Monday, April 11, 2011
Michael Cleverly, VIle's Aspen Bureau Chief
Submitted by: Editor

Original Company Town - Part 6

“Company Town” traces the evolution of the influence of the industries that have driven Aspen’s economic life from its boomtown silver and gold mining days to its growth into one of the premier ski resorts in the world. It also traces the changes in Aspen society, from its mining days, when basically no one had any class, to the freewheeling 70’s when the place was so democratic as to be a classless society, to today, when the entire town is essentially a gated community. The gates are not made of steel, they’re economic, and the society now is far from classless.

The end is beginning

Marvin  Davis, the new owner of The Aspen Skiing Company, proceeded to build a mansion right on Aspen Mountain. A gilded wart that when completed was featured in magazines, architecture journals, and Sunday supplements across the country. It set a new standard of ostentation and simultaneously raised the bar and threw down the gauntlet for the superrich who followed. In no time single family dwellings the size of large resort hotels began emerging up on Red Mountain and even next the ski runs. There was no building code or zoning regulation that couldn’t be circumvented with enough money. One Red Mountain doyenne was famously quoted as saying of grumpy locals, “It’s not their town anymore, it’s ours, we bought it.” This didn’t go over too well and for the first time locals who would have fought to the death for the soul of Aspen began to realize that the battle had already been joined, and lost, and they hadn’t even been issued spears. While ten years earlier Skico President DRC Brown had sided with the anti-development hippies and stated “if this (kind of development) is permitted to happen the inevitable result will be crowded slopes, long lift lines and poor skiing conditions.” By the mid 80’s, the downtown core was beginning to resemble Rodeo Drive with the highest end boutiques and restaurants. Gaylord Guenin and Kathy Kreiger Daily’s book, “ASPEN: The Quiet Years” was turned into a musical review. It was all longtime locals. Jimmy Ibbotson of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band wrote the music and lyrics along with Polly Whitcomb. Rhett Harper wrote the script and directed, beloved musician Bobby Mason along with all the best known musicians in the valley were the band. The show debuted at the Wheeler Opera House and the line to get in stretched for several blocks. There was a live TV feed to local bars. During the intermission an attractive middle-aged woman was overheard talking to some of her peers. She was one of the great ski bum beauties from the wild old days. She had tears streaming down her cheeks and was saying, “it’s still our town!” She was wrong; it was smoke on the wind.

Part 7: Crimes against humanity, at least some of humanity

Posted by Editor on 04/11/11 at 01:26 PM •  (0) Comments

Tags:  wealth, aspen, cleverly,

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"America does not have an aristocracy or a plutocracy."
Art Pope