Saturday, July 21, 2018

Don't Telll Mom--- my new favorite band



You never know what you are stumble across inside a bar in the Upper Peninsula. During my recent visit to my favorite town, Grand Marais, MI I found what can now only describe as my new favorite band.

Grand Marais is in Alger County with a population of about 350 at sits quietly on the Lake Superior shore. It provides a bay of refuge and was once a wildly thriving town that boasted hotels, saloons during the logging boom from the late 1800s until about 1900. Today it is largely a tourist town with three restaurants and a couple of bars.

We arrived at the newly constructed Grand Marais Tavern (on the footprint of the old Sportsman’s Lodge Restaurant.) The beer was cold, the shots were a-plenty and the fact that my Good Cousin David Haskell was picking up the bill made everything extra special for my birthday. But the real surprise of the night was discovering . . .and I’ll say it again. . .my new favorite band; “Don’t Tell Mom.”

“Don’t Tell Mom is a family act from California. The Gabriel family has been a part of the Luce County/Lake Superior/ Deer Park region for a very long time. The band consists of George Gabriel and his three teen aged daughters, Ana, Alex and Ari. They’ve been spending their summers in the area for a while, yet still are considered one of the best kept secrets of the UP music scene.
George is an amazing and accomplished multi-instrumentalist, composer and rock star in his own right. He has composed music for television, film and radio and was a touring member of the classic band Pablo Cruz. But now, with three talented daughters, George is a “highly trained professional Dad who plays music on the side.”

Gabriel exposed his daughters to a wide variety of music as they grew up, encompassing rock and roll from 1950’s up until modern day. This is all featured in their set lists.
During my night at the Grand Marais Tavern I watched countless people enter; stop at the door and motion the rest of their party through the doors as if to say “Hey, come in and check this out.” You don’t find a whole lot of live entertainment in the UP, much less a band of this caliber.

I had a front row seat as the groove unfolded. The band, led by George, was enhanced by the sweet harmonies of the girls. Their guitar, bass and occasional keyboard playing was more than competent; these girls came to rock.

A professional Dad and his jewels playing great rock and roll with Lake Superior only a couple hundred feet away beats cable news and a jukebox any day. They made the patrons feel like they were as happy to be there as they were.

“Don’t Tell Mom” will amaze you with their variety of feel-good music like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley and the Comets, Cheep Trick, Chuck Berry, John Cougar, George Thorogood, the Eagles,, ACDC, ZZ Top, CCR, Doobie Brothers, Kiss and more.

Late into the band’s third set, a bachelorette party invaded the Tavern. Tables were cleared in order to provide a dance floor. The “Don’t Tell Mom” set list is well paced and the night I saw them, they wrapped up their performance with the Journey hit “Anyway You Want It.” But stop right there---I gotta tell ya; with George searing those Steve Perry high notes near the end, the Grand Marais Tavern shook like one of the storms that made Grand Marais famous.

Very quickly the party decided they did not want the band to leave. “Don’t Tell Mom” obliged and played some encores.

George is an exceptional musician who has accomplished much. You have probably heard his work
before but not known it. As a result, it is not surprising that some of the best parts of the show are when the girls are featured---the girls he raised on rock and roll and in this family there is plenty of talent to go around.

The night I was there 18 year Alex sang Bryan Adams, “Summer of 69” and you would not have known that they only learned the song that day. And for my money, hearing Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” with the angelic harmonies sung by these young women was not only the icing on the cake, but it was the honeyed cake you don’t usually find in these remote places.
George is a laugh a minute guy. The girls and their mother Jen are as sweet as Tupelo Honey. Mom comes to all the gigs, helps with equipment and has the right to be ultra-proud of her talented and beautiful family.

