Wednesday, March 27
“When you’re dealing with a one-year-old with a 60 percent burn, that child’s chance of survival and recovery will be greatly improved if cared for by a team like ours that has faced those types of challenges many times.”
Richard Cartie, M.D., Burn Care Intensivist and Medical Director of Pediatric Critical Care
Tucked into an unassuming office park across from Doctors Hospital is a comfortable home-away-from-home for family members to stay. Named the Chavis House after Jeffrey Vaden Chavis, a South Carolina firefighter who died in the line of duty, the guesthouse hosts families of burn patients for free.
Without the Chavis House, it’s highly unlikely that Katie Cook’s Minnesota parents could’ve been at her bedside during her seven months in the burn center.
“Having my mom and dad there was just everything. Brought me comfort. Kind of brought me back,” she says. “The fact that four years later I’m pregnant is a miracle in and of itself.”
Katie Cook, the 2018 Burn Foundation of America Champion Chair and former JMS Burn Center patient, explains how the Chavis House and Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation began , “Firefighters were transporting patients to the burn center and seeing the severity of the injuries as they were rescuing people. As they were walking through the waiting room back to the ambulance, they would find these families sleeping on the waiting room chairs or sleeping in their cars. It just broke their hearts and they wanted to do something about it.”
Dr. Still always said that he thought that a family’s love was a powerful medicine and that the patients would do better with their families close by. Back in 1988, Dr. Still partnered with these firefighters and founded the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation, now called Burn Foundation of America, to help burn patients and their families with non-medical necessities, so the families could be right with their loved ones through the entire recovery.
“A burn is usually the result in an unexpected injury, a traumatic injury,” states Cook, “I think all of that leads to the frame of mind where the family is unwilling to go home and leave their loved one.”
The Chavis House assists with the basic needs of the patient’s families, which allows them to focus on their injured loved ones. They have 17 semi-private rooms, plus an overflow room. The house can sleep up to 40 people per night. If the house is full, they place families in local hotels at no charge to the family. Whether it’s 2 P.M. or 2 A.M., staff is on hand to help and area churches deliver free meals to the guests each day.
“The biggest part of my job is helping to make the environment as normal as possible in the midst of being in a weird room—exposed to all kinds of machines and sounds—and lots of people coming in and out.”Erin Carrick, Certified Child Life Specialisti
Over the past decade, the Chavis House welcomed over 1,000 guests every year. In 2017, 1,435 family members and loved ones received 6,817 nights of free lodging in the Chavous House. In 2018 the number increased to 1,535 and 4,755 overnights.
After hospitalization, patients need further care to continue their recovery and transition to independent living. Burn survivors who need emotional and financial assistance can receive support from the Chavis House. Last year hundreds of burn survivors received assistance with medication, transportation, anti-scarring garments, and peer support.
The Burn Foundation of America is a financial supporter of the Chavis House. Local and surrounding area firefighters provide 25% of the operating budget per year with their fundraising efforts like boot drives and auctions. Other events include the Fire and Ice Gala and the Storybook Brunch.
Eric and Sandi Clark, franchise owners of the eight local Jersey Mike’s, are donating every single dollar that comes in Wednesday, March 27, to the Chavis House. Take your office to Jersey Mike’s Wednesday, enjoy a great lunch and the feeling of supporting such a worthy cause.
Clark’s first Jersey Mike’s location opened in 2011. Prior to owning Jersey Mike’s Subs stores Eric sponsored Burn Foundation events, no doubt influenced by his sister Jamie, who was a nurse at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.
Eric was aware of the mission and services that the Burn Foundation provides to burn patients and families.
Eric and his wife also help provide meals to the Chavis House families as members of Grace Baptist Church in Evans. “Being affiliated with the Burn Foundation has really opened my eyes to what’s right here in our backyard. I’m amazed at how many people the Foundation touches,”
Jersey Mike’s area locations are open all day Wednesday until 9 P.M.
466 Flowing Wells Rd Ste 2, Augusta, GA 30907
4103 Madeline Dr Ste 108, Augusta, GA 30909
2823 Washington Rd, Augusta, GA 30909
403 Fury’S Ferry Rd., Suite, Martinez, GA 30907
4010 Gateway Blvd., Ste 4, Grovetown, GA 30813
1069 Edgefield Rd, North Augusta, SC 29860
1069 Edgefield Rd.North Augusta, SC 29860
232 Eastgate Drive Aiken, SC 29803
With the approach of the Masters Golf Tournament, we wanted to share with the new residents of Augusta another world class draw in our area, the horse community of Aiken, SC. In fact the Spring Steeplechase is this Saturday.
Founded in 1835, the city was named after railroad magnate William Aiken, who had built a new line connecting the coastal port town of Charleston to the Georgia border at the Savannah River. Though the town’s roots might have been in railroading, the town came into its own as a sporting getaway for the elite—especially insomuch as any sport involving horses.
Among Aiken’s famous stables is Dogwood Stable, which has produced 80 stakes winners, seven Kentucky Derby contenders, a Preakness and Belmont winner, seven millionaires, two Eclipse Awards and a Breeders’ Cup victory. Stable President W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell has a roster of 14 horses, from 2-year-olds to track veterans. The stable’s most recent success is Palace Malice, the winner of the 2013 Belmont Stakes.
