Glenn K. Beaton is a writer and columnist living in Aspen. He has been a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolitics, Powerline, Instapundit, American Thinker and numerous other print, radio and television outlets.
Last summer, criminal mobs stormed federal buildings in an attempt to intimidate our elected officials and overturn our democratic republic. “Burn it down” and “No USA at all” were their frequent chants. Some demagogic politicians egged them on. People died.
Fast forward to last week. Another criminal mob stormed another federal building in another attempt to intimidate our elected officials and overturn our democratic republic. “Stop the steal” was their frequent chant. Some demagogic politicians egged them on. People died.
The media accurately reported last week’s riot as a riot, but they reported last summer’s riots as “mostly peaceful protests.” The reason for the disparate reporting is of course that the media sympathized with last summer’s criminal mob but not with last week’s criminal mob.
Never willing to let a crisis go to waste, an outfit here in Aspen called Aspen Journalism promptly sent out an email yesterday congratulating themselves for their “truth telling and the free exchange of ideas.” They went on to portray themselves as victims of the DC riot 2,000 miles away: “As journalists we were alarmed by the violence and menacing rhetoric directed at the media.”
The Managing Editor of your fine newspaper, Joanna Bean, invited me to write a column or two about the old days. Those days and I are about the same age, you see.
In fact, I knew the Gazette when it was called “The Gazette Telegraph.” And I knew Colorado Springs when it was called “The Springs” and not “The Potholes.” I’ve been gone for 42 years, but now I’m back for a spell.
I attended Harrison High School – home of the Panthers — where I was shaken down daily for my lunch money. I was famous there for being the younger brother of Mark Beaton, a terrific baseball pitcher who dominated the Gazette’s sports page as thoroughly as he dominated opposing batters. A pitching Panther, was he. A typical Gazette sports page headline from spring of 1970 was “Beaton Strikes Out 15.” (Look it up!)
Hunter S. Thompson — gonzo author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and keeper of dynamite in the basement and toxins in the refrigerator — was the last of the Aspen undomesticated types.
In my recent column, I lamented the substitute poseurs who are more interested in conventional socialism than unconventional socializing.
Indeed, as I noted, we’re now so lacking in fearsomeness and loathsomeness that the sane and sanitized readers of Travel + Leisure voted Aspen their “favorite town.” Ugh. Readers emailed me, called me and even stopped me on the street to add names to my growing list of extinct and endangered exotica. So here are a couple more:
Meet Claudine Longet. Born in Paris, this winsome woman danced in Las Vegas well before Thompson arrived. One day, she had the good fortune of her car breaking down — because her rescuer was one Andy Williams. They married a year later when she was 19.
Hunter S. Thompson was a gritty character. He was a member of the National Rifle Association. He accidentally shot a person while attempting to scare a bear away. In his house near Woody Creek, he kept dynamite.
He never graduated from high school. He worked for Time magazine till it fired him for insubordination. He once was charged as an accessory to robbery.
His breakthrough novel was about the Hells Angels. For that, he lived with the Angels for a year till one night they beat him almost to death. He later wrote a series of deviant “Fear and Loathing” novels beginning with the classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
He once said, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Whatever you think of how he wrote (well) or lived (less well) or died (badly), say this for the guy: He was a true character.
I thought of Thompson when I saw that the buttoned-down readers of Travel + Leisure magazine recently voted Aspen their “favorite town.” What’s next? Will Aspen be Continue reading →