Hills alive with the sound of music

Stewart Oksenhorn

The downhill revolutions – snowboarding, shaped skis – are things of the past. The battle now being fought is on the uphill stretch. And if recent experiences in the Silver Queen gondola are any indication, the retro forces are making advances against cell phones and personal digital devices.As I was settling into the gondi this weekend, a seasoned gentleman, without seeking any approval from his bucketmates, pulled a transistor radio from his pocket, tuned in – at appreciable volume – to the local rock station, and set the weathered music-maker against the window. With the Allman Brothers wailing through “Ramblin’ Man,” it was as if radio-man was daring anybody to whip out a cell phone – which no one did. Instead, everyone commended him for the tunes and sat back and enjoyed.I thought it a rare, and welcome, backlash against the wave of people insisting they air their private conversations in as public, cramped and inescapable a place as possible. Until the very next ride, when a more modern-minded guy hung his radio-capable cell phone from the gondola ceiling and started blasting more tunes.Both were very nice triumphs of communal over private listening – but neither could compare to the previous week’s experience. I asked one fellow rider, a cast member of the recent Aspen Community Theatre production of “The Sound of Music,” if she knew the words to the yodeling song. She did – and proved it by singing them all in perfect voice. Better still, two additional riders carried the “oodle-ay-hee” choruses – again, with perfect pitch. I joined in for a not-so-perfect version of “My Favorite Things.”Very retro. And it beats the hell out of overhearing someone’s après-ski plans.