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Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (April 21, 2019)

Appreciation for Aspen Elks Lodge

Basalt Recreation would like to thank the Aspen Elks Lodge for their support with our scholarship program. Their financial support helps us support the youth of the valley so we can include everyone in our programs. We appreciate the dedication they have for kids to be involved in activities and helping them to be a part of our community. The Aspen Elks also helps us provide better facilities for our kids to get the most out of their sports. We had the opportunity to provide sheltered dugouts for the new baseball field at Basalt Middle School field. Thanks so much for helping us help kids!

Dorothy Howard

Basalt Recreation Department

Hollinger’s legacy lives on

Our community lost a special person this spring in longtime resident and nature lover Jon Hollinger. Thank you, Jon, for all that you did for our natural world — your legacy lives on.

Our all-volunteer board thanks the family of Jon Hollinger for requesting that, in lieu of flowers, donations be given to Roaring Fork Audubon. These donations will help us in our efforts to continue to bring awareness of the wonder of birds and of the natural world by sending young valley students to naturalist summer camps, by conducting bird walks and hikes, by installing educational signage and by helping conserve the last best places.

If you choose to honor the memory of Jon Hollinger by supporting our work, please visit our website to donate via PayPal at roaring forkaudubon.org or send a check to Roaring Fork Audubon, P.O. Box 1192, Carbondale, CO 81623.

Mary Harris

Carbondale

Kudos go to …

• Sheriff Joe DiSalvo for asking that fireworks be canceled and the chamber following through with the request. Hopefully it’s forever.

• Rick Carroll for writing about the low pay Aspen City Council members receive — they deserve a raise.

• Beth Hoff Blackmer for being the president-elect of the American Rental Association, an international organization. There is no greater honor than being elected by your peers.

• The Pitkin County commissioners for looking at whether to lower the size of houses from 15,000 square feet. Duh!

Ruth Harrison

Aspen

Glenn K. Beaton: In an age of terror, what is the responsibility of Islam?

I remember September 11, 2001. Terrorists hijacked civilian airlines and flew them into the two World Trade towers and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field after the hijacked passengers heroically overcame their captors.

Late in the day, our phone rang. It was a friend informing us that four of the passengers on the plane flown into the Pentagon were a couple with whom we were friends and their two young daughters.

At that point, I sat on the stairs, buried my head in my hands, and wept — for my friends and for the other 2,992 dead.

So much has happened since. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Boston Marathon massacre. Videos showing men beheaded and women burned alive in cages. Terror in Paris, again and again. It’s horrific savagery committed in the name of Islam.

So are all Muslims terrorists? No.

There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world — about a quarter of the world population. Even if a million are terrorists (and I’m certain the real number is far fewer), that’s less than one-tenth of 1%.

So is it fair to blame 9/11 on all Muslims? No.

The vast majority of Muslims had nothing whatever to do with 9/11, and were as appalled by it as I was. In fact, a large percentage of today’s Muslims had not even been born on 9/11. Blaming today’s Muslims for 9/11 is like blaming today’s Germans for the Holocaust.

I posted my sentiments about this on Facebook a few weeks ago, and received over 800 comments. Many people disagreed with me. A few expressed raw bigotry, and I was forced to unfriend them. But many others were worth considering.

One point they made is that a disproportionate number of modern terror attacks are by Muslims acting in the name of Islam. That’s true. But it doesn’t take a logician to recognize that this point alone doesn’t go far toward indicting Islam. It’s like saying that because nearly all acts of terror are committed by men, nearly all men are terrorists.

Another point made by some is that Islam as a religion advocates violence against non-believers whom it calls “infidels.” That’s also true. The Quran does urge violence against infidels. But so does the Old Testament, which urges violence by Hebrews against non-Hebrews.

Implicitly acknowledging that there’s been violence in Judaism and Christianity, some of those commenters observed that they have largely put their violence behind them while Islam seems not to have.

Well, yes and no. The fact that well over 99.9% of Muslims are peaceful people suggests that Islam, too, has largely put its violence behind it.

Furthermore, violence and even terrorism are not exactly extinct in Christianity — witness the violent terrorism against civilians in Northern Ireland within my lifetime between two sects of Christianity.

