Aspen lefties mourn Paradise Lost but celebrate Utopia Found

I’m talking about an ice cream parlor. Yes, people who wouldn’t know John Milton from Milton Berle are in hellish agony over the decision by a landlord not to renew the lease on a local ice cream and cookie shop called Paradise Bakery.

The landlord was apparently offered a better deal by a clothing boutique.

This, say the lefties, proves again that capitalism is bad. First, capitalists come for the ice cream parlors and replace them with more profitable clothing boutiques. Next, they’ll come for the clothing boutiques and replace them with more profitable ice cream parlors.

Responding to people’s ever-changing tastes by selling them what they want to buy is just so immoral, huh?

So the social justice warriors are bombarding the newspapers with letters, vilifying the landlord and generally signalling simultaneously their love of self and food.

Enter our old tennis instructor cum new mayor who’s never met a problem too trivial for a ham-handed government solution. He demanded a meeting with the evil landlord. This is how things work in the socialist utopia of Aspen these days.

The mayor is probably but not necessarily smart enough not to explicitly threaten to sentence all the landlord’s pending building permits to an eternity in purgatory. So the lesson to the landlord will instead go something like this: “We Aspen progressives oppose this clothing boutique, except those to whom the boutique caters, who don’t matter because they disagree. We like our ice cream and cookies. If you get in the way of what we like, when we like it and where we like it, then you’re greedy. And greed is just as bad as gluttony. So that would make you just as bad as us.”

Advantage landlord. I don’t think that weak serve from the tennis-instructor mayor will be an ace. But unless the mayor is ready for a court other than his green concrete one, that’s all he’s got.

There’s precedent for the town politburo to dictate gastronomy to the serfs. A few years ago, they conditioned a building permit on the developer finding a restaurateur for the basement of the little building that was being permitted. Not just any restaurateur, but one who would agree to a menu and prices controlled by the city.

I ran a contest to name the new commie restaurant. A reader, Paul Menter, won with “Castro’s Corner” while Maurice Emmer suggested menu item “Pol Pot Pie.”

But it never happened. The space sat empty as the developer tried for years to find such a restaurateur. None was interested. Can you believe it? The town eventually quietly canceled the restaurant clause.

I’ll get back to ice cream in a minute.

I realize that the doctrine of these apparatchiks is “the government that governs best governs most.” But really, don’t they have bigger fish to fry?

What about the $3 billion taxpayer-subsidized housing program that is plagued by inefficiency, cheating, cronyism, rundown units and tax evasion — a program whose governing body practically begs to be scooped up for a federal racketeering prosecution by a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney?

OK, back to ice cream. Those in mourning point out that this isn’t just any ice cream shop. It’s at a corner where musicians from the music school play for tips.

I like music as much as ice cream, but have you noticed how many of the music school violinists are Asians? It’s almost like we’re harboring an unwoke music school that’s still hung up on musical merit.

The music school could take a cue from Harvard where Asians are discriminated against because so many are so good that they make the rest of us look bad and, worse, feel bad.

And what’s with playing jingoistic tunes in early July on brass instruments like the trumpet, which is related to imperialistic war machines like the bugle? And they do so with no trigger warnings!

Back to ice cream again. I have a cool suggestion to lick the problem. (You knew I had to say that.)

It’s this. If Aspen so values its socially just desserts (and maybe it does — this place hosts a food and wine bacchanalia every June, something you don’t see much in Venezuela anymore), then the operator of Paradise Bakery could offer his landlord higher rent as an inducement for a renewal of his lease.

The operator could simply pass his higher rent onto his customers in the form of higher prices for ice cream cones. The customers would be delighted to pay a few dimes more for their treats because after all they’re gluttonous, not greedy.

Unless of course this isn’t about ice cream at all, and is really just an excuse to bash business and capitalism. In that case, party on. But don’t expect the grown-ups to take you seriously.

(Published May 19, 2019 in the Aspen Times at

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