ULTIMATE RANT | Telluride Is A Changin’

By Allison Perry | Telluride

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

After a considerable hiatus from attempting to out-rant all of you, I’m back. Yippee yahoo.

This rant is not particularly salacious, but I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of it from many people over the past year or two, and somebody finally threw it up on the board.

This week, Lynn Ward implored the Ranty and Bitchy community, “What’s up in this town? I’ve tried to tolerate things as maybe I’m old and maybe before there was Facebook we just weren’t aware of what’s happening. But I call B.S. We’ve never locked our doors. We leave our keys in our cars. I leave my stuff outside and assume it will be there in the morning. No more. Stealing baby strollers? Are you kidding me? There’s a new element in town and it’s going to steal the soul of this community way more than any second homeowner ever will. Despite all the rages against Texans and lot lines and over-development I’m guessing these folks aren’t the ones ripping off bikes and strollers. And purses and jackets and cell phones and …”

I haven’t lived here for long, but even I can fondly remember the days of two years ago when I was hearing a lot less about stolen bikes, stolen items from burglarized houses, stolen jackets and, I guess, stolen strollers. Those were the days. Yes. When I could leave my bike on top of my car for nights on end in the VCA or Viking parking lot without worry, and leave my door pretty much propped open and not expect to find a LSD addled bum passed out on my kitchen table in a puddle of urine, blood and my leftovers from the day before.

But do you know what else I can remember?

Where I lived before Telluride. As in New York City, and, for a stint, Cleveland, Ohio. In these lovely urban playgrounds forget finding a bum passed out in your house, if you leave your front door unlocked for more than 13 seconds you can be rest assured you will return not only to find all your electronics removed, but you also might find a few individuals in your living room waiting for you. And their purposes are likely to be a lot more sinister than simply eating your day old Brown Dog and taking a nap on your couch.

Leave a ski rack on your car? It will be gone by morning.

I still remember the day my dad’s car, parked in front of a building manned with a 24 hour doorman, was damaged because some socially disenfranchised individuals (i.e. crackheads) tried to break in to steal the loose change in the car. When they failed to actually open the car they tried to push it over onto its side, and at one point they actually shook the car to see just how much loose change they could coax out of the seats.

Yes, I moved to Telluride to get away from that. And yes I am just as disappointed in the evil nature of mankind when I read that bikes are being lifted from garages, and cars are being broken into, err, opened and items stolen from within, but am I surprised?

Nope.

And it’s precisely because, as Mel Anton states (accurately), “The amount of people visiting is more than we can handle.”

Like Ward, I don’t believe the Tall Texans, with their gobs of money, expensive cowboy hats, and huge second homes are the reason theft and general mischief and crime are on the rise in Telluride. At least not directly.

But, the existence and increase of wealthy second homeowners in Telluride has certainly driven housing prices up. And as Joshua Nichols summarizes, “It might be that as Telluride becomes more unaffordable the non-rich have to find other ways to cut costs and make rent. This kind of petty theft becomes easier to rationalize to a person that works everyday and still can’t make ends meet, but constantly witnesses so many people never working and never lacking for anything. Easy to get a Robin Hood complex in a society like that. I just hope all those iPhones and puffy jackets are funding a good cause and not being invested back into the local bars.”

So can we blame Texas for our recent uptick in stolen bikes and baby strollers? Not entirely, but maybe a little bit.

Ugh. I know. If we can’t blame Texas then who are we supposed to blame for this B.S?

POT! LET’S BLAME WEED!

As Ann Gabbett says, “Welcome to legalizing pot. It attracts the undesirables.”

I guess that’s it then. Drugs are bad, mmmmkay?

Oh wait. No. That’s probably one of most inane, uninformed and narrow minded things I’ve heard today, not to mention just…so…predictable. And before you lambaste me for being some kind of biased stoner, anyone who knows me can attest to the fact I’ve tried to enjoy smoking weed and it just didn’t take. I smoke once in a blue moon, usually to try and combat my nagging insomnia when I run out of Ambien, and I think stoner culture is often completely over the top and moronic.

As for attracting “undesirables” I’m pretty sure it takes more than a few retail pot shops to lure an entire contingent of lazy, jobless and, especially, poor (that is what you meant by “undersireable,” right?) people to drive at least six hours from anywhere civilized or fly to Telluride to come pay exorbitant rent or live in a tent outside just to get high without worrying about cops.

Indeed, as Ward responded, “Pot was well entrenched in this community decades before it was legalized. This is something else” and you’d be hard pressed to make the claim that the “pot culture” of the town has changed a lick since it became legal.

What legalized weed has done, it seems, is infuse the county with tax revenue while attracting wealthy tourists and trust-fund-baby-college kids who still ask in whispers where the weed store is, and still find it novel and thrilling that they can actually walk into a real live store, ask for a pot brownie, ignore the advice of the bud-tenders and labels alike, and then eat the entire brownie at which point they end up in the medical center convinced they are dying.

And, for your information, Ms. Gabbett, in several talks with law enforcement earlier this year and last about the transient population in town, pot was a salient factor in pretty much zero arrests stemming from complaints regarding their behavior to law enforcement.

You know what’s almost always a factor though? Alcohol. Good old legal-since-prohibition alcohol. Seems those afternoon martinis and pints attract just as many derelicts and their derelict activities as morning bong rips and ganja candies.

Perhaps we should shut down the bars, breweries and liquor stores. Because that would certainly keep the undesirables out of this town. And everyone else. Say goodbye to the wine fest too. And, well, all the festivals. Because you can’t have a festival without booze.

