Walmart USA: it’s time to stop denying we have a white supremacist problem #HateWillNotDefineUs

The Walmart in El Paso where the mass shooting took place this weekend is just like the Walmart in our Houston neighborhood. You’ll find every gradation of humanity there: brown, black, white, Asian, Jew, Muslim, Christian…

We don’t live on the U.S.-Mexico border like our sisters and brothers in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. But we do live in the fourth-largest city in America, the country’s most diverse, home to one of its largest ports and transit hubs, where Spanish, Yiddish (yes, I hear Yiddish every week in our neighborhood), Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese, and countless African, European, and Asian tongues all mingle together every day.

And the Walmart in our southwest corner of Houston, where I bought our daughters their first bicycles and where we shop occasionally, is just like that Walmart in El Paso where a white supremacist murdered and maimed innocents on Saturday morning.

I thought twice about taking the girls to our Walmart yesterday, Sunday, when we needed to get a replacement tube for one of their bikes.

After El Paso, there’s no longer any denying that our nation has a white supremacist problem. Over the last 12 months, white supremacists have killed black people, brown people, and Jews in our country.

In the course of our activism, Tracie and I have seen white supremacy up close and personal: it’s scary and ugly and dangerous. And tragically, it’s very much alive, thriving, and growing in our country.

It’s time for everyone — from politicians in the White House and the Texas capitol to the woman and man on the street, from religious leaders to civic leaders and activists — to call it out for what it is. Honestly, it was time a long time ago. Innocent people are dying at the hands of white supremacists and we must rise up against them.

The first step is to recognize this expanding, horrific problem. The second step is to stand up and speak out: we will not tolerate white supremacy in our communities, churches and synagogues, schools, and place like our Walmarts — where we all gather for back-to-school shopping on a late summer Saturday morning.

Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this weekend’s shootings and their families. And our hearts and minds are filled with resolve to combat white supremacy wherever it lurks in our country.

#HateWillNotDefineUs

Bastille Day-Birthday Bash July 14 at Mongoose vs. Cobra in Houston

Our new band has a new name (BioDynamic) and a gig on my birthday: Sunday, July 14 at Mongoose vs. Cobra in Houston’s Midtown!

Please come and rock out with me and the family!

BioDynamic
70s and 80s covers
@ Mongoose vs. Cobra
Sunday, July 14
4-8 p.m.
NO COVER CHARGE
CASH BAR
KID FRIENDLY
1011 McGowen St.
Houston TX 77002
(713) 650-6872
Google map

Top image via Wikipedia Creative Commons.

Color, nose, mouth, finish? Please add joy to your descriptors: Clarine Farm Rosé Alors!

From the department of “school’s out for summer”…

“No, the wine doesn’t taste better in Italy! It tastes just the same as in America.”

That’s what a longtime Italian restaurateur in New York used to moan when his guests would claim that the opposite was true.

Was it because the Italians (and French) saved the good wine for themselves and sent only the crap wine to America? (Believe it or not, a lot of folks still think that.)

Was it because the best wines simply don’t travel well? (There’s actually some truth to that, especially when it comes to natural wines.)

No, he insisted vehemently.

In his view, it was because you are more relaxed when on vacation. You sleep better and you eat better. And so everything tastes better.

When Tracie and I opened the 2017 Rosé Alors! by La Clarine Farm on Saturday night, his nugget of wisdom popped to mind.

Beyond the purely technical and the aesthetic, can true greatness in wine lie in its ability to spark a beloved memory, evoke a cherished sensation, or create welcomed harmony out of the workaday?

Many wine purists wouldn’t consider my friend Hank Beckmeyer’s La Clarine Farm wines to be great in a technical sense. They are good and they are correct, they might say, free of the often overlooked flaws that you find in low-input, low-intervention wines like his.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find a wine that can inspire so much joy. And please trust me when I say: greatness therein lies.

As the Parzen mère, père et filles munched on grilled steak, grill-charred corn-on-the-cob and sweet zucchine rounds, wilted spinach dressed with California olive oil, and a favorite brand of Abruzzo spaghetti dressed with olive oil and kosher salt, the parents loved his Rosé Alors! (from Mourvèdre) so much that they saved the last glass for a libation — a true libatio, a glass to offer in sacrifice to the gods. The wine was that great: we couldn’t bear to drink the last glass. I know that sounds impossible and ridiculous but neither wanted to deprive her/his lover the last sip. It’s still sitting in a Bordeaux glass in fridge on Monday morning!

