BY STERLING GREENWOOD 7/2/03 (uploaded from Aspen Free Press street edition.)

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS ON ITS TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY.

I REMEMBER ASKING FRIENDS HERE, WHEN I ARRIVED TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO, IF THERE WERE A LOCAL DAILY NEWSPAPER.

"NO, JUST A WEEKLY," THEY SAID. "THE ASPEN TIMES."

I LOOKED IN THE YELLOW PAGES OF THE PHONE BOOK AND SAW LISTED THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS.

HOW COULD MY FRIENDS NOT BE AWARE OF A DAILY NEWSPAPER IN THEIR TOWN?

I SHOWED THE YELLOW PAGE LISTING TO KALETA DOOLIN WHO USED TO BE MARRIED TO STEVE WYSBERG, JOHN DENVER'S LEAD GUITAR PLAYER.

"WELL, IF THERE'S NO DAILY NEWSPAPER HERE," I SAID, POINTING TO THE LISTING, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?"

HER MOUTH DROPPED OPEN.

"W-E-L-L . . . I DON'T KNOW," SHE SAID. "I'VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF IT."

LATER AT THE OLD ASPEN BAR AND GRILL IN MILL STREET STATION, , I MET A DRUNK GUY IN THE MEN'S ROOM.

"I'VE GOT THE BEST JOB IN TOWN,"HE SMILED, COMBING HIS HAIR. "I WORK FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY AND MAKE ENOUGH TO PAY RENT."

I ASKED HIM WHAT HE DID.

"I WORK AT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS," HE SAID.

"FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY? I SAID. "YOU MUST BE THE PUBLISHER."

"NO I JUST DELIVER THE DAMN THINGS," HE SAID. "I PICK THEM UP AT THE PRINTER AND THEN GO AROUND TO THAT DUMPSTER IN THE ALLEY NEXT TO ANDRE'S AND DUMP THEM."

WE BOTH LAUGHED. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO ASK WHAT THE NEWSPAPER LOOKED LIKE OR WHY THERE WERE NO RACKS FOR IT IN TOWN. A NEWSPAPER LOOKS LIKE A NEWSPAPER, RIGHT?

THE NEXT DAY I FOUND THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS OFFICE. IT WAS A CLOSET-SIZED SPACE UPSTAIRS IN A BUILDING ON COOPER NEAR COOPER STREET PIER, BUT NO ONE WAS EVER THERE.

I MADE PHONE CALLS TO THE NUMBER LISTED IN THE YELLOW PAGESAND ONLY GOT AN ANSWERING SERVICE. FINALLY I GOT A CALL BACK FROM A GUY WITH A RADIO DISK JOCKEY'S VOICE WHO IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS DAVE DANFORTH.

WE MET LATER AT A WOMEN'S SOFTBALL GAME WHERE HE GAVE MASSAGES TO THE TEAM MEMBERS WITH STIFF MUSCLES. THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS SPONSORED THE TEAM JOINTLY WITH ASPEN STATE TEACHERS COLLEGE WHICH WASN'T A REAL COLLEGE. AND I WAS BEGINNING TO SUSPECT THAT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS WASN'T A REAL NEWSPAPER EITHER.

BETWEEN STROKES ON SOME WOMAN'S LEG, DANFORTH -- SUAVE AND ARTICULATE IN A MCGOVERN/SHRIVER T-SHIRT -- TOLD ME ALL ABOUT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS AND ITS DEDICATION EDITORIALLY TO BOTH OPEN FORUM AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM. BUT I STILL COULDN'T VISUALIZE THE NEWSPAPER CLEARLY -- I MEAN AS A PHYSICAL PRODUCT -- BECAUSE DANFORTH JUST COULDN'T BRING HIMSELF RIGHT OFF TO TELL ME IT WAS ONLY ONE SHEET.

IN AN EMOTIONAL BUILDUP TO THIS DISCLOSURE, AND WITH A LOOK REMINISCENT OF RHETT BUTLER'S IN "GONE WITH THE WIND," WHEN HIS DAUGHTER DIED, DANFORTH ALLOWED HOW HE, HIMSELF, WAS DYING OF LEUKEMIA AND NEEDED MY HELP. "I'M GETTING MY BLOOD STRAINED WEEKLY," HE SAID.

WHEN I STARTED WORKING AT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS (FIRST AS ASSOCIATE EDITOR/DISTRIBUTOR, THEN EDITOR), DANFORTH AND I WOULD DATE THE FEMALE JOB APPLICANTS WHO FLEW OUT TO ASPEN TO BE INTERVIEWED. THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS REGULARLY RAN 'HELP WANTED' ADS IN EDITOR AND PUBLISHER MAGAZINE. AND THERE WERE ALWAYS OPENINGS.

DANFORTH WAS REAL SMOOTH ON THE PHONE WHICH RANG DAY AND NIGHT FROM JOURNALISTS ALL ACROSS THE U.S. IN RESPONSE TO OUR NATIONALLY-CIRCULATED "HELP WANTED" ADS. DANFORTH WOULD WARM UP THE CALLERS FOR THIRTY MINUTES OR SO BEFORE EASING THEM INTO THE REVELATION THAT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS ITSELF, RESEMBLED NOTHING SO MUCH AS ONE SOLITARY SHEET OF TYPING PAPER WITH TYPING ON IT UNDER A MASTHEAD. IT CALLED TO MIND A BIRTHDAY PRESENT I GOT IN SECOND GRADE -- A KID'S KIT ON HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN NEWSPAPER IN THIRTY MINUTES. DANFORTH'S CONTAGIOUS ENTHUSIASM FOR HIS JOURNALISTIC ENDEAVOR NEVER WANED, HOWEVER, DURING THESE SOMETIMES MARATHON PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH APPLICANTS, THE RESULT BEING THAT MANY NEWS REPORTERS WITH IMPRESSIVE CREDENTIALS FOUND THEMSELVES UNDER HIS SPELL, CLAMORING LONG-DISTANCE FOR A CHANCE AT ONCE TO MOVE TO ASPEN AND WRITE FOR 'THE NATION'S SMALLEST DAILY.'

