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The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Literary Loop

Lit-Loop-Nov-2017New York Times bestselling author John Grisham’s newest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar, released October 24, takes you inside a law firm that shouldn’t exist. 

Mark, Todd and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped.

They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .

Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

It’s Fair Time!


It’s Fair Time!The Columbia County Fair continues to spin out fun, along with lots of surprises

Get ready for a whirlwind of entertainment as the 51st Columbia County Fair kicks off November 2 for ten days of pulse-pounding midway rides, outlandish stunt shows and wacky fair food.

This year’s lineup includes returning favorites such as demolition derbies, Chase’s Racing Pigs, a petting zoo and a master chainsaw carver.

New attractions include Lady Houdini, Tree Man Stilt Walkers, Peter Hart & Atlanta Puppet, Cowboy Woody, Michelle’s Magical Poodles, a daring High Dive Show and Horses, Horses, Horses.

The Merchants Association of Columbia County, a non-profit organization of local business volunteers, presents the fair each year at its fairgrounds on Columbia Road across from Patriots Park. Special amenities include free parking with security, free golf cart shuttles, free nightly entertainment and free admission for kids 3 and under.

Proceeds from the fair benefit many local charities and provide scholarships to seniors from each Columbia County public high school. For more information, visit columbiacountyfair.net.

2017 Fair Schedule:
Thursday, November 2
Hours: 4-11 p.m.
Admission: $7; free admission 4-4:30 p.m.
Unlimited Rides: $20
FFA Judging: 6 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: Branch & Dean – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 3
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20 from 9 p.m.-midnight
Musical Entertainment: Tim Cadiere and the WashBoard Road Band
Senior Night: $4 admission for adults 55 and older with ID card
Military Appreciation Night: $4 admission with military ID

Saturday, November 4
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride stamp 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $25 and use it all day
Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon
Musical Entertainment: Spider Murphy
Dance Entertainment: Augusta Youth School of Dance – 7 p.m.

Sunday, November 5
Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7; $1 off with church bulletin
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Little Roy and Lizzie, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Monday, November 6
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 7
Hours: 4 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7 or free admission with 7 cans for the food bank
Unlimited Rides: $15 if purchased 4-4:30 p.m.; $20 after 4:30 p.m.
Musical Entertainment: Scrapiron, featuring Brian and Levi Herrington – 6 p.m.; A Little Off the Top – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 8
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $7
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Tony Howard Motown Review
UGA Georgettes Dance Team: 6 p.m. 

Thursday, November 9
Hours: 5 – 11 p.m.
Admission: $5
Unlimited Rides: $20
Musical Entertainment: Two Way Crossing – 7 p.m.

Friday, November 10
Hours: 5 p.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Demolition Derby: 7:30 p.m. 

Saturday, November 11
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Admission: $7
Free Ride Special: All rides free 11 a.m.-noon
Unlimited Rides: Buy unlimited ride stamp 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for $25 and use it all day
Musical Entertainment: Sassy Brass
Chainsaw Carving Auction: 9 p.m.

Sunday, November 12
Hours: 1-11 p.m.
Admission: $5
Unlimited Rides: $20 

Dirk Meyer


PYSK-Maestro-Dirk-MeyerMusic Director, Symphony Orchestra Augusta 

Time in position: 3 months

Family: My wife, Paula, and our two cocker spaniels, Teddy and Harvey. The rest of my family lives in Germany, where I am from originally.

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: I truly believe that music can make us better human beings. Experiencing a concert together can connect total strangers in a shared experience – a shared emotional experience that may range from the melancholy to the exuberant. In a time of virtual realities, these are true social connections that create empathy for our fellow humans. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: I like good journalism, and I like classical music. Therefore, National Public Radio and several of its classical music member stations are always on top of my list. In addition, both Paula and I are passionate about the enormous problem of plastic pollution that our modern world faces, and so we like to support environmental causes that focus on this issue.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I think the biggest obstacle in the career of a conductor is the huge amount of rejection that one experiences over the years. This is mostly because the competition is so enormous. For any job that we apply for, there are usually 200-plus applications. The one and only way to deal with this problem is persistency. I have managed to ignore, or at least blend out, the endless stream of rejection that conductors will experience during their careers: be it from people who are questioning their talents, from losing out to competitors whose main qualification is “who they know,” or from the countless rejection letters that I have received over the years. No matter how personal each one of these might feel, you have to just get up and try again. 

