beth

Aspen X, newcomers to Aspen City Council, housing crisis, S-curves, it’s all happening and worthy of discussion.

Aspen still beats most places in the world to live. After living here 20-plus years, I can legitimately say that I know the difference between rich and rich-rich. I’m happy, fortunate and still keep a sense of humor about it all. You have to, otherwise you’ll join a rat race you moved (or stayed) here to avoid.

There’s been a bit of talk about local columnists being downers, or complaining a lot as of late. My job is to bring you a slice of life in Aspen and while Aspen has always been full of change, the pandemic era has had some notably unpleasant effects thus far. I truly try to keep whiny, ranty pieces to a minimum, unless of course, the rant or whine is funny. Bringing up recent changes is part of the conversation of local life in Aspen, and hopefully it helps to shape our community.

Do we want to keep some sort of funky individuality? Or just sell out completely? Does wearing a Big Dumb Hat (See Saturday Night Live, Nov. 6, 2022, with Amy Schumer) mean we’re keeping up with the Joneses, or that we can laugh at an expenditure that is the same cost as a month of child care?

Aspen has a chance at remaining some sort of watered-down version of itself, but it absolutely must keep a sense of humor or we’re in real trouble.

Word on the streets is that Aspen X is really settling in. The luxury brand is here to stay and so are its customers, which is an interesting juxtaposition to environmentalists whose duct tape also keeps this place held together.

This week and next we will see another burst of tourists, mostly spring breakers. But we also will see the kind of tourist Aspen has seen far too much of in recent years — the try-too-hard, entitled batch —  and getting them at the end of the season is a special treat for those in the service industry who are burned out.

Try-too-hards have his and hers cowboy hats, some sort of extreme luxury brand emblazoned on their person, as well as eyelashes that create gale force winds when blinked in your general direction. They can’t wait to be seen.

Welcome the Aspen X customer. They’re rich, but not rich-rich. They’re here to go big for a few days, potentially exposing large swaths of their body while on skis or snowboards in a pose no one would ever be in, on a pitch they will eventually need assistance skiing down, or they’ll walk. They pose suggestively on sand on their beach vacation so why would snow be any different? It’s all for show.

They love hashtags and attention. They also truly believe that everyone here in Aspen wears a Big Dumb Hat. They agonized over buying that hat because they probably won’t wear it as much back home. I look at you with your sparkly hat band, custom branding and feather that is better suited to sign the Constitution with, and I see all I need to know. You’re probably not local and if you are, you just fell off the turnip truck. Locals don’t have time for those hats, generally speaking.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Hats are cute. They became a sort of boho fashion statement and then they hit critical mass. Now, most hat-wearing folk, or God forbid, actual cowpeople, feel self-conscious when donning them. The hat tells me that you’ve likely never saddled a horse and that you carry an emotional support hat with you on flights.

If you can’t laugh at your hat, well, I’m sorry. I personally enjoy a giant pom-pom or a betchy trucker hat. It’s all about keeping it light. The Gonzo Era is, well, gone-zo, but as we shape our new community I would hope that we remember we live in an outdoor wonderland. We ski, we run, we bike, we hike. We live life to the fullest, right? These activities generally provoke good times. How can you not laugh at yourself while goofing around in this life less traveled?

So, if Aspen’s got guts and hasn’t totally lost its mind, choose laughter. Exude silliness and stop taking yourself so seriously. No one cares.

I think Aspen is still going through some growing pains and hasn’t quite settled on its most recent identity. I think the city Ott-a start by considering local candidates for positions such as the chief of police or city manager. Why do we need to scour the globe and bring in someone who does not live in or understand where we live to run things? 

I think the future of Aspen needs to be funny, whether you’re a have or have-not, otherwise the good ones will leave. There are still a few funky crews holding on by a thread. We must embrace the Dogs, the Freaks, the Frosties, etc. We have to move into a new era and declare who and how we want to be moving forward.

All I can hear in my head is Cher in “Moonstruck. “Snap out of it!” Seriously, try clicking in and skiing down Aspen Mountain instead of downloading, it rocks. 

If you do take yourself too seriously, great. Snow Beach is waiting for you and your hashtags. But if you came here to live a life with plenty of zest, appreciation and everything you do doesn’t have to involve a monetary transaction, well, then, welcome aboard! And remember to relax, it’s Aspen, and we’re all connected in some way.

 

Beth is complicit in vegan leather and glitter shoes. She can be reached at bethabrandon@hotmail.com.