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Aspen’s Semple question

In her column “The ‘L’ word” (Aspen Times, Jan. 16), Elizabeth Milias raises the existential question to which so many have claimed to either know or be the answer: What is a local?

What, indeed?

Is it someone old enough to have seen sheep on Main Street, and all the other stuff that Tony Vagneur and Tim Willoughby write about?



Someone around during Aspen’s renaissance as a ski mecca and resort town? Or its flowering as a liberal’s fantasyland (shall we call it “Paepke World”?) with an Ideas Festival attracting elite cognoscenti like bees to honey?

Someone connected to the influx of Chicago money and politics?




Someone who saw it raining fire in the sky and thought that Gonzo journalism and messy vitality would change the world? Or that cultish environmentalism could save that world?

Someone with a frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of all-things-Trump and of vehicles bearing Texas and Florida license plates?

Someone with “the Pin” and a resentment of “unwashed” Ikon passholders?

Who knows? And as Milias asks, who makes the call?

One might think that the person designated by this newspaper as “Mr. Aspen” would exhibit a few of the defining characteristics. And, behold, this person does climb mountains and has helped extract hapless fellow mountaineers, living and dead, from surrounding peaks. Sounds pretty “Aspen,” right?

Moreover, for seven years, he produced the closest thing to Gonzo journalism that this town has seen in decades, with a wit that quickly makes fools feel their foolishness, and has drawn 700,000 readers to his blog “The Aspen Beat.” But no local he, apparently! As one self-credentialed “local” columnist has thundered, Glenn Beaton is “inherently un-Aspen” and “dastardly” to boot.

Oh, dear. I guess Lo Semple makes the call, together with fellow also-fans in the ”Best Columnist” competition, also dominated by Mr. Beaton, even though he hasn’t been published by an Aspen newspaper for two years.

The mystery endures — what is a local?

Oh, dear. I guess Lo Semple makes the call.

Chad Klinger

Snowmass Village

 


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