the non-white characters is male and that they are all ‘presented in subservient, exotified, or dehumanized roles,’ especially in relation to white characters.” Some experts have said that much of the “racist” portions of Dr. Seuss’ work was done before books such as Horton Hears a Who, the Cat in the Hat, the Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh the Places You’ll Go, while he was still a cartoonist. And Learning for Justice claims that anyone who defends Dr. Seuss is actually a “racial apologist” who makes excuses for why “bigotry doesn’t matter.” They believe that teachers should directly discuss Dr. Seuss’ racist past with not only young children but also older students. Since older students were exposed to his books as young readers, they asked teachers to explain racism, how to spot it, and when they could expect it. They said, “You can address these arguments directly, discussing the degree to which cultural norms excuse biased language or actions, how harmful stereotypical representation can be, and whether... and how... a person can make up for hurtful mistakes.” 

“Do not speak ill of the dead” is an aphorism dating back to Ancient Greece. The line was first recorded by the philosopher Chilon of Sparta, one of the Seven Sages of Greece, in 600 B.C. For more than 2,000 the simple adage has been our go-to etiquette when it comes to talking about the deceased. But it’s safe to say that any last shred of decorum in our present-day politics flew the coop (or should I say, flew the coup) when a certain presidential candidate bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy”... and still won. So when conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died recently, at the age of 70, it was no surprise when some high-profile celebs used their platform to say good riddance. Limbaugh died in Florida after battling lung cancer... a disease which he insisted had nothing to do with his habit for cigars. He left behind his fourth wife, Kathryn. Many news outlets took the time to remember his wildly popular radio show and his Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed upon him by the former president Donald Trump. Fox News called him a “conservative talk radio pioneer” in a glowing obituary. GOP officials like Mike Pence tweeted out, saying, “Today America lost a Giant with the passing of Rush Limbaugh.” Meanwhile, many Democrats took to social media to directly call out the bigotry that the Republican broadcaster perpetuated throughout a long career in conservative radio. For some time, #RestInPiss and #RotInHell became trending topics! Progressive talk show host Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks, tweeted his own concise explanation of this immediate online phenomenon...

As comedian Billy Eichner points out in a response to his own re-tweet... As comedian Billy Eichner points out in a response to his own re-tweet, “Honestly Rush would’ve loved all the hate-tweeting about him today. Hate was the BRAND.” 

Demi Lovato is getting mixed opinions on social media after she called gender reveal parties transphobic. The pop star shared a very lengthy Instagram post where she attacked the idea of celebrating baby girls and boys with a tradition that “neutralizes culture myths as biological facts.” The post, which was originally authored by transgender rights activist Alok Vaid-Menon, reads, “Gender reveals upholds the gender binary and the binary prevents people from observing reality. Only individuals can determine their own gender.” This isn’t the first time that gender reveal parties have been under attack in recent years. This is due to the gender reveals gone wrong with couples using alligators or pipe bombs to share the blue or pink news. One famous reveal triggered a heavy bush fire that burned 45,000 acres in Arizona. But, the Hollywood actress’ take on the gender reveal parties show the deeper reason gender reveals are problematic, saying that they simply reject the progression idea that gender is a spectrum, as well as a social construct. The act of a parent announcing that a baby is a boy or girl indeed confirms what biology tells us, which is that sex is binary, and no, gender is not a product of society’s biological sexual difference. Lovato attempted to debunk the truth as a cultural myth, claiming that the fact that there are only two options is an illusion. Denying the reality that there are only two sexes, female and male, the post read, “This is not about political correctness. It’s just… correct. We condemn gender reveals not because of our identity but because of reality.” The author of the post, Alok, also argued that gender reveals link back to the idea that "genitals equal gender" and how girls or boys are the two default options. The post added, "This definition erases the fact that there are boys with vaginas and girls with penises and that there are people who are neither boys nor girls. The idea that sex is based on genitalia is inconsistent with science." Although the Disney celeb did get some support from her fans, other followers in her, disagreed with the declaration. One user wrote, “Baby girl most of parents just wanna celebrate [sic] that they’re having a baby. Not the gender of the baby.” Another Instagram user commented, “Let people do what they want. Mind your business!” The singer is a member of the LGBTQ community. Last year in January 2020, she told Andy Cohen about her sexual fluidity, saying that she was still figuring out her sexuality. The singer also made headlines on July 24th, 2018, Lovato was hospitalized amid a fatal overdose speculating that the singer had been using heroin. She spent two weeks recovering at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. 

As society continues to re-examine its mistreatment of people of all kinds, Disney has decided to help enforce change. "The Muppet Show," which streaming service Disney+ has released five seasons of, will now feature a content disclaimer warning of “offensive content” at the beginning of each episode of the show. Disney+ subscribers will now be able to watch the iconic characters from the show such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and their other celebrity guests, but they will see the content warning that says,  “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together.” The statement also says, “Disney is committed to creating stories with inspirational and aspirational themes that reflect the rich diversity of the human experience around the globe,” although not specifying what Disney actually considers offensive on the show. However, some of the characters do depict Native American, Middle Eastern, and Asian people. In the fifth season, Johnny Cash is even seen performing in front of a Confederate flag. The same content warning that will appear on "The Muppet Show" will also appear on other favorite Disney+ movies, including The Aristocats, Dumbo, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson. The content disclaimers stem from Disney’s Stories Matter initiative. They said, “Rather than removing this content, we see an opportunity to spark conversation and open dialogue on history that affects us all. We also want to acknowledge that some communities have been erased or forgotten altogether, and we’re committed to giving voice to their stories as well.” 

