Top Lawyers

July 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Top Lawyers

Food Network Star, At Your Service

July 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Dining, Features

By Tom Flynn
Photography by Erin Wiese

Gordon Bethune and Laurette listen as Chef Jeff entertains the dinner guests.

Gordon Bethune and Laurette listen as Chef Jeff entertains the dinner guests.


Vegas’ bad boy of cuisine, Chef Jeff Henderson, flies into Bush Intercontinental Airport, where I await in passenger pickup. “I’m at door C-101,” he texts. “Black guy with a bald head.” Many black gentlemen with bald heads exit C-101 and wonder why I’m waving at them before one recognizes my white SUV and red shirt, and heads my way. After quick introductions, I ask, “Can you be a little more descriptive next time? Like, I’m a tall black guy with a black chef’s shirt and designer luggage.” This is the beginning of Shop, Chop, Cook and Eat, the Chef Jeff Experience.

The 6’2” Henderson has a history. His first career in sales earned him $35,000 a week, and a 19-year sentence in a federal institution. Henderson was never a user, just a seller from the Los Angeles projects. During his extended vacation from mainstream American life, Henderson did a lot of soul searching, realized he was not a victim, took responsibility for his actions and then decided to learn how to cook. Before he finished his parole, Chef Jeff had cooked his way through L.A.’s best restaurants and landed a job in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, where he was voted Las Vegas’ Buffet Chef of the Year. He moved on to head chef at the prestigious Café Bellagio, the first African American to hold that position. Then he wrote a New York Times best-selling book about his life, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and with Steve Harvey, starred in his own Food Network TV show and became a prolific public speaker.

Now he’s riding shotgun in my SUV as we head to Central Market. This is my Christmas present from my wife, the Chef Jeff Experience. We’ll be working side by side to cook a four-course gourmet meal for six. It turns out we have a lot in common. We’re both in our 50s, have three-year olds (him, one girl; me, two identical boys), extended careers in sales (mine, legal) and public speaking, and both love cooking and our wives. Whatever earned his bad-boy reputation is long gone, and we’re looking forward to having some fun.

I love grocery stores. Between 1977 and 1984, I worked every position from sacker to store manager—it was my first career. I still study how shelves and displays are set as I walk the Montrose area H-E-B and Disco Kroger. Part of the Chef Jeff Experience is learning to navigate a store and select the best ingredients. Ten minutes into our trip, he confesses a little frustration; I know this Central Market better than he does. “No worries, Chef. I know the store in your neighborhood better than you do, and I’ve never been there,” I reply. But the big guy has a presence, and a lot of heads turn as my famous new friend selects fresh fruits and veggies, along with jumbo lump crab meat, sea bass and a rack of lamb.

He is a little distant on the ride from the store to the house, and I realize he’s thinking of the magnitude of his task. He’s walking into a kitchen he has never seen, with a guy he just met, to produce a meaningful culinary experience for six people who are showing up in a few hours with high expectations. Wow! He has little clues of the appliances, utensils or pantry goods available. I ask him why he stresses himself out like this. “I left the Café Bellagio 28 days after appearing on Oprah and became a public speaker. This project keeps me in the kitchen and keeps me cooking,” he says.

And he’s in luck. We have a large, gorgeous kitchen with every gadget and pantry item a chef could need. He becomes the general of our two-man army, requesting stations for each dish on the menu and setting up a restaurant-style assembly line in my home kitchen. My first prep task is cutting corn off the cobs. “What’s next, Chef?” “You’ve got to do every ear,” he replies. “I did.” It goes the same way with the potatoes. He looks at my work, and lets out a chuckle and a little sigh of relief. “I didn’t know you had good hands. We’ve got plenty of time.”

Chef Jeff’s photographer shows up before mine (again, we have a lot in common) and starts documenting our progress. They sneak out to the store and come back with flowers; I get a vase. “We don’t need a vase, these are for us. We’re going to add some class to these pictures,” says Chef. We break the flowers down and put a little Mason jar filled with tulips at each workstation. I’m in the middle of chopping sausage for our crab chowder, when Chef asks me to join him at the stove. “You ready, Bobby?” he asks his photographer, now turned videographer. Without warning, Chef puts his arm around my shoulders and turns from being a contemplative chef into the Food Network star. “Hey, all right y’all, Chef Jeff here with my friend Tom in his mac daddy kitchen in Houston, Texas, cooking up some amazing…” Next thing I know, I’m being interviewed about travels and culinary experiences in front of a live camera!

