MAN ON THE MOVE | ADAM GORLITSKY



Published Spring 2016


by Stephanie Hunt
It’s a busy Friday morning in the Roper Hospital rehabilitation clinic, and a big day for Adam Gorlitsky. He’s getting fitted for a personal ReWalk exoskeleton, a robotic device that looks like it walked right off the IronMan movie set. Velcro gets tightened; straps readjusted; nuts and bolts and battery packs all tightened just so. It’s a high tech contraption. A mobility miracle.
“Wow, this is incredible. It feels great,” says Adam, pressing the “stand” button on his wristwatch control system. Then slowly he shifts his weight forward, bracing his two strong arms on the assisting crutches and braces to begin unfolding his waist, straightening his shaking, spasming legs as he rises from a sitting position. On his own. His own two legs. 
The guys got legs, all right. And guts. And a dream. 
For the first 19 years of his life, Adam did this – this standing upright, this biped thing called walking – the way most of us do: automatically, without thinking and without struggle, besides, perhaps, the occasional creaky knee or protesting hip. He played basketball and soccer, walked to classes at the University of South Carolina, cruised around the world with that semi-invincible nonchalance that most 19 year olds with a bright future ahead of them do. 
Then in the blink of a sleepy eye, on a drive back to Charleston after a late night packing boxes for an apartment move, everything changed. Adam dozed off for three seconds, ran off the road and woke up in a new reality. 
“When the doctors showed me X-ray images of my severed spinal cord and told me I’d never walk again, it was devastating, a gut punch,” says Adam. 
That was December 30, 2005. Now, exactly ten years later, Adam is embarking on what he hopes will be yet another new reality. On December 30, 2015, Adam brought home his own individual ReWalk unit after his successful IGotLegs.com and GoFundMe campaign raised the $100,000 needed to pay for the device—the first personal unit to be issued in South Carolina, and one of only a handful of personal units in the world. For nearly six months prior, Adam had trained and practiced on the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital exoskeleton. Roper’s ReWalk technology (a bigger backpack-based unit than the personal device) is part of the hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury rehab program, which was the first in the state and one of only 27 in the country to offer the exoskeleton technology.
He’s become somewhat of a celebrity walking the halls of Roper Hospital and outside along the sidewalks of Calhoun Street, with his ever-encouraging Roper physical therapist, Kyle, at his side. With her help, Adam’s putting in the miles, becoming more adept every day, with every courageous step, with the complexities and challenges of harnessing a X pounds of technology to move otherwise unresponsive legs. Because Adam not only wants to know once again what it feels like to be able to hug his mother standing up, or look a buddy or family member or girl friend in the eye, eye-level to upright eye-level again, he’s making strides toward a bigger goal. 
Adam aims to be the first paraplegic to walk in the Cooper River Bridge Run and Walk. 
“After taking those first steps (in the exoskeleton), I felt empowered. ‘I can do this,’ I realized,” says Adam. “And after my first few sessions, I said, ‘Bridge Run’ – I wanted a goal. And I don’t want to stop there, I hope to do other races, skydive, bungee jump, travel, who knows?”
“I’ve lived three lives physically: The first 19 years I was able-bodied, the past 10 years I was disabled, and this next chapter of my life I will be re-enabled,” says Adam. Though he was fully independent—going back to finish his college degree, living in an apartment, driving, playing sports, dating—via his wheelchair for years, Adam believes that rejoining the upright ranks of the able-bodied again will be an emotional as well as physical boost. 
“My injury affects me on a primary level, but also affects everyone I come in contact with on a secondary level,” he explains. “Relationships are what life’s all about, and it’s why ‘I Got Legs’ is so important to me. I want what my parents have had for the past 30-plus years—a loving marriage. This exoskeleton makes it easier for me to find that. I finally feel as though I am ready to let women into my world physically as well as emotionally again. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to be able to know I’ll be able to walk down the aisle with a bride or hug a daughter standing up.”
In the meanwhile, conquering the bridge will be challenge enough. Heck, it is for many of us whose muscles respond to messages from our brains. For a paraplegic, it’s an enormous undertaking, and Adam acknowledges there’s a chance it might not yet be a doable one (there may be issues with device’s battery life, etc.), but whether he crosses the Bridge Run finish line with the throngs of others in April is beside the point.
He’s got legs. He’s got a goal. He’s got determination, and a broader vision – the kind of clearer view that one can get by standing up tall. “It’s not just about me and my exoskeleton,” says Adam. “I want to help create a safe environment for people with disabilities and their friends and families to feel safe in. We are all in this together.”
 

