Paul Andersen: Fair Game |

Paul Andersen: Fair Game

Paul AndersenThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Sometimes it takes a crippling injury to make one a proficient observer. Consider Jimmy Stewart in the Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window.” It’s a similar story with my eccentric friend, “the Crip,” a Snowmass Village resident convalescing after a hip replacement.And what has the Crip observed from his cloister off Sinclair Road? He’s been watching the unfolding of the Barnum & Bailey circus tent at the Ziegler Reservoir prehistoric dig.I share with you the Crip’s observations because they come from a refreshingly caustic eye and a sharp wit (even if he is a bit of a dinosaur himself). Following are his words the way they appeared in his “Crip Notes” journal, the erudite e-mail epistle of a garrulous gimp, which he sends regularly to friends and family:”Well, it was bound to happen. When a sleepy little ski town of 1,000 permanent residents stumbles upon a major archeological site within its midst, promotional ideas start flashing to the point that you cannot sleep at night for the glow.”One of the first, and silliest, actions was for the Snowmass Town Council to adopt the band Widespread Panic’s ‘Big Woolly Mammoth’ as the official song of Snowmass Village. They are considering issuing ‘I dig Snowmass’ bumper stickers, renaming one of the ski runs to play up the find and other such brain farts. One notable exception to the naming frenzy was a local journalist who pointed out that these are fossils of Columbian mammoths, not Woolly mammoths. Picky, picky.”One local entrepreneur has figured out that the local Town Council will move at glacial speed in getting publicity about the find out to the public. He has taken the mammoth by the horns and started a website,, which he has modestly termed the official site for all things related to the Snowmasstodon. In addition to publishing actual news about what the scientists are finding, he sees his site as a place to market such kitschy items as embroidered hats, T-shirts and cool hoodies. Check the site and order before Christmas.”The character who has beaten everyone else to the punch is a longtime on and off resident who owns the Thotic Shop, where he makes ski-boot orthotics for skiers in the Village. While the Town Council has scheduled a meeting sometime in early December to consider forming a task force to investigate how to best market the dig, Mr. Orthotics has grabbed up the domain name ‘Snowmasstodon’ and several other similar names (he did this two days after the discovery in October). “In baseball terms, the council is still warming up while the foot doc rounds third base heading home. If the guy doesn’t make a penny selling mammoth hoodies, he may make a fortune selling the domain names he so cleverly reserved. Let’s hear it for the Great American Way. Fortunately, the 503 items removed from the site before its winterization are now in the possession of Denver’s Museum of Nature & Science. “Why am I concerned about the ability of our local leaders to act in a responsible manner? Someone suggested that Snowmass’ mayor dress as Fred Flintstone for a local event promoting the dig. Even though the mayor bears a striking resemblance to ole Fred, he had the good sense to decline. Still, I’d hate to see the bones in the hands of Mr. Mayor and his council. Yada-dada-do!”The Crip is living proof that it takes a long convalescence to perk up one’s antennae. I’m not advocating hip replacements, but if the time ever comes for me, I can only hope there’s something equally stimulating to view from my rear window on the Fryingpan.Meanwhile, the Snowmass bone yard extravaganza is heating up as locals stew over what’s to become of them. One recent Aspen Times letter writer urged the Snowmass Town Council to choose a more original theme song than Widespread Panic’s “Woolly Mammoth.” Let the local bards come up with something original, said the critic, and I couldn’t agree more. Sounds like it’s time for a mammoth talent show in Snowmass, one that the Crip could attend with cane and attitude.

Paul Andersen’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.