There are many reasons why fans are excited about the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. While others are already hoping that their favorite actors will play the superheroes, some are also looking forward to the villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe flick. Not surprisingly, Tim Story is hyped up about Galactus' arrival in the MCU. Story, who directed the first two Fantastic Four movies starring Jessica Alba, recently spoke to DesdeHollywood while promoting his new film Tom and Jerry. Interestingly, Story pointed out that some people were afraid of what Galactus would look like in his true form in his films. However, that's something to look forward to in the MCU. "What I am so looking forward to is when they [Marvel Studios] get their hands on Galactus and show Galactus, I can't wait. I can't wait," Story said. He added that a certain scene from Avengers: Endgame convinced him that Marvel will do things right. "When I saw Ant-Man big on-screen, when I saw that, I went, 'Oh my God, wait until they get to Galactus.'" Story said. I understand why Story is so excited about Galactus joining the MCU. In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the villain only appeared as a cloud-like entity and we never really get to see him in his true form. However, there's a good chance that Marvel Studios will feature the super villain in the upcoming reboot. The Fantastic Four reboot will be directed by Spider-Man 3 director Jon Watts. For now, the new cast has not yet been announced but fans believe that Reed Richards could eventually show up in WandaVision. However, this has not yet been confirmed by Marvel so it's best to take it with a grain of salt. Watts' Fantastic Four reboot has not yet been given an official release date. However, this could be updated in the next few weeks. 

Instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this album...

Maybe not. So, you know what makes me smile? When people reenact pictures from their childhood, like this one...

Hahahaha. So, I went to the beach yesterday and noticed a new beach warning sign...

I wasn't there long enough to get sunburnt and I was covered up pretty well but I have gotten sunburnt before. Not as bad as this guy though...

They tell me if I go to Walmart I'd see some odd sights. I didn't believe it until I saw this...

Hahaha. So, James Hatfield of Metallica is a really good guitar player but did you know he also plays a mean giant slug? Check it out...

Hahahaha. So, sometimes when I'm bored, which is not often, I go to Twitter and look up certain words to see what people are talking about. One of the words I look up is "Foghat" and this is a tweet I recently saw. 

Hahahaha. That's fantastic! Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Things Said About The 2021 Golden Globes
5. We've had a FULL YEARrr to figure out the Zoom. A FULL YEAR.
4. Al Pacino sleeping at the Golden Globes is the most I've ever related to a celebrity.
3. Jane Fonda's skin deserves its own Lifetime Achievement Award. 
2. I really hoped that all of these people have sweatpants and slippers on the bottom halves of their bodies. 
And the number one thing said about the 2021 Golden Globes was...
1. The Golden Globes are so embarrassing right now and I have done improv over Zoom. 

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, let's take a live look at Port Jefferson, New York, shall we?

Looks like a cold and wet morning there. Now for a story from...

Two men were arrested in Florida after a TikTok video went viral on social media last week, showing them performing an unauthorized surgery on a pregnant dog that later led to its death. According to authorities, 50-year-old Larry Colon was allegedly trying to save money by having 33-year-old Frankie Huertas-Rivera perform a c-section on his pregnant French Bulldog, Lyla, in his Clermont home. Colon told authorities that he had agreed to pay a total of $650 cash for the operation to Huerta-Rivera, who claimed to be a licensed veterinarian. The surgery was captured by Colon’s 15-year-old daughter in who then posted it to TikTok. In the video, the dog was seen screaming in pain on top of the table in Colon’s home. The dog was said to be semi-sedated squirming in pain as Huertas-Rivera attempted to deliver the puppies via an illegal c-section in the living room. Colon later brought the animal to a veterinarian’s office but the dog had already died. Unfortunately, the two unborn puppies were also found dead inside of her. The vet staff stated Colon told him the surgery was performed by an unlicensed person and he knew it shouldn’t have been done. According to the affidavit, staff told officials the pregnant dog and her puppies had “suffered unjust cruelty and suffering due to unethical medical services performed.” The clinic also told authorities that Colon was told to take the surviving animals to the veterinarian as soon as possible in order to assess the puppies, but that they had not been by the time animal cruelty investigators arrived at the home the following day. Colon was arrested Friday on a charge of animal cruelty. Huertas-Rivera also facing animal cruelty charges in addition to another for practicing medicine without a license. Both men posted bond and are now set to be arraigned this month. Lawyers for both men could not be reached for comment on their behalf.

The 146th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Pete will be the guest on the Phile on Wednesday. 