And in India, it’s Muslims who are typically the victims of religious violence, perpetrated mainly by the majority Hindus.

All that said, the data does suggest that today’s backward Muslim countries tend to be more violent. But I submit that the reason is that they are backward, not that they are Muslim. When Christian Europe was a backward society in the Middle Ages conducting pogroms against the Jews, the Muslims in the Middle East were leaders in mathematics.

Here’s the strongest point offered in response to my Facebook post. Peaceful Muslims are often reticent in condemning violence and extremists who engage in it. Many Muslim organizations did condemn 9/11 and other terrorism, and for that they deserve credit. But too often, they fall silent or issue an equivocal criticism.

For example, a newly elected Muslim congresswoman whom America rescued from violence and starvation in Somalia, and who seems to think that the problem in Washington is that too many legislators owe “allegiance” to the Jews, recently referenced 9/11. The words she chose were “some people did something.”

That offends me. What happened on 9/11 was not just that “some people did something.”

What happened was that psychopathic Muslims in a perversion of their religion murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children in the bloodiest attack on American soil since the Civil War.

Still, I won’t blame all Muslims for that attack or for one congresswoman’s stupid remark about it. I firmly believe that to do so would dishonor my decent friends who died that day.

That leaves me with the question posed at the outset. What is the responsibility of that congresswoman and other Muslims in today’s world of terror?

It’s this: They need to step up. They need to man up. They need to Allah up. The many decent and devout ones need to distance themselves from — nay, they need to condemn, ostracize and, if necessary, destroy — the few psychopaths.

In short, the responsibility of Muslims is the same as the responsibility of Jews, Christians and all other people of faith and civilized secularists. In the battle against violent bigotry, there’s no middle ground. You’re either with us or against us.

Be with us. Be our brothers and sisters in our battle for humanity. We want you.

If that’s not reason enough to be with us, then be with us just to be on the winning side. Because we will indeed win, I promise you.

Correspond and subscribe at theAspenbeat@gmail.com

Deeded Interest: Earning the commission

After near blizzard conditions and record snows in February and March, April has made way to sunshine, warmer temps, spring skiing and, down toward Basalt and Carbondale, sprouting daffodils and even an open patio or two.

And with that, the spring selling season has begun in earnest throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. All indications are we are off to a fast start.

Like the runoff, local market experts predict a torrential summer of buying and selling. Interest rates are down again. The DOW, oil prices and job numbers are up, and with 2020 uncertain, it seems to feel like the time to pounce. After all, we’ve been on a tear around here since 2015 and it can’t go on forever.

And so it goes, a slew of new listings coming to market, emerging from the dregs of winter, ready for their day in the sun. Clean the windows, aerate, weed and feed the lawn, power wash the drive, call the broker and get that sign in the yard before the spring tour of homes begins at the end of the month. Any ’ol broker will do, just take a photo or two, get ’er in the MLS, on the inter-web and it’s sure to sell before the Fourth of July.

If you’ve followed my scribblings on this subject over the years, you know I’ve attempted to drive home the notion of pricing correctly from the start, rather than looking at what the house next door sold for and thinking yours is better and worth more money. I’ve also tried to warn the faint of heart that this process can be akin to a colonoscopy without Propofol if you don’t plan, prepare and consider carefully who you are hiring to help you through the process.

At a recent sales meeting, the theme was, in essence, a clarion call to all of us that choose to captain these treacherous waters for our clients. The challenge was this: What are you doing to really earn your commission?

It’s a question that all of us should ask ourselves. What value do we ultimately bring to the table? What services do we provide? How do we differentiate what we do from the crowded field of competitors? The general public already thinks our job is easy and, frankly, unnecessary. Why even hire a broker when Zillow is just a swipe away?

For those of us who take pride as full-time real estate professionals, the answer is easy. Communicating what we bring to the table for our clients can be much more difficult. Any broker can tell you to tidy up around the house and yard, get rid of the “clutter” and take your family portrait off the wall. The question I’m asking is what percentage of experienced professionals might suggest you do less rather than more and actually take the bull by the horns on their own, taking the onus off you? Hint: The 80/20 rule applies here.

