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The view from beyond city limits

Alison Berkley

I am a second-class citizen.I found this out yesterday when I showed up at the polls to vote and they told me I am not a resident of the city of Aspen because I live at the ABC. I was as freaked out as if were about setting foot in the Catholic Church, which opened its doors to the citizens of the city of Aspen who are actually allowed to vote, even if they don’t believe in God.Don’t ask me why, but something about churches (Catholic ones, in particular) makes me feel tremendously paranoid and guilty, like there is some horrible crime I committed in another life that I’m not even aware of. These little horror movie scenes play themselves out in my mind, complete with lightening and big heavy doors slamming shut and locking behind me. I almost jumped out of my skin when the priest guy, dressed for the role in all black with one of those little stiff collars, came out of thin air and almost walked right into me. He’s, like, “Can I help you?” and I had to refrain from dropping to my knees and rattling off all my sins, but mostly because I know it would have taken all day.Anyway, we go into the polling place and I look at the little map on the wall to see where I’m supposed to go, and the little colored-in boundaries end right about where my building is in the ABC.So I ask the lady behind the portable metal table why that is and she says, “You don’t live in the city of Aspen,” in this righteous tone. It’s as if she’s on God’s side and believes I have done something horrible to deserve this.”But my address is 81611,” I say, since my ZIP code is something I am very proud of. My address even has a nice street name and an apartment number, when technically you could just throw “209 AABC” on the envelope and the post lady would know exactly where that is.She sort of laughed and tossed her head to one side like a big fat snob and said, “That doesn’t have anything to do with it.” Oh, please. They make entire TV shows about ZIP codes. Don’t even tell me that it’s not important.So I go, “But my phone number is a 544 number,” but she just shook her head like I was a peasant and wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand what town I live in.To show her how clever I was, I came back with, “OK, then. So what town do I live in?” and she tries to tell me some mumbo jumbo about how I’m a resident of Pitkin County but I’m like a satellite or an unannexed, unattached particle just floating around without any roots to hold me down or give me a town name or even the right to vote. It’s like my house has wheels on it and can just be pushed around to make sure I don’t have a say of what goes on three miles down the street from me.Whatever! I didn’t even care about politics until all this came about. I was like, “OK, Torre is very cute but I looooove Mayor Helen because she’s a kick-ass chick who cruises around town in black track suits and hangs out with me at parties.” I figured Jack had the slickest campaign with hand-signed e-mails and cute little mailers, and he definitely had the best logo – hands down. So even though I don’t know jack about what he stands for, he seemed like the kind of guy I’d like to throw a couple beers back with. If he wants to sit through all those boring City Council meetings on my behalf, that’s fine by me. As long as what’s-his-face Andrew Mole, or whatever, doesn’t get elected – that guy seriously rubs me the wrong way.My point is, I’m not exactly the most informed voter in the world and totally see it as what it is, a popularity contest. But take something away from me and I suddenly want it more than ever. The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. What – is the city of Aspen embarrassed about having a few buildings that aren’t pretty to look at? Is the ABC where they send people who can’t afford multimillion-dollar homes to live among sewage and electric plants, storage units and unwanted pets? I mean, I get it that they have to draw the line somewhere, but aren’t boundaries supposed to separate one town from the next, instead of leaving those of us who live in Alphabet Town hanging? Like, shouldn’t the town line separate Aspen from Woody Creek? Everyone should have the right to live in a town and have the right to vote so they have a say about what goes on in that town, even if they really have no idea what they’re talking about. I have a better idea. Let’s make the ABC its own town with its own laws. We can legalize pot and let dogs run around off their leashes. We can keep our bars and liquor stores open all night and have raging after-hours parties with gambling and strippers and hash bars like they have in Amsterdam. People will fly in from all over the world and just cross the street to have the time of their lives, like in Vegas, but classier, with cleaner air and better views and skiing close by.Of course all these decisions will be made fair and square at our own damn City Council meetings where everyone, including people who can’t afford to live within Aspen’s city limits (said with a locked jaw and cotton balls stuffed in the cheeks), will have the right to vote.The Princess would consider running for the mayor of Alphabet Town but it’s probably too much work. Send sympathetic e-mail only to alison@berkleymedia.com


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