John Colson: An ‘interesting’ month to be away

John Colson/Hit & Run

I’ve gotta say, that was an “interesting” month — referring to June 2022, specifically, with the adjective in quotes because, well, just because.

It began in confusion and grief, segued into two weeks of manic travel and overindulgence, then finished out with the combined punches of a fugue of illness that has yet to completely dissipate, along with a sense of political shock that will be with me for months.

Let me clarify.

The grief mentioned above was occasioned by the passing of our legendary erstwhile local sheriff, Bob Braudis, in the early morning hours of June 3 at his home in Aspen.

I don’t have a lot to say here about Bob’s passing, other than to say I was proud to be his friend and occasional confidante, even through those rare times when my duties as a reporter and his preferences as a friend came into conflict.

Suffice it to say, his death was not entirely unexpected — he had been failing physically, though not mentally, for some time — but it was something for which I was emotionally unprepared, and it continues to cause me pain and distress if I think about it too much.

But I’ll be there to bid him a final farewell at the celebration of his life in late August.

Coming, as it did, just before a long-planned two-week trip to parts of Europe, Bob’s death left me wondering about priorities and possibilities. But in the end, my wife and I went ahead with the trip, largely because it opened with a wedding visit to the Amalfi Coast of Italy, a place I’d never seen and which is now one of those spots I hope to return to at least once.

Following on the Italian wildness, we went to the United Kingdom for visits to friends in Wales and relatives in the city of Newcastle on Tyne, once again storming the walls of culture and entertainment at full throttle as much as we could manage.

And the confusion?

Well, as many have noted and commented on in many places, early June was the time when this newspaper went into a fairly public paroxysm of existential anguish of its own, over last year’s purchase of The Aspen Times and its ownership entity (Swift Communications) by the Ogden Newspapers group out of West Virginia.

In swift succession over the springtime months, the Times lost a publisher, an editor-in-chief, a replacement editor-in-chief (also a former arts editor and editor of the weekly edition), one of its best reporters in recent years, and other employees, in a sort of blood-letting that has yet to be fully explained or understood.

I know that I, for one, certainly still have questions about the mess, as do many others. But my questions have yet to be put to the persons in charge, thanks mostly to my absence, both physical and mental, at this challenging time — something I hope to remedy soon.

And finally, the physical and political shocks as we headed home.

First off, I contracted the modern version of “The Plague” — otherwise known as COVID-19 — most likely while flying between the southwestern British city of Bristol and the northeastern city of Newcastle. The plane was full to the rafters with a noisy and generally unmasked crowd of wedding partiers who looked as through they were either rugby players or longshoremen (the men, at least).

And even though I was masked (COVID style) before boarding and during deplaning, I did unmask to eat a pretty edible lunch on the plane and exposed myself to who knows how many infected Britishers in the process.

At least, that’s how we worked it out once we realized we had COVID, which did not happen until we were back in the States, and we self-administered an at-home test.

The political shock?

That came upon learning that U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert had, despite our best efforts otherwise, come out on top of the Congressional District 3 primary, easily outdistancing her less radical, and more intelligent, opponent, State Sen. Don Coram (full disclosure here: I, as an unaffiliated registered voter, chose to cast my primary ballot in the GOP primary, for Coram, in a desperate bid to keep Boebert out of Congress and away from the levers of power.)

And though COVID laid me lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut, I must admit that if asked which was worse — getting COVID or seeing Boebert move to the general election — I’d say it was the latter.