So what expectations should buyers and sellers have of their broker? Examples include:

• The ability to read and interpret a title commitment

• Order the correct improvement survey (ILC or ISP)

• Knowing the difference between water rights and a well permit

• Can suggest a competent lawyer, architect or builder

• Uses an inspector who can find material defects

• Understands the local zoning and building codes

• Knows the difference between an engineering and soils report

• Can suggest a land-use planner and/or builders rep

• Discover and present off-market opportunities

• Can tell you what a home sold for, who designed it, who built it and when

• Can provide a broker price opinion and competitive market analysis

Not every broker, and certainly not a new one or one who works part-time, will have command of this subject matter. No matter your real opinion of our chosen profession, it’s in your best interest to choose an expert who can guide you to the closing table, and knows and understands all the steps required to get there.

Get your money’s worth and make sure the broker you tap to do the work doesn’t drive you around in circles but actually earns his or her paycheck through their experience, hard work and careful diligence.

Scott Bayens (GRI, ABR, CNE) is a realtor with Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty with more than a decade of experience with buyers, sellers and investors. He can be reached at scott.bayens@sir.com.

Tony Vagneur: Casey Tibbs, a horse-riding idol

In the strangeness of the dream, my dad told me we were going to (Old) Snowmass to meet Casey Tibbs. That name hadn’t crossed my consciousness in maybe 20 years.

Casey Tibbs (1929 to 1990), in case you didn’t know, was a big deal, and still is. He won six Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association saddle bronc championships plus two all-around cowboy championships and one bareback riding championship. That’s what you call one tough and talented dude.

I’d never heard of Tibbs until around 1956-57. Up there on our Homestead Mesa, working with one of the hired hands and talking about how I’d like to be a saddle bronc rider when I got older, “You mean like Casey Tibbs,” he said. “Who’s that?” came my reply.

We didn’t have television and only the occasional magazine or newspaper on the ranch so it was difficult to keep up with national or international events on a regular basis. For a kid like me, hired hands often brought the exciting world outside of Aspen and Woody Creek into my daily life. Besides, the Vagneurs were known as ropers, not bronc riders, so I didn’t really have any role models.

Things come and go and I rode all the bronc-type horses we had on the ranch and during junior and senior summers, a buddy and I rode the W/J bulls two or three nights a week, including Snuffy. Nobody in the Roaring Fork Valley seemed to know much about saddle bronc riding. And then college, where I rode bareback in some eastern slope rodeos, and before it seemed possible, I was 23 years old and riding in wild horse races, about as close to saddle bronc riding as I could find.

Moose Rusher, a man I admired, took me under his wing. He knew about saddle broncs and told me I should go to school for such a thing. Couldn’t, for some reason. Moose and I put together a bucking barrel in his backyard, a 55-gallon drum tied off to trees or posts in four directions that could tear you up good with four strong people pulling on the ropes. Precursor to a mechanical bull. We wore it out almost before we got started.

Casey Tibb’s dad, a true horseman who at one time ran about 2,000 head of horses, told Casey that if he ever rode in a rodeo, he would never speak to him again. At 13, his dad intentionally left him at the rodeo grounds in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, after Casey did the unthinkable by riding in the annual rodeo. The rift was never repaired.

Here was a man who, at 19 had made more money in one rodeo than his dad might have ever seen in a lifetime, and was accused of robbing a bank. That has to color a young man’s attitude toward life. But as Casey said about bronc riding, “Get back up and get back on. And don’t be afraid to get bucked off again.” Hurt makes you tough.

Casey was a helluva bronc rider, but he wasn’t the hero he might have been, not in my mind. I’d have liked to have been another Casey Tibbs, but to me the hero was the rodeo, especially behind the chutes. The dirt, the dust, the stomping of snorting horses, the slinging snot of raunchy bulls, the s— that is always prevalent around grass-eating animals, and the noise of the crowd when you did something right, or terribly wrong. Ride hard, party hard, and stay up all night. That’s how I thought it was supposed to be done, following in the mold of the world champion. And I was good at it.

