Wednesday, May 30, 2007

5 Spot: Terry Mitchell Nani

In City Weekly’s May 31 Five Spot, Utah Pride Festival Director Terry Mitchell Nani talked about “the little festival that could” (June 1-3 at Washington & Library Square, schedule at UtahPride.org). Here is the entire conversation:

You’ve upped the ante this year with this year’s Pride Festival, going three days with big-name entertainers. Why all this ambition?
The festival was “just fine,” or good … but the community is ready for this festival to be great. It’s about greater outreach into the community at large, it’s about giving the community a quality, enhanced festival that the gay and lesbian community can even be that much more proud. It’s about increased awareness.

You’ll need lots of people to attend to pay for the entertainment, right? Do you envision nicely coiffed families from the suburbs driving in with their minivans to see Sheena Easton?

It is, in fact, “A Celebration For Everyone,” regardless. And yes, a more enhanced festival certainly comes with a bit more of price. Where else do you find an entertainment bargain to see John Amaechi, Sheena Easton, EnVogue, The Pride Dance with Nick & Jesse, two full days of festival, A Tea Dance with DJ K at The Depot and more, for only $40 (or less, depending on the amount of “Pride” you are able to share)?!

Any advice on what to tell the kids about the festival beforehand?
Tell the kids that the world is a beautiful tapestry of different fabrics, threads and colors, and at this particular festival, we have an opportunity to acquaint with some of those rich colors and textures … and why not? We teach their kids, we nurse their wounds, we entertain them, we write the poetry they read, and we serve their food … and then some.

Speaking of pride, what is the Utah Pride Center most proud of?
We all should be proud of the pronouncement of who we are, and celebrate that which makes us whole, even unique. The straight community, more than likely a bit more mainstream, may not have had the same challenges that a gay teen, or a lesbian trapped in a marriage, might have had in their process of discovery. Just as the black community, the Irish community or the Jewish community enjoy ways in which they celebrate their unique individuality, the gay community has a lot to be proud of in their journey, both individually, and collectively.

Can you offer any comebacks for the Bible-thumpers who feel it is their mission to stand outside the fence and pronounce judgment on festival-goers?
They need to judge; we have no need, or desire, for comebacks. What’s the point.

Why is the Pride parade the parade of the summer? How does it compare with, say, Days of 47?
This year with more than 50 wonderful and outrageous, all at once, entries, you decide!

Why should the entire community support the Pride festival?
Well, first of all, a helluva-lotta fun. This will be a terrific festival. But be clear, sexuality does not define the individual, nor draw boundaries on a festival. And most “straights” in the more sophisticated corners of this town understand this very well. In fact, they enjoy, very much, their gay friends, and want to come and be supportive of what gay and lesbian men and women all over the world have brought to their social/cultural arena.

If someone wanted to walk in the Pride parade, is there a float they can join or be a part of?
Yes, contact PFLAG, or Family Fellowship or The Pride Center. There is a place of acceptance, or membership, for everyone at this “church.”

Forget the headliner entertainment for a moment. What are the best little secrets of the festival and/or the best annual traditions people shouldn’t miss.
The InterFaith Service is a unique and powerful experience (Thursday evening), as is our other kick off event, the Damn These Heels film festival. The kid’s area this year, as in the part, is hugely popular. The Dyke March, and Rally that follows, has a wonderful following. And check out Coffee Grounds this year. Go to utahpride.org for the whole story.

Do you think Jazz owner Larry Miller will attend former Jazz player John Amaechi’s grand marshal’s reception?
I tried. He was invited by myself! I’m not sure that Mr. Miller cares a great deal about anything having to do with the tapestry of humanity—clearly, not about this corner of the cloth.

What do you have to say to the cheapskates who try to listen to EnVogue from the Burger King parking lot?
Enjoy the show.

(Jerre Wroble)

Air Space Case

This week's Private Eye inquiry from City Weekly honcho John Saltas:

Mayor Rocky Anderson wants to sell airspace above a certain stretch of Main Street to protect against construction of a sky bridge walkway. Is that the only section of Salt Lake City air space worth protecting?

Original column here. Comment away below ...

My ChEMO Romance

Remember when you were younger and someone nailed you with a clever and mean insult, leaving you speechless, and you couldn't think of a comeback until days, weeks, or even years later (I’ve since given up; I keep an arsenal of “Yo Momma” jokes that more or less get the job done). A week or two ago, ABC 4 news ran a story about emo (you can watch the video here), without really acknowledging what it was, but along with other current hot scoops like MySpace and cell phones, the story unfairly duped parents into thinking that emo is something to fear (you know, the old they-wear-black-clothes-and-cut-their-wrists chestnut).

Despite the hilarious excuse for “investigative journalism” that any person under the age of 50 could easily point out as bogus, the obliviousness of the information left me feeling like I should not only cry out against such a misrepresentation of pop culture, but try to clarify and defend emo as best I could—this is my comeback to ABC 4, but also some thirst-quenching for all of you who have been milking the haterade for too long.

Emo is hard to define—and it’s really no wonder that an out-of-touch news station failed to even try. But, like goth, grunge or rave culture, the definition becomes harder to distinguish from all the negative connotations that become associated with it. I am not going to try to be the authority on emo by any means, but I think I can do a better job than ABC 4's Reed Cowan.