It was an early June evening and we were all a little sun-burned and puckered out from a day of birthday and end-of-school pool parties.

And the wine was pure joy, just like a summer’s eve in the countryside — Italian, French, Californian, or Texan. Greater than any other wine could have been in that moment.

Thanks again, Hank, for all the joy you’ve brought into our lives over the years. Saturday night, Tracie and I remembered, so fondly, tasting your wines for the first time at chez Alice in NYC more than a decade ago, on our way back from our first trip to Europe together.

A miracle saved our Emilee from a terrible car crash. G-d bless her. We love her so much.

On Tuesday morning, our 21-year-old niece Emilee — Tracie’s sister’s daughter — was in a terrible car accident on Farm-to-Market Road 1135 in Orangefield, Texas, not far from Orange and West Orange where Tracie grew up.

A dump truck full of used kitchen grease ran a stop sign and collided with Emilee’s Hyundai Elantra (in the photo above).

It’s a miracle she survived.

As soon as Tracie’s mom called to let her know what had happened, I went and got the girls out of school and we headed to the Beaumont hospital where she had been taken. At that point, no one was sure she would make it. By the time we made it over the Sam Houston Ship Channel Bridge, all we knew was that she was going into surgery to stop internal bleeding.

Her mom, who works as a nurse at that same Beaumont hospital, described her injuries late last night on her Facebook:

“She had a perforated bowel which required surgical intervention, a fractured radius, clavicle, and orbital bone, along with multiple Lumbar fractures. Thankfully, no surgery will be needed for her back, but she will have to wear a brace for 12 long weeks with no driving.”

She was still in the ICU when we drove back to Houston yesterday afternoon. They should be moving her to a regular hospital room today.

Tracie has been very close to Emilee her whole life.

After Emilee enrolled at University of Houston a few years ago, she began spending a lot of nights at our house. She was already very close with both of our girls.

That’s Emilee, above, with Georgia at Easter this year.

It’s a miracle she’s alive. G-d bless Emilee and her family. We love her and them so much. We have so much to be grateful for. More than words can say…

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
Then push away the unimaginable.

Parzen family safe after heavy rains and severe flooding in Houston

Just a quick post this morning to let everyone know that the Parzen family is safe and dry after heavy rains and severe flooding here in Houston.

Thunderstorms are predicted for today and possibly tomorrow. The ground is saturated, including rainfall from earlier this week. And the bayous are teeming.

But so far, we are still high and dry in our corner of the city. I wish I could say the same for all our neighbors.

The girls and I checked up on our flooding/hurricane preparedness supplies yesterday afternoon. We have plenty of water, food, batteries, and a full tank of gas in the truck (I’m so glad that I got my F150!).

The power went out very briefly, a few times last night, when the lightening struck close to our house. But thankfully we have power.

Rusty, whom we believe was abandoned or separated from his family during Hurricane Harvey, is completely freaked out. He clearly feels the safest place in the house is the girls’ room. He slept with Lila Jane all night (she was so happy about that!). Poor little Rusty! We can only wonder how he made it through Harvey.

School is cancelled today and we’ll be staying in and off the roads.

Stay safe, everyone! G-d bless…

Houston, we have a problem party and EVERYONE is invited: HOUSE PARTY MAY 18, live music and wines by Cantele

Here’s the deal: if you have my phone number, if we are friends on Facebook and/or we follow each other on Instagram, YOU ARE INVITED!

HOUSE PARTY
CHEZ PARZEN
SATURDAY, MAY 18

LIVE MUSIC, POTLUCK, WINE

TIME: 1 P.M. until the wine stops flowing
WHERE: our house in Houston (PM me if you need the address)
WHAT TO BRING: your favorite pot luck dish, your instrument

On Saturday, May 18, the Parzen family, the Parzen Family Singers, and Cantele are going to be hosting one of our legendary HOUSE PARTIES.

Doors open at 1 p.m.

Kids play solo and combo starting at 2 p.m.

Adult music begins at 4 p.m.

When does it end? When the wine stops flowing!

One of my best friends Paolo Cantele will be in town and he’s providing wine all day and night from his family’s winery.

My band Parzen Family Singers will be making its debut performance.

All kids and adults are welcome to sign-up for open mic! Bring your instrument. There will be backline, including keyboards, provided.

Bring your favorite pot luck dish.

Our parties are super fun and always kid-friendly. And SERIOUSLY: EVERYONE IS INVITED! Just PM me if you need our address. Everyone is welcome and there will be plenty of food and wine to go around.

