Still Dreaming

Minister Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching at an event

The great man we honored again last week had a dream. It was of a nation where people are “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Let’s measure our progress on the 53-year-old dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In some areas, our progress has been impressive. It’s no longer socially acceptable to express racism. There will always be a few misanthropes of various colors, I suppose, but today they mostly hide their racism.

And it’s not just our social constructs that have become more protective but also our laws. It is now illegal to discriminate on the basis of race in hotels, restaurants, housing or employment. The days of Bull Connor and George Wallace barring blacks from public buildings are gone forever.

Freed of those societal and legal shackles, blacks have ascended to the highest levels of government, medicine, law, education, science and business. We’ve elected black mayors in dozens of big cities. A black neurosurgeon is running (as a Republican!) for president.

And he wouldn’t be the first black president. In a moment I thought I would never live to see, we elected a black president seven years ago. His election spoke to the greatness of the nation and its people (can you imagine this happening in Japan or France?), the progress of blacks within it and his own personal achievement as a black man.

But not all is good. Continue reading

How to Avoid being Mistaken for a Aspen Local

Here’s an embarrassing confession.  After over six years here in Aspen, and nearly a lifetime in Colorado, I’m now an Aspen local.  Not only that, but I also have friends who are locals.

I know myself and I know my friends.  I recognize that no self-respecting visitor wants to be mistaken for one of us.  So as a public service, here’s a handy guide for how to behave in a way that no one will mistake you for a local: Continue reading

Wringing Out the Old Year

We cheated death for another year, didn’t we? So now it’s time again to ring in the new year, wring out the old one and mop up the rancid drippings with a newspaper column.

Affordable lodging was the big news here in Aspen. The members of the City Council wanted to waive the town’s zoning laws for a hotel on Main Street to provide “affordable lodging” at $400 a night.

Their idea was that Aspenites would be enriched by the presence of the impoverished skiers whom this “affordable lodge” would attract. The voters voted it down.

So why does a mere hotel proposal go to the voters? It’s because the Aspen City Council is too busy with such things as the warming of the globe to look after mundane matters like the will of the locals. So the people passed a referendum to look out for themselves.

In that globe-warming pastime that the local politicos pursue feverishly to the exclusion of local matters, the mayor Continue reading