Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: Another lion roars no more
Art Kittay was a cranky ol’ windbag – profane, always vehement and occasionally very, very funny.In the mood, he’d call you at work or call you at home, and you couldn’t get him off the phone. I’d do whole commentary sections while mostly listening. Several days’ worth, sometimes.I remember one weekend morning seeing my then-young son pick up the phone and his eyes widen and widen. Finally he said, “Some guy named Art? I think he wants to talk to you.”Oh dear God. … “Hello?””Listen, $%&$@ … !”Invariably, I’d laugh. And then be on the line for the next hour, no matter what else I had planned.My opinions generally were all wrong. Sometimes we’d agree, though Art never would admit such. He’d tell me about his shooting range in the basement with Yassir Arafat targets in hopes of getting a rise out of me, I suppose. He usually had some public official or another in his verbal crosshairs. He told me once, “Listen, $#$%&*, you’ll know when I’m really mad at you. I won’t talk to you at all.””Promise?” It was a joke. But the day did come. Art’s loyalties were steel, and I think he felt I’d done a friend wrong. He never said. He just stopped calling.I missed the calls, sure. On the other hand, I could pick up the phone again without fear of being stuck for the next hour or so. It never occurred to me to hang up on the guy. I had too much respect for him. God, he was a grouchy bastard, and we certainly didn’t think alike, but still I liked him. Not many people live with the moment-by-moment passion that Art did. He died last week of a heart aneurysm in California. It’s been a bad year for people I’ve viewed as lions passing on. Dick Hauserman. Brooks Thomas. Now Art.Art didn’t help found Vail, like Hauserman. Or bring a bit more of the intellectual world to Vail, like Thomas.He moved to Vail in the 1970s, and he brought the town’s ban on semiautomatic weapons to a referendum, in which the voters narrowly upheld the ban. Then he moved downvalley, where he could see my cabin on the creek from his perch. Always above. Mostly, though, he simply knew an awful lot of people and never failed to weigh in with what he thought, not particularly concerned with how he said it.There wasn’t a splinter of P.C. in him. He definitely marched to the beat of his own drum, unapologetically. That is to say Art was an original, one of our great characters. He stopped talking to me, sure. But I’ll miss him just the same.Don Rogers is the editor and publisher of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2920. He welcomes your comments at http://www.vaildaily.com.