Friday, November 30, 2007

The Amateur Ombudsman Answers Your Queries

Letters, we get letters. Many of them are from the angry, the incensed, the outraged. Some are from helpful people who wish to discuss the minutiae of comma placement and whether or not Sixth South should be spelled "600 South." And, sometimes, both cases hold true and there are letters from people who are outraged about comma placement.

But then there are letters from the curious. They want to know things. They want to know what we think; sometimes they think that we know something.

In an effort to be more helpful to readers of Salt Blog, I would like to present some answers to a few of the burning questions of our time. There are two real questions and one red herring. See if you can spot the fake:

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

Are you aware of any German/American or World War II-era organizations in the Salt
Lake Valley?

Dear Catharine,

It’s a bit difficult to imagine what you’re looking for here. As far as I know, many war heroes still hang out at the VFW; perhaps that might be a good place to look. I imagine they’d like somebody new to talk to or play dominoes with. And, don’t worry—some people from that generation may appear to be all grouchy and racist and horrible to be around, but I’ve watched enough TV to know that, once you get past that gruff exterior, each and every one of them has a valuable life lesson to teach you.

However, if you’re more into historical reenactments, why not put up a flyer at a local comic book store? Historical reenactments are pretty geeky, and so are comic-book stores. Probably, there’s some overlap there. You might try Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection (2043 E. 3300 South) or Black Cat Comics (2265 Highland Dr.). Be sure and ask management before posting flyers if you can't find a bulletin board or some other obvious location.

Finally, if you simply have a thing for Germans, you can get a tasty sandwich at Siegfried’s Delicatessen (20 W. 200 South). If you play your cards right, you could be sprechen Sie Deutsch with a hot Teutonic in no time!

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

What if you were skydiving and your chute didn't open and you knew you were going to die? Would you die before you hit the ground? Can your body prepare you for this type of thing, or would you be awake right up until impact? Thanks, hope you can find an answer.

No, thank you, Jen. I had practically stopped having those recurring plummeting nightmares until I started thinking about your letter.

There are two methodologies which occur to me whereby I might answer your question. The first would be for me to jump out of an airplane with one of those anvil-chute things holding a tape recorder, carrying on a running commentary about my impressions of my last moments and impending doom. If you were able to recover the tape and play it back, it might give you insight as to just when I lost consciousness—that is, if you were to trust me implicitly and not suspect that I might purposefully screw up the results by, say, clamming up out of a sense of pique. After all, you were the one who sent me falling to my death in order to satisfy your idle curiosity.

The second method, which I favor strongly in this case, is by thought experiment: I understand that, at high speeds, the circulation of blood in the human body is affected so that the subject loses consciousness. According to Wikipedia, the terminal velocity of a human body in free-fall is about 200 mph. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone faster than that in airplanes and the only thing that might have made me lose consciousness was an excess of screwdrivers.

However, maybe things are different when the air is rushing past your ears and you’re panicking as the ground rushes up toward you, and there’s no in-flight movie or SkyMall to distract you from your plight. In this case, you might pass out before you hit the ground in which case, good on you. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much your body could do to prepare you for the inevitable, Jen. In any case, whether you’re awake or not, the cause of death is likely to be impact with the Earth. Kind of makes you wish you hadn’t given up smoking, eh?

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?


Dear Kyle,

Just three—but why anyone would want to break through the delicious cherry-flavored Pop in order to expose the vile, waxy, brown Tootsie inside is beyond me.

(Brandon Burt)

Friday Letters Round-Up

  • What the world needs now is ... 25 delay feeds of Nick at Nite.
  • I can't imagine why anybody would be interested in the fact that a candidate belongs to a church which opposes the ERA, gay rights and reproductive choice.
(Brandon Burt)

No Lands Man

[Update] This afternoon I ran into J.P. Garman looking as happy as I'd seen him in months.

Garman is the man without a country I wrote about this summer in
No Lands Man who has spent his entire adult life trying to convince authorities he is a citizen of the United States.

A bungled California adoption meant that Garman wasn’t considered a U.S. citizen. No other country claimed him either. With no Social Security card he worked short-time jobs under the table, frequently moving.

When Garman landed in Utah, he decided to make another go at becoming legit. He went to the media and—until recently—it seemed like a bad idea. When an article about him appeared in the Deseret Morning News, Garman, now a celebrity, lost what work he’d been able to get to that point.

But today, he’s sporting a spanking new Social Security card.

Following years of working through California public agencies, Garman recently received a new birth certificate listing his birthplace as California, instead of “unknown.” That led to the Social Security card.

Garman—who is hoping to get a Utah ID tomorrow—is brimming with ideas for using his new Social Security number to start a business of his own. (Ted McDonough)

Rethinking Dope

[Drugs] A rag-tag band of University of Utah professors from every discipline from Philosophy, Political Science to Law and Pharmacotherapy are trying to shake things up with a new book on society's contradictory views and policies on drugs.

The question they ask is why doesn't society approach all controlled substances from some form of uniform policy?

The interdisciplinary tack these scholars take doesn't pull any punches, whether it's questioning what role political lobbying has in keeping alcohol legal and marijuana illegal, or positing whether or not there are stiffer penalties for possession of crack vs. cocaine because of racist implications of crack abuse by certain poor African American populations.

Certainly drug contradictions here in Zion abound where so many Utahns have witnessed the cultural norms about the harmlessness of prescription drugs. Such naive beliefs have pushed many casual pill poppers from a party drug to the hard realities of heroin, as was written this month in City Weekly. (Eric S. Peterson)

Get Dirty Sweet Twice

[Music] A hot music pick slipped by us this week because, well, nobody told us they were coming back: San Diego's Dirty Sweet, the 12th coming of the Black Crowes, Black Oak Arkansas and Black Sabbath (dig the stringy Ozzy hair and bellbottoms) played Salt Lake City months ago and earned rave local reviews from the few who witnessed it--again, alerting the press ain't a bad idea for promoting a show, for future reference.