The Shocking Issue of Male Domestic Abuse

Published in Issue #4 | Spring 2016

by
Jenna Birch

When you think of a victim of domestic abuse, who comes to mind? If you’re being honest, it’s probably a woman. After all, domestic violence against men isn’t a theme of many Hollywood movies.

The Number of Male Domestic Abuse Victims Is Shockingly High So Why Don’t We Hear About Them

Yet in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey — and one of the most shocking statistics wasn’t just the sheer total of victims of physical violence but also how those numbers broke down by gender.

According to the CDC’s statistics — estimates based on more than 18,000telephone-survey responses in the United States — roughly 5,365,000 men had been victims of intimate partner physical violence in the previous 12 months, compared with 4,741,000 women. By the study’s definition, physical violence includes slapping, pushing, and shoving. 

More severe threats like being beaten, burned, choked, kicked, slammed with a heavy object, or hit with a fist were also tracked. Roughly 40 percent of the victims of severe physical violence were men. The CDC repeated the survey in 2011, the results of which were published in 2014, and found almost identical numbers — with the percentage of male severe physical violence victims slightly rising.

“Reports are also showing a decline of the number of women and an increase in the number of men reporting” abuse, says counselor and psychologist Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield.

Ivankovich says there isn’t much buzz about these numbers or their implications, because we don’t know how to handle intimate partner violence against men. “Society supports that men should not hit women, by virtue — but the same is not true for the reverse,” she explains. “The fact is, it’s simply not acceptable to hit anyone.”

Yet, woman-on-man violence is often turned into onscreen amusement, like on a slew of reality shows — or the punch line of a larger, depressing narrative, says Anne P. Mitchell, a retired professor of family law at Lincoln Law School of San Jose (Calif.) and one of the first fathers’-rights lawyers in the country.

She points to the case of John and Lorena Bobbitt, which made national news more than 20 years ago when Lorena cut off her husband’s penis. The aftermath turned into a circus, and details would go on to reveal a volatile marriage, but Mitchell says the initial response of many radio and talk shows was just to laugh at the incident. “If something remotely similar had happened to a woman, there would have been a very different response,” Mitchell tells Yahoo Health.

Mitchell, who has legally represented numerous male victims of domestic violence, says abuse is typically difficult for men to process, let alone seek help for. “Men are brought up to believe it’s not OK to hit a woman or even hit back in self-defense,” she explains. “It is their job to protect her. Add in that you’d be a laughingstock if you said your woman hit you. So in the situation of the battered husband, they don’t know how to feel. They know it’s shameful. They do not want her to get in trouble. So they do not say anything.”

What abuse of men looks like

Physical violence carried out against men is often similar to physical violence against women, Ivankovich says, though it can differ. “Abusive women have been known to abuse in ways similar to men, including punching, kicking, biting, [and] spitting,” she says. “In some instances, to make up for the differences in physical strength, women might use weapons including bats, guns, or knives.”

Sometimes — many times — woman-on-man abuse has nothing to do with thrown punches or weapons. Rather, it’s emotional. “In addition to physical abuse, women also engage in psychological abuse,” Ivankovich adds. “This controlling mechanism can include humiliation, intimidation, and belittling words or statements.”

There is another psychological tactic used against men: No one will believe you. Men “fear the possibility that others will think they are lying, or that they are actually the ones perpetrating the abuse,” Ivankovich says.

Mitchell says that based on old stereotypes and typical gender roles, it is often very difficult for men to get fair treatment. They are often stuck in situations in which they cannot win. “Many women who are aggressive toward their partners know that if the police are called out, they will arrest the man,” she explains. “I once had a client, who was the mildest guy ever. In no way would he have ever been violent — but his girlfriend was very volatile and a drug user. Once, she was trying to provoke him to hit her. When he wouldn’t respond, she raked her fingernails across his face. He was standing there bleeding when the police arrived at the house. They still arrested him.”

According to Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the reason for abuse is the same for men and women: “It is all about maintaining power and control over a partner,” she tells Yahoo Health. And because “we still live in a patriarchal society, and when it is domestic violence, you are looked at as weaker when you are the victim.”

