Aspen’s facade of vibrancy
The latest edict from Aspen City Council may have more personal impact than I first thought.It may mean the end of unprotected contact with the sun. As we know, solar radiation wrinkles and cracks faces that have been naturally browned, and sometimes seared, outdoors. Another concern is that there might be no more cocktails after the single healthy one is consumed in the evening. Too much alcohol makes capillaries in the cheeks swell to resemble anatomical pipelines glowing red with toxic waste, eventually spewed into puffy, dark bags under the eyes. I even worry about future participation in recreational activities. I can’t risk destroying bones and ligaments, the very structure that keeps my body from collapsing in place. Call me paranoid, but I am concerned that the latest emergency ordinance to protect buildings more than 30 years old may apply to me. How so, you ask. Well, like many folks around here, I consider my body to be a temple. Further, after a nine-month construction period, my personal certificate of occupancy was issued on March 29, 1962. Do you see? A temple is a building. And, mine is more than 30 years old! I’m not certain, but it may be that I can’t continue to tear down this creaky old bucket of bones without a permit from the city of Aspen!I admit it’s a stretch, but lately our local government has taken to stretching. Sometimes I think they want to pull and tug and distort laws so as to cover every action we make. It seems they want to yank up every fear about lost this, that, and the other things so that we run around perpetually scared. I, for one, don’t want to have to go under special review in order to get permission to add on a few extra pounds so that I can fully enjoy Thanksgiving dinner!Now, I guess there are worse things than being preserved indefinitely; it’s just that none comes to mind at the moment. (Here, I can’t help picturing a bloated pickle at the bottom of a big jar of brine, which basically serves as a community hand wash for hungry motorists fishing for treats, on the counter of the gas station, adjacent to the restrooms, at Crescent Junction, Utah.) But however desirable some might deem it, I can’t persevere in this preservation on my own. Sure, I suppose they can stop me from going out and deliberately tearing myself apart doing all of the things I’ve been doing until now, but in case they hadn’t noticed, nature is taking its own toll on my body without any aid from me at all, too.If anyone expects me to look like I do now in 3007, it’s going to take a lot of money. Has anyone around here checked out the cost of plastic surgery or botox injections lately? (Sorry, that was a stupid question.) Liposuction ain’t free. I’ll need a full-time trainer on call, and plenty of designer steroids, too.Just look around town. Even before the new law was passed, people with gobs of money were trying out all of the historical self-preservation tricks known, with most of the results being pretty shabby. That’s a kind way of putting it, too, because I’m not trying to offend anybody for making good efforts.What I am getting at is that, if we make it illegal to tear down our “temples,” and we know that nature is going to keep on ripping them down regardless, we have to provide folks with some subsidy to help keep the old facades looking like Exhibit A in the wax museum.What we need is a local bo-tax to raise money to keep everyone around here looking exactly like they did back in 1977. I expect we’ll see quite a few perms on men, but that’s the way it was back then, and by golly that’s the way it ought to stay forever.Now, don’t get me wrong if I say it, because I’m really trying to get on board with this preservation thing, but I do have concerns about trying to engineer evolution. If I have to stop doing all the stuff that’s changing me, I won’t have much of a future. Sure, it’ll be great to exist forever in the ’70s, dancing to Foreigner LPs while sipping piña coladas, but what about the identity I could have forged on my face if City Council would have let me live my life naturally? Do they really think they have to save me from myself? I love my body. I have a lot invested in it. I would have done something good with it.I expect the worst part will come when I die. I don’t imagine City Council will ever be able to pass a law against that, or at least they’ll have one heck of a time enforcing it, review process or otherwise. God willing, my soul will be gone sure as the sun will rise the day after, and there my old, used-up carcass will stand, right smack in the middle of town where tourists can gawk at it and comment on how charming it is to have a real local around who still wears bell-bottom hip-huggers. Of course those’ll be the folks who never knew me, because those that did will remember that what I was darn well wasn’t worth keeping around until next week, much less for eternity.The thing City Council doesn’t understand, in spite of their good intentions, is that “soul” can’t be preserved. It is ethereal and belongs somewhere else – in our memories and Detroit discotheques. Memories aren’t tenants in buildings. If we believe that they are, I think the only thing we can preserve is our frustration in continually finding local “vacancy” signs lit where community spirit used to reside.I think you have to let a town, and its people, change, create, and adapt to stay alive. We can’t live forever in what was built in the past, especially if it wasn’t anything too spectacular to begin with. A building is really only what the living put into it. There’s a limit to what ghosts can do to keep them up.Roger Marolt is anxiously awaiting pending legislation about preserving old buildings’ innards. Give him your gut feeling at email@example.com
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