In the Tent: The red badge |

In the Tent: The red badge

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado

Entitlement hung like a cloud over Aspen last week in direct proportion to the number of Food & Wine passes dangling from everyone’s neck.And the level of your lanyard told whether the $1,000 entry fee was no big dent in your wallet or if you were clever enough to earn a freebie.The Aspen Times staff vied for two all-access passes for the weekend of glitzy events, and I volunteered to write a few stories, so had a chance to get out there and feel important.But PR passes are code for “freeloading buffet vulture,” and I don’t think I imagined those sideways glances from gourmet vendors while I stuffed my cheeks like a squirrel storing up for a long winter.”How did you enjoy that, sir?,” they’d ask about a morsel imported, glazed or infused with something obscure.”Mmm. Tasted like ‘some more’ to me,” I’d say with a mouthful. “How ’bout another?”And when I wasn’t walking around town with a pass, I noticed I felt like I’d lost out in the Aspen caste system.I wasn’t alone.The front-office staff of the Aspen Police Department got such lanyard-envy they made their own dummy-passes just for fun, and it gave me an idea.Why not enforce lanyards and passes all the time in Aspen?”I’m not a tourist, I live here,” would read the locals pass, and wearing it would entitle you to bartering deals with mechanics and message therapists as well as discounts on anything from slices of pizza and pitchers beer to affordable ski- and bike-tuning.Local dirt-pimps and business owners could wear passes saying something like, “Seriously, I’m kind of a big deal in Aspen” that would earn them perks like exemptions from stopping their SUV for pedestrians in crosswalks and from any punishment for exploiting undocumented workers.I envision small add-on stickers as endorsements identifying each as a “trust fund baby,” “second home owner,” “affordable-housing lottery winner,” “commuter,” “seasonal,” “on work-release at Pitkin County jail” or “just sleeping in my car, thanks.”It might clear some things up around here.

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