Stone: Feeling like a Christian scientist with appendicitis
A Stone’s Throw
OK, everybody! Fasten your seat belt. Open wide, and bend over!
Sounds nasty, doesn’t it?
That unpleasant set of instructions has been on my mind because, over the past two weeks, I somehow managed to get caught up in a trifecta of life’s miseries. No, nothing as serious as death, divorce or an IRS audit. I was on a slightly less hideous rung of the ladder of unpleasantness.
I had a root canal. (Open wide!)
I had a colonoscopy. (Bend over.)
And I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license renewed. (Fasten your seat belt.)
It was a strange feeling. I could see them coming, and I dreaded them, but there was no way out of any of them.
In the end (no colonoscopy pun intended), all three of those procedures were, if not actually pleasant, at least not nearly as nasty as one might expect.
But having survived my tribulations unscathed, I am here to say that “Fasten your seat belt. Open wide, and bend over!” is the perfect new slogan for our little community.
(By the way, our winner was chosen unanimously by an impartial panel of judges, ahead of the second-place entries, “Aspen! Let us tell you how cool we used to be!” and “Aspen! Who the hell’s in charge here?”)
Look around at what’s heading our way: 737s at the airport, 500 new houses (and two new hotels) in El Jebel, and, our favorite cherry on top, the infinite, insatiable desires of a certain Mr. Hunt, frontman for anonymous millionaires (billionaires?) in Chicago.
Maybe you think you can do something about it.
Maybe you think we (the people) can do something about it.
Maybe you believe in unicorns.
I’m putting my money on “Open wide! Bend over! Seat belt!”
Consider the new airport. (Coming soon to a once-charming resort town near you!)
Let me say it again: We are going to wind up with 737s landing right here in Aspen.
Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year, either.
But it’s going to happen. Too soon. (Because whenever it happens, it will be too soon.)
Right now the county government is putting the finishing touches on plans for a new runway that’s long enough and wide enough for 737s. (Along with a new terminal to match.)
And as the fella says, “Build it, and they will come.”
(By the way, please don’t choke on that smokescreen about the “new regional jets” and their enormous wingspans that violate our local 95-foot maximum and require a new runway to match. SkyWest, the main operator of United Express jets into Aspen, already has ordered 100 of Mitsubishi’s new-generation regional jets. And their wingspan is 95 feet, 9 inches. That’s an “enormous” 9 inches over our maximum.)
Fasten your seat belts!
And how about El Jebel?
The Eagle County government … wait a minute! What the hell is Eagle County doing deciding what should happen way over here in our valley? Eagle County is Vail, not Aspen!
Let me start again: The Eagle County government, which clearly doesn’t give a rap what happens over here as long as they get to collect taxes, is plowing ahead toward approval of the Tree Farm development, across Highway 82 from Willits.
That project will cram 400 houses — plus a huge shopping center, plus a new hotel — on a strip of land right next to the highway.
And, just for fun, there’s another little project on the way: about 100 new houses on a really narrow strip of land across from Blue Lake.
So, 500 new families, plus a bunch of new businesses, on a stretch of road that’s already overcrowded all day, every day.
That’s like taking someone who’s just finished a hot-dog-eating contest and force-feeding him three apple pies and a pint of jalapeno peppers.
Who (other than the developer) wants it? Who (other than the Eagle County tax collector) needs it?
Who (other than we, the helpless people) cares? It’s happening.
(Sure, it’s been pointed out that approval of the 400-unit Tree Farm is probably illegal. History: The Eagle gang gave “sketch plan” approval in 2009 to a 319-unit plan for that project. Yes, that was already much too big, but now the developer is pretending that he can just bump those 319 units up to 400 and say it’s the same project. The rules say otherwise — but you know how that goes.)
Open wide, and bend over!
And finally, as promised, there’s Mr. Frontman Hunt.
All he wants is … ah, the hell with it. You know what he wants: everything.
What we don’t know is whom he wants if for. Sure, for himself; he’s as greedy as the next guy. But, as I’ve already said, he’s just the front guy for the anonymous men with deep pockets.
And, I suspect, shallow consciences.
I am reminded of a line from Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts”:
“Big Jim was no one’s fool, he owned the town’s only diamond mine / He made his usual entrance lookin’ so dandy and so fine / With his bodyguards and silver cane and every hair in place / He took whatever he wanted to and he laid it all to waste.”
Laid it all to waste. Yeah, that sounds like our guy.
And who’s going to stop him?
Oh, he may lose a battle or two along the way. But with that much money behind him, he’s rolling. He’s steamrolling.
So, a tip of the hat to one of our second-place finishers in the new-Aspen-slogan contest: “Aspen! Who the hell’s in charge here?”
And now it’s time to buckle your seat belts, folks. It’s going to be a rough ride.
Open wide, and bend over!
Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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