Writing Switch: Trending now — Fad or fiction? | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: Trending now — Fad or fiction?

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which facets of popular culture you’re willing to absorb straight into your very sense of being and which ones will end up on the wrong side of history, like “What Does the Fox Say?” and please please please god oh please “Baby Shark.” (Editor’s note: Since the Washington Nationals made their historic playoff run and won the World Series, Ben now vehemently loves “Baby Shark” and disavows previous sentence.) This week we’re discussing three wonderments that have entered our society recently and determining whether they are here to stay or will fade away. All of our analyses you should read in the voice of a pair of guffawing sportscasters making wildly outdated “fat/phat” jokes.

Hard seltzers

SB (Pro): We were always heading this way. For 110 calories, you can drink slightly sweetened seltzer water with faint hints of fruit flavors and a 5% ABV. It’s like giving purpose to La Croix if La Croix wasn’t already one of the best beverages on the planet.

For someone like Ben who values low-calorie content above all else — his recent drink of choice is Diet Pepsi and Svedka — you’d think he’d embrace the drink staple that is hard seltzer. And if 5% ABV isn’t enough, switch from Truly or White Claw to Four Loko, which just launched the hardest seltzer of all time coming in at 14% ABV. While I haven’t personally tried it because Aspen liquor stores don’t dabble in the Four Loko or BuzzBallz market, you should probably try it sooner than later (and let me know how it is because I’m not being that guinea pig). I don’t think it’s a limited time thing, I just think it will be banned a la the original Four Loko.

I don’t know how this goes away. It’s a diet wine cooler marketed as an alcoholic, flavored seltzer water. It’s genius and also refreshing.

BW (Anti): I truly (heh) try not to judge people for their tastes in music, movies or alcohol. Hell, last weekend I pounded 15 BuzzBallz while dancing in front of my mirror to “Smooth Criminal” on repeat and bragged about it afterward. But when I see grown men walking around clutching a White Claw, I feel a slight twinge of “…wtf are you doing…” somewhere in my peripheral cortex or whatever.

I really have no reason to be a hard-seltzer hater. Fewer calories? I’m a fat ass, so that sounds beneficial. Fruity flavors? Sweet, gotta fend off scurvy somehow. Sessionability? I’m fairly certain that’s hipster for “how easy it is to slam a shit ton,” and as someone who is going to drink all that come in the case, well, sign me up for 1,400 calories of pisswater, I guess.

I think that’s what bothers me the most about hard seltzers: There isn’t much nuance in carbonating whatever comes out of the tap. That and the market is already more diluted than its alcohol content. I don’t really want to put water in my body because fish have sex in it and that’s disgusting. Just give me the moldy chunks fermenting in a hazy IPA. Besides, I LIKE the hangover; I don’t want to be rehydrating at the same time I’m desperately pumping myself with toxins. Prediction: By next summer, we’re getting white girl wasted on something else.


BW (Pro): I want teens to start smoking.

I want them to start drinking, banging and listening to albums with “PARENTAL ADVISORY” on them — ideally, simultaneously.

Honestly, I don’t care about the children. I don’t like them. Once puberty hits all the brain development ceases regardless, so we may as well coddle the youth away from debilitating addictions under the guise of autonomy. Any time Aspen goes viral for virtue signaling, we all win.

If there’s one thing I know about teenagers, it’s that they looooooove cotton candy flavoring! Also their MP3s and Neopets! But not as much as tobacky! Let’s pretend to save them by taxing clueless rich people 70% on a pack of Marlboros til we have more money than we know what to do with! Let’s build new offices across two blocks of prime downtown real estate! Let’s win council seats so we can get free tickets to Food & Wine! The only keys on my laptop not caked in dust is SHIFT + 1! One sentence is a lie — go!

Shit man, I had to sell my dead cricket collection to the Thrift Shop just to buy a Black & Mild the other day, and I don’t even smoke. Until we get fair laws on underage consumption, I will protest by continuing not to smoke (tobacky just cracky).

SB (Anti): I feel like vaping is a lot like fracking: it’s advertised as a safer way to do something but experts really aren’t buying it because there’s way too many chemicals involved. You don’t even see the plant you’re smoking. That’s why I stick to flower. Sure there are ashes and resin to deal with but I trust that more than whatever the f— they put in those Potent Pineapple pens.

Clearly I’m anti-smoking but let’s be honest, how would you feel if Don Draper or Humphrey Bogart pulled out a vape pen rather than a heater? Cigarettes are gross but so is vaping. Fancy lighters and cigarette cases are classy until you watch your friend hack up tar to the point of vomiting the morning after a long night out.

Also, I hate to belabor a point I made in a previous column, but competitive vaping is one of the most useless talents I can think of. Here, inhale as much mystery chemical smoke as possible and blow it out your ears so the cancer can spread to your entire skull. It’s pretty much free advertising for the vaping industry and poor life decisions.

Electric scooters

BW (Pro): Which scenario would cause more carnage, electric scooters that are allowed only in the road or electric scooters allowed only on the sidewalk?

These things are great. You don’t want people drinking and hopping behind the wheel of a car? Perfect, let them ride off into the night and see how far they get before the death wobbles set in.

Have you ever ridden one of these things? They FLY. I used a scooter to get home during a Texas downpour in the very early morning after grabbing it out of some random apartment complex’s bushes. Sorry to whomever was planning on using that to get to work; I needed it more than you at that moment.

People moan and complain because scooters don’t “look good” and that it’s sooo difficult to maneuver around one perched alongside a building. These also are the same people who incessantly grandstand about climate change and parking spaces and gridlock outside the Entrance to Aspen but shut down any attempts to fix it because they’re too geriatric and highfalutin to consider anything moderately unsightly.

In the warmer months, everyone should be required to leave their car at the Buttermilk lot, hop on a scooter and cruise 45 mph the rest of the way into town. No traffic jam and it’s environmentally friendly. “SOME PEOPLE NEED TO SHOP AND BRING THEIR KIDS!” a mom will scream at me. Well, A) That’s why God invented Amazon and B) We’ve already established how I feel about your children.

SB (Anti): Death by scooter, an actual thing that happens to bitcoin-pinching millennials, might be the worst possible way to die from an embarrassment standpoint.

“Did you hear about Autumn?”

“Yeah, fall comes once a year.”

“Not the season, the girl. Autumn Sanders.”

“No, what happened?”

“She was riding a Bird leaving a Rockies games and got flattened by a Geo Metro.”

Imagine getting that phone call from the hospital. Do you even tell people what happened or call it a generic car accident? Just walk to the New Belgium tasting room next time.

Also, there aren’t actual scooter stations so kids can strew them along the street like shoes in the hallway after school. Bums in San Francisco have gone as far as to defecate on the two-wheel terrors, probably in protest of people riding them on sidewalks. Imagine e-bikes on the Rio Grande Trail but four times as crowded and swap out old people for self-absorbed, cellphone fanatics.

Go-Peds, aka scooters with gas motors, were popular in middle school but were eventually banned. I don’t understand how switching them from gas to electric makes them legal. Also, while we’re talking scooters, freestyle Razor scootering is right up there with competitive vaping for useless skills.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com bwelch@aspentimes.com