September 1, 2005
Well, it was certainly a memorable story, and it may not be over yet. Author and celebrity Hunter S. Thompson shot himself to death in his Woody Creek home in February, shocking the Roaring Fork Valley and the world. The emotional outpouring that ensued eventually led to a well-publicized Aug. 20 ceremony in which Thompson’s cremated remains were blown from a giant cannon on his property in Woody Creek, in front of several hundred friends, relatives and admirers. The cannon bore the shape of a double-thumbed fist holding a peyote button, Thompson’s gonzo symbol.The whole affair was a bizarre stew of news, hype and celebrity worship. People are still debating whether the $2.5 million ceremony was a decadent waste or an appropriate memorial. Who knows? Somehow it made sense for an over-the-top, hyperbolic persona like Thompson.Also getting votes in this category were District Attorney Colleen Truden’s troubles, the Burlingame housing project, oil and gas drilling in Garfield County, the Krabloonik controversy and Snowmass Base Village.
There’s a lot to like about Aspen, and Aspenites are all fortunate to enjoy it. You can imagine the breadth and variety of the votes in this category – the beauty, the weather, the trails, the skiing, the food, the cultural events – and every single answer is right on.Of course, there’s a lot to complain about too. Like the cost of living – one apparently sarcastic respondent wrote “$$$$” and another grateful local named “affordable housing” as the best thing about Aspen.The winner, however, was “the people.” Which speaks for itself.Of course, Aspenites always compare their town favorably to artificial resorts like Vail, which seemed to explain why a few respondents answered “it’s a town.”
We needn’t have asked. Between answers like “6-inch rule,” “pow pow” and “Epic Flag,” it’s clear that Aspenites still arrive late to work when the snow beckons. In that respect, at least, Aspen’s soul is intact.Pray for many a powder day next winter.Other answers included “getting laid,” “hung over,” “too nice to be inside” and “sick.”
Ever paused to consider just how many special events, festivals and bashes Aspen and Snowmass Village actually stage in a given year? It’s astounding, folks, and the answers to this question were a reminder: Fourth of July parade, Wintersköl, Filmfest, Gay Ski Week, farmer’s market, Ruggerfest, Comedy Fest, and the list goes on.The big winner, however, was Jazz Aspen Snowmass. It could be the timing of our poll, or it could be the festival’s ever-improving quality and musical talent. As this paper went to press, the event was in full rolling swing.Other contenders included the X Games, Food and Wine and, of course, the classic, classical Aspen Music Festival.
This question drew a variety of interesting answers, including what is by now an Aspen mantra: “We’re not comfortable with change.” But the vast majority of answers clearly applauded recent changes in town, from new affordable housing developments to new people. Two respondents applauded the abundant rains that moistened the soils all summer.The big winner was the new Deep Temerity chairlift at Aspen Highlands. Of course, this is a change that hasn’t happened yet, but the anticipation clearly got the best of folks.Other contenders included “mall dining” in downtown Aspen, the Belly Up music club and Debbie Braun, the new president of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.Just a footnote, but one person actually applauded The Aspen Times moving to seven days per week. We promise we didn’t stuff the ballot box on that one.