A Day in the Life of…
This feature article is a recurring series exploring interesting people, places and experiences in the Turnagain Arm region. Writers are encouraged to be creative and imaginative to go beyond traditional news reporting. Creative writing, photo essays and poetry are welcome.
Pete Braun – Full of Surprises
By Sue Todd
Back in August 2015, Girdwood acquired a new citizen – Pete Braun. It’s quite possible you’ve seen him behind the counter at the Mercantile. It is more likely you know Pete if you ever dropped by the Silvertip Grill on a Monday night for open mic. Does the song “Balls to the Wall” ring a bell? That’s Pete!
Pete and I had a long conversation recently to learn more about him. He reported that he grew up in Troy, Mich., located north of Detroit and the largest city in Oakland County. A thriving suburb with varied businesses, a diverse international community, nice residential neighborhoods and a population of over 80,000 people, Troy has much more hustle and bustle than our little Girdwood. Pete claims the change of pace is what he has really enjoyed about living here.
Upon further digging, I learned that Pete participated in recreational soccer as a child and moved on to become a distance runner in middle and high school, competing in track in the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter races and relays, as well as running cross country. After high school, Pete attended Oakland Community College, with a goal of becoming a mechanic like his father. The downturn in the industry left this dream aside.
In the meantime, his brother Steve encouraged him to take up bass since a local heavy metal band needed a bass player. Though Pete did not learn to play in time to join, it started him on his bass-playing journey. He purchased a Fender Squier and began learning to play.
He and his friends made attempts at starting bands, but nothing panned out. Where they did succeed was arriving at great names for their bands – Unholy Phoenix, Resurrected Phoenix, and Fallen Reaper.
“Unfortunately, because of the recession, we met one dead end after another. It was very discouraging,” Pete related. His decision to move to Alaska was facilitated by finding work at the Merc.
Once he settled in Girdwood, his interest in heavy metal grew. His friend Cory sent him a copy of Iron Maiden’s Brave New World album, and he was totally hooked. Cory sent him two more albums, and he loved them too.
Pete started performing at open mics at the Silvertip, the Sitzmark, and Chair Five in Girdwood, as well as Humpy’s and Williwaw Social in Anchorage. His penchant for heavy metal sets him apart from the typical open mic performer. He brings his own amplifier and plugs his iPhone into it to provide a recorded backdrop of heavy metal, while he plays a Peavy Millennium AC BXP4 bass and sings.
No folksy shoe gazer, this one. No, Pete belts his lyrics along with the likes of Iron Maiden, Accept, Airbourne, or AC/DC. His stage presence is unapologetic and bold, and usually by the time he concludes his set with “Balls to the Wall,” his audience is singing along with him. It is always unexpected to get crowd participation during an open mic, but Pete consistently achieves it.
His talents do not end there. Pete was surprised to learn that his recent submission to Food52 was published. For those who do not know, Food52 is a website featuring thousands of recipes submitted by their followers and prepared by their editors in their test kitchens. In fact, my friend, a food writer, was very impressed to learn that someone I know was published. Here is Pete’s submission.
Peanut Butter, Honey, Banana and Jelly Sandwich
Author Notes: While peanut butter and jelly has long been my favorite sandwich, the later addition of first sliced bananas and, almost a year later, honey, have made what is already my favorite lunch to have at work even better. I first added the banana slices on a whim after being offered one for 50% off at the grocery store I work at, while my friend Clarisa Damron convinced me to try adding honey. When combined between two slices of your favorite bread, peanut butter, honey, banana and jelly will surely be the most delicious homemade sandwich you have ever put to your lips and sunk your teeth into. Your palate will be blown away by how good this is. —Pete Braun
Prep time: 5 min.
Cook time: 10 min.
• 2 Slices of Honey wheat berry bread
• 2 tablespoons Natural creamy peanut butter (minimum)
• 1 tablespoon Natural Concord grape jelly (minimum)
• 1-2 teaspoons Raw and unfiltered wildflower honey
• 1 Ripe organic banana
1. Lay out slices of bread on a flat surface, like a cutting board or plate.
2. Spread a layer of peanut butter on one slice of bread.
3. Drizzle honey over the peanut butter using a spoon. Blend the honey with the peanut butter on the bread using the same spoon used to drizzle the honey.
4. Spread a second layer of peanut butter on top of the honey. This helps to keep the honey from leaking.
5. Peel a banana and cut it into coin-like slices. Lay out the banana slices over the peanut butter/honey mix.
6. Spread a layer of jelly on the other slice of bread.
7. Place jelly-covered bread – jelly-side down – on top of the peanut butter, honey, and banana-covered bread.
8. Gently press the two bread slices together to form sandwich. Transfer onto a plate if construction took place on a cutting board.
9. Serve the remainder of the banana as a side item and a glass of milk to wash down your peanut butter, honey, banana and jelly sandwich. Enjoy!
How about that? Our very own Pete published in Food52.
Say hello to Pete at the Merc, sing along with him at open mic, and/or let him know if you’ve tried his recipe. There is no doubt he would appreciate the nod. Pete Braun – another Girdwood standout.