Writing Switch: Wisdom from the high council | AspenTimes.com
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Writing Switch: Wisdom from the high council

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Writing Switch

Everybody has unique and creative ways to improve quality of life in Aspen, so how is it that we always elect the people with the suckiest ideas? Because we geniuses know running for public office is a fool’s errand. We belong to a secret society of everyday citizens who could easily fix all the universe’s problems with our mind-bending intellect but are unfortunately afflicted by moral apathy and a lust for disorder. “Oh sure, whatever guys, give us an example.”

OK, so it’s really annoying when cars are going 15 mph in a 10 mph zone past your West End castle, right? So grody. To assuage that, we’ll create gridlock by repaving the Entrance to Aspen roundabout in perpetuity while also closing down side streets to anything other than pedestrians and cyclists, and then arrest everyone sitting in 12 hours of traffic jams for offending the no-idling law! Boom.

Oh wait, this is literally what Aspen’s … leaders (BARF!) … are already planning to do? We have misjudged our adversaries. At any rate, here are some other ideas for how the incoming batch of council members could make living in paradise better for those of us who deserve it.



Addition by subtraction

SB: How about we just punt on making Aspen better and actively make it worse? I’m not talking about development, I’m talking about waste management. The New York in “Taxi Driver” will look like it’s been tag-teamed by Mr. Clean and the Brawny paper towel guy after people see what we don’t do to Aspen.

Instead of having cars in the core, let’s encourage a Bourbon Street-type atmosphere — closed streets, open containers, vomit, debauchery, extremely loud music and late nights. I’m sick of Aspen only evolving for the 1%. Let’s take this town back. How many pub crawls can we fit in a ski season? Can someone please spike something at a Grand Tasting? (“Attention: If you ate the pink Patron popsicle, please report to the medical tent.”)




The only way to keep people from moving here is to make them not want to live here. And clearly judging by the public comment about employee housing proposed in a core neighborhood, the way to do that is to let the meager, weed-smoking, littering, loud, disgusting, degenerate workforce live on the nice side of the tracks, er, roundabout.

Screw the real estate transfer tax. For every home being built or remodeled, there should be a tax that employee housing gets built right next door. If rich people’s baseline assumption is that everyone who lives in employee housing is a syringe of heroin away from being a junky, imagine what they think about minorities.

Reparations from the Wheeler RETT

BW: Have you ever played “How much money would it take for you to (fill in the blank)?” with your friends? Isn’t it infuriating when they say “TEN MILLION DOLLARS!” like they’d be so good at it that they could command such an extravagant wage? I would do a lot of gross things for just $2,000, including voting for Donald Trump, but he really screwed the pooch on that one (speaking of gross things). So why couldn’t we be paid to sit at home, getting jerked around by the whims of city and county officials for the past year, losing our jobs, futures, friends and sanity while Aspen’s electeds count the coin in the Wheeler Opera House Real Estate Transfer Tax like Gringotts goblins?

My knowledge of the RETT, like everything else, is rudimentary, but basically every time someone buys a McMansion in town (or even a small studio condo), they pay a percentage into this absurd slush fund that’s the equivalent of “speaker fees” for senators and other think-tank goons. More than $30 million sit in that fund, and with the valley real estate market bringing in billions last year, I’m sure that number will surge.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you — the indentured Aspenite who makes less than $100K, who had to deal with an influx of rich people taking your parking spot, digging through your discount meat bin and poaching your last dating options in town while you get blamed for rising COVID numbers like you’re the one hosting hot tub/firepit parties on your rooftop — received a little recompense for your troubles? Perhaps in the form of a $20 million stimulus package to be distributed among the city’s most afflicted denizens?

Honestly, I don’t have the financial fortitude to craft a relief bill; hell, I can’t even figure out my health insurance. But even the dumbest mofo like me recognizes that the city could show a little sympathy instead of hoarding this bloated bank account for when one day the powers that be decide to build a second Wheeler Opera House next door to the Wheeler Opera House (seriously they’re considering that), as if we’ll ever be allowed to have fun again.

Shared workspace

SB: This isn’t so much an anti-shared workspace thing as it is just a plain shill job for Best Day Ever, which I’ve seen harassed by a shared workspace that shall remain nameless as well as the HOA that’s currently trying to have them removed from their location because people buying weed are “Dirty Harry”-level scum. Shit man, I’m just trying to cop a quarter of some of the finest flower in town, and am not planning to shoot your dog walker and puppy-nap your poodle.

Also, the concept of a shared workspace — essentially office space for rent — has been exposed like a bad shooter in the playoffs. Everyone has been working from home for the past year due to Rona, so why in the name of whatever level of hell Jordan Belfort is going to does anyone need a rent-a-office?

If you’re on vacation and need to get away from your family so badly that you’re paying for Wi-Fi by the hour like it’s a cheap hooker, you should do your wife a favor and file for divorce.

We need another shared workspace like we need another bank, which incidentally is one developer’s vision for Aspen. All any local wants is a fat sack of herb, some crab rangoon and a decent, affordable lo mein, but instead we’re left with empty workspaces and an ATM.

Illegalize all this racket

BW: Tomorrow is going to suck. And I mean “tomorrow” in the proverbial manner, because tomorrow is today, and so was yesterday, but also because it’s 4 a.m. Monday night, if that makes sense. Tomorrow is going to suck because the noises will start the instant the sun starts radiating through my rise-in-the-east bedroom window, and I will still be tired.

First comes the giant ice-scraping tractor — should be any minute now. The guttural sound of blade on gravel is ambient noise enough, and it’s comforting that the driver is probably keeping an eye out for night stalkers and shadow figures, but the screeching fire alarm sounds of the machine backing up causes lobotomizing nightmares. Can we turn that shit off? How do you think people can sleep through this? If I hear a cricket fart I’m up and reaching for the nightstand. (Vail police would arrest me for that joke). I get that snow removal is a necessary task, so that when vehicles slam onto their breaks, while I’m still 10 feet away from entering the crosswalk, they don’t skid across the street into the brazen yet oblivious group who think crosswalks are encompassed by force fields.

Garbage truck rolls through at about 7, and of course they have to shake those 35-ton bearproof boxes a dozen times to ensure every last scrap falls out before tossing it haphazardly back onto the pavement. Construction begins 59 minutes later, which comes with radios, yelling, drilling and jackhammering. I spent a summer in home-improvement work and felt nauseously guilty sawing somebody’s gutters off for the whole neighborhood to hear at 8 in the morning. Clearly that sentiment is not constant among the builders of Aspen.

By 9:45 the ambitious Airbnbers on my floor will be in the hall, coughing up a lung, slamming lockers and whacking their skis against my rickety-ass door, making me think somebody’s breaking in. Another dip into the nightstand.

Now my phone starts chirping from texts (I’m very popular). Good thing I know who Evanescence is or I wouldn’t even understand this meme. Couldn’t it wait til after dinner? Don’t you know I’m infirm? Mute. Block. Report.

Twenty minutes later a snowball hits my window. I go at the nightstand for the third time because it’s probably Sean.

Finally, the death rattle. The tenants above me, who are either individually washing every article of clothing they own or pruning themselves in a jacuzzi for whatever reason, have activated their gyrating, floor-humping device that will vigorously shake my light fixtures for the next eight hours.

Might as well get out of bed at this point, my 2 p.m. shift starts in 10 minutes anyway.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com & bwelch@aspentimes.com


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