Upstairs Bar & Lounge Highlights Hendrick’s Gin and the Importance of Fresh Produce

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These days, every ingredient counts in a cocktail—not just the booze.

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Upstairs Bar & Lounge Highlights Hendrick’s Gin and the Importance of Fresh Produce This was reposted for my personal reading use

America Does Actually Have a Single-Payer Health System



It’s not 2020 yet. Heck, it’s not even 2018 yet and I am already watching my fellow Democrats and those leaning left start to eat themselves. More annoyingly, they are repeating the last election through the lens of misinformation and screamed talking points.

A bit ago, I ran across an Observer article talking about how Kamala Harris was starting to attract the attention of the donor class that backed Hillary Clinton. Now, it’s the Observer, the outlet that President Trump’s son-in-law stepped down from being the publisher of early this year. His spirit remains, though. The Harris article is full of both unsubtle boogeymen (the dreaded George Soros, who runs the world through his gay volcano lair made of aborted fetal tissue and confiscated weapons) and more subtle ones. The implications meant to continue the divide of the left hints of Harris having already been chosen as the nominee by corrupt moneyed interests in backrooms, handing the bitter Bernie Sanders supporters their first bit of ammunition to scream “rigged contest” when the whole damned circus gets going again. You’d think we’d learn when we’re being played like fiddles, but, nope.

One of the things that irked me the most about anti-Clinton leftists and a lot of presumed progressives, particularly as the question of healthcare reform’s future continues to bubble and churn under the scandal-ridden White House, was that Clintonian liberals sold Americans out on the subject by opposing a single-payer healthcare system. As you can see from the language that surrounds the conversation, it’s part of a plan to pit one side of the left as corporate sell-outs and the other side as the true socialist revolution that wants to scrap everything and be “just like the rest of the developed world.”

Here’s the problem: we have a single-payer health system. We’ve had one since the 1960s — two actually. Medicare and Medicaid are the American single-payer system. And while it has tremendous flaws, it does actually work. It was also designed to eventually be universal, and the people working towards that much more resemble Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton than they do people like Bernie Sanders.

The problem with Medicare and Medicaid is not that they aren’t single payer, it’s that they are not universal. However, just because they aren’t universal doesn’t mean they don’t cover an absolutely enormous amount of people under a tax system that is more or less identical to any standard single-payer model. More than 68 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid alone, including half of all babies born in the country. Another 44 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare. A country where one out of every three people is part of a single-payer system is a country with a single-payer system, it just doesn’t have a wide enough one.

Expanding that net was a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and also the ones conservatives fought the hardest against. The Supreme Court ultimate ruled the states (which oversee Medicaid) could not be forced to accept the Medicaid expansion. Nevertheless, even with only partial implementation, the number of people who newly got to join the American single-payer healthcare system jumped by millions.

During the 2016 presidential election, Clinton proposed something both modest and radical at the same time; she said we should require all people 50 to 65 to purchase Medicare plans. It wasn’t Sanders “Medicare for All” complete overhaul, and that made it seem like some sort of Republican compromise, despite suddenly giving millions of more people that public option so many say they want.

But gradual implementation by walking down Medicare and walking up Medicaid is a far easier task than a national do-over. When Britain built its National Hospital System, it did so by, well, nationalizing their hospitals.  It was the dreaded government take over, and it allowed their state to regulate things like the cost of care.

The cost of care is a main reason why the American medical system is a mess. There’s a reason a heart surgeon makes five times in America what they might make in Britain. Unfortunately, price control is a really, really complicated subject with potentially disastrous results, especially when you’re talking a commodity as rare and costly to replace as a heart surgeon.

The United States does exercise some price control in medicine. They simply state what they will or won’t pay for a service, and if the doctors say no they lose out on getting a huge chunk of patients. By increasing that chunk bit by bit, allowing doctors and nurses to not see a radical drop in what they can charge all at once, the price of care goes slowly down. By bringing in people ten million or so at a time, increases in the payroll tax are manageable rather than catastrophic.

That’s the path to universal healthcare, a managed approach. The Democrats, even those dreaded establishment folks, have been chipping their way towards it at great cost for a long time. It will go a lot faster if we start realizing Medicare and Medicaid are single payer public options.

Then we can start demanding the conservatives stop keeping so many of us out.

