Roger Marolt: Roger This
August 26, 2011
There were two notable events that happened in the center of the universe this week. First, a cowboy and cowgirl from Grand Junction pulled the old dine-and-gallop trick at Mezzaluna. They allegedly ran up a tab of $51.23, tip not included, then hopped on their horses and rode off into the Cooper Street mall.It was there they had their first encounter with the police. A presumptuous bystanding busybody had reported them as drunk. When the officers determined that the cow people had not, in fact, been drunk, but only peaceably riding their horses through downtown Aspen’s busy streets, they were sent on their merry way after being asked to clean up a little manure left in the crosswalk.It was later the cops learned from the people at Mezzaluna that the same punchers had absconded with a free meal. To make this pizza-western short, the police caught up with the scoundrels in chaps near Stillwater where they, the cowpokes, told a bunch of pretty believable lies, were let go, and since now they won’t return the police officers’ phone calls from their home in Grand Junction – is it really worth tracking down people who won’t return simple phone messages in a timely manner anyway? – it looks like they are going to get away with the crime.In the other incident two inmates came fist to bloody lip over a disputed line call in a jail-gymnasium volleyball game. Since what happens in Aspen’s jail stays in Aspen’s jail, we don’t have many details. What we do know is that self-refereed games always end up more intense than anticipated, and if a close game comes down to a call made by the player who would lose the game if the ball is on the line, meaning “in,” and he thus makes a bad call to keep the game going, whether to win a bet or just extend play to avoid going back to solitary confinement, the result is usually a fight coupled with grudges that can extend for generations. But, this is purely speculation in this case. Both of these stories bring a smile. I’m thankful that they happened here. Each epitomizes that funky “character” of Aspen that we miss so much from the times when events like these were, allegedly, commonplace.Incidents like these are good for business. If you want real bears, go to Yellowstone. If you want nuts, come to Aspen. Although potentially more dangerous, the nuts generate more tourism dollars.Don’t get me wrong, though. If we are going to promote zaniness, we need to regulate it; too much of a good, whacked-out thing and visitors get jumpy, like back in the mining days when Aspen was legitimately off-kilter like Leadville still is. To make sure that we have a desirable level of madness happening on a regular and steady basis I propose the city forms the Pee and Vinegar (P&V) commission. If anyone wants to stage a fight or wreak any other type of acceptable havoc, I think it’s appropriate for them to get a permit first. That way we can schedule it and not have everything occurring on Friday nights in the off-seasons or during X Games. It would be as simple as an applicant presenting their idea for things like peeing in an alley or taunting Texans to the point of inciting retribution. After the P&V review, the plan may be sent back to the applicant for revision or passed up to City Council with a recommendation for approval or denial. Of course for huge digressions such as New Year’s Eve bomb threats to be approved, mitigating concessions might be made a condition – like the promise to build a new fire station and/or put money in the employee housing fund.Further, the cost of producing mayhem isn’t what it used to be when anyone could stage it fairly inexpensively. It is not cheap to get out-of-your-mind stinking drunk in this town where one beer can cost seven bucks. We don’t want rich people creating all the trouble. To address this, The city could subsidize regular working miscreants. That’s right, prove you work here, turn in your tax return, and see how much you qualify for. One condition of getting the employee subsidy would be a promise to do something stupid at least annually or you have to sell your rights to another worker in town with more gumption. Once the subsidy is received one must promise to not pull any stunts outside Pitkin County and only create chaos here at home.Then too, we can’t let our hooligans break the law without penalty. So as not to damper enthusiasm for the program we will need to approve a multimillion-dollar bond initiative to expand and redo the jail. In order to inspire people to get into trouble we have to make the jail a posh, state-of-the-art, world-class facility with wireless Internet. Having a five-star jail would certainly make headlines, further promote our cause, and create more government jobs.Lastly, we have to make sure that the local bedlam is friendly to the environment. For example, as in the case of the cow people mentioned above, for cleaning up road apples there should be an incentive for using reusable horse-poop bags, which can be placed in an obvious dispenser on every street corner and carried around in a holster between uses. If you commit an approved misdemeanor in a Prius, you should get an additional five-minute head start before the police can pursue. Better yet, take the bus and then the cops are required to also. There should be a penalty for throwing a glass of sparkling bottled water in a fresh bar patron’s face. Aspen tap is fine. You get the idea. I bet we can do this.
Roger Marolt doesn’t see why not. Contact him at email@example.com.