| AspenTimes.com

What’s a wine cave really for?

It happened again last week.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sneered, “We don’t go to wine caves or wherever to raise our money.”

It was a thinly veiled swipe at an unnamed rival. Though everyone knows it targeted former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. This follows comments made in December by fellow democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren who, at a debate, similarly used the “wine cave” brush to paint Mayor Pete as elitist. Even “Saturday Night Live” got into the act with a Kate McKinnon spoof.

While the point that Buttigieg is funding his campaign by cozying up to billionaires may or may not have validity, to be clear, the “wine cave” rhetoric is meant to be divisive. It is an attempt to create a sound bite, a buzz phrase that infers an us-versus-them, rich-versus-poor, wine drinkers-versus-non-drinkers divide.

Beyond that, it also inaccurately demonizes the wine world by using a symbol to suggest elitism.

While wine caves have indeed become status symbols in some wineries, particularly those in the Napa Valley, the origin of the caves is utilitarian. They are an ancient, clever way to store and age wines in an efficient, temperature- and humidity-friendly environment. The vast majority of wine caves are not an amenity, but rather a tool for the production of an agricultural product. In much of the world, wine is a part of day-to-day life, not a luxury product.

A little background on the wine cave controversy:

On Dec. 15, a fundraising event was held under the title “An Evening in the Vineyards with Mayor Pete.” It took place not exactly in the vineyards, but rather in the cellar, or wine cave, at HALL Wines, which is owned by Craig and Kathryn Walt Hall. The Halls have a long history with Democratic Party fundraising as well a significant roll in philanthropic causes in the Napa Valley. Kathryn is the face of the winery, which specializes in the production of Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. She also was the U.S. ambassador to Austria under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001.

Now, by any definition, HALL Wines is upscale. Over the top might be more accurate. The art collection amassed for display there is world-class, featuring the likes of John Baldessari, Jim Campbell, Nick Cave and Jaume Plensa to name just a few. And the wine cellar room is clearly designed to impress those who pay the price for special events and tastings.

But what has seemed to set people off the most was a chandelier that hangs above the table where the dinner was held. Made by the Austrian glass producer Swarovski, it reportedly features 1,500 grape “crystals.” It has been reported that approximately 200 people attended the fundraiser with tickets priced from $500 to $2,800. Expensive, but hardly billionaire pricing.

If you have ever traveled to wine regions around the world, you know the charm that is evoked when you tread down ancient stone steps into the damp and cold depths of a wine cave. There you’ll find hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bottles of wine from different vintages resting in racks, aging until they are ready to be released. The low, vaulted ceiling — often illuminated in soft light — only enhances the aura of wine waiting for its perfect time.

Perhaps the most famous of these caves are found under the chalky soils of the Champagne region in France. Called les crayères, or chalk caves, these vast caverns were originally hollowed out during the days of the Roman Empire. As the great Champagne houses began to evolve, they served their purpose in the aging of the effervescent wines that were riddled, or turned, regularly. In World War I, the caves became underground cities as residents of the region sought safety from the raging war above.

In recent decades, many wineries — yes, some owned by billionaires — have created lavish visitor amenities in caverns below their wineries where guests can taste wine while noshing on cheese plates and such. The intent is to impress and the experiences can be magical. There is little need to degrade that element of wine for a cheap insult at a competing politician.

On Valentine’s Day, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative proclaimed that, while they would not impose the previously threatened 100% tariffs on European wines for the time being, the current 25% tariffs on certain French, German, Spanish and British wines would remain in effect. It was a bittersweet and temporary victory, but still a welcome sign.

It is a dangerous time for wine. Let’s hope both sides of the political aisle can refrain from using it for their personal gain.

Mountain Mayhem: True blue

As the bold color chosen to represent Autism Awareness, blue has become a symbol of hope and support for the individuals and families affected by this debilitating disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Autism Spectrum Disorder affects about 1% of the world’s population. Blue becomes especially prevalent at events and in campaigns throughout April during Autism Awareness Month. On April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, landmarks and monuments are lit up in blue from the White House to the Empire State Building to Niagara Falls and beyond.

In Aspen, Autism Awareness efforts are heightened earlier in the year with the annual Ascendigo Blue benefit, which took place on Saturday, Feb. 15, this year. The entire façade of the historic Hotel Jerome was awash in blue for the charity event held in its Antler Bar and Ballroom. All proceeds are directed to the Roaring Fork Valley-based Ascendigo Autism Services, which supports local, regional and national populations of youth and adults across the autism spectrum.

