Lum: Let them eat dirt |

Lum: Let them eat dirt

Su Lum

There are a couple of disgruntled women in town who are garnering a lot of ink in the papers. I wouldn’t add to it, but the community needs to be warned — even over-warned — of the consequences of their personal quests.

Natalia Schvachko is fighting for the right for exclusive use of the front entrance and elevator access to her penthouse in the heart of Restaurant Row on Hopkins Avenue, arguing that this was the deal when the sale went down.

Employees in the affordable-housing section of the building thus were relegated to what amounted to the service entrance in the alley — forget the main staircase or the elevator, no matter how many bags of groceries they might be juggling.

Susan O’Neal is lobbying for a public parking lot under Wagner Park, part of her argument being that this would free up parking spaces on the street, allowing her unfettered access to her quarters on Durant Avenue.

Not to point out the bleeding obvious, but do you see any correlation here? One woman doesn’t want the riffraff on her stairs or in her elevator, and the other wants those other vehicles off the street so she can park in front of her own place — put the riffraff in the parking lot.

The issue of selfishness aside, these are both blatant examples of presumed entitlement that would have had no place in the egalitarian Aspen of yore. It’s important for us to nip this sort of thing whenever we can, because creeping privilege is alive and well in 21st-century Aspen.

Both ladies also are opposed to noise: the noise of the bar below wafting up to the penthouse (this is not the first time a penthouse owner has harassed a lower public venue) and the noise of motorcycles annoying O’Neal, who also has suggested moving the bus station from Rubey Park to a more suitable neighborhood. That is, out of her neighborhood.

You would think that anyone moving into the downtown core of a resort chock-full of messy vitality including musicians, Hells Angels and rowdy imbibers would expect some consequences of the decibel kind. You also might think that, given the motivation of the high level of bitching about them, the perpetrators might be tempted to crank up the volume.

Following last call, mightn’t a hog rider suggest buzzing Durant Avenue? Or those relegated to the service entrance be inclined to rattle the trash cans? Be careful what you wish for when you start a war with the local riffraff, of which I consider myself a member, and the local constabulary, as well. We outnumber you. Expect no mercy.

A couple of decades ago I wrote a column suggesting that we take advantage of all the gigantic holes that were dug to accommodate our larger new buildings and all the mine tunnels still lacing our subterranean real estate and turn it all into one gigantic underground plaza where we could put all the things that we’d rather were out of sight.

Employee housing? Underground. Big-box stores (hell, a Costco), fast-food restaurants, Dumpsters, newspaper racks, rock bands, thrift stores and the like out of sight and mind while the elite meet to eat their $50 lamb chops upstairs, quietly clinking their champagne flutes after shopping at Prada and of course parking right in front of Prada — the riffraff will be parked down under.

Just an idea. Its time might have come, but I hope not. On the other hand, we could put the art museum down there.

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks it would be more fun downstairs than upstairs. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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