Stone: How about a quick game of ‘Pick the misfit’? |

Stone: How about a quick game of ‘Pick the misfit’?

Andy Stone
Stone’s Throw

Hey kids! Forget politics, it’s time for a little fun and games — well, games anyway.

Let’s play a few rounds of “Which One Doesn’t Belong?”

You know how it goes: I give you a list of several items and you have to figure out which one doesn’t belong with the others and why.

For example: Which one of the following doesn’t belong and why? Galena Street, Wheeler Opera House, Cooper Street Pier.

Answer: Cooper Street Pier. Because there is a mineral named galena and there was a man named Wheeler, but there is no Cooper Street in Aspen. (It’s Cooper Avenue. You knew that.)

Got it? OK! Here we go:

Which one of the following doesn’t belong and why? Aspen, Snowmass, Vail, Gstaad, Switzerland, or Abilene, Texas.

Bzzz! (That’s our high-tech buzzer.) Time’s up!

And the answer is … Gstaad.

Now you might have guessed it was Abilene, because that’s the only one that isn’t a world-class ski resort.

And you might have guessed Gstaad, because it’s the only one that isn’t an American city — and that’s the right item, but the wrong reason.

It’s Gstaad because that’s the only one that does not have, never has had or ever will have a Holiday Inn.

Snowmass just announced its soon-to-open (well, this being Snowmass, make that sooner-or-later-to-open) Holiday Inn. Vail, of course, has long had one. Abilene, ditto. And Aspen, years and years ago, had a Holiday Inn right at the base of Buttermilk.

I even stayed there once, checking in a 2 a.m. for desperate reasons that we will not go into here.

And just by the way, speaking of Gstaad, well, that’s difficult to do. There are endless debates among the non-Schweizerdeutsch speakers about how to pronounce the name of that charming, astonishingly expensive town. Some confidently say you do not pronounced the “G.” Others, just as confidently, say you do pronounce the “G.” Still others insist you pronounced the “G” as if it were a “K.”

Anyway, however you pronounce it, it is interesting to note that an article in Friday’s New York Times T Magazine described how local Gstaad-ers (Gstaad-ites? Gstalactites?) are deeply upset at how their charming little town (see above) is becoming overrun by vulgar nouveau-rich billionaires.

Example: Gstaad’s first new hotel in a century, the Grand Hotel Alpina, opened two years ago after being held up in court for 13 years by wealthy neighbors (sound familiar?). The real money in such hotels does not come from renting rooms, of course, it’s in the sale of private apartments and “chalets.” (Sound even more familiar?)

And, accord to the New York Times, one of the first to buy a place at the Alpina was a Russian oligarch, who made his money in fertilizer and who bought two chalets for a reported $130 million each. ($130 million each! Hah! Take that, you Aspen pikers!)

No reports about whether he’s started complaining about noise from nearby bars, but they do say he’s outfitted his chalets with thick bulletproof glass.

Oh those crazy, fun-loving Ruskies!

OK! Ready for round two?

Which one of the following doesn’t belong and why? Aspen, Denver, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, Arizona, or Long Beach, California.

Let me give you a hint: It’s all about the environment.

Bzzz! Time’s up!

The answer is, uh oh, this was a trick question. They all belong!

That’s right. This week, Pitkin County Manager John Peacock announced the selection of Aspen’s new airport manager, John Kinney, who comes here straight from Los Angeles International Airport after working as an executive at the airports in Denver, Scottsdale and Long Beach.

Peacock explained the choice of Kinney by saying, according to The Aspen Times, “I think it’s really about experience with communities that share a concern for environmental qualities.”

I told you it was all about the environment.

Forget the fact that, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport has about 35,000 take-offs and landings a year, while Scottsdale has 142,000, Long Beach 275,000, Denver 587,000 and LAX 615,000.

When it comes to concern for the environment, we’re all just peas in an environmental pod.

The guiding philosophy for the four big cities seems to be: Pave it!

So, based on the words of the county manager, one can only assume that’s the new Pitkin County environmental ethic.

Cool! Something to look forward to.

Well, gosh, we’re almost out of time today.

Let’s do one more quickie:

Which of the following does not belong and why? The Aspen Times, the Aspen Daily News, Climbing magazine.

Bzzz! Time’s up!

The answer is, Climbing magazine, because Climbing is the only one of those three that knows that when climbers descend a cliff by using a rope, the process is known as “rappelling,” not “repelling.”

In their stories this week about the rescue of three stranded climbers from North Maroon Peak, both Aspen papers said the rescuers “repelled” down to help the climbers.

Yes, I know that mocking our usually reliable local papers for such a minor mistake is kind of repellent (get it?), but since we’re supposed to be a mountain town, we shouldn’t make that kind of flat land mistake.

I remember years ago when either Time or Newsweek (yes, long ago there were actual magazines with those names, which people actually read) was writing about one of the Kennedys skiing and ended the brief blurb by saying the Kennedy in question took off, “Shlusssh!”

And I read that and thought: just like someone from New York, where “snow” turns instantly into “slush.”

And now I read about how the teams from Mountain Rescue (who deserve our unstinting praise and support) “repelled” down the cliff, and I think: just like a newspaper, where “proofreader” turns instantly into “unemployed.”

And that’s the end of our quiz. Thanks for playing.

Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His email address is

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