This weekend, Dirty Sweet's playing twice at the Bar Deluxe at 666 S. State: Saturday, Dec. 1 as an opening act for the Slippery Kittens Burlesque (nice gig if you can get it), and Sunday, Dec. 2 headlining over SLC alt-country rockers the High Beams (Sunday in Salt Lake--rough gig).

You'll notice in the band's video below that, while they plead "Baby Come Home," they don't seem to actually have one--when they're not at the club, they have to play outside in a field! Do what you can to help these guys with rent and razor money, won't you?

(Bill Frost)

Stephanie Bernritter, 1968-2007

[Heroes] This beautiful soul is Stephanie Bernritter. She taught English and creative writing at Salt Lake City's West High School from 2002 until just a few days ago.

Ms. B, as we all knew her, died of complications from a long battle against leukemia on the night of Nov. 28. She was 39. Stephanie is survived by her husband Kevin, of Salt Lake City, relatives in Seattle (her hometown) and countless friends and proteges.

She is a warrior and a goddess. Fierce about good writing, loving toward all, this woman is the teacher you all hope your children will get. I know I did. Stephanie taught my daughter, now 19, and was her advisor when she co-edited WestWinds, the school's socko literary magazine. Beyond her passion for teaching, and her famous 15-minute "writing prompts," Stephanie helped with student clubs and athletics, including soccer coaching and advising the Gay Student Association. She headed up numerous poetry slams at coffee houses around Salt Lake City, where her students showcased their considerable talents.

My son was in her 11th-grade English class this year. She led him through The Grapes of Wrath with the usual reverence for John Steinbeck's literary talent, but she also got her students writing brief and beautiful essays about poverty, alienation and socialism.

I used to visit Stephanie's classes each year and talk about creative non-fiction. The students and I batted around ideas, discussed ways to narrate a story. I always told them how much they had to say and write, and how valuable their life stories are. This, in a world where too many adults in their lives dismiss them for their youth and inexperience. That, or they fear them, simply because they are teenagers.

None of this applies to Stephanie. She gave all of her students the power to live well and to write their truths. Dissing the state of public education is becoming a regular mantra these days. But it's fairly certain these critics never knew a teacher/a human being/a warrior like Stephanie Bernritter.

I just returned from a memorial service for Stephanie at West High. After a short video of her life and work shown in the library, the entire school gathered on the front lawn to send up balloons in her honor. We ended the service with a collective shout--what amounts to Ms. B's favorite expression: Right (or Write) On! (Holly Mullen)

Downward Dog ... to Hell!

[News of the Whacked] Speaking of yoga, did you know that it's a tool of Satan? Yup. According to the not-batshit-crazy-at-all Pat Robertson, the stretching is fine, but by repeating yoga mantras, you're praying to Hindu gods Vishnu and Krishna! MSNBC's Keith Olbermann elaborated on last night's Countdown:

Where does this leave Pilates then? Do I have to cancel today? (Bill Frost)

Yoga Rave

[Stretch It] Are you a yogi in a yoga rut? Do you feel like branching out and working with a different teacher, at least for one day? Are you a compassionate person who wants to do something positive for your community this holiday season?

I know that the above pitch sounds rather late-night infomercial, but if you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you should seriously consider attending this Saturday’s
Yogis Give Back benefit at the Rose Wagner Blackbox Theatre (138 W. 300 South).

A few years ago, impresario/dancer/choreographer/yoga teacher Stephen Brown asked several superstar yoga teachers from various studios in Utah to pool their yoga-osity and host a giant yoga class. The "yoga rave" (as one teacher dubbed it) was so well received, Brown made the Yogis Give Back fundraiser an annual event. All proceeds benefit the Hope Center for Children. Space is limited, so sign up ASAP if you’re interested. You can read more about the event
here in a story City Weekly ran last fall. (Jenny Poplar)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ogden Election Brouhaha

[Elections] Ogden's election brouhaha has caught the attention of a national voting rights researcher.

In his
blog, Scott Novakowski, a researcher for the democracy promoting organization Demos, points to Ogden's confusing November mayor election as further evidence that the country’s voting system remains broken, particularly when it comes to use of provisional ballots.

The Ogden mayor’s race was thrown into confusion when supporters of Mayor Matthew Godfrey submitted long lists of names to Weber County election officials challenging the right of hundreds of would-be voters to vote. The ACLU of Utah is currently investigating complaints that Ogden voters may have been turned away from the polls without the opportunity to cast a ballot.

As Novakowski points out in his blog, under 2002’s Help America Vote Act, everyone whose right to vote is challenged at the polls is supposed to be offered a “provisional” ballot.

“Under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) states must offer "fail-safe" provisional ballots to all individuals who believe they are registered to vote but whose names do not appear on the rolls, who do not meet identification requirements, or whose eligibility is challenged at the polls. Such ballots are counted if election officials subsequently determine that the individual was a legitimate voter under state law.”

But, writes Novakowski, it isn’t unusual for election officials and poll workers to refuse provisional ballots--in large part because those running elections don't understand how the system is supposed to work.

In a report he completed this month for Demos, A Fallible 'Fail-Safe': An Analysis of Provisional Balloting Problems in the 2006 Election, Novakowski found problems with provisional ballots used nationwide during the 2006 election. Voter registration lists continued to be inaccurate during that election, meaning people that should have been on voter lists weren't. And a large percentage of complaints coming from that election were from voters denied a provisional ballot.

