Given this column’s title and my picture in it, you might be asking yourself: Who is Morgan Bost? What are her medical qualifications? And should she even be holding that stethoscope?
All great questions.
I’m a local comic with no medical training whatsoever. But given the name of my column, I went ahead and ordered said stethoscope for branding and aesthetic purposes. Each month in print, I’ll convene with a rotating cast of local funny folks to get their takes on all things Western North Carolina. Our mission is to encourage some “hehes” and “hahas” in between the usual “yikes” and “oh noes” that our present-day news cycles typically inspire.
Will this column solve all of your problems? No. Will it alleviate any existential dread? Probably not.
But hopefully it will be zany and wacky enough to stimulate some laughter. And while I’m no doctor (as previously established), I can attest that laughter truly is the best medicine. (I mean, not if you have a cold or something, but you see what I’m doing here.)
In my inaugural column, I speak with fellow comics Peter Lundblad, Eric Brown and Nora Tramm about the best places to cry in public, how to discourage out-of-towners from buying every last home in Asheville and how the city might find new ways to promote professional development among our area’s youths.
Morgan Bost: We’re known as Beer City, but what about Tear City? A friend and I are creating a crying map of Asheville so tourists can know where to go once kegs are tapped and bride-to-be Lisa finds out that maid of honor Kate once made out with Lisa’s fiancé in a Chili’s parking lot. What are your go-to crying spots in Asheville?
Peter Lundblad: Well, as anyone who grew up in Asheville knows, the best place to cry is the Deerpark Restaurant on the Biltmore Estate. Why? Every high school in the county has its prom there. It’s been sanctified with 30 years of Axe-laced tears of yearning. The hormones glisten in the grass like a spring dew. Also: great buffet.
Eric Brown: I would say my house is my favorite place to cry just judging by the numbers, but I don’t want to give that out as a crying hot spot. We got enough crying over here. I would suggest Patton Avenue in general. In olden times, mystics believed in ley lines, ancient paths with magical power. I believe Patton Avenue is one of these ley lines, and the magic power is clinical depression. Now maybe I feel this way because my job is on that street, but I’ve personally never seen anyone having a good time on Patton Avenue. If you’re downtown, try crying in front of the courthouse. Nobody will question it, and the people inside are used to seeing it.
Nora Tramm: I once cried in a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at The Orange Peel because the band played a song that reminded me of a different song that reminded me of my ex. Nothing satisfies your inner hipster more than standing with a horde of people who are all having the same experience and realizing that you alone are on a completely different wavelength.
For day-to-day crying, though, check out Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary — especially that spot by the creek mouth with the cool tree. It feels just remote enough that you can really let yourself go, but it’s not so isolated that you won’t be stumbled upon by a nice older couple and make everyone’s afternoon really awkward. Just make sure you leave a couple bucks in the donation bin on your way out; the Blue Ridge Audubon Society does a lot of great work there.
Bost: For me, the best place to cry in Asheville is definitely the Haywood Road Ingles — the one with no Starbucks and thus completely barren of hope. I’ve cried in that Ingles no less than three times this week.
But when I need attention, I’ll cry in the window at Odd’s Cafe. It feels so poetic: a single tear running down my cheek as I sip espresso and journal about my Trader Joe’s crush, while staring longingly out the window and pretending I’m in a French film. I imagine people walk by thinking, “Wow, she looks so poetic. And so French.”
Bost: Housing is our next topic, which is rarely funny. Now, I don’t mind people visiting Asheville or folks moving here — I’ve only been in the city six years myself. But many tourists wind up purchasing second homes in the area, which reduces affordable housing. Seeing as the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority spends a lot of money promoting the region, can you think of creative ways to discourage these same visitors from buying up all the real estate as mere summer homes?
Lundblad: Double property taxes for a second residency with funds going into affordable housing initiatives. Oh, wait, you wanted a funny answer. … More marketing on the fact that the mosquitos around here have all learned to hum Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.” It’s been stuck in my head since ’03.
Brown: Obviously, the housing market in Asheville is a crisis we’re all struggling with. I have a simple and elegant solution for this problem. All Asheville locals should start living in the walls of these vacation properties until the tourists go back home; once these visitors leave, said locals will have the place to themselves the rest of the year.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: This is the plot of the 1974 movie Bad Ronald. That is precisely the idea! We’re all gonna Bad Ronald these people. It means free rent for locals, and if the tourists-turned-second-homeowners find us living in the walls, you better believe they’re going to sell that house.
Tramm: If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or someone close to you is a vegan, so you’re familiar with the distinctive bouquet of vegan flatulence. It’s time we harness the power of this bountiful local resource! I call on all of the vegans of Asheville to load up on cabbage, beans and Soyrizo, then head down to tourist hot spots and start crop-dusting. Show them how our famous mountain air really smells. Do it for your community!
Bost: I think the first line of defense against single people looking to buy here should always be dating apps. One glance at an Asheville Tinder bio is enough to send anyone running from the hills. For those not on the dating market, a quick drive down I-26 during rush hour should do the trick.
Bost: OK, now to our final topic — children! The city recently held its annual Tiny Tykes Triathlon. The event got me thinking, what other activities should the city adapt for kids?
Lundblad: Kid-friendly notary public training courses! Need to get your car title stamped? Trade two juice boxes to Tina or promise to do Jeffrey’s homework for a week. Need to put a witness under oath? Tammy can help right after kickball.
Brown: I propose we teach our children something practical to help their lives as Ashevilleans. I call it “Traffic 4 Kids.” Anytime your child wants to do something fun, make them wait in line behind a bunch of children they’ve never met. This will prepare them for how most of their life will be spent in town, angrily waiting to make a left on Merrimon or sitting completely still on I-40 for no discernible reason. Who knows, maybe they can pass that lesson on to their children. And then maybe their grandchildren will remember those lessons fondly as they drive on what was once known as Future 26. I assume it’ll take about three generations to finish that.
Tramm: Kids? In this economy? Asheville should meet the nation’s aging, childless millennial population where we are by offering activities for our surrogate offspring, rather than for the human children whom we lack both the emotional and financial security to care for. That’s why I’m proposing “Yoga for Houseplants.” I need someone to guide my little darlings, Mintston Churchill and Sedum B. DeMille, through some sun salutations. Someone to help my sweet Jules Fern and Weird Aloe Yankovic shape themselves into the happy babies I’ve always known they are. And maybe, just maybe, if my precious Bromeliad Earhart and the Notorious F.I.G. can settle into a perfect child’s pose, my mother will finally get off my back about grandkids.
Bost: I’d personally love to see a kid-driven LEAF Festival. Kids have incredible imaginations and would probably put on a great event. Kid LEAF Fest would have an awesome drum circle. Of course, the mainstage music would likely get redundant, with each band insisting on playing an extended cover of “Baby Shark” (essentially “Free Bird” for toddlers). The cuisine? Chicken nugget food trucks and wood-fired cheese pizzas. The kids could lead workshops on dance, yoga and slime making. Nap stations would be abundant and juice boxes available at every corner. Arts and crafts would be a central component of the festival, so long as the toddlers are careful to avoid felony littering charges.