The lively fundraiser featured drinks, dinner, live and silent auctions, musical entertainment, special guests and no shortage of panache. Guests arrived at the sold-out event in flair, wearing blue in a variety of fabrics, patterns, styles and applications. Guest Tori Campisi sported blue suede boots that she special ordered on Amazon while Ashley Johnson’s jumpsuit was a recent find for the party, complemented by a red, white and blue Gucci belt. Tiffany Woodyard found a navy sequin blazer dress online and overnighted it while her friend Julianne Murphy wore a blue velvet jacket bought expressly for the event. “It’s my sixth year coming to this benefit and I now have a whole closet full of ‘Austism Blue’ clothing,” she noted with pride.

Libations: Sweet and spicy margaritas over President Day weekend

Going into Presidents Day weekend, I thought it would be smart to exercise my patriotism and seek out the libations our country’s founding fathers and leaders of more recent history may have bellied up to the bar for.

I could have drank a dark porter to celebrate George Washington, water in honor of Abraham Lincoln (who reportedly was a dry man) or a vodka martini in the name of George H.W. Bush.

Instead, I found myself sipping sake at Jing on Friday and tequila and mezcal at Su Casa on Saturday like a true American.

After eating half a basket of tortilla chips in less than 10 minutes, I asked the waiter what the most popular Su Casa margarita is. He said the blood orange, which has fresh lime, Corazon Reposado tequila, Campari Liquer and blood orange of course, and the hot chile, which consists of chili-citrus tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime in a chili salt-rimmed glass were the top two. But his favorite was the hot chile with mezcal instead of tequila, so I took his word and ordered that with a blood orange margarita on the side.

The drinks couldn’t have been more opposite, yet both equally delicious. The blood orange went down sweet with a little citrus-bitter aftertaste, the hot chile smoky with a tingly spice burn on the tongue. There were even jalapenos floating in the hot chile margarita with the ice cubes, its seeds like little sprinkles at the surface.

Both were fantastic. Both were under $20 each, which is a win in this town. Both did the trick, as I was happily buzzed a quarter of the way through my hot chile.

Moral of the story: Su Casa es tu casa y mi casa y nuestra casa whether you’re looking for something sweet or spicy, or not really sure what you’re looking for at all.

High Country: Roadside CDOT Censorship

Earlier this month, The Aspen Times’ Jason Auslander reported on Pitkin County officials’ concern about the 10-plus Dalwhinnie Colorado Cannabis signs dotting Highway 82. County Manager Jon Peacock formalized the government’s worries in a letter to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on Dec. 18. In it, he wrote that the county is “trying to discourage use of marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs among our youth and youth who are visiting” and argued “this appears to be a partnership that was rolled out hastily and as a result will vex local communities (I’m sure we’re not the only one complaining).”

As it turns out, Pitkin County is the only one in the state complaining, according to CDOT Northwest region communications manager Elise Thatcher.

“This is the first time a county has complained about the program,” Thatcher shared with me,

And for what it’s worth, I doubt many backseat passengers who fall into the “youth” category are paying more attention to the “Colorado Cannabis” fine print on the signage than what’s streaming on the screens of their handheld devices. I personally noticed the signs in September and promptly sent an email to Dalwhinnie, excited to learn about a new, presumably local cannabis company in our city, which to my longtime local knowledge, was the first to take up real estate along Aspen’s only state thoroughfare (a fact also confirmed by Thatcher).

Curious about what specific complaints county officials have received pertaining to the signs, I inquired with Peacock, to which he replied, “Many of the complaints have been informal and directly to board (of county commissioners) members, so we do not have an exact count. However, this has been an issue board members have been hearing about for several months, and complaints continue to roll in.”

For Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper, the subject matter is less of an issue than the size and frequency of the actual signage and the fact that Dalwhinnie hasn’t personally cleaned up its section of Highway 82 since the campaign began.

“The signs do not appear to be in compliance with CDOT’s rules and regulations for signage along state highways,” Clapper told me during a phone interview. “We never saw anybody out there putting up these new signs, they just suddenly appeared.”

Clapper added: “We only received a few (complaints) and it was a while ago … not significant numbers. The main thing is that when you drive the highway you can’t help but notice (the signs). They are just too big and in your face. The board is concerned as a whole as to if they are legal and are they (Dalwhinnie) going to clean up the highway?”

Thatcher confirmed the signs do follow program requirements. And it’s not Dalwhinnie’s responsibility to clean the road as a sign sponsor, which were bought under the Clean Colorado program — not the better-known Adopt a Highway. As such, when businesses enlist in the Clean Colorado sponsorship program, they pay a fee to cover the cost of a cleanup crew for their designated stretch of highway. It’s an increasingly popular marketing workaround for the cannabis industry, which faces a multitude of restrictions when it comes to advertising on TV, radio, billboards and social media.

