By John Matonich
My part of the world in the west end of the U.P. sure isn’t L.A., but every now and again we are visited by folks who could be considered celebrities. The curious reality about them coming here is many times they go unrecognized and pretty much travel around without being hounded for autographs or selfies.
I remember my brother (our current county sheriff) telling me many years ago while he was a deputy he was patrolling the east end of the county when he stopped in to a small Native American casino to check in with the tribal police. He said there was a little bit of activity as one of the folks sitting at a slot machine minding his own business was Ed McMahon. He had long since retired as Carson’s sidekick, but evidently was spending some time in Northern Wisconsin and the west end of the U.P. when he decided to stop in the casino and have a go. While many folks recognized him, they didn’t disturb his play and he simply went about his business.
In 2009, part of the movie “Public Enemy” was filmed just over the border in Northern Wisconsin at a lodge known as Little Bohemia. This was the actual lodge where John Dillinger and his gang had a shoot-out with the feds and escaped only to be gunned down coming out of a theater in Chicago a couple of months later. Johnny Depp was the star of the movie and stayed in a local resort while filming that part of the movie. He was interviewed by our local paper during his stay and commented how much he enjoyed being able to walk around town undisturbed and while some folks recognized him, most folks just thought he was one of the many tourists that frequent our area and not of any status.
I walked into one of the little taverns not too far from where we live the other day to say hello to my bride. She works there a couple of days a week and not only enjoys earning a few “pony pennies” as she calls them, but just likes the folks who frequent the place. Well, when I walked in I was greeted by a few locals enjoying an afternoon beverage. My bride came right over to me and showed me a picture on her phone. While the guy she was standing by seemed familiar, I really couldn’t think of who it was. No one else I was sitting with knew him either. To make a long story short, it was a picture of my bride standing next to Patrick Dempsey. He was staying locally with some of his friends and they were enjoying a few days of snowmobiling. They stopped in early in the day before starting a trip around the area. While I remember watching a couple of the movies he was in, I guess he is pretty well known for his role in “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s a show I don’t believe I ever saw. Well, my bride sure did see it and she said he was a very nice customer and one of his friends offered to take their picture. She was pretty pumped to have the opportunity to meet him, but said other than the picture, she didn’t do anything more than to wait on his group and leave them to themselves to enjoy their time in town.
I had to smile when none of the folks I was sitting with did much more than shrug their shoulders and continue the discussion about the Super Bowl and what a low scoring game it turned out to be. I guess Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t a huge hit in Gogebic County. There would have been a bit more excitement if Aaron Rodgers walked in or a driver from the NASCAR circuit. Maybe our local chamber needs to do more to let celebrities know they can vacation here with very little fanfare and bother from the locals especially if they aren’t sports celebrities or TV show sidekicks.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: YouTube capture