A bigger a problem may be “vague and inconsistent” standards adopted by states for when provisional ballots are counted, the Demos report says. While federal law sets a minimum standard for counting provisional ballots, many states established stricter rules that mean many provisional votes get tossed even after election officials determine the person casting the provisional vote should have been allowed to vote a regular ballot in the first place. Utah is listed among 13 states with rules, “that can create a significant, high, or very high risk of voting list error.”

Among Demos’ recommendations to fix the provisional ballot problem is for states to get rid of provisional ballots altogether—by passing election day registration laws. One such law will be proposed in January during the next session of the Utah Legislature. The sponsor is Democratic Rep. Neil Hansen, who—perhaps not coincidentally—represents Ogden. (Ted McDonough)

America's Next Top Regime Change

[Politics] For any you kids worried that the only way Republicans will beef up war spending is by starting another war, you ought to start doing your homework on a little place called Iran.

That's why it would be worth checking out a slide show being put on tonight from members of a peace delegation recently returning from Iran. One of the delegates, Phil Wilayto, peace activist and journalist, will be doing a presentation and slide show tonight Nov. 29 at Nobrow Coffee on 315 East Broadway from 7-9 pm tonight. Phil took this expedition on behalf of several organizations including the Campaign Against Sanction and Military Intervention in Iran

Phil also appeared on todays RadioActive program on KRCL talking about the trip and making the point that if you really want to actually do something to prevent war in Iran, try a vacation there. Apparently the only restrictions on travel there for Americans is that they contract their tour through a travel agency.

This peace tourism actually makes sense, not only do people travelling there benefit from learning the full complexities of a country, gaining vital perspective to counter the ever increasing war rhetoric emerging from the White House, but they also increase economic ties between our countries and make it more costly to engage in war.

For anyone actually scared of going to a country we might soon be at war with, keep in mind a rule for international travel I can personally swear by, some people probably hate America with a passion, but few people don't love Americans--especially when you are making the effort to learn about their culture. (Eric S. Peterson)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fodder for the Utah-Vegas Water Wars

[Dry News] Yesterday, NPR's Fresh Air featured an interview with California water researcher Peter Gleick about the "Looming Water Crisis" facing much of the Western United States.

Glick, a MacArthur fellow and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, visited Utah recently, meeting with Legislators, Salt Lake County officials and City Weekly, to discuss a new Pacific Institute study of Las Vegas' water use. The findings—that Sin City could be saving a lot more water through conservation—should interest Utah politicians grappling with Nevada’s plan to pipe water from the Utah-Nevada border to Vegas.

To justify the planned pipeline, Las Vegas water authorities have repeatedly touted the city’s water conservation efforts—particularly a program that pays residents to tear grass out of front yards. The message has essentially been that Vegas is already conserving. (They particularly love to point out that water used in casino fountains is recycled.) So, the argument goes, the city has no choice but to pump water from ranching land. (A move Utah ranchers fear could destroy their crops.) Vegas water authorities have even chastised Utah for doing less on the water conservation front.

The Pacific Institute study calls out the Vegas rhetoric. Institute researcher Heather Cooley gives Vegas credit for the “innovative and effective” turf-removal program, but notes Vegas lags behind other desert regions in use of many other water conservation programs. Cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Tucson are more aggressive and use significantly less water.

The Pacific Institute study identified 80,000 acre feet of water that Vegas could save through conservation. Gleick said if Vegas adopted the water conserving measures outlined in the institute report, the city could postpone building the proposed pipeline for years.

The report is good fodder in Utah’s water fight with Vegas. But Utahns shouldn’t act too superior. Pacific Institute’s researchers note Salt Lake City and St. George residents use less water per person than Vegas residents, but are still significant water wasters compared to standout conservers in New Mexico, Arizona or parts of Colorado. (Ted McDonough)

You & The Tube

[Politics] Tonight's CNN/YouTube Republican Debate gets underway in a few hours, and while the compilation video below does include some "great questions" for the candidates, I gotta ask: Is political savvy what it takes to win over Anderson "News Ferret" Cooper, or production values? Are these "concerned citizens" working toward a better country or 15 minutes of niche fame? Were there rousing CB Radio debates in the '70s? Guess I'd better make a video and submit it somewhere if I want any answers ...

(Bill Frost)

Dick Nourse: Retiring One Bad Ass Mofo

[Media] Maybe it's just our cover on Ultimate Fighting in Utah this week, but when I think now of KSL's Dick Nourse retiring tonight after after 43 years on air, I can't help but lament that Utah has lost one of its most ... physically intimidating broadcasters.

Don't get me wrong, Nourse is a great broadcaster and journalist, and if you want to hear more of his praises in that regard, read any other tribute to him. I just thought I'd highlight the fact that KSL may no longer be able to claim that their evening broadcaster could most likely demolish any other local news broadcaster in a cage fight.

I mean look at the guy! I certainly wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley somewhere. Having Nourse retire is like having Rhino from the Amazing Spider-Man series retire from crime. Who can fill those shoes? Who could go on ramming down steel bank vault doors with their head or knocking over armored cars like they were Matchbox toys?

Certainly no one in Utah broadcasting anymore thats for damn sure.
In fact I challenge anyone to come up with a Utah journalist that could go toe to toe with the "force of Nourse" for three rounds and even survive, let alone emerge victorious. (Eric S. Peterson)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Snow Angel

[Winter Wonderland] Picking up on the indomitable Bill Frost's thread below, what is the best winter survival tip you have for living in Utah?

I realize that ol' global warming has made living through these milder winters a breeze, but ...

