Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pheaturing Van Dyke Parks

Good morning and welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. Happy Rosh Hashanah unless that's one of the sad ones. I'm still in Gainesville in case you didn't know. I asked the front desk of the hotel where the nearest Starbucks was and she told me but said I shouldn't bother going this early in the morning, they'll be a long line there with students already. What? Shouldn't you kids be in class? So, I took Uber yesterday and I heard about something called SNAP. But apparently SNAP doesn’t arrive at the snap of your fingers. SNAP stands for Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol. What the hell? I also learnt a very valuable lesson yesterday as well... Right over left. I learnt how to do the Gator Chomp properly. When in doubt, people, just remember right over left. Hey, not only is there a fee restaurants around here called The Swamp, and the stadium the Gators play is nicknamed The Swamp, I also found out a lot of kids get so much homework they are swamped. But there's a thing called Study Edge. I think it's supposed to rain today by the way... what is this, Rainesville? Ha. Okay, kids, let's see what else is going on...
Being truly seen isn't always a positive feeling. In fact, sometimes being roasted and being seen are one in the same. This definitely applies to Norwegian Air's latest ad campaign, which aptly roasted American culture while advertising affordable flights. Before we do a deep dive, just catch a load of this advertising imagery.

It's gorgeous, and it really has everything. First off, there's a white cop and a black cop, so it's like they were channeling a Rush Hour vibe, except with a whitewashed Jackie Chan which is very #onbrand for America. ON TOP OF THAT, the white cop is also larger and imbibing in a donut (fun stereotypes)! The black cop looks thoroughly OVER everything, which also feels... fitting for America in general, but particularly this whole dynamic. And, why cops?! Do Norwegian people travel to America to witness our fun prison industrial complex?! This is a very passive aggressive way for Norway to let America know they don't fuck with us too heavy. I think it's best to let the roast absorb into our souls. Because truly, is there anything about this ad that's inaccurate?! The donut eating method might be a tad overdramatized. But the passion of a Krispy Kreme knows no bounds. Hopefully, this will dissuade dozens of Norwegians from wasting their vacation time in America. They've been warned.
You've heard about Human Barbie and the Human Ken Doll, now meet Pixee Fox, the "living cartoon" who had 200 surgeries and 6 ribs removed to look like Wonder Woman. Spinning is easier than surgery, my dear. And when I say Wonder Woman, I mean the drawing of the Amazon princess, not the human Gal Gadot. Oh, the irony. Fox, 27, went on the British talk show "This Morning" to talk about her journey towards looking like a drawing, which so far has cost half a million British pounds (that's like a million U.S. dollars). "I've always been very artistic... as a child I always used to draw and paint and live in my own fantasy world that I created in my head. I had this vision of how I saw myself," she said. Fox sees herself as a "science project... pushing the beauty industry forward." "I've had so many surgeries I'm inventing my own surgeries," she said, before revealing that she went to India to have her eye color surgically changed. And she plans to keep going, hoping to beat the record with a 14.5-inch waist. Fox was the first person in the world to have six ribs removed, leaving her internal organs quite vulnerable. "The ribs are there to protect the organs, so if I get hit in the side, of course my organs would be more exposed, yes. But for health issues and reasons like that, as long as I protect myself I will be okay." I have reached Diana Prince for comment but have yet to hear back. I have to see what this woman looks like...

Ugh. Her hair color is wrong.
A group of people known as "anti-fascists" have taken a hands-on approach to the issue of neo-Nazis and white supremacists being loud and proud in public in recent months. By beating them up. On Sunday afternoon, the Internet fully mobilized behind getting a Nazi beaten up. It began when the Twitter account @bigotbasher shared a photo of a man riding the bus in Seattle while wearing a swastika armband. "Nazi shit head seen on D line headed to downtown #Seattle," they wrote. "Submitter said they were harassing a black man on the bus." Around the same time, a photo of the man was also posted on the Seattle subreddit thread, where it went viral. And others who noticed the Nazi walking around Seattle were also tweeting about it. Anti-fascists quickly mobilized in to action, tweeting out information about the Nazi's whereabouts. And it seems the plan worked. Because not long after these tweets went up, someone on Facebook named Shaughn Patrick Ffud, real name Sean Patrick Duff, shared a photo captioned, "just watched a Nazi get knocked the fuck out." Duff told BuzzFeed News that he just happened to be passing by when the confrontation went down. And he didn't participate, mainly because he was blazed off his ass. He said, "I literally just got off a bus and was walking to a movie and saw some guy being obnoxious up the way. Which I'm used to in downtown Seattle, but then I saw the Nazi armband and realize we are dealing with a guy a little more than just obnoxious. I had eaten over 800mg of THC and was way too high for confrontation so I just held back with two other passersby to watch what would unfold." While other bystanders took to Twitter to report having watched the whole thing go down one guy documented the whole chain-of-events, summed it up in four words... "talk shit, get hit"... and went viral. Others are praising the "beauty" of justice in action. Video of the punch made its way to YouTube, where it has since been taken down. But not before someone captured the moment in Gif form. Of course, not everyone supports punching Nazis, on the grounds that violence is not the solution to any problems. Even Nazis. What do you think?
A student at Transylvania University, which I Googled and is definitely a real school, has been expelled after reporting an undocumented classmate. Karma came quickly for Taylor Ragg, who reportedly posted a screenshot of his classmate's Facebook page with the caption "Everyone go report this illegal at my school." A University spokesperson confirmed to The Tab that Ragg has been expelled for his actions. "Taylor Ragg is no longer enrolled at Transylvania University. Per University policy and federal laws, we cannot offer any further details into the matter." Taylor had allegedly been harassing Paola Garcia, his fellow student, on Facebook. Garcia responded with a video detailing the harassment, which included abusive messages like "I can't wait till your fucking cunt ass is gone", and "Hope you enjoy your visit back to the dirt floors of your homeland, stinky ass." According to Daily Kos, school administrators originally claimed they couldn't do anything about the incident. As of today, that stance was reversed. Ragg, I have just one word for you... bye.
Every human with a 9-to-5 has experienced a soggy salad at lunchtime on at least one occasion. And I know it's such a first world prob, but a soggy salad is the easiest way to ruin your precious lunch break. Turns out, Glad has had a solution for this problem built right into its containers for years, and we've been completely overlooking it. As pointed out by Facebook user Sarah Rose, the circular indent in the lids of Glad containers is actually a meta lid, so you can attach a tiny container filled with salad dressing (or chocolate sauce, it's your life) to the inside of the container. "UM. HOW AM I JUST NOW finding out that the circle on these lids are actually lids for the tiny containers?! " she captioned a photo of her containers. "Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who didn't know this." Sarah, you're definitely not the only one who didn't know this. In under three days, her Facebook post has garnered over 28,000 comments, most of which express shock at this revelation. Scrolling through multiple container pages on Glad's website suggests that the lids are designed that way to be "interlocking," therefore making storage more organized. Even the brand's "variety pack," which comes with containers that look small enough to attach to the inside of the lid, does not mention this function. The only product that does mention it is this one round container that comes with its own dressing cup. You can also buy the dressing cups separately. Okay, I acknowledge that I am diving a little deep here. They're only food storage containers, after all. But this just seems like such a great function, and it's puzzling that Glad doesn't play it up more. Glad's marketing team, I'm talking to you! And if you find this a little critical... don't get mad, get Glad. And get a rebrand out ASAP.
You what is one of the best things about the Internet is? You can easily look at porn. But that could be  problem if you are reading the Phile and all of the sudden get bored and wanna switch over to porn, so I had a thought... but then I thought you might be reading the Phile at work or in class... so I had another thought which was a fantastic solution. Check out out...

