Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Apparently none of the media is going to touch this but somebody has to, so I guess it’s up to me.
Starting on April 24, a new, anonymous publication – a two-sided, one-page screed of political satire called Aspen’s Common Sense – came stealthily on the scene.
It takes a lot to get a real horse laugh out of me, but when Dottie Wolcott handed me a copy of the first issue I sat reading it at my desk and was so uncharacteristically convulsed with laughter that my co-workers demanded to know what had come over me. “OMG,” I said, not using the acronym, “I’ll Xerox copies for you.”
So far, five issues of Aspen’s Common Sense have been printed and they can all be found in the archives of the title website, http://aspenscommonsense.wordpress.com. If you sign up, articles that may or not appear in the next “product” will be sent to you as they are written, along with preposterous and startling photographs.
Let me warn you that Aspen’s Common Sense is not for the faint of heart, but if you like your stand-up political comedy raw, rare and unbleeped, this is Aspen’s own up-close and very personal Mad Magazine-type lampoon of the antics in Fat City. It’s not everyone’s fare, and only those who share the political views will find it as funny as I do (the far righters won’t find it funny at all).
In the first issue, ACS took the relatively small snit that mayoral candidate Mick Ireland had with moderator Carolyne Heldman when she interrupted him during a candidate forum and reported it as a full-on battle – spoofing the excessive amount of headline coverage the minor incident had received in the local media.
“Aspen Mayor Dick Fireland was charged with second-degree assault Tuesday after a brawl at a political forum that sent two people to the hospital and the mayor to jail. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Feldman is listed in fair condition with a bruised skull and a fractured ego,” the article began, adding that “Ruth Cougar” had been wounded in the cross-fire.
“Dick just lost it. He went crazy. He flew across the table and attacked that poor woman with his bike helmet,” the article went on. Dick Fireland was eventually “sentenced to time served, a $15 fine … anger management therapy and 5 hours of community service at the Red Ant blog.”
In a later edition, coyotes were discovered to be the big drug ring in town. “Federal agents eventually tracked down 56 criminal coyotes. During the raid, agents also seized six kilos of coke, more than 14 pounds of gold chains and a 2009 Mercedes-Benz with hydraulics, neon undercarriage lights and a trunk full of subwoofers.”
My favorite article was, “Pair Eat Kittens for Breakfast,” wherein the Red Ants meet for breakfast and begin feasting upon live kittens, pulled from their purses. “Local Tea Party/RANT activists Lizzie Pinias and Marilyn Barks were brutally attacked by a mob of angry villagers at the Main Street Bakery last Thursday. And in a shocking display of solidarity, every one of the 72 people who witnessed the event – Democrats and Republicans alike – claims to have seen nothing.
“‘I was concentrating really hard on eating my blueberry muffin and I did not see a thing,’ said Aspen Daily News editor Carolyn Sakaripmeone. ‘One minute they were enjoying their, um … breakfast, and the next minute they were both bloodied and lying in the gutter, but I have absolutely no idea how that happened.'”
“The couple is sharing a room at Aspen Valley Hospital, listed in, ‘Serious, But Not Serious Enough’ condition.”
It isn’t easy to find actual quotes without resorting to asterisks and I don’t want to do that. What I enjoy most is that ACS is right on the mark (from my view) – it goes in and nails whatever the issue is, not funny just for funny’s sake (well, the kittens were off the wall) but because it is right on the money about our many ridiculosities. It doesn’t need pseudonyms for you to know who Marilyn Barks and Lizzie Pinias are, or that ACRAA (I won’t translate) is ACRA, but the pseudonyms are part of the hilarity. It is Aspen’s answer to the rants of the Red Ant.
I know I need to address the anonymity issue because I have always opposed anonymous ads, anonymous PACs, have never sent an anonymous blog or an anonymous letter and have been, I must say, self-righteous about it. Stand up and be counted. On the other hand, I really do miss the absence of the comments sections in the paper, anonymous or not, and I think that out-and-out satire has a special place in society that is not held to the standards of journalism or even opinion columns.
When I first began digging around, I asked Andre Salvail, who is definitely capable, “Are you the writer of Aspen’s Common Sense?”
“No,” he replied, “are you?”
“No!” – I promise I don’t write it, wish I were that clever. ACS can write in an outrageous and courageous way what we in our little mainstream media can’t say, but some of us (not all) often think.
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Columnist Paul Andersen continues to hope that the moral arc of the universe trends toward justice.