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Freak Power in Aspen

HST on the Campaign Trail in Aspen in 1970.The Aspen Historical Society kicked off their popular program TIME TRAVEL TUESDAYs by showing a very rare documentary about HUNTER S. THOMPSON's infamous FREAK POWER campaign for Pitkin County Sheriff in 1970.  HIGH NOON in Aspen Revisited-- a film produced for the Brittish television network, ITV...a more liberal rival of the BBC, showed stunning footage of Aspen in 1970...along with a few familiar faces.

The ITV interpretation of the events pitted the "Goodies vs. Baddies" in an old western style showdown at High Noon...for the soul of Aspen.  The goodies...or the establishment supported incumbent Carrol Whitmire, while the long-haired hippies supported HST and a "free thinking" lifestyle.

Hunter S. Thompson entered the election on a whim, but began to take things more seriously as the possibility of a victory grew.  The highly contested election brought out over 70% of the voters in Pitkin County.  ITV made note that more than "1000 known freaks" lived in and around the woods of Aspen.  One goodie interviewed explained how the freaks voted early in the day...because "they have no work".

Aspen Mayor Eve Homeyer campaigned against HST.HIGH NOON has never been shown publicly in the United States before the Aspen Historical Society tracked down the very rare piece of film.  It's a must-view for anyone who has ever thought about going up against the man, likes HST or has an interest in Aspen History. Aspen Spin says "Highly Recommended".  One key scene revealed a young man in an Aspen Police uniform smoking reefer with a group of naked hippies at the hot springs.  It was revealed  later that he was actually the dog catcher--not a sworn officer.  Thompson's campaign carried the liberal City of Aspen, but the outlying Pitkin County voters shot him down.  A spirited panel discussion ensued. with people who were there in 1970.  Per Jay Cowens... many in Aspen at the time felt that long-hair was a good enough reason enough to scrap.   Marty Horowitz admitted that he came to Aspen in 1968 to "turn on, tune in and drop out". 

40 years later current Pitkin County Sheriff, the recently elected Joe DiSalvo traces his roots to HST.  In 1976, Dick Kienast was elected sheriff and he promoted a "live and let live" philosophy reminiscent of HST.  Kienast gave way to Bob Braudis whole officiated for 25 years and counted HST as a close friend.  DiSalvo is a Braudis disciple. 

FREAK POWER still lives in Aspen.

Harley Baldwin was anti-freak.

Freak Power


Jay Parker, Jay Cowens, Marty Horowitz, and Georgia Hanson. They were there in 1970, man.

  The Boyz of Buttermilk.

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Reader Comments (1)

Fabulous summary, Andrew. Slight corrections in the interest of historical accuracy. I believe the film was screened at Paepcke more than once over time, but then was lost and entered obscurity as the town moved on. Also, it is Jay Cowan.

Love what you have written - thank you!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgia Hanson

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