Tuesday, February 6, 2018

It ain't the skiing.... letter to the editor

"In Aspen you either have 3 jobs or 3 homes."

It’s not a skiing economy. It’s not an outdoor sports economy or an arts economy or a conference economy. It’s not about the skis, the bikes, the kayaks, the concerts or the think tanks.

Follow the money and you will find the answer.

It’s a real estate economy. (Follow "What's the Big Deal?")

Aspen real estate is an investment which is AAA with a phenomenal rate of return when flipped. The dividends are parties and networking.

Ask yourself what sustains the real estate economy ? Then ask yourself if that’s what you want.

Real Estate prices stay high as long as demand is higher than supply. There are other factors but that’s the economic foundation. All of our restrictions, our labyrinthian  permitting, our challenging terrain, our civic divisiveness, our remoteness,  - those all increase costs, increase the project timeline, and thus limit supply.

The same factors increase the divide between classes, the 3 jobs class vs the 3 homes class

The same factors decrease the amount of land for wilderness and wildlife- after all even an uninhabited monster home is an invasion displacing species of native plants and animals encouraging scavengers who are used to living off our trash and on our well watered lawns.

When did the real estate economy take off? In my opinion the rocket launch was  in the 70’s. Condos encouraging non-residential ownership combined with limited growth ordinances, and  height restrictions all combined to squeeze the supply. 

Square footage prices alone are not what has made Aspen what it is today. Add to this Affordable Housing which helped keep wages artificially low (The entry level wages I received in the 70’s would translate into $55 per hour today.) and the J1 visa (multilingual *and* cheaper be still my beating heart).

Viola!  Ever increasing real estate prices and stagnant low wages. … and you wonder why the 1% of the 1% wants a slice of Aspen? It ain’t skiing.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

just another day in America- letter to the editor

Can it surprise anyone that when the president says he could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone and still get elected that the mass shootings are considered “inevitable”? I certainly agree that both cases are mental health issues but I don’t see any forward motion on mental health care in either case.

Leaving government, politicians and the NRA out of it what can we as individuals do to make this type of mass murder less of the fabric of America?  Can we leave this part of our culture behind? Those of us who have spent time in more volatile environments might be able to flex our survival strategies. I don’t mean “duck and cover” I mean a very un-American thing. Pay attention. It really is that simple. Pay attention to the abandoned backpack. Pay attention to the long heavy coat on a summer’s day. Pay attention to the demeanor of the people around you. Don’t be afraid to talk to our local law enforcement officers- they are imminently approachable. We are a service industry town and basic training in recognizing and evaluating threats should be part of every service worker’s orientation.

Or- we could take the same attitude we do with deer and buffalo and celebrate each thinning of the herd as necessary culling to insure the health of our manifest destiny. We haven’t had a good old fashioned genocide since the Indian Wars.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

TACAW 5000 sq ft of plaster in 5 days

There are very few Scenic jobs in my little corner of Colorado but sometimes things come full circle.

Dick Carter is a fabulous artist, art director and (may I be so bold to say) friend. He's a long time denizen of the Roaring Fork Valley who does what a lot of us do- call this home and hop to LA or NYC to keep that career thing breathing.

I got a call from him in April about TACAW. "The Arts Campus at Willits" was opening a space called "The Temporary" as a transitional performance space while the Arts Campus is under... well... let's call it governmental "review".  The bottom line being- for pities sake lets just get something up, running and on the boards.

Dick wanted to take the retail rental space and turn it into a place with some history. You know- where you'd go to imbibe some Fringe theatre- listen to some jazz or a Mozart string quartet. Transform the hot tub showroom into a place with soul. He gave me photos of distressed plaster walls

and chandeliers hanging in empty rooms. 

I immediately got a stupid grin on my face and said "Ushuaia!" My trip to Argentina just found a place to land and there is nothing which says old plaster wall like the walls in Ushuaia.

Thank you Joyce Kubalak for developing the fantastic rust technique we used on Man of La Mancha  - use gray instead of orange and go for it.

.... a few samples later.....

5000 square feet of distressed plaster wall in 5 days with 3 Scenics and a short list of supplies
Day 1. Mix the paint and set up the work space.

Day 2 first full day on site. The base color a deep base gloss has already been rolled on by the Paint Contractor (thank you Monty) which leaves Allan Trumpler, Pat Dailey and me to start laying on the first "plaster" breakup.  This is all about avoiding repeat patterns and playing matte against gloss. The initial layin is fairly quick it's the fine tuning which takes time.

Skip to Day 5: Really everything else is more of the same- warm up the "wainscot" lay in some water staining- drips- darker at the top - age spray at the bottom- add some vintage rust to all the new electrical conduit and the fuse box.

Friday, July 21, 2017

In the court of physics... you lose, letter to the editor

Dear bicyclists, I don’t want to kill you.. but you’re making that really difficult.

Please look both ways before you cross a street. I do when I'm a pedestrian, when I'm riding my bike or when I'm driving. 

You may have to slow down... I know that's inefficient ... I know you lose energy and you need to pedal harder to get that speed back... I know you hate to do that... but really... slow down ... look both ways... it's a good habit to get into.

Pedestrian crosswalks are not bike lanes.  Please do not ride in a pedestrian crosswalk. Please do not use your cel phone while riding in the pedestrian crosswalk.


Please do not assume I can see you on your electric bike doing 20 mph in the pedestrian crosswalk when the sun is coming straight into my eyes (hint- if every car has the sun visor down there’s a reason).

Even the bears move slow walking across Main street… be as smart as a bear.

and bears haven’t read the right of way in crosswalk law

News flash- turn signals do matter. There are some nifty bike helmets with LED turn signals now- buy one- it costs way less than that bike you’re riding.

While we’re at it… not all cars are equipped with backup cameras. A vintage truck backing out of an angled parking spot cannot see your 6 year old on a bicycle.

Wouldn’t the Rio Grande bike path be a better choice than the streets of Aspen when riding with your kids?  We desperately need to follow the German example of a “bicycle only” autobahn but even our excellent bike/pedestrian paths don’t keep bicyclists out of the roundabout. That is a tragedy waiting to happen. Of course there was the Lance wannabe who almost got clotheslined by my dogs' leash when he raced through the red light at Main and Monarch… but I assume he has a Darwin award by now. Dear bicyclist, please do not compete for a Darwin award.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Floppsy, Moppsy and Facepalm Letter to the editor

Just in case you don’t remember one year ago the  “one roof proposal” for City Hall was $20 million dollars cheaper and an estimated 10 years less time to complete and the Armory become a community center instead of a  shoe horn City Hall.

After a lot of shouting ”Taj MaHALL!” and finger pointing the more expensive more disruptive less efficient less “green” solution was adopted. The same anti-Taj contingent  are now complaining that we shouldn’t borrow money to build the new City Hall. Wellllll, we had a cheaper solution and that was considered too hubristic for “small” government. We had a more efficient carbon footprint under one roof but that was less important than square footage footprint. We had a less disruptive solution but that was…. horrors…. less disruptive. We actually voted that we wanted a community center more than an aging Armory wearing a skin tight City Hall spandex refurbishment onesie and that people’s vote was tossed aside (insert the word deplorable as you will).

Flip. Flop. Want to know why it’s so difficult to get anything done in Aspen? Flip. Flop. Flippety floppity flipperooni floppsy woppsy doodle all day. You can’t make this stuff up.