Happy Mother’s Day, Tracie P! We love you with all our hearts.

Happy Mother’s Day, Tracie P!

Just like me, you’ll never forget that photo, I’m sure. It was taken by a friend of ours on the occasion of Parker Elementary’s second flash mob concert, just a few weeks into the stay at home/work safe order in our city.

It was one of the scariest moments of our 12 years together. Was our community safe? Were our family and friends across the nation and the world going to be okay? What challenges would our own family face in the months that lay ahead? We’re still asking ourselves those questions.

But every day, like the morning of that concert, you get out of bed with a ready smile and hug for our girls, a new art or music project to keep them engaged, a special recipe to make our mealtimes colorful, and a coffee cup full of patience and tenderness for sometimes teary daughters and their often weary father.

Every day since the whole world changed, you have taught Georgia and Lila Jane — and me — about resilience. You’ve shown us how strength through hope, even in the face of uncertainty’s behemoth, is something we must never abandon as we carve out our new life in a world coming apart at its seams.

When we first met, I knew early on — we both knew — that we could build a life and a family together (remember how scary times were back then, dating in the thick of the financial crisis?). But neither of us could have imagined that we would be raising a family during a global pandemic. Today, on this Mother’s Day 2020, I can only thank my lucky stars to have a woman like you as my partner. Our daughters are blessed by your grace.

I love you, we love you with all our hearts. Happy Mother’s Day.

“WHITE WOMEN: Have you ever had to tell your kids people may HATE them because of their skin color?” Guest post by Kim Edwards Williams. #CareOutLoud

“This is why we have to be explicit in saying that black lives matter!” wrote my wife Tracie on our Facebooks yesterday. Her note accompanied her repost of an op-ed that appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post, “Why is Georgia only now seeking justic for Ahmaud Arbery? We know the terrible answers.”

“I cannot imagine the terror he felt,” Tracie wrote, “when he realized he was being stalked by two white men with guns. This case has been buried and the buck has been passed until now, two months later…”

The post elicited a number of comments, including the following by our friend Kim Edwards Williams, who lives here in Houston. I reached out to Kim and asked her if I could share it here. She graciously agreed.

As Kim writes below, we need to share it. Please do.

G-d bless Mr. Arbery and his loved ones. G-d bless all black sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. How is it possible that something like this can still happen in America in 2020? The answer lies in our moral negligence, in our ethical failure — as Kim writes — to #CareOutLoud.

Tracie, thank you for always speaking out. I appreciate you and your efforts.

This post is very important and powerful coming from YOU, but we need it to be on the timelines, IG posts, and Twitter OF ALL White women that say they ridin.

I’ve been sad, upset, crying (now), mad AF all in the last 5 hours. He was jogging y’all.

WHITE WOMEN: Have you ever had to tell your kids people may HATE them because of their skin color?

When your husband runs to the grocery store do you worry if he’s coming back?

When your family get pulled over by the cops have you or your kids ever have to witness their dad physically scared?

Have you ever had to explain to your silly, fun, kind loving, 13 year old son that his height and skin color is now very threatening to some people and teach him how to move through life. All while making sure that same son has the confidence to push pass all this bullshit, ugly crap to see his power?

They not listening to us, nor do they give a shit, but they will listen to y’all.

White women need a challenge to “care out loud for black lives”.

It’s a draining existence having to manage and kinda sorta protect the lives of our family members and this is DAILY mental work.

WOOOOOOAH……..vomit! I’m done let me go manage all my other responsibilities now.✌🏾

#IfYouMadPostIt
#CareOutLoud

Kim Edwards Williams
Houston, Texas
May 7, 2020

Image adapted from a photo by Johnny Silvercloud (Flickr Creative Commons).

“Ten years gone & you’re still turning me on.” HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY TRACIE P!

Scroll down for the song I wrote for Tracie for our 10th wedding anniversary: “Ten Years Gone (and You’re Still Turning Me On).”

Tracie and I were married 10 years ago today in La Jolla, California where I grew up.

Our first kiss and first dance happened back in August of 2008 in Austin, Texas (at the Continental Club, where else?) after we’d already been in touch through our blogs for many months and many emails and texts had been sent back and forth.

By February of 2009, we were engaged. I had asked her to marry me after my band played a show in LA. We drank Bruno Paillard in our hotel room that night.

On January 31, 2010, we got hitched. Tracie’s dad, the Reverend Branch, officiated.

We drank Bollinger rosé all night that night at our reception at Jaynes Gastropub, one of our favorite restaurants, owned by our close friends, in San Diego.

After our honeymoon in Italy (where else?), we settled into a little house we rented in Austin. Both of our girls were born in Austin (Georgia in 2011, Lila Jane in 2013) and we brought both of them home to that little house on the corner of Gro[o]ver and Alegria (streets have never been so aptly named!).

In early 2014, we moved to Houston where we rented and still live in a bigger house in a neighborhood that we love and a community where we have put down roots.

Georgia’s eight years old now and Lila Jane’s 6. Our house is always filled with lots of music and now a couple of chihuahuas, too.

We’re still as broke as the day we met (well, maybe not quite that broke) and we still struggle to get by. But we’re all happy, healthy, and doing things we love and enjoy.
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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.