Out of all Casey, the “Rainbow Man,” did, taking his only child, his daughter into his life after many years of separation might have been his greatest act. The separation wasn’t exactly anyone’s fault, nor was the unmarried pregnancy, but things happen. Casey, who was on the road almost continuously, paid child support until the child’s mother got married and insisted her new husband be the sole father and supporter of her daughter. Visits with Casey were strongly discouraged.

Casey’s daughter, at 21, approached him in the hospital where he was recovering from an injury, a visit during which Casey asked if they could begin to get to know each other. Of course, if you read of things his daughter has said about their relationship, the love and respect shine through, especially Casey’s love for his granddaughter.

You can be the world’s best at anything, including bronc riding, and you can make rodeo a popular sport amongst the populace, but when you show yourself as human and work with what family you have, then you are a true hero. Casey Tibbs, who knew the importance of fathers, ultimately rode the rainbow to the end as a man of strength and courage.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.

Your time is up, freeloading Aspenites

Wow, I feel like I’ve spent too much time complaining about Aspen’s socialist policies and about and the constant demands of the freeloader voters who pretend to be accomplished and intelligent.

How’d it feel when you won your first national championship? How many world championships have you won? Tell me about the feeling of the thundering applause. Tell me how it felt to you after you perfectly played a Chopin waltz for your new love?

Get a job in New York or San Fan. And if you’re good, I’ll help you. john@vraspen.com

John Hornblower

Aspen

Tired of the potholes on Highway 82

Thank you, CDOT, for repairing potholes on Highway 82. Can I send you my shredded front tire as a token of my appreciation?

Carl Heck

Aspen

Roger Marolt: Confusing philosophical calculus with writing on the wall

In springtime, it is only natural for the thoughts of a man, skiing the slush alone on deserted ski slopes, to turn to geometry. Or so I tried to convince myself after the fact when my concentration was broken and I started to feel weird about it. Show me a skier who complains about traverses and I will show you a person who does not understand the angles of skiing the steeps.

While it is true that flat traverses across the mountain after a good run, as in the case of Highland Bowl, or before one, like one must endure to tackle Aspen’s T-chutes, can be a pain in the wax, it is a fact of skiing that you must go sideways across the mountain in order to enjoy the most challenging runs. The scant exceptions are the trails that run directly under rapidly rising ski lifts.

You can make a straight line between point A (the top of Ajax) and B (the Ajax Tavern) through Spar Gulch and never have to traverse, or you can traverse to descend S1 then traverse again to get Shoulder of Bell and then make one last traverse to “Niagara” before you end up at The Tavern. Who has the better story to tell?

On the drive home I was thinking of this and a little trigonometry trying to decide if my magical sports watch is calculating the slopes of the runs I ski accurately (I have my doubts), when I realized I was doing 27 in a 45 mph zone next to the airport on Owl Creek Road, and I almost missed all the private jets parked there, which is inexplicable during the offseasons.

There were certainly not a lot of jets by comparison to the holidays, but there were definitely more than there are restaurants open downtown now. I could not figure the inverse sine for the adjacent angle on this one. Why were they here?

Then it came to me: It was the end-of-season party at Highlands that afternoon. Crap! I missed it again!

At any rate, the people who flew in on those jets did not miss it. They flew here during mud season expressly for it! And, yes, I know it is circumstantial evidence, but I’m sticking to my story because, if true, it’s interesting.

My first impression was these folks are trying too hard to fit in. I hope I am not sounding like an elitist here, because my intention is to sound like an anti-elitist.

I mean, isn’t the end-of-season party for locals who have worn themselves out waiting on and bending over backward for the jet-set crowd all winter? Isn’t it about blowing off steam? Isn’t it reminiscing about experiences over the entire season, not just when you had the chance to pop into town?

The end-of-season parties have traditionally been for the working stiffs and ski bums. It is what we do when no one is looking and the chamber of commerce is closed. I suppose we should take it as flattery that our rich and famous visitors, deep down in their hearts, only want to be like us. OK, let’s go with that.

