They call him Bosco. And there's no one quite like him. A fiery mélange of Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson, Bosco brought an edge (and a refreshingly twisted sense of humour) to Whistler culture that, in many ways, defined the place. Alas, that edge pretty much disappeared when he left the valley for good in the early 1990's. And we've all been poorer for it.
In his heyday, Bosco was one of the most potent voices of the Whistler counterculture. No matter what went down in the valley - serious, ridiculous, pretentious or lame -it was all fodder for his surprisingly sophisticated pen. In his role as the outlaw copy editor of the legendary underground Whistler Answer , he poked fun at all manner of sacred cows in this community. And he got a rise out of just about everyone.
Bosco was loved and reviled; respected and derided. And it didn't matter to him one bit. As far as he was concerned, you were either on the bus or you were under it...
"You can write whatever you want," Whistler's once-reigning enfant terrible tells me. "Because it's all true." He booms out with a huge belly laugh. "I lived large. Took big risks. And I paid the price. But it's all-good, you know. My attitude now is better than it's ever been. I'm not bitter about the past one bit."
Still, he says, Whistler stories are often hard to bear. "It's so mixed up in good and bad memories for me. I'd rather not think too much about that time." And then he laughs.
Bob Colebrook has indeed paid the price for his extreme lifestyle. A Victoria resident now, and suffering from Type 2 diabetes, the still-loquacious 58-year-old doesn't get outside much anymore. "I can hardly walk now," he says. "No circulation. And I'm probably gonna lose my left leg at the knee." He stops talking. Sighs. "But that could be next week or next year. Still I'm prepared. It's kinda like losing a sore tooth now..."
And he goes on to explain. "I felt very sick when I was first diagnosed. Got into the whole 'sick man' routine." Another long pause. "But I snapped out of it," he says, "when they started fitting me up for a wheelchair. That's when I decided to fight back. 'Forget it, man,' I said to myself. You gotta be stronger than all that negative shit." He smiles happily. "So that's my attitude now. I'm a fighter all the way."
No surprise there. A battler for most of his life, Bosco is the kind of guy who's never met a challenge he didn't answer. But lest you think I'm dramatising his current situation, listen to his words in a particularly unguarded moment: "You know," he says, "it happens three or four times a year that I dream of skiing again. These are very vivid dreams. And it's wonderful. It feels so good to let the laws of physics pull you down the mountain at dangerously high speeds again."