You. Are. Welcome. Look at that woman. Not even a million lols can describe it. Hahahaha. Hey, did see that Surge is back? I never liked that drink, but I do like its new ad campaign...

Yup. So, once in awhile I like to show you what people actually look like when they are reading the Phile. I think this guy is getting frustrated over a Mindphuck...

Don't get mad, bro. So, when students arrive from out of state to go to school at UF I heard they are given this nice map of Florida to help them out...

I think it sums Florida up pretty good, don't you think? So, I thought this was Gator Country... but apparently they changed the name...

So, what's the deal with this, people?

Do people say, "Let's go meet at the fries?" What the hell? Guess where I am going after I'm done with this blog today...

Wait. Do they serve gluten free pizza there? Ugh. Do you know here in Gainesville they have their very own Oreo cookies? No? Let me show you.

Hahahaha. It's been many years since I was in Gainesville, I used to come here every weekend in the late 90s. Anyway, things are a little different now...

That was taken just this morning. Haha. Hey, so, yesterday I asked you guys to send me pics of dogs in pajamas to make me feel better and I already received a few. I'll pick out the best ones and post them here. So, keep sending them.

He looks so happy in his bunny pajamas. Awe. THAT'S what I'm talking about, people. Alright, it's Thursday, so you know what that means...

A man found part of a severed finger packed inside a pint of frozen custard he'd bought from a Kohl's Frozen Custard shop, and officials said it belonged to a worker injured in a food-processing machine accident there. The customer, Clarence Stowers, said he put the finger in his mouth, thinking it was a piece of candy when he opened the pint at home. Stowers said he spat the object out, and "I said, 'God, this ain't no nut!' So I came in here to the kitchen and rinsed it off with water and realized it was a human finger and I just started screaming." The custard shop owner, Craig Thomas, said that the 23-year-old employee who lost the finger had dropped a bucket while working with a machine that dispenses the custard. He tried to catch the bucket when the accident occurred. Thomas said that as several employees tried to help the injured worker, a drive-thru window attendant apparently scooped the chocolate custard into a pint before being told what had happened. Hmmm.

Ha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, there's a lot of important people that come from Gainesville. There's Don Felder, Maya Rudolph, Steve Spurrier, and Terry Jones who gained national and international attention in 2010 for his plan to burn Qur'ans. But there's someone who is also very important that was left off every list. So, I thought I would invite him back on the Phile for a second time. So, here we are, once again, it's...

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

Squirrel: Howdy! Yee-haw! Go Gators! I am good. I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park!

Me: Okay then. So, do you have any more jokes for us?

Squirrel: Sure do, buckaroo! What do you say to a FSU football player dressed in a three-piece suit?

Me: Ummm... I don't know. What?

Squirrel: “Will the defendant please rise.” Git it? Ha!

Me: Yeah, I get it. Do you have another?

Squirrel: What’s a good reason not to go to FSU?

Me: I don't know.

Squirrel: You already have a high school diploma.

Me: Haha. Okay, give is one more, Squirrel.

Squirrel: What’s the difference between a litter of puppies and Florida State Seminoles fans?

Me: I don't know.

Squirrel: Eventually puppies grow up and stop whining. They are babies! Yee-haw!

Me: Well done, Squirrel. Before you go I have to ask what do you think of President Trump?

Squirrel: He’s nuttier than a squirrel turd!

Me: Ain't that the truth. Squirrel, the Red Neck Gator Fan, everyone!

Oops, he did it again. Forget covfefe, President Donald Trump invented an African country while speaking at a lunch with African leaders: Nambia. David Mack of BuzzFeed News tweeted a clip of video where Trump brings up Narnia... I mean Nambla... scratch that, I mean Nambia. Hey, at least Nambia's healthcare system is increasingly sufficient. That's impressive, considering they don't even exist. It turns out he was going for "Namibia," which was what a lot of people guessed. Well, people familiar with countries in Africa that actually exist, that is. Just wait until Trump complains about how the media spun his words, or FAKE NEWS, or how Nambia actually exists, and he shot someone there, and didn't even lose a single voter. I bet Trump thinks this guy is the king of Nambia...

Okay, so, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, some crazy things happen in Florida that happen nowhere else in the universe. Some of these things happen right here in Gainesville. So, once again, here is...

This police sketch looks more like a crappy CGI cartoon character than a guy who pees on women.

Citizens of Gainesville, Florida should be advised that a giant thumb with crooked hair and really fake-looking pasted-on eyes and lips is on the loose and peeing on women near the University of Florida campus. While it is possible that the serial urinator is actually some sort of poorly designed computer-generated character, or perhaps a sentient collage of cut-up photos from "Us Weekly," it is definitely not a fully human organism. Or maybe he is. I don't know. I suppose it's always possible that this sketch is simply the work of a really lazy police artist trying to render the image some creep who gets off on micturating on strange women. But my gut's telling me that this mystery piss monster is something beyond our understanding. And my gut has never been wrong about a piss monster yet.

A Gator fan and a Seminole fan are sitting in a bar watching the 11:00 news. They look up on the TV screen and see a guy standing on the ledge of the bridge. “Bet ya 100 bucks he jumps,” says the Gator fan. “You’re on,” says the Seminole fan. Sure enough, the guy leaps off the bridge. The Seminole fan starts reaching for his wallet and the Gator fan laughs and says, “No man, I can’t take your money. I saw it already on the 6:00 news.” The Seminole fans says, “So did I. I just didn’t think they guy would be stupid enough to jump again.”

The 66th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Chas Hodges will be on the Phile a week from today.

An adjective is a word that when preceded by "the most" and followed by "ever" makes clicking an Internet link worth your time.

This is pretty cool, kids. Today's pheatured guest is an American composer, arranger, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and actor. His latest album "Songs Cycled" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Van Dyke Parks.

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. It's so cool to have you here, how are you?

Van: I am great. So, where are you from?

Me: England originally but I live in Florida now. Where are you from originally, sir?

Van: Hattisburg, Missisippi but raised in Louisiana. Do you know what the taxi drivers in Orlando's motto?

Me: Ummm... no, I don't.

Van: It's very important and on their coat of arms they have the expression "boldly going forward because we can't find reverse." Ha.

Me: Hahaha. It's good you can give me and my readers a bit of Orlando culture. So, I love the album "Songs Cycled." Was it a fun album to record?

Van: Thank you, and it was a hard album to record. I think everyone's getting the idea that albums take work. They just do and I enjoy that work. Basically I believe in work and I believe in music and I think all I really understand is the work. I don't really understand anything else. It's like when the work is done explaining it is impossible for me. My wife, when we were courting, she said two things that her mother told her... a southern gentlemen should learn how to say... one is "yes, ma'am" and the other was "whatever was I thinking." Haha. And that kind of applies the way I feel about my own work and everyone's work too. I'm a skeptic and and I'm highly self critical and I just pray that the work will be supportive, hopeful and confirming and delightful to the ear. I hope it means something to someone else.

