COVIDtown Crier: April 01, 2020

“Why are they publishing this Crier rubbish?” you may be asking. We certainly are. The rest of this edition of Mountain Xpress can’t help but show the tough times WNC is facing. Here’s one little spot in the paper where we offer a bit of levity, to possibly brighten someone’s day, poking a bit of harmless fun at the outrageousness of it all.

Paradise lost

With Buncombe County’s streets and sidewalks all but empty of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, skateboarders and graffiti artists are reveling in the wide open spaces — then returning home, disgusted, just as quickly as they appeared. 

“There’s no thrill of the chase — or of being chased, I guess,” says skater Tyler Gruden, who raised his middle finger when asked for his age. “No grannies or bearded hipsters to give you stank eye — it sucks.”

“It’s some real Malcolm Gladwell shit,“ says Gruden’s kickflipping companion, who claims his birth name is “Ovaltine.” He also asks that readers listen to one of his four podcasts,“ particularly the one about the connection between purebred dogs and global warming. Please and thank you.”

Area taggers have experienced a similar sense of what acclaimed artist $mudge refers to as “that roller-coaster stomach feeling.” The Mr. Brainwash acolyte says that she “got within inches” of making her mark on “a very signifi- cant and famous piece of Asheville architecture” when she realized it was “all too easy” and bailed.

“Maybe if a bunch of COVID deniers come through to ‘wait it out,’ I can get some proper work done,” she says. “Until then, I’m afraid I’ve got tagger’s block.”

Low prices, high humanity

The Crier reports that local shoppers are so starved for human interaction that they’re going to Trader Joe’s specifi- cally for the borderline-intrusive cashier chatter. The self-isolated are now finding fulfilling human intimacy in the once maddening inanity of unsolicited reflections on their recent activities and/or new product suggestions.

“Normally, I’d want to pay for my one little container of 21 Seasoning Salute and get the hell out of there,” says Marcellus Wallace of Woodfin. “But now I like telling Brett that it’s going on my stovetop Brussels sprouts in this particular way. And he likes it, too. Hello, new normal.”

While outside in line, keeping 6 feet between her and those who only minutes before tried to run her over in the spacious parking lot, one excited shopper waited for the store-mandated customer capacity limit to clear. She could be heard repeating to herself, “They’re going to ask me about my frozen salmon and pesto!!!”

Though grocery bloggers have long scorned so-called “Joe Jawing,” industry experts report that the transactional conversation is proving a key factor in maintaining a steady flow of shoppers and prolonging a sense of normalcy in a time of panic-buying, thereby helping to preserve the supply chain.


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