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Roger Marolt: Roger This

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Congratulations! If you think I’m talking about surviving 2012 or even New Year’s Eve, you’re probably new to these parts. Those things are nothing compared with what we’ve just been through. The holiday season in a winter resort makes the most devout local Aspen-lover wonder.

The experts say the holidays cause stress. To that, add jet-loads of tourists, the most insane workload of the year, spotty snow conditions and a shortage of eggnog, and then let the experts figure out the breaking point that drives millionaires, movie stars and ski bums to fight over tables in front of the relaxing fire at the Sundeck.

Before you think about the best way to begin your lecture, I know tourists are our cha-ching. Without them, this would undoubtedly be a more beautiful place, but none of us would be here because there wouldn’t be any houses or jobs, save for a few rooms in the bunkhouse for the potato pickers. My relatives survived the Depression here and spoke of it fondly, but they had no idea how much better things could be. I’ve seen the old photos. J. Crew wouldn’t have hurt.

At any rate, my intention is not to bad-mouth our visitors. It is to good-mouth life without them for a while. So long, farewell, I’m glad you used your Visa!

Except for the annoying Presidents Day weekend, when Front Range skiers who think that living in a Denver loft is what being a local is all about and show up here to out-cool one another, and the X Games, when Gen Yers are stoked that our town is converted into a virtual video game A to Z, January and February are excellent months in Aspen.

The days are getting longer, the lines at City Market are getting shorter, and the snow gets deeper. Is this as good as it gets? Perhaps.

Think of the best-case scenario for a small town in the mountains. Everyone knows one another, and there is a ski area rising up from its streets with lifts that pretty much serve the local citizenry exclusively. You can get into any restaurant in town just about any time, and the staff treats you pleasantly – even when you order the cheap bottle of wine. The parking is good and the driving through town easy. There are no snobs, no blowhards and no boneheads except the ones who live here you’re used to dealing with.

I know that we have to progress and grow and try to fill every weekend all winter – which boasts its own schedule of happenings so long that it needs its own section of the newspaper so that we can attract more visitors to enjoy our special-town character during this best time of year. That’s just the way it is because, above all things, we have demonstrated that it is important to be wealthy or at least upper-middle-class. And trust me – we’ll get there. Full occupancy year-round that is, not necessarily rich.

The good news is that I’m not here to rail against that. I’ve lived here long enough to recognize inevitability at the front gate whether I invited it or not. Progress happens, and we are trained to believe that it is good, even when it leads to things like the atomic bomb, legal pot or the iPhone, which can and will be used absolutely everywhere.

What I want to say is that these are the good ol’ days. Mark it in your calendars: Jan. 4 through March 7, “Good Old Days” with a red Sharpie. Do it, and then keep a journal about what happens. If anybody had done this back in the ’70s, we would now possess the recipe for creating cool. Sadly, nobody did, and we now have only the paint-by-numbers Aspen Area Community Plan pieced together from faltering memories to guide us to greatness. And do you know why? It was because every singe person who was here then, no matter how loudly they bitch about change now, took those times for granted. In fact, I have a hunch that those who cry the loudest were the ones who let the great times slip by with the least awareness. Regret is a bitch with a painful bite.

Don’t let that happen to you. Make a New Year’s resolution that you only have to keep for two months. Get up. Get out. Get on ’em. Enjoy the best Aspen has to offer. Before you know it, it will be spring break, and the insanity will return. And you’ll be questioning everything all over.

Roger Marolt is a devout offseasonist. He is relaxing at roger@maroltllp.com.


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