COVIDtown Crier: May 20, 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 fun at the outrageousness of it all.

Suspended animation

While some local residents have begun venturing forth from their homes for the first time in weeks, others remain snuggly tucked up except for the most essential of outings. To counter the so-called “Rip VanWinkle effect” for those cautious/sane/public-spirited souls, the Crier’s intrepid reporters are braving (possible) biological hazards to bring you information on changes that have taken place around town during the period of hibernation.

Love letters

After repainting Asheville’s iconic RAD grain silo from “Stay Weird” to “Stay Home” followed by “Stay True,” artists Ian the Painter and Ishmael have now re-graffitied it to read “Stay Engaged.” Locals initially were inspired by the new message, until an image of a diamond ring joined the text, and reports emerged that the words were a cynical guerilla marketing campaign by local jewelry store owners made desperate by quarantine-induced breakups.

Unnatural phenomenon

The French Broad River now flows south, and it’s filled with blood. But don’t worry: It’s merely a QAnon plot to ding elected officials’ poll numbers and will change back on its own — at some point.

Hole in one

Local disc golf jocks are indignant that many golf courses and tennis courts remained open while parks featuring their beloved game closed in March and April. In protest — and to guard against future interruptions in play — disc enthusiasts installed target baskets in streets and sidewalks downtown, creating a new urban course. Please yield to these obstacles and players as you drive, cycle or walk near College Street and Patton and Lexington avenues.

Bear recovery act

During business closures, Asheville’s black bears have taken advantage of an empty downtown to see the sights. Now an enterprising bunch of bruins has banded together to submit an application to the TDA-funded Tourism Jobs Recovery grant program. The furry collaborators assert that nothing could draw bigger crowds than the sight of mama and three cubs hanging from trees in Pritchard Park or sunning themselves on the steps of City Hall. As compensationfor their presence, the downtown bears ask only for unfettered access to garbagecans. The $50,000 cash grant, meanwhile, will be placed in a fund designated for the rehabilitation of local three-legged bears.

Gaming for all

The tinkling sounds now carried on the breeze in Asheville neighborhoods waft not from ice cream trucks but slot machines paying out. The city’s partnership with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino paved the way for new joint projects and, with tourists scarce, LaZoom’s purple buses have been pressed into service as mobile gambling centers. Even those without reliable transportation can join in the fun! And through Harrah’s new licensing deal with ART, the buses qualify as an essential public service.

Something in the air

The Arras, Asheville’s tallest structure, has added a COVID-19-specific feature to its recent interior and exterior renovation. McKibbon Hospitality has hermetically sealed the structure within a giant bubble to “protect residents from those who might infect the healthy [or is that wealthy?] inhabitants.” Pedestrians in the area may opt to undergo temperature screening and/or cellphone location data scans in order to pass through airlocked sidewalk corridors, or they may decide to just take their chances walking in the middle of the street.


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