Don Gabriel, 18, and his brother Doug, 16 (right), of Cedar Rapids, Iowa are really into heavy metal. They have developed a whole new rock sound on electric “mufftars”—guitars they built from Midas mufflers. “The more we play, the better we get,” says Doug, who winces away such jibes as “Man, those guitars must be exhausting.” With their unorthodox gold-painted instruments (Doug’s 30-pounder comes from a ’69 Thunderbird muffler, Don’s 45-pounder from a ’72 Buick model), the Gabriels and their four-man group, the New Relations, have “mufftarized” from New Hampshire to Acapulco, including Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Two years ago the boys’ father, Don Sr., who owned a Midas muffler shop, suggested his sons rev up their group with an attention-getter. “The first time, I was afraid I would be electrocuted,” remembers Doug. Now, with gigs commanding up to $500, he and Don spend more time in their basement practice room. As Don Sr. says, “The boys know they must make it on talent, not on a gimmick.” But he’s convinced: Dad has sold his Midas franchise to become their full-time manager.
Carla Skinder, 27, is having a whale of a time as animal technologist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. Head of the Marine Mammal Stranding Program, Carla rushes to the rescue of beached seals and dolphins as well as 40-ton whales that wash up anywhere in New England. “It’s awesome working with creatures that are so enormous and unknown,” says Carla, who fields emergency calls 24 hours a day. At the aquarium she tube-fed an emaciated baby sperm whale and got into a wet suit to acclimate 10 dangerous sharks. Her most “ticklish” job: removing postoperative stitches from Morris, a moray eel. The first female on the curatorial staff, Skinder believes “women are warmer and just have a better rapport with animals.” Carla certainly seems to. After growing up in Natick, Mass., she took pre-vet courses at Kansas State University. Now living in South Hamilton, Mass., she rides horses at 6:30 a.m. and in Boston (right) shares time off with Lover, one of her charges. Last year when she flew to New York for a marine exhibit, the penguin was her date for the evening. “Of course,” she says, “he was formally dressed.”