CON GAMES: Aspen Conspiracy Theories

Michael Conniff
Jul 18, 2006 · 3 min read

Begin your bad novel this way, with a series of unfortunate events.

The convicted CEO dies unexpectedly of heart trouble heretofore undetected in Old Snowmass pending appeal. Then the former Secretary of State, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becomes mysteriously ill and goes to the hospital after a meal in downtown Aspen with the former President of the United States.

The former President jets off for the World Cup final, and within minutes, or so it seems, he is seen far from Aspen, waving to the crowd in Germany. The former Saudi Ambassador to the United States puts his Starwood fortress on the block in Aspen for $135 million. Before you know it, war breaks out between Israel and Hamas on the Gaza Strip, and between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Coincidence? You think not, because you know all there is to know about conspiracies at the highest reaches of government. You are not naïve in the workings of the world. You have seen the Oliver Stone film about the Kennedy assassination. You know from grassy knolls. You know there are puppeteers out there, men and perhaps a few women who pull the strings. You know things are never what they seem. You have seen the show “24.”

And what better place than Aspen for a conspiracy, with all of the interlocking pieces of the Lego set owned by the lockjawed rich and infamous in lockstep. Put a piece here and another piece moves over there. Dominos fall in this game. Entire countries can be wiped from the face of the earth.

Is it true? Does it need to be? Will we ever know?

The great postmodern psychosis about never knowing anything absolutely comes home to roost in Aspen this summer like a bad movie that won’t go away. Former Enron CEO Ken Lay dies, and letters to the editor sail through snail mail like there’s no tomorrow. Ken Lay lives! Or so they say. President George W. Bush had him killed. No — he’s off somewhere off the coast of Far Tortuga sipping my tais and slipping his finger under bikini straps.

“I want to see the body,” a friend tells you. “I want to poke him.”

Another friend tells you a close friend of a friend was there that night and that Ken Lay is dead. But you never know. You have not seen Ken Lay dead with your own eyes.

There are theories swirling around the world and back that say that a plane never struck the Pentagon on 9/11. But you know a man in traffic that day by the Pentagon when the plane came wheezing overheard and crashed within his sight. He saw the plane crash with his own eyes. He took out a camera from his trunk and he started to squeeze off pictures of the plane and the Pentagon that later appeared in famous magazines around the world. He had the only shots of what happened right after the plane hit. I’ve seen them. That’s good enough for me. He was there.

Someone calls your radio show and fills your ear about how Building 7 exploded at the World Trade Center on 9/11. There’s talk of horizontal plumes and neoconservatives and otherwise inexplicable explosions.

The world works in strange ways because we are stranger still.

Con Games

Words of Michael Conniff: fiction, non-fiction, journalism…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store