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Numbers figuratively roll around in people’s lives all the time — from locker combinations to phone numbers — but whenever a pattern forms people tend to take notice.

Richard “Zach” Burdick of Brainerd took note of the numeric coincidences related to his 36th birthday on Wednesday, Dec. 12, about four years ago. It was at that time he realized he would turn 36 (3 X 12) on 12/12/12. He related last week in an interview at Coco Moon in downtown Brainerd that in some ways he’s more interested in this numerical oddity than he was on his golden birthday, when he turned 12 years old on Dec. 12. His main focus on that day, he recalled, was on the future.

“Thirteen (the age) was going to be the coolest thing ever,” he said of his mind-set then.

As for this year, Burdick and his family were planning a few special events to mark the 12th day of the 12th month in 2012. He and Lori Gangestad were planning to see the Bears-Vikings game last Sunday. For his actual birthday, he said he would probably take the day off and he and Gangestad would head up north and find a nice place for dinner.

Burdick and Gangestad, who met about five years ago when they worked at Giovanni’s, are the parents of 1-year-old Harlan Burdick. They’re expecting another child in July.

Burdick is a musician who played drums played drums for Soulshine, a group which played original music as well as blues and rock tunes. His current group is the four-member Poparazzi which plays pop music. The instruments featured in the band include guitar, bass, drums and a female singer.

Burdick said it’s not unusual for musicians to break up then join new bands. It’s the nature of the business.

“People grow up and move away,” he said. “People come and go. People move back.

Burdick grew up in Tomahawk, Wis., but had family in the Brainerd area and visited here regularly. He moved here about 15 years ago.

“It just seemed nice,” he said of Brainerd. “People were friendly,”

His current band practices once a week in his basement. They got together through Craigslist and word of mouth.

Gangestad said the pop music emphasis of Poparazzi is customer-friendly.

“People want to go out and hear stuff they know,” she said of the audiences.

Burdick, a self-taught drummer who didn’t start until he was 19, also plays guitar. He gravitated to percussion by necessity.

“When I moved here nobody played drums” he said.

His personal preference in music includes the blues and artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa.

When he’s not beating the drums, he works at KFC in Baxter. He also likes to go out and listen to other bands.

Burdick said he enjoys playing songs for people and the band is a fun experience, with one condition.

“If everybody shows up to haul gear,” he said.

Another Dec. 12 birthday celebrant is Isaac Jackson of Little Falls, who turned 12 on Dec. 12, 2012.

Jackson is a Little Falls Middle School student who recently moved from Brainerd to Little Falls. He is one of four children with a 24-year-old brother, another brother in fourth grade and sister in third grade.

“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” he said last week. “It’s a special day.”

The sixth-grader likes science, reading, math, gym and lunch. Football is his favorite sport with Nordic skiing, a close second. He is the son of Neree Jackson of Little Falls and Richard Jackson of Brainerd.

“We’re just going to have family over,” he said. “It’s on a Wednesday. It’s kind of hard to have (entertain) friends.”

Editor’s note: Both the photographer and reporter who worked on this story celebrate birthdays on Dec. 12.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860