America Does Actually Have a Single-Payer Health System This was reposted for my personal reading use

Other Side: The Best of The Week

August Alsina, Photo: Live Nation


With the weather reaching new levels of intensity around this city, I don’t think we can say that summer isn’t in full swing anymore. Of course, with the entertainment options available to you this week, you could apply that theory as well. Sets from August Alsina, Playboi Carti, and Caddywhompus will all fall between locals and legends like James Taylor and Blue Oyster Cult, as well as Vans Warped Tour. Houston, here’s how to navigate the next seven days.


Wednesday you can get going over at Satellite Bar when the electro-pop goodness of Houston’s Camera Cult headlines a set. These guys make ultra-catchy tunes that are hard to deny and even harder not to get down to. In fact, their latest singles, “Camaro” and “Between The Scenes,” should get your feet moving. The synthpop of Nashville’s Hardcastle will be on as direct support, while the ambient pop of Houston’s Whale Bones will open the all-ages show, with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $8 and $12.


On Wednesday, Raven Tower will host the singer songwriter goodness of Adam Bricks on the back patio. Bricks has been slugging it out for a good while now, and his live shows can be anything from sweet and endearing to raucous and energetic. Not to mention, last year’s Relations is one of the best records you might not have heard of.  The all-ages show gets going around 7:30 and it’s free.


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POIZON, Photo: Mark Lochridge


Over at Walter’s you can get down with the punk rock of Houston’s POIZON for their album release party. While you may not care that this band has a member of the band Fatal Flying Guilloteens in it, that shouldn’t matter, as their debut album, Church Is Poizon, is as golden as their enigmatic live shows. Austin noise rockers Xetas will be on as direct support, while Criminal Itch will get the all-ages show started. Doors open at 8 pm and there’s a $10 cover.


On Thursday you might find yourself wanting to just chill with great tunes, and if you do, then you should head to MKT Bar to catch John Egan.  Possibly one of the more underrated musicians in Houston, Egan is a joy to catch perform, and his latest release, Magnolia City, is great from start to finish, with bluesy undertones like no one else. The all-ages show gets going around 7 pm and it’s free.



Jealous Creatures, Photo: Scott Holleman


At Rockefeller’s the anthemic indie rock of Austin’s The Rocketboys will swing by to perform. Kind of like if Coldplay were from the U.S., this 3-piece band’s latest release, Certain Circles, is a mix of rock and beauty. The indie folk meets southern gospel of The Whistles and the Bells will be on hand as direct support, while Houston’s Jealous Creatures will get the all-ages show started, with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $10 and $12.


Notsuoh will help you get weird when Houston’s Black Lodge headlines the Main Street mainstay. Black Lodge sounds a little chaotic, but that’s the point, and the duo’s self-titled debut from 2014, Black Lodge, still holds up. The experimental psych of NOLA’s Druidian Pink will be on with their trippy sounds as direct support, while Austin’s Pony Kicks will get the free 21 & up show started with doors at 8 pm.


Over at Walter’s you can catch the entertaining and fun sounds of New Orleans duo Caddywhompus. These two have been getting more and more popular with each release, and their live shows have gotten bigger and bigger. Their latest album, Odd Hours, from this year, is their best to date. Houston’s Young Mammals will bring their jangly indie rock on as direct support and openers for the all-ages show with doors at 8 pm and a $10 cover.



Playboi Carti, Photo: Paradigm


Over in the ballroom at Warehouse Live, the popular hip hop of Atlanta’s Playboi Carti will take place. He’s here in support of his most recent drop, Playboi Carti, from this year. If you were lucky enough to grab tickets, then you should be in for a treat. Atlanta’s young nudy will be on hand as direct support, while Gunna will get the all-ages show that has since sold out started, with doors at 8:30 pm.


On Friday the up and coming sounds of El Paso’s Khalid will take center stage over at Revention Music Center. This guy might be young, but don’t let that fool you as his soulful vocals alone are worth checking out. He’s literally popping off everywhere he performs, and his recently dropped debut, American Teen, is amazing. Houston’s DJ Baby Roo will bring his DJ prowess on for the all-ages show, with doors at 6 pm and tickets between $110 and $130.


Upstairs at White Oak Music Hall, the Texas psych of Bubble Puppy will be on hand. These guys were unfortunately overshadowed by 13th Floor Elevators when they began, but that doesn’t mean that they ever lost their lustre. While their track “Hot Smoke And Sassafras” became universally adored, their records easily still stand the test of time. There’s no word of support or opener, but that could change on the all-ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets for $12.


