Writing Switch: Analyzing the tropes of Aspen
December 20, 2018
The narrative around Aspen is one of man furs, overpriced everything, a cacophony of cocaine, "Dumb and Dumber"-related folklore and more. As a couple of locals who have been around town for a while, we can attest to what actually happens and what "South Park" wants you to think happens.
In honor of one of Ben's favorite shows, "Mythbusters," we thought it would be appropriate to put on a beret, some thick-framed glasses and inspect, very scientifically, some of these truths and falsehoods about our fairly expensive city.
Are there no friends on a powder day?
BW: The actual rule is "no friends who are substantially slower than you on a powder day," which is why I ride alone. "It's lonely at the top" is definitely not a myth. Your willingness to take along stragglers also should depend on how many inches have fallen (get the Aspen-Snowmass app to check reported snowfall amounts, and it also keeps track of your number of skier days). From 1 to 3 or 4 inches, it's acceptable to ski with anyone. Take out your less-experienced friends for a mild powder day and plant that seed of what a real blizzard would be like. But if it's genuinely dumping, Skico is serving Powder Pancakes and you know your secret stash is untouched, it's experts only.
Nothing about it is meant to be rude, it's just efficient. During whiteout conditions it's easy to lose your friends, and if I'm riding the Back of Bell trees, I'm not going to check behind me every 10 seconds to see if you crashed into one. The cold and the wet is when cellphones stop working and people stop caring about checking them, so best to take advantage of one of the few days per season of free refills.
Does beer actually flow like wine?
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SB: In the same vein of frat guys quoting "The Big Lebowski," regurgitating the famous "Dumb and Dumber" quote about beer flowing like wine has become a cliché — a funny cliché but a cliché nonetheless. When you look at it realistically, what was Lloyd Christmas actually talking about? Was it a reference to hedonistic Roman times? Is he talking about the physical flow of beer and wine from their respective vessels? Or was he referring to beer actually taking on wine-like qualities?
Let's start with the first one. I would say that the wine flows more like wine — especially rosé and bubbly. Sure, there is plenty of beer poured in Aspen, but as far as presence/visibility, wine is king.
How each beverage pours is pretty similar, which isn't shocking considering they're liquids. As far as how they flow, you could make an argument that the wine actually flows like beer because Public House has wine on tap.
The last one is ridiculous because you don't want your beer to be flat. Unless you're referring to Champagne because yes, you want both to be carbonated, but that's where it stops.
Do Only affluent people live in Aspen?
BW: The most common thing I hear when I tell flatlanders I live in Aspen is, "Oh, it's beautiful there, but I couldn't deal with all the snobby, rich people." OK, Craig, the bourgeois aren't inviting you to their parties, so don't kid yourself. The vast majority of us who live here year-round are working-class grunts with a bevy of substance-abuse and other issues like every other normal person. I don't have to interact daily with the upper-upperclass like some of my brave service-industry friends, but when I do it's usually a menopausal woman buying me drinks at Escobar, and that I will not complain about. I think a lot of guys in Aspen have the fantasy that they'll one day meet the cougar who will whisk them away to some fanciful island to sip pina coladas and do shots of botox. It's just nice that I'm finally at that place in life where mature women are no longer creeped out by how young I am, they're creeped out by how I look.
Somebody once asked me if The Aspen Times was running a story about celebrities in town. "No, we're not a tabloid," I replied with mock disgust. People who live in Aspen are not in awe of the wealthy, although sometimes you'll roll your eyes after coming across an Instagram post of a person you know posing with some random B-lister they found in the streets.
Does a $43 burger actually exist?
SB: The short answer is yes. The more pressing question is, should it? Located at the J-Bar in the Hotel Jerome there is a potentially $43 burger. If you pile on all the possible "upgrades" — cheese, bacon, braised onions, mushroom duxelles, crushed avocado, fried shishitos, fried egg and lobster salad — the J-Bar burger turns into a $43 alpine monstrosity a la yetis in "Johnny Quest."
Save for your normal burger toppings, who wants lobster salad on a burger? I'm anti-fried egg but at least acknowledge it's a thing. Shishitos are not. Maybe just stick to one upgrade of cheese and top off your tab at $20. (That's right, mathematicians, the burger starts at $18 and doesn't include cheese.)
Are guys way more numerous than gals?
BW: One of the chief complaints I hear among the single men of Aspen is that competition for the desires of a woman is too stiff. No, Archibald, it's because you keep going on religious rants and dipping your chicken wings in Thousand Island dressing. Also, you should start going by "Archie" instead of "Baldy." But I digress.
According to the Colorado Demography Office, the population of Aspen is 47 percent female, so these absurd claims of 7-to-1 dude-chick ratios need to stop. Granted, this statistic does not account for the nature of tourists. You may see an influx of women during Yoga on the Mountain in Snowmass, and another time go to Bootsy Bellows and only bump into college guys hopped up from chugging Fireball on the bus during X Games weekend. Throughout the summer and winter holidays you need to be with family to afford hotel rates. So, demographics can change.
The best advice I can give is to develop a little panache. Also, get rid of that Machu Picchu pic in your Tinder profile.
Is cocaine Aspen's second favorite powder?
SB: I mean, I don't partake myself but if you pay attention to the cop blotter and group bathroom trips, it's hard not to lean "yes." Aspen might be one of the only places where women and men routinely make trips to the restroom to powder their noses. I guess it's better than being known for meth or molly. However, the EDM/molly crowd certainly gives cocaine all it can handle at X Games in late January.
As far as its ranking next to snow, I think people definitely prefer inhaling face shots over key bumps anytime. I just can't speak for apres.
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