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Kisses and hiss

Su Lum

Only one hiss, but a big one, to Aspen Valley Hospital for dramatically altering the severance pay policy section of its employee manual, just three weeks before the Great Sacking of 2004. That is about as low as you can get.However, Aspen Valley Hospital rates a kiss for sending out a timely and unambiguous bill within days of my overnight there with pneumonia a couple of months ago. HIGH (24 hours, $5,500!), but prompt and clear.Kisses to Brent Gardner-Smith for spiffing up KAJX with good local news coverage and other improvements. I’d like more alternative radio and a down-to-the-bone call-in talk show.Kisses to Greg Poschman et al for the Freddie Fisher 100th birthday party at the Red Onion.Kisses as always to the farmer’s market. I’ve been freezing the shelling peas because their season is so short, and this year I’ll freeze a lot more sweet corn and peaches to get through the winter. We clearly love the farmer’s market, and it gets better every summer.But the blue ribbon kiss-getter this year goes to Jim Horowitz of Janus Jazz Aspen/Snowmass for bringing four days of free music on the mall and a free gospel concert by The Mighty Clouds of Joy at noon on Sunday under the big top at Rio Grande Park.I’ve lived in Aspen for 40 years, so I know what people mean when they talk about bringing back the messy vitality we used to have here, and I saw it in action in the mall during the Jazz Festival. Bands who had late-night gigs at the local clubs played hour-long spots from 2-6 p.m. on a well-equipped bandstand by Wagner Park, and people came like lemmings on a mission.Chairs and tables that had been set out were quickly filled, while others stood, most of them dancing. They came on bikes, in wheelchairs, with dogs, on foot – ancient people and babies, even people of color relieving the tedium of the lily white. And the thing of it was: everybody was smiling.Everybody was digging it!Jim Horowitz does an incredible job with the Jazz Fest, and this year he really brought it to the people. I don’t go to the big-name events due to claustrophobia and the late hour, but the afternoon events were terrific.There’s got to be some way to continue the energy that was generated this weekend. I can’t picture a carload of tourists being intercepted by a chamber of commerce and convinced to stay the night, but I can sure as hell imagine those tourists checking out the mall, hearing the first-class bands that were playing there and deciding to stay for all four days.What good publicity for their nightclub shows, for the bands to be able to strut their stuff before crowds on the mall in the afternoon. How to pay for it? A messy vitality tax? Rent restaurateurs little booths, as they do at the Janus Jazz tent, where they can sell samples of what will hopefully bring the people to their doors for dinner?Beer and liquor should definitely be served, and there could be an ACRA booth where people could make instant reservations if the whim struck.Nightclubs, seeing the numbers the daytime shows drew, might reconsider their scheduling strategy and start their entertainment earlier. All I know is that I was out on the mall all four days plus down to the tent for the gospel music, and I hardly ever go anywhere.Su Lum is a longtime local who thought it was great. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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