The Aspen Times cleans house |

The Aspen Times cleans house

Janet Urquhart

The Aspen Times went into a cleaning frenzy this week, which is to say, the reduction in squalor is inconceivable to all but us veterans of an office building that could qualify as an adjunct to the county dump.Think of us as a Superfund site, minus the fund, hence the mandate from above to sift through file cabinets that haven’t been opened since the Eisenhower administration.The capacity of the aforementioned landfill, by the way, has been shortened considerably as a result of our contribution. We showed no mercy where the many decades of accumulated detritus was concerned, but still have more to go.Meanwhile, you may have noticed an assortment of crap outside our front door this week. Stuff was free for the taking and people actually took it.If half of the staff doesn’t keel over from hantavirus complications before the month is out, we may finally clear out the excess newsprint still stacked in hazardous quantities about the place. Newspapers dating back to the ’50s were unearthed during our zealous assault on the clutter.As it was, our recycling containers were overflowing and we filled a garbage truck to capacity – twice. The staff cheered as we fed decommissioned office chairs into the truck’s steel jaws, where they were crunched in retributive fashion after crippling our backs for years. Of course, we’ll be sitting on the floor at future staff meetings, having discarded all the excess seating.We also tossed out computer equipment that was previously used in conjunction with the Gutenberg press. We may have an example of said press entombed in the bowels of the building, as well. We recently rebuilt the flooring over an old subgrade press space, as the powers on high feared the caving linoleum would swallow a staffer on deadline.Other home improvements included the recent retrofitting of a rear doorway to accommodate a screen door so Scoop, The Aspen Times cat, could not escape. This eliminated any possibility that an old layout table could be removed without sawing it into pieces. So we sawed it into pieces.Although our alleyway rivaled the rubbish pile of a federally declared disaster area by evening, I suspect we could start over and haul out an equally impressive quantity. We have yet to clear out the hazardous waste compound of the former darkroom and God knows what’s lurking in a closet space adjacent to the editorial offices, aside from skis that haven’t seen a slope since John Denver topped the pop charts.We didn’t throw everything away, though. A go-cart left from the days when gravity-propelled creations raced on Aspen’s streets survived the publisher’s clearing house.Also spared from the purging were a handful of dictionaries (just in case we ever want to use one); the upper half of an authentic Abbott and Costello movie poster; a wooden box divvied into little compartments that once held blocks of type; a heavy, metal plate of cartoon images; and a poster from an old Aspen Times July 4 parade float – a large mock-up front page proclaiming former Mayor John Bennett’s apology for paid parking: “3-headed aliens ate my brain.”Janet Urquhart cleaned out files that once belonged to editor Bob Ward during his first stint at the Times, as a reporter in the mid-’90s. Her e-mail is