February 24, 1992 12:00 PM

by Ted Conover

He heard the city was “like a pretty, rich girl with a reputation for being bad.” Naturally, Ted Conover wanted to check it out for himself, recording his observations in saline non-fiction. He began by eavesdropping on Aspen from behind the wheel of a Mellow Yellow cab. Trouble was, some of his colleagues didn’t like the fact that he displayed neither facial hair nor earring. They thought he was a narc. So the cabbie took a step down: He became a journalist, reporting for the local weekly.

There was plenty to write about. According to Whiteout, Aspen’s three biggest imports are drugs, celebrities and gawkers: “You don’t need to go to the movies to see Schwarzenegger; he’s on the street. You don’t need to turn on Oprah—she’s on the slopes.” Before he knew it, Conover had been co-opted, raising a glass at Don Johnson’s Christmas party, listening tamely to the UFO babble of new agers. He was also told that yeast infection could annihilate the human species. “It causes a lot of gas, right?”

So does the town, and two years later Conover realized that the ski runs were not the only thing going downhill. He headed for Denver. But not before making notes for this impudent and comic travel book. (Random House, $20)

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