Check out the “Don’t Tell Mom Band; ”on Facebook and if they are anywhere near you in your Upper Peninsula travels this summer,or back in California, it will be well worth the drive to see them.
They will be back at the Grand Marais Tavern on Saturday, July 21 and at Pine Stump Junction (On Highway 407 just north of Oswald’s Bear Ranch between Newberry and Muskallonge Lake a few more times this summer.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saying Goodbye to a Friend



Yesterday I lost one of my best friends.

When I moved into my house in the summer of 2001 it was one of the hottest days of the year.  My brother and a few others helped me unpack. It was sweltering. Somewhere between unloading the couch and the dresser the guy next door stepped into my yard and held out his hand to introduce himself. His name was Pat. By the end of the day I was in his pool, eating chicken wings, drinking beer and sharing some laughter. It was at that moment the friendship was cemented and set the stage for the next 16 years of our lives.

Pat was old school. He worked hard, raised his family with values He was a Mason, an active member of his club and a hell of a great friend to me and the neighborhood. Pat didn’t have much in his wallet but was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back he thought you needed it.

After a heavy snowfall he would clear out our end of the street with his plow before anyone was up so we could all get out.  After the city plow came through and blocked the end of my driveway, he would come back and clear it out.

I would often get a call from him in the evening starting out with “Howdy neighbor.” This was usually followed by a laugh and he would say “I just ordered 2 large pizzas and one of those chocolate chip cookie desserts. It’ll be here in about a half hour.  He knew I never had any money and frequently made food runs to share or would call me giggling telling me he just made some slow roasted meat and potatoes or kielbasa and sauerkraut and he wanted me to have some. He was also famous for his chili-mac; his own concoction of chili and macaroni and cheese.
As time went on and his mobility became more difficult, I took over mowing his lawn and snow blowing the walk many years ago. He was always grateful. We were not afraid to verbally express our love for each other all the way up to our last conversation a week ago.

Pat had an old Cadillac stored in his garage. He loved the car and told me the story of how he drove it up from Texas with his family some 45 years prior. It didn’t see the light of day until this past summer when his buddies restored it for him. He loved driving it, especially in the Woodward Dream Cruise.

When I moved back into my house after my divorce this year the first words out of his mouth were how sorry he was that the divorce happened but he was so glad to have me back. I was glad to be back and wasted no time picking things up where they left off.  We shared meals, talked politics and created A LOT of laughter. When I moved back in and had no internet he bought a powerful router and set up an account for me to latch onto his. He made the password “The Best Neighbor Ever.”

Pat was the best neighbor ever. He passed away yesterday and it hurts, but I know he is no longer suffering. His demise was relatively quick. He had been recuperating at his daughter’s house since a long hospital and rehab stay these last two months. But his spirits were always good and he was trying to make it home by Christmas. This year he will celebrate it with our Lord and Savior.
He was such a kind man.

God bless you Pat. I miss ya.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Losing a dog when you get divorced

I just got word from a friend that Roxie, a dog I loved and took care of during my former marriage has died. Details of her illness, last day or of her passing have not been shared with me.
Roxie was the only dog Jack would allow to touch him on a couch or on the floor. Jack, Needa and Roxie had a special bond.

Below is a story that appears in the “Dog Chapter” of my last book; “I wrote it on the Internet so I know it’s true.” Released in April of this year on Amazon. (with Epilogue)




ROXIE THE ROTTIE

When we think about second chances it is usually a term we associate with people, not dogs. When convicts get released from prison, they are given as second chance. When a first time offender gets probation instead of jail time, it’s a second chance. When people find themselves in an on-the-rocks marriage or relationship, they hope a second chance will come. When any of us “imperfect warm blooded humans” wake up each morning we are all given the chance to make things right again.
But sometimes the heartbreaking reality is that many in our canine family don’t get a second chance because their only chance was ruined by careless or thoughtless humans. When Roxie the Rottweiler was given a second chance she seized it---like a hungry dog to a bone.

We don’t know the details of her litter or puppyhood or anything about the first several years of her life. What we know is that sometime in 2013 this malnourished, disease infested Rottweiler was found wandering the streets of Hamtramck and was taken in by a rescue group.