But, here is the thing, and we have seen it countless times: The coolest things of this town came about by people living here zig-zagging from point A to B to C … all the way to Z, just because that was the casually interesting route, taking detours through places like La Cocina and Cooper Street Pier along the way. Most of the time they probably didn’t know where they were going and, most likely, didn’t have any particular time they needed to be there.

It is a generalization, I understand, but people in private jets don’t seem to be like that. They demonstrate a desire to get from point A to point Z as directly as possible, and have transformed this town in many ways with that shallow angle of attack. Then, when all the stuff in between is overlooked, it actually becomes virtuous, in their minds, to simply smooth over what appear to be rough spots.

And now to point X: It is a matter of time before billionaire trigonometry angles-off the Rorschach blot that is the Highlands end-of-season party into a neat right triangle. It will get polished. It will be made “more successful” because of its own success. We will have big name acts for entertainment. It will become a three-day event with early-bird tickets going on sale for $150 in July. And yet, this is not worth crying about. A couple years will pass and we’ll only vaguely remember how it used to be. Then, we will build another big hotel to try to bring it back.

Roger Marolt inadvertently reset his magical sports watch back to 1987 when he tried to get his heart-rate measurement. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.

Aspen government vulnerable with no controls

It saddens the community to see a family devastated by misguided conduct. Yet a cautionary lesson lies in the saga of alleged theft from Aspen Skiing Co. Many ask, “How could this go undetected for years?” Press accounts answer, “lax controls at Skico.”

Only Skico’s owners’ wealth was diminished by lax controls. In contrast, lax controls at a public institution cost the public both money and opportunity. Consider the city of Aspen’s mismanagement of parking meters, permitting hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenues.

Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority has flown blind for years with not merely lax, but virtually useless information about who occupies its billions of dollars of real property. APCHA and the city claim to be building systems to track its units and occupants. Despite City Council’s demand for timely completion of a new system, the bureaucracy keeps answering, “We need a couple more years.”

It’s alleged that millions of dollars of ski equipment was stolen from Skico. What’s the value of APCHA housing being stolen by unqualified occupants? Without controls, no one knows.

Maurice Emmer

Aspen

PETA gives Aspen props for drones over fireworks

I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide, including many across Colorado, to commend you for choosing to replace fireworks with drones at the annual Fourth of July celebration this year. I am delighted to inform you that the Aspen Chamber Resort Association has earned a Proggy Award (Proggy for “progress”) from PETA for choosing a progressive celebratory event that will protect Aspen’s wildlife, domestic animals, children, veterans and elderly people.

As you may know, during fireworks displays, dogs panic as they try to escape from the loud noises and have been known to jump through glass windows or over fences and end up getting lost, seriously hurt, or killed. Fireworks displays can also scare wildlife onto roads, where they risk being hit in traffic. The loud blasts cause birds to fly into chimneys and houses — and even to panic and abandon their nests and their young. The stress caused by these displays also affects veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who are sensitive to and can be deeply disturbed by the noise of the explosives. As you noted in your decision, fireworks also pose a risk of wildfires, which can kill smaller animals — such as beetles and squirrels — who cannot flee quickly enough from fast-moving flames. They also decimate the habitat and food sources of others, such as black bears. Fires have also been known to wash ash into rivers, depleting oxygen and suffocating fish.

Drone shows — which are safer than fireworks, produce virtually no air pollution, and are growing in popularity — were used recently at Disney World’s Starbright Holidays show, the New Year’s Eve celebration over Sydney Harbour, and the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as well at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, among other places.

Aspen Chamber Resort Association has set a fine example for other Fourth of July event organizers to follow, and we hope you’ll continue to celebrate without fireworks in the years to come. In honor of your compassionate decision, we will be sending you a framed certificate and some delicious vegan chocolates. Our best wishes for your success!

