Not my dog. Not my fight
January 3, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoYears ago, when I was even dumber than I am today, I found myself in a fistfight with a drunken stranger in the parking lot of a bar in South Hadley, Mass.No need to go into details. It ended badly, as those things always do. But I remember the moment just before the drunken stranger and I began punching each other in the face.We were surrounded by a crowd and I glanced at the excited faces, alight with anticipation of the mayhem to come.With the heightened awareness you get at moments like that, I was feeling two emotions. On one hand, I was filled with a kind of sneering superiority to the mob. After all, I was the warrior; they were the cowardly bystanders. At the same time, it occurred to me in that brief flash, that they might be the smart ones. They, after all, weren’t likely to get punched in the face.I think that’s a pretty classic mixture of emotions. We all want to be warriors; no one wants to get punched in the face. We see a good fight and part of our mind – the ancient lizard brain – wants to jump in, swinging an ax. The more modern part of our brain – that part that actually thinks – says, “Whoa! That’s not my fight.”Or as rural wisdom sums it up, “I don’t have a dog in that fight.”I experienced that exact mixture of emotions over the holidays as I read about two squabbles right here in River City. Both times, there was a grand old fight. Both times, I wanted to take sides and jump in, swinging my battle-ax.And, both times, I realized that both sides in the fight were despicable. No dog of mine in there.First was the glorious running street fight between the paparazzi and the celebs – specifically the celeb known as J-Lo. (I don’t know what that name means. J-Lo. Hmmm. “Jumbo-Lobotomy,” perhaps?)First off, of course, we all want to hate the vile paparazzi. They’re a pack of running dogs, yipping and nipping at everything in sight. They deserve to be treated like any other vicious strays that bite – take ’em to the pound and put ’em down.But wait! As I read the news stories, I see that poor J-Lo was forced to take shelter “with her entourage.” Her entourage! This poor little creature who just wanted to be left in peace to enjoy her life like anyone else parading around town with her entourage!J-Lo, honey, just between us, leave your entourage home. And don’t tell your press agent where you’re going for the holidays. The paparazzi won’t know where you are – and the rest of us will be more than glad to ignore you.Until then, you all go on and have at it. Fur and fangs flying. I’ll just stand here and watch.Our second holiday battle is the name-calling contest between the city administration and an out-of-town TV advertising production company.According to the first story I read, these out-of-town jerks showed up, unannounced, to rape our innocent little town by disrupting traffic, towing cars that were legally parked, dumping snow in the streets, screwing up people’s lives in general and wantonly filming some exploitative advertising trash. We were only saved from total degradation when the Aspen police showed up to throw those bums out of town.Another pack of running dogs, obviously. Take ’em out and shoot ’em.Then came the second story, with the production company’s version of things. They claim they worked for months to get everything arranged. They say they had all their permits. They even met with the chief of police.What happened? Poor communications, I guess. Maybe when the mayor asked the chief of police to stomp his hoof twice for “Yes, they have a permit,” he lost count. How should I know?The point is, I’d love to hate the out-of-town film company – but not if it means cheering for our cranky, sullen, incompetent city government.Nope. No dog in that fight. You kids have fun. Punch each other in the face.I’ll watch.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is email@example.com.