Dear KSL, Why do you have to ruin an already awful week on your mountain…with more awfulness on the internets? And why do you pretend you’re the victim? You, after all, never pay taxes. Oh, and what the fuck is a “massive 23 foot [sic] storm”? Is that like a misbegotten Point Break reference or something?

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Apparently Trump’s lashing out at people for protesting or lighting up the press for, you know, speaking up and doing their jobs is a virus that has empowered other aspiring oligarchs. And no oligarch is more oligarchical in their “small corner of the internet” (I have no idea what that means either) than private equity firm-owned Squaw Valley USA.

And before we start in on their ill-advised, undeniably naive and robustly damaging post that implores potential internet trolls to not troll them and uses the presidential playbook to stretch all bounds of truth and portray themselves as the victim, I would like to clarify something.

My comments are not directed at:

  • Any of the ever-loving, life-risking, hard-working, boots and beacons on the ground seasonal employees at Squaw. These are good men and women — the best, really — who, by no fault of their own, are employed by a private equity firm and are simply trying to wake up, do good work, come home safely and take care of their families right here in the Tahoe Basin.
  • The Cushing family or any of their direct descendants or the descendants’ white turtlenecks they’re forced to wear in order to keep collecting on their trust funds.
  • Squaw ambassadors “Big Air” Jonny Moseley or Julia Mancuso, her former kingpin father or even her line of underwear. What ever happened to that?
  • You. Yeah you. Drunk shredder bro trying to get with drunk shredder girl by paying for her hand roll at Mamasake* during happy hour. No, I’m not mad at you, unless your line is “Handroll for you now, hand-something-else for me later.” Just. Don’t.
  • The actual, verdant, extremely stunning, 22 kick-turn having piece of rooty earth and striking granite and snow-laden branches of knotty pine that leaves me breathless like Anastasia Steele on an express elevator every time I see you.
  • Shane.

My comments are directed solely at, 100 percent at, unequivocally at Squaw/Alpine’s parent company KSL Capital Partners, the Colorado-based private equity firm overlord that is hellbent on turning a parking lot into a shopping mall/water theme park/corporate retreat — more lanyards!

So here’s the post (hint: it’s long). If you don’t want to muddle through the fragments and the rationalizations that carry the tone of a person trying to make up an excuse for why their dating profile pic is from 17 years ago, basically it’s a super passive aggressive way of saying don’t mess with us under the guise of saying something positive.

And they use matinee skier trigger words like “share stoke” and “interact” and “passion” a bunch to get there:

I’d be willing to let it go as the late-night four-plus beers ramble you should’ve deleted by first light, but then, wait a minute, this happened: All the sudden our social community became a black hole for negativity. It became a place for trolls and haters to hide behind a keyboard and bash our family. And that’s not cool with us anymore.

Hahaha. Fuck man. I love “all of a sudden.” Does anything ever really happen all of a sudden? “I don’t know, I was just banging other girls for like three years, giving her 13 strains of HPV (that we know of), and all of a sudden she dumps me. Can you believe that bro?”

Yes. Yes we can.

Look KSL, you are a private equity firm.

That’s who us trolls and haters are mad at.

If you need a reminder of why we’re mad, click here. If you need a reminder of what KSL and private equity firms do, click on this infographic. If you’re too lazy to click, this is what they do:

  • They make money buying businesses in distress or undervalued (read: Squaw in 2010).
  • They maximize profits by laying off, pushing through capital improvements or consolidating with the end goal of selling off (see: Squaw 2011-present).
  • They take money from wealthy investors or large funds like pensions. Their risk was mitigated after the financial collapse of 2008 instituted have fewer rules and restrictions on their industry, thus they have more money to play with and more rope to hang themselves with — creating a tone of invincibility (see: again, Squaw).
  • Some of these firms (Blackstone, TPG, Apollo, Carlyle, Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area, Apax) have gotten so fucking big laying off, parting out and destroying companies their CEOs take (literally) close to a billion dollars in bonuses per year.
  • Once in awhile (or often) private equity firms make bad bets but through a series of loopholes that are bigger than when you first learned to tie your shoes, guess what? Yep, you guessed it. Even then they don’t lose. My favorite of the 10 or so tax breaks they enjoy is something called “carried interest.” Carried interest serves two purposes: 1) In exchange for heading up such a firm/fund, managers take a percentage of the fund’s profits. If they do not turn a profit they can also use carried interest to justify a preemptive dividend back to themselves to cover losses. So the top guns get paid if they win and especially when they lose and it is all subsidized by YOUR TAX DOLLARS. 2) They can also use carried interest to qualify for publicly traded partnership rules which means private equity firms avoid the corporate tax altogether.

So to clarify, not only do they pay themselves preemptively on losing ventures with tax dollars, but they don’t pay any taxes, period. No wonder KSL loves “the stoke.”

In other societies, this would be criminal, not rewarded behavior. They fleece the public for their time, money and literal blood and sweat and when the public — fed up, pent up, but virtually powerless and afraid — voices their opinion in opposition, they are in the wrong? They are they bully? Welcome to America at the twilight of capitalism gone unchecked.

KSL are the ones “hid(ing) behind a keyboard” …and hiding behind those keyboards is an army of fucking tax attorneys.

…Then comes this little nug. The kicker, the buried lede, the ultimatum:

So here’s where we stand. This social network we built is our home. And it was built for a place to share stoke. When you choose to visit our home, you don’t have to agree with everything you see and you can choose how you interact with it, but if you rant, spew hatred or bully our family and friends in our home we will break up with you. This behavior will no longer be tolerated.

