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Photo courtesy of HGTV

Recently, I was in for my semi-annual teeth cleaning (Editor’s note: About time, Ken.) and nitrous oxide session when the dental hygienist leaned me back in the barber’s chair and asked if I’d like to watch the TV mounted on the ceiling.

I asked, “What channel do most people ask for?” She said, “HGTV by far, and that includes men and women.”

Okay, while you’re doing demo in my mouth, let me watch David and Hilary Love It or List It.

That was the first question I asked Joe Mazza, star of Home Inspector Joe, a new hit show on HGTV that follows Mazza conducting full cavity searches on houses for prospective buyers.

Mazza is a fast-talking, wise-cracking, tattooed-up, motorcycle-riding, hip New Yorker who searches high and low for hidden problems in a house. It’s fun entertainment watching him tear apart a house discovering structural flaws and safety issues. I’m sympathy sweating for the homeowner who’s praying, please don’t look in the attic.

Mazza will be the star attraction this weekend at the Houston Home + Garden Show at NRG Center. He will appear on the Fresh Ideas Stage at 6 pm Friday September 16 and 11 am and 2 pm Saturday, September 17. Mazza will offer tips and ideas how to make your house more attractive to potential buyers, plus demonstrate DIY tricks of his trade and conduct a live Q&A with the audience.

The Home + Garden Show runs through Sunday. Tickets are available online.

I caught up with Mazza in advance of his big appearance.

CultureMap: Before HGTV gave you a show and made you a TV star, you inspected homes and worked in construction for 20 years as just regular ol’ Joe Mazza. Did you have any idea how popular HGTV was?

Joe Mazza: It’s massive. It’s wild. Every office you go into, everyone I talk to says “it’s on my TV all the time.” Guys will tell me, “yeah, my wife is always watching it.” I’ll ask them, “and you don’t?” They’ll say, “well, yeah.” I’m super honored to be in the position I’m in now. It’s ridiculous, I can’t even explain it to you.

CM: HGTV must have a zillion shows pitched to them every year. How did Home Inspector Joe get their attention?

JM: They found me through Instagram, through social media. USA Today saw me in 2019 and said, “Hey, Joe, you want to do a video for us about first time home buyers? Whoa, that’s crazy, so I did it. The word got out. HGTV saw me. They contacted me and said there was an opportunity for me to possibly have my own show. Fast forward, here I am. It was all through social media. It was me being me, just doing home inspections. I have fun doing what I love and we go from there.

CM: There are thousands of professional home inspectors around the country. What was it about you that caught HGTV’s interest?

JM: My personality was a massive factor how I got the show. I watch all those videos about home inspection on social media and they’re very educational, but they’re very boring. You have to have fun with what you’re doing, even in bad moments. You can joke about things, say asbestos, but be very serious at the same time. It’s all about engaging your audience.

CM: Do people understand the role a home inspector plays in the home buying process? Who do you work for, the buyer or the seller?

JM: I work for the buyer 99 percent of the time. The real estate agent will refer me to the buyer or the buyer will hear about me through word of mouth. I work for the person who’s paying me and that’s typically the buyer. No one stands in my way, no one tells me how to do my job or what to put in my report.

CM: Are home sellers scared of you?

JM: Now they are, but not every one of them. I was at a house recently and the real estate agent and the seller were there. They saw me and went, “oh, crap.” To me that was flattering.

CM: How thorough is a home inspection?

JM: Certain things we can and can’t do. If a place is inaccessible, we don’t have to go in there. If we can’t get on a roof, we don’t have to struggle to get on the roof. What separates me from others, that roof that I can’t get on, I will find a way to get on it. You have to dig deep.

What keeps me out of trouble is, I make sure I’m on point 100 percent of the time. I inspect every house as if my wife and daughter are moving into it. If you go into an inspection with that mentality, you’re going to kick butt.

CM: How sneaky are homeowners at hiding flaws or potential deal breakers in their house?

JM: Very, very. I love it when they try, because I’m going to catch them. If I go through a basement and it’s freshly painted, that’s a red flag right there. “You just painted the basement. Why?” I start digging deeper, not just inside the basement, but outside to see what’s going on. A lot of problems in the basement start on the outside.