Insomnia Gallery will have the Black Girl Magic art show presented with Jaz Henry. The show will feature artists that you may not know exist, with the likes of Chasity Porter, Lex Simone, Ryan Francisco and many, many more showing work. Alongside art, there promises to be vendors as well as music and drinks. The all-ages event gets going around 7 pm and it’s free to attend.



Giant Kitty, Photo: Daniel Jackson


Walter’s will have a show to benefit the Lilith Fund for reproductive rights featuring a headlining set from Houston’s Giant Kitty. The 4-piece punk band will bring energetic songs from their debut, This Stupid Stuff, as well as tracks from their upcoming sophomore release due out sometime this year. The intense hardcore of LACE will be on as direct support, while the high-energy punk of Ruiners will go on prior. Houston’s Clare will open the all-ages show, with doors at 8 pm and tickets for $10.


Continental Club will keep the longest rockabilly weekender in Texas going with the 17th installment of Rock Baby Rock It. The two-day soiree has Houston’s Los Skarnales on as headliners for the first night. I’d guess you’d have caught the energy heavy performances from these guys over the years, but you may not have in a while. And if you haven’t, then you should definitely check this set out. Their more recent release, Another Day, Another Borrachera, has them at the top of their game. Legendary 60s rock and rollers, Mexico’s Los Johnny Jets, will be on as well, and should bring hits like “Es Lupe” and “El Ultimo Beso” to life. Tomcat Y Los Rock N Roll Combo will also be on hand for the 21 & up show that gets going around 9 pm with a $20 cover.


On Saturday you can get your art fix over at Walter’s for the Chronicles of a Collective art show. Art from the likes of Lisa Ramirez, Christopher Oddo, Elizabeth Cook and more will be on view. Each piece will include a story about the art from the artists themselves, and it should make for an intriguing and very different type of art show. The all-ages event gets going with doors at 6 pm and it’s Free to attend.


Night two of Rock Baby Rock It will commence at Continental Club and the adjoining spaces with a headlining performance from Rudy T Gonzales and The King Pelican. The San Antonio doo-wop singer is back with a new band, and he should swoon all who catch him. The London-born and Austin-transplanted rockabilly of Rockin’ Lloyd Tripp will also be on hand, while the Left Eye Jumpers will go on prior. The energetic sounds of The Octanes will also be on the bill, as will Colton Turner and Luxurious Panthers. The 21 & up show has doors at 6 pm and a $25 cover.



Blue Oyster Cult, Photo: TKO


The downstairs of White Oak Music Hall will host the legendary sounds of Blue Oyster Cult, now in their 45th year. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of cowbell in this performance as the group celebrates yet another decade of performing. Hits like “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Burnin’ For You,” and “Godzilla” will get played alongside other favorites from the band. The intergalactic stoner rock of Dallas’ Mothership will get the all-ages show started, with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $35 and $37.


Additionally on Saturday, House of Blues will host the ever-popular sounds of August Alsina. Alsina may have been born in Louisiana, but his Houston upbringing and turbulent past have helped pave the way for a pretty amazing career. His latest release, This Thing Called Life, still holds up, and there are rumors of new tracks coming sooner than later. There’s no word of support or openers, but that may change for the all-ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $29.50 and $55.



Unsane, Photo: Hexagram Booking


Possibly one of the more intense bands to come from the eighties, New York’s Unsane will unleash their noise rock intensity over at The Secret Group. I can’t stress enough how solid these guys are in a live setting, and after lineup changes, members beaten in Europe, and being many times knocked down, they’re bringing their intriguing sound back. Their last release, 2012’s Wrecksounds as good today as it did when it was released, while their 1998 album, Occupational Hazard, is still one of my favorites of all time. The hardcore metallic noise of New York’s Fashion Week will be on as direct support and openers for the all-ages show with doors at 8 pm and tickets for $15.


Satellite Bar will host the hip hop of NYC’s Aaron Cohen over to drop rhymes. Cohen has made quite the name for himself with his 2013 release Potential Fans, while last year’s Off The Ground cemented him as a strong lyricist. Houston’s T2 the Ghetto Hippie will bring his latest, Double Cups & Taco Trucks, to life as direct support, and iLL Faded will get things started as only he can. The all-ages show is free for adults or $8 for the kids, with doors at 8 pm.



