Cheers, Pete | AspenTimes.com

Cheers, Pete

Dear Editor:The scout clouds are upon us this September morning, stark white, pregnant and grumpy. They have come in advance of their brethren, charged with the task of quickly soaking up the summer sun, depositing the moisture of sudden change. They work as a gang would, methodically exorcising the mountains of the short sleeve and sandal crowd. In a town where all meanings of the term seem entirely plausible, change is in the air.It is a slow moving procession that I observe from my egg-stained, Weinerstube bar stool (Weinerstool?). It is altogether appropriate way to observe the day’s news. Pete Luhn passed on this past week. One more ski bum to float on in the endless, bottomless ever-powder.I talk with the kind spirited waitress of the Stube, catching Belarusian flavored stories of a man who was notable for his spot-on crankiness, someone who walked with the secure gait of his convictions, the moral kind, if not the legal. She wants to know why I care. He was a legend, I say simply. She shakes her head in disagreement, and questions my assertion. I reply. To me, Luhn personifies the weird, independent, hearty and irascible Aspenite. A man with enough turns o’ phrase to match his turns o’ play. His voice was not a chorus, I say. But that of a stead, reliable soloist who had the experience of sparring with a master – in this case Freddie “Schnickelfritz” Fisher. The girl tells me that no one cares about anything but the now, money, construction, expansion, these days, and that someone like Pete is more likely to pass on without noting, than not. Two newspapers (front page) and I disagree. Here, even (especially, I note) an old man with an ornery nature, bad teeth and a vicious habit of penning letters to his fellow citizens laced with irony, sarcasm, ire and dogma gets his day in the sun (as the morning clouds retreat in the daylight, back to HQ, somewhere far north of here, to report on their progress).I never knew Pete Luhn. He certainly didn’t know of me. But once, not too long ago, I saddled up next to him at this very bar, intent on quietly celebrating a successfully published letter to the editor – a worthy blast I was later told. I watched while Luhn flipped to the letters section of the paper (I don’t recall which), and saw him trace his finger down the ink that represented my missive. The silence was notable as I waited for any sort of reaction. Finally, a short cackle and a snort, then a half grin. Approval? Perhaps – I never asked. Who really cares, except the clouds and me? R.I.P. it up Pete. There are others to carry on the tradition, to take the stones out of the gall that some want this town to mutate into.And lest anyone forget, Garfield and Hecht – via the Black Diamond Destruction Company – sent an army of goons to remove an old man from the land that he was told that he could live in for the rest of his life. For shame.Corby AndersonAspen/Carbondale