Hamtramck is a tiny city that is dwarfed by Detroit; its neighbor to the south. Detroit has had more than their share of woe in recent years and I don’t mean to pick on them. But too often when you hear about Detroit on the news it is because of a murder, theft or some other violent crime. In a city with such a high poverty level and where many people cannot afford to feed their family it is no surprise that the first one kicked out of the house is the family dog.

There is no shortage of neglected dogs who are abused and either die on the street of hunger or at the hand of the sick, thugs who shoot them for fun.

We’ve always considered Roxie a smart dog because of her mannerisms, listening capabilities and the interest she takes in people, television, what’s on the computer screen and just about anything new she is introduced to as she gets older. What this mellowing means is that it’s not too far of a reach to believe that she was smart enough to know that she had to get out of Detroit (most likely her original place of residence) and set out for a better place on her own.

But she only made it to Hamtramck, which still a long way away from Royal Oak. Fortunately the Rottweiler Rescue of Michigan took her in and hoped they could help her find a new home. There is something called “A Rott’s Prayer” written on the web page for the Rottweiler Rescue of Detroit that reads:

I ask for the privilege of not being born
...not to be born until you can assure me
of a home and a master to protect me,
and a right to live as long as I am
physically able to enjoy life...not
to be born until my body is precious and
men have ceased to exploit it because
it is cheap and plentiful.

I know someone prayed that prayer for Roxi because she got her second chance.
When the Rottweiler Rescue took her in she was in bad shape. She was a dog who had likely experienced the worst of the worst at the hands of an owner who had no business having a dog. All signs pointed to her being neglected and abused. She needed a change.

Before we were married Christy was dating our mutual close friend Keith. He was a dog guy like me and wanted a dog in his life. Roxie was chosen. Christy had doubts but Keith persisted and persuaded her to let him bring her home and she agreed. But when Roxie left the shelter it was hard for her to adjust to her new life. In this new home there was plenty of love, food and safety, but Roxie continued to act aggressive toward Christy in an attempt to establish dominance.

Over and over Christy asked Keith to Roxie back to the shelter. She was becoming too much of a risk. As a last resort Roxie was shipped off to boot camp for training because it was clear that things were not working out and more change was needed. Between boot camp and the people running the shelter,

Christy was given a corrective course of action to implement whenever Roxie would act aggressive. This simple maneuver for the 85 pound Rottweiler was to grab her by the collar pin her down but to immediately show her love and affection. But as often as this method was tried it was neither simple nor effective.

Clearly, Roxie was a “man’s dog” who responded well to Keith but the behavioral issues not going away with Christy and this made everyone sad. The writing on the wall was that the day was quickly approaching when Roxie would no longer be welcome in the house.

On October 5, 2013, everything changed when Keith was found unresponsive in the bedroom and was pronounced deceased a short while later. Roxie was lying next to him in bed when he was found. She never left his side. This was a turning point for both Christy and Roxie as they both realized it was now just the two of them together against this world of unexpected heartbreak. Roxie shared the grief and became a different dog.

Christy and I got married in May of 2015 and since that time there has not been a sweeter dog in our home. Roxie instantly bonded with my greyhounds and soon became our “tank girl.” She loves her new family and often leads the way on walks. Roxie smiles, speaks to us and loves us as if it were her last day on earth. We all have scars and the world can be a very unforgiving place. This is why God gave us dogs.

Roxie became best friends with Jack and Needa. She taught them how to beg. She loves watching television and turns her head like the RCA Victor dog when she hears a dog bark on TV. She is usually the one who begins the long choruses of howling in the family room that make our house sound like there’s a pack of wolves among us. As this happens we are all in stitches. She’ll think nothing of walking between your legs for affection and won’t stop pulling your hand back to her until she is satisfied that she has had enough attention for the time being.