Glenn says we don’t have nearly the data on the actual prevalence of domestic violence against men that we do against women. She says the abuse is more often emotional and psychological.

“Male and female perpetrators of abuse display higher-than-average rates of borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, which are high in that need to ‘control,’” Ivankovich adds. “Men are less likely to seek assistance for this type of abuse, because of the shame and stigma.”

Staying for the children

There are many reasons men stay or do not quietly slip away from abusive partners, many of which are the same reasons women stay in these kinds of relationships. They stay out of shame. Out of fear. Out of love. And not just love for their significant other but for their children.

According to Mitchell, many men stay in abusive relationships for the sake of their kids and the million ways in which a split might affect a child’s well-being. “In a divorce, many women are highly empowered through the court process,” she says. “The idea is that it’s better to have one happy parent than two unhappy parents — and when it comes down to it, the father is not that necessary.”

Mitchell says she has had male clients who tried to keep their relationships together to maintain that bond with their children, or even to shield their kids from that volatile partner. “They stay to protect them,” she says. “They don’t want Mom to end up in trouble, or the kids to even realize what is going on.”

The situation is always sticky — and never easy: Stay or leave. Similar to abused wives, even after the demise of the marriage, it can be difficult for a male to escape a toxic partner. Mitchell points to one of her past remarried male clients, who was punched in the face by his ex-wife over a poor report card from their middle-school-age child.

It’s also tough for fathers to remain involved in kids’ day-to-day happenings, from football games to school plays, and continually reinforce to their children that they love them when they’re not always there. Mitchell mentions yet another man, who finally ended his marriage as the abuse escalated: “This man’s ex-wife was very angry and manipulative and tried to cut him out of the kids’ lives.”

He eventually moved from California to New Jersey to cut ties and start over. But he also moved heaven and earth to continue to be a father to his children, despite any parent bad-mouthing that might have been going on when he was not there. “My advice was always to keep trying,” Mitchell says. “Kids have a funny way of growing up and seeing the reality. Dad was there.”

Shifting our cultural perspective on abuse

Glenn says if she could clear up just one misconception about abuse, it’s that it’s a private problem. Just looking at the statistics, victims lose 8 million days of paid work per year, and many lose their jobs. Some estimates also indicate the total cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8 billion annually, says Glenn. 

It’s important to stay vigilant to unexplained “behavior changes” in co-workers, friends, and family members who might be in trouble. “A large myth surrounding domestic violence is that it is a family matter,” says Glenn. “It’s not. Until we stand up and say it’s not, though, we will continue to be a society who won’t address the issue nearly enough.”

We must also keep in mind that there is no one gender immune to violence and psychological manipulation.

“Gender roles are at the crux of this issue,” Ivankovich says. “We still view women as the nurturers and caregivers, and the men as the providers and protectors. To consider that a woman may take on the role as an abuser threatens what we as a society know about gender-role assignment. As a result, many men are told to ‘suck it up,’ or face further shaming for identifying the severity of the problem.”

Resources for abused men are scarce, and it’s often problematic for them to report domestic abuse — authorities and others may assign the abuse to them, and perhaps they would lose their children. Perhaps they would be stigmatized.

The culture of abuse needs a full shift in perspective. “Domestic violence and emotional abuse against men is a huge problem — one that needs to be addressed with greater access to resources than what are currently available,” Ivankovich says. “Abuse is abuse. There is no point in which it is OK, especially to condone it for one sex and crucify the other. Anyone who is abused should be able to get help and should be able to do so in an environment that is not shameful or accusatory.”  

We need to encourage abused men to get help as well. According to Glenn, the signs of abuse in men are usually the same as in women. “Look for behavioral changes, isolation — they’ll suddenly disappear from your social circle, and they’re not willing to talk about it,” she explains. “Often, there’s a lot of controlling behavior by the partner. Money is often withheld, or they have to constantly check in.”

 

Women absolutely experience domestic violence too, including sexual violence and stalking at higher rates than men — which is something that should never be downplayed. A victim is a victim. No abuse should be tolerated; the toll of abuse on both men and women is enormous.

The stats are only whispered. But the estimates are alarming: 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute — 10 million people per year. 

Chances are, you know one.

