How Barbra Streisand messed up Colorado

Art Buchwald

December 28, 1992|By Art Buchwald

I'VE just returned from Aspen even though I am not a skier. haven't skied in some of the greatest winter resorts in the world. I know that this is a terrible thing to admit. It's like saying, "I'm in sales but I don't play golf." But that's the way it is.

I go to places like Aspen because I enjoy sitting in hotel lobbies in front of large fireplaces, drinking hot chocolate and talking about weather conditions on the various mountains that I haven't been on.

I also like to go into town and try on ski clothes and buy Briko's snow goggles to wear over my wool cap.

Occasionally I'll meet another person who doesn't ski, and then we'll throw snowballs at each other.

But this year Barbra Streisand spoiled my non-skiing vacation because the citizens of Colorado voted on Election Day for something called Amendment 2. It voids and prevents the adoption of legislation that protects homosexuals from discrimination. In other words, towns in Colorado may no longer pass any laws protecting gay people.

Aspen voted down Amendment 2, by a margin of three to one, yet Ms. Streisand has urged her fellow movie stars to boycott the town to teach Colorado a lesson.

Since I don't ski, I had time to find out what was going on. It turns out that the good citizens of Aspen were being punished for something that the more conservative Coloradans had done.

"We didn't do it," said Bertha Braddock, who sold me a pair of earmuffs. "Barbra Streisand is just mad because her former boyfriend has a house here."

The bartender at Little Nell's said, "Hollywood is divided. It's a little easier to boycott Aspen if you stay in a hotel than it is if you own a $4 million house on the side of the mountain. The reason the Hollywood boycotters are picking on Aspen is that the press will write about us. The networks sure as heck aren't going to send Tom Brokaw or Mike Wallace to Grand Junction."

What bothered me the most was that the Streisand boycott was aimed at skiers and non-skiers alike. As one of the latter I didn't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the other hand, when you use up all your free airline mileage to go to a resort that Barbra doesn't approve of, you have to take sides. If I had known how she felt I might easily have chosen not to ski somewhere else -- like Sun Valley or Sundance.

I tried to fax Ms. Streisand for further instructions, but her fax is unlisted as is her boycott number. I decided to leave word on her answering machine. I asked her to tell me where everyone was going so that I wouldn't be stuck with a bunch of lift tickets which non-skiers use to go up the gondola for lunch.

Most of the people who struggle to earn a living in Aspen are talking about boycotting Ms. Streisand's films.

A ski equipment store owner told me, "If we don't eat -- she doesn't eat. The rich folks have to use some common sense when it comes to dumping on the working stiffs."

I now have a mission since returning from Aspen. I am here to speak for the non-skiers who, in most ski resorts, are more of a minority than gay people.

I'm not saying that Barbra Streisand doesn't have a right to tell people to stay away from Aspen, but she would be doing a much better service if she asked her Hollywood friends to avoid the Rocky Mountain nuclear waste's ski trails.

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