Me: Well, I think it does that. With an album like "Songs Cycled," do you go into with an idea what people expect with a Van Dykes Park record?

Van: No, no, no, I have no preconceptions. I never had a preconception on any album but I think an album should hang together, even if they're non-themeatic in a way. And I think they should somehow be a pleasant experience for people who have time or will take time to listen to an album. Every particular cut of this album is highly different from many other and I know that. It's a mixed bag for sure.

Me: I love the song "Wall Street" from the album, sir. I love that line about the birds being on fire. It's a very interesting image. That song is about 9/11, right? Is that what you were thinking with it?

Van: Yes, but it's not my idea, it's what happened and that's what is most unfortunate about it. My friend, Art Spiegelman, did illustration's which blessed the album... one was about greed which is for the "Money is Greed" song and the other the picture of the man and woman jumping from the building. Many people jumped to their deaths rather than suffer death by fire. My friend Art at that moment on 9/11 was at the second tower that collapsed. He was picking up his daughter Nadja was at an elementary school four blocks away from Ground Zero which is what they called it. She looked up and she said, "Dad, the birds are on fire." That was a terrible thing for a child to witness. And for him he would regret it but he said those were people. He didn't want to lie. So at that moment my daughter was running from the building, she was going to attend NYU that morning at eight o'clock. Of course that put a top to her going to study something. She was running north talking to me on her cell phone. I was in Los Angeles at that moment getting out the morning shower and I for to the phone and I saw on television what was going on. It was totally surreal, I thought perhaps it was somebody's idea of a new action adventure movie or something. I didn't realize it was real and I was happy to hear from her and she told me where she was. She was seven blocks away and was running she could see the wall of ash. She said, "Dad, what should I do?" I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "I'm running north as fast as I can." I said, "That's a good idea. You keep it up." I said keep it up. She got to 23rd street and she found a shelter. So, I wrote these reflections down in a song but of course I didn't want to capitalize in any way on such a sorrow event so I hid it away. It took some time to admit to it but I thought it was an important thing to do. That's why it's there on the album. 

Me: Holy. Shit. I noticed that "The All Golden" is on this album as well as the original "Song Cycle" that came out the year I was born. What was the reason you redid that song, sir?

Van: Basically I wanted to illustrate the very basic idea how can you miss me if I won't leave. Haha. Remembering Mozart's admission, when somebody caught him with a familiar riff that they heard in one of this other works he said, "I'm paid to repeat myself." Now that's Mozart, so I figured he might know something. Basically to tell you the truth the underlying reality to the record and that is the more things change the more they stay the same. That is illustrated especially punctuated in the song "Dreaming of Paris." But to answer the question about "The All Golden," basically that's the same world. The song is touched by thoughts of racism, of war... I think it's kind of candy coated. It's a song of protest and it's because nothing essentially has changed. We have come from a militaristic 20th century. After Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince, got murdered in Sarajevo and World War I blossomed forth we spent the rest of that century in wars hot and cold. And it seems to me we've come out of it not learning very much. So I put that song again on "Song Cycles" for that very reason as a caution. Also because I'm happy with it. It is the way I am and in that song I admit to it. I say a place, Los Angeles for example, it mentions Silver Lake and it's a tribute to my friend Steve Young who died last year in Nashville. He's the guy who wrote "Seven Bridges Road" and "Lonesome, On'ry and Mean." He is the guy who was Waylon Jennings' role model for the outlaw cowboy. So it just covers a lot of autobiographical bases. And then on the aesthetic level "The All Golden" had been in my first album "Song Cycle" the singular present tense... I was accused of obscuring but I didn't know what that word meant. "The All Golden" had that. I went into the studio at 24-years-old and was fascinated by effects and all the things the studio could provide and the record is overwhelmed by that obsessionI had. I decided this is a good song so why don't I put it out again? Leave and stripped and bleeding very simply so it can be more closely examined. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Me: You have been in the business for a long time, sir, and have written so many songs. How old were you when you first started songwriting?

Van: Well, I was four and it was called "Brown Dog." It had four words... it repeated "brown dog" and then said, "or man." I stooped as I was rather disappointed with the result so I stopped writing songs until 1964. I had about a year to reflect on Bob Dylan's "The Freewheelin' With Bob Dylan," that was his first record. And I reflected on that. Like many other people when they heard Bob Dylan's voice they thought well if he can sing, I can to. Or if he can wrote songs I can to. So I decided to write a song and I wrote my first song which was called "High Coin." Now "High Coin" was a very interesting song... "When times and places effervesce, in words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time. In words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time. It looks like high time baby, to stop our lovin nickel dime, We're in the high times baby, Where words are lost and tempest tossed in lemon lime, When times and places effervesce, In words of wonder from down under, I'm no less, I'm fine, it's my time." That was my first song. I was working with a group called The Brandy Wine Singers, just playing guitar. I was making over three thousand dollars a week which was a lot of money even in these days. I wish I had I had that kind of money. I was paid a lot of money playing casinos in Reno, Nevada. I think it was a two week job there, or three weeks. I got in car, I'm not saying convertible with Hal Brown the bass player and he was about six feet, five. After that experience Hal became the Supreme Court Chief Justice of Alaska, just to tell you he was able. He was smart enough to escape from music before it collapsed from business. So, Hal Brown got behind the wheel and he put is upright bass into the car and I had my guitar in the trunk. And we went down into an almost ghost town. I say almost ghost town because it hadn't quite died. It looked like an old western set but was a real town. It was called Silver City, or was it called Virginia City? I'm not sure... it escapes me now. We got out of the car and were sightseeing the wild west. We walked into a saloon, I took my guitar, he took his bass and there we saw a group of four guys who were in a corner by a table. They were in a cloud of smoke and smelt funny. They were the house band and they all looked like Neil Young on a bad day with long hair and everything. They were called The Charlatans and one of them was the late Dan Hicks... that's when I met that that guy. I must've looked 18-years-old, I was very young in appearance but I was just 21. We said would you mind if we played a song and they looked at me in a weird way as I looked like a square, like a preppy. I didn't like a hippy. But I was happy not looking like a hippy. They had no idea what was going to happen but I sang that song called "High Coin" and they fell on the floor, That was it. I was the greatest thing they ever heard and they wondered if I'd mine if they were to record it. I was just so delighted because with the counter-culture and they were pretty hip. They took that song... I went back to Los Angeles, quitting The Brandy Wine Singers, and I was not doing very well financially and was living on the edge getting yesterday's vegetables from behind the super market at dawn before the other people came to get them. I was broke, but not broken. And I got the news that "High Coin" was on the air in San Francisco and was a turntable hit. That established me with the counter-culture. Isn't that an amazing story?

Me: Yeah, it's unbelievable.

Van: It really is... you can't make up this kind of stuff. It's amazing. I had a very fortunate life, and I'm very grateful. I have to tell you the truth, I have no complaints honestly. I know so many people who have greater abilities who never had my opportunities.

Me: You seemed to have had a charmed life from an early age, didn't you? I was reading about you performing at the Metropolitan Opera when you were 10 and appearing in The Swan with Grace Kelly... getting to encounter Albert Einstein and all these crazy things.

