On Friday, June 11, there’s going to be a big party at The Red Onion from 3-7 p.m. to celebrate what would have been Freddie Fisher’s 100th birthday.Local media-man and Fisher-fan, Greg Poschman, noticed the auspicious date and organized the event, which will include music by Walt Smith (who played with Freddie for years and probably has a couple of books’ worth of Fisher stories which he’s too much of a gentleman to reveal), a mayoral Proclamation, old movie clips, recently released CDs, an outdoor barbecue and an open mike for Freddie tales – a messy vitality party honoring the man who didn’t invent the term but defined it.Word has it that Fisher fans are coming in from far places for the event, which is being held early in the day for the benefit of those (including me) who might tend to retire before normal Aspen closing time. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around Freddie Fisher’s upcoming 100th birthday. He was 63 when he died in 1967, and looked to me about 100 years old at the time, but now I’m four years older than he was then – gads.One thing I’m certain about is that if Freddie had lived to be 100 (something I wouldn’t wish on anyone), he would have hated almost everything that has happened to Aspen. He might have liked the pooper-scooper and leash laws, but it was late-night barking that got his dander up regarding dogs – that and the early morning ringing of the Catholic bells. “Those G—–n bells!!!” he wrote to the local priest via a letter to the editor, “You ring ’em too loud and too early. It’s too early to get up … and too late to go back to sleep and you win again. It’s enough to make an atheist out of anybody.” But Freddie would have hated what really killed Aspen, which was not specifically the condos or the trophy homes, the exclusive chain stores or the high-end hotels, but the PRETENTION.Aspen used to be the least pretentious place on the planet, which is the charm that drew many of us to it. Now it is the most pretentious place on the planet. The irony of this celebration of Freddie Fisher is that he wouldn’t last a minute in this town today. Freddie was a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking drinker who looked like he had been fished out of the town dump he frequented and had a fix-it (junk) shop taking up half a block of Main Street where Asie and Gusto now stand. Aspen’s most revered citizen was a guy of which it was said, “You could take him anywhere and be ashamed of him.” Freddie Fisher was a brilliant musician and letter writer of keen wit and insight, but he was also a messy vitality kind of man whose reply to a dowager who asked how someone as disgusting as he could have such a beautiful daughter was, “Well, lady, I didn’t do it with my face!” This Friday I think there will probably be a run on the handicapped parking places by McDonald’s and KemoSabe – I hope so. And I hear a busload of fans are coming in from Heritage House – if the Senior Center and Castle Creek Terrace aren’t on board yet for this event, they should be.And if you don’t have a place in your heart for Freddie Fisher and all he stood for, you know what? Don’t come to the party. That will make more room for us. I’ll see you there.Su Lum is a longtime local who will bring “Fisher the Fixer” books. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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