Confessions provided by Whisper, the free app that allows users to share their secrets anonymously. For more confessions about emotional health and relationships, check out Whisper.

DEALING WITH THE DECLINE

Published Spring 2016

A Retired Athlete’s Guide to Training

by

Vic Tringali, MS, CSCS

 

For many males, athletic identity is formed early in life and dwarfs other social roles during adolescence and throughout early adulthood. Greater physical abilities and athletic performance have been associated with a heightened sense of self-worth and confidence, and may even draw interest and admiration among one’s peers.

For example, winning a 50 yard dash or pitching a shut out is likely to earn a more desirable form of recognition than a blue ribbon at the “Spring Fling” spelling bee. But while some individuals are capable of performing at a high level long after high school and college, a decline in athletic performance appears to be inevitable as an athlete ages. 

The Science of Age-related decline

The physiological changes that tend to accompany aging are associated with decreases in maximum strength, power, and rate of force development and this is the case even with highly-trained athletes.  These decrements may be attributed to a loss of muscle fiber number and size, consequently compromising muscle performance, and reducing training capacity. 

Several research studies have demonstrated that muscle mass decreases with age beginning around the age of 40 and progresses at a rate of 0.5%–1%/year (Janssen et al. 2000). In addition to the loss of lean mass, is an accompanying increase in intramuscular fat and connective tissue (Parise & Yarasheski, 2000). 

As such, these age-related decrements in performance and body composition can maim an athlete’s ego, leaving him more susceptible to psychological and psychosocial distress such as lower self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

Thwarting Father Time

The good news is that regular resistance exercise is a viable solution to decelerate the decline in physical performance brought on by Father Time. In fact, resistance training has been linked to a reduction in morbidity, increase in longevity and can even have a positive effect on mental health.

Armed with this knowledge, many aging athletes continue training in an effort to attenuate declines in body composition and to preserve their physical abilities. Unfortunately, some of these individuals mistakenly continue training methodologies they benefitted from “back in the day” but these once beloved techniques are usually incongruous with the achievement of long-term health and well-being.

Choose Wisely

Exercise selection is an important variable that should be rooted in one’s goals and abilities. Although the squat, deadlift, and bench press may have been staple exercises to help improve general physical preparedness while competing, there is no longer a need for them as a recreational athlete.

Retired athletes may be better served by opting for safer more easily performed variations such as Box Squats, Rack Pulls from above the knees and loaded push-ups. These friendlier options may bring about less pain than the traditional versions while also offering long-term performance benefits.

It’s also prudent to include some aerobic training as it promotes greater systemic blood flow throughout the body. More importantly, engaging in regular aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of cardio vascular disease, particularly in middle-aged and older adults.  Older athletes or those who’ve suffered from orthopedic injuries may want to opt for low-impact modalities such as cycling, walking or swimming to relegate stress to joints and connective tissue. 

Establish Your Range

Full range of motion is commonly advocated for resistance training programs in order to ensure joint flexibility, strength development and muscle fiber recruitment. However what constitutes a full range of motion may vary among individuals and can be limited by any particular orthopedic inflexibility. Many older athletes experience decreased range of motion due to diminishing elasticity of tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules and in some instances, arthritic changes from old injuries.

Damage or “wear” to articular cartilage surfaces of joints-which may include osteophytes or “bone spurs” reduces space between joint surfaces causes limited mobility and produces friction, pain and inflammation. Thus, training in a pain-free range of motion is inherently safer, as it incites less pain while potentially reducing the risk of inflicting additional damage to adjoining connective tissue. 

Reduce Training Volume

Training volume is defined as the total work in a resistance training bout, and equates to reps x weight x sets. Because the recovery capacity of the older athlete is generally less than their younger counterpart, recovery from training becomes even more important. Periods of recovery may be longer and more pronounced than what they were in years past. And it has been suggested that training volume should be reduced by 5% per decade beyond 30 years of age. (Rippetoe & Kilgore, 2006) That said time to recovery can be highly variable between individuals and dependent on not only age but many factors -including adequate sleep and nutrition. 

Use Your Instincts

Many experienced athletes accumulate knowledge of their bodies particularly as it relates to understanding what they can and cannot do. This link between their body and their instinct is crucial to keeping them out of harm’s way. 