Peacock says Pitkin County is still awaiting a formal response from CDOT as to how the program is being implemented and overseen.

“We have seen no evidence of cleanups. We want to know how many times sections of Highway 82 with these signs have actually been cleaned by the company receiving (Dalwhinnie’s) advertising revenues,” Peacock added. “It appears there was more responsiveness to The Aspen Times than the county. The board has requested that we pursue further scrutiny of the program.”

Commissioner Clapper agreed: “The responses that Jason reported in the newspaper are of concern to us as far as public safety. We are not letting it go at this point until we have answers to our questions.”

According to a Feb. 14 news story in the Denver Post, “Cannabis companies are the leading sponsors of Colorado highways, accounting for cleanup on two-thirds of the roads maintained by Clean Colorado — a program the industry has leveraged as a loophole in the state’s strict limits on marijuana advertising.” Currently, 50 cannabis-related businesses (including dispensaries, cultivators, manufacturers and edible producers) sponsor highway miles throughout the state, accounting for 48% (versus the 66% reported in The Denver Post, clarified by Thatcher) of all sponsored roadways part of the Clean Colorado program.

In addition to cultivating the cannabis industry’s support for its Clean Colorado initiative, CDOT is also dedicated to impaired driving awareness. The state agency, which manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges in Colorado, recently wrapped a Valentine’s Day “Nip It In The Bud” promotion in partnership with Lightshade dispensaries across metro Denver to give customers cannabis-themed bouquets adorned with safety messages and cards with reminders of driving laws.

The holiday effort is part of CDOT’s ongoing “Cannabis Conversation” campaign, a two-year initiative that researched cannabis driving behaviors and perspectives from more than 18,000 Coloradans. CDOT results found that dispensaries and budtenders are among the most trusted messengers when it comes to information about cannabis safety, laws and regulations.

Dalwhinnie embarked on the Clean Colorado campaign as a prelude to the grand opening of its flagship location, which will be downtown Aspen’s ninth cannabis dispensary when it opens this spring (the final step is getting approval from the Historic Preservation Commission for its nearly-finished home on the corner of Mill and Main Street).

With its cultivation operation more than three hours away in Ridgway, Dalwhinnie thought a Clean Colorado campaign was the best possible way to participate without having any staff yet on the ground in Aspen.

“Because cannabis is so regulated, I think we’re just getting extra scrutiny on top of it,” said Dalwhinnie Group chief strategy and brand officer Jenny Diggles, who recently relocated from Portland, Oregon, to Aspen proper full time. “It’s a shame to get caught in the crosshairs of this confusion between CDOT and the city, but here we are. We really were trying to do something good and support the community before we could even open officially. We were very thoughtful about where we wanted to place our brand and look at Aspen as our home. We want the community to see us as a company that cares about their community.”

Don’t worry, Dalwhinnie, there are a lot of locals that appreciate your support of keeping Highway 82 clean are ready to welcome your store with open arms.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

Aspen Times Weekly Q&A: Piñon’s owner Rob Mobilian

Perched on the second floor of a Mill Street building overlooking Hopkins Avenue’s “Restaurant Row” and Ajax beyond, Piñon’s boasts a true bird’s-eye view of Aspen. So it figures that the restaurant’s 1988 founding chef of 25 years—and owner since 2001—Rob Mobilian has seen it all. As chief operator of a well-oiled machine, Mobilian still steps onto the kitchen line from time to time, though most nights you’ll find him on the floor, greeting guests and ensuring impeccable service.

Contrary to popular belief, Piñon’s has changed, during a slow, steady evolution. Just last week, Mobilian added a new, young chef to his team; soon the 40-seat outdoor deck will get a summer facelift.

Here Mobilian reflects on 32 years—the good, bad, and beyond compare.

AR: What was the restaurant scene when owner Fred Mayerson hired you as chef to open Piñon’s in 1988?

RM: He had just sold the Chi-Chi’s chain and moved to Aspen. There were half the restaurants in town. It was us, Gordon’s, Abetone, The Golden Horn, The Parlour Car—six or seven high-end restaurants—and then Little Annie’s, J-Bar, etc. Marvin Davis (who acquired 20th Century Fox) owned the ski company. (Piñon’s) was packed every night. For the first five years it was super Hollywood.

AR: Why was that?

