Autumn Phillips: A pre-emptive strike | SteamboatToday.com
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Autumn Phillips: A pre-emptive strike

Autumn Phillips

Alison Berkley, Hunter S. Thompson should kick your (expletive deleted).

Now that you’re back in Aspen, he is in better swinging range, and you seem like the kind of person he would like to flick off his porch with a shotgun full of rock salt.

But don’t let me speak for the man, let me speak for myself.

Call this a personal attack. More accurately, call this a pre-emptive strike, the day after. (My deadline for this column is Wednesday. Berkley’s column comes out Thursday, and this column is published Friday.)

When Berkley left Steamboat this week, she drove away giving us the bird. As you may have read Wednesday in the letter to the editor she sent, which said she couldn’t wait to get back to Aspen, Berkley left her laptop and wallet sitting in her unlocked car in the parking lot of the Health and Recreation Center. The laptop apparently contained her only copy of a novel she was writing. When the computer and wallet were stolen, she was amazed. This is sweet little Steamboat. People don’t give in to base human impulses such as stealing an unguarded computer in a town such as this.

When she reported her loss to the police, the newspaper and then to anyone on the street who would listen, she expected the villagers to arrive with hoes and torches to avenge her. This didn’t happen.

She fired off an e-mail to the newspaper to let us know that the readers of her weekly column — “The Princess’ Palate” — would be hearing about her tragedy.

She likely would assure her readers that their Prada bottoms were safe in Aspen, but beware of going north to the crime-riddled ghetto of Steamboat Springs — the Compton of Colorado.

Berkley is most famous outside of Aspen for getting fired last January from her job as a snowboard instructor because she complained in her newspaper column about the “fat, retarded” kids she had to give lessons to and for admitting in print that she doesn’t know her way around the mountain because she’s too busy scarfing the pizza she gets with her employee discount.

After Berkley got canned, Skiing Magazine voted the insult-hurdling columnist “Best candidate for the warden’s job at Abu Ghraib” in a feature called Best of: Biting the Hand.

Berkley writes in a gum-smacking style, using words such as “whatever” and “duh” as complete sentences. This is the kind of girl who can’t complete a paragraph without insulting the way someone looks or admitting she’s done something stupid like opening her taxi cab door into Manhattan traffic or, for example, leaving her computer and wallet on the seat of an unlocked car in Steamboat.

As I read her columns and rolled my eyes, I had two realizations. One, this girl thrives on negative attention. Two, either she really is as mean and clueless as she appears in her column or she has mastered the art of writing by creating a completely alternate persona in which to dump all kinds of lude, obnoxious and offensive material.

Whichever is the case, she had me hooked. I was reading. I was reacting.

By all intents and purposes, Berkley should have captured my sympathy (instead of my animosity) when she lost her computer.

Anyone who has read the police blotter lately knows that Steamboat has a theft problem. If it’s not tied down, someone is going to take it. In three years, I’ve had three bikes stolen. The first one was a surprise. The second one was returned to me — trashed — when the thief couldn’t get the bike lock off. The third one was a junker I wanted to get rid of; I knew if I parked it at the bike rack without a lock, it would be gone within the hour. I was right.

It makes me sad to admit that this town may be changing for the worse. There’s something about not locking your door. It makes you feel safe. It makes you love the community whose members watch out for one another.

But who is watching as stolen CDs, wallets and restaurant break-ins fill the police blotter?

When you steal something from someone, you steal a certain sense of place from the entire community.

I’ll keep my eyes open for a hoodie-wearing adolescent with bad body odor to start publishing crappy chick lit, and I’ll know who stole Berkley’s computer. I’ll also continue the hopeless search for my silver 10-speed.

Honestly, Alison, I hope you get your computer back. But in the meantime, shut up about Steamboat being such a terrible place. Aspen drools. Steamboat rules. And leaving a computer in an unlocked car is an invitation for theft in any town.

As for everyone else, start locking your doors. There are thieves among us.


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