NWGA'S PREMIER FEATURE MAGAZINE / SEPTEMBER 2018
Where There’s a
WILKES, There’s a Way
JASON WILKES stole Northwest Georgia’s hearts with his gift of music.
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V3 SEPTEMBER 2018 COLUMNS 12
This month, JIM ALRED breaks down his philosophy on participation trophies, second place and finding solace in the grind. A
A LOCAL MUSICIAN and standout talent who landed in the final rounds of NBC’s popular singing competition, “The Voice” tells us how his musical talents were born, and what he does to keep himself grounded. By simply gazing at this modern-day estate, the overwhelming feeling of home lures you into its arms of privacy and comfort. This HARDY HOME would be the perfect place for any family looking for a breathtaking sanctuary right here in Rome, Georgia.
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Publisher's Note Trouble with the Curve
OW N E R & C EO Ian Griffin
continued to p.11 V3 MAGAZINE
EDITORIAL MANAGER Oliver Robbins, Jr. MAG ART & DESIGN Ellie Borromeo
SO, AS MANY of you who have read V3 over the years know, I am a proud Phish Head. As of August 5, 2018, I have seen the band 151 times…yes that’s right, 151 times. Why? I get that a lot when that number rolls off my tongue, and though my answer is rarely understood by the person who asks it, it is the only way I know to explain it. Each Phish show is a different experience in so many ways. While some of the band's catalogue is played essentially the same with a few variations, most of their songs evolve into something completely unique as they leave space for improvisation within the composed parts of the piece. It's not for everyone, but those fans who appreciate the jam find no greater satisfaction than watching and hearing a completely unique piece of music being created and shared with those in attendance. There are many bands that subscribe to this method and I’ve enjoyed listening to their live recordings or going to their shows. But other than the Grateful Dead (which I missed thanks to my birth date), no band delivers the aforementioned goods like Phish. When I was young and single, I would save up my money and spend my summers following the band around the country while catching any shows I could throughout the rest of the calendar year until the band broke up in 2004. A year later, V3 was created and the next two years carried marriage and my first-born son. Needless to say, family and responsibility were welcomed in and my Phishing trips became one or two long weekends a year instead of shows in the teens and twenties on an annual basis. This year, the band came to Atlanta for three nights and moved on to a few more cities before finishing their tour with a three-day festival called “Curveball” at Watkins Glen International Speedway in Upstate New York. I had not attended a Phish festival since 2004 and decided to make the festival “my trip” for 2018. My friends and I bought tickets, saved and purchased the camping essentials needed for what would amount to a little less than a week outdoors. As the event neared, anticipation built and we departed to drive through the night on Wednesday August 15th, so that we could arrive right when the gates opened at noon the next day. Everything went smoothly, other than an unnecessary car tossing at the gate. We arrived and set up our campsite which was 100 yards from the stage-our site was the Fort Knox of campsites thanks to our planning and my partners' set up skills. We put the finishing touches on with time to spare before the band was to take the stage for sound check for tomorrow's opening concert. The sun was out, our moods were great, and we were overjoyed to be on the cusp of a fantastic three days.
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But the band never came on stage. Talk about a curveball. Preceding the festival, the Finger Lakes region had been pounded by rain, causing flooding and a state of emergency to be declared. Despite that, the festival, being on higher ground was approved to go on. We were surprised at how dry things were when we showed up. In fact, we saw no signs of the damage to the area on the trip in. Standing by our campsite looking at the blue skies and white clouds, we were oblivious to the fact that the festival we worked so hard to attend was in jeopardy. As the five o’clock hour passed, the band was still not on stage to sound check and word started spreading. The water that, as of Wednesday had been tested and was perfectly drinkable, had been tested again and a mandatory water boil was given across fourteen counties in the area. The water on the festival grounds was undrinkable and trucking in potable water for 60,000 people wasn’t an option that could happen fast enough for the State Health Department not to pull the permit for the festival. Just like that, “Curveball” was cancelled. We were in disbelief. We were allowed to camp that night but had to pack up and vacate
the premises by noon the next day. Having not slept the night before, we decided to make the best of it and stay the night. I enjoyed my traveling companions' company, but I also met a lot of fans in my boat. This was their trip for the year. They were parents who had busy schedules and responsibilities, and circled the calendar for an escape with their favorite band. Now it wasn’t going to happen. We mourned the loss of our good time together for one night, picked up the pieces and moved on the next day. My friends and I mapped out and improvised the best possible time we could make of the trip home. We had the time off so why not make the most of it. We visited friends, found another concert to attend, hit a casino and ate some good food. We returned to Rome with great memories, but nothing was going to measure up to what we originally had planned. So instead of 154 shows, I still sit at 151. My wife says I’ve moped around the house ever since I returned, but the sting is slowly lessening. There was nothing that could be done and people in that region were devastated. We were refunded our money for the tickets and the band opened up sales of the merchandise we never had a chance to buy and donated all the proceeds to relief efforts,
which should easily be in the high six figures, if not more. That made me proud to be a fan. And hey…there’s always the next show!
Ian Griffin, Owner
Phish Curveball Jim Pollock Fantasy Island
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One Second from Fame
For the Love of the Game with Jim Alred 12
Second place is the first loser. The words, all bearing some sort of neon color on them, stood out on a dark grey t-shirt hanging on the rack at the front of a sporting goods store. I read it and laughed and thought how true it was. I was in my early college days when I first saw the shirt. I was pumped full of bravado and confidence in my abilities; at least my aptitude at running long distances faster than most everyone else. That shirt embodied my mentality and my training. Each and every day, logging lots of miles. I stretched, lifted weights, ran plyometric drills, tried to eat healthy and did all kinds of things aiming to win. Not to place second, third, fourth or further down the list but to be the winner. You know the only person in the event, who according to the t-shirt isn’t a loser. Let me preface the remainder of this column with this notion – I don’t like participation trophies, and I think awards should be earned and not handed out. I cringe when I run a four-mile race and they hand me a finishers’ medal. I know there are some people at those races who have had to work hard to be able to finish the distance, and I don’t want to take anything away from their efforts. However, it’s four miles. My Garmin tells me on a bad day when I don’t run that I walk further than that. Most able-bodied people can walk four miles in under an hour without too much effort. I don’t think everyone should get a medal for finishing a short race. Finish a half marathon at 13.1 miles or a marathon at 26.2, and that’s a different story. Complete a half or full triathlon and yet you’ve earned said medal. That being said, somewhere along the way I moved away from the t-shirts’ mantra. Maybe because I found out I was the loser far more often than I was the winner. But the slogan failed to take
into account something that I’ve learned is far more valuable than just winning alone. Competing. It’s easy to point out that because of my age, winning doesn’t come as often or hardly ever, and it’s true. Look, I’ve been running off and on for more than 30 years. If my sole goal is winning, I’m an abject failure. In fact, if that were my only goal then one of the many awkward photos taken of me running a road race would appear next to the word failure in the dictionary. Somewhere across these three-plus decades, I’ve learned something far more valuable. Winning is fun, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Everyone loves winning. What I enjoy more is competing. I train with the idea that I want to be competitive. When I toe the starting line and look over and see a runner 10 to 15 years younger than me with long legs and an “Eye of the Tiger” look, I know I’m probably not winning. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get the most out of myself and enjoy the race. Players on my travel soccer team tend to ask me before games how we fared previously against the team we’re about to play. If we haven’t played them, some even ask if I think we can win. My stock answer is easy. I tell them I think we can compete. That’s what I want to see. I would love for the squad to win every game, but what I want even more is to see them take the field, play their hardest and compete at a high level from the moment the first whistle blows until the final trio of whistle blows that ends the contest. Because sometimes when we play or run or compete we square off against competitors, who aren’t at our level and who we can beat without too much effort. It’s always fun to win, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. I want to be pushed. I want my players to be pushed.
Because when you are challenged, you have the ability to rise to the occasion. You might not win, but if you give it everything you’ve got it doesn’t matter. During the past 30-plus years, I’ve won races, and I’ve coached teams that have won games. But I can say that I’ve learned far more from the many, many, many races I didn’t win and the games my soccer team lost, than from the victories. About a year ago, I told my wife I’d probably never win a road race again. I still place in my age group, but I felt like the overall title might be out of my reach. She admonished me and told me not to give up. But I wasn’t giving up. I was just being honest. I still train hard and aim to win. A couple of weeks later during a local event, I noticed a couple of solid runners not lining up in my race. They had scheduled some harder runs a day or two later and were skipping this event. There were good runners involved, but I also knew I had a chance. And late in the race, when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I had to go hard over a hill and the last mile and a half of the race. It wasn’t fun, and I hurt. But I competed. My goal when I surged late in the race was to win. However, if another runner had countered my efforts and beat me, I would have tipped my hat to him. I would have finished second knowing I had competed as hard as I could. I did cross the finish line first that day, and it felt good. But let’s be honest. I’m happy every time I cross that finish line when I’ve gone out and competed whether I finish first or 10th or 50th or worse. And I’m proud of my players every time they play their hardest whether they win or lose. So if second place is the first loser, then I will proudly be a loser. But I also know I’ve competed to the best of my efforts. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.
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TEXT MCKENZIE TODD
PHOTOGRAPHY CAMERON FLAISCH
THE BUZZ OF FRIENDS and acquaintances on Facebook bred attention for a local singer/songwriter who was successfully making his way across “The Voice” stage with Team Blake Shelton. It seemed as if every time one would open the Facebook app, the Cedartown, Georgia native Jason Wilkes’ face would pop up along with his most recent performance on the show.
This enigmatic, long-haired vocalist of pop/rock sound over a country lyric was prospering, all while securing a name for himself as a professional performer (during a live performance on the show, Wilkes had to slyly perform a mic drop after a stand malfunction). Although his ride with “The Voice” ended after being eliminated during the live playoffs, Wilkes was (and is still) a local superstar and for a good reason. This rise to fame seemed rapid for most, but it has been a slow-go for the musician. He initially started his professional music career in 2001 with the band, High Flight Society. Wilkes set out on his solo career in 2015, beginning with his time on “The Voice” and he is not disappointing. V3 Magazine had the honor of speaking with Wilkes and his wife, Chelsey, about his time on the show, as well as his life before (and after) his new-found fame. As he reminded us, we never truly reach the horizon. No matter how much we think we’ve seen and heard, there’s always something new out there to find. Inspiration is infinite and he shows Northwest Georgia why he’s planning on continuing to rock n’ roll through the ranks of recognition.
Do you have a love of writing music? If so, when did that start?
JW: I do. And I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to. My mind can’t turn it off. Everything, from the wind, to car horns, to the groove my washing machine makes during the spin cycle translates into music by the time it reaches my brain. Everything is a groove, a melody or a lyric and I can’t turn it off. I actually wrote my first song when still in a car seat, and I still remember the chorus. It was called “Don’t Look Down.” I’ve considered revisiting it one of these days to see if I could make it into something legitimate. How much of yourself do you insert into your music?
JW: 100 percent. Every part of me goes into every part of my music. Whether it is lyrics that come from things that have happened to me in my life, or completely made up stories...it’s all some part of me. Writing songs and performing them on stage are the only times I ever feel fully connected with my emotions. There are parts of me that only come out in my music. Are there any musicians in your family?
with Jason Wilkes
JW: Pretty much everyone in my family plays something and/or sings. My older brother taught me the foundation of everything I know when we were super young. He taught me how to work my way around a drum set and how to hold a guitar. My dad played acoustic guitar a lot and my Mom is a great piano player. They made a big impression on me wanting to play music. In fact, I remember sitting on the floor in front of my Mom putting on shows for her where all I was doing was beating on my Dad’s acoustic guitar like it was drum. She assured me it was amazing. Who was it that first introduced you to music?
V3: Tell me about yourself. How did you get your start in music? Jason Wilkes: Growing up, my family was very musical. I started out singing Southern Gospel in church, which inspired me to begin learning my first instrument, the drums, around age six. Middle school was when I started to branch off on my own, stylistically, by listening to more pop and rock music. It was then that I made a conscious effort to soak up everything I could from artists all over the map, genre wise from Michael Jackson to the Foo Fighters. In 2001, I joined High Flight Society as the lead singer and we were off to the races.
JW: My mom, dad and brother all played a big role, but my earliest memories of music are simply driving around with my dad in his old, white Chevy pickup truck listening to REO Speed wagon, Three Dog Night and “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood. I used to think he was so cool for listening to such cool music because it sounded so unique compared to the Southern Gospel I heard at church all the time. To this day, I think that is what lit the fire in me, music wise. Outside of other musicians, who are other writers, or artists in general, who have impacted your work?
JW: It is mostly friends and family, especially because my music is very personal and mostly spawns from life experiences. I’ve never been one
to really idolize too many people or strive to be like anyone else. My work is just impacted by the people around me in general. What kind of skill set do you have to develop in order to become a song writer/ performer?
JW: In order to be a song writer, you have to be extremely observant and detail oriented. Great songs don’t come from looking at the world through a normal lens. Great songs are in the details and the dark corners, in turning things upside down and purposefully looking at them from a different angle. You can’t just see a tree and think, wow… cool tree. It’s the color of the leaves on the tree, the way the light peaks through them and reveals their spines and the ruffling sound they make when the wind hits them. Your senses need to be on overdrive all the time, and honestly, sometimes it’s pretty maddening. For as long as I can remember, my brain has been wired this way. Performance wise, the biggest hurdle is feeling comfortable on stage. Once you get that down, just be yourself. Authenticity wins every time. Talk about your time on “The Voice.”
JW: My time on “The Voice” was incredible, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Everyone who works for “The Voice” is amazing, from the coaches, to the producers, to the camera guys… all are incredible people. It couldn’t have been a better experience for me as a song writer and performer. Do you keep in contact with any of the contestants/judges and have you formed professional opportunities through you contacts there?
JW: Yes, I stay in contact with a ton of the contestants. We’re like a family in a lot of ways, and are all still great friends and will be for life. I’ve actually
been writing with a number of the contestants for their records and I’m planning a few shows with them. I guess you could technically call a lot of what I’m doing with different contestants “professional opportunities” because they technically are. But, we’re just friends who believe in what we’re all doing. I believe in every single one of them and I’m on board to help any of them in any way I can, whether that be songs or just dreaming about the future. We’re all in this together. Did you get the results you were looking for on the show?
JW: I got exactly what I was hoping to get from “The Voice.” I went into the whole experience with a plan and walked away achieving all of it, which wasn’t necessarily making it to the end. “The Voice” is an undeniable platform and, at the end of the day, anyone is extremely blessed just to be able to step foot on that stage for a split second. It’s definitely been fuel on the flame that wouldn’t have been burning as quickly. Any specific opportunities on the horizon? JW: My new Extended Playlist (EP) just released on July 20th which was a big thing for us. Getting music out ASAP after something like “The Voice” is paramount. Being able to pull it off as quickly as we did was a daunting task, but completely worth it. We do have some things in the wings related to the new music and new opportunities, but nothing that can be talked about as of yet. How has life changed for you since your time on the Voice? JW: The main difference is that more people care about what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this for a very long time now and, by far, the hardest thing to accomplish is to get people to look in your general
direction. Thanks to the show I have a ton more people looking in my direction than before. It feels good to work hard on something and put it out knowing that people are there to receive it. And of course, getting recognized in the grocery store is new… but I don’t get out a lot. It’s been really great. Everyone at home has been very supportive throughout my whole journey. People seem to have fully embraced me as a rising artist and not just a singer who did a thing on television. That’s very important to me and I’m really happy to see that momentum and excitement continuing to build. What are some of your goals? JW: Short-term, we want to continue to build the momentum and keep this snowball rolling. We’re booking shows at mid-sized venues and theatres with the goal of giving people big caliber shows that are better than what they expect when they walk in. We will be pushing the new music hard and I will be writing more songs for future releases as well. Long-term, we plan to release lots more music and grow the live show in an organic way that makes sense for both us and the fans. We make our plans so that we can over-deliver as opposed to just meeting expectations, and consistent releases of music and solid live shows is the cornerstone of our plan.
Questions for Chelsey
ell us about how you two met. What led T you to Jason?
Chelsey Wilkes: We actually met at a park in Summerville, Georgia. My parents were involved in a church there. We were living in Rome at the time. Jason was randomly leading worship for a small bible study and I had known who he was for years. But, I had never spoken to him and always wondered if he knew who I was. Jason is the quiet, introverted type, but something about
WILKES prays before EP release show
him was so intriguing to me. His demeanor made it difficult to figure out if he was interested or not though (laughs). Honestly, I remember at the time it seemed that he wasn’t really my type, but there was something that pulled me to him. Later, I had heard him lead worship at another church we both attended in Cedartown, Georgia and was definitely very drawn to his voice. He was just a mysteriously mesmerizing person to me and it was totally captivating. How involved are you in his career?
CW: I am willingly involved in every aspect of his career, and I want so badly to see him through to success in this. I love the business and administrative side of his music, so I handle a lot of that while continually throwing him any thoughts or ideas that may cross my mind and remind him of anything he will forget, which is a lot… (laughs). Of course, I love to be with him, so I prefer to travel wherever he has to go as much as I can. At shows, I set up and run the merch table and keep up with the sales as well. What influence do you feel you have on his style, and how do you help him to be able to stand out among other artists?
CW: I feel that I tend to have a pretty big influence on his style. Going back to when we met, although I was attracted to him, he definitely had an interesting style, which was more of a thrift store, skateboarder kind of vibe. I have always loved clothes, shoes and fashion in general. So, over time I gave him suggestions and opinions giving him new things to try. Obviously, being a hairstylist, I feel I’ve always had a handle on his style and how he looks. His natural hair color is phenomenal, so it isn’t hard to make him stand out. We both love his hair long and it gets wavier the longer it gets which is easier for both of us.
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Since we keep it longer, I try to think of creative ways to add style. Lately, we’ve been adding one to two cornrow braids on each side underneath.
Are there moments where you can tell when he’s in his creative zone? What are some of these things that you may notice that other people wouldn’t? CW: Oh definitely! Those moments are the ones when he forgets a lot of things… when his brain
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is flowing with thoughts and ideas about lyrics, melodies, etc... and there is little room for anything else. I try to not get frustrated because I know he’s a unique and creative person and I love that about him. I love that he embraces it and focuses on the moments that ideas come, because I believe that it’s really important for him to capture those. Some things others may not notice when he’s in this creative zone are pretty funny actually. He will chatter and chomp his teeth to the beat of
Chelsey, Linley and Wilkes
What are some cool things about Jason that you are willing to share. You know, ones that others may not know? CW: Some cool things about Jason that others may not know is that he is so handy! He can pretty much build or fix anything, which reminds me a lot of my dad, so I love it. He also loves to play golf, and for some reason that is so weird to me as no one in my family played and I’ve never successfully hit a golf ball either. He also loves old cars, and most importantly, is the best daddy to our daughter, Linley. He plays with her pretend play sets all day long sometimes and he is really good at it.
a song, even in his sleep. He also rubs his toes together and makes this “shaker” sound. It kind of drives me nuts sometimes, and I always joke with him that I cannot hear the song in his head so he needs to stop!
As he moves forward, what aspects of your lives have you both agreed to keep sacred, if anything? Will you guys be a more public family, or will you tend to stay private? CW: I definitely think that we will be a public family, for the most part. I truly believe that by doing that, that we could be a place to help encourage others through our love for God and our love for each other. Marriage and having a family is work and we are okay with showing and sharing the things that we do to make it all be the best it can possibly be. Of course, there are some things we will always keep private as we are definitely careful of how much of our daughter we expose to the world.
What are some of your guilty pleasure songs or artists? JW: Toxic by Britney Spears or anything by Backstreet Boys or NSYNC… All of which I am completely unashamed of. Any fun facts of things coming up that you want to share that we haven’t touched on?
JW: Let’s just say the last half of 2018 will be pivotal and 2019 will be a big year for the WILKES campaign Be on the lookout for these upcoming events for Wilkes: October 6 at the Holly Springs Autumn Fest October 27 show in Cedartown - Kaleb Lee and Pryor Baird (also from season 14 of “The Voice” will be playing). Ticket link and info for that: https://cedartownshows.com/?p=1109
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This elegant property aims to please with the perfect amount of wow factor and riverside charm. text RACHEL REIFF
photos KEITH BEAUCHAMP
he estate at 23 Horseleg Creek Road, Rome offers a combination of comfort and elegant river views. Built in 2005, the house is a spacious 10,427 square feet, situated on a generous double lot size of 3.33 acres. From the moment you drive onto the circle driveway, you are greeted by the warm brick exterior and the gray stonework. Inside, the entry way welcomes you with bright gray marble and black cast iron detailing. The stairs wind up towards a double-sided fireplace, on which one side is a large office and the other is a bar and recreation room, complete with a pool table. The office itself is a stand-out; featuring a vaulted, wooden ceiling. Follow the double doors outside of this room, and you will find a beautiful stone porch and a spiral staircase. At the top of this staircase lies a lovely lookout, with a perfect view of the infinity pool and Coosa River at the back of the property. Other notable features include the third story work-out room and the studio apartment attached to the house. This apartment makes a perfect nanny residence or mother-in-law suite. It features its own kitchen and full bath, as well as a private staircase entrance and elevator.
26 | HARDY REALTY | HOME FEATURE
HARDY REALTY | HOME FEATURE | 27
On the main level, the kitchen is truly the heart of the home, with large windows overlooking the backyard and beautiful warm-tone cabinets and granite countertops. The kitchen is also open to the main living space, with a counter in-between, making hosting a breeze for both you and your guests. Also on the main level is the master bedroom, with its own fireplace and doors leading out to the back. The attached master bathroom is more than spacious, with a rainfall shower and separate tub, heated floors as well as two large his and hers closets. Though large, this house is truly a home. With details and features that are both functional and fashionable, this property is simply waiting for a growing family to make it their own. For additional information about the property or to schedule a showing, please contact Hardy Realty at 706-291-4321.
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A delightful garden filled with rock structures preserves history and creates new experiences for all who discover its secret hiding place. TEXT RACHEL REIFF
PHOTOGRAPHY CAMERON FLAISCH
ust off Highway 53 in Calhoun, Georgia, I park my Ford Taurus at the very back of a parking lot of a Seventh Day Adventist Church. I look around, hoping I’ve arrived at the right spot. My sister, Lydia, sitting in the passenger seat, looks to me and shrugs, also unsure. I reach for my cell phone, dialing the phone number I’ve been given. On the first ring, Mrs. Joyce Boyd answers. She is “at the Colosseum” and Old Dog is expecting us. As we step out of the car, I’m sure of only two things: the August summer sun is already blazing at 10:50 a.m. and something special lies behind the foliage and a modest rock-turned-sign that reads “The Rock Garden.” Upon rounding the corner of this foliage and sign, I unconsciously gasp and then smile. What is before me is millions upon millions of rocks and pebbles and stones and shells and pieces of glass artfully woven into miniature structures of towns and bridges and cathedrals and castles. It is unlike anything I’ve seen before. 34
Lydia smiles too and points out a lady in a hat, directly to our left, working on a structure that can only be described as a miniature version of the Roman Colosseum. As we approach, she smiles and motions us toward her. She is Mrs. Boyd, known affectionately as Lady Joyce, and she is indeed the Lady of this garden. Her husband is Dewitt Boyd, better known as Old Dog and together they have spent over a decade imagining and creating this tiny fairy world. As Old Dog begins to give us the grand tour of this special place, he explains, “In order to understand this, you have to understand that this is a place to play a game where everyone has money and everyone has something to sell.” The “Town Game” started as a game Old Dog created for his eight children and three step-children. The game allowed the children to explore their imaginations as different characters, represented by tiny clay people that Old Dog designed himself. The game also taught the participants important lessons from history to economics. And from this “bohemian” game was born these miniature houses and structures and eventually
cathedrals and castles, all acting as a gameboard of sorts for Old Dog’s Town Game. For decades now, Old Dog has made and sold his clay people and animals, and now they also live among this garden of rocks. For instance, Cinderella and Prince Charming live in one of the castles built just for them. The characters of the Nativity can also be found living among the town of Bethlehem. Old dog explains that unfortunately, sometimes “terrorists” like to come and ravage his clay people, intentionally breaking them. In the decade
“In order to understand this, you have to understand that this is a place to play a game” the Rock Garden has been open, he has learned to hide his clay people beneath his structures, within the safety of their arches and doorways. Thankfully though, these cracks and crevices in which the clay people can hide are plentiful. Each rock structure and path is intentionally built to be sturdy and resilient to not only the weather elements of rain and floods (the entire land is a bog that is partially flooded each year), but also resilient to the children for who it was designed. Old Dog wants the children who come to visit to run through the narrow pathways and explore the individual structures without fear of their fragility. This is accomplished in the way that each structure is built.
As Old Dog explains, electric wiring is cut and bent to form the outline of walls. Then, mixed concrete is poured around it. Finally, individual pebbles are laid end-to-end within the concrete, layer upon layer, until entire roads and buildings are constructed. This could take years for a single structure to be completed. As we continue along the concrete and rock road through the garden, we happen upon Ms. Reba Kirby and her grandchildren, having a picnic lunch in their claimed section of the garden. Ms. Kirby and her girls, Bug, Birdie and Cricket, have been working on their part of the garden for several years now. It is a special way that Ms. Kirby can bond with her granddaughters and also be a part
of this community novelty. The three young girls delight to show me their personal contributions of stone concert halls, fairy houses and a clay mermaid named Luna. Five-year-old Cricket beams up at me with her wonder and childlike smile, and I can’t help but smile back, as she shows me her own little rock garden that she started when she was only three years old. At this point of the tour, Old Dog takes us to the front of the garden where a very section known as the memory wall has been constructed. Taller than my five-feet-five-inches, and much longer, stretches a wall made of tiny rocks and pebbles with glass, shells, and memories encased in it. One of Old Dog’s favorite memories is a bullet and clay plaque commemorating his marriage to Lady Joyce in 2016. As the story goes, Old Dog once told his brother, Brother Bear, that if “I ever talked about getting married, he should just pull out his gun and shoot me.” After that conversation, Brother Bear, as promised, put Old Dog’s name on a bullet to use for this occasion. However, after working for years on the rock garden together, Old Dog and Lady Joyce SEPTEMBER 2018
diately comply, and with true child-like joy, we choose hiding places in miniature Bethlehem for our miniature characters to live safely. For a moment I forget all else besides this tiny town. The magic has swept me away, and Old Dog puts it, I’ve begun to play the game. The hours have passed quickly, I realize, and my sister and I decide we need to get going. We thank our hospitable hosts, and head back to the Taurus, baking in the now afternoon sun. As we climb back into the car, we clutch our tiny clay sheep, gifts from Old Dog himself, his invitation to come back for the annual candle-lighting event on October 7 ringing in our ears. I feel as Alice or Lucy must have, coming back out of the rabbit hole or out of the wardrobe. Though the adventure of the day was over, the energy and joy I felt has been so impactful. And in my heart, I know the magic and beauty of the experience has really only just begun. To schedule a tour of the Rock Garden find them on Facebook. Or, visit in the site at 1411 Rome Road in Calhoun, Georgia. You can also call ahead at 706629-5470. fell in love. And despite his previous declaration to his brother, Old Dog married his sweetheart, and Brother Bear gave the bullet to Lady Joyce at the wedding. And this bullet is now part of the Rock Garden’s memory wall. Other important pieces of the memory wall include historical artifacts, such as a Roman coin from 168 A.D. And while I gasp, excited that such a piece of history is in Calhoun, Georgia, Old Dog tells me that in the garden are many other artifacts, such as a piece of the Berlin Wall and pieces from Pompeii, Italy and Normandy, France. Other parts of the memory wall include plaques for every couple that has gotten married in the garden, as well as plaques commemorating the lives of people who have died, because as Old Dog says, “not every story has a happy ending.” Although he is right, and not every story is happy, the garden itself is a place of joy and love. People like Old Dog and Lady Joyce, Ms. Reba, and countless other volunteer and visitors have made the Rock Garden a special place where one can find both magic and peace. As we end the tour, Old Dog, Lydia, and I meet back with Lady Joyce, still working on the Roman Colosseum, just as we left her. At this point, Old Dog looks at us intently, and asks my sister and I if we want to help place some of the newest clay people he’s made around the garden. We imme36
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GOOD FOOT Foot care may seem like a callus subject to most, but Dr. Brian Middleton explains why he is a shoe-in for the job of educating his patients about foot care, from heel to toe. TEXT DEMARCUS DANIEL
PHOTOGRAPHY CAMERON FLAISCH
Dr. Brian Middleton
ome call them the old dogs, others refer to their ends as little piggies. We all sometimes forget how important they are to our overall health and staying upright while standing. Yes, the human foot is vital and—not counting the occasional rub down—we sometimes neglect the health of this integral part of our anatomy. Here in Northwest Georgia, we have a professional who reminds us all just how important these two extremities are and specializes in keeping them in healthy working order. Podiatrist, and Foot and Ankle Surgeon Dr. Brian Middleton is the Director of the Medical
Foot Care Center (211 Redmond Road) for the past 30 years. Dr. Middleton is focused on educating his patients and the public about the importance of foot health. “We strive to be a “center of excellence,” says Dr. Middleton. “We will treat you like family, as we are very passionate about helping our patients improve their quality of life.” Dr. Middleton and his staff provides comprehensive foot and ankle care. “We have modern technology, but we have an old school concern," says Dr. Middleton when describing the culture of the office. One of the more modern concepts Dr. Middleton specializes in is minimally invasive
surgery. The concept involves one of two things: either the smallest possible incision or direct access to the surgery area. There are several advantages to minimally invasive surgery. These benefits include smaller incisions, less stress to tissue surrounding the surgery area, faster healing time and recovery, less pain, less anesthesia, and minimal scarring. Dr. Middleton is always looking for ways to provide minimally invasive surgery and is an area of his practice he is most excited about providing. He gives lectures around the country about his approaches to surgery, and makes sure everyone understands, “It’s a concept, not a procedure.”
“We will treat you like family, as we are very passionate about helping our patients improve their quality of life.”
Ankle fractures, hammer toes, and bunions surgeries are all treatable with minimally invasive surgery. With the bunion surgeries, he recommends the “Keyhole" Bunion Surgery. “There is virtually no scaring or pain, minimal swelling, and a quick recovery. This bunion correction procedure was developed in Europe, and we have modified and optimized the surgery using the minimally invasive surgery concept. The procedure
corrects the bunion with only two 5/21/18 or three small 12:32 PM incisions. We are the only foot are center in Northwest Georgia that does scarless bunion surgeries,” says Dr. Middleton. Initially, Dr. Middleton worked as an electrical engineer. “I loved it,” he says. “My mother had to have surgery on her foot, so I met the podiatrist who performed the surgery, picked his brain a little and found a new love.” Dr. Middleton loves to go to work every day. He works on a variety of things within podiatry, which essentially makes him a “multi-specialist.” “As a podiatrist, I deal in dermatology, orthopedics, neurology and more. I get the reward of interacting with many a different people, and I love it,” says Dr. Middleton. Medical Foot Care Center is also a Diabetic foot care Center of Excellence, offering comprehensive care, along with surgery care when required. Before any actions are taken, Dr. Middleton and his staff will determine the cause and type of neuropathy a patient may have and develop a treatment plan. Type 1diabetes means your body does not make enough insulin and Type 2 means your body cannot use the insulin properly. “We are one of only offices in Georgia that can perform the Nerve Decompression Surgery. This procedure restores sensation to your feet and limbs to treat diabetic neuropathy. Other diabetic foot care procedures can be performed on your toes, toe nails, nerves, and ulcers,” Dr. Middleton explains. SEPTEMBER 2018
Another condition Dr. Middleton treats is fungal nail care. “Traditionally, this has been treated by over-the-counter medications. Curing the condition, using the traditional method, could take up to two years, if it was cured at all. At Medical Foot Care, no treatment or medicine is prescribed before you have a nail biopsy to determine the type of nail fungus that you have. There are many different types,” Dr. Middleton says. “One of the more common fungi is fungus of the skin. This occurs from simple exposure to the environment, be that woods, water and whatever else your bare foot may come in contact with.” You can also have fungus of the nail, which, while rare, can occur from the same issues as the fungus of the skin. Poor blood circulation can also cause fungus to grow on the nail. Dr. Middleton, before treating a condition that could potentially be a fungus of the nail, would first perform a culture of the nail to determine that it is not psoriasis, infection or some type of injury. If determined it is a fungus, Dr. Middleton has an 85 percent cure rate utilizing his laser fungus removal procedure. Using heat and photon energy to rupture the cells of the fungus, the procedure is much more likely to keep the aliment from returning. Dr. Middleton’s office is equipped with an X-ray department and onsite surgical center. An additional service the office provides is a Fall Prevention Program for diabetics and those with arthritis issues. Medical Foot Care can perform ultrasounds of your extremities and perform fullscope, end-to-end care below the knee. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Brian Middleton finished his residency in Atlanta where he was introduced to Rome by a fellow physician. He then decided that he “wanted to work in a small, friendly town,” while also deciding that he wanted to bring a state of the art facility and podiatrist center of excellence to the area. “I view Rome and the South as the area of real Americans. Hard working, friendly people,” says Dr. Middleton. Outside of the office, Dr. Middleton has a passion for cameras and photography. He is a self-proclaimed adventurer and explorer also, having taken photos near and far and around the globe. So, no one knows the importance of keeping the old dogs in tip-top shape more than a man on the go. He is a proud father of two children and is eager to serve your foot care needs in NWGA.
To schedule an appointment, contact the Medical Foot Care Center at 706-802-1800 or visit them on the web at www.medicalfootcare.com
Coosa Valley Home Health Care, an Amedisys company, is in the business of helping our patients maintain and improve their quality of life-at home. Home is the place where family, friends and familiar surroundings make patients feel most comfortable - and recover faster. With more than two decades of expe-rience in the health care industry, we understand the importance of delivering high-quality services to patients in their homes. Choose Coosa Valley for all your home care needs.
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406 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
413 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
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1204 Turner McCall Blvd • Rome, GA 30161 2300 Shorter Ave • Rome, GA 30165 3110 Cedartown Hwy • Rome, GA 30161 104 S Tennessee St • Cartersville, GA 30120
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510 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
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