Notebooks, sketchpads, dashing off words and pix at various bottom-of-the-mountain watering holes. The skis above are Head Masters 1960, available at vintageskiworld.com Here ya go, from a little faded notebook circa '60s:
Write the speed, the exhilaration, the rapture of aspen skiing--how to stay, once here would I ever be able to afford to ski? This is more than just vacation intoxication. How do ski bums exist. Various cons, but that stuff doesn't last, tarnishes. A high point: two attractive girls skiid up to me on the mogul side, asked if I was an instructor, I replied no, what made them think that--it was my cannonball non-style, my mode of dress, Levi's, gaitors, plain dark waist-length jacket, no frills, no ski-shop shit (couldn't afford it anyway--though when in one of the pricey shops I bumped, physically, into Jill St. John as she was trying on a sweater, another high point for me, as we laughed and chatted), anyway, when the girls asked for lessons, it made the aspen dream even more real, I was mistaken for a townie not a tourist, a person who lived here, maybe even voted here, endured the summers, waited for the first snow. A sign?
The gin-fueled racing with Omaha guys and those rich Mexicans ("andale, arriba!") The owner of a Kentucky Derby winner filmed me (!) WEEKS in the mts. every day every condition, Ajax, even the expert runs, jesus what a feeling, getting better every day, carving with my edges, gaining control with the speed, changing goggle inserts for flat gray days, snow days, sunny so bright it hurts days, yellow, rose-colored, clear, blue goggles to suit conditions. Snowstorm, few on the mountain, quiet during the fall of snow thick at times but so feather quiet, stop to appreciate, man, the feeling--picking my way down, will the lifts be going? I see some, barely visible, as I ski directly beneath them, gray ghosts moving, empty. But if they shut down, then back to room, write some, drinks in town, drum up a couple locals, see what the prospects are.
Another sign, Butch the mayor's dog, follows me everywhere--some still call me Butch from high school. He was in a fight back of the Hotel Jerome, they threw out some bones or something, bunch of dogs there in the alley, fur flew--sounded like the end-all, I ran off a couple mutts, Butch okay, happy, maybe likes that action, maybe just glad to see me. I go into Jerome bar, find a stool, busy on a snow day, then practicality hits me, kids, school, living in a house, wife, she'd move, we just about moved to Billings. Single, i could do this easy. Easy. Save up a stake, then figure it out. But family. And no mistake about it, It would be sefish as hell. But guys do that shit. Chase the dream. Billings had Bear Mountain you see. I tried Burlington, VT too. Couldn't find a job.
Chart House, smell of expertly burnt meat, a black velvet grease-filmed painting on the wall over the cook-pit of a Tongan or some island guy, Tahitian, south seas, the only good painting I've ever seen on black velvet, the steaks are cooked on open flames, mesquite, damn they're exquisite, wash 'em down with coffee and booze. If I lived here I would have to have the steak, taste buds are at their best just off the mountain, on a day where moguls are defined in the sun, and the blood runs at a prime viscosity and the rhythm is there, mogul after mogul, maybe miss one or two, jump one, back into the easy swinging, easy carving, loose limbed gait, rapture doesn't come close to explaining it. Mindless, in the moment living, like the great philosophers suggest you do.
(That was in the 60's. On long skis. Stay and ski for life? Tried, but I didn't go that route, obviously. Many did--the subculture. I worked my way up and sideways in the ad biz, owned a couple of agencies, one successful, the other not. Between marriages I went to L.A. and wrote screenplays and TV commercials. Learned some things. Got homesick. And that's another story. But I never forgot the ski dream. It was the purest oxygen my soul ever breathed, the tao of something...there were other exhilarants I call them, accelerants, riding with a horde of bikers, floating on the thunder, half buzzed. The rodeoing, too. Bursts of violence, fear-sweat, the relief for not dying. The question of 'why' never fully answered, avoided in fact. Lots of that 'why.' So, of course, I began writing fiction.)