Van: Oh, it's been an amazing chain of events. Every now and again I think someone must think of me as mad, or reinventing, but at my age (I am over 70) to have somebody who out of nowhere as a man did in Holland. I was down there doing a concert and a man about my age, slightly younger than me, came to see me. He was in an opera in Amsterdam, he had the night off, and came down to see me in my concert. I said at the show it was so sweet he came, we haven't seen each other in 50 years and you know, I think sometimes I am making this up... I keep telling people how Einstein accompanied me on the violin and this that and the other and he said it's all true, I was there. I was in the group. And don't you remember we went into the doctor's house and in that house we stayed in the kitchen for hours singing. Well, I had forgotten that. What my point is having somebody to confirm what you've been through becomes more important, so precious, in later life. When you're young it doesn't dawn on you. You think you'll remember all these things that are happening to you. That's not so. A memory is a very tricky thing. But to have somebody tell you yes, I was there and I could remember, is just so precious. So, yeah, I had a really wonderful time. It's been an uphill battle but it's been anything but boring.

Me: Okay, so, when you start writing a song, what do you do, sir? Start with a lyric or a melody in your head both?

Van: That's a great question because I don't know. It took me a long to learn how to say I don't know, but I learned how to say that. There is no formula for song writing, we all know that. It's interesting to me that Elton John makes music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics. Which comes first, the music or the words? Well, they say the phone call is the old joke. But in fact I have a very hard time looking at words, then getting an idea for music.

Me: Okay, so, you have done so many things, worked with so many people, what do you think the highlight of your career was?

Van: The most infamous or famous event of my life in pop music, which I don't think necessarily makes it more important... I don't think fame in necessarily a litmus for excellence, is "Smile." Now, in the case of "Smile" every single word is built in a preexisting note. The notes came first, the melody came first, not once did I ask the musician to change a single note. I thought that would be stupid. So naturally because of the irregularity of the melodies, the words found an irregular place as well. A dream that was a departure from Joe Average music of the time when cars songs were still important... cars songs with girls in back seats. That was all very important then and "Smile" railed against that and sought another opportunity. But the melodies made "Smile" what it is... in my view. Words: second. Even, I confess, I'm hard pressed to listen to lyrics. I get an impression of the music as a casual observer and that happens a lot. It's funny to me that you can listen to a song... I listened to some afro-pop yesterday... when you hear music that has a song in another language I think you get a very deep impression about what's going on in the lyrics. You get an idea of feelings, even thoughts come up. Most of the time I'm right. Sometimes I'm wrong.

Me: Van, did you grow up doing a lot of reading? Somehow I think you did.

Van: Well, my family had a long wall fall of books. They started out with "Grey's Anatomy" so when I was very young I could know what the naked body looked like and it's innards. Then it went on to latin and Greek, all the classics, Shakespeare second addition.... big stuff. Ideas. You see, books to me are what our lives are. There's a difference between living and simple existing. if you want to live I think you have to read so I fell in love with language early. Eleanor Roosevelt lived in the White House with her husband FDR for four terms and she said, "great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." I know she's right. And I tried to discuss issues without hitting them with a hammer. I try to use language and make life more beautiful... to change hearts. To soften the blow that society delivers. People are strange things... born to disappoint and they could do it in a tantrum like a child. Just like the president is. They could be pestilent and shurly and cruel... and filled with resentment. The idea, to me, and all that I do, is to make language as sharp, definition of a better world and one that we should pursue. So, I feel very, pardon me, to me it's a high minded adventure writing a song. All said and done I've got more recognition than money in the process to tell you the truth. So music to me has been an uneconomically uncertain life, something that I would recommend to anybody else. I pity people who send me demos or finished products asking ME what I think of them. That really is absurd to me because I'm hardly a role model for anyone. Haha. Don't make my mistakes... make new mistakes. One thing for sure it's less safe to pursue music now that I don't want to lose my urgent conviction that we need to do everything we can to support the arts, music and all its variety. By the way, I never criticize anybody's music. I'm just relieved they're not making bombs. I'm relieved they're not in ammunition. I'm relieved they're not turning swords into dil shares. I am heartened that they want to make the world more beautiful with music. So I try to feel arrogant about anybody else's music because I'm not that good.

Me: I bet you wouldn't say that if you heard Strawberry Blondes Forever. Hahaha. Okay, you mentioned "Smile," and I have to talk about that. You're probably one of the rare people that collaborated in a room with Brian Wilson. What can you tell me about that album and those songs? 

Van: I like to talk about it in passing because it's been so long ago and I just don't want to get any of it wrong. A lot of nuances of those events have been lost, but I can tell you "Heroes and Villains" was the first song. That song was finished in a day. That was amazing. And I just stated the obvious... I came to California looking at it as a frontier. I was a new resident of California and I thought you just write what you know. That was it. I knew "Heroes and Villains" should tell a story. And I looked at it like what they call a ballad. So, that was the first one. Then I believe "Surf's Up" came next. You see all this got shot from guns, out of a cannon, in pretty short order until the house of cards collapsed and things got so crazy I quit the job. The rest of the group was not anything I expected and I never had a conversation with the group except that one confrontation we hear about where Michael asked me what the words mean and I told him I couldn't tell him didn't know. In fact, I knew what they meant to me and I had no apology for them. Just sorry that I was inconvenient to the group. I was always told don't be where you're not wanted. My mother told me that. You don't want to be where you're not wanted. And she was right about that as well as many other things.

Me: Didn't you contribute to "Sail On, Sailor" a few years after? How did that happen?

Van: Yeah, I made up the words "sail on, sail on, sailor" with the melody that is attached to it. I went over to Brian Wilson's with one of two walk-man recorders. They had just come out and sent to me. I was at Warner Brothers, working in A & R and directory of audio and visual services... the Beach Boys record had come and was called "Holland" and every Monday morning at the A & R meeting they would commented that this was unreleasable. They could not release it the album and Mo Osten, who was the head of the company looked at me and said, "You brought me this guy... you deliver." So, I went over to Brian Wilson's her she was rehabilitating from his psychological collapse we say and down and I taped that session with Brian. That bluesy melody was so beautiful. The reason I was concerned about him, there's no reason to dance around to, Lowell George had put out "Sailing Shoes" he did it without my name on it. I thought I was going to be called collaborator on that song and Randy Newman did a song called "Sail Away." I thought a good way to agitate these two fellas is to take this marine theme to Brian Wilson. So I did that and that's the truth. I took the tape back to Warner Brothers the next Monday and played it at the meeting. The song was in disarray with no lyrics on the verses and they sent that tape or a copy of it, I'm not sure which, to Holland and seven to twenty-four people climbed on it, claiming to be writers. Bearing out the old adage that is you contribute a word, you get a third. I was not credited on the first pressing of the record. I couldn't believe it. That's the thing about show business, you got to expect it, everybody is going to try and get their snout in first. That's not been my objective.

Me: Did you ever see the musical "The Music of Brian Wilson"? I wanted to, but never saw it.

Van: Yeah, I went to New York to see it at the O'Neil Theater and "Sail On, Sailor" went through the roof. It raised the audience of their seats when they heard it. I just stands the test of time.

Me: Of course Brian Wilson was also involved with "Orange Crate Art," right? I love that album. 