Even the sheikh of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has stables and a training facility in Aiken, to which he brings horses from the Middle East.From horseracing to steeplechasing, polo, foxhunting, eventing, dressage and driving, the full spectrum of the questrian world can be found in and around Aiken. In fact, some of the small town’s most popular annual events—social and economic—revolve around horses. The best known are the Fall Steeplechase and spring’s Triple Crown, the latter of which brings tens-of-thousands of spectators and competitors from all over the world to town for three consecutive weekends of equestrian events: the Trials, the Spring Steeplechase and Pacers and Polo.
Of Horses and Kings
Originally published 12/22/05
By: Brian Neill
Tom Biddle doesn’t call polo a sport. He calls it a disease.
Why else would men endure broken bones and busted jaws, only to get back on the horse again for another shot of adrenaline rush?
Face it, chasing around a three-inch ball on a field with a bunch of mallet-swinging men on horses running 40 miles an hour isn’t exactly sane.
Nonetheless, in Aiken County, polo is spreading contagiously.
There, developers are rapidly transforming the rural landscape into farms and subdivisions associated with the elite, equestrian pastime.
Biddle has witnessed most of this growth first-hand in his capacity as owner of Biddle Realty, Inc., a real estate firm specializing in land and investment property.
He is also president of the U.S. Polo Association and has been involved in the sport for more than 40 years.
Biddle says much of the rural property snapped up in the last decade in outlying Aiken County is being utilized for polo endeavors.
Otherwise stagnant or neglected pastures are sprouting pristine bungalows, wooden fences and clubhouses.
“In 10 years — equestrian property –the land has gone from $1,000 an acre to $10,000-plus an acre,” Biddle says. “In that period of time, we have gone from five established polo fields in Aiken County to 35 established polo fields.”
Biddle estimates roughly 8,000 acres have been purchased for polo farms or fields.
Though no agency in Aiken County has formally measured polo’s economic impact, Biddle figures that the land purchased for the enterprise, along with associated improvements such as barns and homes, amounts to an investment of more than $25 million.
Polo is big in Aiken County, and its growth as an industry is galloping along at a steady clip.
For the first time this fall, Aiken hosted the U.S. Polo Association’s Gold Cup Polo Championship, a 26-goal tournament that represents the highest caliber of polo play in the world.
Among the players at the tournament was Adolfo Cambiaso, an Argentine whom many consider the best polo player in the world.
As a testament to the Gold Cup’s clout, Cambiaso jetted in six of his horses from England in order to play in the tournament.
The Gold Cup was played during four consecutive Sundays, Oct. 2 through Sept. 11, at the New Bridge Polo and Country Club, about 10 miles east of the Aiken city limits. The New Bridge Polo and Country Club is one of more than a dozen “equestrian subdivisions” that have cropped up in recent years, Biddle says.
In the case of New Bridge, the development is typical of a golf retirement community. Rather than facing a golf course, however, the homes face polo fields.
“You’ve got right now, 15 equestrian subdivisions either completed, or on the books or being developed in Aiken County,” Biddle says. “That’s large lots, five to 20 acres, with or without amenities — bridle paths, jumping rings, clubhouses.”
Aiken is situated roughly halfway between New York and South Florida, two hubs of polo activity throughout the year.
That has made it a prime location for those involved in the sport who seek to play polo and train polo ponies year-round.
Aiken’s other draw for polo operations has been the cost of its land.
Though acreage has increased ten-fold over the last decade in Aiken County, land is still far less expensive there than in polo communities in New York and Florida.
“Land in Florida is from $300,000 to $1 million an acre. Land in New York is probably in the same ballpark,” says Biddle, who regularly advertises Aiken properties in ritzy magazines devoted to the sport, circulated in places like West Palm Beach. “So when somebody comes to Aiken, South Carolina and finds something for $10,000 an acre, they think they’ve died and gone to heaven.”
Biddle says the horse developments don’t necessarily represent the property tax boon to the county that the retirement community does, since many of the equine properties are granted agricultural exemptions.
But Biddle says the county does benefit aesthetically from the types of polo developments that are cropping up in places along State Highway 302 and New Bridge Road, in the eastern section of the county.
“It’s been a pleasant thing, I think, for Aiken County, because what these people are putting on their properties is appealing to the eye,” Biddle says. “They’re not building junk; they’re building board fences and horse barns. The economy smiles on this kind of development.”
Janet Morris, director of the Aiken Downtown Development Association, says she sees more activity at shops and restaurants downtown as a result of polo players moving to the county or visiting during polo events.
Though acknowledging other equine endeavors in the county, such as the training of jumper and dressage horses, Morris says polo is definitely moving to the forefront as an economic driver.
“It’s kind of a two-pronged look at it,” Morris says. “I see more polo players and their families here and I see them downtown more often because they are here. The other side of that: there are a growing number of polo tournaments, there is now a polo pony sale, there is the return of high-goal polo to Aiken with the Gold Cup. And those events themselves draw people in that, again, have an impact on our downtown business economy.”
“The game of kings”
Polo is arguably the most aristocratic of sports.
Sure, there are wealthy golfers. And pro football and basketball players certainly make their share of millions.
But polo has been played by kings and nobility for hundreds of years.
Inscribed in stone next to an ancient polo field near Kashmir is the saying: “Let other people play at other things. The king of games is still the game of kings.”