RM: People feel comfortable here. Celebrities love coming here because they don’t get bothered. I’ve met tons of good people who have made (Piñon’s) their second living/dining room.

AR: Any memories stand out?

RM: I have crazy stories. Jack Nicholson with two hookers in the booth, he’d pull out a giant vial and just swoosh. I talked to Bill Belichick—another Jersey guy, he was coaching the Cleveland Browns—in the hallway for 20 minutes. He was my hero because he coached the (New York) Giants. I’ve talked with Sidney Poitier, Sally Field, Kevin Costner. I had dinner with O.J. Simpson just two months before he ….

Arnold Schwarzenegger gave me this giant cigar one night! Donald Trump came here for New Year’s in 1990 and told me to ‘Have a great decade.’ Marla Maples was at the Jerome and his wife, Ivanka, was at The Little Nell with their little kids. He came here with Marla.

Piñon’s regular clientele is the foundation, though.

I enjoy building relationships. People who have been coming here for 30 years, who were in their 30s and 40s, are now in their 60s and 70s. I know all their kids. And they’re still coming.

AR: Including the next generation of clientele?

RM: There are customers who came in when they were 6 (with family), then 13. Now they’re 25, 26, coming in with (significant others).

AR: How do you reconcile changing Piñon’s menu without discouraging diners who crave a specific meal year after year?

RM: We have dishes that have been on a long time, then I take them off and people are so upset. Like the macadamia-crusted ahi; chicken with country stuffing. You try to keep core staples, then do a lot of specials so people can try new stuff. We’ve learned what Aspen guests want.

AR: What do Aspen diners want?

RM: They want a steakhouse, but nothing too foofy. The majority of (guests) are outdoorsy, country folks. They want the best-quality ingredients cooked perfectly: a good steak, accompaniments and service. Of course, we have an amazing wine list. (Sommelier) Tim Bean has been here 20 years, and he has a 900-bottle list of some of the best wines in the world.

AR: What are Piñon’s defining dishes?

RM: Rack of lamb, veal chops, steaks, seafood, pasta, caviar. The whole-roasted Dover sole, Freddy Salad, filet of beef with foie gras, duck quesadilla—those four (will never change). Everything else has evolved.

AR: Recently you hired chef Kyle Raymond to join chefs Bret Kistner and Olegario Miramontes—in Piñon’s kitchen 11 and 15 years, respectively.

RM: We are so excited to have him—this is an awesome team! Chef Kevin (Ribich) just left after 18 years, so Bret is taking over. They’re gonna come out with some new dishes and bring it.

Says chef Bret Kistner: “A few weeks ago we needed help. Rob took his suit jacket off, came down behind the line, and killed it. It’s nice to have that dynamic, and him understand the new style of the restaurant. He’s been butchering a lot.”

AR: Piñon’s has been credited with launching Aspen’s bar menu trend, yes?

RM: I think I kick-started it in the early ’90s. (Gesturing to bar tables) This used to be a waiting area. People kept asking if they could eat at the bar. So we put in some high-tops, (and offered) a bar menu: prix-fixe, three courses, a full meal for $32 bucks. So, all the locals started coming in. It’s $38 (for two courses) now. Bar menus are everywhere.

AR: What is your fundamental key to success?

RM: Consistency. When people come in here we know their name, they feel at home. You’ve got to create an energy, and make people feel good.

AR: How do you retain talent in a competitive hospitality industry?

RM: Treat them with respect. This is a professional business, created thousands of years ago, refined in Europe, and brought (to America). It’s not just waiting tables or (being) a busboy. It’s a profession. My goal, which took a while to figure out: keep staff happy. If your staff is happy, they make customers happy.

AR: Any disadvantage to being around 32 years?

RM: People forget about you. They try all they new places. Then they do come back and say, I forgot! It’s so great! People think we’re an older (crowd), which we are. But they’ve been supporting me 32 years. I’ve met many people who have been (in Aspen) 20 years who have never been in Piñon’s. Well, give it a try. It’s not as pricy as you think.

AR: Good example: Piñon’s most iconic dish is the humble Freddy Salad. Any idea how many served?

RM: I wish I knew! Everybody loves it. It’s a BLT (with) the greatest ranch dressing in the world. We’re trying to get the recipe down with this company in Dayton, Ohio. Freddy (Mayerson) is in Cincinnati. Hopefully within the next year we’ll have it bottled and on shelves. I tell everyone: the Freddy Salad put my kids through college.


Gear Review: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Pickup Truck

Move over, Tesla. Nikola Motor Company, based in Phoenix, this month announced a pickup truck with “fewer emissions, more power and longer range” thanks to hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

The truck has impressive stats, including a zero-to-60 speed of 2.9 seconds. A massive 906 peak horsepower is another callout.

