Cancer doesn’t stand a chance | AspenTimes.com

Cancer doesn’t stand a chance

Alison BerkleyAspen, CO Colorado

I wish I had as many friends as Bob: the guy is like the most famous person I know. More than 700 people turned out for the Bob Aid ’07 benefit on Friday night at Buttermilk. The event was to help Bob pay medical bills after a bout of bladder cancer (and a broken jaw) drained his insurance money.When I pulled up and saw the parking lot packed and the line out the door, I got goosebumps – and it didn’t stop there. I mean, Bob is not an art museum. Bob is not a building, or a statue, or a fancy fountain, or the new wing of a library, or a renovated auditorium; Bob is a weird old hippie ski patrol dude/paraglider/mountaineer/dirtbag climber who lives in a trailer in Woody Creek. He’s a cool guy who has done some impressive stuff in big mountains, but he’s not the typical shiny, expensive-looking, deep-pockets type of Aspen guy. But that didn’t stop all those people from shelling out 35 bucks to get in the door. Even I paid for a ticket, and I’m press, so I’m used to getting everything for free. You know, all access all the time. But even I was willing to throw down a cool 40 bucks for Bob.”Who let the media in?” Bob asked when I saw him at the benefit. (He managed to sneak a kiss on the lips by turning his head toward me at the past second. Rascal!) He was in high spirits, happily dazed by the incredible turnout. With all that crazy mind-body yoga crap I’ve learned over the last six months, I believe the energy of that evening is probably a lot more powerful in helping Bob heal than chemotherapy ever could be. Cancer doesn’t stand a chance against that much love.For starters, the whole town turned out – and I’m not talking about the plastic crowd you see at summer benefits, the middle-aged ladies with their frozen faces and rock-hard boobs, and their tan wrinkled old husbands who look like crumpled paper bags. I’m talking about the people who actually live here, people you know because they used to work with your ex-girlfriend’s roommate, or maybe they used to sleep on the couch in the unit above you at Centennial. There was live music and good food, and the silent auction had all these items you might even be able to use and afford. It was a testament to the quality of the people in this community, the real community – the heart and soul of the town that isn’t so easy to see when all this superficial stuff is piled up on top of it.I went straight from there to meet my bros from Jackson Hole, who were in town for The Meeting. In case you’re not some cool in-the-know ski or snowboard dude, The Meeting is a ski and snowboard film festival and industry gathering hosted by the Aspen Skiing Co. It’s great because it’s one of the only industry events I know of that’s during the offseason – when people have time and can enjoy catching up with one another. It’s also such a beautiful time of year in Aspen, it makes me proud. My Jackson friends all love Aspen because there’s actually something to do here at night, other than get wasted at the Coach in Wilson and start a bar fight by using your pool cue as a baseball bat on your best friend’s head. (It is Wyoming, after all.)I know you guys have heard me talk about my friends from Teton Gravity Research, the film production company based in Jackson. You know, all the wild times I had with them back in the day when I was a magazine journalist in the ski and snowboard media, and got to travel the world and write stories about their misadventures in big mountains.The crazy thing is, I did it for one season and was happy I came out of it alive. But they’re still doing it. Ten years later, they’re still out there, buzzing around in helicopters over the world’s steepest peaks, documenting some of the most progressive athletes doing some pretty crazy stuff. They’ve got wives and kids, but they’re still charging harder than ever, on the hill and off.”Babe, are you sure you want to get another round?” my friend asked her husband later that night at Bentley’s. The husband is one of the founders of TGR, and he and his wife managed to stay out every night until 4. Here it comes, I thought, the lecture on drinking too much alcohol, on being responsible and growing up.”Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” the wife asked, her face filled with concern. “You might have trouble sleeping if you drink too much Red Bull.” “OK, I’ll have a Jack and Coke,” he replied, pulling his hat down even lower so the brim cast a shadow over his light blue eyes. I decided not to mention that Coke probably has as much caffeine as Red Bull.The best part of the night came later, when I managed to sneak into Belly Up. I had forgotten my credentials and the show was completely sold out. I can be a slippery little thing when I set my mind to it, so I just sort of did the squat/backbend/limbo and greased in under one of the velvet ropes when no one was looking.There looked to be about 700 people there, too, except I didn’t know any of them. They were mostly guys, shiny, new looking ones that looked like they just came out of the wrapper. “Who let the media in here?” I heard Bob ask in my head as I bolted for the door. I had finally found my place, I thought. And this wasn’t it.Send your e-mail to the Princess at alison@berkleymedia.com.