Wagner and I rolled into Ketchum, Idaho near Sun Valley on November 12th. It was a long and uneventful 1950 mile journey from Detroit. Wagner, my 5 month old blue heeler puppy was surprisingly well behaved in the car and in the motels. We took our first off-leash hike together in Jackson, Wyoming, and we had so much fun we stayed an extra night in the Cowboy Cabins.
Only 250 more miles before we reached our new place and met our new landlord / neighbor Judy Schpankter *, a long-time Ketchum local. Schpankter* flashed a few red flags before I signed the lease. Living above your landlord is never ideal, I knew that…but her fenced in yard, the walk-to-the-lift and walk-to-town location and Judy’s* dog friendliness were all positives. The price was right, I was willing to take a chance…so I signed. Judy* said “we’re going to have a puppy”. I thought …who’s we?
Woodsy Road is a beautiful street. It’s a mix of big daddy homes “on the river” mixed with some log cabins and more modest homes. Judy Schphankter* greeted us on the driveway. She seemed excited to meet me and more excited to meet Wagner. Within the first two minutes Judy* gave me a scouting report on the neighbors. “Those people across the street are mentally unstable” she said. “Their daughter tried to break into your bathroom” she added. “Why?” I queried . “She’s mentally ill” opined Judy*. As we walked into the yard I noticed that the bathroom window was 8 feet above a set of stairs. Who is this mental daughter?…Wilt Chamberlin? Spider Girl? I made a note-to-self to form my own opinion about the neighbors.
Judy* welcomed Wagner into the yard with good intentions and a loving caress. She said “ go ahead let him off the leash”. I was reluctant and warned her that he was a very active puppy and “we’ve been in the car for 5 days”. Jud*y said “Gabby* will love him”. Gabby* is Judy’s 9 year old Golden Doodle. As I predicted, Wagner went wild. He was jumping on Gabby*and trying to herd her around the yard. Judy screamed “why is he jumping?”. I laughed it off and said “he’s a puppy”. Judy grabbed him by the collar and scolded Wagner. “Why are you using this kind of a collar?” she asked. “You are a bad dog trainer”. I took Wagner from her and put him back on leash. " I’ll train my own dog, thanks”. “Well you’re doing a bad job”. My first conflict with Schpankter*…and I hadn't even been inside yet.
She offered to show me the apartment and we walked up the stairs together. Gabby* came along and ran free through the unit. Wagner was going schitzo because of the presence of another dog. I asked her to leave Gabby* downstairs so we could get settled. I could tell she was miffed. She then suggested “let’s take the dogs for a walk down by the river”. I tried to be nice and said “it’s been a long drive, we just want to get settled”. She was miffed again. She then went into an extreme monologue about the contents of the unit. “12 forks, 12 spoons and 12 knives”. She went on and on and on and must have mentioned the inventory check list about 10 times. When I asked if the cable worked she proceeded to give my a doctorate level lesson in the use of the remote. “I’ll figure it out” I said. She shook her head and kept talking.
After what seemed like an eternity she finally left and I began to unload the car.
Schphankter*was eye-balling my every move. Each trip up and down the stairs I got the once-over from Judy*. She was giving me the creeps and it was still the first hour of my 6 month lease.
The next morning I got a text asking me to “please stop running up and down the stairs”. I ignored it. The second morning I got a text bright and early, “please stop slamming the door”. Wow, I was getting pissed already. The third day she came out as Wagner and I were leaving. I tried to be nice and friendly and shared. “ ya know, I'm not a bad guy and I’m trying to be considerate and quiet and I’m not really running up and down the stairs, I guess that’s just how I walk”. And I added “the door is unbalanced so it closes itself…I’m not slamming it”. She gave me a dirty look and gave me a dissertation on the idiosyncrasies of the house. How dare I tell her about her house. I stopped to listen for a minute, but she went on and on again. It was an uncomfortably long monologue. I thought to myself, Wagner’s gotta take sh*t…so I sort of nodded and started walking. She was miffed yet again.
On Day 4 I bought a used bike from the local pawn shop. Nothing special...but a decent townie ride. When I came home I leaned it against the wooden fence in the large back yard near the entrance to my stairs. Almost immediately I received a text chastising me for “ruining her view”. How dare I lean my bike against HER fence. Her text went on… Wagner and I no longer had yard privileges. I returned her text saying “we need to talk ASAP”. I went downstairs and knocked on the door. She refused to answer.
