The private planes flew almost elegantly into the airport in Pitkin County. Sleek and beautiful, the craft slipped through the sky above the Continental Divide and banked sharply to the east for their approach to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Squawking wheels indicated the great captains of industry had arrived in the sanctuary of the rich.
After checking into their high-dollar hotels or being chauffeured to their homes in Starwood, the financial services and banking executives met for cocktail hour. No one was oblivious to the problems in the economy and they dreamed of glory days with trust funders and corporate investors and the naive working families who believed in the forever upward spiral of America.
"This concert should be good," one of them said over a Martini at the Hotel Jerome. "People don't realize what we are going through. This will help them to understand. Can you imagine making it on $500,000? Is Obama out of his mind?"
The idea for Bank Aid was conceived by a broker dealer who had lost uncounted millions on short selling and options. His wizened contemporaries were experiencing similar results and he saw no reason they should avoid enlisting the support of America, (except when they were willing to write taxpayer checks with no strings attached.)
"We can make this happen," he insisted. "We can make a difference. I see no reason Manhattan has to suffer like North Platte, Nebraska. We are here because we are smart people and we should be paid accordingly. We're smart; aren't we? Isn't what just happened beyond our control?"
Bank Aid organizers had hired many musicians, and a few of them were even sympathetic. Willie Nelson was busy reworking several of his Farm Aid songs and John Cougar Mellencamp was scratching his head and wondering how his agent got him into this mess.
"I don't know what the hell I'm doing," Mellencamp said. "These aren't my people. Do you think any of these guys have ever sat on a tractor? Hell, I'm not even sure they've had a piece of corn. You think anybody here knows where Vincennes is?"
Willie, though, didn't really care.
"These guys have still got money," he explained. "And that means they've still got some good stuff. Tell me you wouldn't play for them. Where are we again? I need some of that good stuff they've got. You think they'll share?"
The Bank Aid concert was set for a meadow near Snow Mass. The light was flat and clear along the slope and the concert-goers who were not entranced by the shimmer of their gold cards were able to see the purple evening brilliance across the carapace of Maroon Bells. Bankers rolled out their Saville Row suits to sit upon the ground and slipped 50 year-old Loire Valley wines from crystal carried in their picnic baskets by servants.
"It's going to be so hard to enjoy ourselves," said a banker from Manhattan. "In the past year, we've sold our condo in Gstaad, the beach house in Malibu, and we are thinking we might have to put the place in Palm Beach up. Can you imagine?"
"Oh, sure," the stranger said. "I don't really want to tell you this because you might go sit elsewhere but, oh god, this is just so hard to say, we flew out here commercial. Is there no end to this?"
Country Joe and the Fish, resurrected and reunited, strode out on the stage for the opening set. No one in the crowd had ever heard of the 70's band or their songs so they missed the wiseass lyrics aimed at their egos.
"And it's one, two, three, four, what we investing for?
Don't ask me I don't give a damn,
No door will ever slam.
And it's five, six, seven, eight....
Open up the golden gates.
Ain't no money left to buy
Whoopee they're all gonna cry."
The crowd went mild. A few put their cigars back in their mouths to applaud. The bankers and brokers were anxious and didn't quite understand why there were there other than for some vague notion of solidarity. They were waiting for the next act to start when someone wearing an off-the-rack suit walked to the microphone. Gasps rose from the assembled.
"People, People? People?" the man stared into the microphone as he spoke. "There's some bad Beaujolais out there. Be careful, man. It's been aged less than 50 years. We don't want you people hurting yourselves."
As the man strolled off stage the concert-goers noticed Willie Nelson. Willie squinted into the Colorado sunlight and looked at the crowd.
"Wow," he mumbled to his sister. "That's more teeth than we've seen in one of our concerts in a while. But what the hell; let's play."
"This one's dedicated to one of your own," Willie said. "It goes out to Bernie Madoff."
"On the lam again....
On the lam again...
The life I love is stealing money from my friends
And I can't wait to go on the lam again."
When he was finished with his set, Willie walked off the stage and down a set of wooden steps to a gaggle of reporters. (They were wearing off-the-rack, too.)
"Willie," a guy with gray hair asked. "You don't exactly fit here. What are you doing playing for Bank Aid?"
"Oh, I don't know. We were just on the bus and the smoke inside was just getting too thick and I thought I'd go outside and get some air without THC in it and here I was."
Willie worked his way through the microphones and cameras.
"Come on, y'all," he complained. "Let me through. My investment adviser is traveling with me this week and I don't want to leave him alone in the tour bus with my stash."
(also at http://www.moorethink.com