Honestly, I lived here for three-quarters of my life before finally learning to ski. I took my first lesson at age 43. I'm an old dog but I did learn a new trick and now I ski like a bunny. Kind of. But you gotta squint to see it.

Anyway, I pretty much worship snow days now. I don't even curse ice on the car windshield in the mornings anymore. Unless I'm late for work.

So, got any survival tips? I'll even listen to sarcasm, if you want. Also, I wish that was me--the hot ski racer--in the photo above. It's U.S. Ski Team member Julie Mancuso and the photo is from the Tacoma News-Tribune. (Holly Mullen)

The Dangers of Snow

[Winter] Still waiting for the snow? For weeks now, TV weatherguys have told us that "Snow's coming Tuesday! Really!" Has yet to happen, but looks like today might finally be it. Now instead of bitching about the lack of white stuff, you can start bitching about the abundance of white stuff. It's your right as a Utahn.

To prepare you, please to enjoy this cautionary tale from the Happy Tree Friends:

(Bill Frost)


[Wildlife] How much do we love wolves in this country?

We love them so, so much we've taken to spotting them roaming in the foothills of the Salt Lake 'burbs in Olympus Cove, even when wildlife experts are saying the specimen in question is more likely a wolf-dog hybrid.

The wolf, with its incredibly sophisticated social structure, lonely howl and just-close-enough-to-domestic-dog looks is the stuff of legend and of our wildest imaginations. We respect their instincts and power, envy their "lone-wolfness." (The photo here is from
Smithsonian Magazine.)

But we don't love wolves enough, apparently, to keep them protected and on the federal endangered species list for much longer. The western gray wolf, which has flourished in the 33 years since it was reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park from Canada, is on the fast track to being delisted. Environmentalists are sounding the alarm about moving too quickly, but it looks like one more midnight-hour policy change we'll be able to thank George W. Bush for in his last year in office. The war, yes. The wolves, no. You know, let's just let
everything go to hell.

On a related topic, if you've ever wondered how a Yellowstone gray wolf might fare in a rendezvous with a grizzly bear, go here and find out.

There's just something about Canis lupus. (Holly Mullen)

Dancing with the Mormons

[Politics-ish] For anyone who ever doubted why Mitt Romney would be a contender for a presidential candidate, all I have to say is this: Marie Osmond.

While you struggle to make the connection allow me to scoop you in on the latest Dancing with the Stars gossip. Our lovable Marie Osmond has cruised through the series despite getting some of the lowest marks by the judges for her abysmal dancing. Even last week she fainted while dancing because according to her "I forgot to breathe." Fair enough, honest mistake, that's one of those natural bodily functions that often slips my mind from time to time.

And yet the audience votes that keep coming in save Marie every time. One of her fellow dancers Maksim Chmerkovskiy has recently said it's all a sympathy vote because of her father's death and her sons going into rehab. Maksim also confessed that his celebrity partner Ugly Spice has personal problems of her own that she didn't flaunt in front of the nation that is that her kid has chicken pox.

I have another theory. Marie is swimming in votes because, sure there is a pity factor, but she also has an LDS social network supporting her that is vast, organized and efficient.

If one accepts Robert Putnam's theory of social capital you have to appreciate then how the LDS community has a very intricate network of support for members of its community that operates on formal and informal levels.

This is what not only keeps Marie going but also supports Mormon politicians nationwide. Sure the majority of Americans are scared of Mormons, but that doesn't completely counter the efficiency of the existing Mormon populations ability to elect voices of their community.

Look at national politics: 11 Mormon house reps, 5 in the senate including Majority leader Harry Reid. 5 senators may only be 5% of the senate but keep in mind there's only about 7 million LDS members in the US, 300 million thereabouts in the US at large.That's almost 200 percent representation.

Pretty damn impressive political machine there, and its the same machine that Romney will be counting on to not only drum up votes, but also organize outreach and fundraising to finance his extreme evangelical makeover necessary to win over the rest of America's value voters. (Eric S. Peterson)

Contest: Double Franchisee

[Three-peat] Next week marks the DVD release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, a film that -- whatever its other qualities -- placed Orlando Bloom in select company. Having appeared as Legolas in three Lord of the Rings films and Will Turner in three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Bloom becomes one of only a handful of performers to play the same character in at least three films in two different film series. Harrison Ford -- Han Solo and Indiana Jones -- is an easy one. But how many others could you come up with?

Readers are invited to send in the longest possible list of actors who have appeared as the same character in at least three theatrically-released films in two different film series, no later than Monday, Dec. 3. The winner receives a copy of the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End DVD. Voice roles count; direct-to-video doesn't. And a bonus point for anyone who includes a woman in his or her list. So far, the best I've been able to find are women with one trilogy and one two-fer.

Email to with subject line "Double Franchise Contest", and be sure to include your daytime phone number and mailing address. (Scott Renshaw)

Monday, November 26, 2007

SOBs in the News

[Kinky] Now that Blue Boutique has begun threatening the morals of Sugar House by having the nerve to get forced out of its longtime digs by strip-mall developers and move three blocks east, we wonder what other Utah businesses (other than City Weekly) the morality police might start looking out for. How about AL Enterprises, which recently moved to Carbon Avenue in Price? The Internet retailer assembles "male chastity products." From its Website:
Is your husband or boyfriend cheating on you? Has he done so in the past and you find it difficult to once again get that level of trust back? Has your relationship lost the spark, passion and commitment that you had in the beginning?
The answer, according to AL Enterprises, is to encase that dude's junk in a locking Plexiglas tube--to which you have the only key!
The first thing this would accomplish is to take away his ability to take matter [sic] into his own hands through masturbation. He can no longer touch his penis. His outlook on your relationship will take on a whole new meaning!
I don't doubt that. Anyone did that to me, my outlook on the relationship would change dramatically.

