Lum: The generation gaps

Su Lum

A week or so ago, I read with interest a column by Wendle Whiting in the Aspen Daily News. I even printed it out, but I can’t tell you what the date was because it doesn’t say, and just try finding anything in the Daily News’ archives (no offense).

Anyway, Wendle, in his column, was ruing the desecration of his favorite places in Aspen and followed these observations with the suggestion that the city elections be moved to November and that more young blood should run for office.

I share his sorrow for the loss of his hedonistic Tippler because I, two generations Wendle’s senior, still deeply miss the first Tippler bar with the Walt Smith Trio providing the music and Freddie Fisher, drunk as a skunk, sometimes sitting in. And the thing I miss the very most is the original Copper Kettle restaurant below it. Sara Armstrong did all the cooking — a different meal from a different country every night, at $11 it was the priciest and best meal in town.

You can take your drizzled art pieces and your entree piled high in towers; I’d trade it all for one more whack at Sara’s annual curry night.

Wendle misses old Bentley’s; I miss the Pub underneath (speaking of hedonistic). Wendle misses the A-frame base of Aspen Highlands, and I miss the two little A-frames across from what became the (horrors) North of Nell building. One sold burgers and hot dogs, and I forget what the second was, but they just sat sweetly in a field, and then whomp, along with everything else.

One of us may say po-tay-to and the other po-tah-to, but we’re both talking about the same legume.

So basically I’m saying that I agree with Wendle, and it is just that we arrived at different times and what we miss are the places that were here when we came on the scene.

On the question of moving the city election to November, I take issue. City elections used to be in November with all the rest, but we were having so many questions on the city ballot that they were getting lost, especially in major elections, so we voted to change it to May.

Some people think it got changed to May because all the hippies would have left town, but think about it: That assumes that the young people who jump ship at the start of spring would return in early November in time for that election. Not. They’re not here for either election. The only way to catch the worker bees would be the end of December — good luck driving them to the polls.

If they were here or not, they are not disenfranchised either in May or November. They can vote early; they can vote absentee; they can vote right up to the last minute. It’s not rocket science.

Wendle himself explains why they don’t bother to vote. He didn’t come here at age 21 to get involved with Aspen politics; he was living the good Aspen lifestyle. When I got here, I didn’t give the least fig for local politics. I had found my planet, and I didn’t know I’d have to fight to keep it from a galactic invasion down the road.

It’s when it starts getting taken away that you decide one way or another to get into the fray. I started writing this column, Wendel took a shot at the City Council last election, and maybe he’ll have a better chance at it now that he’s writing for the (other) paper and getting his thoughts out.

The thing is, newcomers don’t have any memory of Wendle’s Aspen, much less mine, so youth isn’t necessarily a positive thing when it comes to running for office. First, you have to know what you’re losing.

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks the main thing is to keep the developers out of office. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at