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: To be where I am today. When I started out, all I was hoping for was to somehow get paid for making music. Today, I am the music director of two professional orchestras and a professional opera company. I never would have dreamed this to be possible.

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: For a brief period, I was following every boy’s dream of being an astronaut or an airplane pilot. But then I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a conductor. By the time I was a teenager, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. 

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Cueing up my German Bundesliga and watching my favorite soccer teams with my dogs.

Favorite TV Shows: “Seinfeld” and “Game of Thrones”

Favorite Movies: The original Star Wars trilogy and The Name of the Rose

Favorite Sports Team: Die Mannschaft (German National Soccer Team)

Favorite Comfort Food: Goulash over homemade spaetzle 

Favorite App: My Spotify Music App

Last Book Read: Dictator by Robert Harris

Dream Vacation: Exploring the cities, countrysides and culture of Indonesia and Bali. I find this part of the world fascinating and extremely beautiful. I have been to Thailand and Malaysia, but I have never been to this group of islands, and I hear it is amazing.

Something That Has Changed My Life: Not something, but someone: My wife, Paula. 

Best Thing I Ever Learned: If you truly belive in something, you can make it work.

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Resilient 

Favorite Hobbies: I love to cook, and I love to travel.

Secret Aspiration: One of these days I would love to get my pilot’s license.

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: A reality show for people who know absolutely nothing about reality shows 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: When I was 19 years old, my hair was shoulder long and I played lead guitar in a heavy metal band. 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.

Picture Perfect


Picture PerfectPaint the town red (or any color you choose) at an evening of art and entertainment.
Each November the annual Art After Dark, presented by the Artists’ Guild of Columbia County, shines a light on local artists, and this year will be no exception.

The guild’s signature event gives local artists the opportunity to showcase and sell their works including watercolors, oils, acrylics, photography, pottery, fiber arts, jewelry and mixed media. Guests can participate in a silent auction, which benefits the guild’s scholarship fund, as well. Each year the guild offers a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior that plans to study art in college.

Complimentary hors d’oeuvres, as well as beer and wine at a cash bar, will be available. Live entertainment will be provided by jazz musician Fred Williams. 

If You Go:

What: Art After Dark

When: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday, November 4

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center 

How Much: Free

More Info: artistguildcc.org

Notes of Blue — Son Volt

Listen To This

listen to thisThe No Depression genre movement has been a long-standing undercurrent of artists that hail from the outer rim of the Americana Folk galaxy — mixed bag of vagabond troubadours who scour the rust that corrodes the modern blue-collar swagger of Friday nights, beach chairs and overflowing red plastic cups to reveal tones of the true grit that propels the victory and defeat that craft the American dream, leaving no story untold.

Missouri’s own Son Volt, fronted by No Depression patriarch Jay Farrar, delivers an authentic soundtrack of heartland blues and crossroad opportunities on their eighth studio release, Notes of Blue

Farrar, who was the maple syrup to Jeff Tweedy’s gravel in the iconic band Uncle Tupelo, has always taken the reflective route in his songwriting. Channeling the likes of Nick Drake and Woody Guthrie, Notes of Blue delivers a raw account of Farrar’s own struggles and victories with identity, purpose and courage with a relatable, gold common thread that accentuates the crushed velvet seats of opportunity as we slow-roll down the streets of life.

Notable tracks include “Promise the World,” a galloping march of good advice and lush lap steel guitar, “Cherokee St.,” a dusty ol’ stomper and “Threads and Steal,” a tune that would make Johnny Cash jealous. Notes of Blue or any selection from the Son Volt library is the perfect companion for an autumn road trip or backyard fire pit gathering. 

