Famous for its ski bums, Aspen also has a modest contingent of real bums -- although the homeless shelter downtown isn't exactly as celebrated as the haunts of the 1 percenters. But that may soon change. Fresh on the heels of the uproar over the new sociology study The Slums of Aspen, aspiring songwriter John Baker is seeking to promote his elite status as a "homeless bum of Aspen" into a full-fledged career as a multifaceted, folksy entertainer...kind of a John Denver for the rest of us.
Baker, 53, arrived in Aspen last month. He's a former teacher with a degree in culinary arts from Mesa State College. According to this profile in the Aspen Times, he's also the uncle of rapper Machine Gun Kelly. But Baker hasn't had his nephew's success in the music world; he's been homeless and drifting for a couple of years now.
But that hasn't dimmed his entrepreneurial spirit. After meeting up with a down-and-out, harmonica-playing comedian at the Aspen shelter, a fellow identified on their website only as James, Baker figured there might be something marketable in being broke in one of America's wealthiest communities. He and James cranked out a performance of Baker's new song, "The Homeless Bums of Aspen," in a local bus shelter and are shooting for viral success (as an anthem for Occupiers?) on YouTube.
The pair have a Twitter account and big dreams. "Did I mention that we want to pitch to the networks a television pilot called 'The Homeless Bums of Aspen?'" Baker writes on his website. "It would be a comedy of tragic proportions. We've already got plenty of background actors in place and ready to work. We need an agent as well to pitch it, preferably one who owns in Aspen and Malibu. I figure we can crash at your place in Malibu once in awhile and you can crash here at the shelter in Aspen (no drinkypoos)."
Baker also hopes to see a movie made of his novella, The Bad News Culinary Students from Grand Junction, Colorado, but that's another story. Check out the duo's debut number below, and the accompanying sing-along lyrics:
We're the homeless bums of Aspen Ten times better than Vail Charlie Sheen's ex ain't gettin' any sex She's in the Pitkin County jail
We're the homeless bums of Aspen Livin' the American Dream Drinkin' whiskey all day, smokin' chronic all night And snortin' everything in between
We're the homeless bums of Aspen Doin' every thing to survive You can find us in the park Throw a C-Note in the jar Or we'll break into your mother fucking car
We're the homeless bums of Aspen We've thrown away all of our cares And we know you can't hear it But we're richer in spirit Than all the fuckin' millionaires
Yeah we know you can't hear it But we're richer in spirit Than all the fuckin' Billionaires
More from our Shmuck of the Week archive: "Brooke Mueller, Shmuck: Will she out-Charlie Sheen her ex in Aspen?"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.