Help us raise an MLK billboard over the Confederate memorial in Orange, Texas for MLK Day. Just $240 needed to meet our GoFundMe goal.

UPDATE (January 15): We’ve reached our goal! Thank you so much to everyone who donated and shared. The GoFundMe is still active if you’d like to donate to our future efforts. We’ll probably raise another billboard in the summer. Thank you to all for the support and solidarity.

We are just $240 short of our fund-raising goal of $600 needed to raise a billboard celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King that will look down on the newly erected Confederate memorial in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up.

Click here to donate.

We have already secured the billboard space: the artwork (above) will go live just in time for Martin Luther King Day and will stay up through most of African American History Month.

The sign was created by a designer from Orange.

It will also be up in time for our Martin Luther King Day protest of the memorial (from 2-4 p.m.). See details here. We hope you will join us.

And if you can’t, please consider giving what you can to our campaign. Every little bit helps.

Graphic designers: we need your help to fight racism in Southeast Texas

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Graphic designers: Tracie and I need your help to design an electronic billboard to be displayed across from the newly erected Confederate memorial in Orange, Texas (on the Louisiana border) where Tracie grew up.

We first began protesting the site — which stands on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and Interstate 10, in view of the freeway — in 2017.

Last year, as part of our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day protest, we used a GoFundMe to raise money for an electronic billboard celebrating Dr. King and his quest to end racism in the U.S. The “ad” was displayed on a commercial billboard that literally looks down on the site from across the road.

You can see last year’s billboard artwork here.

And you can see images of the actual billboard here (on our GoFundMe).

Last year’s billboard was designed pro bono by a designer friend of mine. This year, we’re hoping that someone new will step up to help us with our campaign.

If you’re interested, please shoot me an email by clicking here.

Over the course of our efforts, Tracie and I have been threatened with physical violence, slandered via an anonymous “poison pen” letter, and told that “Jesus Christ [expletive] hates us.”

We stand undaunted by the cowardly efforts to silence us — yes, I’m talking about you, Sons of Confederate Veterans!

Click here to read more about our campaign.

Thank you for your support and solidarity.

Rock out with me, Tracie, and the girls this Sunday, December 29 at 13 Celsius wine bar

That’s one of my favorite photos from back in the day. Tracie and I had just met for the first time the month before (following a six-month e-mance). But I was in East Germany playing a gig with my band Nous Non Plus at a European Green Party retreat (no shit).

Dany Le Rouge (yes, Dany himself!) was dancing with a beautiful girl dressed in red in the audience at that show.

The year was 2008 and things were finally looking up after an annus horribilis in New York the previous year (well, honestly, looking back on it all, it wasn’t so bad, except for the financial crisis).

We had just sold a song to the TV show Girls on HBO and one of the producers featured us on his playlist (that was huge!).

And this beautiful woman from Austin, Texas had just come into my life — changing it forever and for better.

Today, nearly 12 years later, I’m a dude in his 50s who plays 70s and 80s covers at funky downtown natural wine bars. Who would have thunk it?

This Sunday, our band BioDyanmic (I know, right?) will be playing two sets at one of my favorite wine hangs, 13 Celsius (which is actually in midtown, equally funky).

AND… the amazing Thomas Cokinos will be sharing lead vox duties with me. He is not only a super talented player but a super frontman frontperson. Really great.

Click here for the details but all you really need to know is that we will take the stage around 1 p.m. and that me, Tra, and the girls (yes, it’s kid-friendly) will be hanging out afterwards to see the other bands and to enjoy some great wine (at discounted prices; they do this crazy “Sunday Situation” discount program there). The small plates are also excellent (the girls love the charcuterie).

I hope you can join us to end 2019 in bellezza as they say in Italian.

NEW Parzen Family Singers album: “Day After Yesterday” (+ CHRISTMAS VIDEO)

Happy Holidays, everyone!

The song in the video above is from Parzen Family Singers’ NEW album, “Day After Yesterday,” now out on BandCamp!