OK, few things:

  • The social network belongs to Mark Zuckerberg (or Jesse Eisenberg if you like movies that sound like The West Wing) and his crazy-ass Hawaiian wall and his shareholders last I checked.
  • Save it with the “stoke” in this part, please. We know you like that word but doesn’t belong in the most stokeless and threatening paragraph ever written.
  • I think this physical place that is the internet has gone too far. Or is “our home” are you talking about an actual home, like the Chammy? I’m so fucking confused.
  • Again, where am I and with whom am I interacting? You just made me feel like I broke into your house, ran into your room, stole the vibrator from your bedside table, sat on it and said, “Look at me, I’m a carousel pony” and started chasing your children around as the humming from the device inside of me sounded eerily familiar to the Mork and Mindy theme. That may have not been what you meant, but that’s my takeaway.
  • ”Rant, spew, bully our family and friends in our home we will break up with you?” I mean, this is the conversation you tell your friends you had when you broke up with someone but you really just had it in your head. The real conversation was just a lot of “OKs” and “I’m sorrys.” Also, if it’s going to come to your rant and spew and bullying of my friends…with, um, this post, consider us already officially bro-ken.
  • This behavior will no longer be tolerated (<– Thanks for this one. My friends and I are playing a game of Did Trump/Squaw Say It? and this is gonna be a tricky one. Hint: Answer: BOTH!)

Then there’s other paragraphs with some stuff saying they’re not suits (heh) that they give 110% (#alternativefacts) and a bunch of filler about terrain and how decisions to open things are not decided in a board room (fuck, I hope not…I’ve been in your board rooms. Not where you want to be making any decisions this side of cinnamon raisin or sesame seed bagel. That and a dearth of a good ice sculpturists in Truckee is why Google hasn’t been back since like ‘09.)

So here’s the deal, I have nothing but love for the people who are out there grinding. This week if any reminds us that folks in the red jackets and a white cross over their hearts are literally out there putting their lives on the line on the mountain so trolls like me can go out and get that snow-stapled perma-grin south of their noses. There has been and continues to be a tremendous outpouring of grief and hope and loss and community in the wake of patroller Joe Zuiches’ death last week but that came from the people, not from the company.

Posts advising how we should/should not address a private equity firm in public online forums are ill-timed, ill-advised and frankly, make those of us in the community feel a little dirty and a little used. (BTW, this is Zuiches’ GoFundMe, rip open that Velcro wallet and give. Yeah bro, I’m talking to you. Put the fork down and go find your card. Right now. I’ll wait.)

That’s about all I got KSL. Now go forth, follow your own advice and quit whining. Or maybe next time try posting something like this:

Skiers, riders, greater Lake Tahoe community and friends of Squaw:

We are in a state of shock and deep mourning over the loss of patroller Joe Zuiches. The job he did, every day, with passion and clarity carries risks, but any injury or death on the mountain is ultimately unnecessary and a loss no words will ever salve. We understand your fears, your frustrations and your worries about the future of the mountain can manifest when the worst-case scenario strikes. As a corporation that “owns” and leverages this piece of land we know, philosophically, that it is part of this planet and that belongs to everyone. But we also play by the loose rules of capitalism and the society we live in. Sometimes you may question or not like what we do. Sometimes you may think it unfair. Sometimes, life simply does not go the way you think it should. Know this: our online forums are a free repository for expression. You can show us your hopes, your requests, your fears and your concerns and we will take it all with the utmost seriousness and concern. We may not be able to do anything about it (see: private equity firm) but we will listen and we will try. If this week has shown us anything it’s that in the end we are all people trying to make it go and nothing…nothing is equivalent to a loss of a life. But those of us who remain here for now must at baseline treat tragedy as a mandate to live better, to do more and to help one another. We too, in spite of our flaws and our differences, will redouble our attempts to be mindful of that, and to be there for you, our loyal patrons and our extended Squaw family.

It might not solve everything, but it would be a start.

#TrollSquaw #TrollKSL #SquawpaTROLL

*Ed note: We understand Mamasake is closed. We just sometimes wish it was, and use jokes from, 2009.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Bummed I just wasted 5 mins of my day reading this ill informed, nonsensical article. I could disect all that is wrong with it but then I’d waste another 20-40 mins.

      • Hello Andrew,
        Thank you for your words and incisive critic of SV Ski Holdings and Overloard KSL. They lost a valuable member of the family, community, and have a mountain full of employees hurting from that loss, and yet feel compelled to play “THE DONALD” in banning dissension and negativity from their Facebook page, instead of paying homage to a lost life, and his wife and child.
        I am feeling somewhat guilty for this, as it was my e-mail letter to Any Wirth that seems to have set this gale a blowing. I did not post it on their site, only my own Facebook page, as well as their rebuttal. Friends of mine put it on their site and things went sideways in the big valley. I am proud of what I wrote, and I believe whole heartedly in what I had to say. It’s the truth as i see it, and I could no longer stand by and not let those thoughts and feelings fester.

  2. This community has been overrun by KSL, ruining the atmosphere at two ski areas in under five years. Now in their seventh season, they have taken the bad blood created, and turn it into this. I am not a Troll, I am a man of conviction and honesty, ethical and respectful, but when I have been disrespected time and again, then I believe the proper disrespect must be returned. These are not large things, and feel petty, not empowered, when so many worse things are happing in our world.
    I still harbor the strongest love and respect for the men and women who toil everyday in the on- mountain operations at Squaw and Alpine, while feeling angered, and dismayed be the many who had spent their lives in this pursuit, only to be summarily dismissed by this new ownership/management group for no real reason but the price of that tenure in salary.

    Remember Joe! Sincerely, Erik Hurst

  3. Erik- Thank you for taking a stand against tyrannnical member of the tahoe community. The momentum is swinging out of their favor and it is only a matter of time before they fall on their face. The sooner the better.

Comments are closed.