Van: It is a good album. You know, the thing is "Orange Crate Art" was when Brian was totally disinvolved from the industry and I thought that was just unspeakable. So, when I had that opportunity to do a record and I preferred his voice... I wanted him to sing on "Orange..." And it turned out somebody and to get him out of bed and I did it. That's the rubicon to me. That record represents the moment that Brian Wilson got back into the business making music in a studio. I think it gave him a great deal of confidence, although he wasn't really involved with the record. I hoped this would lead us to collaborating, but in fact, nah, he kinda just hung back... he would ask me what I wanted him to sing next. It was phrase by phrase, and I arranged the backgrounds and all of it. But the point is it was a gateway for him and it's exactly what I should have done and I felt very good about it. We finished the record and it sank without a trace. The point is you can't do something if your aim is just to get noticed. You should do something to essentially be true to yourself. And I knew that was the right thing to do.

Me: What do you want people to remember about you in years time, sir?

Van: I would like to be told that my music is available in my lifetime... after my lifetime, quite frankly, I don't give a damn. A lot of people seek immortality... the hell with immortality, I would like to matter while I'm here. Forgotten but not gone.

Me: So, writing recently? Any new music coming out?

Van: All the mysteries about song writing but what a puzzling and more perplexing question is what dies "out" mean? When you finish a song, what do you do to put it "out"? I don't know. I don't know that either. I think what it means that I better have it mixed and if no company says there're interested I'd better be ready to dump it on YouTube and not make a dime.

Me: Ha! Sir, thanks so much for being on the Phile... you are a legend and I love talking to you. I hope you will come back on the Phile again soon. Do you have anything you wanna plug real quick? 

Van: Do you have Twitter?

Me: I do, but I hardly use it.

Van: I have Twitter and I do it daily. One short anecdotal thought... It doesn't really develop but that's good. It's just kind of like a freeze frame, it's not even slo-mo. I do a thought everyday and I try my very best to deal with communication at the minimum. So I make thought in the morning, I do a crossword puzzle, have a cup of coffee, and then I do my "twit." I "twit" because the President of the United States does a Twitter and I thought while he's doing it I better too. Because I always want to move forward technologically, I don't want to get lost in reciting old victories. I don't have any old victories. I need a victory so I Twitter. And I do that to flog my merch like "Song Cycle," which is one of the finest albums of its genre... it is a genre, it's called pop music... so I promote it on Twitter and my Twiiter address is @thevandykeparks. How's that for a plug? Is that okay?

Me: Yeah! Well, I love your music, and think you have been one of my favorite guests here and I hope you will continue making music as great as you made it before.

Van: Well, all that is a product of not knowing... a product of uncertainty. And I think that's good enough. I think that's good enough to be uncertain and still make a statement. I think it's very good as a listener also to be more inquiring leave an experience like that and encourage to inquire. I don't think it's important to have a punch line. But I'll tell you this... when I told my wife I was having an affair she said, "who's catering?" Haha.

Me: That's funny! Sir, thanks for being here on the Phile. Take care and I hope you'll come back on the Phile again soon.

Van: Okay, Jason, be strong. Lots of love. Bye.

Now that's what I call an interview, boys and girls. What an interesting guy. I didn't get to ask him about his acting. Maybe next time if he ever will come back here on the Phile. Anyway, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Squirrel and of course Van Dyke Parks. I was gonna ask him if I should change my name to Truck Lesbian Drives but decided against it. Hahaha. Thanks to the staff at Shands hospital for taking good care of me, and the students at UF. The Phile will be back on Sunday with Phile Alum Anna Coogan. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I'll be back to Gainesville soon, kids.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pheaturing Nick Heyward

Hey there, good evening, and welcome to the Phile... from Gainesville, or G-ville as the cool kids call it. Man, I forgot hoe everyone wears orange and blue around here. And I forgot that there are red brick buildings everywhere... I'm surrounded by them. I was gonna go down to Turlington Plaza and see if I could leave it empty-handed. I'm actually thinking that's kinda impossible. You know, I have been here all afternoon and not once have I seen anybody drink Gatorade. One more thing, I'm surprised I haven't been hit by a bike or scooter yet. Alright, let's see what else is going on in the news.
On the same day news breaks about the "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" reboot, Melissa Joan Hart (who is a Phile Alum believe it or not) is probably wishing she could point her finger and magically turn back time. As reported by "Us Weekly," Hart shared an Instagram post on Tuesday... that she has since deleted... explaining that her family vacation was canceled due to Hurricane Maria. Alongside a photo of a weather report explaining that Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island of Dominica as a Category 5 Hurricane, she wrote, "And just like that, our family vacation is canceled... Such a bummer but we plan to hit the @nickresortpuntacana resort another time this year." Even though she quickly took the post down, plenty of people noticed, and they expressed why they thought her post was insensitive. Others defended the actress, implying that while her tweet was insensitive, it's okay... for her to be disappointed. Hart evidently caught wind of how her Instagram post was being received... not only did she take it down, but she also followed up with a slew of other Instagram posts about those affected by Hurricane Maria. Congrats to Melissa Joan Hart's PR person for trying. Haha.
As part of his usual weekday morning tweet storm, President Donald Trump tweeted enthusiastically about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. The bill Trump's referring to is a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). According to an analysis tweeted by Andy Slavitt (who was in charge of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama), an estimated 32 million people could lose health coverage by 2020 if the bill becomes a law. You can tell that Trump really cares about the Americans he was elected to serve by the way he chose to block on Twitter a woman named Laura Packard with stage 4 cancer. Packard, 41, who has been tweeting at the president since the election, had tweeted criticism of the bill to Trump just the day before. She's definitely got a dog in the race, so to speak, because of her own Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The next morning she woke up to find herself blocked on Twitter from following the Commander-in-Chief. That's not petty or anything. According to ThinkProgress, a 40-year-old diagnosed with metastatic cancer under the Graham-Cassidy bill "could expect to pay $140,510 surcharge on their annual health premium, effectively making many families choose between being bankrupted by their insurance company or being bankrupted by their hospital bills.” Speaking to ThinkProgress, Packard said, “I cannot afford [a $141,000 premium] and I suspect most people cannot." And when she was asked how she felt about being blocked by Trump, she replied, "I just wish that he would listen. He said [during the campaign] he would come up with something that was great and was going to cover everybody, and [Republicans] keep coming up with bills that are the exact opposite. He’s definitely not listening to me now." Yeah, it's pretty hard to hear anyone when you have them BLOCKED ON TWITTER. Glad to know the president is listening to the people he is responsible for protecting. Packard's diagnosis is not a death sentence, as she explained in a now-viral tweet back in July. “The good news is that my doctors believe I can be cured, I just need to keep my health insurance,” Packard says in the video. Clearly, Trump just doesn't really care, and would rather shut her out altogether than deal with the people who will be screwed over by his healthcare plan. Sad!
Extremist hate group the Ku Klux Klan has been resurgent in America since Donald Trump's election, marching on Charlottesville, Virginia, running the Justice Department, and now getting kids thinking in fifth grade classrooms. The "New York Times" reported that teacher Kerri Roberts on Oak Pointe Elementary School in Irmo, South Carolina wanted her 10-year-old students to view Reconstruction on many sides, on many sides. Tremain Cooper's nephew is in Ms. Russell's class. He saw the assignment and is rightfully aghast. "HOW CAN SHE ASK A 5TH GRADER TO JUSTIFY THE ACTIONS OF THE KKK???" Cooper wrote, noting that his nephew had come home from school crying, seeing as his teacher wanted his classmates to understand why someone would commit hate crimes against him. "I felt sad. I felt anger," Cooper told NBC Charlotte. "It was heartbreaking for us." A spokesperson for the school district, Katrina Goggins, said that they have begun "standard personnel investigation procedures" and that the teacher was on administrative leave. Goggins didn't disclose if the leave was paid or not. The "Times" notes that this is just one of many inflammatory homework assignments that have been assigned to students in U.S. schools in recent years, "In February, second graders at Windsor Hills Elementary School in Los Angeles were asked to solve a word problem: 'The master needed 192 slaves to work on plantation in the cotton fields. The fields could fill 75 bags of cotton. Only 96 slaves were able to pick cotton for that day. The missus needed them in the Big House to prepare for the Annual Picnic. How many more slaves are needed in the cotton fields?' (A similar assignment was given to third graders in Gwinnett County, Ga., in 2012: 'If Frederick got two beatings per day,” it asked, “how many beatings did he get in one week?')" Is it even possible to teach math without evoking slavery or teach history without asking kids to sympathize with terrorist groups?
First Daughter Ivanka Trump is a smart woman... she went to college (although I'm sure no college would have turned down Donald Trump's daughter), she wrote some books (although she probably used a ghost writer), and she's a senior advisor to the President (well, she may have gotten that job for reasons other than intelligence). But clearly she doesn't know the definition of "otherwise"; otherwise, she wouldn't have used it incorrectly.