Take a glance at any publication devoted to polo and you’ll find it filled with beautiful people and expensive toys.
Polo games are typically accessorized with the best in terms of liquor, food, fashion — and, of course, tent parties.
But the elitist image surrounding the sport, albeit accurate, irks Biddle.
“That’s the image that we’re trying to get rid of, but it’s very difficult and it bothers me,” Biddle says.
“But hell,” Biddle concedes, “how many poor people are there playing polo? Not very many.”
Biddle’s own son, Tommy, is a professional polo player who’s played side-by-side with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
And Tom Biddle, though no pauper himself, typically rubs elbows with some of the world’s wealthiest men in his capacity as president of the USPA.
“I sit on a board at the USPA … and I’m sitting around there with these Fortune 500 guys that are on the thing,” Biddle says, “and we get in arguments and I have to (bang the gavel) and go, ‘Hey fellas, let’s quit this shit about how much money somebody’s got. You’ve got $10 million, you’ve got $50 million, you’ve got a billion. Who gives a shit? We have to make the right decision.”
In defense of the horseless
Indeed, Aiken has quietly wrestled to maintain a harmonious balance between its status quo citizens and the “horse people” as they are sometimes called.
It’s a city in which traffic on the most congested thoroughfare, Whiskey Road, can be brought to a standstill by a crossing button specifically installed for horse riders.
The horse community doesn’t mind its admirers. But when tour buses recently began rolling through the red-clay Two Notch Road — a dusty path dissecting a hub of tracks and stables in an area where the first leg of the annual Triple Crown equestrian event takes place — the horse people waged a campaign to stop them on grounds of privacy and the fact that the buses were making the local roads too rough for horses’ sensitive hooves.
Restrictions were eventually placed on the tours.
In this city of roughly 30,000, horse breeches are worn as much for utilitarian purposes as status symbol. It’s not unusual to see residents clad in riding pants for a trip to the grocery or while perusing the single-malt scotch aisle at the local liquor store.
But with the rise in polo — the ritziest of horse sports — is Aiken about to become too good for its own good?
Todd Stilp doesn’t think so.
A lifelong resident of Aiken, Stilp has seen polo from both sides. As owner of Enviroscape, a landscape management company, Stilp has maintained and helped design layouts for the homes and barns of some of Aiken’s most prominent horse people.
This year, Stilp was also tapped to serve as co-chair on the Gold Cup tournament committee.
Like Tom Biddle, Stilp has worked to make polo an everyman sport.
His late friend, an insurance salesman, managed to play polo with four horses he had invested less than $10,000 in.
“He had a beat-up old truck and he probably had some used trailer that someone paid him to haul off his property,” Stilp says. “He played polo.”
Despite the prestige of this year’s Gold Cup, Stilp notes it only cost spectators $10 to get in.
But Stilp realizes there’s no denying that polo is primarily a sport for the wealthy.
“Some of these guys, like you and I would put a horse on a trailer, they put them on damn jets,” Stilp says. “Adolfo Cambiaso, top player in the world who was on the New Bridge Team … he keeps a set of ponies in Argentina. He flew his ones from England over to Aiken. He had six main horses. I guarantee you it cost about $25,000 or $30,000, one way. And that probably does not even include all the clean-up and all the prep work the local guys have to do.”
“Let’s face it,” Stilp adds, “everybody watches ‘Cribs’ on MTV, and ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.’ Well, they exist, and some of them come to Aiken.”
The difference, Stilp says, is when those rich and famous come to Aiken, it’s usually so they can leave the trappings of wealth and prestige back home.
“You know, for the past 100, 150 years, people have been coming to Aiken — famous people; all the money in the world — they’ve been coming to Aiken because they can come here and be themselves,” Stilp says. “You and I could go dressed like this (casual) into any restaurant, any day of the year, and nobody would say anything to us. You can’t walk into some high-end club or restaurant in South Florida, you can’t do that in Santa Barbara, you can’t do that up in the Hamptons.
Down here, it’s unpretentious. It’s understated elegance. I think that’s one of the nice things about Aiken, that everything’s laid back.”
Stilp doesn’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, despite the growing presences of the game of kings.
“I have a client that’s worth tens and tens of millions of dollars,” Stilp says. “She mucks her own stalls, they paint their own barns, they build their own fences. I’m going to say 98 percent of the people who have horses are like that.
“You get out and meet these people one-on-one, they’re real people.”
Spring break is almost here, school is almost out and the Masters will soon be turning the CSRA into the epicenter of golf worldwide. Everything seems to be adult oriented-concerts, parties..more parties during Masters, so the staff at Columbia County Community Events wanted to plan something special for the kids this year. And what screams KIDS more than a 10,000 square foot bouncy house? “The weekend school lets out the Big Bounce will be set up at the Evans Towne Center Park by the playground and splashpad” said Ana Mae Masi, marketing director for Columbia County Community Events.
The Big Bounce, the world’s most massive bounce house according to the Guiness Book of World Records, is so big it travels with over 45 workers!
This being a county sponsored event presented by Rec Tec Grills, of course everyone and anyone is welcome-adults, parents, grandparents-whoever wants to jump. The playground, as well as the entire park, will still be open to the public. The only fee is if you’re going to enter the Bounce House.
