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BB&Begone

All good things must come to an end. I guess.Add BB&B to the list of casualties in an insidious war by the Pleasure Police aimed at sucking all vestiges of fun, anything remotely smacking of wild spontaneity, right out of the fabric of ski-town life.First the Great Race, a crazed and often drugged and drunken rite of spring involving a bizarre parade in Lionshead. Axed by the Good-times Gestapo.Then it was New Year’s and the Fourth of July on Bridge Street, teen traditions that brought a crush of humanity, a wave of runaway hormones and a sea of vomiting and violent youths into the heart of the village two nights a year. Done in by the Debauchery Cops.Now the Forest Service has announced it will close Minnie’s Deck on Vail Mountain for all of April this ski season in order to shut down BB&B, a 20-year, end-of-the-season, grass-roots ritual held on the second Tuesday of the month.Add Vail’s BB&B to the growing list of distant memories in ski towns like Crested Butte, where naked skiing has been nipped in the butt, and Grand Targhee, where uptight and overly PC guests forced the resort to rename Mary’s Nipple, an area originally named for a sporadically clothed barmaid in the ’70s.Now the “ski experience” is sanitized and canned for mass consumption, and true ski bums are a rapidly dying breed being replaced by imported labor and career-minded recreation specialists.I’ll be honest, I attended only two BB&B’s in my 10-plus years in Vail. The first one was in the early ’90s, and I was a full participant. I don’t remember much about it.The last time I went was just a couple of years ago, and it was clear to me then that it was becoming a victim of its own success, with rank amateurs passing out in the woods and others trying to ride down the mountain after a day of heavy ingesting. It’s a minor miracle no one died the last few years.Such collateral damage would be acceptable if we weren’t living in the land of the lawsuit, where the parents of a frozen reveler would sue the crap out of the ski area and the Forest Service for not shutting down BB&B and allowing their precious offspring to pass out face-first in a tree well.So with the right to sue comes a free pass on personal responsibility and a death warrant for wild parties like BB&B, although I suspect some other version of it will crop up somewhere.If it does, note to the underground organizers: Don’t notify the press; they’re part of the problem in recent years. In my days in daily journalism in the valley, we adhered to an unwritten code and never reported on BB&B beforehand, instead covering it after the fact and in a very offhand way.One year we sent an intern, who came back slightly blasted with a quote from a guy named Tim Berwolf. Underground means underexposed, but BB&B had become big news. That was another nail in its coffin.David O. Williams has been an editor and writer in the Vail Valley for more than 10 years, and is proud of the fact that he finally managed to write a column this week without mentioning Ryan Sutter. E-mail him at dwilliams@vailtrail.com.


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