TELLURIDE, Colo. - With his long, graying beard and hair, a brightly knitted cap on his head, Art Goodtimes stands out in any crowd. He calls himself a paleohippie, the prefix indicating ancient or prehistoric. A native of San Francisco, the son of a postal carrier, he attended a Jesuit seminary before making his way into the broader world, ending up in Telluride 30 years ago.
Goodtimes - his given name was Arturo Bontempi - cannot easily be typecast. He regularly and unashamedly attends the Rainbow Family of Living Light festivals held each summer in some mountain meadow in the West. Just as reliably, he can be seen at conferences hither and thither across Colorado and elsewhere in the West, intently listening while his hands busily hook rugs. Whether the performers on stage are poets or politicians seems to matter not at all.
He's a politician himself, a three-term commissioner in San Miguel County. Telluride itself is resolutely Democratic, although Goodtimes formally affiliated with the Green Party. His politics, however, are strictly pragmatic. After all, he maintains his home 30 miles west of Telluride in conservative Norwood, a ranching centre.
But what is most memorable about Goodtimes is neither his profile nor his politics. Rather, it's his voice. His voice booms. Indoors, it fills up every corner of a large room. Outdoors, it can echo across valleys. If you heard the voice first, before seeing the individual, you'd be absolutely sure that some kind of Paul Bunyan figure was the source of the timbre. Making this all the more remarkable is that Goodtimes, if barrel-chested, is barely 5-foot-6.
Writing in his weekly column in The Telluride Watch , Goodtimes discloses that he is also unusual in another respect: he never skied in his first three decades in Telluride. It was, he explains, a matter of money and time.
However, he made sure his kids learned to ski. And now his youngest son, Gorio, has insisted he learn to ski, too. Goodtimes, with a re-election under his belt last November, gamely agreed, bought a six-day ski pass and consented to be schooled by his son.
"He liked the role reverse," writes Goodtimes. "And he was a good teacher. Not telling me too much. Letting me find out for myself things like balance and speed and how to stop while standing on two boards racing down a slippery slope... Truth is, I loved it."
Next year? Yes, another six-day pass, confirms Goodtimes. "After 30 years living in San Miguel County, I finally feel like a native. I can run a chainsaw and make turns."