The chef and Food Network star becomes host, server and entertainer as our guests arrive and sit for dinner, sharing his life lessons between courses. The food is phenomenal, the experience one of a kind. And it never really ends.

You can learn more about Shop, Chop, Cook and Eat, the Chef Jeff Experience by visiting www.chefjefflive.com. But for now, check out the recipes here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 2.57.09 PM


STARTER: Watermelon Cube with Minted Citrus Salad
(Serves 6)

WatermelonCube1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
12 mint leaves
½ kiwi, peeled and diced
½ peach, peeled and diced
½ Meyer lemon, peeled and segmented
8 strawberries, cored and diced
½ cup fig-infused balsamic vinegar
6–8 (1-inch) cubes chilled seedless watermelon

1. Make a simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmer while stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 8–10 minutes. Poor the syrup into an 8-ounce jar and let cool; reserve the remaining syrup for the dessert.
2. Roughly chop the mint leaves, wrap in cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine. Add the mint bundle to the syrup, secure with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
3. Add the diced kiwi, peaches, lemon and strawberries to a small bowl and let stand so the flavors blend.
4. Add the vinegar to a 10-inch sauté pan over low-medium and reduce by half or until the desired thickness is achieved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
5. Cut small cavities in the watermelon cubes, about ¼-inch deep, using a sharp knife or small melon-ball scoop. Add a little dollop of the fruit mixture atop each watermelon cube. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon minted simple syrup.

Plate it Perfectly: Dip a small pastry brush into the reduced balsamic and paint a stripe on each plate. Place a watermelon cube in the center of each stripe. Top with a sliver or 2 of julienned mint leaves.


Appetizer: Louisiana Lump Crab–Sausage Chowder
(Serves 6–8)

1 stick unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 pound smoked turkey or hot pork sausage, cut into ¼-inch cubes
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ jalapeño, seeded and minced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup Riesling wine
2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
2 (32-ounce) containers low-sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, cleaned
Cajun seasoning to taste
½ cup oyster crackers for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives for garnish
Crab-chowder2 tablespoons grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Melt 1 stick butter in a stockpot over medium. Add the sausage and continue stirring until caramelized. Add the flour and stir constantly until the flour begins to turn brown. Add the vegetables and garlic, cooking until softened. Season with a nice pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Slowly stream in the wine, clam juice and chicken stock and add the bay leaves, stirring constantly to dissolve the flour mixture. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 35–45 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
3. Add the heavy whipping cream and simmer for 12–15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, brown the remaining butter in a sauté pan over medium. Gently fold in the crabmeat and sauté until warm. Add Cajun seasoning to taste.

Plate it Perfectly:
Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with oyster crackers and chives; top with big lumps of crap and freshly grated cheese.


Main Course: Herb-Encrusted Rack of Lamb
(Serves 4–6)

1 (6-bone) rack of lamb, trimmed and Frenched
Kosher salt and black pepper for rubbing
Cajun Seasoning for rubbing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon freshly minced rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
rack-lamb
1. Liberally season the lamb with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning.
2. Heat the olive oil in large cast-iron skillet over medium-high and sear the lamb until all sides are golden. Remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
4. Combine the breadcrumbs and rosemary in a small bowl and set aside.
5. Rub the fat cap of the lamb with the mustard and garlic, then pack with the breadcrumb mixture.
6. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 118°F–120°F, slightly past medium-rare. Let rest for 15 minutes and cut into individual chops.


Main Course: Barbecue Chip–Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass
(Serves 6)

1 (3-pound) Chilean sea bass fillet
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
8 ounces barbecue kettle chips
2–3 tablespoons olive oil

SeaBass1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the fillet into 6 pieces and remove the skin and lingering bones.
2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the fillets, until the bottom sides are brown and crispy. Meanwhile, season the top sides with salt and pepper.
3. Remove from the heat and let rest on a paper towel–lined plate, crispy side up.
4. Place the chips in a food processor and grind to a breadcrumb texture. Using a pastry brush, paint the seared sides of the fillets with olive oil and top with the chip crumbs.
5. Transfer the fillets to a baking pan and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until desired doneness. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Pair it Perfectly:
Cote du Rhone Blanc


Main Course: Corn and Bacon Maque Choux
(Serves 6–8)

choux½ pound thick-cut smoked bacon, diced
10 fingerling potatoes, quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and small diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed
1½ tablespoons freshly minced garlic
½ yellow onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
½ yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
6 baby portabella mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
5 ears corn on the cob, kernels removed
1 bunch Swiss chard or collard greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley sprigs for garnish

1. In large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium-high until caramelized. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook until they begin to brown.
2. Add the butter, garlic and remaining vegetables and cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring often until desired doneness is achieved. Add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Plate it Perfectly: Neatly place 1⁄3 cup maque choux in the center of each plate. Top with sea bass, then prop the lamb chop against the fish, bone pointing up. Garnish with parsley sprigs.