“There’s actually a DJ booth inside playing age appropriate songs, so for instance when it is the little kids time to jump, you can expect to hear Baby Shark like a million times” chuckled Masi. For an extra $5 kids (or adults) can also enter Bounce Village, which features the Big Bounce Ninja Run, the Monster Ball Pit (a 2,000 square foot domed ball pit), and the Little Bouncer, a replica of the Big Bounce House- only smaller.
The number of jumpers is limited to 180 at one time so the time slots are by the hour, and the operators of the largest bounce house in America do a great job of running the attraction, dividing the ages up so the little ones aren’t trampled by the older kids. You can reserve your day and time online with a credit card or visit the Facebook page of Columbia County Community Events to find where staff will be over the next week or so selling tickets and reserving time slots for $5 0ff. (Patriot’s Park, the Farmer’s Market, Blanchard Woods)
There will be a number of great food vendors set up the full three days as well-Chadderbox, Wicked Good Bites, Diablo’s, Putt-Putt, Mini-Melts and Pelican Sno-Balls.
Friday, April 5 through April 7
11 A.M. until 8 P.M. daily11:00 AM
Evans Towne Center Park 7016 Evans Town Center BoulevardEvans
Lee Elder and his wife and manager, Sharon Elder, sat down with The Metro Spirit at local Wild Wings Cafe this past week.
According to GolfWorld, this summer, the 84-year-old will become the first African American to be awarded the USGA’s Bob Jones Award, the association’s highest honor. Not only is Elder the first African American to win the award, he was also the first African American golfer to play in the Masters Golf Tournament in 1975.
Elder will be given the award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrates the spirit, character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones, at Pebble Beach Golf Links in June during the week of the U.S. Open.
“Lee’s perseverance, positive attitude, and generous spirit personifies the ideals that the Bob Jones Award represents,” said USGA CEO Mike Davis. “His grace and humility demonstrate his extraordinary character, and his work at the community level has paved the way for generations of future golfers. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor his incredible sportsmanship in the game.
Today at 84, Elder reflected on his golf career, his impact on the game and his influence with African American golfers.
When asked about the current diversity in the game of golf, Elder states, “Right now I’m not too happy because we only have two african americans playing on tour.”
He thinks back on how things were in the early 70’s, “ I felt that a lot of people let our race down by not backing the players at the time, I think that way. I felt that not only for myself, but by not giving African Americans a chance, by not giving them a chance to do the things that would have allowed them to continue with the game, I feel like we were let down. It’s very expensive. It’s very expensive to play the game of golf. To try and maintain a home, especially when you’re not making a comfortable living playing the game. I think that in the future that is certainly going to help.”
“There was a time that I felt like hey, what am i doing this for? Are there going to be people that will be able to utilize the things that I am out here striving for? Turns out I was very happy that I did, because there was a lot of players that came after me that really I don’t know if they would have been able to be exposed that quickly if I had turned away. Speaking of the likes of Jim Dent, Pete Brown, Calvin Peete, Jim Thorpe.”
Elder says what keeps him excited about golf is watching his favorite player. “I’m just so happy to see Tiger back playing because the recognition is still there. And it’s going to be good for the game. Looking at the people who are turning out. It will entices more blacks to the game, not just continuing to go towards basketball, football.”
Elder worked with Tiger when the young phenom was in his early teens. “The trend did turn when he left the game. The reason for that is because he was the one that everybody looked up to and they still to today. I just hope that he will continue to stay in good health so he can continue to stay out there and play. The generation that are going to start into the game of golf will have a chance to work at it and can get the support they need. Tiger is important to that.”
How’s your game now?
“How would your game be at 84?” Elder chuckles. “My short game is always good.”
“In strip malls across the country, neon signs and brightly colored placards promise hot stones, acupuncture and shiatsu with photos of women or couples receiving relaxing shoulder rubs. But a traditionally Asian form of therapeutic relaxation with deep roots in big-city Chinatowns has spun off a different kind of massage parlor that has little to do with traditional remedies. It has exploded into a $3 billion-a-year sex industry that relies on pervasive secrecy, close-knit ownership rings and tens of thousands of mostly foreign women ensnared in a form of modern indentured servitude.”
New York Times
March 2, 2019
It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m standing naked in the middle of a dimly lit room, waiting for a woman who is not my wife to reenter.
Moments earlier, that woman, a pretty Asian girl with long black hair and a distant but not disinterested look on her face, repeated the question the older Asian woman had asked me when she ushered me back to the room, one of several along a hallway.
“You been here before?”
It was very quiet and very dark inside the room, and I told her what I told the older woman. “No,” I said. “I’ve never had a massage before. I don’t know what to expect.”
The pretty Asian girl nodded without expression.
She leaned slightly on her hip indicating that she planned on taking the money right then. It was less transactional than holding out her hand, but it got the point across.
Clumsily, I thumbed the $80 out of my wallet and passed it over. She counted it in front of me without embarrassment.
“Take off clothes,” she said, pointing to an open hook on the wall, then to a neatly folded towel on the massage table in the corner. “All clothes. I’ll be back soon.”
I did as she directed, but the towel that was meant to cover me didn’t quite make it around my waist, which is why I’m standing there naked, waiting for the girl who is not my wife to return.
On April 1, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department along with the FBI’s Human Trafficking Task Force, conducted an investigation of the Bo Bo Skin Spa. Located prominently on Washington Road, Bo Bo was not properly licensed to give massages.
