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December 18, 2012
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Aspenites don't take doomsday prediction to heart

ASPEN - More than a few prophesies warn that the end of the world is nigh, but Aspenites don't seem to be taking the doomsday scenarios seriously.

"This is all hocus pocus," said Jeff Hanle, spokesman for Aspen Skiing Co. "Don't believe a word of it."

However, Hanle added that he's lined his ski helmet with aluminum foil and covered his goggles with extra-dark lenses - just in case something should happen on Friday, the target date of the predictions.

"Oh yeah, and I've booked Cloud 9 at Aspen Highlands for a private party all day Friday," he said. "I mean, is there any place you would rather be for your last day on earth?"

Mayor Mick Ireland said the city is preparing a proclamation to announce that every city employee will get the day off Monday if the world ends Friday or over the weekend.

"We think it will take awhile for everyone to put their lives together in the event of an apocalypse, so it is a day off with pay," Ireland said. "I plan a personal powder day myself."

Ireland said he thought the world ended Nov. 6, "when ACORN stole the election" for President Obama.

Joking aside, the prophesies are out there. Cable TV networks such as The History Channel and The Discovery Channel have been devoting thousands of hours of airtime to the topic of a 2012 apocalypse over the past few years.

Most often, promoters of a cataclysmic event base their claim on the ancient Mayan calendar, which ends Friday. Conspiracy theorists, numerologists and armchair prophets usually invoke the Mayans when they theorize that Friday will mean the end of the world.

But others say the calendar has been misinterpreted with too much focus on potential external events - such as a comet that smacks into Earth or a massive solar storm that will cause a complete power-grid failure. The true meaning of the date relates to an internal process, a "new world cycle" that invites humanity to imagine, envision and actualize the possibilities of positive transformation of human culture in harmony with the earth.

Others say that both scenarios are pure hogwash and matters of the world will continue naturally and through man's influence.

Rabbi David Segal, of the Aspen Jewish Congregation, which shares the Aspen Chapel with other denominations, said no one has expressed a concern to him about the topic.

"I don't think it's a concern of people in my congregation," he said. "It doesn't come out of a Jewish belief."

Segal said it seems that every generation seems to face a doomsday prediction, whether they take it seriously or not.

"So far, none of them have been right," he said. "Our religious sensibility is more focused on how do we live out what we perceive to be God's will in this lifetime. We naturally focus less on the afterlife and more on how do we make a difference here and now. I would say most Jews don't give much credence to these doomsday predictions."

Segal shared a quote from ancient Jewish tradition, attributed to Johanan ben Zakai, a sage in the first century: "If you are planting a tree and you hear that the Messiah has come, finish planting the tree, then go and inquire."

While few seem to be taking the end-of-the-world prognostication seriously, others are using it as an excuse to make jokes or throw parties.

Local musician Trenton Allan has put together a fun evening of tunes for BB's Kitchen on East Cooper Avenue. Doctah Dre and the Dynamite Hillbillies will perform originals and covers from 9 to 11 p.m. on Friday. The event is being billed as "The End of the World Party (Just in Case)."

Allan doesn't believe the world will end on Friday. He said "end-of-the-world parties" are good excuses to celebrate life.

"I'm certainly not canceling my appointments next week," he said. "I think the important message to take from these predictions is that life is fragile, we all need each other, and we should live every day as if it's our last."

Belly Up Aspen, Finnbarr's Irish Pub and Kitchen, Base Camp Bar and Grill (in Snowmass Village) and Stubbies Sports Bar and Eatery (in Basalt) also are planning parties around the Dec. 21 prophecy.

Aspen resident Noelle Gunn is planning an End of the World/Christmas party at her house in east Aspen.

"We're going to eat a ton of food and drink our faces off and be merry with friends," she said. "If the world ends, all the people I would want besides family will be there."

Mike Nakagawa, a big Denver Broncos fan, said he doesn't think the world will end, but he does believe his team is headed for the Super Bowl in New Orleans in February. That's a much safer prediction.

But he's ready in case the Friday scenario proves true.

"I have all my Broncos jerseys, as do my children, a 12-gauge shotgun, both cars filled with gas, eight hockey sticks varying in size, a left-handed sushi knife and two dirt bikes with all the essential Mad Max gear," he said. "Really, I don't think the world will end, but I do think Peyton Manning and the Broncos are headed to New Orleans, and not just for Mardi Gras."

asalvail@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 19, 2012 08:16AM Published Dec 18, 2012 11:34PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.