I love Roxie as one of my own because now she is one of my own. I know she did not invade my life for the purpose of trying to take any love away from Jack and Needa. She did it to ensure that the love in her heart had somewhere else to go because this “second chance canine” has plenty to spare.

Epilogue; September 10, 2017
At about 2:00 on May 8, 2017, Roxie tried to follow Jack, Needa and I out the front door like she had done hundreds of times. But this time we were not going for a walk. I had just completed my last pass thru of the house I shared with the woman who was the love of my life and I was leaving our house for the last time.

My eyes went blurry. Jack and Needa knew something was up as I reached down and attached their leashes to their collar as I sobbed.

We tried to walk out the door. Roxie didn’t understand why I pushed her back inside, shut and locked the door in her face and threw the key under the mat. As we walked away for the last time, her face was pressed against the front window, wondering why we were all leaving her.
I felt the same way

The Mandalay Massacre .



Think America is uniting today? Think Again



This morning I tried to find a meme I could post to project love, togetherness, compassion and support for the Las Vegas tragedy. Most of the ones I found said “United for Vegas” or something similar. But in my heart I knew that statement was a lie and in sharing it I would become an ugly part of the hypocrisy gripping our nation because the sobering truth is this:

We are not a united country.

Each day my newsfeed, the headlines of every major news outlet, late night entertainers, Hollywood elitists and even facebook friends I know personally spew a vile but to them, necessary and deserved hatred for our President, Donald Trump. It is blind hatred, over the top hatred and hatred that knows no bounds and only gets stronger every day. That is not a characteristic of a united country and we are a country of hypocrites.

As much as I’d like to join the parade of support and love for our brothers and sisters in Vegas, I can’t; at least not on their terms. This is because the unity of America is a false narrative. It is a cheap “hurrah for us” and “do as I say not as I do” saying that carries little substance or meaning anymore.

However, I do believe that individual unity exists when we lock arms with friends and strangers and it is refreshing to see that at least people are trying. I will join them in that effort and hope the movement swells, though I don’t expect it to---not when you realize how deeply cheapened the words “hope, faith and unity” have become in America.

The term “Pray for Vegas” is something being thrown around with vigor and it should be. People are posting the meme because it is the popular thing to do even if it conflicts with their (dis) beliefs in God and humanity. There is a large contingent of people using it who are the most vicious opponents of God and religion in America and say it because it is the PC thing to do. It’s true and don’t try to pretend anymore that it is not. Let that bit of hypocrisy sink in when you hear your atheist friend say “our thoughts and prayers are with them” from one side of their mouth while the other side is shouting “Fuck Trump!”

There are Christians and people of many different faiths praying for the victims. Then we’ve got Jimmy Kimmel, the windbag mouthpiece of Hollywood saying “Republican’s should be praying for God to forgive them.”

The Godless left is on full display---and again, don’t pretend it’s not.

Yesterday in Vegas we saw the best of the best in people who helped save others’ lives while on the internet we saw the worst of the worst. Immediately those opposed to guns began politicizing this event. I even have a liberal friend who I respect but their knee jerk response was that "every shooting in America is political."

Bullshit. Every shooting in America is a tragedy.

It is a sick irony that the people (and politicians) predictably will demand a tougher stance against guns yet they won’t support the police officer’s who are called on to carry it out.

The same people who pitched a fit saying football players have first amendment rights to disrespect the flag are the same ones trying to take away second amendment rights. Look at the mostly black on black gun violence in Chicago. 524 people have been murdered so far this year. It's not cops who are doing all the killing folks and Chicago has the most stringent gun laws in the USA.

Yesterday many tried to justify their “ban all guns response” by offering an excuse very popular with eight year olds: “Well, he’s doing it too,” pointing their finger at the right side of the aisle. But there wasn’t a shred of truth to that political argument yesterday and there isn’t today. Republican’s had absolutely nothing to politicize and they didn’t. Instead they were the recipients of more hatred from people who were “United for Vegas.”