“Supposedly, they had a license that they could maintain your skin,” says, Sgt. Richard Elim of Richmond County’s Vice Squad. “They could scrub it. Clean it. Give you lotions for it. But they couldn’t administer a massage.”
They couldn’t, but they did.
“Not only did they illegally give massages there, they branched out into masturbation for hire,” Elim says.
Masturbation for hire is the official term for what’s commonly called the happy ending.
In the case against Bo Bo, Elim had the good fortune of walking in on a massage at precisely the right time.
“Typically, we get information that something else is going on,” he says. “We have to check it out, and that can involve surveillance, it can involve actually going into a place and purchasing a massage or it can involve a site investigation. In this case, we went in, and while we were inside we went into one of the rooms and caught the process ‘in the act.’”
That act proved costly for Suki Park Laszlo, the spa’s owner, who was not only operating without a massage operator’s license, she was operating without a certified massage therapist.
In other words, the girl Elim caught in the act was a prostitute, not a massage therapist.
“The code allows us to suspend their license before we take them before the commission for actions against their license,” says Rob Sherman, Director of License and Inspection. “Then, at the same time, the Sheriff’s Department can cite those that were doing the prostitution or whatever and take them straight to court.”
While Elim says he started receiving calls as soon as the Bo Bo sign went up, he thinks the operation probably remained legitimate for the first few months of operation, crossing the line more and more the closer it got to Masters Week.
And Elim has good reason to believe the offerings went far beyond happy endings.
“I’m convinced there was more going on in that location than masturbation for hire,” he says, describing a bag of condoms he found in the room.
“Imagine you buy a pack of condoms,” he says. “Now, imagine having a hundred of those not in the pack, but all lubricated and ready to use in a big plastic bag – just reach in and grab one.”
Bo Bo isn’t the first questionable operation to utilize the same location on Washington Road. Years ago, it was home to the notorious Osaka Spa, which was closed along with three others during a sting operation in 2002.
“One night, we just went out and made cases on all four – shut them down – and took them to the commission,” Elim says. “Shortly thereafter, we were able to work with the city attorney to draft a new set of ordinances where you have to be nationally certified and where you can verify the license. That cut down a lot of it right there.”
The state massage therapy board was established in July of 2006 and has the authority to license individual massage therapists, leaving the local jurisdictions to license the spas themselves, which Sherman says involves getting an operator’s license and submitting a list of the actual therapists who work there.
Sherman, after commission approval, issues the license – or occupational tax – and because the massage industry is regulated, it’s up to the Sheriff’s Office to check up on them.
Massage therapists pay a regulatory fee along with the occupation tax.
According to Kim Wood, who owns the Balanced Body, the cost of playing by the rules is steep.
Georgia requires a massage therapist to have a minimum of 500 hours from a Board recognized massage therapy education program. Sitting for that test can cost up to $225, and a massage therapy license in Augusta is $95 per year.
In addition to the administrative costs, there’s the cost of the equipment, which can be significant. A portable massage table, for example, can cost between $500-$1,000.
“School itself can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $25,000,” she says.
In spite of the money and effort that goes into establishing yourself as a professional in the field, many people are suspicious of all massage therapists because of reputations earned by places like Bo Bo.
“Any time that there is anybody that is questionable, I try to get them out of business,” she says. “I’ve been talking to vice for a couple of years. We have a good relationship and they’ll call me and say, ‘what do you know about so-and-so.’”
A few years ago, she says she was approached by a massage therapist who said she was looking for some office space right way. Something didn’t feel right about the situation, so Wood declined to offer the woman space at her practice. Later, while looking for a massage table on Craig’s List, she ran across the woman’s advertisement.
She was obviously selling sex.
The intermingling of the sex industry with the massage industry leads to a greater amount of bad behavior, Wood says. Before she moved to her current location on Professional Parkway, she used to be on Washington Road near Bo Bo, which was then Osaka, and people were constantly calling up and asking if they did happy endings.
Because of all the questionable activity, Wood, who also teaches business and ethics at the Georgia Academy of Massage, says she spends a lot of time with her therapists talking about desexualizing the room and desexualizing the service.
“You have to be very careful how you market yourself and your attire,” she says. “So many things can give the wrong impression – music, lighting…all kinds of stuff.”
The pretty Asian girl slowly cracks open the door and slips inside, preserving the sensual rosy light that I’m still trying to get my eyes to adjust to.
She’s wearing a tank top and a short jean skirt, and I suspect she is probably not as pretty as she appears, but I’m in no position to hold that against her, standing as I am trying to pinch that little towel closed around me, my earlier “take me as I am” brazenness long gone.
If my feeble attempt at modesty amuses her, she doesn’t let on. Instead, she takes me by the hand and leads me to the table, where she takes my towel, forces me to stand naked before her, then finally tells me to lay down.
I climb up on the table and do as she says. After a moment, I feel her drape the little towel on top of me.
On the end table beside me, next to a bottle of lotion and a box of Kleenex, there is a cheap portable stereo, and with my head turned to the side, supported on a rolled up towel, I watch as she pushes the button that suddenly fills the room with the relaxing sound of a wooden flute. It’s playing the kind of music we westerners are conditioned to hear packaged with water sounds and sold as relaxation aids.
