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Marolt: Don’t relapse just because it’s Aspen

The Roger and Lorenzo feud escalates. It’s risen above the issue of who carves the best turns. Relapse — it’s Aspen. And, no, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean “Relax — it’s Aspen.”

What’s at stake in the Ro vs. Lo drama is intellectual-property rights. It’s about a parody of the ubiquitous, irritatingly passive-aggressive, snobbish sticker reminding everyone behind the car of the person who plastered it on their bumper to “relax” simply because the town we happen to be stuck in traffic in is magical in that sort of way, like cars backed up to the courthouse on Main Street here shouldn’t get to you. If you are arrogant enough to display that message, you surely don’t mind that it portrays you as way beyond getting riled up about anything, as in you must be a saint, as long as you are in Aspen anyway, because it is heaven, after all. It’s the epitome of shallowness. My personal belief is that this is the precise message that drives people who believe it to drink excessively when they realize a town can’t actually save its residents.

So, forgive me for coming up with the “Relapse — it’s Aspen” variation on the theme. It’s self-defense. You have to fight pretentiousness with crass reality.



The hard copy is coming to you soon in the form of its own bumper sticker. And that’s the problem; it is not being brought to you by me. Neither will be the T-shirts that naturally follow. I envision local marijuana advocates sporting them in tie-dye. That may be the punishment I have to accept.

I sound like this is out of my control, because it is. My version of “Relax — it’s Aspen” came up in a conversation I had with my nemesis, Lo Semple. He’s the one who took it to the sticker factory. That’s why they are starting to pop up around town without my consent.




I don’t get it. Lo and I seemed to be getting past our feud that has spanned enough time that we had forgotten why we despised each other. We actually skied together last week. Amazingly, he admitted I was making some nice turns. Dishonestly, I told him the same.

That’s neither here nor there, but that’s when I sprang the “Relapse — it’s Aspen” thing on him. I used it in small talk for a laugh. The next thing I know, he sends me a picture of the sticker with the slogan stuck on his truck’s bumper.

I’m not comfortable with that. I think the message has the potential to offend a lot of people. Heck, I’m offended by it. He’s offended by it. It’s offensive! But it’s also true.

My fear is that it might send the wrong message about substance abuse. We live in a town where a guy gets confronted downtown for acting like a complete ass and, big surprise, the police find his pockets bursting with cocaine and heroine. He tells them he came here to “go extreme.” Another guy dusts a cab driver with a pile of blow because the driver refused to partake when it was offered to him. Thirty citations were issued at the X Games for underage drinking. Pot is perceived to be the equivalent of smokable beer in town. Aspen statistics for substance abuse and addiction have to be printed on “portrait” rather than “landscape” mode in order to fit on the same page as the national averages. The last thing we need is the message “Relapse — it’s Aspen” to glamorize more self-inflicted human tragedy.

Then again, maybe the vulgar message about relapsing into a solitary life of desperate slavery to addiction might serve as a straightforward reminder about the forces of Aspen’s highly engineered-for-profit reputation that subtly encourages binging with drugs and booze while enjoying our “world-class nightlife.” In truth, the slogan is as evocatively frightening as it is darkly humorous. It doesn’t address the problem obtusely, which might be good for a change. As “Relax — it’s Aspen” might be so overly idealistic that it leads people to drink, maybe, just maybe, “Relapse — it’s Aspen” is the antidote.

At any rate, it’s out there: “Relapse — it’s Aspen.” Lo and I are back at odds. If the slogan ends up being positively accepted, it was my idea. If most find it offensive, it’s his fault for putting it out there. If, by some chance, we end up cashing in on it, at least we will have highlighted Aspen’s second-biggest problem, which is her residents selling her out.

Roger Marolt admits that Semple made some nice turns down Franklin’s Dumpster in the pow. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.


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