War On Women, Photo: Bridge9 Records


On Sunday the Vans Warped Tour will make its way to NRG Park.  This year, the long-running festival has a pretty stacked lineup that includes War On Women, Candiria, CKY, GWAR, T.S.O.L. and many many many more. There’s more information here for the all-ages event that gets going with gates at 11 am and tickets between $41.50and $51.50, while parking is $15.


Insomnia Gallery will host the latest edition of the You Need Pics event, Hey Buddy, You Need Pics. Because this is my event, it’s best to explain that if you’re in a band, or you’re a comic, or pretty much any form of entertainer, then having fresh pictures goes a long way. All of the door money goes to the photographers, and you can get all the pics you want for $5 per person. There will be multiple professional band photographers on hand; I’ll be serving Topo, Lone Star, and Topo Cocktails at the cash bar, and there’s music from DJ Playlist. The all-ages event starts at noon and runs until 4 pm with a measly $5 cover.


Out in Clear Lake, The Alarm will bring their acoustic rock to all who attend at Scout Bar. While these guys have been around since the early eighties and were often compared to bands like U2, they had their own sound and charted several large singles and albums with ease. They’re still fronted by their original singer, and I’m sure you’ll hear their hits like “The Stand,” and “Sixty Eight Guns.”  There’s no word of openers or support, but that could change for the all-ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $16 and $20.



James Taylor, Photo: Creative Artists Agency


On Tuesday, the legendary folk sounds of James Taylor will make their way over to Toyota Center. The legendary singer will perform all of your favorites like “Fire and Rain,” “Carolina In My Mind,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” and more with his all-star band, alongside songs that span his career, including those from 2015’s Before This World. The slinging-guitar-goodness of Bonnie Raitt will be on hand as opener and direct support for the all-ages show with doors at 6 pm and tickets between $66 and $100.


Over at Walter’s, Austin’s Sailor Poon will bring their punk-fueled garage sound back to town. While there are plenty of bands with punk leanings, the silly and often loud sounds of this band are hard to ignore, and their latest, Yeast Pigeon, is pretty solid.  The cop-themed punk energy of The Cops will be on as direct support, while the fuzzy punk of Houston’s ImposterBoys will open the all-ages show with doors at 8 pm and a $7 cover.


That’s about all that’s happening this week. No matter what you decide to do, don’t forget that a safe ride home is just an app away.


Other Side: The Best of The Week This was reposted for my personal reading use

Houston’s First Cidery Will Change Everything You Know About Hard Cider

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Opening The Permann’s Cider Company allowed a recently-widowed accountant to flip the script on grief.

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Houston’s First Cidery Will Change Everything You Know About Hard Cider This was reposted for my personal reading use

FPH Exclusive: Mojave Red Drops Catchy New Single

Mojave Red, Photo: Dani Willie


The best part of writing about music is when you see a band grow and change right in front of your eyes. And while it’s common for us as fans to want to see a band make the same familiar sound over and over, it’s always exciting to see a band start to really explore their sound and mature into something exciting and fresh. For Houston’s Mojave Red, their general vibe has always been that they’re up for change and for keeping things interesting for themselves and for those who are listening. On their latest single, “Fading Out,” found exclusively here, they take the psych sound they became known for and take it to a new and funky space. It’s an undeniably catchy track. 



Clocking in at under three minutes, the song opens with a spacey synth before a guitar slinks on like that of an alien visitor. The vocals are light but soulful in their presentation, while the beat is a bit removed from the heavier sounds that the band utilized on their debut EP. There’s a use of dual vocals and backing vocals that come together to create a pop-laden hook that gets stuck in your head. Then a fuzzy guitar comes on that’s reminiscent of something Santana would carve out. These elements, mixed together, create a sound that immediately sticks in your head, making you feel compelled to place the song on repeat again and again.


The song will be available through Houston’s Wallflower Records on cassette on August 4, and includes a trippy remix of the song from Stephen Farris. You can catch Mojave Red when they kick their tour off on Saturday, August 12 at Continental Club. The 21 & up show, with doors at 9 pm, will feature performances from Summer Fires and texture:Yellow and carries an $8 cover charge.

FPH Exclusive: Mojave Red Drops Catchy New Single This was reposted for my personal reading use