Beaton column: Aspen really stinks these days |

Beaton column: Aspen really stinks these days

Glenn K. Beaton

Aspen literally stinks. I mean “literally” in the literal sense, not the figurative sense in which people who are literally illiterate use “literally.” Here’s the story:

Right downtown, it smells like a snowboarder in an overflowing outhouse in the August sun. Except it’s only April. All winter, this stink on ice has been ripening like leftover pizza forgotten in the vegetable drawer, and now it’s thawing and festering into putrescent pus. This stench is doing what stenches do, and it’s doing it well.

There’s evidently a problem with the sewer system. As the leaders in the presidential election keep inadvertently reminding us, money can’t buy class. In Aspen, it can’t even buy fresh air.

But don’t worry. The same folks who brought us this odiferous oddity are here to make it go away. Government to the rescue!

Now that the ski moguls are finally melting out, the city sewer moguls are sniffing out the culprit. Not that it’s hard to find.

After all, as an old girlfriend used to say about my t-shirts, it could knock a dog off a gut wagon. (She actually referred to a buzzard and a different kind of wagon, but this is a family newspaper.)

The city sewer guys and gals say there might be a “cross-connection.” Uh huh. That’s government-speak for, “The poop pipes are miss-connected to the non-poop pipes.” It’s not their fault. Given that there’s a set of poop pipes and a set of non-poop pipes, there’s always a 50/50 chance of misconnecting them.

That image of messed up pipes reminds me that whenever I drive out of town I feel like someone who just used the bathroom after Grandpa. I’m relieved to have done my business and gotten out.

But while I know the smell in there wasn’t my fault, I worry that the next occupant will think it was. I want to shout out the window as I drive through the roundabout and onto the highway, “It wasn’t me.”

Aspen is now barely a whiff of its once-great self. Imagine the schadenfreude by the outside world that loves/hates Aspen the way people do when they’re torn between affection and envy, between drunk and hungover, and between the bar and the floor.

Hunter Thompson must be holding his nose in his Woody Creek grave, or whatever is the equivalent for a man whose cremated remains were shot into the air by a cannon.

The spirit of John Denver is rewriting “Rocky Mountain High.” The new version goes something like, “… comin’ home to somethin’ he’d never smelled before …”

Liberals are saying, as they always do when a government program goes horribly wrong, “Yeah, but it’s still better than Bush.”

In Vail, they’re taunting us, “Hey Aspen, how’s that organic thing working out for you?” Followed by, “We may be tacky, but at least we don’t stink.” Followed by, “Whadya say!? I can’t hear you over the noise of the interstate!”

That old girlfriend once told me in bed, “I’m bored. Let’s go buy you some deodorant.” Let’s hope the government sewer-meisters in Aspen get bored and buy the poop pipes some deodorant before this stench of death brings the grim reaper to Aspen, figuratively speaking. Or worse, the snowboarders.

In the meantime, is there any of that pizza left?

Update: As The Aspen Beat went to press, the sleuths in the Aspen City Manager’s Office announced that they’d apprehended the flatulent culprit. It’s a notorious individual known as “Little Nell.” Or maybe that’s the name of the best hotel in town. In an event, he/she/it has been ordered to cease and desist from his/her/its pooping into the non-poop pipes.

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