I’ll see if they put boxes or furniture in front of a moldy wall. They’ll say, “where else am I supposed to put the furniture?”

CM: What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve found during a home inspection?

JM: I had an inspection close to my house. I was in the crawl space and as I walking around the floor was crunching. I looked down and the floor was covered with teeth. There were thousands of teeth down there. It was gross and terrifying.

Was I going to find hundreds of bodies in the backyard? It turned out the guy was a tooth manufacturer and threw teeth in there a hundred years ago. No one warned me about that. The grossest thing, besides dead animals, people leave stuff out in the open — inappropriate personal stuff. I just keep working around it.

CM: Ever hired to inspect a house occupied by a hoarder?

JM: I’ve done a couple of houses where they were hoarders with wall-to-wall stuff. Usually I’ll just turn around and walk out. There’s nothing I can do.

I will tell the real estate agent that the house is a fire hazard and you’re putting people in jeopardy. If the house is just dirty, yeah, whatever, that’s fine. I’m okay if they have a lot of junk around. But a hoarder’s house, like on that TV show, that’s disgusting.

I had a house that had 15 cats and like 12 dogs. They didn’t clean anything ever. I walked in and the hit of ammonia slammed me to heaven. I got dizzy and started gagging. I went outside and the owner wanted to know what was wrong. She was scratching her arms. I told her, “for one, your arms are bleeding. Your animals are crapping and peeing all over your house. The house needs to be condemned.”

I told the buyer to get the hell away from this house.

-----

Joe Mazza appears at the Houston Home and Garden Show at 6 pm Friday September 16 and 11 am and 2 pm Saturday September 17 at NRG Park. Show runs through Sunday, September 18. For tickets, full schedule, and more information, visit the official site.

Cherished Houston arts group and theater company stage fun interactive event for kids

get smart

A beloved arts/dance nonprofit and local theater company are making sure young Houstonians get some screen time — the good kind.

Creative partners Hope Stone and Stages invite families and kids to “smART breaks,” a children’s interactive arts video series of music, theater, and dance classes. The free event takes place on the lawn at The Gordy, the dazzling, $35 million Stages venue (800 Rosine St. ), at 7 pm Saturday, September 10. Those interested can register online.

Here, guests are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs and spread out on the Brown Foundation lawn for screenings and for special guest appearances from Captain Hope and Mr. Zo, the stars of the program. More fun includes lawn games and creafting friendship bracelets. Guests can enjoy food trucks and bug juice mocktails and cocktails (for the big kids in the crowd).

Just in time for back to school, smART breaks features a digital arts library of 37 music, theater, and dance classes, all meant to motivate a child’s engagement and joy and for use by parents at home or by teachers in the classroom.

The program creator, Hope Stone (in partnership with Stages) notes in press materials that blending the arts and mindfulness helps inspire creative thinking and bolster academic success.

Photo by Zach Horst

Nationally acclaimed Montrose fine dining restaurant marches onto cover of Food & Wine magazine

F&W loves March

A national food magazine has shined its light on a prominent Houston restaurant. Food & Wine features March, Goodnight Hospitality's fine dining restaurant, on the cover of its September 2022 issue.

Inside, deputy editor Melanie Hansche authors an article titled How a Menu Is Made that takes a close look at the elegant, tasting menu restaurant. It includes a visit to Goodthyme Farm, which is owned by Goodnight Hospitality partners Bailey and Peter McCarthy, along with interviews with chef-partner Felipe Riccio and master sommelier and partner June Rodil. Readers can also try their hand at recipes with suggested wine pairings.

Hansche gets a preview of the restaurant's new menu that will serve dishes inspired by cuisine from islands such as Corsica, Sardinia, Cyprus, and The Canary Islands. Riccio shares some insight into the research that goes into creating each menu, including a reading list of books he uses for research. Later, Rodil offers her perspective on the intricate service that goes into presenting six and nine-course tasting menus with wine pairings.

"I think about the tasting-menu experience at the restaurant like the season on a runway," Rodil says. "It has to flow and have its entrance, middle, end, and a grand finale."