Two archeologists, exploring a remote mountain in Tibet came across a huge granite statue which resembled a sitting man. It stood almost 400 foot tall, and its bodily details were accurate down to the fingernails and teeth. "It looks real enough to talk," says one. "Let's try," says the other and turning to the statue he asks it its name. No answer. "How old are you?" No answer. Finally one man shouts out, "What is the square root of 64?" Suddenly, the mountain shakes as the giant statue rises onto its feet and puts its hand on its chin. Then after about ten seconds, the statue answers in a roaring voice, "Eight." "Of course!" says the scientist, "It only stands to reason." 

Today's guest is an American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist, best known as a member of the pop rock band the Monkees and co-star of the TV series "The Monkees." Please welcome to the Phile... Michael Nesmith.

Me: Hello, Michael, welcome to the Phile, sir. I am so excited to have a member of the Monkees here on the Phile. How are you? 

Michael: Thank you, Jason. Great to be here. 

Me: So, you have done so many things, not just the Monkees stuff. Do you ever get time to still songwriter these days? 

Michael: Yes, what happens is if I'm in a songwriting mode which is to say listening to the songs that I continually play, if a song jumps out at me there's a snippet of poetry of rhyme is stop everything and sit down and write it up. But it doesn't always make a song so I gave to be prepared to walk away when I hit the block. There's a little companion songwriter who rides with me who says, "That's never going to be a song. Let's get out of here before they kill us." I often write if something takes me over, that could be in the middle of the night. I keep a pen and pad by my bed. It could be in the career I'll just do a snippet on the telephone. 

Me: So, you don't pick up a guitar and force it to come? You just let it come to you? 

Michael: Sort of like that. I think the point I'm making is there is no process by which it continues to come in. My first wife said, "Oh my goodness, you're such a great poet. You write 3 songs every morning." I said, "I do?" I wasn't even aware of it. I would just sit down and scrabble some stuff that occurred to me then they'd turn into songs because I need to play them in order to remember them. To get them registered in memory is to sing them. 

Me: So, what instruments do you play, Michael? 

Michael: Well, I can play guitar and I can play piano if you allow me to use play it not the meaning it says. 

Me: Do you write with other people? 

Michael: No, not really. There were all those songs that John Lennon and I wrote but no one ever heard those. I guess his estate keeps them in a drawer somewhere because we really wrote thousands, at least that's how I recall it. I typically don't reach out to people to write with them. The only person who I said they'd like to write me with is Steve Martin who did it at dinner one time. But putting myself in a spontaneous element to write with someone has never gone very far with me. When I got the part of the show on the Monkees I was talking to the guys in the Brill Building, they said, "Well, are we going to write some pop songs, Nez?" I said, "I don't know how to write a pop song, I don't know what a pop song is. But maybe we can try some things." It just never went anywhere. 

Me: So, back to John Lennon, you actually wrote with him? What was that like? 

Michael: Yeah, Lennon was a pretty good time. He was a wordsmith and he loved to play with words, and I did too and if we went out to dinner we would jive back and forward with these poems which delighted him. We would find the communication really simple but those are a long way from songs. I could do that at a dinner party and all kind of places. 

Me: That's cool. Did he eve give you some insight on songwriting? 

Michael: We were standing in his little music room and there was one song with a huge vocal spread that they used from time to time with the harmony kind of thing. I said, "Jeez, that's beautiful, John." He said, "Yeah, that's our homage to the Beach Boys." And I thought he writes songs like other songwriters? But I didn't say anything, it's not the sort of thing I should say. But it was fascinating for me to see that this was a process that we run into all the time. It never occurred to me that John and Paul did that, but I guess they did. 

Me: You songs are different genres, am I right? Is there a reason for that? 

Michael: I think we all live in a sea of music, an ocean of music. It plays all the time, it plays when we are in a restaurant, it plays when we are on airplanes, its just playing all the time. There's some sort of switch in my head that I can shit off that external music and listen to it internally. Bit the weird thing about it is the internal music is the same as the external music in terms of its style. It can be calypso, it can be whatever, it can be funk. For example, the song "Rio," I wrote as a Doobie Brothers song. 

Me: You also have done some blues, which is surprising to me. Do you like that genre a lot? 

Michael: I'm a little careful of the word genre, although I take your meaning. The thing that made the blues wok is the same thing that made folk music wok, they were very easy to put together. 

Me: So, what kinda singer do you think you are? 

Michael: A cross between Perry Como and Little Richard. 

Me: Hahaha. Fair enough. Okay, so, were you around music much when you were a kid? 

Michael: I was surrounded by music at this little bar that was next to the laundromat where my mother did her clothes. I would go with her as a kid, a kid being 8-years-old, 7-years-old, and out of that bar came the great blues singers from that time. They would play loud on the juke box and while we were doing laundry fo an hour and a half I would listen to that. 

Me: So, when did you first realize you wanted to be a musician? 

Michael: When I first head Bo Diddley. 

Me: Really? Why is that? 

Michael: Everything was perfect from the way he looked, from the hat he wore on his head to the guitar that he played, to the amplifier he played though. It was a life changer, I heard that pulse that happened with the tremolo and the reverb, the delay, the way he strummed it, it was just a magical moment for me. It set my feet in concrete in that particular kind of rhythmic style. 

