Around 3 a.m. on Jan. 6, I was driving through downtown and [saw] streets littered with what appeared to be newspapers. I came upon Pack Square, and there was rain-soaked paper trash everywhere — surrounding the Vance Monument and completely covering the streets, sidewalks and restaurant fronts. The rain had stopped, and there were sparse snow flurries. It was probably 25 to 30 degrees outside.
I ran around like a freak and picked up every piece of trash I saw. There were fragments and sections of [various local publications]. I made a game out of it and cleaned up the entire square in roughly 10 minutes. I probably should have collected the paper to be recycled, but it was so cold that I just frantically shoved the huge bundles of soggy paper into the trash bins and got back in my car. Like an idiot, I didn't wear any gloves and my hands went numb and were blackened with ink. Driving away from the scene, I discovered the same vandalism at the intersection of Walnut Street and Lexington Avenue. Some of it was still dry, but the majority was wet and plastered to the street. I picked it all up and stuffed it in the nearest trash bins. I drove all over downtown and found the same situation on the corner of Coxe and Patton, outside the Thirsty Monk, and on Patton outside Stella Blue.
I cleaned it all up. Only a few publications were dry and completely intact. I saved them and put them back in their respective bins. By the time I was done, it was 5 a.m.
Asheville! Times are tough and are getting tougher. Some people deal with it by taking it out on others. I urge you to get your hands dirty and clean up their mess just as quickly as they make it.
— Ian Cunningham