Well damn. If it’s not Texas, and it’s not pot, why, oh why, are times a changin’ in Telluride, and not for the better?

Is it the locals? As much as disenfranchised and disgruntled (not to mention overworked) locals could be responsible for the problem, I’m willing to bet they don’t make up much of the percentage of small time robbers in this town.

For one thing, if I were to steal a jacket from a bar, say, or a bike, the moment I tried to use it anywhere in town about 400 people would recognize it from Sweet Deals and chase me with torches and pitchforks until I gave it back, and would then shame me, tar and feather me, especially if it was a bike I yanked, and possibly run me out of town.

So no, I don’t think a bunch of locals have developed Robin Hood complexes and are quietly robbing rich out-of-towners and distributing the goods to the starving masses.

As you scratch your head and continue to wonder who the real scapegoat is, I’m going to tell you a story. A story about a guy we’ll call “Joelle.”

Joelle came to town last summer and managed to score two jobs (that I know of), one in a restaurant and one in a retail shop. Joelle said what attracted him to Telluride was its laid-back nature, sublime beauty, and endless recreation opportunities. He also mentioned he’d heard it was easy to get a job.

Joelle was a walking red flag, an undesirable wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Constantly sheathed in a fine layer of sticky perspiration, perpetually reeking of a day-old bender and a nauseating heaping of cover-up cologne, pretending to work but always looking for the party, and always asking for employee hookups on big ticket items.

Joelle loved complaining about his horrible boss at his “other job,” finding it markedly unprofessional that they would require him to do things such as work while he was at work.

Joelle ended up pissing off pretty much everyone in town, not least of all his employers, co-workers, landlords, restaurant owners, bartenders and roommates, but not before he was able to go on probably 10 benders on the unwitting tab of the aforementioned parties, but also after stealing, lying and making quite a few messes around town that somebody else had to clean up.

While this isn’t anyone’s “fault” per se, think about what attracted Joelle, and all the Joelles of the world, to Telluride.

First of all, Telluride is becoming more and more visible to all different types of people. It is on the radar of the Illuminati, and wealthy landowners and celebrities alike because it is expensive, secluded, gorgeous, and, let’s face it, rather ostentatious, but in that understated way that screams “I’m not ostentatious or I’d be in Aspen wearing knee high boots made from the mane of Cecil the Lion.

Ski bum types adore it for obvious reasons, and while it might be hard to come by an apartment, if you have half a brain in your head it’s not that hard to come by a job (hey, I actually get paid to write stuff here!)

And, my personal favorite, transient, lowlife Joelles are often attracted to Telluride because word of mouth on the dirty, lazy, life’s-just-a-bender scene is that Telluride is a great place to come see some rad music, brah, and sit around and get fucked up on drugs and booze all day long with very few consequences. Especially in the summer.

And what happens when all of these “classes” are thrown together in one giant mixing bowl?

We get an influx of opportunistic hedonists who don’t live here, have no stake in this town or the people who do live here, and want to get money the easiest way possible. And they know that in addition to finding kindred souls here in town, they will also find tons and tons of tourists, second homeowners and locals who are easy marks, blissfully wandering around our small oasis, rarely locking their doors, cars, or bikes, due to some ingrained, stubborn nostalgia about the way things used to be, and they way we want things to be still.

Do I think this sucks? Of course. But let’s face it folks, it’s reality.

Telluride is so great the word got out, people heard about it, and decided they just had to come.

“Call something paradise, kiss it goodbye……lived in T-ride from ‘91 till ‘02 ………….the town I knew…is gone,” commented (sang?) Julie Hughes, and she’s right on. Whether it’s overzealous marketing, word-of-mouth spreading like wildfire, or the notoriety the town has garnered based on some celebrity houses (ahem, Oprah, ahem, Tom Cruise) and its high profile festivals and skiing, but the very reason Telluride is so great is becoming the very reason it’s perhaps starting to become a little less great. And by great I, of course, mean off the grid, alternative, and relatively unknown and unpopulated.

What is considered success for the town and the resort’s PR Department is, to many locals, kyrptonite. But alas, this is the way of ski towns.

If we want to keep having 19 festivals a summer and pushing the resort as “The Most Beautiful Place You’ll Ever Ski,” jam packing our town full of both savory and unsavory visitors, the mentality of the town has to change with the growing number of outsiders that will continue to stampede into town.

If we want to keep being chill, accepting of any and every “alternative lifestyles”, and lax on trying to pass laws and ordinances that might help law enforcement weed the true assholes out, we’re going to have to accept that the days of leaving your bike on main street and the front door and the garage unlocked are probably over.

Lynn Ward’s complaint is dead on, but unfortunately the ship has already sailed, so, citizens, put your house-key on your key chain, lock up your bike, maybe vote in favor of some of those ordinances that would’ve seemed borderline fascist back in Telluride’s heyday, and remember Telluride is still a far cry from being a big city, and our little way of life is mostly still in tact.

If the turn of a few keys is too much to bear, there’s always Silverton.

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About the Author

Allison Perry

Allison Perry was born and raised in New York City and earned a BA in Political Science from The University Of Wisconsin - Madison and a JD at Case Western Reserve University School Of Law before moving to Alaska with the hopes of becoming the next Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. Although she went so far as to pass the Bar Exam in Sarah Palin's playground, she became disillusioned with law and decided to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist and a photographer. She moved to Colorado in 2010 and after a few years ski-bumming and retailing, she was finally able to transform her freelance writing into a full time career at The Watch. Allison believes local journalism is an essential part of living in a small town, and strives to write objectively, in plain English, with a critical eye and a dash of sarcasm here and there. She is stoked to be a part of the San Juan Independent.