Submitted by: Editor
Trick Or Treat In Aspen
Several of our neighbors have truly labored to reshape our community, our country, and our world. Unfortunately, their tireless efforts on our behalf don’t allow for interaction with us common folk whose lives they so impact.
What better way to show how much we honor and value their efforts and presence in our midst than to insure that they are not overlooked in this year’s Halloween festivities? They have operated in the shadows and remained our unsung heroes too long! On Saturday, October 29, 2011, let’s meet at the Park at the Red Brick Center for the Arts, 110 E Hallam, Aspen, at 5:00 p.m. and proceed as follows:
First, around the corner and past the site of the late, lamented Givens Institute to our first stop at 414 N. First Street, the lovely home of Jonathan Lewis. This address may seem vaguely familiar to some locals, being the site of the former home of Walter and [expletive] Paepcke. Back in 1998, Mr. Lewis was so anxious to make his mark on Aspen that he used a portion of his hard-earned inheritance from the Progressive Insurance family fortune to surreptitiously raze the Brown-Paepcke house in the midst of negotiations whereby the City of Aspen agreed to move the structure deemed “Aspen’s White House”. Despite residing primarily in Miami, Mr. Lewis continues to contribute to Aspen’s rich cultural heritage by allowing the annual “Wine Crush” event on the site of the former Given’s Institute which Mr. Lewis purchased and demolished in 2011. One hopes the “treats” provided are not crushed Ginger Snaps.
Then we proceed to “Billionaire’s Byway” also known as Roaring Fork Road and our next stop at numbers 855 and 865, the homes of David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers inherited their father’s oil business and now own and control the multi-national conglomerate Koch Industries. In addition to selling millions of dollars of petro-chemical equipment to Iran, since 2006 Koch Industries has spent in excess of $50,000,000.00 lobbying against derivatives regulations and greenhouse gas limits. The brother’s Koch, whose combined wealth is in excess of $50,000,000,000.00, making them the richest Americans, have individually given millions of dollars to further grass roots activism through support of the Federalist Society, the Cato Institute and the Tea Party. Full size Snickers or Reese’s Cups would be in order here.
Next we merely cross the road to the home of Leonard Lauder, son and heir to Make-Up maven Estee’s empire. In addition to being the majority shareholder in his parents company, Mr. Lauder is a noted philanthropist and civic leader, serving, inter alia, on the Council on Foreign Relations and, on a more local level, the Board of The Aspen Institue. Many of you might be familiar with the Institute’s annual Ideas Festival either through being selected to serve, but not interact with the attendees, as a volunteer, or paying $5,000.00 for full access. For the rest of us, the Festival is a forum for the glitterati to speak on global issues. Attendees pay $5,000.00 for the privilege of listening. We are all able to sleep more soundly, worry free, knowing that the myriad of issues facing us daily are being “discussed” by “experts” at the Festival due to the minutes of altruistic efforts of Mr. Lauder and other members. If we are lucky, we may be able to view Mr. Lauder’s collection of Picasso’s and Klimt’s, or at least his vast array of vintage ski posters. However, we’ll be more than happy with just the choice of our favorite warm-tone or cool-tone gift goodie. We then proceed next door the home of Mr. Lauders son, Gary Lauder, whose rough ride to fortune was also atop Estee’s coattails. Gary is a co-founder of the Socrates Program at the Aspen Institute, whereby emerging leaders may convene, for a price, to discuss various topics in an “expert” moderated forum. He is a Venture Capitalist, whose free time is spent with his wife struggling daily to refine their philanthropic focus as issues change. Payday candy bars anyone? Our next stop takes us up-valley a ways to 161 Stillwater Lane, the palatial home of Lynda and Stuart Resnick. When not filing lawsuits to block construction of affordable housing, or defending lawsuits brought by environmental groups, state water agencies and the Federal Trade Commission, Lynda and Stuart are the “hosts with the most” at their annual fete, held at their Little Lake Lodge, for all of the “expert” speakers at the Ideas Festival. Lynda is on record as stating that she and Stuart “are consumed with doing good” as evidenced by their withdrawal of a $4,000,000.00 pledge to the Aspen Institute when, amid public outcry, the Paepcke Auditorium was not renamed in their honor. Given the Resnicks control of both the Pistachio and Pomegranate markets our “treats” could range from something POM wonderful (a cure for erectile dysfunction) to simply “nuts” to us.
Last but certainly not least, we move down valley to Tiehack Way, where some of us paid up to $10,000.00 to watch Michelle Obama walk barefoot in the grass. Yes, it’s the home of James and Paula Crown, the valley’s undisputed King and Queen. James is the grandson of the late Walter Crown, the largest shareholder in General Dynamics, the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. As the owners of the largest employer in the valley, Aspen Skiing Company, and thus controlling roughly 25% of the town of Aspen, the Crown’s generosity, equanimity, and egalitarianism in all their business dealings are well known throughout the valley. The Crown’s have also acted decisively to prevent our minds being troubled by hearing a song or reading any news or opinion that they feel may tarnish the gilded image of life in the Valley they have worked so tirelessly to create for all of us.
If sufficient fealty is exhibited perhaps some lift tickets may be thrown our way…
These people are our neighbors. Their resumes all proudly proclaim their connection to Aspen. Some unselfishly use their valuable time to bring “experts” to the valley to discuss issues we confront every day; we have not yet heard of any solutions “discussed” but we can continue to HOPE this will CHANGE. Others continue to expand their property holdings in the valley, thus sparing more of us from hearing of any snakes in our personal edens. Still others spare us from watching iconic structures decay and crumble due to non-use.
This handful of people are known to all of us by name. We know where they live but don’t know their faces, nor do they know ours. Lets change all that so that next time we bump carts is City Market we’ll feel free to invite them over for “Beer and Brats”.