Losing My Dog Jack


This is a testimonial to man’s best friend. More than my best friend, my dog Jack, was my champion.

First, let me describe him to you. Johann vom Jagermeister, Jack, was just a baby at 6 and 1/2 weeks when he came to my home.His father Gustl Schwarzen Drachen was an international champion. His blood was of the purest East German bloodlines from the best bred German Shepherds the world over. He was stunning. His ears stood straight and erect at just weeks old, and his coat was solid ebony. He reminded me of a tiny Black bear cub. Precious and darling. But soon to grow into a fierce and formidable canine.

We lived on 3 acres, with a huge grassy yard front and back. The rear of the property was lined deep with oak trees. Over time, I transformed this plot of land into a small “gentlemans farm”. We grew a huge organic garden, with everything from artichokes, thyme, basil, mint and rosemary, to several varients of tomato, eggplant and pepper. We had corn, squash of all shapes and colors and strawberries. Lettuces, arugula, chard and collards. Rabbits shared the garden with us and often the tiny new spring bunnies would emerge to nibble. I didn’t mind. We had more than enough to share. And it was fun watching them as I weeded, poking their little noses out around the stalks of corn or the vining curcubits.

Jack commanded this parcel standing only 8 inches high. His ears pricked straight up as he would stand guard, at our circular drive, alerting when a visitor pulled in. As time went on, the neighbors, the mailman, the landscapers and tons of friends and family all new and loved Jack and watched as he grew bigger and stronger each passing day. Restaurant owners personally dropped off prime rib for him.

We decided to dig two ponds. We grew ginger and purple ornamental grasses and gorgeous lillies at the edges and had tiny mallard ducklings that we raised by hand with Jack as their sentient. Giant Koi swam and delighted us all. Jack grew and 4 children, as they grew as well, learned the circle of life as it came and went season after season on our mini farmette in the New Jersey countryside.

Within a year, the tiny 8 inch pup was a big, black wolf that had a zest for life and a presence that would not be ignored. He reigned supreme like a king over this land and ever so gently allowed children, ducklings and tiny yellow baby chicks to climb upon his back. As the chicks grew into hens that provided us with fresh eggs, their friendship endured. Lying prone as he sunned himself, sprawled out upon pine needles at the properties edge, they would snuggle with him. It was a sight to be seen. I don’t believe a dog, yet a German Shepherd would allow chickens to roost on their backs without consuming them for lunch. But Jack did.

Jack was a very powerful dog. He weighed in at 130 pounds and his stamina and strength would wear a grown man out. Bred from champions, he wore the crest of blue bloods. Never have I heard of a dog being referred to as a gentleman, but Jack was. He was a polite dog. He knew precisely what to say and when to say it. And no one ever took Jack for granted. When you met him, he garnered respect. He had rules. And under no uncertain terms was anyone going to break them. He was a mans mans dog owned by me, a girl. And so he tendered himself, for me. Gently nudging me for his attention. Cuddling me and licking away my tears. following closely at my heel wherever I went. Proudly he walked by my side. Always assuring me that I was safe under his dominion. My whispers could command him and he would always obey. His love and his loyalty were unquestionable.

Fearless and evoking fear in others, he was a big mush. His biggest joy was to play endlessly. Whether it be a football, a stick, a huge fallen log deep in snow covered woods or a coconut in south Florida, Jack would catch it in midair and return again and again for more. If you were to toss a pebble into a pathway filled with a million pea stones, Jack would find just that pebble and return it to you. His instincts, his play drive, his obedience, his intelligence, his charm and his strength were unlike any other dog I have ever known.

I called him Jack. Not Prince or Rex or anything ostentatious. Just Jack. My dog Jack. He was a part of me and will always be a part of me until the day I die. Losing him has shown me the importance of friendship and love. A love so deep and a bond so thick that even death will not, cannot break it. That through his passing, my grief will reanimate his life in each moment, in each sunrise, with each season. I hear him in the wind, I feel his warmth in the cold. I will know he is beside me as my protector and my companion, my champion, my friend.

Words can never convey the deep emotion that was felt between he and I. No one can imagine a love like this between a girl and her dog. His beauty and grace cannot be painted nor sketched. No pen or brush are able to bring his true spirit to light. It is only feIt in my heart where his love lies and will remain always. Though I try to tell his story, I cannot accurately do it. You would have to know Jack for the true story to be told. And one day, should I happen to find a new pup only 8 inches high at my doorstep, he or she will be directly descended from this great animal, this king of dogs. My dog Jack. God rest in Peace my best friend. I love you and miss you most dearly.

