Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stewart Francke, new CD coming in 2014

I own the dubious distinction of getting Stewart Francke out of retirement in 1994.
He was a successful journalist making a living, but I thought he was a better musician.  “Come on man,” I said to him one day.”Get a band together, go to a real studio and make a real record.”
He listened.

In 1995 he released his debut CD as a solo artist. The reviews were over the top, the live shows exciting and very quickly the light lit on the national stage when the hit TV show “Melrose Place” licensed his regional hit “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.”  The song was the title episode and the exposure boosted Francke giving him instant notoriety as the bona-fid recording artist he already was. 

He continued to release award winning records until a leukemia diagnosis sidelined him. But it didn’t keep him down. Since then he has continued to release great music and earned the admiration of the toughest music critics in the world and performers like Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger and a guy named Bruce Springsteen. Bruce tipped his hat and recorded with him on his CD Heartless World.

Francke is back at it, finishing up a new CD for release in the spring. It is being funded through Kickstarter and I hope you’ll consider backing him on it. As a journalist he was an ambassador of the entire Detroit music scene before guys like Eminem, Kid Rock and the Whitestripes were getting attention and helped change the way the rest of the country looked at Detroit born Rock and Roll.  Please visit his kickstarter page to see how you can become a part of the next phase of his amazing career.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

One year with Needa

One year ago today my home became warmer and brighter. It was when Tiger Jack Burke and I opened the door to our new love, Needa. We first met the lovely Anita Wood a few days earlier at one of the many Greyheart foster homes; this one was that of greyhound goddess, Robin Wittner.  

Anita was a 3 and a half year old blond-brindle greyhound who had just been sprung from the Jacksonville racetrack a few days earlier.  When they met, Jack’s first move was not a traditional butt sniff. . .he walked over to Needa, put his chin at the back of her neck and said nothing. Some people say this is a sign of dominance and I don’t dispute it, but it was also a sign of love. 

Anita Wood was named after one of Elvis Pressley’s girlfriends, an actress from the 1950’s. After contemplating a name change to Jill or Diane, to better couple with Jack, I decided to stick with Needa to make her transition easier.  She had never seen a mirror or a TV and most likely, never had been inside a house before she arrived at her foster home. She had never walked up stairs when I got her so it took a little coaxing with treats. She caught on quickly and then milked the whole thing for a couple weeks long after she got the hang of it.  

Her adjustment period was fine but some things took a while longer through the winter.  We were visiting my brother in Ada for Christmas and she experienced her first snowfall. As we went outside to walk, Jack stopped in his tracks and demanded to go back inside. Needa, on the other hand, loved the snow so much she almost walked the whole walk on her hind legs. 

After Christmas she was still getting up at 4:30AM. . .no doubt kennel time for her in her previous life. When she’d wake up she would make playful chirping noises as she waited for me. It has always been her way to face the day with a smile and excitement.  She dances like Snoopy when she sees I am awake with her face pointing upward and head turning side to side like she can hear Vince Guaraldi. This is usually followed by her “hi-ho silver” dance on and side swiping me on the way to the kitchen to make sure I know she’s there.

As for the 4:30 AM wake up? I needed it. 

I went along with it though some days it wasn’t easy. She would tend to shift bowls half way through her meal to see what Jack was eating. He would let her but I didn’t think it was a good idea, so I’d reach down gently steer her back to her side of the feeding stand. You would have thought I had poked her with a rusty nail.  She’d run into the other room and Jack would follow. I’d try to coax them out but neither would move. 

This happened more than once and I’ll admit that part of dog rearing was not fun all fun and games. But soon it got better. I’d feed her and Jack, let them out and be AIS (ass in seat) by 5 AM to write every day.  I’d break to take them for a walk and for lunch and would resume writing until about 8PM every day. This went on until late March and I can say with conviction I never would have finished my book without this early rising routine. I’d probably still be in bed, or worse. 

Every day I tell people we meet that I could not imagine my life without them. I say that because it is true. These dogs brought happiness into my home again. Here’s to another milestone in the lives of two of the greatest champions of the heart. 

If you are thinking of adopting a dog, please consider a greyhound. Unlike dogs you’ll find in shelters, this is a highly exploited breed; friendly, loving, grateful and waiting for you.  Visit to find out more, or stop by and see us sometime if you're in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Tiger Jack Burke

Happy Birthday to Tiger Jack Burke

Tiger Jack Burke was whelped on November 6, 2007 to his proud mother “Heathers Fastball” and his father “Moose is Loose.” He spent his youth growing long legs and preparing to sprint at 45 miles an hour after a mechanical bunny while living at the Greyhound track in Jacksonville, Florida. He ran in a lot of races until an injury (broken front left toe) forced him to retire.

With his career cut short of expectations, he was shipped to Michigan to be with his owner, Jackie Nevison in Hillsdale, MI. He and his pushy sister Lady Wolverine stayed with her for close to a year until Jackie (85 years old) felt she could no longer take care of him.

She contacted and Jack was moved to a foster home in Macomb, MI. He was four years old; about a year out of racing and was being sent to a place he didn’t know, with a family he didn’t know, but they loved him as they fostered him and he learned to become a dog.

Jack loved his foster home and his foster family (the Priors, who have fostered dozens of greyhounds) But six months later he had not been placed in a forever home like all the others who came to Greyhart at the same time and was either being stuck with the stigma of being ‘older” or just not well adjusted to living in a house. Six months was a long time to go un-adpoted and some wondered why nobody wanted him, but I did.

He came to my home to visit with his foster parents, Scott and Shelia. It was warm outside and when he entered he ignored the bowl of water I offered in favor of the open toilet. It was the first time I spoke his name in his presence when I said: “Jack, get outtta there!” He left the toilet bowl and has never had an urge to go back.

We went outside and he checking things out and relieved himself with one of those marathon Tom Hanks, League of Their Own pisses (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand.) It ruined some beautiful lilies, but a short while later he began to warm up to me, but had to leave with his foster parents. I told them I had to think about whether or not I wanted him but it was a lie. My mind was already made up. A few days later we began sharing a home.

Today Tiger Jack Burke, a greyhound named after a popular wrestler from Michigan n the 1920’s is six years old; or about 42 in dog years. He’s in such great shape he could play a dog half his age in a movie.

Part of that reason is his life partner Anita Wood, aka Needa. The anniversary of their first meeting is tomorrow. It came after she was shipped via the 28 hour express from Florida to Michigan. She had barely settled into her foster home when I got a call. . .yada yada yada. . .4 days later she had found her forever home too.

I cannot imagine life without either one of them. Today is his special day; one he will never know or understand, yet every day we are together, is special.

So raise your glass and toast with us. Here’s to another 10 years together Tiger Jack Burke; hoping we set a new record in the stretch of life for a greyhound.

Love, Dad