Prior to engaging in workout, it’s prudent to employ these instincts and gauge readiness based on quality of sleep, nutrition and emotional stress. Competing demands such as travel, work or family responsibilities can affect strength, energy, and recovery and will help in gauging when it’s time to accelerate ones training or ease up.

Regardless of whether an athlete “peaks” at twenty or at forty, he will inevitably reach a point of declining physical ability. However these simple modifications to a training program are capable of diminishing age-related decrements and provide long term health and performance benefits following a competitive athletic career.

Generational Leather Goods

Charleston’s Long History Inspires “Generational Leather Goods” for Local Entrepreneur

Published Spring 2016 Issue #4

by
Rivers Townes

George Ackerman has me staring out of a restaurant window and considering the specific arrangements of windows on the front of two downtown Charleston buildings. He says, “To me, there is just something more aesthetically pleasing about six-over-six windows.” Across the street are the two neighboring buildings appearing to possess similar facades, both portraying Charleston’s antiquity. However, there is one deceptive, understated difference: the older building has two stacked rows of six windows, while the one next door, undergoing renovations, has two stacked rows of four. Now that George has pointed this out, I feel there really is something subtly dignified about the six-over-six windows that purveys a sense of timelessness that’s not easy to explain. Turning back to my lunch partner, my eyes straining to adjust to the dimness after looking out into a sunny January day, I ask, “Your attention to detail, is this what makes 79 Ashley unique?” “Yes,” George begins, “but that is just a part of it.” 

George Ackerman’s luxury leather goods company, 79 Ashley, is quickly becoming well known in Charleston. Less widely known is the story of the man who holds the title of Founder and CEO (that is, “Curator of Extraordinary Objects”) and the inspiration behind his “generational leather goods.” 

George moved to Charleston without any intentions of starting his own business. After an extensive and successful career with many of the major U.S. fashion houses (e.g., Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren), George felt like a few mentorships were going to provide enough professional satisfaction for him to happily retire with his wife, Louise. They moved here in 2013 “or maybe it was 2012… I don’t remember,” George begins, “But it was Charleston’s beauty that inspired me. I felt reinvigorated. I wanted to create the world’s greatest blouse, the world’s greatest shirt, the world’s greatest jeans.” 

Shortly thereafter, George was back in front of his New York friends and investors sharing his newly discovered vision to a group that could help him get up and running with the single stroke kof a pen.  “They told me, ‘Focus on one thing in particular, something that you care very strongly about and develop a brand around that.’ ” Well that one thing was an obvious choice for George.

During his years in the fashion industry, George spent a fair amount of time in Italy, where he discovered vachetta (“va-ket-ta”) leather. “I saw plenty of it there, particularly on the bags of many of the gentlemen walking to and from work.” The history of vachetta leather is rooted in Ancient Rome, where the natural tanning process was first developed and continues to be the preferred method of the skilled craftsmen who produce the leather hides today. In this process, the skins are immersed for days in a nontoxic mixture of animal fats, chestnut tree rinds, and mimosa extracts and hung from the ceiling to dry naturally. In contrast, most of the mass-produced leathers we see in everyday consumer products are treated with toxic chemicals during the tanning process.

While this age-old technique speaks to the quality and tradition of 79 Ashley leather, the real history of the goods begins once a customer buys them. “We create generational leather goods. You not only buy them for yourself, but you also buy them for your kids and your kids’ kids. Every wrinkle, every imperfection, every worn spot, even every stain is story in and of itself,” George says, recalling the story of a stain on his own bag which happened at a memorable lunch in Italy. “You just don’t forget those types of things.” 

George hands me his 79 Ashley bag. Take one look at vachetta leather and you can see its uniqueness — but one touch of the leather’s softness or one smell of its genuine aroma is how you know it is unique. This leads to a question about a storefront here in the downtown area. “We live in a time when most consumers value status over quality, which makes it difficult for us… I was actually a part of this while I worked in fashion earlier in my career! We wanted to keep the little guys out!” George laughs at the irony of his situation. A storefront is a longer-term goal for 79 Ashley, but for now, George wants to focus on his online business.

George’s attention to detail, his vision, and his passion for quality sets 79 Ashley apart from any other brand of leather goods. The true value of 79 Ashley products is rooted in personality, memory and the experience, much the same as the city that inspired them. In the world of “fast-fashion,” styles come and go before we can really live in the clothes we buy. So the next time a new wallet, belt or bag makes its way to the top of your or your significant other’s list, connect with George and 79 Ashley, and invest in something that, like Charleston, will stand the test of time.