Ingrid E. Newkirk

President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Aspen Princess: The pug and the purpose of life

Crazy things I’ve done in the week since my pug died: Spent over $100 on a custom ceramic urn on Etsy that looks like a sugar jar from Pottery Barn and probably costs like, five bucks to make; wrapped Gertie’s pink crystal-studded collar around my wrist and worn it as a bracelet; filled out a 10-page application online to be considered for a championship line pug puppy from a California breeder that probably costs more than a used car; and cried like a baby in front of everyone and anyone, from lying on my mat sobbing during yoga to losing it at the bank when I saw the bowl of treats in the cashiers window to bursting into tears at the car wash where the guy said, “Hey, where’s your cool little dog?” when I pulled up to pay.

Here’s the thing: I have friends whose parents have died or who have undergone treatment for cancer or have lost friends in fatal accidents or watched their family home burn to the ground in a California wildfire. That is real tragedy. I’ve been asking myself what, if anything, did I do for that person in their time of need? There were times when I showed up, and times I didn’t.

I have a friend from college who is mentally ill and does not use a filter with his comments on social media. His response to Gertie’s death was, “I am laughing so hard I’m crying. I mean, it was a dog.” I deleted the comment but maybe I shouldn’t have. It was his truth, and I appreciate that.

I know there are people out there who are shaking their heads in disgust, whispering “I told you so,” under their breath, people who think you get what you deserve when you don’t rescue a shelter dog. There are also people who don’t understand flat-faced breeds and to that I say if it’s good enough for Chinese emperors, it’s good enough for me.

That’s not to undermine the outpouring of support and love my family has received over the last week from family, friends, my readers, and fans and friends of Gertie.

There’s also the international pug community that I’ve been commiserating with on Instagram, which is right up there with the designer urn and the collar-as-a-bracelet-thing in terms of getting into weird pug lady territory. It’s just that Gertie’s Instagram was getting some real traction. She had thousands, not hundreds of followers and her photos got likes often hitting the triple digits. I’ve decided to keep her account going, despite the fact that it’s creepy and weird.

There’s also the way a tragedy can bring you closer to the people you love. I know sometimes the opposite can happen, so I’m pretty grateful that isn’t the case with me, and grateful isn’t a word I toss around lightly. I kind of can’t stand that word. It’s right up there with “blessed” and “gratitude” and other annoying hashtags yogis throw around even though you just know they sneak cigs and get road rage and cheat on their wives and yell at their kids.

Anyway, Ryan has been a saint, even though he has hardly had a minute to himself to grieve. I know there are guys out there that can’t understand how you could ever love a fat little designer dog, and I know Ryan thought that once, too. But he loved our loaf of fur bread and would carry her around and coo at her and call her baby girl. Every night when he got into bed, he’d snap his fingers and she’d curl up into his huge arms, her little head in the crook of his elbow and they’d snore together in unison, the background music of my life. I will say since she’s been gone, we can lay a lot closer to each other, my cold feet finding their way back between Ryan’s giant calves, right where I left them before that pug established herself as the queen of our household.

The day Gertie passed, Ryan came home from work to spend the day with me. We went for a hike and I walked behind him as he talked a blue streak about the meaning of life, what happens when you die, and what matters most in life. He talked so much and so fast that I almost fell asleep to the sound of his voice prattling on, like I do when a football game is on. It was comforting in a way, not so much about what he was saying as the sound of his voice. I tuned in somewhere around, “I mean, what’s the point? You work your ass off for a paycheck and then you just die? We should pack it in and take Levi on a trip around the world.”

I liked the sound of that.

Just after we’d left Gertie’s body at the vet and were about to crumple into our grief, we ran into our friend Ivana who had just picked up her Frenchie. She’s this beautiful, stunning Eastern European woman who spits tacks when she talks, carrying on like a drunken sailor in these staccato bursts with her heavy accent, like she is taking a drag from a cigarette in between each phrase. She gave us both a warm hug and when we asked her why she was there, she launches into this story about how the dog had ruptured his anal gland from his habit of rubbing his butt against the carpet. “I mean, who does that?” she crowed.

We laughed so hard we cried. “That was a movie. We were in a movie,” Ryan kept saying. And that’s the thing about death; it does make you appreciate life. Maybe life isn’t always but a dream, but at least it’s entertaining.

The Princess wants to hear from people who lost a dog and then got another dog of the same breed. Good idea or not? Email your comments to alisonmargo@gmail.com.