Hansche also dines at the restaurant, sampling dishes from the Occitania menu that March served this spring and summer. Needless to say, she's delighted by the experience.

"March is a place where food, design, hospitality, and ambiance combine in the most harmonious of ways," she writes. "It excels at subtlety and nuance, at surprise and delight."

Being featured in Food & Wine is only the latest national attention March has received. Last year, Esquire named it America's sixth best new restaurant, and the Robb Report ranked it as the country's second best new restaurant in June. In addition, March earned nominations in five categories of the 2022 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, including Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year.

Houstonians will get a chance to dine on the new menu beginning September 15. It draws from a 2,000-mile area, but does not include Sicily or Greece, which will each receive their own treatments in the future. Rather than blend influences, each dish will offer an interpretation from one specific island.

“This is a huge part of what we are trying to do at March, constantly exploring the Mediterranean and everything it has to offer while encapsulating it to showcase the best parts of each region within it," Riccio says. "With the Islands menu, we get to play with more tropical flavors than we have in past menus. I’m particularly looking forward to working with unique ingredients like myrtle, chestnuts and mastic.”

The sommelier team has added new wines to pair with the menu, and tropical cocktails will draw upon bright, citrus flavors. The latest version of March's signature martini will use Mahón Gin, from Menorca, along with a new version of the bar's vermouth.

Prices are up slightly: the six-course menu now costs $185 and the nine-course costs $245. Wine and premier wine pairings are available at $80 and $160 for the six-course and $95 and $195 for the nine-course.

Balearic Islands: Sepia - Squid Ink, Salsa Juvert, Farro.

Photo by Zach Horst
Balearic Islands: Sepia - Squid Ink, Salsa Juvert, Farro.
Photo courtesy of Lizzo/Atlantic Records

Houston's superstar Lizzo plays runaway bride in dreamy new video starring famous hunk

lizzo loves tyson?

These days, all Houston-born Lizzo needs to do is toot her $55,000 flute and she’ll make national headlines. The Bayou City native, who electrified a jam-packed crowd outside the Today Show studios last month (and made a lovely visit with young fans), has just released a new video starring a famed hunk — and dreamy (sort of literally) love interest.

Lizzo, the pride of Alief and the University of Houston, has released the brand-new video for “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready),” which calls bac to the vid of her seven-time Platinum 2017 single “Truth Hurts.” Here, Lizzo is retreating from a wedding — in wedding gown and all — dropping the line, “I’m good with my friends / I don’t want a man.”

Our runaway bride hops in her ride, which (shock) breaks down on the highway. To her rescue comes ridiculously chiseled and ageless Tyson Beckford (he’s seriously 51) on a motorcycle.

Er, maybe Lizzo does want this man? Sadly, Beckford disappears when she goes to kiss him (relatable), sending our heroine back to her friends. But who knows, maybe the pair will meet again on some future highway/video/dream.

As fans are aware, Lizzo has been red hot this year; she has been nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards and is a just-announced performer on the August 28 awards show — with this new single as her tune. Aside from the Today appearance, she’s been on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, starred and performed on Saturday Night Live, the 2022 BET Awards, and more.

In support of her new album Special, our songstress/superstar/flutist is enjoying the buzz of her Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 worldwide smash “About Damn Time,” which actually marks her second No. 1 and fourth top-10 hit.

She even dealt with controversy, but with aplomb. When fans cried foul about a disparaging lyric — deemed an ableist slur — on her Special single “Grrrls,” the native Houstonian quickly addressed the slight, nixing the word and thanking all for the learning moment.

Fans here can celebrate her when she comes home on October 26 as part of a nationwide “Special” tour.

This isn’t the only national headline for a Houston-born female superstar. As Houston Chronicle music critic Joey Guerra notes, Houston native Megan Thee Stallion, who recently co-hosted the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, introduced the upbeat host to Hot Cheetos inside pickles — a consummately Houston dish.

Photo courtesy of HBO Max

Houston reality TV stars the Hos return for Season 2 and ink exclusive real estate deal

h-town ho-down

Houston power fam The Hos are once again back in the house. The docu-reality series stars of House of Ho are set to return to streaming network HBO Max for a 10-episode second season on Thursday, August 25.