The table is solid, so I don’t feel her weight on it as she hops up, but I do feel her bare legs open up as she straddles me, then sidles up against my lower back, nestling in. She leans down into my shoulders and starts to kneed, rocking slowly forward and back. Then she works down my arms. When she’s done working them, she folds them in against my sides and I can feel he softness of her bare legs against my finger tips.
“Do we need the towel?” I ask, and immediately it’s gone.
She moves back up to my shoulders, and I know the rocking motion is meant to arouse me. It’s much more than a perfunctory massage, but it doesn’t take $7,500 worth of coursework to realize she’s not working by the book. It feels good, though – very good – and after a little while I start to forget that she’s a stranger and that I’m naked and that outside this room is the bright, noisy world where I belong.
Then, suddenly, it’s over.
“Have nice day,” she whispers in my ear as she dismounts.
We’re far short of our hour, and of course she’s only massaged half of me. I’ve been spared the embarrassment and intimacy of rolling over.
“What?” I ask, propping up on an elbow. “What about the front?”
“You want more?” she asks, now backing away. “I’ll be back soon.”
She quickly leaves the room, but not before her eyes usher mine over to the end table with its radio, its bottle of lotion and its box of Kleenex.
“I’ll be back soon.”
When she returns, she’s slightly more confident.
“You want more?” she asks again, and her voice, which has never been loud, falls into to a whisper. “You want…”
Here, the pretty Asian girl simulates sex. It looks a little like a skiing, or a dog paddle, but it’s unmistakable and electric in the little room.
I pantomime another option, which she pantomimes back, eyebrows raised.
“How much?” I whisper, pantomiming once more.
“With clothes or without?” she asks.
There’s a price for everything, I learn, and if I want her to finish the massage without her clothes, it will cost me an additional $100.
I agree, and by the time I dig the money out of my wallet, she’s already naked.
Kim Wood coaches her employees to tell clients that they provide a therapeutic, nonsexual service. Not every reputable establishment is quite that explicit about it, but she likes to make it clear right up front. It minimizes the “what do you wear” questions, she says, and helps avoid most of those awkward moments that occur toward the end of a massage because of mismatched expectations.
And if the whole “we provide a therapeutic, nonsexual service” thing isn’t clear enough on its own, the two pages of paperwork her clients fill out usually gets them up to speed, especially the box that indicates any sexual remarks or inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.
Yet no matter how professional she and the other legitimate practitioners make it, those other places remain, clouding the waters.
Not all massage parlor violations deal with prostitution, however. Sherman says that within the last couple of weeks, a nail salon at the mall was shut down for offering massages without the proper licensing, and while that hurts the legitimate industry too, Wood says the cuts aren’t nearly as deep as those caused by the spas that offer prostitution.
“Something that tells me that a place is probably not legitimate is a lack of signage and a lack of marketing materials,” she says. “Especially if you come in and there’s nothing indicative of a massage practice and if the walls are bare or look like a boudoir.”
The general rule of thumb applies, she says: If it looks like it’s not legitimate, it probably isn’t.
“We all kind of know who the violators are,” she says. “Like King Spa over on Belair Road. They’ve been busted and busted and busted. It’s like they’re thumbing their nose at everyone.”
With suggestive internet ads and Craig’s List posts that emphasize table showers and body rubs and pretty Asian girls, King Spa seems to be doing Bo Bo one better – hiding in broad daylight right in the heart of Columbia County.
According to Captain Steve Morris, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department periodically conducts undercover operations to make sure the law is being followed.
“The way we feel about it – the legitimate massage therapists deserve a respectful environment and our citizens deserve to have seedy businesses removed from Columbia County,” he says.
But with King Spa having been busted for masturbation for hire three times since 2008, it doesn’t always seem like the county’s doing such a good job of removing those seedy businesses.
Development Services Director Richard Harmon, who oversees the License and Inspection department, is well aware of King Spa’s past and its current reputation in the community.
“The bad thing about that one – they came back and we had to issue another business license, because it was somebody who was licensed by the state,” he says. ”The person who was tried and convicted didn’t get the license. Somebody else came in and opened up under the same name.”
In cases like that, where they can’t make a connection between the current and former owners, Harmon says there is little they can do to stop it, as long as the owners meet the requirements and the property is properly zoned.
And while he has the ability to send in the fire marshal and do other forms of spot inspections, he says it’s up to the Sheriff’s Department to conduct investigations.
Morris says those investigations aren’t always easy.
“In most cases we would receive a complaint and send undercover operatives into the business, but the undercover operatives have to be careful about the communication between the two,” he says. “We can’t induce them to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do, so it’s all carefully worded and it’s all recorded for court purposes.”
Richmond County’s Elim acknowledges it’s not easy, especially in the era of stretched resources, but says he thinks they ultimately do a pretty good job, considering.
“We shift resources where we need to,” he says. “We’re not immune to the budgetary restraints within the organization, but we don’t put this any lower than any of them. If we find a need, we’re going to try to deal with it as quick as we can. There may be some things that prevent us from dealing with it as quickly as people might think we should, but it’s a big area and there’s a lot going on.”
When my massage is over, the pretty Asian girl puts her clothes back on and then helps me into mine. I thought this part might be rushed, but it’s not. It’s pleasantly relaxed, almost a ceremony, and if there’s any room in all of this for sharing something beyond the business arrangement we’ve just concluded it would be here, with her squatting at my feet tying my shoelaces. But the most you could say is that her face is no more disinterested now that we’re partying ways.
