August 23, 2007
So who flipped the switch?Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t it seem much quieter around here this week? There are actually parking spaces to be had in town without having to fight for them. Tables at Zélé are available at non-peak hours, even some of the outside ones. You can actually get a newspaper from the racks after 8:45 a.m.Yes, it’s just Aug. 24, but it seems that there is a change of season in the wind and, with it, a quieter, gentler downtown core.The Aspen Music Festival and School may be the thing that most significantly impacts Aspen’s population count in the summer months. I’m sure there are figures somewhere – a count of how many students, teachers and support musicians lay their heads down for so many nights; economic studies that count the financial impact and estimate the number of bodies that come here for “the season,” as some refer to the time that the festival is in session. I haven’t seen them, but I can tell you without equivocation, that the numbers are substantial and growing.This past Monday, I was on a flight into Sardy Field, and we had to circle three times because there was so much outgoing private jet traffic that landings were given short shrift. It seemed to me that ACRA ought to conspire with the control tower to make sure folks coming in get priority while folks going out have to wait a bit.The passengers in those jets were likely not music students, at least I don’t think they were, but in this day and age you just never know. More likely, however, the passengers were either patrons of the arts or presidential candidates. It is an interesting phenomenon that we are the stop of choice for presidential candidates in the summertime. While, no doubt, Walter Isaacson’s personal salon is a magnet, and our 4,000 or so votes are as important as any other 4,000 votes in this great democracy, I think the presidential candidates are here because the art patrons are here. That is to say: Follow the money. In American politics today the only sure thing is candidates follow the cash, and we are where cash is king.It is a very special feeling, I’m sure, to fly into Aspen on your own plane for the summer, do a little hiking, listen to a performance by Joshua Bell that you have so graciously sponsored and then host a couple of visits from folks who aspire to be the next head of the free world. It must make leaving difficult.Ah, but the seasons change, and we are on the cusp of the close of the season of Food & Wine, summer music, Ideas Fest and Healthy Choice confabs. Next up is the Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ late-summer edition, and then it is back to reality. Or as I like to call it, offseason.My favorite time of year.
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