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Roger Marolt: Roger This

You must admit that this summer promises to be more exciting than most. What, with the city of Aspen and the Commercial Core & Lodging Commission (CCLC) poised to unleash a gargantuan fiscal stimulus package for panhandlers on the Hyman Avenue mall later this month, downtown promises to be absolutely teeming with activity; at least between 5-8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.OK, so you think that the $22,500 the city and the CCLC are throwing at this effort to liven up our downtown core doesn’t constitute a “gargantuan” stimulus package. Well then, put yourself in the place of the street performers who will be receiving it. It’s 90,000 quarters! That’s enough to fill up a lot of mimes’ palms, clown hats and guitar boxes, if you ask me. After deducting the cost of balloons to twist and limes to juggle, there is going to be plenty of coin left over for bus tickets to the boardwalks of Venice Beach in the fall.Of course, the greatest entertainment that any of us can hope to get from this project is to, once again, watch ourselves trying to choreograph messy vitality. Imagine the selection committee that will convene to interview the tightrope walkers and belly dancers who might be exactly what we are looking for to give our summer nights that ‘ol crazy feeling again: May we see a list of references, please? Oh, and we need to do something about your costume.I can’t imagine the look on a magician’s face when we inform him that we are required by law to have his Form I-9 on file before he can perform any tricks. Will we wait in anticipation for him to pull one out of his ragged top-hat? How will we send a W-2 to a dog trainer who hasn’t lived anywhere for the past 15 years? Will we require the chainsaw juggler to burn canola oil in his machines to be in compliance with the Canary Initiative? What happens if the scheduled street performer doesn’t show up on time, or at all, one evening? How will that affect the spontaneity we are trying to spawn? Has anybody on the CCLC considered hiring a consultant to research that?The crazy thing is that we already know how this thing is going to turn out. After we rent the elephants and sign the contract with the sword swallower, our town is going to be about as much fun as a suburban birthday party for a 4-year-old. There will be no running with food in your mouth. We’ll be politely reminded to mind our manners when the knife thrower misses his target. Everyone will be encouraged to say “please” and “thank you.” And, we will form nice lines to take half-hearted swings with a Styrofoam-padded bat at a non-ethnic piata filled with RFTA passes and tubes of hypoallergenic 15 spf lip balm. Are we really ready for this? Are there really any bona fide street performers looking for contracted gigs with a time clock to punch? Show me one with enough ambition to sign up for this city of Aspen organized program, and I’ll show you one that was an honor role student in middle school and is now an actuary in midlife crisis. Is this what we hope will get us off of our couches and out to have a good time in the fresh evening air of the Rocky Mountains this summer? Is this an amenity anybody truly wants? Are we really the boobs that all evidence indicates that we have become?If we are committed to making asses out of ourselves, and hoping to attract visitors who are so much the same that they don’t even recognize us as such, then I think we have to do this in what has become typical Aspen style. Let’s throw every resource we have at this project. We have the money. We have the brain trust. We have the ambition. Let’s raid this country’s theme park talent pool!I see no reason why Mickey Mouse has to be confined to Disneyland; Tinker Bell and Tiger, too. Six Flags has lots of cute characters who we could put up at The Little Nell for the summer. I don’t know any of their names, but they sure are cuddly. Certainly somebody here could track them down. Let’s form a committee! We have never done anything half-ass around here. I see no reason to not do this whole-ass now! It’s either that, or just letting go of all the rules and regulations we have come up with for the mall over the years. But, so many people have worked so hard over the years to come up with all of our mall regulations that they are of unquestioned value. If we just chuck the entire gaggle of them out the window, there will be no way to control what types of interesting people might just show up for free.

Roger Marolt has found a niche as a local agent for street performers. Go ahead and laugh now before he gets his cut. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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