Instructions for the physical process of encasement are available; how you're going to convince him to submit to it, though, is anybody's guess.
In my family's religion, we were taught merely that tying our wrists to our bedposts would save us from nocturnal temptation. Isn't technology wonderful?

Unfortunately, some folks in Price don't cotton to the whole idea. Benson Manwaring, AL Enterprises' manager, recently
was nearly run down by a white SUV.

It's unclear whether the person behind the wheel was a member of the morality police thinking the device looked too much like fun, a ne'er-do-well boyfriend who didn't want his girlfriend getting ideas into her head, or even the victim in this kind of strangely sub-dom relationship. (Brandon Burt)

Pissin' Off Vampires

[TV] This week's True TV column (which is currently ranked as's most-read story, proof of a very slow week) poked a bit of fun at CBS' vampire drama Moonlight--bad idea, since vampires and the people who love 'em have rarely have a sense of humor. These comments materialized last week:

This is honestly one of the first reviews of Moonlight I've seen that is negative. As the previous poster observed you obviously don't understand the motive of the show. unlike many other supernatural series Moonlight does not take itself too seriously, which is the entire point. The producers are striving for campy fun entertainment TV. Before you review something so harshly maybe take a step back and attempt to realize what the producers and writers are trying to achieve and the nature of your hypercritical measuring stick may evolve. It is sad to see TV critics take themselves too seriously and consequently miss the entire goal of a show. --Theo

First negative review? I'm about a month behind everyone else with my negative review! And then ...

I'm writing as a viewer who watches no other show on Friday night EXCEPT for Moonlight ! Yes I turn my TV on just to watch it.. and I have the thought that you will be hearing from alot of other Moonlight fans. I'm sorry that you obviously don't "get" the show.. but alot of us do. The show itself has improved with every episode. There have been many of your fellow "critics" (You know you can be a critic and say "positive" things about shows) .. who wrote negative reviews of Moonlight when it first premiered.. but have actually changed their minds ..and a few are addicted as well. You are missing out on a great hour of entertainment.. Your loss! --MaryP

Actually, I'm not--the point was that I'm watching Moonlight despite my better judgement and sobriety. It's still a fucking ridiculous show, but I'm addicted now too. So bite me ... I should really rephrase that ... alot. (Bill Frost)

Confessions of a Push Poller

[Politics] Some news has recently come out about an opinion research firm in Utah called Western Wats which has alleged to conducted push polling meant to change peoples minds about Mitt Romney. Now not saying I care for Romney much at all, but I do think it's deliciously ironic that a firm that would capitalize on defaming Romney operates right from the heart of The U.C. (Utah County), Romney country.

Now push polling if you dont know, means fake surveys that essentially spread rumors and false statements about a candidate to change public opinion, all while under the guise of being official survey research.

Now the thing is Western Wats may not exactly be spreading false statements about Romney, that may not technically be push polling, but chances are the surveys they are conducting are meant to take Mitt down a peg.

What would make me say this? Well I'm ashamed to admit it, but I used to work at the Western Wats in Spanish Fork while I was getting my associates at UVSC. Now it's very possible things have changed but I can say with some certainty that I used to get paid to do something like unto push polling if not exactly that.

We used to have to conduct surveys for example that were hired by Pharmaceutical companies where we would conduct "research" on peoples opinions about buying medication in Canada. We would ask their opinion on buying cheap meds over the border, and then we would list them negative facts about the "dangers" of Canadian meds and then ask them to rate their opinion on them again, and then we would list more dangers, and then rate their opinion again and again ad nauseum.

Essentially we were contracted to do aggressive research. Research that was meant not to gather unbiased opinion, but to change opinion. And I would tell every person I called that was exactly what was going on--only way I could conscienably do that job for six bucks an hour.

Now who knows for sure if they are doing that now, but one needs to remember that companies like Western Wats aren't think tanks that have researchers who write and craft official studies. No they contract out to hire poor college and high school kids to call and harass people at all hours of the day and night reading them surveys (written by their clients) with definite political agendas.

It was one of the reason I quit, that, and my "supervisor" hadn't hit puberty yet, and that made it hard for me to accept the authority of him not letting me read while I conducted my bullshit research. (Eric Peterson)

Only Mormon Minds Need Apply

[Media] You may recall a Salt Blog post regarding lobbyist/state GOP chairman/cum Deseret Morning News publisher Joe Cannon's announcement earlier this month about new niche publications that would target a whole new audience: Mormon readers!

Well, the work has begun. A concerned staff member of the Deseret Morning News just sent CW this e-mail about a couple of new openings to be filled soon at God's Newspaper. Here is the e-mail, forwarded by the staffer:

Soon there will be two open positions for writers and/or editors in a yet-to-be-named department working on yet-to-be-named new sections of the newspaper that will emphasize news and features of LDS interest. We're looking for people who have demonstrated strong news writing, reporting and/or editing abilities. Applicants must be familiar with LDS faith and culture, and able to produce content that will be of interest to a growing readership in print and online. The niche for these new sections will be: less "official" than the LDS Church News, more feature-oriented than City Desk's breaking-news coverage of the LDS Church and related events, and more LDS-specific than the weekly Religion/Ethics section. Employees of the new department also might participate in production of the Church News section. We'll be looking both inside and outside the Deseret Morning News to fill these slots. If you are interested, or know someone who might be, contact David Schneider, or 237-2158.

The source, who fears reprisal if named, points out: "Many non-LDS employees [of the
DMN] are of course worried that a targeted emphasis on the LDS Church/LDS culture will make it even more difficult -- and it is plenty hard already -- to convince sources that we're fair and objective." (Holly Mullen)

Free Brubeck Bros. Tickets

[Music] The first 10 people to comment on this blog with their name (first and last for verification upon pickup) will score themselves a pair of tickets to Saturday night's Brubeck Bros. concert at the SLCC Grand Theatre. The write-up appearing in the upcoming Nov. 29 City Weekly:

THE BRUBECK BROTHERS Last week, we profiled the King Khan & BBQ Show. This week, we turn our attention to a completely different type of BBQ—the Brubeck Brothers Quartet. For those outside the contemporary jazz loop, multi-instrumentalist Chris Brubeck and his drummer/percussionist brother Dan honed their chops with great expectations. Father Dave Brubeck is a jazz giant (“Take Five” anyone?) whose work reverberates among even clueless cocktail party-goers who can't make heads or tails of Davis vs. Coltrane. Well, BBQ fills pop's shoes just fine, cranking out their own inspired jams with seemingly effortless zeal. Did we mention they throw in elements of funk, rock, classic blues and reggae? Now that's finger-licking good. Saturday, Dec. 1 @ SLCC Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State, 7:30 p.m. All-ages. Tickets: 957-3322

Ten free pairs of tickets are waiting; just leave your full name and viable e-mail address in a comment below. The first 10 be contacted to pick up the tickets at the City Weekly offices (248 S. Main) before Saturday. (Bill Frost)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Letters Round-Up

  • My dental hygienist doesn't believe in global warming, and she's kind of a scientist.
  • I, too, am outraged on behalf of Marie Osmond.

Happy Consumerpalooza!

[Shop, Drop] Today officially is "Black Friday" which while it sounds like the name of some third world labor riot put down violently is actually one of our greatest consumer culture holidays. It marks the time we need to start madly buying peoples love with lead covered toys and ever shrinking iaccessories.

And while I could take this opportunity to really go on a commie rant about how Christmas has become a totally artificial consumer holiday, completely divorced of any Christ-like notions of thrift, good will and service--I ain't gonna do it. Least not in this blog (stay tuned).

I happen to accept Xmas as the capitalist spending orgy that it is. sure you spend alot but I don't think all the conspicuous consumption negates all the giving, cheer, snowflake sweaters, hot beverages and all the rest of the fine Rockwellian bucolic splendor.

Apparently ol' Morgan Spurlock is doing another documentary apparently following some fairly ridiculous anti-shopping mock-church as they rail against consumerism. Which is fine.

But all I'm saying is that boycotting consumerism doesn't mean you have to whittle your family crappy wooden boats, or knit them tea cozys. Just think about patronizing small and local business first, before you get sucked into the gravitational pull of the first giant MegaLoMart you see off of I-15

Whereas Black Friday is a time for big retail chains to double their bajillion dollar holdings, it is also a time where many small local businesses have to pay the bills just to keep in business another year. Besides, you might have to look a little harder to find the small places, but theres not gonna be nearly the same shopping carnage. (Eric S. Peterson)

Serious Indigestion

[Annals of Medicine] And you thought you were full after yesterday's T-giving feast. Take this! (Holly Mullen)

Stop the Rubber Penises!

[NIMBY] So, some Sugar House neighborhood residents are now up in arms about the imminent move of Blue Boutique from its 20-year-old location in the Sugar House business district to a spot at 2100 South and 1400 East.

They're saying they had no knowledge of the move, didn't hear or read about it until it became too late to prevent the lingerie/accessory/piercing/adult toy business from opening across from Sugarhouse Park and three blocks from Highland High School.

If only they had read this story in City Weekly. Staff writer Ted McDonough covered the bases a whole month ago in this "where are they now" story about mom and pop businesses displaced by Mr. Scrooge developer Craig Mecham. Mecham, you'll recall, is turning the old Granite Block at 1100 East and 2100 South into condos and ugly stores that lack character.

The angry hordes also could have checked, when they first saw the big building going up on that site last summer, with Salt Lake City government. It's all public information, people. Now you're just going to have to put up with rampant rubber penises, I guess. (Holly Mullen)

Ix-Nay on Black Friday

[Mainstream Media] Several times a year, another reason why it made sense to leave daily newspapers for a job with the alternative press hits me upside the head. Example: The day after Thanksgiving.

This day has all but become a national holiday for most Americans. So among the mainstream media, there is little more to cover than the craziness of BLACK FRIDAY.

Every year, reporters assigned to this story try to find a new and interesting way to pump up America's need for greed. And every year they write the same old story. Door crashing, shopper-on-shopper violence while standing in line, hot-or-not toys. Blah, blah, blah. Why, just all on my own over the years I'm sure I've covered every possible angle on this non-story. How great would it be if every daily newspaper editor and TV news producer stuck it to the man and just said no to any coverage of Black Friday? I mean, you can't be part of the solution if you remain a major part of the problem. (Holly Mullen)

This is Wacked

[X-cycling] A press release pitching this mountain bike transformation kit came my way this morning.

Hmm. I love bicycling. I love back country skiing. But I kind of hope I don't run into one of those obsessed X Games types spinning around on one of these things this winter when I'm skiing a sweet little area in Big Cottonwood Canyon we like to call Mary Lee's Trees. Because I will want to hit him or her with something. Maybe my ski.

It's like this: Mountain biking all summer and fall. Skiing all winter and spring. Can we not just leave some sports pure and made-as-god-intended, without going all extreme and bat-shit crazy with after-market tinkering? A bike is a bike. Skis are skis. Got it?