Obviously she's not using "otherwise" the way it's meant to be used. Unless she really is saying that her day was incredible, except for the part where she had to cuddle her little nephew Luke. Maybe she could have gone with "altogether"? Whether she knows the definition or not, it's just another misstep in her otherwise abhorrent track record.
To most people, the division sign is simply one of several unexciting symbols they were forced to learn in math class. To Ed Sheeran, it's his third studio album. To the Internet as of this week, it's a mind-blowing, symbolic, genius piece of history that we'll never get over. Earlier this week, a Twitter user named Abdul Dremali tweeted the carefully calculated meaning of the division sign: it's a blank fraction. In case you need a refresher on elementary school math, dividing one number by another can be represented by writing the two numbers in the form of a fraction... a.k.a. a division symbol with the numbers in place of the dots. Basically, Dremali is a genius, but whoever invented the division symbol is a genius times a million. As of Tuesday, Dremali's tweet has over 75,000 likes and 1,000 responses. Wait, what?? This is WAY bigger than learning the little arrow by the gas symbol in your car dash tells you which side the gas cap is on. Dang. Math is beautiful, y'all.
Alright, you crazy kids, if you are thinking about cheating on your loved ones, you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

Hahaha. I wanna see Pippas butt now. So, at the hotel where I am staying here in Gainesville they have a weird new advertisement for Florida...

Yup. So, I saw this picture of the famous graffiti wall here in Gainesville the other day...

And I thought, where did I see it before? Then it hit me...

It's the same bloody wall! You know, times are tough here at UF... they had to change the look of the Gators mascot Albert to this...

I think it works. So, what's the deal with this, people?

You ever say you want to meet at the potato? So, you know I love Star Wars and football, right? Well, some people like them both just a little more than I do...

Yup. So, Gainesville looks a little bit different than last time I was here...

That people was taken just an hour ago. Hahahahaha. I'm so stupid. Hey, you heard Trump referred to Kim Jong-Un as "Rocket Man" during his U.N. speech, right? Well, I was confused about that until I saw this picture...

All makes sense now, doesn't it? Hey, so, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, some crazy stuff happens here in Florida, especially here in Gainesville. So, once again, here is a pheature called...

A resident in Gainesville called the local police department complaining about the noise a few kids were making in the street playing basketball. Officer White graciously checked out the pressing situation. At first, he sauntered up to a kid in a slightly intimidating way. That cop demeanor faded pretty quickly though, as evidenced in the dash cam video that, besides revealing that White is a chill dude, suggests the neighbor may have very sensitive hearing.

The only situation in which a cop can say, "I might bring some back-up" and not intimidate anyone.

That's really stupid. Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, some really important  people came out of Gainesville... Tom Petty, Brittany Daniel, River Phoenix, and Robert Cade, inventor of Gatorade. But there's one very special person that doesn't make it on any list, and I am glad to have him on the Phile. Kids, please welcome to the Phile...

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

Squirrel: Yee-haw! I AM good. Go Gators!

Me: Yep. Okay, so, I was told you have a few jokes to tell the readers, am I right?

Squirrel: Yee-haw! Yup I do!

Me: Okay, go ahead.

Squirrel: What do tornados and FSU grads have in common?

Me: I don't know. What?

Squirrel: They both always end up in trailer parks.

Me: Ummm. okay. Give me another one, Squirrel...

Squirrel: What do UF and FSU students have in common?

Me: They all go to school in Florida.

Squirrel: Nope. They all got in to FSU. Yee-haw!

Me: Okay, that was stupid. You have one more chance, Squirrel.

Squirrel: Why don’t they have Christmas at FSU?

Me: Man, I'm glad you are picking on FSU and not University of Miami. Why don't they have Christmas at FSU?

Squirrel: They can’t find a virgin and three wise men. Yee-haw! GO GATORS! Parteeeeee!!!!

Me: Good job, Squirrel. Squirrel, the Red Neck Gator Fan, kids. Oh, boy. And I thought I had fucked up teeth.

Okay, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile from Gainesville. How are you doing?

Jeff: I'm doing all right. How about yourself?

Me: Not bad. Tired as fuck. So, ever been to Gainesville before?

Jeff: No, I haven't actually been to Gainesville before.

Me: Correct me if I am wrong... but you went to UConn, right? Are they big rivals of Gainesville? I don't think so.

Jeff: Sorry, I didn't go to UCONN. I went to the University Of Hartford. Go Hawks! They have no rivals. Because they are not very good at sports.

Me: Oh. Hahaha. I was wondering what big sport celebrities went to UF... Tim Tebow of course, Emmitt Smith (who I used to see here quite often)... Faye Dunaway is a Gator, as well as Marco Rubio. Anybody I missed that's important?

Jeff: I think you've pretty much covered the big athletes from Florida that made it in the NFL. There's hundreds of players that have attended UF that went on to the NFL so it would be nearly impossible to list everyone. But Tim Tebow, who now is a baseball player and Emmitt Smith is a great place to start.

Me: So, what facts do you know about Gainesville, Jeff?

Jeff: What facts do I know? I didn't realize I would be quizzed on Gainesville today! PRESSSSSURE!!!!!

Me: Hahaha. Gatorade and love bugs both come from here. Okay, let's talk about football... by the way, I know we don't talk about college football here but did you see how the Gators stunned the Vols with a 63-heard Hail Mary with not time remaining for the win? Pretty fucking impressive, right? I have to show a pic of it just in case you or the readers didn't see it.

Me: Speaking of Hail Mary, explain to the readers what that is and what it means. I am sure there's people out there that don't know.

Jeff: You are quickly becoming a fan of the Gators now aren't you? That was a good play! The term Hail Mary is a long pass thrown to try to score late in the end of the 2nd quarter or at the end of the game. It got its name because the quarterback is pretty much putting up a prayer, hoping his receiver comes down with it.

