· By Tarleton Walmsley
Burning Questions is a new-ish series on our blog in which we get to dive deep with our vendors, colleagues in cannabis, and generally rad people who we admire, asking them all our most pertinent inquiries. And because Jay has been with Garden Party a little over three months now, we figured this would be a great time to get acquainted with our resident gift whisperer if you haven't yet had the pleasure.
Where are you from? How long have you lived in Asheville?
I was born in rural Louisiana where I spoke with a beautiful Southern drawl until my family moved to upstate New York when I was in elementary school. Although a speech therapist stripped me of my sweet accent, no one could keep Jay away from the South for good.
I moved to Asheville in 2008 with my wife, Bex. Over the past 14 years, we’ve lived in a converted garage in Montford, a homestead near Enka, deep in the woods of Transylvania County, and now in a cozy little home in West Asheville with our dog, Cabbage.
What is your relationship with cannabis like?
Cannabis and I have been on an epic journey over the past 25 years. I was introduced to this glorious plant by high school friends in the 1990s. One of my favorite baby stoner memories is being blissed out under a gnarled oak tree at my friend’s family farm, just watching clouds and twiddling grass between my fingers.
Cannabis continues to be one of my favorite ways to relax on a sunny afternoon, but over the years my relationship with plant medicine has deepened tremendously. Learning about the endocannabinoid system and how it impacts the way my body functions has fundamentally changed my life. I use cannabis to manage wicked insomnia and I’m grateful that tinctures have helped me kick prescription sleep meds—shout out Xula and The Heirloom Collective! I ease migraines with CBG (oh hey Mom Grass). I thank my lucky stars for the Tweedle Farms topical salve that freed me from an impinged shoulder. I feel seen by the people who make and use these products, and they help me honor and even celebrate the ways my body is aging.
The cannabis justice organization We Go High NC and others say that all cannabis use is medicinal and I couldn’t agree more. Feeling tension melt off your body is medicinal. Laughing hysterically at a silly inside joke is medicinal. Deep conversations and physical connections are medicinal. Have I mentioned that food tastes better, nature is more stunning, and life seems lighter when I indulge?
What do you do when you're not Garden Partying?
On my best days I’m tromping through the forest, marveling at moss and mushrooms and blue ghost fireflies. Other times I’m hanging on the porch with Bex and our chosen family or taking Cabbage for a West Asheville stroll. During the work week, I’m usually huddled under headphones joyfully editing podcasts.
How did you get into podcasting?
I was a public radio producer and reporter for many years, but I got burned out on newsroom life. When podcasts arrived on the scene, I realized I could use my skills to make longform stories that weren’t tied to the news and didn’t have the intense pressures of live radio. Podcasts are infinitely more creative and give me an excuse to dive deep into any topic that sparks my interest. My favorite podcast project is editing Broccoli Talk: A Podcast for Cannabis Lovers.What's it like editing the Broccoli Talk podcast?
A dream come true! I was a Broccoli Talk fan from the first episode and it’s still pretty awesome to see the hosts pop up on my screen during recordings. I love doing the behind-the-scenes work so they can shine. The bulk of my job is using digital editing software to cut raw recordings down to the very best moments. It’s a little puzzle for my ears and mind that connects me to humanity in a beautiful way.
What other podcasts have you worked on?
I hosted the food and agriculture podcast Growing Local, which aired on WNCW for five years. At the same time, I hosted, engineered, edited, and marketed my own podcast, Skillet. It was dreamy to create a podcast about food and memory, and it was just as dreamy to put the project to bed after a successful run.
Too many to count, so I’ll stick to cannabis podcasts for now! Great Moments in Weed History is so smart and funny. I’m in awe of hosts who can tell a well-researched story while getting super blazed. I also like The Entourage Effect, a nerdy cannabis science podcast hosted by two budtenders who take dabs while they explain the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system. I always look forward to Mala Muñoz’s clever mix of comedy and cannabis on Marijuanera: A Podcast for Potheads.
Jay's Missed Connection!:) Best part? The friendship has commenced!
What's your ideal afternoon in Asheville look like? Where do you go, who do you see?
My perfect Asheville day would start with an outrageously flaky croissant from OWL Bakery. I’d sit in their sweet little garden and chat with all the folks I’ve been lucky to know during my time in Asheville. Then I’d go downtown to have my undercut buzzed by Crain at Trust Studio and maybe get a new piercing from Alan at Bella. I’d wrap up the afternoon with a visit to Palm + Pine to pick out a cactus buddy and dance in the rainbows with Meghan, Lindsay, and DD the dog. Then I’d head back to my porch, spark a Barbari herbal spliff, and watch the sunset with Bex and Cabbage.
Do you have a hidden talent?
I play classical guitar and can tear through some J.S. Bach like nobody’s business. I also tap dance.
Who's on your dinner party guest list?
I’ve been really curious about psychedelics and microdosing in particular. My dream dinner party guests would include Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, the first person to synthesize LSD. I really want to hear about the bicycle ride that changed his life. I’d invite Ken Kesey and a Merry Prankster to bring a wild dose of spontaneity and their Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Ayelet Waldman, author of A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, would be there to tell us about the science of psychedelics and the most recent research. Lily Kay Ross, psychonaut and co-host of New York Magazine’s podcast Power Trip, would add balance and skepticism as we explore the nuances of the current psychedelic renaissance. Should Tom Wolfe’s ghost be there to document this?
How do you like to Garden Party?
I start by picking the perfect music. I love falling down a Spotify rabbit hole and ending up someplace strange and beautiful. Then I place my Miwak Junior ceramic pipe and Therese Kuempel brass lighter case on a handmade tray with a little matching bowl I use as an ashtray. Now it’s time for a trip to my home dispensary to pick the strain that suits my mood. I’m Team Indica all the way. I love the feeling of a deep, dank indica washing over my body and quieting my mind. My all time favorite strains for relaxation are Grandaddy Purple and Peanut Butter Breath. Apple Fritter pairs wonderfully with a Broccoli Talk editing sesh.
What helps you stay motivated and tap into your creative energy?
Singing and dancing badly and with abandon. I’m pretty much always bopping my head, whether I’m doing dishes at home or grooving with y’all at Garden Party. I’m not a particularly good dancer, but enthusiasm goes a long way. I also love making up silly songs and parodies about domestic life, like asking Cabbage if she would like to go for a walk to the tune of Would You Like to Swing on a Star, or a just little song about whatever I’m doing in the moment. All that silliness might be excruciating for some partners, which brings me to my biggest source of motivation and creative energy, my wife Bex. She finds my goofiness cute (or at least neutral) most of the time. After 17 years together, I’m equally entranced by her beautiful heart and brain. She encourages me to be my weird and wonderful self.