CIGARS ARE LIKE WOMEN


Published Spring 2016
by
Frank Robertson

Cigars can be hard to understand because there are so many different types, strengths, sizes and price points.  What makes this cigar better than that cigar? Why is it commonly assumed that Cuban cigars are better than other cigars? Let me attempt to answer these questions (and explain cigars in general) in a different context, one that you may wrap your head around a little easier. For a lot of guys, the only thing they think of more than cigars....are women.  So for the sake of argument, let’s think of cigars as our “better half,” our lady friends!  Like cigars, they come in every size, shape, color and strength - so you can rest assured that the perfect match is out there somewhere.  

Now that we have shifted our vantage point, lets look at the same questions through our new lens. What makes one woman better than the other?  Short answer...nothing!! Every single one has something beautiful and unique to offer; cigars are the same way. You may gravitate toward one type or another, but all are equally “good”!  I may like “spicy and bold” and you may enjoy “sweet and smooth” - the point is that you find what you love and enjoy its company until your heart is overflowing with bliss!  If you choose well, it will leave you feeling incredible - however, if you make the wrong choice, you may find yourself dry heaving in the fetal position.  In picking a great cigar, it’s vital to follow your instincts, or the advice of a professional tobacconist.

Why is it assumed that Cubans are the best?  Cuban cigars can be thought of as a Swedish runway model. You know what I’m talking about, the one that you could live 10,000 lifetimes and you would still never have a chance!  Simply, people want what they can’t have. And if you’re ever “lucky” enough to get one, it’s not long until you realize she’s over priced and over hyped - in fact, she’s crazy! Don’t misunderstand me, there are some good ones out there, but generally speaking...go with what you can readily get. It’s often a better experience.

Let’s look at the most common wrapper leaves (the outer leaf of the cigar, where you get about 30 percent of the body and flavor.):

Oscuro – (Almost black and very oily) Think of oscuro cigars as a female olympic power lifter, incredibly strong, yet sweet, but if your not prepared for it...she’ll knock you on your tail end - feeling a little less manly!  She pairs well with a full bodied whisky or dark beer.

Maduro – (Dark brown with a visible oil sheen) Maduros are like a stay-at-home mom.  Soccer practice, laundry, grocery shopping, sick kids....the strength and complexity are mind boggling!  Then, just when you think she’s reached her limit, she pulls a surprise out of nowhere...leaving you awestruck. Enjoy a Maduro with a single malt scotch or malbec wine.

Colorado – (Reddish-brown hue) Think of these as a lady on the Hollywood red carpet.  Beautiful, elegant and just looks rich.  They will rise to any occasion and almost never let you down.  Snuggle up close to one of these during a sunset with a shiraz, and you’ll swear heaven is just a step away.  

Natural – (Light brown color) Natural wrapped cigars are your sweet Carolina southern belles. Light in body, smells like a dream and her company is effortless. Enjoy her companionship on a front porch swing with a little sweet tea or bourbon. 

Clairo – (Light tan or green, often thin and brittle) The clairo is the gal your buddies set you up with on a blind date.  Not the “easiest on the eyes” but after a little time is invested, her company is actually quite enjoyable.  This unexpected delight pairs well with a chilled pinot grigio or light beer.   

I hope the next time you find yourself staring down the barrel of a humidor with dozens of options, then you let your instinct guide you.  Remember what I always say, “The mind will mislead you, but the heart seldom does!” Stay smoky my friends!