“Come again,” she says before opening up the door and letting the harsh light of the world spill into our little room. “I always here.”
Augusta National is Evolving at a Remarkable Pace
Fifteen years ago the Augusta National announced it would forego advertising for the second straight year. This was after Martha Burke held a makeshift, sparsely attended news conference demanding Augusta National admit female members.
Today, where Burke stood is a construction zone. Tunnels will soon link the former San Souci apartment acreage to the Augusta National. Not only does the National have two female members now, this year is the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur will play its final round at Augusta National the Saturday before practice rounds begin.
It takes quite an imagination to envision the changes that will be occurring over next fifteen years for the golf course and the city.
Around the time of the Burke fiasco, the leadership at the National decided they needed to tighten down on the circus atmosphere that surrounded the freshly painted white brick gates of the Washington Road property.
The Augusta National made no secret of its disdain for the pesky scalpers, men on cellular phones in beat up cars descending on Washington Road each year, harassing patrons and causing all sorts of problems.
Technology and a change in the state laws regarding ticket scalping has made an impact on the secondary market. Insiders say with facial recognition technology and other high tech tricks, ticket integrity will soon be pretty rock solid.
What was not very clear at the time was Augusta National’s desire also included getting rid of the corporate hospitality hustle as well. They wanted it to go away.
Over the past fifteen years the ANGC has purchased many hospitality homes and torn them down.
Then with the opening of Berkman’s Place, the future of the club revealed itself.
The Disneyland of Golf as if run by Four Seasons.
To date, the Augusta National has acquired enough land to fan out and do what they do best… make necessary and sometimes bold decisions in the best interest of the Club.
Patience has always been a key component of their negotiating tactics when it comes to land acquisitions, yet word is there is more a sense of urgency these past few years.
The bombshell news that has recently come out is the National’s desire to have its very own exit off I-20 straight onto the Augusta National, no need to pass go. The idea that has been floated would have Masters guests taking the Augusta National exit just before the Washington Road exit and run them parallel to Boy Scout Road, then follow the Rae’s Creek bed to their parking lot.
While the Riverwatch exit does lead to the course, there are many issues with the configuration of the exit and the traffic flow on I-20.
Also, the National doesn’t control the cars until they break Washington Road, and that is an expensive and potentially dangerous pedestrian problem.
With cars exiting the interstate directly onto Augusta National property, the reduction in labor costs for the hundreds of people-the thousands of man hours-and cars on the streets surrounding the Augusta National, would be greatly reduced.
Insiders speculate that the investment would pay off in the long term.
What isn’t as clear is the economic impact the new route would have on Augusta’s small businesses who benefit from all the traffic and visitors.
Word is, Augusta National will act sooner rather than later.
Remember, this is the same organization that was granted the right to reroute a public road them damn selves, and did it ahead of schedule and under budget.
As the National themselves state, “Augusta National Golf Club is a marathon, not a sprint, and can calibrate appropriately.”
The wealth, affluence and power is not going anywhere anytime soon. Well, ever actually.
So get ready Augusta. You are certain to be astonished by the quiet forceful power of the Augusta National in the not too distant future.
Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Shop hosted the FATS (Forks Area Trail System) Flowmaster on October 13th of last year, raising over $6,300 for much needed trail maintenance on the renowned course.
The Flowmaster was held on the four main trails which total 19.37 miles with an overall elevation gain of 956 feet, as well as an elevation loss of 828 feet. (Hence the name Flowmaster. The rising and falling elevation give the trail it’s distinct “flow”.)
“I imagine if it’s nice this weekend, that place is going to be super packed.”
The brainchild of Drew Jordan of Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Shop, the 2nd annual Flowmaster winner was Jamie Babcock of Aiken, who tore through the course in an hour and twenty nine minutes.
Jordan said Wednesday afternoon that many improvements had been completed. Unfortunately as soon as they were the weather turned south and the trails had to be closed on December 8th.
“They went in and cut the trail so that the water will drain better, so the track will divert the water off the trail, not down it.”
“They also armored the low lying areas that had bad seeps” Jordan stated.
(Digging out low lying areas and then filling back in with rock to assist in drainage, which helps keep the trail from washing away.)
“We’ve gotten so much rain and a lot of it happened all at once” said Jordan. “It was cold, then it’d warm up, then it was cold again, then it’d warm up again. So much rain all at once, it was really the perfect storm for the trails needing to be closed”
With the weather turning this week, Jordan was excited to report the trails were finally reopened Wednesday.
Closing your bustling restaurant for over a month is a pretty big decision for a small business owner. Todd Schaefer, owner of Abel Brown Southern Kitchen, can pinpoint the moment he realized he may be facing such a reality, “When I lost the fryer like a year and a half ago.”
At the time, Schaefer was updating his insurance policy and discovered the code had changed on hood vents, effectively rendering his fryer fried. “We had it inspected and they gave us a red tag and said we couldn’t use it. Even though it wasn’t such a huge part of everything, it was a key part. So the thing had to be six inches in (under the vent) but it was like-right here” Schaefer said, gesturing roughly six inches.
One of two new hood vents.
