Monday, July 16, 2007

10 Reasons I Love Salt Lake City.

Someone asked me last month what my Top 10 reasons are for living in Salt Lake City. She was considering making the move from her California beaches wonderland to here for some reason. As far as I know, she may still be considering such a thing. I never got back to her, but she did get me to start considering the place I’ve called home for the past, oh, 7 or 8 years now. There are reasons. Sure are. Here are a few I was able to scare up, in no particular order whatsoever:

1. Brewvies. Funny that the first thing I mention is a place to watch movies (considering I don’t do it nearly enough), but it beats out all the rest of the theaters, hands down. Half bar, half theater, you can order a fat mess of nachos or a Portabello sandwich and watch your Blades of Glory without the crying babies. Or teenagers. Get there early enough and you can lounge in one of the couches in back. Going to Brewvies still gives me a case of the excited butterflies each time I make my trek back. Plus, well, it’s only a few blocks away. (I would like to use this time to apologize to all who were in the theater when I took my cousin along with me to watch Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2003. It wasn’t until, well, five minutes into the movie that I realized she laughed like an embarrassed dolphin with the hiccups. Not only that, but she didn’t know when to laugh—she did so when nobody else was, just amplifying her unearthly sound altogether. It was my sincere hope everybody else there was too drunk to notice. In retrospect, I really should have been.)
john vanderslice rocks kilby

2. Kilby Court. Sure, it’s not much like the Zephyr once was or anything like the Depot now sounds, but this literal garage of a music venue usually offers you the ability to get very, very close to the musicians you’ve chosen to idolize. Summer shows double as a time to treat the place like a sauna, but get there in the wintertime and you can drop your jaw on the floor while Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins sink ships with their dancing hips, just a few feet away. Hold your breath and hear Sammy Beam deliver the most intimate Iron & Wine performance of your young life. Warm up to the campfire outside the doors, out-hip the other hipsters’ curious facial hair and pick up a Tour Only EP of whoever has happened by. It’s the only place I’ve ever had a guy tell me that the girl I was with was being too loud, simply because she was talking to the person next to her. Crazy ballsy music geek-boys. Gotta love‘em.

3. My back yard is a swimming pool. It’s in the shape of an ‘L’. It really is. I don’t know why I’ve lived in the same condominium unit for the better part of a decade, but it’s nice having that pool when you can literally rest against the air indoors. It’s even nicer when 15 friends stop by on a Saturday afternoon to work on their tans along with you. It’s summertime embodied, really, especially when there are bicycles and impromptu trips to the taco vendors a few blocks away. Can you pass up two tacos for $1.50? I can’t. It’s worth the guys there laughing at my bad Spanish, too. I choose to believe they’re just happy Mexicans. I smile with them.

4. Liberty Park & Sugarhouse Park. They’re both interchangeable to me at this point. One has little hills and pleasantly attractive college students, while the other has an aviary and day-long hippified drum circles on Sundays. Since I became a part-time runner, I visit both fairly regularly. The people and dogs and BBQ’s there provide me with the makings of a music video. While I turn up the iPod and try to run two whole laps in a row without stopping for a breather, they’re kind enough to keep my eyes interested. There are also Sunday evening potlucks—Linda spearheads that whole operation, trying to pawn off her healthy wares on unsuspecting tasters everywhere. (And, yes, it’s usually good, so humor her.) Once Fall ambles in, I think I’ll go play Ultimate Frisbee or roll down a hill or feed some friggin ducks my moldy bread, but it’s just a pleasant running ground for me now. Oh, and the Pink Guy wanders around Liberty. If you get close enough to see what he’s talking about with himself, please fill me in.

5. Slowtrain. Been there yet? It’s a throwback to the days of yore, when a music store clerk actually knew you well enough to recommend specific albums/bands to you. The husband-and-wife outfit that owns that joint (Chris and Anna) are pretty good with names, too, and chances are they’ll pick up on yours straightaway. E-mail them in advance and they’ll pull the album you’re looking for, along with any used copies that exist, allowing you to go new or skate by on the cheap. They’re incredibly affable when it comes to hosting mostly-free in-store performances, too. I believe Red Hunter (of the band Peter and the Wolf) has chosen to call the store home every time he rolls through town to play. And, just to seal this love letter to those two, just try to outdo them with your musical stories. Go ahead. A half an hour will pass by in five minutes. I’ve seen it happen.

