Bend overyou’re on ‘Candid Camera’ | AspenTimes.com
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Bend overyou’re on ‘Candid Camera’

Janet UrquhartAspen, CO Colorado

The next time you’re juggling your skis and poles with the finesse of a self-absorbed tourist as you clomp up the gondola plaza stairs, remember, the world may be watching your ineptitude.That’s right, you’re stumbling through a starring role in the 21st century version of “Candid Camera,” broadcasting live on the Web, 24/7.Your surreptitious jock strap adjustment at the gym could be caught in suspended animation for all to scrutinize. Ditto that nose pick on the patio at Bumps, or the fender-bending excuse for parallel parking you hope no one noticed on Cooper.We are all, at any moment, unwitting buffoons in the great comedy of life, our miscues beamed to the masses via the latest technological intrusion – the webcam.The cameras are everywhere. OK, not everywhere, but they’re out there, catching our every move from strategic locales around Aspen. Some offer frozen moments of time, while others provide pretty much a real-time picture.Members of the Aspen Athletic Club in particular are subject to scrutiny. Webcams point at the gym’s various exercise rooms. Worse, the images change minute by minute, meaning a member can be caught mid-toe touch, their ass aimed at a camera, for a full 60 seconds – a veritable eternity in the high-speed Web world.Strange contortions with an inflatable exercise ball linger like a slow-motion replay for anyone who happens to be watching.I’m not even a member of this particular gym, but the idea so freaked me out, I’ve started scanning my own gym in the midvalley for cameras and have taken to pointing my butt directly against a wall before I bend over, as the move invariably spreads one’s spread in uncomplimentary fashion.I’ve started glancing about the ceiling of the grocery store, too, worried that someone, somewhere, is watching me buy diet soda and chocolate, and laughing at the obvious contradiction.Web shots of Aspen’s downtown malls, while they don’t update too frequently, can give a Web browser a good idea of the weather conditions on any particular day, not to mention your bad-hair day if you happen to get caught in a frame.From the looks of it, there’s a camera above the Aspen Square Hotel building, pointed down at the opposite corner – Boogie’s and a stretch of Cooper Avenue. The image updates every 10 seconds, lending a sort of disjointed animation to the scene. Pedestrians move somewhat robotically. I’m intrigued with the idea of leaping down the sidewalk, appearing on camera as though I’m bounding down the street in 10-foot increments, sort of like a superhero.The camera pointed at the gondola plaza is especially intriguing, from a voyeur’s standpoint, as it sometimes allows the viewer to zoom in and out, or pan the camera up and down, from left to right, to take in the greater area. I’ve seen the snowcats move up and down the slope of Little Nell in the darkness and kept tabs on the line of skiers and boarders at the gondola, all from the vantage point of my kitchen table.There are various mountain cams in our midst – the one at Highlands is usually in the mist.Buttermilk offers they best peeping potential, with a user-controlled camera that can be pointed at the base area, the superpipe, the patio at Bumps, etc.It appears webcams have been directed at everything from the bar at Jimmy’s to points along Highway 82, though I have yet to catch any of them actually functioning in real time.Having spent considerable time actually monitoring the comings and goings in Aspen on my computer screen, I can honestly say there’s hope for those of us who don’t relish the idea of being caught on camera. For all the voyeuristic appeal the cams present, the truth is, things are pretty dull out there.If only someone would bend over.Big Brother may not be watching, but Janet Urquhart is. Her e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com.


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