“So I bought a cheap table top fryer that was a piece of junk. We were only frying like a couple of things-okra-we were frying all this stuff to order, you know, everything, vegetables, garnishes and everything. It was really frustrating.”
“So that really was the impetus.”
The hardest part? “People are upset that we’re closed because they love coming here. We’re just trying to make it better for everyone.”
The kitchen has served Schaefer well over the past twenty years. Originally a French country restaurant Bistro 491, then fifteen years later, the restaurateur flipped the concept to a casual oyster bar, Abel Brown Southern Kitchen.
One of the mental hurdles Schafer had at the time was the poured concrete bar. He was convinced he couldn’t flip concepts and retain the rebar reinforced behemoth he had built in a remodel and expansion in 2001. Moving the fryer turned out to be a lot easier than jack-hammering the bar out.
As remodels go, this one has turned out to be more extensive than originally planned.
Schaefer said the biggest difference between Bistro and Abel, in the kitchen at least, is functionality. “When it went from a French bistro to an oyster house. No, there wasn’t as much work in the kitchen necessarily from a production standpoint, it just became far busier.”
“Our best year I think was 2006 or 2007. We did a good bit of business for this little place (Bistro 491). This year on our projections that we have, if we maintain our same numbers, we should triple that.
So we’re turning and burning, people are moving.”
In fact, Abel Brown was voted one of the top 50 southern restaurants in the United States in 2018. “I think we just made the restaurant more casual, more accessible, and our clientele is younger and more adventurous, willing to try anything.”
“With Abel Brown we made it real casual but kept really good service. We spend so much time cultivating our customers, keeping notes on everything and really focusing on service.
We provide good food in a good environment. Now we’re a lot more progressive as far as what we’re serving. We use really good products, and as long as we cook it right people come back for the service.”
“We’ve grown 30 to 40 percent every year since 2014 in sales. With the former configuration of the kitchen area, we had to move tables every day. We’ve had to move stuff around every single day. Get this out of the way, get that out of the way, we had the whole back area stacked full of stuff.
Now hallways have been opened up and walls moved, revealing a large space with great flow. ” The staff, once accustomed to working in hallways and corners, will now have room to work.
Gesturing around at once was a service hallway, Schaefer says “Once this area is roughed in, we’ll have a new ceiling, new walls, new lighting.
Gone are the long ago abandoned utilities and in their place stainless steel shelving and a working service area. “They can polish all the glasses here now. We’ve had a lot of breakage because we were so crushed for space. So we kind of focused on having a place for everything.
The redesign has yielded a kitchen twice as large, with 75% more open floor space. Two hood vents instead of one. The former Whole Foods cooler will now reside just outside the restaurant, as opposed to squatting in the corner of the kitchen.
Renovating the kitchen and back of house isn’t something customers will necessarily see, but the differences will be felt. “Adding equipment, like adding that fryer, with three bays instead of just one, will speed up things immensely.
“So as opposed to waiting on the chicken wings to be done so I can fry the oysters, I can do them at the same time you know, speed that aspect up.”
We’re expanding our menu and we’ll be able to serve more food in less time.
Abel Brown Southern Kitchen expects to reopen after Valentine’s Day.
491 Highland Avenue
It’s been fifteen years since Tricie Scholer and her husband Jan opened Wild Wing Cafe on Washington Road. The bustling restaurant truly is a family affair, with son Daniel the general manager and another son, Will, the assistant general manager.
Daniel and Will have done such a good job running the almost 10,000 square foot restaurant, the Scholers have had the opportunity to focus on more than the day to day operations. A year ago they began knocking around the idea of a second location in Columbia County, eyeing the incredible growth and opportunity out west. Fast forward to today and the foundation is being poured on their new baby, Wild Wing Café in Grovetown.
Located on Lewiston Road adjacent to the Kroger, the new restaurant will be a whopping 8,066 square feet-almost as large as the Augusta location. Same as in Augusta, the Grovetown Wild Wing is on I-20, almost exactly ten miles from the Washington Road store. The foundation is being poured this week, with the projected opening date around May/June.
“We’ll be done in five months” says Derrick Lott of DCS, the General Contractor for the project. “We’ve built about thirty Wild Wings all over the southeast, so we’ve got it figured out.”
This isn’t the family’s first foray into operating a second location. They took over an underperforming Wild Wings Café in downtown Athens in 2006, enamored by the beautiful downtown location and mass of hungry students. They soon realized, however, a university town restaurant staffed with university town students meant a lot of wings and beer being gifted to friends. And that beautiful downtown location? “We had six parking spaces” says Daniel, chuckling. “It was great on game day though!” Trice chimed in.
They pulled the plug in 2011 and refocused all their energy on Augusta.
Son Daniel will oversee both locations and his brother Will will be moving into the GM role on Lewiston Road. Daniel says the synergy between the two locations will have a positive impact on operations. “We’ll be able to shuffle staff from one to the other as needed” he noted.
While Columbia County has seen an explosion of new franchise restaurants popping up in the past year, none are of the same scale of a Wild Wing. Located within a couple of miles of both Patriots Park and Blanchard Woods, families in town for the many large sports tournaments Columbia County hosts will now have an option nearby that can handle a crush of hungry players and families at once.
“We really feel good about the location. It’s 10 miles from where we are now so we don’t feel like will be competing with ourselves. It’s no secret what’s happening in Grovetown and we are excited to be a part of it.” Tricie said.