6. One World CafĂ©. It still exists! It’s been 3-4 years, but it’s this wee joint that offers incredibly fresh cuisine, then allows you to pay whatever you feel it’s worth afterward. How they’ve managed to stick around as long as they have is beyond me, but they’ve done it. There is no menu to speak of, but the rooms there all have a theme of their own. I had the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my life there. An explosion of flavor right inside my mouth; I give credit to the garden-fresh red tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Nobody will deny you that privilege. Also, you can wash dishes there for food. At least, you used to be able to do that. I think you still can.
fiery furnaces in full bloom

7. The Twilight Concert Series. There are plenty of mini-festivals all year long, but few things beat turning an entire downtown block into a block party, once a week, every Thursday, for a couple months in a row. Plus, it’s free. You can grab a mess of nutty Thai noodles once you get there and shoulder your way past some very protective blanket standers near the stage but, once you get there, the City of Salt feels transformed. You could be anywhere. Plus, you get to jump up and down and boogie with people you have prolly never ever seen. (Well, except for that old guy who dances up an old sweaty storm at every single performance—you know who I mean.) It’s fantastic fun. And, this week, Yo La Tengo and the Fiery Furnaces are giving it to us. If it’s not jam-packed, I’ll be very disappointed in all of my neighbors. Together, they may make your head explode. In a good way, o’course. (And, if you happen to fall in love with the Furnaces, I’d like to hear about it.)

8. KRCL. This one’s a no-brainer, really, and it’s not just because I’m a DJ over there. The more I learn about it, the less it appears that there’s much like this in other parts of the United States. Community-based radio is a novel concept that’s still going in these parts, nearly 30 years running. Before I ever started volunteering there, I couldn’t believe that we shared the same brain waves, but we did. I mean, we still do. I can think of a song and somebody will play it. It’s happened too many times to be a mere coincidence. I just hope I’m sharing that same kind of magic with listeners when I get handed the controls on a weekly basis. I’ll keep sharing my music for as long as I live here, too, I reckon. It’s too fun not to. Shows I love: Tuesday and Thursday Breakfast Jams, Lake Effect (Tuesday 9-noon), Mix Tape (Wed. nite 8:30-10:30).

RUTH is one sexxxy lady

9. Ruth’s Diner. Still the best breakfast/brunch in town. Call it clichĂ© if you must, but I’ve never gone wrong with this train car converted into a restaurant. It’s the home of the Mile High Biscuit, after all … not to mention the Sunrise Spuds and 7-lb. Omelets (or maybe they just feel that way to me?). I’ve got showing up at the right time down to a science. Get there just between the early eaters and the brunchers and you only have to wait 10 minutes, tops. At any other time, you’re looking at an hour of hungriness or more. People will plant themselves there until their names are called, too. The best is when they open up the patio outside and have people serenading you with the hits of the Indigo Girls out back. Okay, so the song selection sucks, but the food? Delish. Go for it. Everything else is gravy. Mmmmm … gravy. (It goes well with those biscuits I drooled about earlier. Just make sure you add lots of snausage.)

10. The sunshine. It’s bright here most o’ the time and, sure, sometimes that heat gets to me (this summer in SLC is definitely a sign of global warming), but I’d rather do battle with the rays in a lake than battle wind and snow and rain and ice … alla that ilk. My skin’s thick. I need no A/C. I might like it, certainly, but my 3-speed rotating fan has seen me through many summers. If I knew where the ex-girlfriend was who gave it to me when she did, I’d send her a Thank You card. Because she cared enough to give the very best. In her absence, I’ll thank Wal-Mart.

I won’t get into the things I don’t much care for—like, say, the fact my car’s been broken into twice since I’ve lived here (and when it’d been in my garage, no less)—but these are things that make me happy. I don’t know if they’ll keep me here for good, but they make my days more pleasant. And I’m all about pleasant.

Feel free to share your own reasons for calling this place home, too. I’m quite certain I’ve left out plenty.


Price said...

I'll go first.

I really like that the things you love about SLC have to deal with the culture. I love the culture in SLC. I wish I lived closer than Sandy, because there is something about the people that is really genuine. That includes the Mormons and the Gentiles alike. You make a great list.

Mine would have been the mountains, and the rivers, and the sun and the snow. I forget people sometimes, but I love them too.

Sarita said...

Coming from Vegas, I am quite partial to the vegetation and seasons that some of us take for granted. Also, smoke free and open air venues. It's good to escape the land where a soul dare not venture outside. The heat here feels moderate and glorious and I love to see people being active and enjoying the out of doors. And joining in on occasion.

That said, meeting new and interesting people on the grass at Liberty Park last night was just fine. Chatting in the slightly humid dusk in my comfiest of Sunday clothes. It cant be beat.

Anne said...

Whoa, your list brings to the surface so many memories...drum circles on Sunday afternoons during high school, almost killing myself while rollerblading in Sugarhouse Park, the best breakfast EVER at Ruth's Diner, etc. etc. Sometimes (read, most of the time) I forget that SLC really isn't so bad! Thanks for reminding me of the good parts.

Dainon said...

Price: I don't always think of the mountains when I think of Salt Lake as I'm more a Southern Utah/Moab kinda outside player ... plus I consider them pretty much a given ... but, yes, thanks for bringing them up. Nature is not forgotten in this pretty, great state/city.

f*bomb. said...

How was this not MY experience in Utah?
I demand a repeat!

bestsariah said...

Mormons. Love the Mormons.

Lincoln said...

As someone who grew up in Salt Lake City and now lives away from home, this post made me feel a bit jealous. I miss home. There are so many things I know and love about SLC. But in reading everyone else's thoughts, I see there is still so much I don't know. I don't know whether living in SLC is in the cards for me (I'm certainly not opposed to it) but at least I got to spend 22 awesome years there. Good times.

Harlan said...

As a transplant (due to work) from Atlanta (and the South generally), I'll say, in no particular order:

The beautiful Mountains - or as some of the locals say "mow-ehns." (The dropping of the "nt" sound cracks me up every time).

Proximity to natural wonders/beauty - like you said, Southern Utah/Moab. I wouldn't really want to live there but it's awesome to be a few short hours away. And to the North, it's not that bad a drive to Tetons/Jackson/Yellowstone. Awesome.

Ease of getting to camping, hiking, skiing.

I too like the Twilight Concert Series and Ruth's Diner. And, even though it's taken getting used to the liquor/beer laws here, as someone who enjoys a cold one I have to say the local brews are rather tasty and, not to be disrespectful of religion and church-goers, I kinda like that I can pick up beer on Sunday when I'm going to be watching football all afternoon. Ya can't do that in Georgia.

And did I mention the low low low humidity? I'll take the 100 degrees and below 20% humidity, thanks. In the South, much as I love it, there's sometimes no point in showering on a muggy summer day as you'll only end up drenched in sweat as you walk 10 feet to your car. Here? You can actually kinda bask in the heat sometimes...and the A/C works in your car!! Woo-hoo!

Beyond all that, and sorry for rambling, there are a lot of similiarities between the South and Utah in terms of the family orientation and the general folksiness/friendliness of a lot of people.

It's been two years and I was uncertain at first although I liked it here. But now I'm starting to feel like I can live here, happily, for quite some time.

Sarita said...

PS....I happened to be listening to The Lake Effect this mornin, and they just happened to play some Yo La Tengo and Fiery Furnaces back to back. I think I might be in love.

DMo said...

In my brief stint in Brooklyn, I'd say I missed each of the things you've listed here. Other things I seem to have taken for granted include:
-lack of humidity
-bike lanes and being able to actually live near work
-the Summit chair at Solitude, Collins and Supreme chairs at Alta
-exchanging a hipster-packed bar with $8 beers for a bsckyard party

The Carrie Collection said...

Thank you for putting Brewvies #1 on your list because that is the first or second place I take any visitors. Also, as you well know, I take them to the Tavernacle and Liquid Joe's for some rockin' Metal Gods. Not to add to the list, but there's also the Spanish Fork hot pots hike at night, Sunday brunch at Snowbird (followed by the alpine slide, zip line and bungee jump), the motorcycle ride through the Alpine Loop and the best drivers on earth.
*Some of those activities are not in SL. I got carried away.

k8 said...

wait was the california questioner me??

this is a dangerous list for my current state of mind...

Dainon said...

k8 ... 'twas not you, my friend. It was the Fish. But, hey, we welcome the both of you with open arms.

C-burt ... how'd I know you would mention the Metal Gods? I actually left it out specifically so you could give 'em a shout out. You ought to be Nigel's publicist. Also, I vote we go do the Alpine Coaster together. It's a bleeding riot, no lie.

sarita ... the Lake Effect will not let you down. Nor will the Fiery Furnaces. Nor will the YLT. But you know all of this already. If not, you should. Go and spread the word to others now.

Harlan? Don't believe I know you, but ... preach on.

k8 said...

well it was odd because i didn't think i had actually said i was thinking of moving back to Utah out loud and then i read that and i thought-was i drunk dialing?

thefish said...

I'll give this another go...

I read your top 10 to Lady to see what she thinks of SLC. Okay, so I'm fibbing.

Well done, and I thought you were just ignoring me. This piece is brilliantly authentic and unique to you. A posterity pleaser. A heck of a lot more than I was expecting when I asked and requested you be complete.

We'll see what the future relocation sentiments hold. But for the upcoming school year, Irvine will be receiving my special dose of mathematics. Until then, its a trade off--sunshine dollars for the beach wonderland!

Marie said...

Sam Weller Bookstore, bibliophile Mecca, known the world over. Now featuring a snack bar.

Family history library, repository of forgotten souls.

I sound like a old lady.

I like Kilby but have been dragged there too many times in the cold cold winter and the hot hot summer to say I love it. And it's exhausting keeping up the required nonchalant fabulosity. Also, artists don't seem to grasp that a tiny venue means you can turn down the amps! OUCH! Iron & Wine would have been perfect there, though -- I saw them with Calexico at In the Venue a couple years back and even that place was too big for their sound.

julie said...

I have to say that the Radio from Hell show in the mornings on X96 has got to be a definite plus. No offense to KRCL, which I can't say I've listened to consciously, but, these guys are funny and extremely entertaining! Holla!
The mountains rock! Especially in SLC!! Those peaks, oh, those peaks! Wow!
The Mormons and their temples.
The fact that you can find an address if you know where the temple is located.
It's home. No where else can say that. Well techincally, it's the Ogden Valley, but, close enough.
The Anniversary Inn.
The Utah Jazz baby!
Family's here.
I have to also add to the comment about the humidity! I love how dry it is here. I'll take chapped skin anyday over muggy, no use for shower weather.
My job.
etc, etc, etc,....

TeraLea said...

I moved from Salt Lake City two months ago and now I'm here in Austin, Texas. Reading your post made me homesick. I lived in Utah for ten years before I came here. Even though I was ready for a change, I am finding there is more to miss than I could have ever thought. One thing I came to find about Salt Lake City is that you have to forget the stereotypes, forget what people say, and find your own loves in that place. I miss the Roasting Company, how clean it always seemed, ensign peak, (cheaper rent!!) the mountains, Liberty Park, Sugarhouse...I'm sad it's going to change, the grid system downtown, main street(it's a shame what's happening to it), some of the best snowboarding! I have not even heard of Slowtrain...I'm going to have to check it out on my next visit. I miss it though, I really do. And that surprises me. But pleasantly :)

ck said...

a) You seriously need to consider getting a job at a travel magazine or something. I’m almost ready to move to salt lake after reading that.

b) I’m so glad to know the drum circles are still going on. even after living in dc, seattle AND near boulder – I’ve never seen such a dedicated group of hippies as the ones in the drum circle.

c) I’m so sad that the crossroads mall was (is being?) torn down because that housed the best ever sandwiches. And now, a moment of silence for the Kind Sandwich Deli – the tiny kiosk in the corner of the food court. If I found out that this little kiosk was selling sandwiches somewhere else in salt lake, I’d move back today. Be on the lookout – you won’t regret it.

d) Okay okay, so this one isn’t right in salt lake, but make the quick drive to Spanish fork for the Krishna “Festival of Colours.” It’s like a warzone – a giant bonfire and hundreds of people throwing paint on each other for hours. Don’t worry, it’s a peaceful warzone with no discrimination – you don’t need to know a person to throw paint on them. Maybe you’ll even meet someone there and you’ll always remember how good he/she looked covered in blue paint.