The brand, known more for its eco-minded semi-trucks, will offer the forthcoming pickup in both fuel-cell electric and battery-electric versions. The model name is Badger.

“Nikola has billions’ worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?” said Nikola CEO Trevor Milton.

Click here to read the full Gear Junkie review.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

How two Aspenites found their cure for pain

Pain. It is the loose thread that can be the snag in our bespoke Aspen lifestyle.

Most of us feel a bit of the unraveling each day. I’m not talking about the deep pain from intense injury or illness. But rather, the almost-always-there tightness in our lower back that comes from picking up toddlers or walking a hard-charging dog. It’s that pull in the calves as we begin our daily run or put on ski boots. Or even that seizing catch in the back of the neck or shoulders when we ever-so-slightly move the wrong way while sitting with our heads buried in our digital devices.

The fact is, our lifestyles, especially for those of us who take the leap from our sedentary workplace into the active outdoors without thought or appropriate stretching, can take its toll. And pain is the price.

“The science of injuries is the same whether they occur at work or at play,” says Bill Fabrocini, a longtime local orthopedic therapist. “Repetitive strain injuries result from spending too much time doing the same thing over and over, whether it’s running every day or sitting for hours at a computer. Low back pain can result as easily from poor posture as it can from an injury. Even if you don’t think you are doing something that can create soft-tissue injuries, you likely are doing so with the things you do everyday.”

On a recent evening in Here House, the clubhouse/shared work facility/coffeehouse/community center tucked into a Cooper Street courtyard behind Mezzaluna, a small crowd of locals and visitors gathered for a Wellness Wednesdays discussion (see “Wellness Wednesdays,” page 13). Fabrocini and Aspen local David Mills — partners in the production of the revolutionary, Aspen-created, therapeutic healing devices under the “Vibe Roller” moniker — came to make a presentation on “Hidden Health Dangers in The Workplace.”

As mundane as the title may sound, Fabrocini’s talk was a clarion call that we all need to engage in realistic options to treat and relieve the neck aches, sore backs, poor sleep and lack of focus that are well-documented symptoms of our digital age. People, like us, who work on digital screens for more than four consecutive hours a day are five times more likely to develop both short-term and long-term chronic pain.

But, by using some relatively simple techniques and modalities with the Vibe Roller, it is possible to open connections in our muscular system, alleviating day-to-day pain and putting our bodies into optimum condition for both work and play.


As a therapist, Fabrocini is all about fascia, the membrane of connective tissue under our skin that is responsible for attaching, stabilizing and enclosing our muscles and internal organs.

“Think of fascia as a soft skeleton, ‘the organ of form,’” he told the Here House crowd as he enthusiastically clicked through a series of PowerPoint images illustrating the way our muscles are wrapped by the collagen-based material.

In his visual presentation, Fabrocini emphasized that our daily activities counteract the triad of posture, mobility and stability that is so crucial to maintaining a healthy infrastructure.

“The human head weighs around 12 pounds,” he instructed as he showed a photo of a man leaning his head over a cellphone. “But, when you are hunched over at a 60-degree angle, looking at your mobile device, your head can put a 60 lbs. of strain on your neck.”

Think of hanging a backpack on your neck every time you check your phone.

“And how often do you check your phone like that each day?” he asked.

Fabrocini pointed out that the repetitive motions we do every day in the workplace — the constant typing, the slouching as we sit in front of a screen, even the way we tuck our legs under us, all contribute to creating “islands of compression in our fascia and muscles.” They twist and knot the fascia in ways that restrict our range of motion. And when that happens, we are ripe for injury.

“A major computer project can put as much strain and wear and tear on a worker’s body as running a marathon might on an athlete’s body,” Fabrocini emphasized with emotion. “The repetition can make all of us, office workers and athletes, susceptible. Then one morning we wake up with shoulder pain and think we must have slept wrong, but the truth is that damage to the fascia has been building and that pain is just the natural end point.”



Handsome, trim and athletic, you wouldn’t think by looking at David Mills that he would have issues with pain. But the endurance athlete (top 100 finisher in the Spartan Games World Championships in 2017) and trail runner became obsessed through his training with trying to find ways to enhance recovery and improve his performance.

“A few years ago I began to experiment with different modalities to loosen my muscles and fascia,” he explained in his British-tinged accent (he was raised in Ipswich, England, and graduated from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England’s West Point). “I tried using tennis balls and roller devices, but I really felt that vibration was the key.”

