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A few offseason observations

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

After working and playing hard for the past several months, we’ve finally arrived. offseason is a phenomenon that most of the rest of the country doesn’t get to experience. Most Americans stay amped up all year long, which is why city folk are stressed out and unhealthy. They might take a week here and there to vacation, but we know it takes more than that to chill out.We anxiously wait all season to decompress. And when the time finally comes, most of us run from the hills as soon as we can for a much-needed vacation. I prefer staying put. I like decompressing in the comfort of my own home. Staying here provides me the opportunity to take the time to reflect and enjoy the stillness of the city. There’s more time to sit at the coffee shops, read the papers, and catch up with old friends and colleagues. I find myself taking more than two seconds to stop and talk to someone on the street corner. I just don’t have to be anywhere that important. It’s a state of mind that we all can feel and it’s nice.What’s also nice is that the people are gone. We all get sick of one another – locals and tourists – and it’s healthy to take a break. There’s a reason I’m not in the service industry – my tolerance for dealing with demanding people is extremely low. Anyone who knows me would say that I can’t even tolerate myself most of the time.The signs of offseason have been springing up over the past couple of weeks, with fresh tracks on the red dust-laden snow at the base of Ajax serving as a reminder that another year of skiing is over. This past week I kept looking up at the face of Ajax, thinking that I should have skied those bumps more.But it’s all good. The golf course is open, the hiking trails are nearly empty and summer is around the corner. There’s plenty of parking and next week we’ll get some relief because it will be free to park on the weekends. The streets are virtually empty and there’s less traffic coming in and out of town. A few establishments have stayed open for the locals and we don’t have to fight for a seat at the bar. I’ve noticed while sitting at the bar lately that perhaps the reason we call it “offseason” is because those who are truly “off” have emerged from the crowds. You don’t notice them during high season; they camouflage themselves like lizards in the desert. But when the places thin out, the freakers are exposed. There they are in all their glory acting like the freakers that they are. If you haven’t noticed them, you will now.I like to call this time of year “local’s season” because it truly belongs to us. We have our town back, if only for a couple of short months. It used to be called “mud season” but since we’ve paved everything, that term is outdated. Although there’s enough construction crews digging up the earth that I expect the mud to return.Speaking of mud, offseason in Aspen also means election season. While I’ll refrain from sharing most of my opinions on the elections because of my pending position as The Aspen Times’ city reporter, there are a few observations that I cannot let go by the wayside.Just what is mayoral candidate Bonnie Behrend’s deal? She has raised no money in her campaign, has been a no-show at the majority of debates and has used her platform to chastise the Aspen Skiing Co. for allegedly putting thousands of people in danger because the gondola cars apparently swing into the towers on Ajax – an allegation that came from an unknown source. That’s real good, try to take down the one company that makes this town operate with baseless allegations. That’s just the quality we need in a mayor.A few people were discussing this woman and her campaign over a few beers at a local watering hole last week. They started taking bets on how many votes she would garner. The spread doesn’t look favorable – 30 over or under, take your pick. If she gets more than a dozen it’s too many. She is purely there for entertainment value in my book and in my humble opinion, she’s wasting our time. All I know about her is that she thinks she’s beautiful. I won’t hate her for that. But I get annoyed at people who feel the need to take the spotlight out of their own insecurities and suck the energy out of the issues at hand. This upcoming election is important and should be taken seriously. It’s time to sit down and shut up if you’ve got nothing substantial to say.We expect political candidates to spew rhetoric to make themselves stand out. But when it’s unsubstantiated, meritless or plain dumb, you can expect people to call them out. Mayoral candidate Torre was quoted last week saying he thinks his opponents (the serious ones) are “buying the election” and it disgusts him. Please. In the grand scheme of politics, $20,000 is a drop in the bucket to get your message to the voters. Torre said he doesn’t think it takes that much to reach the voters. We’ll see how true that is on Election Day. In small town politics, where there are 4,600 registered voters and about half of them are expected to show up to the polls, a vote will cost between $4 and $8. But that’s the reality of politics in Aspen. It’s not buying an election. If there is anything disgusting about any of this is that only 2,000 people will be making a decision about the future of their town. And that is what is “off” about offseason.If you think Sack is off or on, e-mail her at csackariason@yahoo.com.


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