BESIDE EVERY SUCCESSFUL MAN


Published Spring 2016


Partners in Success /  the Hensels


Picture this: It’s only an hour before the much anticipated grand-opening party for the Manor at Lowcountry Plastic Surgery Center, a.k.a. Mt. Pleasant’s premiere 2015 state-of-the-art-men’s cosmetic enhancement spa.  From the town’s mayor to one of Charleston’s most well known celebrity chefs and his entourage, to a steady stream of high- profile locals, all are beginning to gather for the ribbon cutting ceremony and the festivities to follow.  
The Manor’s owners, Jack and Michele Hensel, are busy up to the last minute.  Both, with proverbial sleeves rolled up, are putting final touches on what will turn out to be a really well thought out and memorable event…. And despite having a small army of competent assistants, all of whom are also busy making everyone feel welcomed, the highly skilled surgeon (recently named best plastic surgeon 2015 by readers in Mt. Pleasant Magazine,) Dr. Jack Hensel is up on a stepladder changing the light bulb in the front doorway of their brand-new men’s spa.  Likewise, and with what can only be described as ‘with Herculean speed, his wife Michele is also busy making the last-minute rounds. With an air of confident, happy anticipation, she’s busy making sure that each of the over 50 invited vendors have everything they need for a successful event.  Both husband and wife seem equally happy, equally invested, and equally keen on even the smallest of details of their new business, and as we all know, like the wildly successful late Steve Jobs once said when it comes to business: “everything is important, success is in the details...” 
Thus, if you take an extremely talented, highly sought after, and obviously very down-to-earth plastic surgeon, and pair him with a petite, vivacious, smart, hands-on, affable, pretty blonde… you have the seeds of a true power couple. A couple whose success is wholly evident upon meeting them and the competent people they surround themselves with. 
So if the obvious surge of interest in recent years in aesthetic procedures for men is any indication at all, you can your bet your less tired, more chiseled, and a lot fitter self…here in the Lowcountry at least,  a new era of ‘guy empowerment’ is being led by a true Lowcountry power couple.  
 

STUCK BETWEEN A DONKEY AND AN ELEPHANT

 

Published in Issue #4 | Spring 2016

by

Andrew Temple

As I was thinking about the Presidential election recently, I heard a song that brought it into focus. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.” The lyrics from the 1972 song by Stealers Wheels seems to sum up a large number of our growing electorate today. In the midst of what will likely be the most expensive and possibly the most contentious campaigns in U.S History, many Americans will once again exercise their constitutional right to hold their nose and vote. Often time’s politics forces us to choose. Choose one party over another, one person over another, one message over another. 

The truth is, it’s just not that simple anymore. We are in a wired, tweet driven ecosystem where every soundbite is dissected and analyzed for its purpose and authenticity. I pay attention when I hear people say that what we need is a real third party option. It is a different look, a new perspective and an alternative voice away from the two party system that we are missing. We have not seen a legitimate third party candidate since 1992 when businessman, turned politician, Ross Perot and his Reform Party came roaring onto the stage. He was a quick talking, smart Texan who might have pulled it off had he not quit and then summarily returned late in the election process. 

According to a Pew Research Center study more than half of all Millennials are Independent. Fiscally conservative but would be more likely to support same-sex marriage. Millennials are also the most racially diverse in U.S History and are not affiliated with any one particular religious group. This speaks to a widening gap amongst Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who are typically more socially conforming. What does this say about our burgeoning society? It says that Millennials think for themselves and are not tied down by the dogma of past generations. They want more choices. So few are these choices that news recently broke of a high school sophomore who submitted paperwork to the FCC filing an Independent run for the White House as “Deez Nuts.” In a recent PPP poll in North Carolina Mr. Nuts is actually receiving 9 percent of the vote!

Let’s face it, elections are one part circus, one part slip of the magic hand. Where did the King of Diamonds go? Where is the peanut under the cup? We are all hopeful when we hear the slogans, “Let’s Make America great again” or “I believe in America” or “Change we can believe in.” The difficulty in putting our faith behind politicians is that they invariably let us down. It is not entirely their fault. It is nearly impossible to govern for 320 Million people catering to their ideals and agendas. It is the equivalent of trying to shoot down a rhinoceros with a BB gun.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “The cornerstone of democracy rests in the foundation of an educated electorate.” Millennials are the most educated and technologically advanced generation in our history. They get it. What they, and many others, are searching for is an impassioned leader who speaks to their rational sensibilities, someone like say, Kanye West. Ok, had drop that in, only kidding. 

In the last Presidential election in 2012 of 235 million registered voters, only 129 million voted in the election or 54 percent of eligible voters. This was not the lowest turnout percentage recorded but not far off. This either illustrates that the election was already in the bag or people simply didn’t care about either candidate enough to go to a voting booth. Simply put, voter apathy. They are stuck between two political parties that do not necessarily represent their views of the world.