Me: Okay, so, I have to talk about the Monkees, Michael. Here's a pic of you guys back then... 

Me: When you were on the show was it a different experience than you expected? 

Michael: Well, I had the idea, I'm not sure where it hatched but it probably came from the advertisements the TV producers put in Variety for guys my age playing music, wandering the Sunset Strip looking for work playing music. None of the music I heard being brought forward for the Monkees show was any of the music I was hearing in my head. I had gone down and I had auditioned for the part of the television show but I didn't rally understand how the music was supposed to fit. I knew the concept of the show was an out of work rock and roll band trying to make it and there was a new day dawning and it included rock and roll but it sort of didn't include me and I didn't know how to make it fit. So what I did basically was sit down and shut up and just listened and be grateful for it and take the ride. I learned a lot, I learned a lot from the pop song writers and from the pop producers and so forth because I didn't have any notion or any traction that I could get from the music that was being played for the show and for those records. It isn't until we started playing as a band in front of a live audience it started to make sense to me. I started to say this is fun, this is good, I understand what we ae doing here. Of course it was pandemonium. We went out there and walked out in front of 20,000 people and the place would just go up in smoke. That was unexpected, I didn't think I signed on for that. I thought basically I was going to sign up for a new rock and roll band that they were going to put on television. But that wasn't the case, it was a television show that was about a rock and roll band and the whole things had to be made up from start to finish. 

Me: A lot of people loved you guys but a lot of people said you guys were a fraud. How did it feel to you back then when all that was happening? 

Michael: Well, it was completely understandable. 

Me: It was? Why? 

Michael: Because television was largely unknown in the 60s. Television only got on the map in the 40s and became a real force in the 50s. So television was a teenager, it had only been around for ten years. Nobody understood the medium, nobody understood what it did and what it was and how it worked and so forth. But Lennon, he did understand it and I understood once I was in it. The luminaries all understood, this is television, this is not pop music. Some people thought the Monkees are a pop band but they don't really play and they don't really sing, these aren't their songs and this is just an artifice. This is just a creation, which of course it was but it was a creation that we thought of was a feature, not as a fiction, not as a fraud. It was a part of what it was, it was a narrative about an out of work rock and roll band. It wasn't really an out of work rock and roll band that was out making music, it was a television show. And it just confused everybody and it has for decades. 

Me: Was it frustrating for you? 

Michael: Well, spiritually it was self evident. I knew there was a difference between a rock and roll band and a television show. And now that's real simple. We don't have any trouble understanding, we know that the music videos we see is not their life is. That's the same then that the music that was on records, Bo Diddley for instance, was certainly not anything like four young adults living by themselves in a house on a beach. So it was completely at odds. 

Me: Hahahaha. That's crazy, but you have a point, Michael. But you did play shows as a rock and roll band, so that probably confused people even more, right? 

Michael: The fact that we played, Jason, and performed as a rock and roll band like bands do which is play and write songs and record them even confused things further. Wait a minute, I just ordered dessert. Well, that is dessert. No, I just ordered a hot fudge sundae. That is a hot fudge sundae. We had those conversations all the time and they just came to nothing so we struggled and struggled and struggled. 

Me: Okay, so, what's the deal with Jimi Hendrix opening for the Monkees? 

Michael: There was nothing that competed between the two of us, we were so completely different than what he was. The crowd was also with us entirely, they were not with Hendrix. Hendrix was an anomaly, Hendrix scared the 14-year-old girls who were waving their pink arms in the air screaming, "We want Davy" while he was singing "Hey, Joe." 

Me: What was Hendrix like? 

Michael: He was a prince of a guy. I loved him from the minute we met and as long as I knew him. 

Me: So, what was it like fo you to perform live in concert? The fans must've loved it. 

Michael: The Monkees had its own personae and it was fueled by television. Because the power of television, which is very different from the power of music, we were "bobble-heads." We bounced around on stage and we rendered the songs that 9-year-olds had watched on television and they were thrilled with the idea that it had come to life. I was thrilled with the same thing, that Hendrix had come to life. It was a great match, but we weren't the same things at all, we weren't running on the same track. 

Me: So, how did you get involved with the movie Repo Man

Michael: I guess it was the intelligence of it, the way it bored down and though the culture and society of the time. We shot it in the swamps of L.A. The swamp of L.A. used to be the downtown golden chariot that had turned into this thing in the 80s that was just weird. Then it was Alex Cox ear for the language on the streets and for the punk sensibilities which I didn't know anything about at all and frankly still don't. But he lived it. 

Me: Michael, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope this was fun for you. 

Michael: It was, and I enjoy your blog. So long, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Michael Nesmith for a fun interview. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with Pete Townshend. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Kiss your brain. 

Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam, somebody said it could be here. We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year. I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one they all just fade away...

