Out with the old, in with the … | AspenTimes.com

Out with the old, in with the …

With 2003 but a memory, we at The Aspen Times thought it wise to look ahead. And with resolutions being downright cliched (not to mention impossible to keep), we decided to ring in 2004 with a different kind of musing.

So after a bit of soul-searching (and a few sips of champagne to get our creative juices following), we offer these hopes, predictions and other good (or ill, as the case might be) wishes for the new year.

Hummers on high

Last fall Volkswagen owners drove their cars to the Holden-Marolt field for a publicity photo. This year, Hum-Vee owners will converge in Aspen to take a publicity photo on a plot of open space ” not only for the scenic views, but because Aspen residents own more Hummers per capita than anywhere else in the world. Open space advocates everywhere descend on Aspen, protesting that the knobby tires are shredding land that’s supposed to be preserved. As a result of the protests, the drivers decide to meet on the empty gravel parking lot at the corner of Hyman and Hunter in the commercial core. Although the lot is large enough to hold only about five Hummers, these über-SUV owners know what to do: Stack ’em up high (only to upset those opposed to increased building heights in the downtown core). The publicity photo is never used.

Helen Dress-Up Doll

Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud’s signature all-black attire makes her easy to spot in a snowstorm, but we’d like to see her wardrobe expanded to embrace a few other hues in the new year.

Here in this mecca of couture, surely we can come up with a striking blazer, eye-popping fleece, classic ski sweater, subtle earth tones or a designer gown for our leader. Think pink. Or, how about that old standby, denim? Anybody care to second this motion?

KIanderud once quipped that she would wear black until a darker color becomes available.

Just in case one doesn’t, we’ve provided this handy Helen Dress-Up Doll. You, the reader, can outfit her governing body in accordance with your own sense of fashion.

But, remember, the mayor has veto power on this one.

Waiting to exhale …

Just as the water war dries up and the O2 Oxygen Bar atop Aspen Mountain sees a record number of tourists gasping for their product, some enterprising soul begins bottling a breath of fresh Aspen Air, straight from the atmosphere over Alamosa. Aspen Air struggles to gain acceptance as the bottled oxygen of choice, but consumers keep mistaking it for an airline.

The brand finally takes off when distributors find a market for hot air, of which Aspen has plenty.

Do the right thing

The town of Basalt ignores all financial prudence, all concern for precedent, and does what’s right. It ensures that the tenants of the Roaring Fork and Pan and Fork mobile home parks, who must shortly be moved from their homes because of flood danger, receive equitable reimbursement for their homes. With the help of property owners David Fiore and Rene Richie, the city establishes a fair housing replacement option for all the residents in the park, most of whom are low-income working families. They also compensate the residents for the loss of their trailers, many of which have just recently been purchased by the residents. City officials say they care about the families in the park. We believe them; we just hope they care enough.

Talk about draining

Aspen’s unquenching thirst for trivial controversy is whetted anew in 2004, when the city revives a plan to let an entrepreneur bottle its water, an idea the City Council decided was all wet in 2002.

Aspenites watch with amusement as Aspen water goes head to head with the other Aspen bottled water, which isn’t actually from Aspen. Smart locals turn on their taps.

In other water woes

Aspen Pure owner Jerry Bovino decides to go on a hunger strike until his product is deemed the official water of the Wheeler Opera House. Bovino sits in front of the opera house all day long for two weeks, drinking only Aspen Pure and getting thinner until one night when he’s seen sneaking across the street to buy a gyro from the Popcorn Wagon. The hunger strike ends and Bovino is banned from the opera house for life.


In the wake of The Aspen Times’ unintended identification of an anonymous source, the newspaper institutes a new policy under which no sources in any article are identified by name.

Elected officials become Councilwoman Doe or County Commissioner Doe, for example, and members of the public are simply identified as Citizen Doe. Because all City Council members will have just one name, the Times maintains the uniqueness of Councilman Torre’s single-name moniker by giving him two names, resulting in the unfortunate and undeserved identification of Torre as Councilman Doe-Doe.

The new policy has the added benefit of reducing the number of misspelled names appearing in the paper, though they are not completely eliminated.

Big Bro’ on the ‘drunk bus’

Despite the best intentions not to turn into Big Brother, RFTA can’t help itself in 2004.

The bus company decides to employ the surveillance cameras it has installed on new buses in an effort to tame certain patrons who ride the “drunk buses” late at night and early in the morning, especially on weekends.

RFTA will team with the Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention and the Aspen Police Department in a unique program designed to shame unruly riders into more upstanding behavior.

The APD will place undercover cops on buses and empower them to write tickets for petty offenses when they see a “drunk” engaging in some sort of unsavory act.

The person cited will have a choice of paying a $50 fine or attending a class, “Proper Etiquette for the Aspen Drunk,” that’s sponsored by the drug prevention program. As part of that class, the offending drunk will be forced to watch a videotape that shows his or her actions on the bus on the night the offense occurred.

We predict that once guys witness, through the magic of surveillance tape, how lame they act when they’re trying to pick up a sober chick or picking fights with one another, they will repent.

Jacko-free Times

Inspired by the Kobe-free Aspen Daily News, The Aspen Times refuses to join the Michael Jackson media circus, at least until he gets a nose.

The decision generates an overwhelming response from both Jackson fans and members of the Proboscis Society. The supposedly Jackson-free Times devotes an entire issue to letters to the editor on the subject.

Nonetheless, the Times expands this policy, refusing to cover news regarding any individual who is lacking a facial feature.

Ultimately, the paper decides elected officials, who are no longer identified by name, are pretty faceless as a result and suspends all coverage of government news, winning applause from both readers and reporters.

Go deep, Skico

Every self-respecting ski bum in the valley knows this story and shares the lament. We hope it will not forever remain just barstool banter.

We’re talking about the mythic Deep Steeplechase chairlift at Aspen Highlands, of course. It exists only on Aspen Skiing Co. master-plan documents ” pure speculation at this point.

But this is a town founded by speculators, and and if it wasn’t for the storied draught of 1976-77, Deep Steeplechase would already have been built.

And while the Skico’s reasoning that few tourists come to Aspen/Snowmass to ski black-double-diamond terrain once seemed sound, the times they are a changin’. The opening of Highland Bowl has cast international attention on the steep and deep, leaving us to wonder if the Skico may wish to rethink the decision. We sure hope so.

And the beat lives on

The Double Diamond space gets purchased outright by a trio of young, fabulously wealthy, local music fanatics. The Double Diamond name will be restored, the place will get that long-talked-about major facelift. The group is targeting Feb. 1 as the reopening date, but dismisses as rumor that the club will be inaugurated with a show featuring members of Phish.

The group claims that they don’t see the Double D as a moneymaking venture. But all three said that every time they walked by the boarded-up club, their hearts were stirred by the memories of seeing such acts as the Dave Matthews Band, the Funky Meters, Maceo Parker and String Cheese Incident, until they were convinced they had to act.

In a further move, the group said Karen Smith, the Double D’s original music booker, was persuaded to give up her career as a Marble innkeeper, and will be taking over her old position.

One last wish …

Above all, we hope for more hope. Not naive “we hope for world peace and a home for all stray puppies,” but real, vivid powerful thunderclap hope, a hope that grapples endlessly with despair, that looks around at a world in disarray, at skies darkened and soils poisoned, and still manages to sprout. Hope isn’t a choice, it’s a moral obligation, it’s a human obligation, and without it what would life be but despair?

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