Aspen enjoys a Fishwit fix
Freddie Fisher’s irreverent spirit and colorful wit returned from the grave Monday – if only for a few hours, for a small gathering of his friends and admirers.Aspenites who recalled the town’s dirt roads – as well as a few youngsters – came out to celebrate the local icon’s 102nd birthday at the Red Onion. Fisher’s friend Walt Smith belted out old jazz tunes, while others simply reminisced with longtime friends.The Freddie Fisher Irreverent Wit Prize also made its second appearance, awarded to a local writer of letters to the editor who displays something approaching Fisher’s talent for firing off zingers. This year’s recipient was Aspen Times columnist Su Lum, known for her quick jabs on the op-ed pages. She left – for a City Council meeting, according to those who stayed – before she could comment on winning the prize.Before moving to Aspen in the early 1950s, Fisher enjoyed a illustrious career as a jazz musician and Hollywood actor before growing tired of the lifestyle. In Aspen, Fisher ran fix-it shop to stay afloat, and wrote letters to the newspaper week after week.
Those letters were where he said exactly what was on his mind.”He wasn’t nasty, but he could make a point and make people laugh,” said Greg Poschman, who helped organize the event.And while the Fishwit Prize is an attraction, the bash is mainly an excuse to hang out and remember the good, old times.”It’s a good reason to get together and have a beer,” Poschman said. A filmmaker and avid Fisher fan, Poschman hopes to one day make a documentary about the Aspen legend. Ask around and you’ll quickly learn that Fisher was the shock jock of his day – and at times a bit impulsive.
“He enjoyed pissing off people and shocking old ladies,” Poschman said. Smith remembered Fisher as a man who spoke his mind and impacted numerous people. But there’s also the Freddie who tried to drive home after getting sloshed at the bars.”He did like his beer a little bit,” Smith recalled. So Fisher drove home slowly, but still couldn’t avoid getting pulled over by the cops. When he provided the pseudonym Ferdinand Fertle, he was arrested. “There were two things Freddie didn’t like in this world,” Smith said. “One was cops.”
Fisher wasn’t always crazy about the trends of youth, either. He didn’t care much for the shaggy hair of the ’60s; and longtime friend Betty Buckley said Freddie wouldn’t have trouble letting this reporter know what he thought of the ring in his pierced lip.”He’d have probably torn it right out,” Buckley said.Greg Schreier’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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