If anyone out there has actually used one of these contraptions, let me know. What's the attraction? I can't imagine you converting me, but I never say never... (Holly Mullen)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

SLAMMYs: Part Deux

[Local Music] Yesterday I was feeling all down and all sorry for myself like a whiny little baby. Today I woke up to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on TV and while I'm typically not into shopping-mall sponsored holiday events, the spectacle struck a nerve. I realized that nothing (especially one City Weekly issue) is worth getting worked up about, at least not to the extent that it puts me in a blue mood for the rest of the evening.

Today, and hopefully from here on out, I'm going to focus on what I'm thankful for, including the chance to write about music for a living and to constantly be exposed to great local talent. Here's to a great SLAMMYs experience.

Accentuate the positive, right?

Happy Turkey/Tofurkey Day everyone! (Jamie Gadette)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where for Art Thou, Juliette?

[Music] Maybe someday, we'll get Juliette Lewis and her band The Licks to play a proper Salt Lake City show--maybe. Months ago, she was scheduled to open for Chris Cornell at The Depot, so we of course had to talk to her. Cornell then cancelled, leaving us with only Juliette ink.

The Licks returned later in the summer--but to Orem, opening for (of all bands) Muse. Juliette Lewis in Utah County ... the mind wobbles.

Tonight, Juliette & The Licks are back in the U-T-A-H again--this time, at Park City's Suede. PC is where I became a Licks convert a couple of years ago, witnessing the band rip through a hot set at Harry O's during the Sundance Film Festival. The crowd didn't give a shit; they were just there to be seen, which annoyed headliners Kings of Leon to no end. Lewis was unfazed. She's used to Sundance dickheads.

Here's a live clip of The Licks playing "Hot Kiss" from the new Four on the Floor album--not all actors attempting rock & roll are posers; Lewis is the real deal:

(Bill Frost)

Here We Go Again

[Local Music] Each year we try to do something to honor local bands, and each year we receive a litany of complaints. Oh wait. We don't receive complaints, people just complain behind our backs. We still love them. But damn, love hurts. (Jamie Gadette)

Utah Diversity: Mormons from Around the World

[Demographics] "Worldly" has always been a funny term for utah. In many ways you couldn't have a more culturally isolated and sheltered place, and then on the other hand you could drive to some small town like Paragonah and probably find half the town speaks a second language (at least the males who went on LDS missions that is).

It seems Utah really is a diverse place through an LDS lens, but could all that be changing? An ominous news story covered in the dailies recently showed Mormons making up a historic low in Utah's population--only 60 percent.

Which comparatively speaking is still quite the stranglehold for any one religious demographic for an entire state. Yet what is interesting is that Utah is sssllooowly making a move towards greater diversity, but the only question is whether or not the shape of diversity in utah to come will be outside the church's influence or just another manifestation of it?

Many things seem to point to an all together cosmopolitan outlook. On the economic front we've never had a Governor more active in introducing Utah business directly to foreign powerhouses like India and China. Politically the University of Utah is garnering people active in Intl. politics, and not just academically speaking.

Like the U's recent law school hire Chibli Mallat who is currently running for president of Lebanon, while also teaching about Middle Eastern law, quite impressive and worth checking out here
Beyond that our wise city planners and masterminds of the Downtown Rising project are hoping to create a "Utah World Trade Center" which would actually consolidate all of the scattered international business and nonprofit interests in the state, as well as a university partnered conflict resolution and peace studies center, all into a sleek downtown building that kind of looks like Al Pacino's casino in Ocean's 13.

So the future looks bright and diverse, but when all is said and done it will be hard to say whether or not it will be truly cosmopolitan or just an evolved Mormon mecca as it is today. Not until we get there at least. (Eric S. Peterson)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where is My Favorite Restaurant?

[MIA] My favorite restaurant has vanished and I'm upset.

Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine, on 200 South just above 400 West, had my favorite dish—a sea bass in a "special" spicy red sauce. M-m-m-m, sea bass. It was perfectly located in a cavernous building with old comfortable booths. The restaurant was there a couple of weeks ago. And now, not.

I am hoping the restaurant has moved, rather than closed for good. If anyone knows what has become of Lemon Grass, please let me know. (Ted McDonough)

This Week's Boring Political Announcement

[Politics] Utah lawyers attending last weekend's continuing legal education seminar at the Salt Palace were treated to a lunch talk from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (From the governor’s point of view the visit was a perfect gig. Thousands of lawyers—annually among the biggest givers to political campaigns—trapped in a room while they earn “hours” of “education” required to keep their licenses.)

Huntsman outlined his priorities—hiking schoolteacher pay, improving air quality and expanding availability of health insurance. Then, the governor acknowledged that he would need more than his current term to make real headway on that list.

Junior plans to run for a second term. No real surprise there. And we will have to see if the decision sticks when he is offered the veep spot on a McCain ticket. (Ted McDonough)

What's Up, Docs?

[Film] Every year, people ask me to predict the Academy Awards. And every year I resist, because I want nothing to do with furthering the legitimacy of this gold-statuette-dispensing gaggle of clown-shoes.

The latest example of the Motion Picture Academy's mind-boggling lack of artistic vision comes with this week's announcement of the
15 "short-listed" finalists for the Documentary Feature category. Since you may know little about the specific titles listed, let me offer some helpful Harper's Index-style statistics:

* Percent of finalists that are in some way about America's Middle East adventure: 26.6%
* Percentage of finalists that are in some way about war: 53.3%
* Percentage of finalists that are about a clearly and obviously "important issue" like slave labor, Chinese democracy, health care, abortion, etc.: 100%

So forget a shot for the year's most interesting and stylistically innovative documentaries: Manda Bala (Send a Bullet), Manufactured Landscapes, The King of Kong, My Kid Could Paint That, Protagonist. Always desperately concerned about putting on its serious face, the Academy ignores anything that doesn't come with Cliff's Notes thesis statements. Remember: These are the awards given by an industry to itself. Trust them accordingly. (Scott Renshaw)


[U.S. in Peril] According to some guy who wrote a book, the North American Union (the United States, Mexico and Canada merged into a single nation Euro-style) is but a few years away. Apart from the obvious upside of gaining access to Canada's natural resources of water, oil and beer, what's the big deal? It's the slippery slope to ... a New World Order!

"Everything is in place," says author Daniel Estulin, a former Canuck. "Europe is now one country, one currency and one constitution. North America is about to become one. The African Union has had its working model going for over a decade. Asia is openly discussing the near-future Asian Union, being sold to us as an economic inevitability beneficial to all its citizens."

If this still sounds good (or at least convenient) to you flaming liberals, know this: Your local neighborhood skate/snowboard shop is agin it! Seems like an odd fit, but Salty Peaks Skate & Snowboard Shop is actively advertising, a website created by another hyper-motivated author to, well, stop the North American Union.

Snowboarders and skate rats united against the evil tyranny of The Man? Wasn't that Hot Dog: The Movie? Everything turned out fine there. (Bill Frost)

Reach Up. Step Touch It. That's It. Reach High.

[Balls] Our mighty operations manager recently hooked us up with large inflatable balls (*snicker*) to replace our rigid office chairs. It took some getting used to, but I'm quickly becoming a ball convert. Seriously. My abs are rock hard. I'm thinking of starting a Wednesday ball aerobics class in the conference room. Something like this:

Yee-Haw! You're looking so good!

(Jamie Gadette)

Turkey Clubbing

[Music] Home for the holiday? You're done with the familial obligation; now it's you time. Here's your electro-pop, chick-rock, drag queen, punk-show-filled weekend.

Thursday 11.22
Trapp Door (615 W. 100 South)
Thanksgiving night's foremost party, "Dance Evolution" is packed wall to wall with the uni-sexiest mix of culture you didn't know we had. This is the place to escape and dance your trypto-fanny off. DJ/DC spins the hottest jams of urban electro-pop with hosts Jake and Justice commencing your unanticipated weekend. Door at 9 p.m., $5 cover. BUT, if you don "oldy-timey" costume for this Inuit v. Pilgrim party, your admission is free.

Friday 11.23
Monk's (19 E. 200 South)
Is live chick-rock your thing? Head to this bomb shelter-turned-venue for a sweet Salt Lake City treat. Ever-elusive regional beloved Andale! graces the stage with front siren Memorie Morrison’s melodic tales of anxiety and job resentment. Opener Blackhole is … how do you say in Utah? … AWESOME. Door at 10 p.m., $5 cover.

Mynt Lounge, (63 W. 100 South)
For you who crave a more extra-ordinary edge, Crush is the club. Native "Glamor Tycoon" Matthew Landis hosts this see-and-be-scene. Local legend D.J. Nick James will be announcing plans for the super exclusive speakeasy "Night at the Disco." No one throws down underground N.Y. retro-ultra-beats like Nick. My sources tell me there will be a super-secret international celeb-utante threatening a mid-night show. Door at 10 p.m., $5 cover.

Saturday 11.24
Burt's Tiki Lounge (726 S. State)
If PBR specials, hot girls and dirty boys are what you seek. Headlining an all-star slam fest week-ender, local punk sensation Negative Charge takes you to a jolting climax. Door at 10 p.m., $5 cover. (Princess Kennedy)

The Fed Ex Way

[Stopping Traffic] The place: Broadway (300 South) between Main Street and West Temple in downtown SLC.

The time: Lunch hour.

The scene: Fed Ex panel truck backs out of an alley after driver's partner makes a delivery. Truck turns west onto Broadway, and tries to move back into traffic flow. Oops! There, in the one-lane road (remember, angled parking along Broadway has removed a lane of traffic) sits a big-ass moving van, painted with the logo "Lucky Moving" and idling in front of the American Towers condominiums. Fed Ex guy jumps out of the truck's passenger seat, gestures wildly at the moving van blocking his way and hollers "What the hell does that guy think he's doing?!

No kidding. Don't you just hate it when some random truck driver blocks the road to others just to do his job? You'd think he was a Federal Express driver or something. (Holly Mullen)


[Local Music] While most of you are undoubtedly counting down the hours to Turkey/Tofurkey Day, I've got my mind set on January when City Weekly will put our revamped SLAMMYs plan into action.

In years past, we wrapped our local music issue around the South By Southwest music festival, sending down the winner of our battle of the bands competition to Austin where they performed in a showcase and (ideally) networked with "pretty big deals."

This year, festival organizers cut down our privileges, granting us fewer all-access music badges and one or two wristbands for the musicians. This came as no surprise to us as City Weekly was one of the last few alt-weeklies to hook up local groups with a show in Austin. Rather than throw a fit, we went back to the drawing board and instigated changes that should have been made long ago.

First, we decided to turn SLAMMYs into more of a showcase rather than a competitive forum. We also did away with applications, choosing instead to nominate bands that we feel best represent our local music scene. The nominating committee included myself, Bill Frost, several freelancers, record store owners and radio hosts whose tastes range from metal to country to blues and (nearly) everything in between.

Nominated acts will perform in one of three genre-appropriate showcases in January where audience members can vote for their favorites on-site or later online. There will no longer be a Band of the Year. We really want to emphasize the showcase aspect of this endeavor. We want to support local bands and expose readers to talented artists. When the lineups are announced, if you don't see your favorite band listed, go ahead and write them in! We encourage you to do so. We do not, however, encourage you to complain after the fact.

Be the change you want in the world, and all that. Here's to 2008! (Jamie Gadette)