Princess: The people behind the place
The Aspen Princess
So a couple of months ago, I found myself in Boogie’s living room, looking at old family photos.
I swear, I don’t know how I find myself in these situations, hanging out in a Starwood mansion with a dude whose life was made into a movie starring Mickey Rourke, but therein lies the beauty of Aspen, my friends. Even if you are a little person, you are going to inadvertently rub elbows with some pretty big-time people, maybe even be invited into their homes, where they might even share some of their personal lives with you.
I’d never even met Boogie before. Of course I know who he is, and of course I have spent more money on designer jeans in his store than I will ever dare to admit to anyone, not to mention more money on a single pair of jeans than I will dare ever admit to anyone. But I had never met Boogie personally.
I was there to shoot a video for his induction into the Aspen Hall of Fame with my friend and colleague Chris MacDonald of Fuse Media. Chris does the video stuff, and I do the interview. Chris and I actually share an office in downtown Aspen, though I never really use it. I just like having a foothold there, a place where I can park my car and keep my cruiser bike and flatiron my hair if I want to hike the bowl and then go out in Aspen afterward — it’s not like I actually do any work there, silly.
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So there I am in Boogie’s private rec center that he has on his property, this huge facility with an indoor track and basketball court and pool and gym and even a locker room, a place where photos of famous athletes don the walls and it’s all kinds of “SportsCenter” meets “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I got this incredible opportunity to hear him talk about his fascinating life, about his successes and his failures, his loves, his children and even his infamy. He told us how when he first came to Aspen everyone hated Boogie’s (then referred to as “the Boogification of Aspen”), at least until they learned to love it — and they learned to love Boogie, too. His is a true rags-to-riches story, a ghetto kid with a single mom who earned every bit of his success through determination, bravado and a little bit of luck. And ultimately, always dressed in a pair of the latest designer jeans, he looked pretty hip doing it.
Every time I think that just maybe Aspen has become too swanky even for the likes of a self-proclaimed princess like me, I get sucked right back in with some eye-opening, amazing experience that reminds me why I fell in love with this town in the first place.
But let me back up a little bit.
When I first moved to Aspen in 2002, I lived in the Yellow House, which I’ve written about a bunch over the years. It’s since been torn down and replaced with a monster home that was built to the square footage of the lot, one of those fake Victorians with brick and wrought iron that attempt to pay homage to the past but just end up looking as plastic and contrived as one of these 50-something women with too much Botox and filler in her face.
Anyhoo, we used to hang out at the J-Bar almost every day. It was like our living room, especially because it was a block away and a lot nicer than our actual living room, which was dominated by the five very large, ill-behaved and constantly shedding dogs that outnumbered the human occupants who lived there.
One day we were enjoying our usual six-beer happy hour, sucking Buffalo-wing sauce off our sticky fingers, when I first met former Mayor Helen Klanderud. She was dressed in her signature black, enjoying a big glass of white wine with Sheriff Bob. It was then that I knew Aspen was the place for me, a place filled with renegades and mavericks and liberals and women like Helen who left their own individual marks on the world simply in the way they navigated their daily lives.
Helen and I hit it off from the start. She was a fan of my column, and I was a fan of her power and style. We developed a friendly repertoire over the years, as she never missed a party and always seemed happy to see me.
So it was extra-special when I got to interview Helen’s sons for her posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame. Erik told us story after story that validated everything I saw in Helen: her independent, free spirit; her intense drive and unshakable will; and, better yet, her totally unconventional parenting style.
It’s not really a surprise that she went out so suddenly, so alive one day and gone the next. It was a Joan Rivers-style exit, a flame that burned so bright that it simply burned out, a gracefully rapid departure that suited her better than a slow decline would have. She wouldn’t have tolerated that well, Erik said.
When I was asked to be a board member for the Aspen Hall of Fame, I was both honored and surprised. Who the hell was I to be part of something that is so integral to documenting some of the most important people in Aspen’s history?
But it’s the telling of these stories that I love, being able to document history that might otherwise be forgotten. Sometimes when the tourists are in your face and the traffic is bad and the slopes are crowded, we lose sight of what makes Aspen so special in the first place. But like the Hall of Fame reminds us, it’s this year’s inductees, people like Boogie, Helen, and Gregg and Tom Anderson, who make this community so special.
For more information on the Aspen Hall of Fame, visit http://www.aspenhalloffame.org.
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