He came up the concept of creating a silicone-wrapped, peanut-shaped device with a depression in the center that would vibrate using a battery-powered motor. “By placing the device directly upon a muscle, the pressure and vibration increase blood flow at that point, increase elasticity in the fascia and activates the neurological system,” he explained.

The Vibe Roller was born.

Over the last four years, Mills has worked to perfect his Vibe Roller products (which are produced in China), while partnering with Fabrocini to educate the public about the value of using pressure in conjunction with vibration to help heal the body’s “soft skeleton,” the fascia. From his home in Aspen, where he lives with his wife Danielle and 15-month-old son Archer, Mills has devoted his professional life to the development of the Aspen Vibe line.

The roller is designed to be used for 10 to 20 minutes per day, depending upon an individual’s routine. It operates at three different speeds, ranging from 20 to 50 pulses per second. Slower and you’ll achieve a release of the muscle you target, faster and you’ll be activating the muscle and the surrounding fascia. If you have a pressure point in your shoulder, you may want to push the Vibe Roller end directly on that point. If you are using it prior to running or skiing, you might roll it down the backs of your calves or on your quads to loosen them before exercise. But the impacts of a session working the lower back while lying on the floor or against a wall is the holy grail for some users.

At the Wellness Wednesday event, when Mills opened a box full of Vibe Hex Pros and Vibe Peanuts and passed them around the room, you could audibly hear the oohs and ahhs as the attendees turned them on and placed the vibrating devices on trigger spots on their bodies.

“There is definitely a ‘wow’ factor when people experience the Vibe for the first time,” Mills said.

Feeling a sore spot or tight spot begin to melt and open up within seconds can definitely be a revelation.

“Think of the fascia like a roll of pizza dough,” Fabrocini explained. “You know how when you pick it up it’s firm and kind of sticky? But when you beat it up and throw it on the counter it becomes loose and pliable? That’s what the vibration is doing to the fascia; it is making it loose and pliable. You want your fascia to be springy and bouncy and a session with the Vibe Roller will do just that.”

Jim Marolda, a certified trainer and bartender (he can be found at the Maroon Creek Club in the daytime and Matsuhisa in the evenings) extolled the benefits of using the roller with regularity: “I work with all kinds of clients from younger athletes to 70-year-old skiers. Whenever I introduce them to a session with the Vibe Roller, people are just amazed. I have one woman client who is 74 who told me she uses one every day before skiing.”

Mills has recently launched a new product, called Myo-Pro Plus, which is a more directed, gun shaped, percussion massager. It provides direct pulsations on specific hot spots and deep-tissue stimulation. And the company is also partnering with a Steamboat Springs producer of CBD creams and oils, Lost Range, that are made to alleviate pain. When used in combination, Mills believes the creams and the technology will provide maximum opportunity for release and rejuvenation of the fascia.

While he is amping up marketing and production of the Vibe Roller products and the other offerings, Mills’ passion for healing remains at the core of his mission. As he stood in the afterglow of the Wellness Wednesday presentation passing out products purchased by the attendees, he smiled. “You know, I like selling these but what I really am happy about is that they help people. I really just want to help people in pain feel better. That’s what this is all about. Sure I am making a living, but I am working four times harder than I thought.”

He paused and then repeated softly, almost to himself: “I really just want to help people in pain feel better.” •

Everyday heroes: With great power comes … this?

What if you could like, fly, or had X-ray vision? These are the dangerous, hypothetical games middle-schoolers of today are playing in their crawlspaces during sleepovers ­… and have been for years.

Never content with these options, and because God invented airplanes and the dark web, this week Ben and Sean turn their accellerated brains toward superpowers they wish they had ­— or already possess — which will vastly improve humanity, or at least relieve the torment that is this itchy, bubonic existence called peoplekind.


SB: Translation Man seems like such a boring superhero on the surface. You’re not beating up anyone or throwing SUVs or really able to defend yourself against typical super villains.

However, you would be able to understand every being in the universe — and that includes animals. Now, like most of these columns, the ideas aren’t fully thought out. I’m not sure if talking back to them is something I would want. I’m trying to negotiate with aliens Samuel L. Jackson “Negotiator” style, not be a glorified Dr. Doolittle.

Also, think about how valuable Translation Man would be to historians. Dead languages could be resurrected and any and all hieroglyphics would be decipherable, and that’s like 85% of Indiana Jones’ genius. He’s not a superhero per se but, hey, f— Nazis and Batman doesn’t have abilities either.