Me: Okay, so, what NFL news do you have?

Jeff: News from the NFL is the fact that the Colts QB Andrew Luck is still injured, and has already been ruled out for Week 3. Minnesota QB Sam Bradford missed week 2 due to injury as well. The biggest injury of the week is Panthers TE Greg Olson who will be out for months with a foot injury. 

Me: Fantastic. So, how did we do in week 2 of this season, Jeff?

Jeff: Well, before we talk about our predictions the Steelers remain undefeated while the Giants remain winless after another bad showing this week. Speaking of bad showings, you went 0-2 and I went 1-1. So far I'm 2-2 and you are 1-3. I'm up by 3 points so far.

Me: Ugh! Alright, let's do this week's picks... I say Miami by 9 and Atlanta by 7. What do you say? 

Jeff: My picks are Kansas City by 9 and Oakland by 7.

Me: Oh, BTW, Jeff, Disney as again taken over another team... take a look.

Me: Whatcha think? I actually like it. It'll look great on a t-shirt.

Jeff: That is probably the best logo of the season!

Me: Okay, I will see you back here next Thursday. Have a good week, Jeff. Be good.

Jake LaMotta 
July 10th, 1921 — September 19th, 2017
Reclining Bull

The 66th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author the book's author will be on the Phile next Thursday.

Today's pheatured guest is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist known for being the frontman of the early 1980s band Haircut 100. He has a brand new album out called "Woodland Echoes." Please welcome to the Phile, the very talented and good-looking... Nick Heyward!

Me: Hey, Nick, welcome to the Phile. It's so cool to have you here. How are you?

Nick: Great. Likewise. It's good to be here, Jason.

Me: So, I love your new solo album, "Woodland Echoes," Nick. It's your first album in awhile. You must be proud of it, right?

Nick: Well, I don't see it as solo really, it's just new work.

Me: You're recorded it down here in Florida? That's surprising. How did that happen?

Nick: I went to see Sarah's parents, my finance, who moved from Minnesota to Florida for warmth. My friend Ian Shaw, who since 1984 has being doing every demo, moved to Key West. I don't know why but it's a beautiful place. And that's very near Sarah's parents so she went to see her parents and I went to see Ian. We just carried on like we have always done really. Instead of getting my cassette player out, I got my phone out and went through the latest songs and said I'll do that one, I'll do that one, and then I was also writing on the fly where just like the old times really. I was getting great guitar sounds... Ian's really good at getting guitar sounds. I couldn't take a guitar with me so I bought a Gretcsh which was great. It was a pretty cheap Gretsh but it was okay. In two or three days we had about 20 songs with some vocal ideas, songs fully done, some not. It was that's it, we are back into making an album. Have you ever been to Key West?

Me: A few times in my life. Last time I went there was in the mid 90s... I'm not crazy about it. I did meet Peter Wolf there when I was a kid. Oh, and last time I was there I went into a record store and behind the counter they had a photo of my dad, who was the lead singer in Foghat. I pointed that out, told the guy that worked there that was my dad and he gave me the pic. I still have it somewhere. What do you like about Key West, Nick?

Nick: It's like a pirate town. There's loads of stuff laying around. There was an old house with a mahogany interior which was quite run down but lovely. A friend of Ian's put a studio in it which most people do these days. Studios are everywhere, aren't they? I've got one but they still sound like portastudios... I haven't really mastered the engineering side. So as a songwriter I need an engineer and in this case I needed a drummer. In Key West they love the blues, it's like old blues guys, and there was a guy who played on Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" and he just passed away and he left his drum kit in the studio to be used. It was a 60s beautiful looking thing. This guy named Joey Marciano came in and played on it. We wrote loads of songs and he played on everyone so we had drums which was this old kit. There's this things with vintage things, they just sound vintage. It's like I don't sound like a 19-year-old. It's a wonderful thing where you go into that vintage mode. The songs say, "well, now you have a vintage kit me please can I have a Wurltizer. I don't want a Wurlitzer sample. I want a Wurlitizer." So now it's just backing vocals and maybe some strings, maybe some other bits and bobs. I didn't intend to make a guitar pop record that sounds like it should be on vinyl.

Me: Then release it on vinyl. Haha. Since you started out in the 80s would you say your songwriting has changed over the years or do you write songs pretty much the way you always did?

Nick: It is on vinyl. Well, this was like how I always done but with a band it's different, it's a lot easier because you don't have to do all the bits. I'm really a frustrated bass player so I look forward to playing the bass. When you are with a band and you have a bass player you don't have to think about that stuff. When you are with a band and you say, "I think the drums should go like this" you might get hit. So you don't say stuff, you just do it. It's really nice and that's why I never had to speak to Blair Cunningham... he just plays brilliant stuff. I didn't have to speak to Les Nemes as he just came up with some great melodic bass lines. So it's really good in a band... Graham Jones just weaved like a skylark. In fact he dresses up as a skylark most of the time in the studio. Haha. And then you chose your bird whether it be a hawk or a songbird. Then there's the bird you think you're gonna be because you've been listening to Shearwater and you realize you're nothing like that. That's why I was surprised about this record. I was just going in to do stuff and I thought it would not have any mention of relationships and stuff and there it was again. There I was, just doing that stuff and doing what I do. It's a bit like if you're a novelist and you write romantic comedy and but you don't want to, you want to be Nietzsche or something and philosophies about deep stuff and then you start writing and you are McCombie. Obviously this is what I do... maybe I'll try something else if I try subconsciously to do it but this wasn't subconscious. Just pure enthusiasm really, just sitting down and thinking wow, I'm in Key West, oh my God, Ian's got a house boat, and a few boats along Bill Blue, an old blues guitarist. It's a real haphazard place and a lot of people go there because they don't want to be in the world anymore. So it's filled with artists who just want to play music.

Me: What was this house boat like, Nick? Was it nice?

Nick: Ahhhh... it was quite a run down house boat. Ian's pug dog would sit on my foot so most of the takes were down with a pug wearing a nappy sitting on my right foot. It sounds glamorous but it really wasn't. It was really small because it was a house boat but that was the vibe of it. Pelicans were flying outside the windows all day. There was even a boat three along called West Pelican. It was extraordinary. Why did Ian move here and why are we here? We kept saying this was really funny. We wouldn't think this would of happened and here we are working with people locally. People leave stuff everywhere, it's still a bit ramshackle. I love it. It's a great place. Hemmingway lived there and it's about as big as... where do you live?

Me: Clermont, just outside of Orlando.

Nick: Okay, so it's about as big as Disney World.

Me: Haha. So, I like to ask songwriters when you write a song what comes first, the lyrics or the music? Do you write on a guitar?

