Switch Up: Build brick better | AspenTimes.com

Switch Up: Build brick better

Benjamin Welch and Sam Wagner
Switch Up

With talk now beginning on the proposed renovation of the old Armory building and the expected cost of $7 million over the next few years, we’ve been thinking there must be better uses of the updated building than the current plan, which is to keep housing ACRA and other government organizations inside despite spending additional millions on a brand-new center a block away. With that in mind, the other possibilities are endless — well, there are four of them, at least:

SW: Flea market — If you too have the thought “Why are all these produce stands and people in the street, the place where the tourist vehicles are supposed to go?” every Saturday morning during the summer, might I suggest turning the Armory building into a 24-hour flea market?

It’ll be the best of all worlds, in a business, profit sense. Need some skis but forgot to wake up early and support the local school system? Head down to the city-approved ski rack and take a gander through some top-of-the-line equipment at unnervingly low prices. Don’t worry, they most likely weren’t stolen, as that situation has been handled.

Want to post on Instagram like you’re a bright-eyed socialite exploring the “small-town charm” of Aspen? Don’t include any photos of those 70 cars idling through Main Street, head down to the Armory and buy a couple of last month’s Armani accouterments that were shifted out to make way for the brand-new line highlighting the company’s respect for the environment. Pro tip: Take a picture with your bag in the middle of the pedestrian walkway as the family of seven has to walk 10 feet around to get that perfect slice of life moment.

Even the locals will get a small feeling of what it might be like to roam the town after exiting your third home and getting to brush by the upper crust while still supporting your favorite area businesses. Hell, just think of the marketing tie-ins. A local heritage farm showing off their smoked bacon, titled “Trimming the Fat.” Your favorite dispensary with a pop-up, inviting you to get high on “Government Cheese.”

Just imagine walking the narrow halls, with businesses hawking their wares in what was once the seat of local government, and taking in the sights as God and capitalism intended.

BW: Playground — The building during one inception used to be a roller skating rink, which is basically a nightclub for preteens fueled by “In A Barbie World,” candy claw machines and limbo on every :45. That was when I lost my innocence, holding hands with a girl for the first time. I wore at least one pair of braces; what a gentle soul she must’ve been. I remember chronicling the experience as “slimey” in my journal, though. Note to self: I need to find that thing in the ceiling boards and burn it before my parents sell the ranch.

Anyway, I propose we develop some kind of child-friendly community center for the youth to discover themselves. A place similar to that described in “YMCA” where you can, uh, shower and eat and do basically anything else you desire, if that makes sense.

Most humans who are young children at this chronological point don’t, like, really know how to interact with other children yet *because of COVID.* Let’s throw them all in an artificial environment and see how they perform. Make ’em watch animatronics dance onstage and then turn ’em loose inside a maze. No wonder you never see Chuck E. Cheese advertisements anymore, but I personally stopped watching Nick Jr. when they fired Face, so maybe I’m not an authority.

Let’s replace the portcullis with the Play Place slides from when they scrapped the Aspen McDonald’s. I’m guessing at what portcullises are but I think they’re outside spiral staircases. Or maybe the protruding beams holding the building’s roof up, which I keep hitting my head on (I’m 11 feet tall, since apparently it matters). You know how nice it was to treat yourself to a $5 Royale with Cheese at 9 p.m.? Anyway I don’t know what they did with those bacteria-ravaged playground pieces but I’m sure some eclectic is hoarding them somewhere. Have we flown a drone over Elon’s place lately?

SW: Jail — It’s no secret that Aspen has a crime problem — if by crime, you largely mean public intoxication and petty theft. In fact, it’s such an issue that the police needed to spend millions on a state of the art building and electric vehicles while emptying the county jail due to unsafe conditions. All I’m saying is, those new Tesla cop cars better come with KITT from “Knight Rider.”

How about instead of years spent revamping an old brick building so that Johnny Stickyfingers can while away his weekday evenings thinking about what he’s done, we just put them in a new brick building? The building seems secure, it’s a crosswalk away from the other government agencies and aside from the obvious “Heh, they swapped one group of criminals for another” City Council jokes, it fits in with Aspen’s current plan of “put whatever we need, wherever we can.” As an added public service, maybe part of their sentence can include hands-on learning about Aspen’s past and the foundations of good government, although I guess I’m not current on the definition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

As well, in the epitome of public-private partnership, any cells that aren’t used could be rented out on Airbnb. Think about it. A room described as “cozy studio just steps away from Main Street, the gondola and the apres scene — also includes heat and running water” could either be talking about my apartment right now, or a jail cell. Toss in “free coffee and one catered meal per day,” and you’re asking $350 a night, easily. No need to take a “public safety tax” to the voters when you can just tax those weekenders from Denver.

BW: Cemetery — What’s it take to get into a mausoleum around here? I don’t normally wander around cemeteries at night — only sometimes when the weather is decent — but I have yet to witness a nice mausoleum for people to stick their mortal coils in. I want my dead body to either be very accessible for weeping widows or just chucked in a dumpster. There is no in between.

I think I fetishize graveyards ever since reading “The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt” by John Bellairs. That shit was scary to 3-year-old me. I would probably be able to stomach it better now, though. Have you ever banged in a cemetery? I’m not about to incriminate myself but I *imagine* it would be pretty intense. Everyone likes an audience, and who better than your ancestors and other townspeople from the 1800s? It’s probably boring just hanging around your buried skeleton all day, give ‘em a show.

Anyhoo, what better way to signal “Aspen is dead” than by stacking the old City Hall with corpses? What’s a few more bodies among the foundations of this new and, um, improved utopia? All I ask is that the entombments have little handles that you can pull on like a drawer to ogle the deceased.

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