Season 2 kicks off with three episodes, with three new episodes to follow on September 1, and the final four episodes debuting September 8, according to HBO.

As fans recall, Season 1 introduced the nation to patriarch Binh and matriarch Hue, who went from Vietnamese immigrants to building a multi-million dollar real estate and banking empire. The Season 1 cast included the Hos’ son Washington and his wife Lesley; their daughter Judy and her fiancé Nate Nguyễn; and Aunt Tina; and Cousin Sammy, who has become an influencer with a propensity for ending posts with “b*tches.”

In Season 2, according to HBO, new characters will emerge, including single roommates Bella Ho and Kim Ho (Washington and Judy’s cousins), and independent-minded Vanessa Kon and Tammy Gee (Nate’s sisters), as well as their respective partners Carlton Kon and Tran Nguyễn. (Here’s guessing that Carlton and Tran will offer some interesting tidbits and perspectives on being part of the Ho family.)

Aside from flashing their opulent lifestyle and navigating cultural clashes, the Hos are still wheeling and dealing. The Houstonians have inked an exclusive deal with Realty.com to “deliver world-class service to clients in the Houston area,” according to a Realty.com announcement. (The Houston Chronicle’s Andrew Dansby was first to locally report the news.)

Specifically, Washington Ho, a real estate investor and banker, felt that a partnership with Realty.com would allow better access to the information he needed to represent his investment strategy more efficiently. “In today’s market there is no question that data and information are the driving forces for a solid investment,” he noted in a statement.

Washington and Realty.com subsequently crafted a partnership — fittingly dubbed The Real Estate Team — comprised of Realty.com staff; Houstonian Julia Gibson, who works at Camelot Realty and also owns Illuminate Sweat, a health and wellness business in the Spring Valley; and Houstonian Bernie Kane, who Realty.com refers to as “original founder and president” of residential home builder Juliet Homes, a residential home builder.

“We are excited to partner with The Real Estate Team on their journey to build a world class real estate operation,” said Lance Custen, Realty.com founder & CEO, in a statement. “By utilizing the Realty.com exclusive platform and leveraging technology and data we are confident The Real Estate Team will provide the best service to their clients and help many find the home of their dreams.”

This timing comes on the heels of real estate reality Texas TV news that Douglas Elliman powerhouse Tracy Tutor, star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, and HGTV’s reality show Flip to a Million are both heading to Dallas to shoot episodes, as The Real Deal notes.

Screencap via ABC13

Viral hug after harrowing accident in Pearland Little League victory is what America needs right now

everyone wins

The bustling Houston suburb of Pearland is abuzz with news of the Pearland Little League 9-4 victory over Tulsa, Oklahoma in the Southwest Regional Final on Tuesday, August 9. By cementing the win, Pearland heads back to the Little League World Series.

But it’s a pivotal moment in the Tuesday game that has the whole country talking and making national headlines and network news broadcasts.

In the first inning, Pearland pitcher Kaiden Shelton was facing off with Tulsa batter Isiah Jarvis with an 0-2 count, when his next pitch got away from him. The errant throw struck Jarvis in the head, sending him immediately to the ground. (Watch the moment here via our news partner ABC13.)

As the broadcast continued, the young batter remained on the ground, circled by concerned coaches and staff. A visibly distraught Shelton looking on and anxiously paced the mound.

Eventually, Jarvis recovered and walked to first base (as is procedure), but stopped, called for time, and approached the mound. Jarvis embraced Shelton, the two hugging for a few powerful moments. Broadcast audio picked up Jarvis comforting his opponent: “Hey, you’re doing just great.”

With that, the stadium — completely silent when Jarvis was struck — erupted in applause and gave the two a rousing standing ovation. Shelton and the Pearland team regrouped, winning handedly, though arguably, Jarvis’ admirable poise and sportsmanship was the most memorable moment in the contest.

This is Pearland’s fourth World Series trip in 12 years; the team has gone 13-0, winning out from district, to state, and now regional levels.

As little league fans are aware, Pearland advanced to the Little League World Series in 2010 (including a U.S. Championship run), 2015, and 2016.
Fans can catch the action when the World Series kicks off August 17 and runs through August 28.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.