Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: What is up with that scream-singing guy on Pack Square?
My answer: I’ve got to say, this is the kind of hard-hitting, deep-dive journalism I live for.
Real answer: I’ve got to admit I’ve been kind of curious about this guy myself.
I used to occasionally see him at a bus stop on Patton Avenue in West Asheville, holding a toy guitar and singing/screaming at the top of his lungs, usually with ear buds in his ears.
He has indeed moved to Pack Square, typically taking up his rock ’n’ roll station right in front of the remains of the Vance Monument.
This is where I found him belting out the tunes Tuesday afternoon.
First of all, his name is Josh Foster, and he’s 34. He’s been doing this schtick for about a decade, with the earbuds in place cranking out his favorite heavy metal.
“I can’t really play, so I’m just listening to what I listen to and trying to copy what I hear,” Foster said. Those bands include Bring Me the Horizon, Killswitch Engage, Bury Your Dead and others.
No, they’re not on my Spotify playlist, either. But it does explain the scream/singing, as my reader describes it.
Foster is holding a real bass guitar these days. The only downside is that he can’t stay out with the real bass when it’s rainy or misting.
As Foster does really belt it out, I asked him if he’s singing for himself or for passersby.
“Whoever wants to hear it, it’s fine, too,” Foster said. “But I like singing them just for myself.”
Foster does not put out a tip jar, so he’s not officially busking. He also has a good relationship with the police, he says.
This is not a real source of income for Foster. He works a regular job as a cashier at a fast food place.
Most people passing by on foot or in vehicles are pretty kind, Foster said.
“There’s some jerks, but you know, that’s everywhere — you can’t escape them,” he said.
The worst harassment he gets is when people ask him to sing Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foster said with a laugh and some colorful language. He likes some Southern rock, but air playing Lynyrd Skynyrd is just not his jam.
I asked him why he does this, and what he gets out of it.
“Well, at first it was just dealing with anxiety,” Foster said. “But now it’s just more I just like doing it. It’s fun for me. It keeps me in a calm mood and keeps me going.”
Foster said the anxiety stems from the breakup of his marriage.
“She left me, and my kids got taken away from me,” Foster said. “And DSS got involved, and then my parents took them back for me. But I could only see them through visits, and it just really drove on me.”
Foster said he used to be an alcoholic, but he got clean, first working a program.
“But then I picked up the fake guitar, and I was like, ‘This is something I could just do,’” Foster said. “And at first, people didn’t like it. But as I kept going, man, and they saw my tenacity, they were like, ‘Huh, he’s enjoying it.’”
Foster is originally from Tennessee, but he grew up in Florida and spent his early adult years in Atlanta before moving to Asheville seven years ago. You’ll get a kick out of why he chose Asheville.
“At first it was just because it was cheaper than Atlanta,” Foster said, acknowledging that must have been a long time ago. “God yeah, it was before the COVID and all that. Now it’s like I’m stuck here. But I like it here.”
Foster said he usually sings for several hours at a pop, sometimes for as many as five or six.
“Yeah, I got pretty good stamina,” Foster said. “Plus, I exercise, so that helps.”
As far as the screaming part, Foster said that’s part of the heavy metal playlist, and people sometimes do ask him how he sustains the vocal onslaught for so long.
“I’m like, ‘Because screaming doesn’t come from your throat. It comes from the diaphragm, or the air controls,’” Foster said. “It’s complicated. It’s not just yelling.”
The calming effects of heavy metal scream/singing are evident, he says.
“Like with a lot of metalheads, people say, ‘They’re so friendly and nice,’” Foster said. “I’m like, ‘That’s because they get all their bullshit out on the stage.’”
Question: Since HCA Mission Hospital is a for-profit enterprise, how much profit did they make last year?
My answer: In the words of corporations everywhere, “Not enough.”
Real answer: Sadly, this information is not readily made public, at least from what I can determine. If you corporate profit sleuths out there have some other ideas on how to get at this, please shoot me an email.
(Side note: I always double check that last phrase to make sure I’ve added the key final two words.)
HCA Healthcare does not break down profits by individual hospitals, so as far as profit, all that is available is what the HCA corporation made, Mission Health spokesperson Nancy Lindell says.
And last year, that was a lot. HCA noted its 2022 net income was $5.64 billion, compared to $6.9 billion for 2021.
While I can’t provide Mission’s profit margin, I can tell you that Mission’s net patient revenue of $1,299,556,635 is the second highest in the company, according to definitivehc.com, a website focused on healthcare commercial intelligence.
HCA, based in Nashville, reported it had 182 hospitals in 2022, supported by 2,300 ambulatory sites of care in 20 states and the United Kingdom.
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