It’s a win for all of humanity, but I’m iffy on how many enemies he would spawn. That said, even if the streets are quiet, he could make plenty of cash as the best travel agent of all time. If you know Japanese, you can work in Hawaii tomorrow. Seriously, look it up.


BW: Every superhero needs an origins story. The first time I realized I had the power of invisibility — or at least, the first time I was old enough to comprehend it — was in Boy Scouts (RIP) during the seventh grade. For Ivan’s Eagle Scout project, we restored a trailhead in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains in December. I was wearing jeans because as a fashion-forward homeschooler that’s all I owned, and also I’d outgrown my snow boots (size 6 represent!) so I just had plastic shopping bags over my tennis shoes and was probably also rocking a cold. Defrosting and sneezing in the ride back home was more tenths of an orgasm than my 12-year-old body could accommodate.

At our next troop meeting, Ivan personally thanked and gave cards to everyone who helped fulfill his destiny. Well, almost everyone. “Um, Brad, were you there?” he sort of asked in my direction. I just gave my trademark wide-eyed wall stare until he went away. Ivan better hope I’m never at the bottom of his belay rope.

Now, this ability comes in handy when I’m empty at the pub and don’t want a refill, but would rather just watch the bartender wipe the counter and completely ignore me. That desire presents itself very rarely but I often seem to enable the gift on accident. What do you mean you need to see my ID? Dude, we’ve ridden chairlifts together. We’re friends on Facebook. Remember?

Other townies I have been introduced to no less than 20 times look at me like I have three heads as they extend their hands and say “Matt? Good to meet you.”

Anyway, I said for my whole life I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.


SB: I once wrote a college essay for a serious research class about the most marketable athlete of all time. The paper initially received a D primarily because I didn’t use any real research other than what was at the time between six and eight hours of ESPN consumption per day.

I was probably deserving of the grade but then something dope happened. As each student was presenting their end-of-semester papers and the only person asking questions was the professor, the response to my paper was overwhelming to the point that the teacher had to stop the discussion because we would’ve ran out of time for the rest of the predictably forgettable yet well-researched essays. Homie bumped me up to a C- and I passed the class.

No, the power isn’t being an incredible bullshitter; it’s certifying my credentials as an expert on the marketability of athletes. While my concoction presented to the panel of 20-some UNO students was a combo of pre-dogfighting Michael Vick and Peyton Manning, my preferred super athlete would be an extraterrestrial fusion of Zion Williamson and Vince Carter.

Can you imagine dropping the House of Highlights version of the Wuxi Finger? Just obliterating a poor, unassuming Latvian 7-footer’s existence? It’s incomprehensible. VC Bill Buckner’ed Fredric Wies and made him the business end of a highlight on a loop for infinite. Zion hasn’t done that — yet.

Zionce Carterson would crash Instagram multiple times a week.


BW: Everyone knows about the “piss window,” right? Say you’re at a friend’s house and need to drop a deuce. You can’t just disappear into the bathroom for 25 minutes, so you have to speed poop in the time it would take you to pee, and hence avoid suspicion. I have the opposite problem.

The human body is 80% water or whatever, but I think when the storks were making me at the factory they accidentally stuck those extra moisture reservoirs into my bladder. This is helpful in many situations. For example, I don’t even know what an airplane restroom looks like. I’ve never woken up at 4 a.m. and darted for the bathroom (to pee … barf, yes). I can wait for the party’s host to use the facilities, steal his stuff, and still not soil myself during the police car ride or jail inprocessing.

To test the limits of my power, I once drank over 100 ounces of liquids without urinating and went to Belly Up. I was only mildly uncomfortable and could’ve kept going, but my waistband was in serious duress and all the sloshing noises from me jumping around (that’s how I dance) were beginning to distract the artists.


SB: It would be unfathomable to be able to write something that would exist as long as humans are a species. To be able to say, “Yo, you know that ‘To be or not to be?’ joint? That was me.” I think anyone who has ever thought about putting pen to paper for a living has thought about being taught in schools for the foreseeable future. It’s not unreasonable to say. If you’ve played basketball, you’ve thought about being Michael Jordan.

That said, I don’t know if Billy Shakespeare knew how insane his legacy would be but you can imagine he had some idea it was significant because he went by William. I think that’s half the reason people pay Michael Bay millions of dollars to make movies. You think if he went by Mike Bay, movie studios would fork over $20 million for “The Rock”?

Wait, I take that back. The man behind the best non-James Bond Sean Connery movie ever made deserves bottomless paychecks regardless of all his #MeToo transgressions.