Friday, February 26, 2021

Pheaturing Gillian Anderson From "The Crown"


Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Friday. How are you? Mr. Potato Head has gone through a lot of changes over the years. When the children’s toy was first distributed by Hasbro in 1952, it was just a collection of separate plastic parts for kids to stick inside of real potatoes! After parental complaints of rotting vegetables, the plastic potato was introduced in 1964. And now, Potato Head... minus the Mr.... can add gender fluidity to its list of modern updates. The toy giant Hasbro announced that Mr. Potato Head, and his wife Mrs. Potato Head, will be rebranded as a single gender-neutral “Potato Head” toy line. The Mr. Potato Head is more than just a plastic toy. In 1949, the Brooklyn toymaker George Lerner revolutionized the art of children’s play by inventing a toy that kids could design themselves. What began as a bundled set of plastic body parts attached to pins grew into the massively successful franchise we know today. In 1951, the Hasbro company... then called Hassenfeld Brothers... bought the rights to Lerner’s product for just $7,000 (plus 5% royalties). At the time, the parts were being distributed as cereal box prizes. But it didn’t take long for Hasbro to create a new, and highly strategic, business model. Long before the advent of games like Monopoly and Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head put Hasbro on the map. The company marketed Mr. Potato Head directly to children, as opposed to their parents, through eye-catching TV advertisements that ran throughout the early 1950s: a genius play. The sales of Mr. Potato Head were an unparalleled success. In 1953, Mr. Potato Head’s family was added: Mrs. Potato Head, and their children, Yam and Spud. In 1995, Disney’s Toy Story reintroduced the Potato Head family to a new generation of kids who then tinkered with the trinkets imagining the celebrity voices of Don Rickles and Estelle Harris. And now, a new era has dawned in the great American story of the Potato Heads. Hasbro announced that the toy will be rebranded as a single gender-neutral “Potato Head” toy line. Ali Mierzejewski, editor in chief of The Toy Insider, told the Associated Press: “It’s a potato. But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.” Hasbro is not the first toy company to expand marketing to include more diverse options. Mattel has actively pushed against Barbie’s “blonde image” in recent years, adding new dolls with a range of skin tones, body shapes, in addition to a gender-neutral line in 2019. Thomas the Tank Engine, another Mattel toy line, had added more girl characters. Even American Girl Doll now sells boy dolls! The LGBTQ non-profit GLAAD applauded the move by Hasbro, saying, “Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms.” The move by Hasbro might, on its surface, seem reductive to the long-established Mr. Potato Head identity. But in essence, the decision by Hasbro honors George Lerner’s original intent: for children to become the architects of their own toy’s look and destiny. Mr. Potato Head has long been considered a “boy toy” with his romantic partner Mrs. Potato Head being marketed to the girls. But in 2021, that idea seems heteronormative at best, and old-fashioned at worst, for the evolving Potato Head brand. Now kids can enjoy their plastic spuds in a non-binary domestic partnership. Who knows? Maybe the Potato Heads will enter into a polyamorous relationship with the nearest Barbie. The extent of this modern family will depend entirely on the imagination of your child. Who’s excited? 

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, everything went online, including work and school. As one would expect, crazy online mishaps have started to occur more regularly because Zoom calls are now so normal in our society. And for Marc Schack, this mishap might cost him his career. Schack is a teacher’s aide for special education students in Maryland at Shady Grove Middle School in Gaithersburg. He had thought an online lesson with 8th graders had ended last Wednesday and proceeded to have some alone time to “take care of himself.” But while he was masturbating, he had no idea that the virtual call lesson was still going. He told Bethesda Magazine that he was unaware the call hadn’t ended. He said, “I thought I was logged out when class was over. I had no clue that Zoom was still on. Why would I do that? That’s my job. I had no clue that Zoom was on. I mean, that’s just crazy behavior.” The 13-second clip was later posted on social media, showing Schack looking at his screen, then standing up, walking just a few steps away, and beginning to pleasure himself. His name appears on the screen as the host of the Zoom call, and seconds later, another name appeared, replacing him as moderator. Schack has been working for Montgomery County Public Schools for 21 years and also runs a business called Pirate Magic, where he portrays a character named “Captain Silly Bones” throwing “pirate parties” for youngsters. He has since been placed on administrative leave, but district officials also added that they had, “misplaced his background check file.” Schack insists the situation was, “just a mistake,” adding, “I’m only human,” adding, “I’m not a pervert or anything like that, you know. You gotta believe me on that... I thought I was in the privacy of my own home. I had no clue.” Nevertheless, district spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala did tell the New York Post that an ongoing investigation for a “staffer” for “inappropriate behavior that was sexual in nature,” saying, “Per our procedures, we do not release the names of staff members that are under investigation. Local authorities were informed and are investigating as well.” Look, masturbation is a natural part of life, okay? We’re all adults here. But, seriously, make sure you double, actually-triple, check who’s around before you dive into your “alone time.” And even if you’re planning some self-love, why even risk being near your work computer or your office? I really want to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, but I can’t really do that when he should’ve been more careful anyways.

Georgia’s new Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has openly supported baseless, far-right conspiracy theories including Pizzagate, QAnon, so-called “Jewish space lasers,” and false flag school shootings. Following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Greene staunchly defends Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Then a video of Rep. Greene verbally harassing a survivor of the deadly Parkland school shooting surfaced. Due to Greene’s history of incendiary commentary, the House voted to remove the Freshman congresswoman from all committee roles on February 4th, 2021. And now, she’s back in the news. This time for antagonizing her colleague, Rep. Marie Newman of Illinois, by hanging a sign that reads, “There are two genders: male & female. Trust the science.” Check this shit out...