The girls and I co-wrote the first track, “Why Can’t It Be Christmas (Every Day of the Year).” I fed them the title lyric and a backing track. And then set them up with a couple of SM58s. They took care of the rest. I really love this year’s Christmas song (but then again, I love them all).

Lila Jane and I wrote “Paco Chihuahueño” for the newest addition to the Parzen Family Singers (it’s his growl at the top of the track). Our other chihuahua got a song on the last album so it was only fair that Paco get his. Lila Jane and I improvised the vox in one solid take. For real. I wrote the lyrics as the track was rolling and LJ was right there with me. I’ll never forget that moment. It was so cool and so much fun.

“Shut It Down” was inspired by a protest we attended outside a migrant processing center near downtown Houston. I made a few videos for social media at the protest and when I watched the videos back at home, I realized I could “sample” them and splice them back together as a track. The chants themselves inspired the groove. Like all of our songs, it captures a moment in our year, in our lives. The girls have been going to protests with us as long as they can remember.

The girls asked me to write “Day After Yesterday (Emilee’s Song)” for their cousin who was in a really bad accident this year. We’re happy to report that she’s doing well (just graduated from college, on track, as a matter of fact, cum laude). The title came from a favorite malapropism of Georgia’s. I’ll never forget writing the song and lyrics sitting in my F150 in a H-E-B parking lot. It just came to me, like I was channeling it. Lila tracked her vox like a pro, in just two takes. Her vox really take it over the top.

I wrote and sang “Ten Years Gone” for me and Tracie’s upcoming 10th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY! Ten years gone and you’re still turning me on/Ten years after and it’s still laughter and song. That’s the chorus. We’ve been planning our anniversary celebration and we both keep saying to each other: it doesn’t seem like 10 years have passed; it seems like yesterday! So true. If you listen closely you can hear one of the dogs barking on the slide guitar solo I played on my Taylor. I’m not sure what dog it was (I think it was Paco).

“The Mime and His Phonograph” is one of those songs that might have ended up on a Nous Non Plus record (if we were still writing and recording together). I’ve always been fascinated with the year 1888 (the year Nietzsche began to lose his mind). And so I tried to conjure images of what it might have looked and felt like when you wandered the streets of Paris then. To my surprise, I came upon a mime with a secret and special power.

Click here to listen and download now!

Happy holidays and thanks for the support, solidarity, and friendship.

Rock out with me in Houston: Hanukkah first night house party and Sunday Dec. 29 at 13 Celsius

Houston friends: I’ll be playing two shows with my 70s and 80s cover band BioDynamic later this month. Please come rock out with us!

On Sunday, December 22, Parzen Family will be hosting a blow-out house party and open mic, featuring kids from the Suzuki program at our school and anyone who wants to perform solo or sit in.

Kids will start playing around 1 p.m., followed by adults and our band (around 4 p.m.). At sundown, we’ll take a break to light candles and Tra will be making her legendary latkes.

If you already know where we live, just come whenever. And bring your favorite pot luck dish or bottle of wine (not necessary but welcomed).

If you don’t have our address, ping me. ALL ARE WELCOME!

And then on Sunday, December 29, we’ll be playing two sets at one of my favorite Houston wine bars, 13 Celsius in Midtown. It’s part of the their end-of-year celebration, “The 13th Hour.” Party starts at 1 p.m. and we take the stage at 2 p.m. There’s no cover and it’s family friendly. And of course, the wines will rock as well.

Click here for details and the complete lineup of Houston bands.

I hope that everyone is having a great holiday season and that you can join us for one of the shows/events.

And thanks to everyone who wished Georgia a happy birthday on social media.

Rock on and drink great wine! Hope to see you soon!

The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate. Don’t believe me? Ask your black friends.

Above: A protest of the Confederate Memorial of the Wind in Orange, Texas, where the Sons of Confederate Veterans have erected a monument celebrating Confederate battle flags. The conspicuously displayed banners include the “Confederate Flag” that Nikki Haley has praised as a symbol of pride and heritage. The monument stands on the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and Interstate 10 in a city where an ongoing legacy of racial violence has stained the community for generations. See the Sons’ rendering of the site below.

Rising Republican star Nikki Haley’s recent claim that the Confederate flag is not a symbol of white supremacy is as egregious as it is dangerous.

Egregious because — I’m sorry to break it to whitewashed, “snowflake” Republicans — the Confederate flag is a symbol of the white supremacist movement in our country.

Don’t believe me? Just ask your black friends how they feel about conspicuous displays of the Confederate flag. And ask them about their own experiences with the Confederate flag and the people who wave it.

Your white friends who belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will tell you that it’s symbol of “pride” and “heritage.” And they are right: it’s an expression of their pride in white supremacy and their ancestors’ belief in and support of apartheid in this country — otherwise known as poll tax, Jim Crow, and the “Southern Strategy” of the 20th-century Republican party.

Just have a look at the flier (below) that the Sons of Confederate veterans circulated as they gathered money to erect their “Memorial of the Wind,” a celebration of Confederate battle flags including the Confederate flag, in Orange, Texas where half the population is black and where there is a searing legacy of racial violence and Jim Crow.

Her assertion is dangerous because it’s the latest example of the Republican party’s defense, validation, and propagation of the flag itself.

Just as the leader of her party and her close political ally Trump claimed that there were “some very fine people” carrying tiki torches and chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Haley contends that the flag is conspicuously displayed by a mere handful of bad actors.

Evidently, she hasn’t visited the South lately. Here in Southeast Texas, the Confederate Memorial of the Wind (depicted in the flier below) stands at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and Interstate 10. And all you have to do is meander through the residential streets of southeast Texas and you’ll find Confederate flags displayed conspicuously on houses and cars.

In our own neighborhood in Houston, I’ve spotted a Dodge Charger with a Confederate flag painted on it.

But in recent years, I’ve also seen countless Confederate flags displayed in my hometown of San Diego, California. I even saw more than one prominently displayed Confederate flag when I visited Oregon wine country earlier this year.

To embolden white supremacists with morally bankrupt rhetoric like Haley’s is to euphemize a growing and increasingly violent group of hatemongers who embrace the Republicans’ historic and well-documented subjugation of people who don’t look like (or vote for) them.

Don’t believe me? Just ask my friend in Orange, Texas who drives down Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. every day, traveling beneath the Interstate 10 overpass to take her daughter to elementary school.

“Slow Wine is opening up the conversation about climate change.” Sophia McDonald’s excellent write-up for Oregon Wine Press.

Please check out Sophia McDonald’s excellent write-up of the Slow Wine Guide project for Oregon Wine Press.

“For me, Slow Wine is opening up the conversation about how winegrowers and winemakers can help mitigate climate change,” said Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards in an interview with the writer. “We certainly have literal skin the game. The more conversations we have, the more people are educated about these nuances in the way we grow and produce wines.”

Sophia really gets it and her reporting is spot on.

The Slow Wine Guide to the Wines of Oregon is now in its second year and the reception in the state couldn’t have been warmer.

Thank you, Sophia!

In other news…

I’m about to head off to NYC where I’ll be tasting some (very) old Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo. And then it’s off to Italy for a short trip to taste more old wine.

When I think of all the stuff I’m missing in our girls’ lives this week (first music lessons of the school year, first gymnastics, first karate class, and first Girls Scouts meeting), my heart just sinks.

But hey, it’s a living!

Please wish me luck and wish me speed. And please stay tuned for my posts and tasting notes. Thanks for being here.

“Shut It Down!” A protest song by Parzen Family Singers…

Tell me what you want, what you really want!

JUSTICE!

Tell me what you need, what you really need!

JUSTICE!

Last month, Parzen family took part in Lights for Liberty (A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps) here in Houston. It was part of a nationwide protest that took place that evening.

We’ve been protesting and marching a lot in recent years. And it’s always a rich and compelling human experience — tapping into a shared desire to make the world a better place.

I wanted to capture that energy in music and so I went about setting some of the chants to a beat. The result was the Parzen Family Singers’ first protest song, “Shut It Down!” (below).

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone, and thank you for listening.

Always stand up for and speak out about what you believe is right. Those are words that we live by at our house.

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