Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate
It turns out I’m not the only one getting fired these days.The other day I got to meet Dan Sheridan, the guy the Skico fired for playing a song he wrote about Aspen’s ritz and glitz at Sneaky’s Tavern. I’m sorry, is that in Snowmass? Let’s just say he was playing a familiar tune.Dan Sadowsky invited us to sit in as guests on “Bluegrass with Mustard,” his Sunday morning radio show on KAJX. I guess he thought it would be cool to have us together since we are both members of the “I Got Fired by Aspen Skico and Got Lots of Opportunities Because of It” club. I’d never met Sheridan before, but he struck me as a very gentle, soft-spoken guy who looked a little bit like a deer caught in headlights in lieu of all the unexpected attention. “I get so nervous doing these things,” he said as we stood outside the Red Brick after we were done with the show. “Do you think I did OK?”I told him about the time I was so nervous to go on some GrassRoots TV show I drank a 40-ounce bottle of Heineken in the bathroom at 11 o’clock in the morning. I’m not sure if that reassured him or not.When you find yourself in the middle of a media maelstrom you never intended to create, all of a sudden you have the audience you always wanted but never thought you deserved. There’s a lot of irony in that, but in the end it’s pretty sweet. It’s sort of one of those “be careful what you wish for” scenarios.”Congratulations,” I told him. “This is your big break.”But when stuff like this happens you want to throw your hands up and go, “Really? Really?” the way everyone says it these days. (Does anyone know where that came from? Was it like a movie or something?)Here’s the thing. Well, there are two things, really. Really? Really.First of all, it’s more important than ever that we as a community maintain and protect our character, our individuality, and our heritage as a liberal-minded, progressive mountain town. We need to remember our history, those miners who were probably all gruff and sexy and manly and cool, wielding guns and bottles of whiskey and hookers and letting loose with their soot-covered faces and callused hands with bullets on their belts. We need to think about the 10th Mountain Division outrunning avalanches and braving blizzards and subzero temperatures and shredding the backcountry on wooden skis with their cool outfits and goggles and Snoopy helmets and wool scarves. We need to think about how fun it might have been to have a little aprs singalong with them.I mean, hell, even Hunter hasn’t been gone that long. Did we already forget about him and his legacy? The Gonzo Journalist who exercised his rights under Colorado’s “Make My Day Law” on a daily basis and was best friends with the Sheriff? It seems like now more than ever it’s important to do what we can to maintain Aspen’s character and personality. I mean, this is a time when VH1 is trying to capitalize on our reputation as Cougarville, USA (thank God for Ryan because I’m sure I would have been joining that party sooner or later). This is a time when developers from Vegas are swooping in and snatching up our most beloved spaces and quite literally bankrupting us. This is a time when you can’t enjoy sitting in a swanky restaurant eating good food because you feel too nostalgic and sad for the cute Mexican restaurant that was torn down and replaced by it. I always thought serving garlic bread at a Mexican place was weird but now I kind of miss it.Also, getting fired really is a big deal. For people like Dan and I, every penny counts and has likely already been spent five times over. So not only are you taking away our pride and our sense of well-being, you’re taking away that seemingly small but significant piece of income we’ve let ourselves count on. But mostly it’s a big blow emotionally. It’s exactly like getting dumped. People say the exact same things. “Everything happens for a reason,” and “One door closes and another one opens.” And it’s all bull. It’s rejection and it sucks and it really hurts your feelings, even if they apologize and offer to let you come back. You still feel ostracized and betrayed and embarrassed. That’s especially true when you’re just some local who loves it here and wants to be yourself without feeling threatened by the affluence and big money and power that are flaunted every day in this town. That’s really hard to do when you get canned from a job you’re not getting paid very much for to begin with.Why not start with a little slap on the wrist and go from there? I don’t buy the whole “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” argument either. I guess people like Dan Sheridan and I assume the big powerful people who run things aren’t going to be threatened by us. We’re assuming they have a sense of humor and they’re going to get the joke. Our biggest mistake is we assume we’re all on the same team.What I’m wondering is how is this little guy in front of this small audience at aprs ski the problem? How do they not understand he’s the face of Aspen we actually want people to see?What I told Sheridan is this: When you’re an artist or a writer or a singer and you affect people and stir the pot and get the dialogue going, consider that your success. Consider that something no one can ever take away from you. Let Aspen be a place where that freedom is celebrated. And for God’s sake: start by getting a sense of humor.
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