- Chris Rucker

Down to a Fine Art


Down to a Fine ArtThe timing might be different, but Art in the Park Fall Fest should feel reassuringly familiar to local fine and performing arts lovers.

Usually held in the spring, the annual Art in the Park got rained out after about an hour in May. It’s back with a fall twist, however, and many of the same local and regional fine arts vendors that set up booths at the previous event are expected to return this month.

In addition to vendors’ booths, the event will feature entertainment by local performing arts groups throughout the day, a sidewalk chalk contest and children’s activities. Food vendors include Chick-fil-A and Big D’s BBQ. 

“If Fall Fest goes well, we could have the event two times a year,” says Regina Brejda, Columbia County Arts Inc. president.

Columbia County Ballet will kick of the entertainment with a fall-themed performance. Other performers will include Musical Theatre Workshops, VOCE, Suzuki Strings of Augusta, Patrick Duncan, Denise Mundy, Harmony River Chorus, Augusta Youth Dance, Kane & Co. Dance Productions and Augusta Junior Players. 

Attendees can explore their creative talents by tie-dying T-shirts or entering the popular sidewalk chalk contest. The sidewalk chalk contest features competitions between local public and private elementary, middle and high schools. Individuals also can compete in a separate contest for a $20 registration fee, which includes chalk. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each category.

In addition, Brejda says, “Nonprofit art organizations will be awarded their grant checks at the closing ceremony of the event.”

If You Go: 

What: Art in the Park Fall Fest

When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, October 14

Where: Columbia County Library Amphitheatre

How Much: Free admission; food and beverage vendors will be on site

More Info: columbiacountyarts.org; columbiacountyarts@gmail.com; Regina Brejda, (706) 267-6724 or Jillian Decker, (706) 730-5273

Southern Blood — Gregg Allman

Listen To This

Southern Blood — Gregg AllmanThere’s truly no finer representation of Southern grit and soul mixed with rock ’n’ roll than the late Gregg Allman. Alongside his brother Duane and a revolving 18-pack of rebel rockers, Allman wrote, performed and authenticated the blueprint for Southern Rock and Blues-fusion music.

Though the lineup may have changed over time, the iconic gravel of Southern comfort that embodies the vocal style of Allman remains as true and familiar as fresh-cut grass on a Georgia backroad.

In recent years, Allman was faced with journeys that took his health down some dark paths, and as the inevitable sunset was casting long shadows on a life well-lived, he decided to clear one more pathway in his sonic legacy. Southern Blood was recorded shortly after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Concerned that his illness might win, he set the clock and pace for nothing short of a brilliant composition of songs.

Most artists who release an album during the dusk of life typically depend on mix arrangements and vocal enhancements to carry the weight, but Allman’s signature voice is robust and powerful in range and resonance. Every track on Southern Blood is a treasure, but he sums his life and love perfectly to a muse on “My Only True Friend.”

“You and I both know, this river will surely flow to an end/Keep me in your heart… I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul… But you and I both know the road is my only true friend….”

- Chris Rucker

Play Ball!

Play Ball!

Photos courtesy of Marvin Hudson

The 2017 Major League baseball season may be winding down, but it got off to a pretty good start for Washington, Georgia resident Marvin Hudson. He had the best spot in the house as the home plate umpire at the Atlanta Braves’ opening game in the team’s new Sun Trust Park.

If the start of this season was auspicious, however, then the end of last season was even better. Hudson was the third base umpire in the deciding seventh game of the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought to win the Fall Classic by defeating the Cleveland Indians.

Exclusive Club
It may not have taken the 53-year-old Hudson, who became a Major League umpire in 1999, quite as long as it took the Cubs, who until last year had not won a National League pennant since 1945, to make it to the World Series. And he didn’t have to contend with years of frustration, the curse of the Billy Goat and an infamous foul ball that haunted Cubs fans for decades. However, the thrill of reaching the pinnacle of his profession – and sharing it with those who matter most to him – was just as real for Hudson.

“My biggest thrill was having my wife, Sherry, daughter Breckyn and son Zack at the games,” he says. “Just seeing my family enjoying the thrill of the games and being in that electrified atmosphere made it all worth it.”

Hudson was one of four members of the seven-man crew that was umpiring a World Series for the first time.

3.-Hudson-(second-from-right)-at-the-2016-World-SeriesWhile he was in an exclusive club with his Fall Classic assignment, the nature of his job puts him in a small coterie of professionals as well. Hudson is in a select fraternity of only 76 Major League umpires. Each year more than 300 prospects try out for the coveted positions.

“Few slots are available each year because of the low turnover rate, and some veteran umpires may serve 30 years or more,” Hudson says.

The prospective umpires are under strict scrutiny by their superiors and Major League Baseball. Each pitch in every game is recorded, and umpires are graded as to whether they miscalled a ball or a strike.

The former baseball player for Piedmont College, where he was inducted in the Demorest, Georgia school’s Sports Hall of Fame in February, decided to become an umpire at the urging of his friend, Doc Sisk. After Sisk encouraged him to try his hand at calling games, Hudson enrolled in professional umpire training school. Minor League Baseball Umpire Development has approved the curriculum for two training schools, which run for four to five weeks in January and February each year.

Hudson finished umpire school at the top of his class, and his first professional assignment came in the Appalachian League in 1992. He continued to pay his dues by calling games in the South Atlantic, Florida Instructional, Southern, Hawaii Winter and International leagues before breaking into the Majors in 1999. Most umpires spend seven to 10 years in the minor leagues – twice the amount of time it typically takes a baseball player to make his way through the ranks – before getting called up.

During training, instructors evaluate potential umpires on much more than their knowledge of baseball rules. Umpires must exhibit traits such as confidence, a strong presence on the field, knowledge of mechanics (where to go when the ball is hit), forceful calls, effective use of voice, hustle, character, good judgment and the ability to handle situations on the field. In short, baseball umpires must be able to represent the integrity of the game.

Play BallUmpires need to develop a thick skin – and decide just how much they’re willing to tolerate from players, managers and fans – to perform their duties as well. Hudson once tossed an unruly fan out of the stadium during a Southern League game in Memphis. He had words with the Washington Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper and manager Matt Williams about a called strike before ejecting them in the third inning of a 2015 game against the New York Yankees.

Easy Call 
Umpiring in the Major Leagues is much more than calling ball or strike, fair or foul, safe or out, however. At training school, professional umpires also are taught how to conduct themselves on and off the field. And some of those off-field attributes translate into charitable work. Hudson serves as vice president of the board of directors of UMPS CARE, which provides financial, in-kind and emotional support for America’s youth and families in need. His wife serves on the Volunteer Wives Committee.

The mission of UMPS CARE is to put its creed – “Helping People is an Easy Call” – into action. The professional umpires enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness by providing them with memorable baseball experiences. Through scholarship initiatives, the organization also offers financial support to children adopted later in life and to current and former members of the military. 

Having the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others – as well as the chance to wear a Major League umpire’s uniform – have made the endless travel, grueling schedule and low pay in the minors all worthwhile. With patience, perseverance and focus on his goal, Hudson has achieved his dream. 

By Lamar Garrard 

Wine, Tapas and Song


Wine, Tapas and SongIt might be the heart of football season, but not every festivity has to revolve around a stadium and a tailgate. For instance, CSRA Wine Festival Inc. will kick off a party for wine and food lovers with its Coco Wine & Culinary Festival on Saturday, October 21 at West Lake Country Club.

The festival will feature more than 150 wines and various imported beers for sampling, along with tapas, live jazz music and a silent auction. Tapas will be provided by Augusta Technical College Culinary Program students, Abel Brown Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar, P.F. Chang’s, Finch & Fifth and Sam’s Club.  Festivalgoers will receive a souvenir wine glass, and the jazz band Michael Whittington & A Step Up will provide entertainment. 

“It’s a great cultural event,” says Pat Goodwin, the festival CEO. “It gives people an opportunity to taste award-winning wines and great wines at average prices. As consumers, we see so many labels and brands. It’s confusing and intimidating. The festival educates people about the wines that are available to them. It’s also a great way to mix and mingle and make a new friend.” 

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Easter Seals East Georgia and the Augusta Technical College Culinary Arts Program Educational Scholarship Endowment Fund. 

“We’re happy to support an individual at the culinary program. A great chef is going to come out of this area one day,” says Goodwin. “Easter Seals keeps individuals working who may not have gotten an opportunity elsewhere. I’m proud that we can be part of those programs. And we couldn’t do it without our distributors and Vineyard Wine Market. They really help make the event.”

Door prizes will be available, and Easter Seals will hold a silent auction as well. All of the proceeds from the silent auction will benefit Easter Seals, which helps people with disabilities and other special needs maximize opportunities for employment, independence and full inclusion in society. Some of the auction items include trips, golf packages, specialty item baskets, package deals for restaurants, fitness coupons, nail salon services and jewelry. 

“We’re very excited to collaborate together,” says Lynn Smith, the Easter Seals East Georgia president and CEO. “I hope people enjoy the day, learn about wonderful wines and try food from vendors and fabulous restaurants. They also have the opportunity to support organizations that are doing a lot of good in the community.”

All attendees must be at least 21 years old and show a photo ID. Advance tickets are available online and at Washington Road Storage, Bowles Construction Company, Easter Seals, South State Bank (Washington Road location only) and Vineyard Wine Market. 

If You Go:

What: Coco Wine & Culinary Festival 

When: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, October 2 

Where: West Lake Country Club 

How Much: $50 in advance and $55 at the door; designated drivers $25 

More Info: csrawinefestival.com

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

Literary Loop

literary loopFrom the author of the #1 international best seller The Girl in the Spider’s Web, comes the newest book in the Millennium Series — The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz. The series began with the late Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Even Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo — the brilliant hacker, the obstinate outsider, the volatile seeker of justice for herself and others — has never been able to uncover the most telling facts of her traumatic childhood, the secrets that might finally, fully explain her to herself. 

Now, when she sees a chance to uncover them once and for all, she enlists the help of Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of the muckraking, investigative journal Millennium. And she will let nothing stop her — not the Islamists she enrages by rescuing a young woman from their brutality; not the prison gang leader who passes a death sentence on her; not the deadly reach of her long-lost twin sister, Camilla; and not the people who will do anything to keep buried knowledge of a sinister pseudoscientific experiment known only as The Registry

Once again, Lisbeth and Mikael, together, are the fierce heart of a thrilling full-tilt novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this very moment.

Promised Land


Promised LandThe best way to celebrate success is to share it with friends, and the Central Savannah River Land Trust takes a dual approach to that idea. Since 2001, the Land Trust has protected more than 7,300 acres of land in Georgia and South Carolina for future generations to enjoy. The nonprofit organization also shows its appreciation to the people who make its mission possible with its annual Bash on the Banks each October. 

“The Bash sells out every year,” says Bethany Surles, the Land Trust membership and events coordinator. “It’s a celebration of the Land Trust, our mission and the tremendous accomplishments we’ve made. It gives us a chance to say ‘thank you’ to people for their support.”

The 14th annual Bash on the Banks, held at River Island, will include an oyster roast, Southern food, live music, corn hole and a raffle.

Sweet Magnolia’s Deli and Grille in Pelion, South Carolina will serve Southern food, and The Unmentionables once again will provide music for the event. Raffle items include an adult and a children’s kayak, a clay shooting package and a turned wooden bowl by Dr. Dave Welter. In addition, local artist Richard Worth will paint a nature scene during the evening, and the acrylic will be auctioned off at the event. 

Funded entirely by donations and grants, the Land Trust concentrates its efforts on protecting large areas of natural habitat, the major sources of our drinking water, larger forests that purify the air and grand vistas that offer scenic views.