The Equality Act, a bill that proposes prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, is currently on the House floor. Illinois U.S. Rep. Marie Newman is a vocal supporter of the legislation, and herself has a transgender daughter. While passionately advocating for the bill on Capitol Hill, Rep. Newman shared with Congress, “The right time to pass this act was decades ago. The second best time is right now. I’m voting yes on the Equality Act for Evie Newman, my daughter and the strongest, bravest person I know.” Since Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has called The Equality Act “disgusting,” “immoral,” “evil,” Rep. Marie Newman decided to hang a transgender pride flag in front of her own office... her which is right across the hall from Rep. Greene’s. Newman’s pointed display of the flag... which features blue, pink, and white stripes... honors the LGBTQ community was shared on social media. And boy, did it get Greene going. On February 24th, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted a video of herself hanging up a printed sign that reads “There are two genders: male & female. Trust the science.” The caption of the tweet says, “Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called ‘Equality’ Act to destroy women’s rights and religious freedoms. Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door,” followed by emojis of a winking smile and the American flag... a direct mockery of Rep. Marie Newman’s own tweet roughly five hours prior. Thanks to the feud between these lawmakers from Illinois and Georgia, the impending results have gained national attention. Although President Joe Biden has said that passing the Equality Act is a top priority, according to CNN, it still will face serious challenges should it move on to the Senate.

It’s been two months since Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by his former aide, Lindsey Boylan. But now, Boylan has decided to elaborate more about what happened, detailing his mistreatment of her, which includes kissing her after a meeting. She posted the full story on Medium on Wednesday, but Cuomo and his other aides have not hesitated to deny her allegations. Boylan’s lengthy explanation of what she alleges happened, mentions a “crude comment” she claims Cuomo made about playing strip poker during an October 2017 flight on his government plane. She wrote, “He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us. ‘That’s exactly what I was thinking,’ I responded sarcastically and awkwardly. I tried to play it cool. But in that moment, I realized just how acquiescent I had become.” However, four other people from Cuomo’s office who were on that flight, John Maggiore, Howard Zemsky, Dani Lever, and Abbey Fashouer Collins, denied the existence of that conversation in a statement to People Magazine that said, “We were on each of these October flights and this conversation did not happen,” and the governor’s office provided proof that all of Boylan was never alone with Cuomo during Cuomo’s flights in 2017. Boylan had decided to tell the full length of her story after she said another former staffer told her “that she, too, had been the subject of the Governor’s workplace harassment,” she added, “Her story mirrored my own. Seeing his name floated as a potential candidate for U.S. Attorney General... the highest law enforcement official in the land... set me off.” Boylan continued illustrating how Cuomo made her uncomfortable by detailing how his crude behavior around women included talking about their weight or ridiculing their romantic partners, how he “would go out of his way to touch [her] on [her] lower back, arms, and legs,” and when he allegedly kissed her on the lips when she left a meeting. She also wrote about when her boss, “informed [her] that the Governor had a ‘crush’ on [her],” after she and Cuomo met in January 2016. In her post, there are screenshots of emails and text messages. Boylan articulated much more in her post, not shying away from any details. And as much as Cuomo and his office denies the accusations, Boylan’s story has resurfaced in the midst of the mess that is going on with the NYC governor’s office and how they’ve been handling the coronavirus pandemic and distributing COVID-19 vaccines to New Yorkers.

Lady Gaga’s dog walker was shot four times and her to French Bulldogs, Gustav and Koji, were stolen on Wednesday night in West Hollywood. According to a close source to the singer, she is now offering $500,000 to anyone who has her dogs, no questions asked. If anyone has information, or has the dogs, you can email in order to retrieve the reward. The Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD, stated that the man was shot during a robbery before 10 p.m. and was later transported to the hospital in stable condition. The gunman then took the two bulldogs from the victim, used a semi-automatic handgun, and fled the scene in a white vehicle. Video of the scene showed a man on the ground who was still clinging to one dog, which was Miss Asia. The injured man appeared to be alert and was talking to officers before he was transported to a nearby hospital. Lady Gaga’s bodyguard was later seen picking up the dog from the station. Asia, Gustav, and Koji According to CNN, the investigation is still ongoing. Luckily, the source added that the singer’s dog walker is recovering well. Police stated the investigation is still ongoing and there are still searching for the shooter. French Bulldogs are very small and are known for their large bat-like ears. They are the fourth most popular dog breed in the U.S. according to the American Kennel Club. Back in 2018, the Oscar winner, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, posted several photos of her dogs in Chia Pet costumes for Halloween. She recently made headlines for performing her national anthem on inauguration day. The actress is currently overseas in Rome, Italy filming for her upcoming murder drama, Gucci

Do you know what makes me laugh? When people reenact photos from their past, just like this woman did...

Hahaha. Have you seen that painting of Ted Cruz? It made me laugh... 