Before I was back up the stairs the phone rang and she proceeded to verbally assault me. “You’re selfish, inconsiderate , aggressive and mentally unstable. You come here and act like you own the place”. Wow, I was dumbfounded. I was trying to be a quiet considerate neighbor and she was flipping out on me. She shouted into the phone “and your plastic tote lid is leaning against the base board heater…that’s a fire hazard and a violation of house rules, you’ve been warned Mister”. I responded, “first of all, the heat isn’t even turned on and secondly, how do you even know that anyway?” She screamed “I have good intuition”. I was almost certain she entered my unit without my permission and no prior notice. This is not allowed as specified in the lease and by Idaho law. I was shaken.
The next morning I rigged up a string on the door knob and tied it to a rubber dog toy. I also decided to innocently check to see if there had been any previous police incidents at my address. I rode my new bike to the cop shop and asked if there had ever been any police issues at 666 Woodsy Road. The young officer said “not that I can recall”. “My landlord is a little strange”…but I did not mention her name. “Do you mind checking?”. 10 minutes later he came down and asked “is your landlord Judy Schphankter*?" “Yes” I answered. “yeah we know her” he shared. “How well do you know her?” His body language and tone of voice indicated that he wouldn’t share too much. “Pretty well” was all he said.
When I got back from the Police station and opened my door...the rubber dog toy was on the floor. I was almost certain she had entered my home again…without permission. I was freaked. I gathered up Wagner and a few overnight items and drove down to Twin Falls, the closest real town, about 80 miles away. First stop; Best Buy. I bought a nanny cam, and after two hours on the phone with a nice lady in China I finally got it to work. I also posted a no trespassing sign.
The situation at home deteriorated quickly. Judy*sent me nasty texts, mean e-mails and she screamed at me every time she saw me. “That’s a violation, mister!!!” One night she got really close to me and screamed in my ear "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU". I knew she was watching me too. This sh*t was creeping me out. I knew I had to leave even thought the apartment was great. But, Finding dog-friendly accommodations in a ski town in December…not an easy task.
I went back to the Cops and politely asked for an open records request about Judy*. “We’ve never done one of those” the nice officer mentioned. “I smiled and said, “well let’s figure out how to do it…cause it is a federal law”. The Ketchum PD was extremely cooperative. There were 10 incidents of various nature related to Schpankter*. The worst was a misdemeanor for putting dog doo in the neighbor’s car. She was given a no trespass edict for that. I checked the Idaho Repository, a list of court cases. Judy* had 17 lawsuits mostly small claims, in the past 8 years.
I was not happy. I was nervous. You can’t predict crazy…and this lady was “one of them”, one of the “Ketchum Krazies”. I think there are more of them than anyone will admit. I saw her as I was leaving the house on the day before Thanksgiving. I smiled and said “I’m really trying to follow the house rules”. She smiled and said “gimme a big hug”. I did not want to hug it out with her…but I didn’t want to rock the boat, so we embraced. She invited me over for Thanksgiving Dinner…how nice. I politely declined, she was miffed again.
The next day I gave her notice that I was terminating the lease. She responded by telling me I had “forfeited all the money” and she wanted me “out as soon as possible”.
I immediately put most of my stuff in storage and diligently started searching for a new place.
I did what any (past) middle aged, Jewish, well educated, ski bum from Detroit would do. I ran. Now I'm out $5K but Wagner and I are so happy in our new home.
Welcome to Ketchum.
* Judy Schphankter is not a real person, and *Gabby is not a real dog. This story is based my personal experiences in Ketchum.
40 years ago, 624 of us graduated from Southfield-Lathrup. The year was 1976. The Bicentennial. It was a beautiful time to come of age. A simpler time. Many of us from S-L have stayed friends and remain tight to this day.
Click 4 Pix: 1976 Rules
We formed a secret ad hoc committee. With the help of Facebook and the support of a certain classmate who owns a posh country club we moved forward with purpose. To Blow your Face Out.
Mr. A. Party, a known partier, envisioned an old fashioned house party. That optic came to fruition on August 6, 2016 at Tam O'Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan. We left no doubt. We blew the roof off of Tam.
Click 4 Pix: 1976 RULES
6 months into planning, our cross town rival, Southfield High...got a little envious of our gig. It came through the grape vine that the Blue Jays were peeved because they weren't included in our reunion. (really?) Yada yada yada. We kept hearing "we're not having a reunion". So we invited them. What the hell? The more the merrier..right? SHS accounted for 33% of the attendees and only 95% of the headaches. We loved having them. Great balloons by the way. It all worked out. Some of their grads even have internet now. Actually it was a blast, I'm glad they came, it made the night...there I said it.
More than 325 souls from Southfield, circa 1976, collectively partied their A$$es off.
The faces all looked familiar...maybe a little puffier, with a few more wrinkles, and some extra lbs and plenty of gray hair. In many cases...no hair at all. But all-in-all the Southfield-Lathrup Class of 1976 has stood up well to the test of time. I gotta say, The Chargers looked pretty good last night.