Dessert: Citrus Berry Parfait
(Serves 6–8)
parfait
½ quart heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 pint strawberries, hulled and diced
½ pint blueberries
1 orange, zested
¾ cup simple syrup (see watermelon starter recipe)
¼ Angel food cake, medium diced
8 ounces candied pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
Mint leaves for garnish

1. Place a glass or stainless-steel bowl and the carton of whipping cream in the freezer for 30 minutes.
2. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and add the honey, sugar and cinnamon. Whip with a wire whisk, until soft peaks form.
3. Combine the fruit and zest in a medium bowl and add the simple syrup; toss gently.

Plate it Perfectly: Make parfaits by layering the fruit mixture, angel food cake, chopped nuts and whipped cream in 8-ounce mason jars. Top with whipped cream and mint leaves. Serve with long spoons.

Much Ado About Houston

July 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events, Holiday, Theater

Summer in Houston isn’t complete without a little theater. And what could be better than the “merry war” between Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, or the tragic underdog tale in Henry V, to take the edge off those steamy August nights?

Photo courtesy of the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Photo courtesy of the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Beginning on July 29, the Houston Shakespeare Festival will alternate performances of Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V over the course of two weeks, once again captivating Bayou City theatergoers at Hermann Park’s Miller Outdoor Theatre. Since 1975, audiences from all over the city have enjoyed the event, watching Shakespeare under the stars for free every summer. Funding from the University of Houston, as well as several other foundations and individuals, has allowed the HSF to continue and grow, even providing an opportunity for emerging actors, designers, directors and stage managers from the HSF Conservatory to practice their craft in a professional environment.

Don’t miss the show!

Much Ado About Nothing: July 29, 31; August 2, 4, 6

Henry V: July 30; August 3, 5, 7

For ticket and pricing information:
www.milleroutdoortheatre.com


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Typhoon Texas: A Texas-Sized Water Park

July 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Events, Holiday

Everything is bigger in Texas—and in this case, that’s no exaggeration. This past Memorial Day weekend, Typhoon Texas, the largest privately owned water park in the country, opened its doors to the public. Sprawling over 25 acres in Katy, 29 miles from downtown Houston, the wonderland boasts 30 waterslides, nine amusement park rides and even a barbecue restaurant.

The most unique aspect about the water park, however, isn’t just the sheer size of it, but the innovation behind the rides themselves. “Slide boarding,” for instance, lets riders shoot at targets as they shoot down a water slide, making for a virtual video game experience; riders can even track their scores on their cell phones. That feature alone should get kids away from their Xbox and out into the sunshine!

Photo courtesy of Typhoon Texas.

Photo courtesy of Typhoon Texas.

Other attractions include the Texas Twister, which boomerangs a raft of up to six people down and up a curved wall; the Gunslinger, a seven-story freefall in a capsule; and the Typhoon, a water slide and white-water-rafting experience combined. For visitors with children too small for the heart-stopping attractions, there’s still plenty to see and do—the Gully Washer is a play area complete with sprays, slides and rope bridges.

When it’s time for a break, there are plenty of food options, from pizza to cooked-from-scratch barbecue. Rentable cabanas provide shade and a place to relax before hitting up another adrenaline-spiking ride.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.typhoontexas.com.


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Landmark Lodging: Driskill Hotel

July 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Driskill Hotel history is preserved in shadow boxes displayed throughout the property. The boxes contain old photos, dried flowers, shaving paraphernalia, a stopwatch, postcards and much more, all of which depict life around our state capital in the 1800s.

The exterior of the Driskill Hotel.

The exterior of the Driskill Hotel.

Welcome to Austin’s grand dame, standing tall and proud at the corner of Sixth and Brazos Street, with marble floors, stained-glass rotundas, beveled glass doors, intricate carvings on pillars and an original bank-vault door. When the hotel was built in 1886, there was an extraordinary view of the Texas state capital from the second-story lobby, but the city grew up around her, and office buildings rose up in the six blocks between the two properties. When the view was gone, there was no longer a need for the big windows; they were filled in, and the space is now a meeting room.

HISTORICAL SIGHTS
Touring the lobby is like taking a Texas history class. Colonel Jesse Driskill was a cattleman when he opened his pride and joy on December 20, 1886. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in the ballroom. But sadly, a devastating drought stole Driskill’s fortune, and he was forced to close within a year of opening the hotel. His portrait hangs atop the marble staircase, and his cattle brands are replicated on the carpet in the bar.

Walk the same lobby as LBJ.

Walk the same lobby as LBJ.

President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson had their first date here. Later, Lady Bird broadcast her radio station from the first floor; KLBJ is still on the air today. The Driskill was a natural choice for Johnson’s campaign headquarters during his congressional races, and he watched election results from the presidential suite in 1964, as he became the most powerful man in the world.

CAPITAL CUISINE
The Driskill Grill, established in 1929, is legendary for incredible service and inventive cuisine. Recently, Executive Chef Troy Knapp and his team dug through the Austin History Center’s archives to “see where it takes us” as they revamped the menu. Expecting to find a lot of regional cuisine, he was surprised with an international menu proudly promoting imported items. Apparently, in 1929, diners weren’t interested in items they could get at home.

Guestrooms are a welcome mixture of old and new.

Guest rooms are a welcome mixture of old and new.

Today, the grill is nostalgic and timeless. The menu is seasonal and classic, offering regional American cuisine. The Foie Gras is a play on the old liver and onions. Texas beef is dry aged in house for 30 to 45 days. The Akaushi Rib Eye is served with seared foie gras, shaved black truffle and Bordelaise sauce. It simply melts off the plate and onto your palate. The chef de cuisine is heading up a research project to locate Colonel Driskill’s cattle yards. Wouldn’t it just be the finishing touch to eat beef raised on the same lands that financed the creation of this Austin landmark? We think so, too.

The property has recently undergone an $8.8 million renovation to its guest rooms, public spaces and restaurants. The renovations could not come at a better time, as 2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the hotel.

—Laurette M. Veres

For more information on how to escape, visit www.driskillhotel.com.


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Dew Make Your Point

July 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

 

By Lynn Ashby                                                             25 July 2016

 

THE TV – “It will hit a hundred and ten degrees, maybe a hundred and twenty, while in Dallas, well, two hundred even.” What? You mean this global warming farce is not a farce? But Marco Rubio and Rush Limbaugh assured me global warming is a hoax perpetrated by those clueless Nobel laureates. Wait. I peer at the TV screen. There, in little-bitty type, are the words “feels like.” Yes, it’s the old feels like ploy, which goes up there alongside the Easter Bunny, liberal Republicans and efficient Democrats. Feels like has been around for years, but now more and more of our TV weather wizards are using these scare tactics to get our attention. Then there are the meaningless dew point and wind chill factor, which we shall get to in a minute.

Pilgrim, this is summer in Texas. It is hot. If it were not hot – say in the low 90s — we would be comfortable but rather concerned about global freezing. So, in our simmering afternoons the temperatures rise to 90, then 95, then 100 or more. Big deal. Our local TV newscasters warn us about leaving children, pets and Godiva candy in cars with the windows rolled up. Reporters dutifully fry eggs on car hoods. They interview some guy in heavy clothes who works in a warehouse freezer and show shots of polar bears at the zoo frolicking in a pool. That’s standard. But when it comes to the true temperature, good luck. The meteorologist – well, actually they are rarely real meteorologists, but are sports jocks who need the job – stands in front of a big weather map and points breathlessly to the names of towns with horrifying figures beside them. “It will hit 120 in Waco and 130 in San Angelo, maybe twice that in Laredo.” Look for the small “feels like” in the corner.

How do they come up with these faux figures? The difference in the actual temperature and the feels like figure (also called the heat index) is determined by a complicated formula that includes the temperature, obviously, plus the humidity, cloud cover, wind speed, sun intensity and angle of the sun. A major component is the humidity. In Houston, where you can tie a knot in a Frito, we would normally be dry except there are nine large humidifiers placed around town to keep the air moist because dermatologists say moisture is good for the skin.

