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A week in the life

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Stewart Oksenhorn The Aspen Times
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ASPEN The family was on an important mission, equal parts lobster-eating, sailing, and escaping the craziness of summertime in Aspen, in Maine last week. Meaning old Stewy was dangerously left here by his lonesome, to act like a pirate/Viking/sailor in their on-shore-leave modes, and generally absorb as much of the Aspen in summertime craziness that he possibly could without doing grievous bodily harm.I failed on that last score. On Day 5 of my week-long run, I developed a debilitating attack of gout, almost certainly attributable to the previous nights rib feast at the Hickory House. (And Id do it again. In fact, I already have.) However, in the area of acting like a maniac, I was a barely qualified success. I should point out, for the young readers out there (who, no doubt, buck every trend and do, indeed, make a habit of reading the newspaper), my version of partying pretty much leaves out the booze and dope, and focuses on squeezing in as many concerts, parties, plays, etc., as possible.Heres how it all went down.Tuesday: Gallery opening at the Lynn Goldsmith Gallery in Basalt, featuring a talk by photographer Lynn Goldsmith. Goldsmiths stash of music photography, from the glory days of rock n roll, is a treasure, and her talk/performance about her role in it all especially the part about being too busy working to do a whole lot of sleeping around was entertaining. Still, my favorite part of the Goldsmith oeuvre is the Through the Looking Glass series art self-portraits that are original, funny, and technically mind-boggling.Not sated by the cheese-and-veggies served up at the gallery, I landed a dinner invite from old friends I wont say how old Babe and Betty, who took me for my virgin experience at Cuvee World Bistro in Basalt. Impressive most interesting menu in the valley, a well-executed paella, and a dynamite glass of Barossa Valley red. Ill be back as soon as the next invite comes my way.Wednesday: A barbecue in the alley behind the Aspen Times. A dumpster as our dinner table. The cheapest burgers and brats we could find, ancient condiments from the deepest recesses of the Times fridge. The rest is a blank, though I distinctly recall not dying.Thursday: Opening night of the Theatre Aspen comedy Rounding Third. I generally avoid opening nights, but there was the promise of food, abundantly fulfilled with pigs-in-blankets, mini-burgers, beer, peanuts, Cracker Jacks and, most impressive of all, really good soft, hot pretzels. Kudos, Theatre Aspen artistic director Paige Price; youve got quite the taste in ballpark food.Friday: Hickory House. Sports guy The Hammer and I couldnt find a third to split The Feast, so I settled for a full rack of ribs, slaw, beans, Texas toast, potatoes au gratin, and the Hammers slaw, toast and pop. Conversation centered around Hammers latest crushes: a girl, and the potatoes au gratin, especially the crumbled, browned bread crumbs on top, which, even though I assured him there was nothing innovative about it, did not stop his marveling. Jeez, what some stale bread and a pair of knockers wont do for the guy.Then to Belly Up Aspen, for Cowboy Junkies, who do a better job of setting an emotional stage bleak, dreary, slow, morose than any band I can think of. Every time singer Margo Timmins opens her mouth between songs, and the word death doesnt come out, Im amazed.Saturday: Severe gout attack, which doesnt interfere with lunch plans, including wine. Tip: When youre dining with a critic from Wine Spectator, you drink the wine, even if the conventional wisdom holds that wine will almost certainly sharpen that razor-like drill to your toes that is gout.Aspen Chamber Symphony concert, with conductor David Zinman and pianist Emanuel Ax. The cool thing about Manny when hes not playing his part in the concerto, hes digging the orchestra more than anyone.Party, at a house that Ive heard is on the market for $22 million. More wine, some margaritas, but when youre partying at a $22 million house, you dont pass. Music by former Aspenite Steve Postell, and guitar ace Jeff Pevar.Then the mystery of the weekend: Girl Talk, at Belly Up. Sold out, crowd outside begging for tickets, fans gushing about how amazing Girl Talk is. Except Girl Talk is one guy, Gregg Gillis, with a laptop. OK, I see the fun people getting loaded, dance music, a big party. What I dont get is how Girl Talk has any special role in this; his talent seems to be sending out invites to a party.Sunday: Convince my buddy Josh that going to Carbondale to hear the African-inspired Panjea is preferable to sitting on his couch, watching a bad movie. I was right, as usual. Panjea, which features former String Cheese Incident mandolinist Michael Kang and Motet drummer Dave Watts, is awesome, and the perfect music for a free gig in downtown Carbondale. Both musically and socially, its the highlight of the week. Josh thanks me 100 times for dragging him downvalley. A few more hundred thanks sounds about right. Off to El Korita, where the service is dreadful, but as were talking about the prospective Big Lebowski Fest at El Jebel, and quoting all of The Big Lebowski, the time passes quickly enough. A three-hour meal? Cmon, this isnt Nam. There are rules here. I get to Belly Up at 12:30 a.m., way too late to catch any of the Lez Zeppelin show. Fortunately, its a two-night stand.Monday: After 15 years at The Aspen Times, my colleagues drag me out to a softball game. What was I thinking, that softball and beer on the worlds most picturesque diamond I swear, I thought Shoeless Joe Jackson was going to emerge from the weeds in the outfield, la Field of Dreams wouldnt be fun? My heart pounding, I made a catch, got a hit, took an extra base, and exhibited admirable sportsmanship as the Mercy Rule was invoked against us.I hate the J-Bar for yanking the locals special lunch. But there was no arguing with the post-game plates of wings, meaty and spicy.My only quasi-complaint with Lez Zeppelin is that the all-girl take on Page, Plant & Co. seems to be having fun, enjoying one anothers company. Shouldnt they be shooting up, arguing, and choking on their own vomit? I mean, come, on, a little verisimilitude? Other than that, those girls rock.Tuesday: Im ready for my wife and daughter to come home. I miss them; I need them. So much that I dont care that Ill miss Todd Rundgrens show at Belly Up to pick them up at the airport. However … Rundgrens show is at 9 p.m.; the flight is due in at 10:40 … . But theres a damn opening act and, in the end, I dont see Rundgren play even a single note, so that I can get to the airport on time. A choice I would make every time. After all, Ive got lots of concerts, but only one family.stewart@aspentimes.com


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