Time for a hug o’ war
September 8, 2007
Why is everyone trying to pick a fight in Aspen these days? Lots of angry letters to the editor lately.
I got the building department called on me for refinishing a wood floor in Aspen the other day. It’s not under their jurisdiction and requires no permit, but they asked that we let them know when we were going to be working so they could deal with the inevitable barrage of false alarm calls they would get. Next I will have to go on a “Registered Construction Workers List” so you can keep your kids from playing in my yard.
I am a fifth-generation Aspenite and now a first-generation Bolivian citizen through marriage; the richest and poorest places in the world. Bolivia has a constitution based on our own. They have lots of laws against violent crime and corruption, yet muggings and bribes are considered as normal there as idling in the S-curves is here.
We can make new laws against motorcycles or construction, give out fines for “not finishing your peas” since that could attract bears, not allow big hotels because it will “lead us down the wrong path toward total dependence on the high-end tourist dollar.” (Who said that? Yogi Berra or the mayor?)
Huge natural gas wells, rich gold, copper and tin mines, even the second-highest coca leaf reserves in the world, haven’t lifted Bolivia from poverty. Just like it is actually possible to lose money on real estate in Aspen if your judgment is bad enough.
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Countries and states and cities are what they are because of the people in them, the decisions and actions of those people and, especially, how the people chose to treat one another. This area has been beautiful for millions of years. The TOWN became great because Hollywood stars and Wall Street gurus came here to chill out and dress down with the construction workers and hippies and real estate agents and cooks and whoever else they happened to run into. VIP and “exclusive” were not part of the local dialect; we all left the political and social one-upmanship somewhere else.
The only way for Aspen to be the way we want it to be is for US to be the Aspen we all remember (or pretend to). You cannot legislate a heart, so don’t try. Simply, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Since quoting Jesus is tantamount to sacrilege in Aspen, let’s try this:
“The law can change from state to state, from nation to nation, from city to city. I guess I have to go by a higher law. How’s that? Yeah, I consider myself a road man for the lords of karma.” – Hunter S. Thompson