Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

I wonder what all the Fiji and other water sponsors – not to mention the markets, which are stuffed to the gills with bottled water – are going to think about the city’s push for everyone to drink Aspen tap water.

This is not to say that I don’t think it’s a good idea – the bottled-water business is one of the world’s great hoaxes and a generator of considerable trash and transit impacts. Just because water comes from a spring doesn’t make it pure and you’ll note that no such claims are made unless the water has gone through the reverse osmosis purification process.

There should be a small market for distilled water (for those who still use steam irons, or for nasal irrigation) and even that need can be circumvented by boiling tap water for 12 minutes, but the regular bottled water boom is just a blatant example of American excess.

One can understand the desire for purified water in places where the tap water is unhealthy, but Aspen’s water – albeit it with a hint of chlorine at first sip – is perfectly potable and a lot better for you than some of the most popular brands of bottled water, including one that comes from Rocky Flats, a name synonymous with toxic waste.

It wasn’t so in the old days, when coming to Aspen and drinking the water was tantamount to a visit to Mexico. Back in the ’60s we were all warned but didn’t have much recourse because this was before people could buy water in bottles, an idea that would have been ridiculed as much as bottled air or canned dirt or diapers on horses.

The drug stores did a brisk business selling binding products, including bottles of Blackberry Balsam – very effective but no longer available.

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While the city is putting up tap water fountains and selling stainless steel bottles, I wish they’d put up more recycling bins around town. I think there are more recycling bins in the City Hall building itself than there are in the whole town. If City Hall can have them, why can’t the rest of us? They should be on every corner of every street, clearly marked.

If I correctly understood the presentation at City Council regarding Meatless Monday, the idea is to sign up restaurants to offer at least one meatless entree on their menu every Monday, but not to mandate that customers could not choose meat if they prefer it. This seems an effort at redundancy because, just as Aspen’s tap water is already pure, I don’t think there’s a restaurant in town, including McDonalds, that doesn’t already have meatless items on their menus. Even the Butcher’s Block has egg salad.

On the Meatless Monday website (this is a national deal) it was clear that beef is the prime target and less clear whether fish and fowl were included. The main idea seems to be to get people to start easing into vegetarianism one day at a time and maybe the fact that we are already afraid of our fish and our chicken renders them irrelevant to the campaign.

For most of my life, Friday was Fish Day. I’m not Catholic but many of my classmates were and Fish Friday was more than national, it was global. Then all of a sudden meat was allowed on Fridays – ours not to reason why – which was as radical as if the orthodox Jews were suddenly allowed to eat pork.

Around the same time, Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travel, was de-sainted, or de-frocked and – poof – disappeared. Most Catholics and lots of non-Catholics had St. Christopher medals or statuary in their cars and you can probably still get a totem if you go on e-Bay, but they’re no longer available in your local trinket or convenience store.

It would have been a natural segue to move from Fish Friday to Vegan Friday, but with a long interlude without restrictions it’s probably going to be harder to institute a new one. On the other hand, when you look at what happened to the tobacco industry, anything is possible.

Times change, cartographers have their work cut out for them updating all the maps and globes and nothing is set in stone.