There are so many good shows on Disney+ now if you don't know. Check out this new show... 

Psssst. That's not a real show. Do you remember the Sally and Sam books? I don't, but I wish I had this one...

Hahahaha. If I had a TARDIS I would go back in time to see how they tested football helmets.

Ouch! Throughout 2020, plenty of people finding themselves in self-isolation took an opportunity to start new hobbies or learn a new craft. However, there was one craft taken up by an individual that caused tension in a relationship. One Phile reader is a 26-year-old male who did not approve of his 24-year-old girlfriend’s new interest and confronted her about it. It did not go well. He emailed me and asked...

"Am I wrong for telling my girlfriend that she’s not a witch? I think my girlfriend got bored during the lockdowns last year and has gained an obsession with witchcraft. She keeps saying that she’s a witch and she has filled our house with herbs, candles, crystals, rune sets and weird trinkets. At first I didn’t care because I thought it’d be a temporary thing but I was very wrong. She gets up at 3 in the morning just to do rituals and spells or whatever it is witches do. My girlfriend burns so much incense that it gives me a headache and makes our house smell strange, I hate it. She also tries to make me drink random herbal teas that taste like shit. I really was trying to be supportive but it’s starting to frustrate me. A few hours ago, I came home from work and as soon as she saw me she told me that she senses ‘bad energy’ and started SPRAYING some mist thing?? on and around me. So I may have snapped and told her that she was acting crazy and she needs to let this witch thing go because she’s not a real fucking witch. My girlfriend was offended and told me I wasn’t a supportive boyfriend that I was acting disrespectful towards her beliefs and now she’s refusing to talk to me until I apologize… am I wrong? Starting to wonder if I should have just kept my mouth shut." No, you are not wrong. She crossed a line when she started to spray you directly which is the same as being sprayed with ‘holy water.’ If the two of you can’t come to an understanding and mutual acceptance of each other, you’re headed for a break-up. I encourage you to engage in a heart-to-heart discussion and set some boundaries if you want to remain in a relationship with someone who is passionate about her "awakening." If you have a problem you want my advice on then email me at Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...

Top Phive Things Said By People Who Don't Miss Their Exes
5. My ex left a ziploc bag of banana Laffy Taffy on my door step with a note that says "I know you always said I didn't listen to you but I still remember your favorite Laffy Taffy flavor." My favorite Laffy Taffy flavor is strawberry. 
4. I used to hate it so much when my ex would text me constantly but as it turns out I actually do like talking to someone 24/7, I just really don't like him.
3. I have a soft spot for dogs that's probably why I stayed so long with my ex. 
2. My ex is legit wearing a whole outfit purchased by me in his "engagement photos"... I have to laugh. 
And the number one thing said by someone who doesn't miss their ex is...
1. Being an ex is not a flex. The fact that you HAD me and you lost me is embarrassing. 

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, let's take a live look at Port Jefferson, shall we?

Oh, man, looks like the snow is pretty much melted. It looks like a nice day there though. Okay, now for some sad news...

Lawrence Ferlinghetti 
March 24th, 1919 — February 23rd, 2021 
There once was a guy named Larry whose poetry game was hairy. Lived many years, faced all his fears,  and was only just recently buried. 

In Stuart Little, the Little family walked into an orphanage, looked at ever child there, and decided on a rodent.

The 146th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Pete will be on the Phile on Wednesday. 

I am so excited about this! Today's guest is an American actress. Her credits include the roles of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully in the series "The X-Files," ill-fated socialite Lily Bart in Terence Davies' film The House of Mirth (2000), DSU Stella Gibson in the BBC crime drama television series "The Fall," sex therapist Jean Milburn in the Netflix comedy-drama "Sex Education," and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the fourth season of Netflix drama series "The Crown." Among other honors, she has won a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.  Please welcome to the Phile, someone I had a crush on in the 90s... Gillian Anderson!

Me: Hey, Gillian, welcome to the fan. I was a huge "The X-Files" fan so it's so cool to have you here on the Phile. How are you? 

Gillian: I'm good. How are you doing? 

Me: I'm doing great. So, I haven't seen "The Crown," but I was told I'd love it by so many people. With the last season you guys finished filming right before COVID hit, right? 

Gillian: Yeah, I think we had two weeks to go which we didn't get but two weeks ins't so bad. 

Me: Did it feel like a bit rushed then when you were finishing up the series? 

Gillian: I think so. But for production they were meant to go to the Pyrenees to shoot some stuff and they didn't get to do that. Then it was moved to Scotland to Ben Nevis, then they shut everything down. Then it was determined they weren't going to get those scenes at all. 

Me: What do you think the biggest loss of filming was then? 

Gillian: We didn't have a day taking shots for the posters and things like that. But you know, c'est la vie. 

Me: True. I cannot believe you played Thatcher in the show. I know a lot about her from living in England in the 80s and stuff. What did you know about her? 

Gillian: She was revered by some people and she was absolutely despised by other people. 

Me: Yup. So, how did you feel about taking this on? 

