Aspen summer activities are in full swing now. We never lack extremes. Hailstorms to heatwaves, we have it all. The Aspen Ideas Festival just swung through town with much food for thought about the extremes matching those of our mountain microcosm. The Aspen Music Festival and School and Jazz Aspen Snowmass are playing their hearts out to remind us of all things good in the world. The band plays on! The Beauty we live within here in Aspen always seems to defy the gravity of the Ugly human beings can create. I am hoping Sting, who headlines our Labor Day Fest this year, is wrong when he warns “History Will Teach Us Nothing.” While technology collapses our world into the palm of our hand, we are expanding as a population beyond what our planet can feed and sustain with our current practices from politics to poultry.
Here are a few history lessons from a summer weekend in Aspen: P IS FOR…
Feeding Our World with Climate Change and Rapid Population Growth
PERMACULTURE: How do we feed a world in the time of climate change and rapid population growth? Well, permaculture is making a comeback, and that’s great, but with a projected population of 10 billion by 2050, we need more food and less waste, less methane emissions and cattle mouths to feed to feed us. It would take 140 billion animals to feed us in 2050! So move over Wilbur, Avery can keep you as a pet, here comes the bacon….cell-harvested bacon. Dr. Uma Valeti, a cardiac surgeon from The Mayo Clinic, was staring at a plethora of full metal jackets (when every artery has a stint) when he decided to make a difference in the world of nutrition. His company Memphis Meats grows meat from cells harvested in 3-4 weeks reducing bacterial contamination and waste and providing essential nutrition with cell-based meats that reduce greenhouse gases, water waste and use 90 percent less inputs (like feed) to create the same amount of meat. Valeti was grilled (no pun intended) by Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief of National Geographic, and Amanda Little, professor of investigative journalism and science writing at Vanderbilt University, and author of The Fate of Food presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival – The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter World. Valeti made a strong case for cell-based meat grown from animal cells without the need to raise the animals. He spoke of the “nostalgia” of meat and how it is ingrained in our culture. So prepare yourself to tear some cell-grown fried chicken apart with your fingers when it hits the market as soon as 2020.
Nine Nasty Words
PROFANITY: What’s in a word? Ask John McWhorter, Professor of Linguistics, English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University who recently sat down to a packed house at The Belly Up Aspen to discuss his book “Words on the Move.” In a carefully raucous conversation with Jeff Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, he covered the Aspen Ideas Festival topic – Nine Nasty Words: The Words That Make Us What We Are, for Better or for Worse. You see, what started as some Old English slurs about God and religion (think Zounds!), profanity, a right brain-driven train has jumped the rails and run the gamut of body parts (C word) and class (N word) and ups the ante every time one is culturally diluted. Just like the heart patient who comes back 3 months later still smoking and eating fatty food, we just can’t get enough shocks to our system. McWhorter thinks it is a good thing if these bad-to-the-bone terms get recast to mean something less potent (that’s right you sexy bitch!). I, being a lover of language, am still trying to cut down on my use of the F-bomb despite its innocent beginnings in 13th century names like Henry Fuckbutter.
Capitalism in Russia
PUTIN: Ok. So who is brave enough to fight the big, bad wolf? Look no further than Aspen Ideas Festival speaker Bill Browder, Ceo, Hermitage Capital management and author, “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice.” Browder came to The St. Regis stage with Michael Abramowitz, President, Freedom House, to give a down-to-earth recap of the events surrounding the death-by-proxy of his friend and Russian tax advisor and lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. Browder went from a Grateful Dead groupie, grandson of the general secretary of the Communist Party Usa, to the biggest capitalist in Russia. After revealing a tax scam in 2008 involving government officials that had defrauded Russian taxpayers of $230 million, Magnitsky was held, tortured and ultimately died a prisoner without a trial. Bill Browder has put on his red riding hood and devoted himself to human rights advocacy. His successful passing of the Magnitsky Act freezes the assets and free reign of the Kremlin’s corrupt crew who hold Putin’s massive wealth. Putin is rather upset with Browder and that makes him pleased as punch and all the more determined to live a life of freedom and not fear. Cajones … anyone?
Jazz Aspen Snowmass & Aspen Music Festival 2019
Porter: We have reached our last lesson for the day. History may teach us nothing, but music gives us hope. The fact that we can create such beauty was brought to life June 29th, 8pm at the Aspen Music Festival Benedict Music Tent in association with Jazz Aspen Snowmass: Gregory Porter, A Tribute to Nat “King” Cole. There are few moments as powerful as when voices and instruments alight together under the Aspen sky. Charenee Wade, Roberta Gambarini and Gregory Porter accompanied by soloists on piano, bass, drums and the festival ensemble conducted by Vince Mendoza give voice to the best of what makes us human. We CAN use technology for the betterment of human health. We CAN use our words to join hands versus disparage. We CAN be brave enough to play a win the chess match against greed and corruption. If Leonardo da Vinci can paint the Mona Lisa in 1503, Ray Evans and Jay Livingston can pen it, then Nat “King” Cole can croon it for a Grammy in 1950 and Gregory Porter, in 2019 backed by the cooperation of instruments working in harmony, can make eyes and hearts well with the beautiful irony of it all…We CAN do anything. We just have to DO. Hailstorms, heatwaves and human hope. P is for POTENTIAL.