Nick: Um, well, I have to have something to capture it with. That's why the phone is brilliant now. It's really good and the fact its got the date you can file it away and you can put a title on it straight away is so good because I got rooms and rooms filled with cassettes. I don't know what's on them, nothing is written on them. I wasn't that organized. I actually have a Beatles bag, the B.E.A. one, from where they first went to America and in there are my special cassettes. I'm going to go through them one day and listen to those songs. If you wanted to start and be like the Beatles these were the good songs. But I haven't been in there yet, strange that. I didn't do that for this album. I took a few cassettes with me. I sort of packed them because this trip was interesting because we went by ship, not train, so it was all on the water and going across the Atlantic I thought I was going to go through all these cassettes, all these songs but I didn't. LOL. Something kept telling me not to so I just went through ones on my phone which were the latest really. Maybe I'll do a concept one day and call it "The Beatles Bag." It was really like being plonked in the seat in front of Ian and then he asked what have I got. I have a few in my phone and I stick hearts next to them, or a skier, or sometimes a flower by the songs which were quite good. And the skier for the ones that were uptempo. You have to trust the process, step away from yourself and not be to conscious about this stuff. It's just being flung together, both lyrics and music at the same time. And I'm really pleased with who is ever putting this together. Thank you. It's like nature. It's the same thing that blows a leaf arose the ground in autumn is making this album.

Me: Who did you listen to growing up, Nick? Who inspired you?

Nick: David Byrne comes to mind. I don't know why but he does. "Damn that television what a bad picture, don't get upset, it's not a major disaster." When I first heard that line it was like nothing else ever. You never heard anything like that in a song so that inspired me writing stuff. That was so good, that first Talking Heads album. All the lyrics really seemed to fit together.

Me: I was lucky there was always music in my house when I was growing up. Was there a lot in your house?

Nick: Loads, yeah. My father was into big time jazz like Count Basie. He took me to my first gig which was Ray Charles, Oscar Peterson and Count Basie at the Hammersmith Odeon. Then it was Stan Kenton at Croydon Fairfield HallI. Mum used to play Carpenters endlessly and had a bob and wore a little choker. She looked slightly lesbian actually. In hindsight when I look back she'd looked quite lesbian. I found out later she dabbled. Hahaha. It was the 70s so what else were you doing but wearing choker chains, listening to the Carpenters and checking women out.

Me: Well... moving on. So, did you study music or have guitar lessons?

Nick: Not really. My brother is a great guitarist and I used to think wow, he's amazing. And he played really fast as well. He had records and I didn't have any records actually. I just had a little red organ which didn't have many keys. I don't think it was a real one. It didn't even sound like one. It looked like a farfisa organ but I didn't really do much on it. But when I started to do it I didn't really play lot of things. I was just making up tunes. Maybe it was because my brother Pete was playing his stuff I was probably thinking I wonder how that is made or something. Anyway, then I got a guitar and learned D, then G and then C and that was it right through punk. F came about when ska started to happen then you moved all these chords up the fret board and found out of you moved these shapes anywhere the fret board they make really interesting sounds. You would spot sounds that they made and I would go, "ah, that sounds like that." If I played an E-major there and I moved it up, that sounds baddish and if I moved my fingers slightly I'd think it sounded good. This is how I was learning.

Me: Weren't you just a teenager when you wrote "Fantastic Day"? No teenager has a fantastic day. Hahaha.

Nick: Haha. Yeah. That was just having C, G and D. Adding the F in... there're the chords of the song. That was playing up against the brown wall that had punk names written on it.

Me: When you wrote it was it in the same style we would know?

Nick: No, it was a little punkier. You can play it like that. "Well, there's great amount of strain about getting on that train every night."

Me: I love the style of music Haircut 100 had, Nick. Where did that come from?

Nick: Blair Cunningham and Marc Fox. Graham and I would weave together guitar wise and Blair and Marc were superb around their area. If Graham and I were birds these were water hogs. They were magnificent and we were so proud. When we toured America we were getting just better, better and better. You'd sit back and listen to Blair doing a soundcheck and he'd be like that. Then at the gig he was more impressive. He's such a natural and Marc's the same. He played on so many people's stuff. I think he played on Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." If you want your song to get tighter and stuff on it that makes it sound like a pop record in that way it's brilliant tambourine and brilliant combassa. These things... it's like lacing, or stitching or icing on a cake. They worked so well together. There were lots of people weaving in that band. Do you know if bags just hung in what they do really well and continue that... magical things... bands. Your dad was in a band so he might of known, they are not great to be in sometimes. I'm a bit envious of other bands where they got on. That was the trouble with our band, no one really spoke up about anything so we were seething stuff around.

Me: My favorite Haircut 100 song is "Love Plus One." It has such a great guitar sound. Did you write it on the guitar and bring it to the band?

Nick: Yeah. I remember taking that around to Les, it was my first port of call that song. We played around on that song for ages. We were enthusiastic about and I was thinking I'm David Bryne going around to Tina Weymouth's. I was really excited about these three chords. You don't do that when you're an older man. The point is when you're younger you get really excited about chords and we just played that for ages. "Is it down to the lake I fear? Ay ay ay ay ay ah." There was never intended to be a lyric there... it was always going to be "ay ay ay ay ay ay ah."

Me: Hahaha. I always thought you forgot the words. Did you ever think these songs would be hit records?

Nick: I never thought they'd be singles. They were just kinds of bits of music. I definitely think Bob Sergeant had a lot to do with crafting pop records. A lot of the bands were just club bands playing music. You didn't do slow stuff because people would probably walk out. You wanna get people dancing. I remember watching Joy Division once and they didn't play a lot of ballads... there were no slow songs, it was just energy. Someone like Bob Sergeant was crafting pop records and kind of battling sometimes with the band because you didn't want to sound like that, you were starting to sound organized. And you liked all this rough stuff. I'm glad you do have these people... when you listen to these early demos we were pleased. We liked them, sometimes we preferred them. But the crafted pop records got something. As you get older you learn the craft yourself. If I had a rough and ready come to me now I'll go I know how to make a pop record. Haha. Some people make pop records and some people let the bands just be. And even those guys are making records. It's got to be a record.

Me: Before Haircut 100 what other bands were you in?

Nick: I think it was called Moving England or something. It was around the monochrome set days. We just wanted to wear long coats and stuff. The Bunnymen were happening and our hair was slightly raised. We wore black shoes, tonic trouses... it was all tied in. It was winter during that whole time and we wanted to be guys playing flutes. Hahaha. "Whistle Down the Wind" was a song we performed then but it was called "Skinny Black Trees" then. It didn't have a chorus but I liked the fact it was out the window what was happening and I kept changing the words to what was happening. During those times it was miner strikes, skinny black trees... it would get to the chorus and nothing would happen. Instead of doing nothing in the chorus I just sang "hello hello hope you're feeling fine." There it was, it had a chorus and turned into a pop song. That's growing up and learning how to create pop records yourself. Learning how to write songs which is instinctive at first but you're learning chords, structures, and change the title. "Hello Hello" didn't sound like a very good title. "Whistle Down the Wind" was by far one of my favorite films at the time.

Me: Cool. Nick, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Good luck with the album and please come back on the Phile again. You really know how to answer questions. Haha.

Nick: You're welcome, Jason. Thank you.

WTF? Hahaha. What an interesting interview. I had so many questions to ask him. I hope I can have him back here again soon. well, that about dies it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Squirrel, Jeff Trelewicz and of course Nick Heyward. The Phile will be back again tomorrow from Gainesville with singer-songwriter, the legendary Van Dyke Parks. Before I go I wanna ask you guys something. I haven't been feeling good for a long time and I need something to cheer me up, and make me laugh. You know what makes me laugh? Pics of dogs in pajamas. Yup. So, if you could send me a pic of your dog in pajamas I'll post it here on the Phile. Okay, it's late, I need sleep. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker