Short Takes: October 2020

EVENTS


Join the Fight Against Breast Cancer 

Every October thousands of breast cancer survivors, as well as those currently undergoing treatment, their families and friends walk through downtown Augusta to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. This year, however, supporters are invited to participate in their vehicles. The 20th annual Miracle Mile Drive will be held on Saturday, October 17, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the University Health Care System’s Summerville campus.

For more information on the Miracle Mile Drive visit universityhealth.org.


Walk with the Spirits 

Visit the Summerville and Fitten Street cemeteries where “spirits” come to life in period costumes! Historic Augusta’s 14th annual Walk with the Spirits tour will be held on Saturday, October 24 and Sunday, October 25 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. The event aims to increase awareness of Augusta’s past by connecting current residents and visitors with the people and places that still influence us today by their contributions to Augusta’s cultural legacy. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. 

In an effort to observe the safety measures recommended by the CDC, tours will be limited to 10 people. Masks must be worn throughout the tour and a distance of six feet from anyone not in your party must be observed. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tours take place every 20 minutes. 

Call (706) 724-0436 to get your tickets today!


Boston Book Festival

October 5-25
https://bostonbookfest.org/

Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights, authors and poets usher the festival’s inaugural online event with a roar. Among the keynote speakers are husband-and-wife team Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, who received a Pulitzer for international reporting for their coverage of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and Natasha Trethewey, a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2007. A full schedule of events—which will be touching on issues such as race, politics, ethics, love, climate change and more—will be announced in September.


 

Chef Frank Kassner

by Jennifer McKee

Edgar’s Hospitality Group has a new executive chef on board. Chef Frank Kassner now oversees the operations at Edgar’s Grille, The Pinnacle Club, Snelling and Anderson conference centers and Edgar’s Above Broad. 

Before moving to Augusta, Kassner helmed the restaurants at the award-winning Montage Palmetto Bluff between Hilton Head Island and Savannah. Previous to that, he spent 17 years with Ritz-Carlton hotel properties in Florida, Boston and his native Berlin, where he trained under Michelin-starred chef Paul Urchs.

Kassner says the art of creation, in addition to making people happy, drew him to cooking. 

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother, and it’s there that the foundation for my love of the craft began,” he says.

Kassner’s favorite summer dish is Tomato Bruschetta, his ”personal twist on a Southern tomato sandwich, using the best local tomatoes while they are in season,” says Kassner. “It’s light and refreshing, sharable, and is the perfect starter to a meal.”

Make Chef Kassner’s bruschetta at home with this easy-to-follow recipe.


Tomato Bruschetta

10 Roma tomatoes
8 large Heirloom tomatoes
½ cup sugar
1 cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup kosher salt
1 cup chives
1 cup shallot brunoise

Cut the tomatoes into ½-inch cubes, place in large bowl. Make sure to use some yellow tomatoes. Add all other ingredients and marinate for 10 minutes. Take tomatoes out of the bowl with a spiral spider skimmer, lay out flat on a sheet pan (lined with parchment), save the marinade for later.

Cook in rational oven on Combi, 15% humidity, 225 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature and drain extra liquid from the sheet pan. Put tomatoes back in the bowl and mix with ½ cup of the marinade, one cup finely-cut chives and one cup shallot brunoise. Serve and enjoy.

For more information on Edgar’s Hospitality Group, visit www.edgarshospitality.com


Mezzanine

Forty years ago, still a child, I came to Augusta for the first time. Not only was I a child, but I was a child that had grown up sheltered in the shadow of a large city. I was small and bookish. I was shy and uncertain. Looking back, I didn’t know anything.

Over the next several years Augusta, no matter how hard I resisted, nurtured me. Most of the things that would end up carrying me through my life – my love of music, of words, of the creative impulse – were taught to me by the teachers and friends I found in this town.

But, once again, I was young and still didn’t know anything. 

Thirty years ago I left Augusta. My joke, at the time, was that if I found myself needing to get from Atlanta to Columbia, I would take a route through Savannah. I didn’t understand what Augusta had given me. I guess nobody recognizes such gifts until much later. That was certainly the case with me. I left. I saw the world. I got an education – both in the classroom and in the museums, concert venues, galleries and studios that remained powerful attractors for me. I yearned for and kept the company of creative people – the kind of people who had known, befriended and supported me in Augusta. Still, I spent years not only saying I would never return to this city, but berating it.

I didn’t know anything.

Twenty years ago I returned to Augusta. It was supposed to be temporary. The ink still wet on my West Coast diploma I thought returning to the town I had turned from might be interesting –  a sociological experiment of sorts. That, and a job writing about the arts and entertainment, proved powerful lures. I still had misgivings about Augusta. I was still a young man. Still callow. I believed this city to be provincial and maybe a little small-minded. I thought that I, having seen some sights, I might have something worldly to offer. My plan was to shine my sophisticated light for a few years before pulling up stakes and moving on to brighter things and bigger scenes.

But guess what. I didn’t know anything.

The city continued to teach me. It also challenged me. Sometimes it broke my heart and often had me shaking my head in bewilderment. But that’s not unique to Augusta. That’s the human condition. 

And so, for almost exactly twenty years, I reveled in the privilege of writing about the arts and entertainment in Augusta. As a writer I felt extraordinarily lucky to not just write for an interested and interesting audience, but engage in a decades-long conversation about the arts.

Eventually that opportunity went away and, yes, I was sad. Sad but philosophical. Maybe, I thought, I had said everything I had to say. Perhaps I had repaid the debt I owe this community, this community that taught me about the power of the creative impulse. Stepping away, closing up the conversation, seemed easier than expected.

I still didn’t know anything.

For the first few months I was fine. The pandemic had eliminated most of the story sources I had cultivated and I really thought not writing anything was a byproduct of not having anything to write about. The truth is creativity – particularly the wild-and-wooly varietal that flourishes here – thrives in times of strife and I found myself not just wanting to write, but feeling a need to reopen those discussions. Creativity was happening not just in spite of current conditions, but because of them. And those people that felt the drive to make something – a song or sculpture or any work of art – deserved to have a spotlight shown on them.

So here I am. Back behind the keys. A comfortable and familiar place. Ready. Ready to write not only about the artists, actors, musicians and makers of Augusta, but how the world beyond influences them and they, in turn, influence it. I’m not ready to start talking to you, dear reader. I’m ready to start talking with you. The conversation continues.

I’m calling this space Mezzanine, the place where you can always find the best seats in the house. From the Mezzanine’s elevated position, you can see everything while remaining close enough to the stage to take in the fine details. From the Mezzanine you can feel like you are in the front row while enjoying the anonymity of being buried deep in the belly of an active audience. The Mezzanine is where it is at. It’s where, should the muses remain willing, you will find me. 

That’s something I know.

This month’s Mezzanine brought to you by the Neats, Hemingway’s Boat and the Questlove Supreme podcast.

 


Photo credits:
Imperial Theatre by Chris Thelen
Natasha Trethewey photo courtesy of Greenough
Tomato Bruschetta 
photos courtesy Edgar’s Hospitality Group

Appears in the August/September 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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