Special gratitude goes out to Sheldon Yellen and Iris Fenton Yellen for hosting. Plus..they trusted me...and gave me the keys to Tam O'Shanter. Marla Morochnick of SL 76 and Tam gets kudos for her F & B expertise. She created a fantastic spread of classic Southfield-style eats. Mindy Krigel, Reid Kay and Steve Katz all helped with music, Jam On, bro's. Lisa Winkler posted some epic 1976 photos and is the newly named director of tunes for the next reunion. 3 cheers for Bill Bertakis for the photos, flash drives and his general planning excellence. Honors go out to Jack Reynaert for maintaining the data base and e-mail list. He produced the AWESOME name tags. Of course special thanks to award winning film-maker Jeff Schoenberg for the great video. Most of all...I want to give accolades to me, Andy-Party...a.k.a. AspenSpin, for producing the greatest reunion of all time BOOM!! (drops mic.)
Oh yeah...how can I forget an atta boy to the crew from Southfield High. Good effort. Nice job. You get a a t-shirt and a cool trophy for participating. Just Kidding. Fire Up, Blue Jays for 2021.
The vibe was electric.
It really was a giant House Party. We had a lot of laughs and the memories were sweet ones. It was a night to remember. Save the date 8/7/21 for the 45th.
CLICK 4 PIX
My cousin Sheldon Cohn is a funny, funny guy. Sheldon along with his producing partner Gary Wolfson and veteran Hollywood director Michael Manaserri have put their hilarious shtick on the silver screen. The Pickle Recipe stars Jon Dore, Lynn Cohn and David Paymer. You'll recognize these veteran actors when you see them. TPR's cast is not a bunch of shmendriks and schlubs and schmos...these are talented professionals.
I have not seen The Pickle Recipe yet...but the trailer is awesome. The story revolves around Joey and his bubbe Rose. Joey needs money and he thinks Rose's secret family pickle recipe is the solution to his cash crunch. Joey has underestimated his bubbe's chutzpah and her desire to keep the recipe a secret. Knowing Sheldon, there will be some tummalt and schmaltz involved along the way.
Obviously hilarity ensues. Based on the early reports from the film festival circuit, The Pickle Recipe is so funny you may plotz in your seat. It will be coming to theatres soon...but for now, enjoy the trailer below.
The PICKLE RECIPE (2016) IMDB click for cast and crew
The Aspen Highlands closing day party has morphed into the biggest and best party in the ski world. And it keeps getting bigger. It's like the perfect storm of on-mountain celebrations. The costumes, the booze, the music, the drugs and especially the all-out steaziness is beyond compare.
Click 4 pix: AH, It's not for Gapers.
The Aspen Highlands closing day party has expanded from an intimate locals-only soiree into a regional bacchanalia. People are now coming from all over the Western U.S. just to throw down. The wilder the better.
This years edition blew the roof off the open-air party stadium at Aspen Highlands. Nearly 5000 revelers joined in...an unofficial record.
Always a highlight... The Aspen Bounce...it's when the jam-packed, pre-fab deck floor recoils to the beat of the EDM and the collective rhythm of the ski and rider tribe. The Aspen bounce gives dancers a little extra vitality and allows people to send it just a little bit higher. You have to try it out to believe it. The non-stop DJ's at two different venues keep the potency of the party going. From kids with fake I.D's to seniors with AARP cards...everyone gets their jam on.
Alcohol is one thing. There is tons of it all over the mountain. Whether it's BYO or Champagne at Cloud Nine or Coors light... the fire water is flowing. The Weed? There's enough MJ (medical, recreational and black market) to satisfy an army. Other drugs like LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, meth, horse tranquilizers, special K, sizzurp and bath salts are surely being used to enhance the mood.
This party is not for gapers. It's a year-end ritual that memorializes another great Winter of shredding in Aspen. Everyone needs to blow off some steam at the end of a long ski season... and they do. It's a well deserved blow out. The Aspen Highlands closing day party is as close to "anything goes" as you can get.
Sure, many of the revelers dont even see the mountain...thats OK. Plus we always hear tales of lost equipment, lost phones, lost keys, lost wallets, lost credit cards, lost panties...but thats OK too. Lots of folks pass out and/or barf on the bus...also OK. People over-indulging and forgetting where they live is part of the cultural experience of AH closing day. I often set up camp at the Rubey Park bus stop in Aspen as night falls just to see the zombie walkers that get off that Aspen Highlands bus.
By any definition Closing Day at Aspen Highlands is a DO NOT MISS experience in Aspen.
Click for Pix: