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Carroll: Deep thoughts from the Deep South

Notes from my June visit to Louisiana:

• To anyone who even hints at complaining about the heat in Aspen: Just stop it. Now. During my family’s June visit to Baton Rouge and New Orleans, we enjoyed “mild” summer weather. Mild weather, as in 90 degrees and 70 percent humidity. In the shade. At night. Glad we arrived in time for the cold front.

• I arrived to Baton Rouge in a shaggy state — unruly hair in need of a trim. I’d put off a haircut for about eight weeks (not withstanding my wife’s removal of my wannabe mullet a few weeks ago). My mom suggested a barber shop just a couple of miles away from her house. Little did I know it was a black barber shop — or a “real barbershop,” as I was informed by one of the employees there. The crew was a bit skeptical of me at first — “Are you from Des Moines?” one asked — but once I told them I lived in Colorado, we bonded quickly. “Were they high when they cut your hair?” my barber asked. Soon, my barber hatched plans to move to Colorado and open his own pot shop. The marijuana rush is happening, people.

• Speaking of pot, Aspen might have its marijuana shops, but in Louisiana, frozen-daiquiri drive-thrus are aplenty. And to keep motorists from drinking and driving, the daiquiri shop employees place scotch tape over the straw holes on the cups. Uh huh.

• Best meal? Cochon Restaurant in New Orleans. My wife and I waited 80 minutes to get seats on a Monday night, and it was worth every second. Crawfish pie, wood-fired oysters with chili-garlic butter, fried boudin and grilled beef short rib. It also was one of our healthiest meals, not withstanding my brother’s fish fry of speckled trout, red fish and flounder, with hush puppies and french fries. I’ve given up on Aspen ever opening a decent Louisiana-food restaurant — unless they’re modeling their menus after Angola Prison food. C’est la vie, y’all.

• Elitch Gardens in Denver has some stiff competition for bragging rights as the world’s largest meth den. It comes in the form of Dixie Landing just outside of Baton Rouge. Maybe one day they’ll join forces to hold the world’s first Missing Teeth Convention. I’d love to score press passes to that one.

• LSU coach Johnny Jones, in his closing remarks to players — including my son — at his basketball camp last week, reminded them to pay close attention to what they post on social media. I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially he said that “whatever you post on Facebook, make sure your parents would be proud of it.” It was a sound suggestion — now if only adults heeded the same advice.

• While scanning news articles in the local papers, one thing that grabbed me was how much authorities divulged about murder cases. According to the FBI’s uniform crime report issued in 2013, Louisiana had the highest murder rate in the country in 2012, so homicides are hardly unusual. And every murder story I read — and there were plenty of them — had plenty of details provided by authorities. Meanwhile, Pitkin County gets its first murder case since 2001 — which for all practical purposes appears open and shut — and we still don’t know what our local authorities used to find probable cause to three defendants, two of whom saw charges dismissed, in the slaying of Nancy Pfister. Inquiring minds want to know.

• As my wife and I enjoyed cocktails on the balcony of Johnny White’s on Bourbon Street, we spotted a woman with nothing on but panties and her breasts painted blue. At 2 p.m. On a Monday. During offseason in New Orleans. There’s your messy vitality, Aspen.

• While on the topic of Bourbon Street, around the same time we pulled into Aspen at 1:45 on Sunday morning, ten people were shot on the Crescent City’s most famous street. Nothing tarnishes a town’s reputation more than violence. Aspen, as much as we bellyache about politics and other issues here (and we do have real topics of concerns, along with a trove of petty ones), we’re a spoiled bunch. Sometimes we forget just how good we have it.

Rick Carroll is editor of The Aspen Times. He takes comments, complaints, questions and news tips at rcarroll@aspentimes.com.


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