A day that is very humid may feel hotter than it really is outside because your body sweat does not evaporate and cool the body like nature intended. This last element is what we climatic scientists call the “deodorant factor.” But it is all a fake. The real formula for determining the feels like number is simple: the TV weather person takes the actual temperature and adds 20 degrees, and no one questions the higher figure. But when it’s 100 degrees it’s 100 degrees. On the other hand, my mother was born and grew up in Dallas, and when she would come visit us in Houston she would subtly mention the Houston humidity, remarking that Dallas wasn’t like that. “Mom,” I would say, “I grew up in Dallas, too, and those summers were blisteringly hot.” She would reply: “But it’s a dry heat.” I’d try again: “When it was 105 degrees it was 105 degrees, and that’s hot!” Never argue with your mother.

Let’s put our problems in perspective. On Aug. 5, 2015, the southeastern Iraqi city of Samawah reported a temperature of 119.5 degrees Fahrenheit and a dew point of 85.1 with a feels-like temperature of 159 degrees. In the southern Iraqi city of Basrah earlier that month the city’s high exceeded 120 degrees for eight straight days before falling to a cool 119.3. To the north, that same week Baghdad logged four consecutive days in the 120s. A question: Who wants Iraq anyway?

We just mentioned the dew point, another totally meaningless term unless you like to point to dews and need a stick. In simple terms, the dew point is the temperature at which water vapor in the air will form dew. More specifically, dew point measures moisture in the air. (Just how this differs from the humidity percentage is known only to meteorologists and my mother.) Let’s try again: It is the temperature to which air must be cooled at constant pressure and water content to reach saturation. A higher dew point indicates more moisture in the air; a dew point greater than 68 degrees is uncomfortable. Have you ever left an air conditioned building to enter the Texas summer and commented: “I’ll bet we broke a dew point record today.”? Of course not, it’s like using the metric system: “I’ll bet it’s 59 degrees Celsius today.”

One final unnecessary figure is the wind chill factor. It is the frozen equivalent of the heat index. On cold winter days, TV weathercasters play the same games as they did with the feels like fantasy. “In Amarillo it’s minus 40 while in Denver it’s minus any known reading.” Those are wind chill numbers. Hold the figures over a low flame to bring out the actual temperature. The wind chill factor measures the effect of wind speed cooling of the human body below 50 degrees. As airflow increases over the skin, more heat will be removed. This brings us to the question of what kind of dummy goes out in a blizzard with unprotected skin? OK, Green Bay Packer fans and Greenland flashers. Why are there a feels like figure, a heat index and a wind chill factor, and why do we care? It is simple self-importance and self-pity. We like to think we are suffering more than we really are. “Man, no wonder we’re miserable. It’ feels like it’s a hundred and twelve.” Or: “I heard on TV the wind chill factor is zero minus zero.” If you don’t understand these readings, go ask your mother.

 

Ashby’s cold at Ashby2@comcast.net

 

 

 

 

