Last year’s bear season was a particularly grueling one — the bruins were everywhere in town, wreaking havoc on garbage cans, day-time tourists and late-night wanderers. At every turn, a bear was somewhere in the path of a human. ZG had his run-ins on a routine basis with one in particular, known to some as “Kong,” because of his enormous size and addiction to anthropogenic foods. Well, it appears he’s baaaack. He was seen on the outskirts of town by the Aspen Ice Garden this week, happily gorging on the contents of what had to have been a 1,500-pound dumpster that he knocked over. ZG estimates that his weight is close to his food trough that night. ZG hopes Kong, who has claimed the downtown as his territory, keeps his distance this spring because it’s going to land him with a tag on his toe by the wildlife cops otherwise.
ZG is no fashionista, but damn, what’s a brother gotta do to cash a check? Walking on Main Street on a beautiful sunny day this week, ZG was greeted with a sign of the times — right there on the door to a bank lobby that asked customers to please remove their hats, hoodies and sunglasses before entering.
Of course, bank employees are rightfully wary after a rash of bank robberies in the valley (which has not hit Aspen proper), and the fact that this financial institution’s ATM was recently the victim of a suspect wearing all of that garb placing a skimming device on it. It’s no fun to be told to put the money in the bag or having customers get their credit and debit card numbers lifted. ZG agrees that anyone wearing a hoodie in a bank is automatically suspect, and throw in the hat and the sunglasses, and they might as well be in placed in the “cash-only” realm of societal hierarchy.
Riding the 18-minute-or-so-long Silver Queen Gondola usually is an experience ZG enjoys. He likes meeting new people, catching up with old locals and giving a tip or two to guests who want to know where the best lines are on the mountain. But two separate rides this week had ZG thinking it’s time to move over to the 1A side.
On Monday’s powder day, ZG slipped into a gondi that had only three people in it — a part-time resident from Switzerland and a couple. As soon as the gondola car left the building, ZG could feel the friction. The man, from New Zealand, had a scowl on his face that was undeniable. No words were uttered until about where the gondi car hit Bingo Glades. That’s when the fuzzy foreigner lost his composure and began screaming at his girlfriend about some infraction she had made earlier in the morning. Needless to say, it made the Swiss woman and ZG more than uncomfortable, and made the ride longer feel longer than it was. Look around, man, it’s a beautiful powder day. Lose the agro and learn to let it go. There’s a time and place for everything, and berating your girlfriend in the gondola is not it.
Of course, “letting it go” also can go to the extreme. ZG on a recent bluebird day was on the receiving end of an older gentlemen spewing his life story in such minutia that all he could hear was the voices of the parents and teachers from the Charlie Brown cartoon: Wah, wah, wah. The only thing that was captivating by the end of the ride was the spit filling up in the corners of the man’s mouth because he was talking so fast and much. ZG guesses he needed to get it out, and now ZG has too.