More and more America is taking on the traits of criminals (dumb, lazy and stupid.) Instead of talking about our differences these days it takes about three seconds before the race card is pulled and used like a switchblade because it’s so easy to do. If someone is offended then everyone needs to be offended. You have people saying they want to save children from death by banning guns but proudly wear shirts that say “I had an abortion” and wear them like a crown. When I grew up people who violently protested in the streets were called anarchists. Today we call them Antifa and they are SUPPORTED by a political party who honestly believes the way to peace and understanding is through street violence and Fake News.

Look at the list of those blaming the President and Congress for what happened in Vegas Sunday night and you’ll see a “D” next to each of their names. Since when did kicking our fellow Americans when we are down become the American way? Since when did rubbing salt in fresh wounds become acceptable? The sad truth is that those things became acceptable/fashionable/lauded and praised the day Donald Trump took office.
Our President Donald Trump denounced what he called "an act of pure evil" and was criticized for it. Whatever. I’m over all you hypocrites.

I’ve made no secret that in order for America to truly become united again it would take another kick in the gut like September 11th. Remember when we came together, albeit briefly? That was something, wasn’t it? But those days have gone the way of the flip phone, the pay phone and families going to church on Sunday.

The closest we’ve come to a tragedy of that magnitude is this Mandaly Massacre but looking back over the last 36 hours, America was shaken but has barely flinched when it has come to uniting a movement. Before the bodies were even in the morgue and families notified there was name calling and division over guns. And despite the pleading from the voices of reason, it hasn’t let up. Remember when people used to blame the murder for murder? I don’t either.

About the only thing we can agree on (most of us anyway) is that the killer was an evil person. We don’t know what provoked him and never will. His was clearly a pre-meditated act and the media has spent all day trying to pin it on our President.

I know there are well meaning, compassionate people who will send money, give blood, provide comfort to the victims and try to do good things for others. But don’t be a fool; we are not coming together as a nation even after a tragedy of this magnitude, not when the people shouting the loudest into a megaphone about stopping hate are the ones calling our President “Hitler” out of the other side of their mouth.

We are not united under God. We are divided and it’s getting worse. So when you want to say your thoughts and prayers are with the victims in Vegas, keep in mind that those people who hate our President don’t care about your thoughts and prayers any more than they care about his.

While the President of the United States was consoling the nation, half of it was wringing their hands to come up with a new criticism, a new lie to tell about him, a new accusation to make and a new way to hate him.

We are one step closer to the next civil war. God help us all.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Two new EBooks Available from Peter Wurdock




Inspired by today’s constant stream of fake news and erroneous information found on social media, Michigan author Peter Wurdock has taken matters into his own hands with his new book I WROTE IT ON THE INTERNET SO I KNOW IT’S TRUE.

In his new book (his sixth) readers are treated to over a generous helping of what he labels “Essays and musings from an underemployed writer.” His subjects are whimsical, informative, interesting and serious.

“Whenever I had writer’s block I would find a photo and compose a short essay about it as a writing exercise. After I posted it on Facebook, I was amazed at how many people would join the conversation. An added bonus was that we were able to talk about something other than politics!”
His love for dogs (especially Greyhounds) is humorously detailed in vignettes about what life has been like after adopting two of them in 2012. 


I WROTE IT ON THE INTERNET SO I KNOW IT’S TRUE includes a healthy dose of music as he recalls his life as a record promoter in Nashville and some of the musicians worked while living there.

Love, loss, death and dying is illuminated as he writes about some special people who are no longer with him. The book also contains a healthy dose of his favorite subject; Michigan's Upper Peninsula and there is no shortage of nostalgic Detroit memories.

For review copies (EBook only) Contact: Petewurdock@Gmail.com   

Also just released is “Where the Heart Remains,” selected fiction and nonfiction from his first five books written between 2007-2017.