Gillian: Well, I think as an actor ones always looking for complex characters. So taking on a character that is notoriously divisive feels like rich material. It wasn't so much that aspect of it didn't concern me. And also because this isn't a biopic of Thatcher, we are seeing he Prime Minister through the prism of the crown. So it's very narrow slices of her journey through this particular 11 year period when she's office, so that somehow makes it a little bit more like it's a written character rather than a hundred percent full-fledged first draft of history. 

Me: Do you think you showed Thatcher in a different light than people remember her to be? 

Gillian: There was a wonderful BBC six part documentary that came out luckily for me right around the time I was doing the bulk of my research. And that too felt like the first time I had seen and many people I think had seen such a multi-facatcted view of her. There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff. It felt like there was more humanity to the all serious lecturing and hectoring woman that we I think we remember so clearly. I guess then in reading the scripts and seeing how the intricacies that Peter Morgan, the writer and show runner of "The Crown" was painting it made sense and it didn't feel completely left field to enter the stories through say Thatcher's mother or through the home keeper of the flat above Number 10 for instance, where she and Dennis would've lived through her time in office. So it's a very rounded much I wouldn't say sympathetic view. But it definitely has a humanity there that we're not used to. 

Me: I have to show a pic of you as Thatcher... 

Me: You look so good as her. So, what did you notice about how she spoke and lived that you wanted to play? 

Gillian: Well, she had a very specific cadence and recognizable voice. It's an easy voice to parody. It's easy to go to extremes with it and I think it was important for Peter that there still remains an element of me in there somewhere. That it didn't feel like it was a prodict portrayal. So that was one of the goals, to find something that was also grounded a little bit in my voice. She had a very specific way of walking, she had a very specific way of talking, leading with her chin with her head tilted and a way of gesturing and holding her hands because if a condition she had which affected some of the fingers on her hands. So all of these things is what I learned as I dig into her life story. And are easy enough to notice and use as material when watching the videos and stuff. There's plenty of juicy stuff out there. 

Me: Okay, so, I was told not to ask you anything about "The X-Files," but I am going to ask when you look back to the 90s when you started that show what do you think? 

Gillian: The very beginning when I started to do press for "The X-Files" I remember being so confused and I'd be asked the same questions over and over again. It's like my brain would just shut down. 

Me: What do you mean shut down? Why? 

Gillian: I don't know whether it was stress or just the focus being on me or what. I constantly had to say to the simplest questions the interviewers would ask, "Do you believe in extraterritorials or wherever?" and I'd say, "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, would you ask me that question again?" I'd literally lose my way constantly. So I feel it's only really in the last decade maybe, or maybe in five years, I feel I've got better at interviews even though I've done millions and millions and millions of them. 

Me: Could you possibly thought that show would still have the following now as it did 27 years ago? I was all about "The X-Files," having a poster of you and David on my bedroom wall, the toys, the books, shirts, everything. Can you believe after all this time it's still popular? 

Gillian: I don't know, I'm still constantly surprised by it. There's new fans popping up all the time, There's still young viewers out there who are able to find it somewhere. I don't know where they get to find it anymore. The audiences are still very passionate about it and certainly the fans I had since back then have even incredibly loyal to me through the years as well and have continued to voluntarily followed my career and show up at theater events that I do. They'll show up at different play that I'll do and in the audiences of talk shows. 

Me: Is that a good thing? 

Gillian: Yeah, it is! It's fun to see familiar faces that's out there. I try not to be judgmental about any of that stuff. Whatever floats their boat. 

Me: Do you see a connection with Dana Scully and Margaret Thatcher? 

Gillian: I have a tendency to play very strong and independent strident female characters that are kind of forces to be reckoned with in their own rights and so whether it's Thatcher or whoever it is the common denominator is that it's me that's playing them. I think it's certainly my strong will comes through and potentially is related to why people come to me to cast me in these characters to begin with. So I think Scully would have been much more aware of her actions and how they relate to other women in her universe than potentially Margaret Thatcher was for instance. 

Me: Does playing Margaret Thatcher give you more empathy for who she was as a person? 

Gillian: I'm not sure if empathy is the right word. I would probably say an understanding for the woman that she became. She was a self made woman. She grew up in a very frugal household and her father was an alderman and she helped. He was a grocer and she was a grocer's daughter and she helped in the shop. They were incredibly religious, it was a Methodist household and so when we understand all of that it's easier to understand where she's come from and how she got to the world that she created for herself. I think it's just understanding, it's not necessarily compassion, it's not necessarily empathy. I think I could understand how she became who she became and yet disagree with a lot of the things that she might've done. And yet at the same time be impressed by how brave, or her work ethic, or the fact that she was woman of stature at that particular time. So yeah, she's complicated. I think it's important that the series embraces all of her complexities. 

Me: Cool. I know my grandparents hated her. Haha. Gillian, thanks for being on the Phile. This was so cool. 

Gillian: Thank you.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Gillian for a cool interview. The Phile will be back on Monday with Michael Nesmith. Yay, yeah, we're the Monkees! Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you. bye. Kiss you brain!

Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam, somebody said it could be here. We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year. I can't count the reasons I should stay. One by one they all just fade away...