After a two-year hiatus, I visited Aspen the last weekend in September. It was the longest I had been away since moving there with my family as a lucky 14-year-old in 1986. It was a bittersweet homecoming. I came to celebrate the life of an old, dear friend, a local legend, Brother Justin Doty. It was a gathering to remember.
I had the pleasure to see nearly everyone I skied with in those years of growing up ski-bumming in A-town. I wish I could list all the names, but there were far too many; they would take up an entire column.
I downloaded after the Sundeck portion with Kyle the Party Reptile, Dirty Knees and Benny the Blade. Classic. The party then moved to Eric’s Bar, which Brother Justin built. He even prepaid our tab. Randy was bartending, and the vibe was like 1997 retro. No one younger than 30 was present!
Then, Monday morning, Sept. 30, reality set in. As I read The Aspen Times, I learned that Little Annie’s was closing for a remodel, unsure if it was going to have a renewed lease. Working tonight at the sushi bar in Moab, I heard that due to back taxes, Annie’s equipment is going to sale at auction. I almost cried. I always said that when Annie’s, the last old-school hold-out, closes, Aspen is dead.
I also learned, this past St. Patrick’s Day, that the term “wake” originated in Ireland a few hundred years ago, wherein they weren’t sure if their buddy was dead. So many people would pass out from alcohol poisoning that it became practice to place a friend found in a gutter on a table or bed and share stories about them until they either woke up or were decidedly dead.
I came up with an idea. We should have a “wake” for the entire town — a celebration of the town’s life!
It occurred to me that there are a few life signs left: the great people, the beauty of the mountains, new mountain-bike trails, on-mountain improvements, Aspen Brewery and even Eric’s (though taken over by the young crowd, fair enough).
We should have a great big party celebrating bygone eras, all that has come and gone and is yet to come. We should have the ”wake” in Carbondale, where most of the survivors now reside!
Chris “Dogger” Anderson
Moab, Utah, and Fruita