Aspen: A depressing paradise
Dear Editor:I left the valley nine years ago, after living in Aspen and Basalt my entire life. I’m named after Lenado, Hunter Thompson was my neighbor, and Frank Peters is my godfather. Whatever corner of the earth I live in, I’m always excited by the thought of returning home, to my own paradise. Actually, coming home to Aspen is now depressing.What kind of perverse reality have we here, where Cooper Street, the ‘Lode and Tipler represent the last elements of “local character”? The demise of these spots – previously remarked as fringe joints for thugs and addicts – and others, at the hand of longtime locals, is oddly hurtful.My Aspen has inoculated itself from eccentric intellectuals, artists and motorcycle gangs. The general antidote is transient self-importance and a boredom that reminds me of shopping at J.C. Penney. The town is a little New York, a little L.A., and a plenty Vail (thanks, Aspen Skiing Co.). Basalt is the new Aspen.We have unique cultural attractions and a storied history, but both are now cheap cover for overpriced condos, timeshares, and part-time residents with full-time complaints. For what? Where are the workers milling around the Miner’s Building, the poet’s circles in the Jerome, even the free-roaming dogs? Where are Markham and Steve Wishert?Thanks to those “imports” involved in historical societies, school boards and other ambassadorial roles: You work on the present and future Aspen, but many of you have no real understanding of even our recent past – a hell of a good time. Thanks to longtime locals, standing by during the remaking of our town; children of Aspen feel our hometown is a parody of itself; a thing of bad folk songs and worse jokes.Most importantly, to kids in the valley: Take a mental picture of your home. This valley can be a great place. Years later, you’ll have precious few people to truly relate to, and others will be envious at your good fortune. The more experience you gain from points abroad, the more perspective you come home with, and hopefully, the more you can contribute to the fashioning of a truly unique mountain community.Ian BlackBasalt
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