MLK MARCH and Confederate monument PROTEST Monday in Orange, Texas: please join us!

Please join Tracie and me on Monday, January 15 for the NAACP Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March in Orange, Texas.

We will be meeting at Solomon Johnson Park at the corner of 2nd St. and Turrett Ave. at 12:30 p.m. for line-up. March will begin at 1:00 p.m.

Following the March, Tracie and I will be organizing a protest at the Confederate memorial at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and Interstate-10 (northwest corner). We are tentatively planning to meet at 3 p.m. and will stay there until sunset.

Here’s my email address if you need more info and/or want to coordinate a ride to Orange for the march and protest.

Yesterday evening the president of Southeast Texas Progressives Louis Ackerman and I met with the local chapter of the NAACP in Orange. Among the action items on our agenda, we discussed our family’s ongoing efforts to repurpose the Confederate memorial being built in Orange by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Texas Division. I’m happy to report that its board gave us its blessing in continuing our fight.

I’ve been researching the origins of the monument and I’ve discovered that the story behind the site is much more complicated than meets the eye. I’ll be writing about the memorial in coming weeks as more pieces in the puzzle come into focus. Please stay tuned: I’m confident that many readers will be surprised by what I’ve found.

The bottom line: despite what many have written and what many believe, ORANGE RESIDENTS DO NOT WANT THIS MONUMENT AND THEY WANT IT REPURPOSED. That’s all I can reveal at the moment…


Top image via Wikipedia Creative Commons. Lower image courtesy of the NAACP Orange Branch 6211.

Bruno De Conciliis: “Wine and may the dance begin,” a poem (translation mine)

Wine is a game, a serious game, a joyful game,
a heroic game, an erotic game, wine is skittish, it’s
joyful, it’s sad, it’s solitary, it’s a sea, it’s a road,
it’s a destination, it’s silence, it’s entropy.


White wine is green, yellow, gold, sometimes orange,
red is ruby, purple, violet, sometimes black.

Wine is instinct, science, pure creativity, painting, music,
Johann Sebastian Bach and Mozart, John
Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix; how is it possible
to drink a baroque wine listening to Purple Haze?

Wine, an intense pleasure, a happy thought, sometimes
requires, sometimes suggests, an undisputed star
or distant tapestry that takes a backseat to conversation
or food, the little pleasures to share with a
friend or a lustful torrent that enchants the viewer,
wine is a friend to humankind and it can be its
worst enemy, wine is happiness, simple sharing or opulence,
comfort in solitude, glue of friendship, wine’s solitary
pleasure creates deep friendships or becomes the
energy of a clique born from happenstance.

Wine is study, knowledge, an immovable journey,
curiosity and sloth, overwhelming passion,
a cruel struggle, a sincere friend who knows the way
you need to go or invents one where there is none.

Memories that lead us to tenderness or move us to laugh,
to smile, to enjoy, enemy of regret and blame, maternal bosom
where you can nurse until becoming aware.

Wine is born from deep within the land, from people
who are bound to it by an umbilical cord
that hasn’t been voluntarily severed, from the uniqueness
of that land, from the specific variety,
from the culture and knowledge of those people, that people.

Wine is the experience of that land, that culture,
the history of a village.

Wine and may the dance begin.

Bruno De Conciliis
(translated from the Italian by Jeremy Parzen)

Bruno (below) and I will be leading a tasting of his wines at Sotto in Los Angeles on Thursday, January 25. Please join us. He’s one of the most fascinating grape growers and winemakers I’ve ever had the chance to taste with. And his wines are among the most compelling I’ve ever drawn to my lips. Stay tuned for details.

Protesting racist iconography in Southeast Texas: a recent effort and upcoming MLK march in Orange (TX)

Image courtesy of Southeast Texas Progressives.

On Wednesday of last week, my wife Tracie and I stood for two hours on the corner of Interstate 10 and Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. in Orange, Texas in protest of the Confederate memorial being built there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Texas Division.

We organized the gathering together with Southeast Texas Progressives, an advocacy and activist group created by its founders so that they and we could have “a place to express our shared ideals and political views without fear of being insulted or mocked.”

Here’s the Facebook group. Feel free to join and/or PM and I’ll invite you to join.

Here’s the Facebook page. Please like us and share in solidarity.

Our four-person protest was covered by both the Beaumont Enterprise and the Orange Leader. (Beaumont, Orange, and Port Arthur form what is known as the Golden Triangle in Southeast Texas.)

To get an incomplete picture of how our activism was received online, I encourage you to read the comment thread on the Enterprise site.
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Jean-Luc Le Du Memorial: Thursday, January 4 @ City Winery (NYC)

The following info comes via the sommelier brain collective email list. The image comes via Yannick Benjamin’s Facebook.

I only had the opportunity to interact with wine industry legend Jean-Luc Le Du on a couple of occasions. He was the nicest guy and always seemed to have time to talk wine with anyone around him. I’ll never forget tasting Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 with him. It was one of the highlights of my decade in New York — the wine and the notes he shared.

Please check out this Wine Spectator profile and remembrance “Standing Up Next to a Mountain” by Bruce Sanderson to get a sense of Jean-Luc’s role in the New York and U.S. wine scene.

Iohannes Luca sit tibi terra levis.


Dear friends,

Jean-Luc Le Du was a rockstar in our lives. He lived with kindness, humility, and generosity, and it infected everyone he met. In commemoration of his death, there will be a memorial this Thursday, January 4th, from 4-6:30pm, at City Winery to celebrate his life . There will be much reminiscing, a live band, and of course, toasts in his honor.

We encourage you all to bring a bottle of wine to share with your friends. Below is a flyer with additional information regarding the event and please feel free to share with your friends and social media. We hope to see you there.

Date: Thursday, January 4th
Time: 4:00pm-6:30pm
Where: City Winery, 155 Varick St.

Yannick Benjamin
Wheeling Forward |
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