“The land is preserved forever, and these places are protected for families and the community to enjoy,” Surles says. “It’s an investment in our children’s future. We love that the area is growing, but we only have one planet.”

One of the Land Trust’s major conservation projects is the 262-acre Greystone Preserve in North Augusta. The site includes undulating hills, mature oak-hickory forests, creeks, granite outcroppings and wildflowers, including the rare, endangered Relict trillium. The Land Trust also is in the process of building an outdoor classroom at Greystone, and the classroom will include event space, organic gardens and miles of scenic trails.

The Land Trust has a number of projects underway in Columbia County as well. “We are currently focused on Crawford Creek, River Island and Sumter Landing,” says Surles. “This year we plan to add a couple hundred acres with the addition of Greenbrier Creek and Euchee Creek.”

If You Go:

What: Bash on the Banks

When: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Thursday, October 12

Where: River Island clubhouse

How Much: $50 through September 30, price increases to $60 October 1; raffle tickets $20; drink tickets $5 

More Info: csrlt.org

Take It Easy


Take it EasyAn Eagles tribute band keeps the music of the 1970s group flying high 
Recreating the experience of an Eagles concert, 7 Bridges: The Ultimate Eagles Experience will perform tunes from the rock band’s most prolific period at a performance in Evans this month. 

The tribute band combines musicianship, vocal precision and a stage presence that has attracted attention nationwide. The band features Jason Manning as Glenn Frey, Keith Thomas as Don Henley, Bryan Graves as Randy Meisner/Timothy B. Schmit, Tony Haan Jr. as the eccentric and unpredictable Joe Walsh, Blake Hall as guitar wizard Don Felder and Vernon Roop as Joe Vitale, the often unsung hero of many Eagles studio albums and live performances. 

With some Henley and Walsh surprises in the mix, the rock ’n’ roll concert is a rollicking tribute to the music of the Eagles.

If You Go: 

What: 7 Bridges: The Ultimate Eagles Experience 

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 8

Where: Jabez S. Hardin Performing Arts Center

How Much: $39.50 

More Info: augustaamusements.com or (706) 726-0366

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

Literary Loop

Nelson DeMilleNew York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille’s new novel (in stores September 19) features U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, who finds new life in Key West as captain of his own 42-foot charter fishing boat, The Maine. After serving two tours in Afghanistan, he returned home with the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts, scars that don’t tan and a boat with a big bank loan. Truth be told, his finances are more than a little shaky.

Mac’s bland, everyday charters are buoyed by covert adventure when he is asked by Carlos, a hotshot Miami lawyer heavily involved with anti-Castro groups, to make the journey to Cuba with an enigmatic exile and a young woman to uncover a stash of money hidden by an émigré from Castro’s revolution.

Although wary, when the price reaches two million dollars, Mac finally agrees to meet Carlos’s clients — beautiful Cuban-American Sara Ortega and mysterious older Cuban exile Eduardo Valazquez.

Mac learns there’s sixty million American dollars hidden in Cuba by Sara’s grandfather when he fled Castro’s revolution. With the “Cuban Thaw” underway, Carlos, Eduardo and Sara know it’s only a matter of time before someone finds the stash — either by accident or deliberate search. And Mac knows if he accepts this job, he’ll walk away rich… or not at all.

Filled with authenticity from DeMille’s research trip to Cuba, The Cuban Affair deftly delivers a heart-pounding pace combined with the author’s signature humor.

Michael Deas – President, Augusta Amusements


Augusta AmusementsNumber of years in position: 8

Family: Wife Jeannette and four children

Why I’m Passionate About What I Do: My passion for bringing entertainment to the CSRA began when I was involved with the Miller Theatre and researching historic facts about the venue. I discovered Augusta Amusements was responsible for downtown Augusta becoming a “Go To” city for entertainment during the 1940s until the mid ’70s.

I take a hands-on approach to Augusta Amusements, following the practices of the original 1931 organization, to assure our customers have the best entertainment experience possible. 

Community Groups and Charities I Love to Support: Music Theatre Workshops because the organization exposes young people to the art of dance, music and entertainment.

Biggest Career or Life Obstacle I’ve Overcome and How: I retired early from a fulltime position selling medical equipment to explore my dream of promoting concerts.

Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of: Building Augusta Amusements into a regionally recognized source for quality entertainment 

What Your Childhood Self Wanted to Be When You Grew Up: I have no idea. I was too busy being a kid, engaging in outdoor sports. I probably was like many children that finish school and are not quite sure what direction to point. Fortunately for me, I entered Radiology Technology School at the Medical College of Georgia and now, after retirement from capital equipment sales, I am back in the hospital environment working at University Hospital part-time. When friends ask, I tell them that working part-time helps fund my hobby.

Favorite Way to Spend Saturday Afternoon: Exploring and searching for new talent to bring to our community

Favorite TV Shows: “Big Bang Theory,” “Seinfeld” and “Sanford and Son.” These shows make me laugh, and they had some of the most brillant writers.

Favorite Movies: Three Faces of Eve – I had the pleasure of becoming friends with Christine Sizemore, the inspiration for the Oscar-winning movie. Also, The Wizard of Oz. Again, I had the pleasure of becoming friends with an original cast member from the 1939 movie, Karl Slover (one of the munchkins). I’m also coming up to speed on Molly Ringwald movies as she will appear at the Jabez Hardin Performing Arts Center in October. And any movie featuring Tom Hanks.

Favorite Sports Team: Atlanta Falcons (My heart is on the mend after their recent Super Bowl appearance.) 

Favorite Comfort Food: Sushi and home-cooked food

Favorite App: Flightradar. It still amazes me how many airplanes are in the skies above us at any time of the day. 

Last Book Read: Sins of South Beach, The True Story of Corruption, Violence, Murder and the Making of Miami Beach by Alex Daoud, the three-time mayor of Miami Beach 

Dream Vacation: Jeannette and I just celebrated our honeymoon in Hawaii, so that box has been checked. An Alaskan cruise may be next on the Bucket List. 

Something That Has Changed My Life: Marriage

Best Thing I Ever Learned: Selling medical equipment for 30-plus years taught me business practices that I have applied to operating Augusta Amusements. 

One Word You Would Use to Describe Yourself: Passioniate 

Favorite Hobbies: Promoting concerts. Until the venture becomes profitable, it will remain my hobby.

Secret Aspiration: To expand Augusta Amusements into a regional organization that can bring entertainment to other communities

Reality Show I Would Totally Win: I haven’t found a reality show I enjoy. 

Something People Would Be Surprised to Know About Me: I have been told I am a “jokester.” 

What person do you think we should know? If you’d like to suggest someone we should meet, email editor@columbiacountymag.com and tell us why.

Something To Tell You — HAIM

Listen To This

HaimEver wondered what would happen if the best of what made late 1980’s pop gold decided to sprout life in the 2000s? Enter three sisters who were barely out of diapers when the pop died. Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, collectively known as HAIM, have gathered the ancient ruins of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-era pop gold and have seamlessly recreated layers upon layers of style and influence with their uniquely familiar sound. This follow-up to their 2014 smash debut, Days Are Gone, finds the sisters four years older and 20 years wiser musically. Something To Tell You is a product well crafted.

HAIM caught the ear of Stevie Nicks for this ride, and she became a mentoring force behind the refinement of songwriting. By proxy, the sound has reflections of Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night album, with 60s fuzz and a pinch of Wilson Phillips — in a good way. The rhythm hooks create a smooth ride over bumpy cadence and raw emotion as the record pulls the listener through the trials and victories of life, senses and relationships. A wise tip the sisters took from Nicks was to keep an active journal where finding something poetic every day was the goal.

Each track has its rightful place in the pecking order for a robust experience, but the sizzle reel would include “Want You Back,” “You Never Knew” and “Night So Long.” Get your routine back in place with a little HAIM in the rotation.

- Chris Rucker