WASP Without a Sting

July 18, 2016 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 18 July 2016
WASP Without a Sting
How are you doing with your guilt trip? Have you even packed yet, because you’re carrying a lot of baggage? I must confess that I am having trouble with this voyage, and I feel terribly guilty about it. My problem afflicts millions of Americans: I am an Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, a WASP, and thus am responsible for most of my nation’s ills, if not those of the entire planet. And I am a bumbling idiot. I will give you a quick example: TV. The butt of jokes, situations, plots, is the white male. If it’s a family sit-com, Dad is the fall guy, whose job it is to look both chagrined and silly while the sound engineer turns up the laugh track. Wife: “Honey, did you go to the grocery store and bring home celery?” Dad: “Is that what you said? No, I went to the bank and brought home my salary.” (This is followed by the father’s hangdog look and the booming laugh track.)
In films, the best example are the National Lampoon movies, where Chevy Chase and then Ed Helms are the most helpless, hapless dummies on the screen. The women are the steady, sane characters. In drama and action films, how often do you see a minority as the villain? The safe path is the WASP. Count the good white folks in “Roots” and “Glory.” Very few. In the past we could tell jokes based on another race, religion or looks. Al Jolson built his career on black-faced songs, jokes and routines.
Particularly in today’s tense times, we can’t publicly make jokes about minorities, and how many politicians (George Allen), movie stars (Mel Gibson) and sports personalities (Jimmy the Greek) have gotten into trouble or ruined their careers by saying or even emailing a politically incorrect statement? The only safe target is the white male. (For purposes of feeling victimized, I’ll expand this category to all white males, not just WASPs.) You want to commit social suicide, propose White History Month. Of course, such a move would be greeted with: Every other month is White History Month.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt panicked after Pearl Harbor and sent between 110,000 and 120,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps, and we are reminded of it to this day 75 years later. Then I came upon this: “When we moved out on the march, again some of us just couldn’t make it. They lay on their sides shaking with chills or burning with fever….” Others tried to help, but the guards clubbed them away. “Two or three guards were left behind. They soon came trotting up, wiping their bayonets with rags.” – Texan and UT grad Vince Taylor, survivor of the Bataan Death March. Japan has yet to apologize, and some still honor their executed war criminals. What’s the connection? None. But I feel guilty about those internment camps. I never owned a slave, never shot an Indian and never blew up a mosque, but it’s still my fault. I never tried to keep Tejanos from voting, never insulted gays, never teased a Yankee about his accent. OK, two out of three ain’t bad. As a journalist, I never plagiarized, during the best of times and the worst of times, not even four score and seven years ago, but ask not what your country can do for you. Who signed this treasonous document? “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” A bunch of slave-owning, wig-wearing pols. We must hope none of them got their pictures on our currency.
Now for a moment of defense, or a sop to mine enemies. All you Irish and Mexicans can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. Poles, Germans, Greeks, Serbs and Chinese, live it up on your selected holiday, or any other day, for that matter. America is not so much a melting pot as a cafeteria line. Incidentally, Texans are safe targets, too. But if you want to see an excellent display of Texas’ diversity, next time you are in San Antonio find that big Hemisphere needle. Near the base is the Institute of Texan Cultures, featuring where we all came from. It’s enough to give multiculturalism a good name. Again, these are tense times and not the best days to bring up the matter. On the other hand, when is a good time? Probably never. However, it is socially acceptable for one group to joke about that same group. Some of the funniest Aggie jokes were told to me by Aggies. Remember that line in “From Here to Eternity” when Angelo Maggio (Frank Sinatra) says: “Only my friends can call me a little wop!” So it’s probably a good idea for us gringos and honkies to keep our ethic and religious jokes to jokes about gringos and honkies, for we are the only safe target left.
Protestant make up 46.5 percent of America’s population, but there is not a single one on the U.S. Supreme Court, and none is on the way. Speaking of Washington, the D.C. area is festooned with markers and monuments to renowned leaders, men on horseback and people you never heard of. There is the National Fire Dog Monument complete with life-size fireman (no equally big firewoman) and dog. Plus plaque. There are 49 monuments to women in the Washington area including Seated Yucatan Woman, the Spirit of Haida Gwaii, Crown Princess Martha of Norway and Olive Risley Seward, the foster daughter of William H. Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state. I am sure they are all most deserving, but couldn’t there be a plaque or concrete celebration, not even on the Washington Mall, crowing about the sacrifices, achievements, glorious remembrances of our small and ever-shrinking sect? If only there was some kind of reminder of the average Joe who served his country, paid his taxes, obeyed the law. Oh, yes, there is one. It’s called Arlington National Cemetery.

Ashby whines at ashby5@comast.net

Keith Morris

Keith Morris | Wills, Trusts & Estates

MorrisCreating a solid reputation as a successful lawyer is not an easy task, but Keith Morris has accomplished it in spades through hard work, perseverance, and by knowing the right actions to take to produce the most favorable results. As a co-founder of Ostrom Morris PLLC, Keith and his partner, Jason Ostrom, have created a client-first firm that is highly regarded in Houston’s probate community, and known as a premier law firm serving clients nationwide.

Ostrom Morris boasts decades of experience in the areas of estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, fiduciary litigation and bankruptcy. Keith has an expectation of winning, both personally and professionally, and guides clients to help them achieve their goals quickly and efficiently, both in and out of the courtroom. Recognized with multiple top lawyer honors and an AVVO rating of 10 out of 10, his track record speaks for itself.

Keith and Jason have brought together highly talented lawyers at Ostrom Morris, including Erin Jones, Kenneth Scott, Heather Potts and Stacy Kelly—all well-known in their practice areas. With a solid team in place and a reputation for success, Ostrom Morris will continue to be the firm of choice for clients who value experience, wisdom and personalized solutions for their legal needs.


Keith Morris
Ostrom Morris PLLC

6363 Woodway, Ste. 300
Houston, TX 77057
713-863-8891
www.ostrommorris.com