Writing Switch: The Metamorphosis

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch

We, like everyone else who still manages to live here (if you can call it managing), have noticed the accelerated de-evolution of Aspen over the past year-plus. It’s not even funny to walk downtown anymore and lament “Oh, that used to be Ryno’s, that used to be Boogie’s, that used to be Square Grouper, that used to be Zocalito, that used to be Red Onion,” etc. Not that there’s a point in going downtown anymore to buy $14 cocktails when you’re caught in the vicious work-try to get a couple groceries-complain-sleep-repeat routine.

We certainly don’t blame anyone for moving here; if you have the means, why not? We just get jaded when we have to witness the result of that mangling everything that makes Aspen Aspen. Griping is the local’s privilege.

Anyway, this week we wax poetic on a few random, themeless thoughts regarding the new normal of Aspen’s fluxing demographics, and if you don’t like it, chances are you’ll be checking out of one of thousands of short-term rentals any day now and you’ll never have to think about it again. Godspeed.

Victory lap

SB: I have been admonished repeatedly by locals over airing my grievances with/disdain for tourists. Do you remember the episode of “The Office” when Dwight is finally right about a conspiracy theory? That’s how I feel. I was right this entire time? Really? I knew it. I f—ing knew it!

If the city wants to scale back Fourth of July festivities, I will happily volunteer. The theme for next year’s Fourth? Red, white and curfew. Instead of children throwing candy, it’ll be Ben and I throwing rocks. The balloon animal guy will be replaced with some creep peddling dildos. And to cap it off, we’re going to have a fireworks display of TNT Snakes.

A few other suggestions for tamping down on tourism: Mind-numbingly slow traffic; overcrowded trails, ski runs and bike parks; overpriced restaurants with a side of awful service; overpriced restaurants that you can’t get reservations for; and a free shout out/endorsement in the “White Lotus” finale from some of the worst (fictional) people on Earth.

(If you haven’t watched that show, it’s must-see for anyone who has ever wanted to do unspeakable things to a POS guest. They need to do season two in Aspen. Mike White, hit me up, I have a lot of ideas.)

I want my flowers. I want to know where home dude who said I should try coal mining is? Somebody, anybody, say I was wrong. Say it!

I’ll end with this exchange between Batman and Alfred:

“Today I found out what Batman can’t do. He’s can’t endure this. Today you get to say, ‘I told you so.'”

“Today, I don’t want to. … But I did bloody tell you.”

Hardest tourist zombies to kill, ranked by state

SB: 4. There are a few reasons why I picked zombie Texans as the easiest to kill of the four most prevalent out-of-state invaders (the other three are California, New York and Florida). The first reason, flatly, is because it’ll piss them off. The second reason is because this isn’t a “Resident Evil” situation where the zombies are created as bio-weapons that also can shoot guns. In my zombie universe, we’re doing like typical zombies.

So, if Texans, who love guns, become zombies thus nullifying the most dangerous thing about them, then what do you have if not a bunch of walking weapons caches?

3. Coming in third is Florida. If you just look at the population demos, it leans slightly older, especially in Aspen. As much as sweet Mr. and Mrs. Peabody suddenly turning on you and pursuing you through the halls of the condominium complex you work at has haunted your dreams, I still get away.

No, I’ve never fought off and killed Mr. and Mrs. Peabody with a pair of ski poles in my dreams. Those nightmares always end up with me careening off a mountain road.

2. Again, I’m making these rankings with practicality in mind and am trying to keep personal bias to a minimum (but I refuse to apologize to Texas). Next up we have New York, who, like Texas, loses its No.1 asset — toughness, mental resiliency — upon turning into zombies.

All fortitude built up from a lifetime of traumatic subway encounters goes out the window. However, the ability to walk miles on end, at a brisk pace, while dodging dead rats, ambling tourists and whatever else the streets of New York throw at you does speak to some form of endurance and agility. So, yeah, I’d rather not have a horde of New Yorkers power walking after my brains like they’re trying to catch the C train.

1. Coming in at the top spot — be thankful not hateful, you avocado-loving fitness freaks — is California. I’m absolutely petrified of a bunch of “World War Z” we-haven’t-eaten-meat-for-years-but-the-hunger-has-returned zombified Californians. You know how hard it is to tell the difference between the seemingly dead look eyes take on after too much botox and the actual look of the eyes of the living dead? It’s impossible!

I mean, shit, Arnold Schwarzengger vacations in Aspen. I don’t care if he is 74, zombie Governator would be a force (and not a bad idea for a movie).

‘Who Are These Strangers’

BW: Who are these invaders, and what happened to our neighbors?

“Housing shortage” screams the headlines in both of our papers

Was Hunter S. right, they’re bastards and land-rapers?

He’d roll over in his grave if he could see all of these gapers


The grind on the gravel of a suitcase down the road

The time and the travel of some suit dragging his load

I yell out the window “dude, don’t come in, we’re closed”

But he enters his VRBO and punches in the code


I’m White Castle’s dark knight, call me the caped crusader

But at the market you can’t buy rice, bread or toilet paper

Only condiments, cheese, jam and beer in my refrigerator

Expired Rice-A-Roni in the cupboard — better save that for later


I look around and mumble to myself “you must be joking”

That every loophole is being found just like a Mormon soaking

And car exhaust fills the air, it’s as if the town is smoking

Which image of paradise is this supposed to be evoking?


I used to fish for a living, you could say I’m a master baiter

Standing in the stream and casting rods in my waders

Only people I talked to were other trappers and traders

Now city folk have the gall, like a band of village raiders

To show up without masks, pre-breathing tube Darth Vaders

Sneezing and coughing and spitting up other dangers

Even the woods is overrun, can’t be saved by Forest Rangers

I yell at the sky and ask “WHO ARE THESE STRANGERS?”


Yes, the tourists live here now, oh my god and they can vote

And they skirt all the laws a polite society ever wrote

“Affordable apartment? Where else am I supposed to park my boat?

I’ll keep poor families and other riffraff out by digging a moat!”


And they can do whatever they want, because they’re a company

A human didn’t buy that house, it’s called an LLC

Look at me, look at me, I require privacy!

Look at beautiful mountain views from my tower of ivory!

Look at people through the hidden camera at my Airbnb…


A staircase to God? How about a basement to Hades?

I want you to find it odd when I’m dead and pushing daisies

That all this accumulation was just to impress the ladies

And now I’m yelling and foaming at the mouth like I have rabies


They seem to have flocked here from spots around the nation

A migration to benefit from our education and recreation

But now the streets are filled with the sounds of frustration

How the hell can you get so mad when you’re on f—ing vacation?


Between the one-percenters and online influencers chasing clout

Add the incompetence of leaders and there’s no room left for doubt

That this ain’t what mountain living was supposed to be about

So if this is becoming the new Aspen, then I wanna get my ass out