Sean Beckwith: When the Aspen tourists wear out their welcome
January 3, 2018
I'm on the record as being overwhelmingly petty toward tourists. They invade town clad in whatever they think locals wear (leather and furs instead of Patagonia puffies and jeans), wander the streets with phone in hand snapping pictures with no regard for whether they're on a sidewalk or in the middle of an actual street and generally make town (and the people who live here) miserable.
If I had my way, we'd be swimming in snow by now; however, the lovely coincidence of terrible snow falling (or, in this case, not falling) during the busiest time of the year is fantastic. You can have three homes, 18 cars, five assistants and millions of dollars, but you can't control the weather. It's like watching a spoiled little brat not get their way every day, and I am reveling in it.
We can argue all day about who qualifies as a local, but I know for damn sure that all the new faces on the Hunter Creek bus sure as hell aren't here in the shoulder seasons. I used to be a huge fan of New Year's happenings — the bubbly, the fancy dinners, staying up late. After living in Aspen this long, my enthusiasm fades with each sloppy drunken tourist, overcrowded bar and disgruntled humbug.
The other day, three women tried to board the bus in the middle of Dean Street, a half a block after a bus stop and a half of a block before another stop. They were eventually let on — not because they were at a stop but due to their ability to painfully and methodically break down the bus driver.
I don't like the term "silver lining" because that's what losers cite after not accomplishing their goal (thus silver, not gold, lining). If peak week has an upside or a redeeming quality, it's the nostalgia, remembering when I used to be able to loaf on the couch and watch meaningless bowl games while enjoying Christmas gifts. Glee and bliss are no longer attainable. The only desirable thing during the holidays in Aspen is when they're over.
Hospitality workers have put on fake smiles and held back curse words for almost two weeks now. There are some who will say, "Without tourism, we wouldn't be able to live in this wonderful place."
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Take off the Santa cap, Saint Nick. I'm going to remember that geyser of good tidings the next time some rich guy chides you like his least successful child because he has a stack of Ben Franklins in his back pocket and thinks he can buy his way to happiness.
Hey buddy, wrangle your kids off the set of "Problem Child," pack your luggage and go back to making your assistants' lives hell. You know that pet peeve you have — be it Champagne served at the wrong temperature, your private jet stocked with the wrong kind of trail mix, poor people, whatever — and now imagine that in human form. What are you picturing? Who does it look like? Now go to the nearest mirror and take a look, you sick, self-absorbed pet peeve in human flesh. Be gone from this beautiful place that you sully as soon as you step onto its tarmac.
If I could go back in time and find the guy who wrote the "Dumb and Dumber" script, convince him to do a search and replace for the word "Aspen" and change it to "Vail," I wouldn't do that because I would have a time machine and would be hanging out with dinosaurs.
That said, perhaps there is a way to change Aspen's perception or even boost the view of another ski area so we can foist these Neanderthals onto a different locale for Christmas. It doesn't even have to be subtle. Let's get the Veuve Clicquot people a tent at Telluride or Jackson Hole, pay a couple of celebrities to do Instagram stories about their lavish vacations, promote whatever chic bistro that serves steak and seafood, book some overpriced acts and lead the lemmings off a different cliff of luxury.
Let's get these rich people to talk about Aspen like they talk about Cleveland or Nebraska.
"Oh, you're going to Aspen? I bet you do your own laundry, too."
"Aspen, huh? No, there's nothing wrong that. I remember my first ski trip."
"Aspen for Christmas? What, were they all out of the other cliches at the vacation store?"
Hey, Mariah Carey, weed stores are now legal in California so maybe try Tahoe next year. Did you hear Paris Hilton got engaged in Aspen over Christmas? You didn't? That's because nobody cares. Hey, I just saw Elton John at Casa Tua. Cool, I just saw an icy river to go drown myself in.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Now go home.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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