ONE TIME, THOUGH, DANFORTH GOT DISTRACTED SOMEHOW AND HAD TO GET OFF THE PHONE WITH CALIFORNIA JOURNALIST BARBARA HAHN BEFORE HE GOT TO THE PART OF HIS SPIEL ABOUT WHAT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS LOOKED LIKE. HAHN BOUGHT HER AIRLINE TICKET FROM SAN FRANCISCO AND ARRIVED IN ASPEN ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON. SHE TOOK A MELLOW YELLOW TAXI INTO TOWN.

, THE DRIVER ASKED HAHN WHAT HER PLANS WERE.

"I'M HERE TO APPLY FOR THE POSITION OF EDITOR AT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS," HAHN SAID.

THE DRIVER PICKED UP A CRUMPLED SHEET OF PAPER OFF HIS FRONT SEAT. MOCKISHLY HOLDING IT BY A CORNER WITH HIS THUMB AND FOREFINGER AND OUT AWAY FROM HIMSELF LIKE IT MIGHT BE TOXIC OR SOMETHING (I THINK THE DAILY NEWS WAS PINK THAT DAY). HE SAID, "YOU MEAN THIS PIECE OF SHIT?"

HAHN GOT THE DRIVER TO LET HER OUT IMMEDIATELY. SHE WENT INTO THE JEROME BAR AND GOT DRUNK.

LATER THAT NIGHT AT DANFORTH'S HOUSE -- WHICH HE DESCRIBED WITH SWELLED CHEST AS THE BIGGEST TRAILER IN THE PARK -- DANFORTH ACCUSED HAHN OF USING TOO MUCH TOILET PAPER. SHE LEFT THE NEXT MORNING IN A HUFF ON THE FIRST PLANE OUT. SLEEPY-EYED AND HUNG OVER, I DROVE HER TO THE AIRPORT. ON MY WAY BACK, THERE WERE REPORTS OF GUNFIRE IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA. COPS HAD CORNERED A LOCAL MAN, ALLEGEDLY WITH A GUN WHOM THEY HAD PURSUED ALL NIGHT IN A HIGH-SPEED CAR CHASE. ROADBLOCKS HAD EVEN BEEN ERECTED TO KEEP THE SUSPECT IN TOWN, BUT THE NEXT TIME COPS SAW HIM HE WAS DRIVING BACK INTO TOWN HELL FOR LEATHER AND RAN SMACK THROUGH THE ROADBLOCKS SET UP TO KEEP HIM FROM EVER LEAVING IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE MAN, NOW A PROMINENT LOCAL FIGURE IN HIGH FINANCE, TOOK REFUGE IN A DOCTOR'S HOUSE WITH POLICE IN HOT PURSUIT. THEN A GUN WENT OFF UPSTAIRS, APPARENTLY ACCIDENTALLY, AND THE COPS OUTSIDE, USING SHRUBS IN THE YARD FOR COVER, JUMPED LIKE FROGS WHEN YOU FIRE A SHOTGUN INTO A POND. .LATER I DICTATED MY STORY ABOUT ALL THIS TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS FROM A SEEDY PHONE BOOTH IN THE LOBBY OF THE HOTEL JEROME.. ANOTHER DAY HAD BEGUN FOR ME IN ASPEN, ALL THE MORE COLORFUL BECAUSE OF MY ASSOCIATION WITH DAVE DANFORTH AND THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS.

WHEN WE DOUBLED THE SIZE OF THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS FROM ONE SHEET (8 1/2" X 14") TO ONE FOLDED SHEET (17" X 14"), PEOPLE WOULD PICK IT UP AND FRANTICALLY TRY TO SHAKE IT APART, THINKING THAT TWO PAGES HAD SOMEHOW STUCK TOGETHER --THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE THE PAPER HAD GROWN

THAT WAS WHEN THEY QUIT LAUGHING AT US AT THE ASPEN TIMES.

THE ASPEN FLYER, PUBLISHED BY PEGGY CLIFFORD, AUTHOR OF "TO ASPEN AND BACK," WAS THE FIRST MINIATURE DAILY NEWSPAPER IN ASPEN. IT WAS MIMEOGRAPHED ON TYPING PAPER. THE ASPEN TIMES PURCHASED THE ASPEN FLYER AND EXPANDED IT TO A FULL-SIZED TABLOID WEEKLY BEFORE RETIRING IT IN THE MID EIGHTIES.

I LOVED MY TIME WORKING AT THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS.

TUESDAY JULY 1, 2003, THE ASPEN DAILY NEWS, NOW A FULL-SIZED TABLOID AND STILL FREE OF CHARGE TO READERS, BECAME TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. IT'S BIRTHDAY EDITION CONTAINED THIRTY-SIX PAGES PLUS INSERTS WITH SOME FORTY STAFFERS ARE LISTED ON THE MASTHEAD, UP THIRTY-SEVEN FROM WHEN I WAS EDITOR. RICK CARROLL IS THE EDITOR NOW AND GREG NEBEL, GENERAL MANAGER, BUT DAVE DANFORTH REMAINS AT THE HELM, ALIVE AND SEEMINGLY WELL, RUMORS OF HIS IMPENDING DEATH TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO APPARENTLY EXAGGERATED.