Sorry, not sure where I was going with that or to take sides against Megan Fox. Maybe I should take things more serious … or add an “athon” to the end of my name. Maybe y’all would get Seanathon Beckwith’s pop culture references.


BW: He loves a nice, palpable anxiety. The kind that gives you pressure in the little bones behind your ears and you wonder if another mutant is trying to hack your mind. Sexual tension? Mmm, yes please. Coworkers yelling at each other and throwing desk supplies around the room? He’s biting his cheeks raw trying not to laugh. Gross social media profile picture? He’s got a gallery full.

Capt. Pants doesn’t give a shit, because he knows when you live in a small town for almost six years, everyone will hate you eventually. He’s honestly disappointed in himself that it took this long, but the world is changing for pajama-clad superheroes. Slight him in any way, and he’ll ghost you so fast, you’re not even fully dead to him yet. He’s hitting “block and remove” on a whim, and he’s definitely not peeking through the windows at Zane’s before entering to avoid potential weird scenarios. He knows if they arise, he’ll just stare his adversary down while succulently shoving cheesy totchos into his face. Or you know, he could simply avoid them for the rest of eternity. Either/or.

Ahh, you think “cringey” is your ally, but you merely adopted the awkwardness. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t have a normal conversation with anyone until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but annoying! (I meant “he,” not “I,” because this is the completely fictional Captain Awkward Pants quoting Bane and not Ben Welch).

There’s a pop culture reference for you, Seanathon.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com

Meet Your Liftie: Michael Marlett

Name: Michael Marlett

Age: 26

Where are you from? I’m originally from Florida.

Years as a liftie: First season in Aspen and season as a liftie.

What brought you to Aspen? I’m a traveler and just started seasonal work. I heard Aspen had some of the best mountains and terrain, so I wanted to come try it out.

How long have you been snowboarding? I learned this year. It’s been awesome. I’m a surfer, so I’m trying to transition.

What do you think of your first season as a liftie? I love it. Honestly, I love it. I’ll definitely be back. I like interacting with the people and it’s been a ton of fun.

What do you think of working as a liftie at Aspen Highlands? I love the local vibe and the community here. The community is a little bit small and more personal, so whenever you are working on the lifts you definitely get to build that personal relationship with people over time because they’re here every day.

What lift can we find you at? I normally work DT, so Deep Temerity.

Where do you live? I live literally here at Highlands. I live above one of the shops.

What surprised you the most about Aspen? I would have to say the community, which is kind of why I stuck around. The community is very active, helpful and positive. It’s just like everybody’s here to have a good time and help each other have a good time.

If you don’t go out too much in Aspen, what’s your ideal day off? I’d say day on the mountain and maybe follow it up with live music. I like live music at Silver City.

What’s your most memorable interaction with a guest so far? I have to say on Tuesdays there’s an employee from Snowmass and every Tuesday he comes by with a group of about 15 people and they have a little cookout. They’ll hand out hotdogs and chicken and cook for the lifties. It brings people in and it’s cool. It’s a cool little get-together.

What’s your best tricks for staying warm? Stay moving and keep working, I guess.

How do you choose the music to play at the lift? I like to keep a variety, but I normally just let the other guy pick the music. I like the oldies, you could say. I keep a variety of oldies.

You can visit Michael at the Deep Temerity lift for Weeny Wednesdays. The lifties cook hotdogs and hand them out.

Aspen History: Let it flow

“Stream flow to be ‘best in years,’” announced The Aspen Times on Feb. 20, 1936. “L.T. Burgess, chief state hydrographer, recently described Colorado’s prospects for heavy stream flow in 1936 as ‘the best in years.’ Burgess based his predictions on Feb. 1 snow measurements on all the state’s major watersheds. The measurements were made at 45 stations in cooperation with the United States bureau of agricultural engineers. Accurate forecasts for 1936 stream flow will be possible, Burgess said, after the April 1 measurements. Flow of virtually all rivers and larger creeks has been below normal in recent years. The heaviest drainage depth reported for Feb. 1 was 70.6 inches on the Big Grizzly basin, a tributary to the North Platte river. At Fremont pass, 11,300 feet high and the dividing line between the Arkansas and Colorado river watersheds, the average was 50.6 inches. Colorado river drainage area averages included: Berthoud pass (Fraser river) 46.7; Williams Fork 31; Fiddler’s gulch (Eagle river) 42.4; West Portal Twin Lakes tunnel (Lincoln gulch) 44.5; Phantom Valley (Rocky Mountain National Park) 30.5; Yampa river 40.7; Burro mountain (White river) 49.” The image above shows Hyman Avenue covered in snow, February 1936.