Johann von Jagermeister


Indie Rock Profiles: Woodfish (New Jersey Quintet)


It has been my pleasure to become well acquainted with a group of musicians  from the New Jersey shore for the past several years. Hailing from Red Bank, NJ,  the band Woodfish is comprised of two brothers, bassist Steve Kalorin and  drummer Dominic Kalorin, Don Honeycutt on saxophone, John Samuel on guitar and  Luke De La Parra, vocals; up front and center.

Upon first meeting, I was asked to listen to them play and in all honesty  after hearing bands perform several times as a talent agent, I was not overly  excited to go and frankly not expecting anything spectacular.

Having come from a background in music, as a classically trained violinist  and drummer, I not only hear every note, chord, riff, pick up, break, beat and  tone, just the slightest aberration will send me running out of a venue after  the first three chords. I can also tell if what I am about to see has good stage  presence and a good stage vibe and has a hooked out, marketable talent. Woodfish  has all that and more.

When I walked into a small venue in Belmar, NJ, to hear Woodfish perform for  the first time, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Not the typical rock band,  this was a super funk, jive, jam, jazzy party band with a wailing sax player. I  wasn’t sure if it was a Red Hot Chili Peppers revival or a seasoned and  funky NYC jazz band with a ragtag bunch of guys in flannel shirts and torn  jeans. I was about to have my socks rocked.

WoodfishWoodfish is led by Steve Kalorin who plays the bass like nothing I have ever  heard. And, he writes the material. Trying to put him into an appropriate group  of contemporaries, my best guess is he is the newest version of Flea or a  reincarnated version of Jaco Pastorious.

Steve is to the bass what Eddie Van Halen is to the guitar. Not only is Steve an  accomplished bassist, he puts on a stage show (sans clothing, unlike Flea), in  which he slaps the bass with a beer bottle hitting all the thick, hard driving,  bending bass lines and melodic chords without a hiccup. It is truly something  that needs to be seen as well as heard.

As one might expect, you will also hear some very funky jive riffs a la  Bootsy Collins of  the Parliament-Funkadelic. Steve has won the Best Musician  Award several times at the Asbury Park Music Awards annually held at the  infamous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ where I have had the honor of attending  on a few occasions.

Rounding out the band is Domenic Kalorin, Steve’s brother on drums. Together  they produce a sound and resonance, heavy bottom end and a driving force that is  highly unusual in any of today’s indie rock bands. With an unusual mixture of  the sounds of Stuart Copeland of The Police and Buddy Rich, plus the precision  of Neil Peart of Rush, Dom’s drumming is imbedded into his soul and you may  wonder if he is ever absent from his kit. When I listen to the Pennsylvania band  Live’s song, “Insomnia and the Hole in the Universe,” I am always reminded of  Dom playing drums. The lyrics, “My brother kicked his feet to sleep,” must have  been Dom as a child.

Luke de la Parra is up front as vocalist and brings a swarthy, gritty Joe  Cocker-style of bluesy vocals to the band. Don Honeycutt playing sax brings an  eclectic, jazzy, NY retro sound reminiscent of Stan Getz. John Samuel’s adds guitar leads and rhythm on cue  and perfectly orchestrated to fully compliment this bass driven quintet.

On their first CD release, Bamm Didley and their newest CD release, Starlight Remedy, Woodfish manages to blend effortlessly sounds like  surfer music icon Dick Dale and funk icon Bootsy Collins along with killer  ripping Flea-esque bass lines. The vocals are sometimes reminiscent of Darius Rucker and always gritty  like Joe Cocker, but newer and more rocked out like perhaps Scott Stapp of  Creed. There’s ’70’s style guitar riffs like Bachman Turner Overdrive and newer  alternative rock with Stan Getz styled sax overtures lilting throughout.

Overall, I would say Woodfish is virtually impossible to define musically.  They have created their own music genre and the only way to understand their  sound is to hear them live and experience the deep, eclectic mélange of their  vast musical repertoire with decisively rock and roll roots.

Woodfish is a very talented and hard working group of musicians and it is my  honor to profile them. And I must say, being backstage with them when they  opened for Foghat at the Blender Theatre in NYC was a pure  treat and one of the best times of my life as well as an incredible show.

You can check out its current tour schedule and download Woodfish tunes at woodfishmusic.com.

This article was published first on Blogcritics.

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