Please don’t be shy: COME TO OUR PARTY and ROCK OUT with us!

Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you…

Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you
Tomorrow I’ll miss you
Remember I’ll always be true
And then while I’m away
I’ll write home every day
And I’ll send all my loving to you

I’ll pretend that I’m kissing
the lips I am missing
And hope that my dreams will come true
And then while I’m away
I’ll write home every day
And I’ll send all my loving to you

All my loving I will send to you
All my loving, darling I’ll be true

I miss them already. Wish me luck, wish me speed. See you at Vinitaly…

Welcome Paco! The newest member of the Parzen family…

Welcome, Paco! The newest member of the Parzen family!

Little Paco (above, left) came into our lives two months ago, first as a foster dog and then as our officially adopted chihuahueño.

He’s super sweet with the girls and he’s been wonderful for our chihuahua mix rescue Rusty, who is still a bit neurotic and skittish but a lot less so now that he has a pal (they are best friends, even though Rusty can be a little jealous of his daddy).

Paco was a rescue, too: he was abandoned by his family when they moved to a new house. They took their other dogs but not little Paco! We don’t know why.

In keeping with Parzen family tradition, the Parzen Family Singers wrote and recorded a song for him. That’s Lila Jane and me, with a few cameos from Georgia and mommy, in the track below. (Lila Jane and I recorded our vocals in one live, improvised take. I’m so proud of how she’s taken to the recording arts. Here’s the song she wrote for Rusty.)

Enjoy the music and the cute chihuahua pics! Thanks for being here and sharing our joy.

Buon weekend a tutti! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Texas BBQ and Italian wine tasting and seminar, February 25 in Houston

In a time before Frankin Barbecue in Austin and Killen’s Barbecue in Houston, smoked meats were simply part of the everybody-everyday Texas culinary fabric and landscape.

“We don’t go out for bbq,” said Tracie, then my girlfriend, 10 years ago now.

“We eat [family friend] Melvin’s or Uncle Tim’s,” she explained.

When we shared news of our wedding plans, Melvin exclaimed (and this is not a joke, people): “how am I gonna get my smoker to La Jolla?”

Today, 10 years gone, Texas BBQ has conquered the world. Even in faraway Como, Italy, Houston Chronicle BBQ columnist J.C. “Chris” Reid found authentic Texas smoked meats.

On Monday, February 25, Chris will be presenting a tasting and seminar exploring the alchemy of pairing Texas BBQ with Italian wine (a heavenly match imho). The paper’s wine writer Dale Robertson will join him on the dais and I will be moderating the session.

We’ll also be joined by three of Houston’s leading pit masters, who will be sharing their secrets and their smoked meats with 80 lucky registrants.

This event will sell out quickly, folks, and registration has just opened.

Details follow below. I hope you can join us!

Btw, check out Chris’ thread here. He’s the world’s greatest living expert on Texas BBQ.

*****

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR
“HOW TO PAIR TEXAS BBQ WITH ITALIAN WINE”
(Monday, February 25, 3:30 p.m.)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR
THE TASTE OF ITALY GRAND TASTING
(Monday, February 25
open to trade and media at 11 a.m.
open to public at 3 p.m.)

The Italy-Texas factor: How to pair Texas BBQ with Italian wine.
seminar and tasting
Monday, February 25

Presented by
Italy-American Chamber of Commerce Texas
and
Taste of Italy
trade fair and food festival
Hilton Post Oak
2001 Post Oak Blvd.
Houston TX 77056

Click for festival information and registration details.

Leading Texas BBQ expert J.C. Reid and veteran Houston wine writer Dale Robertson explore the magic and science of pairing classic Texas smoked meats with Italian grape varieties and wine styles. They will be joined by 3 top Houston pit masters who will share some of their smoking secrets as well as insights into matching their foods with wines from the Old Country.
Continue reading

Stand up to racism: please donate to our GoFundMe to display an MLK billboard over Confederate Memorial

Tracie and I are raising money to buy one (1) month of advertising on a billboard that stands across the road from the newly erected Confederate Memorial of the Wind (see below), a monument built by the Sons of Confederate Veterans on Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. in Orange, Texas along Interstate 10.

In observance of Martin Luther King Day (January 21, 2019) and African American History Month (February) , the billboard will look down on the memorial, which (as of this posting) includes the Robert E. Lee battle flag, otherwise known as “the Confederate Flag.”

CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

Artwork for the billboard (above) was created pro bono by an anonymous designer.

Continue reading