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Inspiration, it is said, strikes you in the unlikeliest of places.

My latest brainstorm didn’t come to me while gazing at the mountains or strolling through the woods on a rainy day. It wasn’t written on the face of a newborn baby, and it didn’t come to me in a dream, the bath, or with the aid of foreign substances.

Inspiration struck while I was sitting on a couch on a rainy Sunday, eating nachos and watching a Pay Per View movie.

The movie in question was Out Cold, a "B" calibre comedy about a group of wacky Alaskan snowboarders and their battle to save their mountain and town from a ruthless Colorado developer.

Before a deal can be finalized, the protagonists invade a shareholder’s meeting, crashing into the tables and tents and starting a small riot. Basically they trash the place, realizing that the only way to save their mountain was to make the town as unappealing as possible to the developers.

A similar idea was actually put to test in Aspen back in 1969 by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Disgusted by the money-hungry, pro-development candidates running in the mayoral election, Thompson and his like-minded friends sponsored a mayoral campaign by a 29-year-old hippy named Joe Edwards.

Thompson’s goal was to get out the freak vote, all the disenfranchised twenty-somethings that never bothered to vote in the past.

The Freak Party was established, and in three weeks of whirlwind campaigning they almost succeeded in getting Edwards elected. When all the votes were tallied, the freaks lost by a total of six mail-in ballots sent in by second-home owners.

Encouraged by this support, Thompson ran for Sheriff the following year. He lost by over 400 votes, but the amount of grassroots support the Freaks were receiving was enormous.

The Freak Party’s anti-development platform for Aspen was breathtaking in scope. First and foremost they wanted to change the name of the town to Fat City to discourage developers and buyers.

Rather than arresting drug dealers, Sheriff Thompson pledged to use his powers to keep the dealers honest. He also promised to use his powers to "savagely harass all those who engage in land-rape." Also on the platform was a plan to rip up the streets of downtown Aspen and replace them with sod to slow the developers down.

If either campaign had been successful, you have to wonder what Aspen, or Fat City, would look like now. Would it still be the second most expensive ski town in North America, behind Vail, or would it be the same mountain paradise it was before all the developers at last drove the hippies out?


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