Stone: Time to apologize for some (very) regrettable errors | AspenTimes.com

Stone: Time to apologize for some (very) regrettable errors

Andy Stone
Stone’s Throw

One of the sacred (well, semi-sacred, anyway) rules of the newspaper business is that when you get something seriously wrong you’re supposed to print a correction.

It’s simple enough. Admit you screwed up. Print the proper information. And then close with the required apology: “We regret the error.”

And so I find myself in the position of having to humbly correct and regret a couple of serious errors I have made.

The first, most egregious error involves the new Aspen Art Museum.

That’s right. I screwed up on that one.

I consistently have cast aspersions on the new museum building — from the time it was approved in a secret City Council meeting long before construction was started.

I have called it too big. I have called it too tall. I have called it too ugly. I have called it “damnable.”

I have even been so reckless as to call it part of the Hecht development empire’s “Walk of Shame … the cherry on top of their blood-lust sundae.”

In short, I have been relentlessly nasty about that museum.

And today I am here to issue a correction and an apology.

I suspect that correction and apology are required because, as noted above, I began slagging the museum project before construction even started.

But now that building is well underway.

And now I have seen it — still far from complete but beginning to show its final appearance.

And so I have to say I was wrong. Very wrong.

The damn thing is even worse — much, much worse — than I imagined.

It is worse, I suspect, than any of us could have imagined.

Worse than our wildest nightmares.

And I am doubly sorry because — like an Olympic figure-skating judge who gave the first skater on the ice a perfect “10” — I haven’t left myself any room to properly describe the horror that is now looming on East Hyman. (Except, perhaps, to call it “The Horror on East Hyman” and see if I can get a movie deal.)

Once you’ve called something the cherry on top of a blood-lust sundae, what’s left?

What am I going to do? Run around with a big spoon urging everyone to take a bite?

“Come on! Taste the sundae. See what you think. Is it really ‘blood lust’? Or should I have said ‘hot crap’?”

Actually, in a way that’s what I will do — in a more civilized fashion, of course: I urge everyone to trot on over to the 600 block of East Hyman Avenue and take a taste — I mean, take a look for yourself.

Stand across the street to get perspective. Then stand close and look up. Close your eyes, and feel the chilly shadow of the Horror on East Hyman.

Then decide for yourself if I do not indeed owe each and every one of you a humble apology for not being nearly nasty enough.

I regret the error. (And please note: That last phrase is only a little bit of sloppy typing away from “I regret the horror.”)

OK. One correction handled.

Now, the second correction also involves —wouldn’t you just know it? — a local development.

But in this case, my error was praising a developer. (Maybe I should just vow never to do that again.)

And, just as I was too quick with my condemnation of the art museum, so I was too quick with my kind words for the Hunter-Galena behemoth once known as the Gap Building.

I praised the developer for not demanding approval to add a third story housing a few grotesquely enormous free-market penthouses. And, I should note, that is still the case: no third story, no condos. That’s good.

But — but! — as others have pointed out, now that the construction fences have been removed, we suddenly are confronted with a pale-white building that is totally out of place in the middle of our rosy-red downtown.

The phrase “albino turd in a punch bowl” comes to mind. (As with the blood-lust sundae, I am not going to urge you to take a taste.)

What were they thinking? Was it an attempt to stand out? (If so, mission accomplished.) Was it an attempt to look like all-white Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills? (The developer’s brochure said that Galena Street “has become Aspen’s retail row and its answer to ‘Rodeo Drive.’” So maybe that was the idea. The loathsome idea.)

Or was it just a color-blind architect?

Whatever the reason, the Galena-Hopkins building, like the Art Museum, is now another blot, a zit on the once-fair face of Aspen.

And isn’t it curious how, as Aspen “matures,” the city’s fair face seems to be acquiring more and more zits?

Most of us mature out of our acne. Aspen, for some reason, seems to be going in the opposite direction in its civic dermatological development.

In any case, my earlier kind words for the developer — although technically true — have turned out to be a sad mistake.

And I deeply regret the error.

But what I really regret is the existence of both those damned buildings.

And even more, I regret the fact that our supposed government watchdogs, the people we trusted, have somehow — through cowardice, ignorance or inattention — allowed it to happen.

And that is an error we all should regret.

Deeply.

But wait! Even now, as I finish this column and race to get it filed by deadline, I am seeing that the City Council is seriously considering allowing lodges to build four stories high. Four stories! Because the developers plead poverty and insist they “need” the extra height.

So we just might let them do that — because trusting developers to show restraint, good taste and concern for the character of our city always has worked out so well in the past.

Are we idiots? Are we completely crazy?

Stand back, everyone! Here comes another regrettable error!

Deeply regrettable.

Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His email address is andy@aspentimes.com.


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