We all see the problems in our limited two-party system but what is the solution? Make no mistake about it, it starts with you and me. No matter what our affiliations, political leanings or even our generational divide, we must never forget that it is ultimately in our hands. Abraham Lincoln put it bluntly, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Our voices count. In order for the system to evolve there must be those who are willing to risk being heard, even the ironical Mr. Nuts. Our democracy, under the protection of our constitution, has demonstrated resiliency and resolve from the worst of scandals and crises. What our country needs now, more than ever, is a bipartisan trailblazer whose agenda is not focused on being right but getting it right.

A Bow to Bowie

Published in Issue #4 | Spring 2016

 

by

Benjamin Perrone

 

Our world loses great people daily,

but when I read the news of David Bowie’s death in January, it really hit me, more than I expected or even understood. Finding out that he had secretly battled cancer for 18 months and that the new album, Blackstar, was conceived and executed to coincide with his death left me gob smacked. Throughout the day I found myself contemplating what this artist really meant to me and found some unexpected clarity. To put this into perspective I need to include a bit of background.

I’m 35 years old, part of a generation influenced by Bowie’s era only if we look back. I wasn’t even born when his career was launched or solidified. Yet somehow he’s always been there. Labyrinth was one of the first movies I saw in a theater, and I got scared and had to leave partway through. When Vanilla Ice debuted “Ice Ice Baby” 25 years ago, I had never heard “Under Pressure” and only through that controversy did I learn that somebody else had created that iconic bass line. Three years later, Nirvana paid homage by performing “The Man Who Sold the World” in their Unplugged” performance, making a point to let us know who created that song. Despite being a moody teenager in the ‘90s, I was just a few years too young to see Bowie tour with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, but I was very aware of it. In those years, it was easy to be exposed to Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and the like. I was fortunate to receive a cassette of The Velvet Underground for Christmas from my cousin one year. I listened to it so much that my car stereo eventually ate it. Bowie was a bit different, and it has only been in my adult years that I really discovered his work in any meaningful way. Having played two instruments in every kind of band and orchestra available through elementary, middle and high school, my musical tastes are diverse, and what really spoke to me about Bowie was his own diversity. Bowie strongly criticized MTV in the channel’s early years for a lack of air time for black artists. While the Vanilla Ice issue became a famous controversy, Bowie quietly collaborated with many of the most important hip-hop artists. Learning more about him and his creative process only deepened my respect for his artistry, his vision and his daring nature. This in turn made me appreciate the music, and in the last few years I have been amazed to see him resurface in pop culture, in everything from Zoolander to Family Guy. 

Upon its release, I happened to pick up Rolling Stone and read about the Blackstar album and it made me excited for some new music, a big part of that being my desire to see what he was going to keep doing with his life and career. As it turns out, this is it, but the album represents so much more than I realized at the time and confirms the genius of his work. I realized that what struck me so especially hard was the notion that I may never again see anything like this creative genius. Today’s news cycle is constant, things go “viral” or die, and trends come and go in a flash. Every generation has their challenges, but it appears that our self-inflicted societal distraction may keep us from having the opportunity to see an artist showcase such creative talent throughout their entire life. We’re hardly going to look back on Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus and marvel at 40 years of reinvention and relevancy. 

All of this is what made me particularly emotional about today’s news. The thing I came to realize, though, is that it really isn’t true. Today’s access to global information, recording technology, and crowd funding provides artists with possibilities never before seen. If we look past the mainstream offerings of American Idol and the like, we will continue to find true creatives dedicating their lives to their craft, and we can enjoy it and celebrate it more quickly and easily than ever before. It is happening today, and it is even happening right here in Charleston. The collaborative effort and performance by Marcus Amaker and Marjory Wentworth at Mayor Tecklenburg’s inauguration is proof that exciting, groundbreaking artistic expression is out there, and it’s relevant. What artists need is our support. Purchasing albums instead of sharing them, attending live performances and donating to small and large artistic organizations are just a few ways that we can play our part, but support can be provided on any budget. Speaking out to our legislators when it comes to funding of the arts or censorship is critical. It’s also free. As we consider how a Man About Town conducts himself, I would like for all of us to commit to supporting and promoting the arts and to instill that appreciation in our children. Reflecting on David Bowie’s life and career rekindled a passion for me, and we can and should ensure that other artists continue to have the opportunity to share their own passion with the world.