First off, emo stands for and refers to any music that is “emotionally-charged,” or something. I think this is a stupid definition because all music is emotionally-charged, but the term seems to have been commandeered by punk rockers who aren’t singing about politics or sniffing glue, and maybe there’s an acoustic guitar thrown in every once in awhile.

Emo is a description and NOT a genre. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any band refer to themselves, in interviews or whatnot, as emo. Just like there have never really been any “grunge” bands, emo is that word to pigeon-hole numerous undeserving bands, either by spite or sheer laziness. But since I’m a lazy writer, I’m going to keep referring to it like a genre.

The term emo is arbitrary. Nowadays, it stands as a warning sign for all scenesters to stay away, usually Top 20-radio fare. But there was a time when cred-reputable bands like Jawbreaker, Fugazi and Sunny Day Real Estate were the kings and forefathers of “emo.”

I think that’s a pretty good non-definition of “emo,” and because of that, I can proudly say that I don’t like emo. I do, however, like bands that are misrepresented as emo. I like the theatrics of My Chemical Romance and the wordplay of Fallout Boy and Panic! at the Disco, three bands that rule the charts and proclaim emo, but are pop-punk or simply pop. In fact, the use of the “e” label gets thrown so liberally now that bands like Green Day are mistaken for emo, even though they’ve been making the same music for 15 years.


If you hate emo, that’s fine. It’s fine to hate it for its wussiness, the industry’s remorseless capitalization of it, the fashion that emo embodies, and if you’re not confident with your musicality, you can hate it to keep up your hipster-cred. That’s all fine. But when you start hating music for its honesty, that’s when the stench of elitism begins to waft from your general area.

Dashboard Confessional, a prime example and the harbinger of modern-day emo, make pussy music by any and all means. But six or seven years ago, Dashboard's Chris Carraba scored big with just an acoustic guitar and his heart on his sleeve, something that big punk outlets Fat Records and Epitaph failed to accomplish with all their Warped Tours combined (which were marketed to the same that Dashboard eventually found and profited from). From that, I say this: kids aren’t stupid … most of the time. They saw the pure emo[tion] and honesty from Dashboard and understood it, before any major label had a chance to exploit it.

Elliot Smith, by modern standards, should be considered emo.

Ironic metal-shirts and hair-swoops are dumb, but that’s what’s fashionable right now, so those emos probably get more chicks than you or me.

At least it’s not nĂ¼-metal. (Ryan Bradford)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Other Ogden News ...

I've always tried to respect Ogden, a city most of my neighbors refer to with a slight sneer and laundry list of negative attributions (usually something about meth-heads and that godawful stench that permeates each highway in and out of the northern town).

When Salt Lake bands book shows at Ogden's Brewskis, I'm generally stoked to make the 45-minute drive to a venue with honest-to-good ventilation, cheap drinks and bartenders who actually oblige the occasional request for water. But while Brewskis itself is a great private club, more often than not it harbors the sort of crowd I go out of my way to avoid in SLC.

I'm talking about dudes in striped polo shirts, backwards hats, ripped jeans and crude tribal tattoos, and the scantily-clad women who can't hold their liquor but who seem fine with lurid guys cupping their asses while they wait for another Midori sour. I never understood why Brewskis attracts so many rude, crude weirdos until someone pointed out that it's pretty much the only viable drinking hole O-Town has to offer. That said, if SLC had one destination for getting housed, we too would earn a bad rep. Don't hate the city, hate the people who make it lame.

For all the strange nights I've spent at Brewskis, I always resolve to start fresh with each show. On Friday, not five seconds after I stepped foot in the club's packed parking lot, a van full of drunk, blond cheerleader-types rolled up behind us. "Where's the party at?!!" they shouted (well, more like slurrted), to which we simply shuddered and walked in through the band's load-in entrance.

Here a nice gentleman took our IDs and ushered us past the stage where we ran into rather beefy employee who ordered us to walk back out and through a separate entrance about three feet away from the one we had just entered. Annoyed, but not upset, we walked back out as told and gave our IDs to two Joe Piscopo look-a-likes who then spent 5 minutes contemplating the band's request for plus-4. "As soon as the band plays for free, we'll let you in for free." Ahem. They let us in anyway. I didn't even have to show them my tits.

Once inside, I sat next to Dominique who, despite a rather scarring experience at the Outlaw Saloon (see below) also braved another night in Ogden for her beloved High Beams. She got up to get a drink and returned slightly traumatized. "Some dude just asked me if I like to party," she said. "Another one just said, 'You're hot.'" This set the tone for an evening spent dodging half-witted drunks absolutely set on getting laid before tomorrow's hangover.

Of course, it was worth it. Both The Rubes and High Beams sounded great. The latter group even whipped out a dead-on cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" complete with Mike Sasich's wicked command of the song's rapid guitar solo.

By the time The Rubes' Greg Midgley finished up by muttering "Purple Rain," everyone was spent and ready to go home. Then a fight broke out. Then another. The skinny bartenders ran out to break up both melees, leaving us to wonder what the fuck happened to the enormous bouncers who hassled us at the door. They came out, conveniently, when the cops showed up. Yes. Another great night in Ogden. Can't wait to do it again this Friday when Spork and Monorchist hit Brewskis' stage. (Jamie Gadette)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Bo More Mr. Bice Guy

Kelly Clarkson popped out a couple catchy hits. Clay Aiken somehow managed to morph into a creepier version of an Extreme Makeover candidate, and Taylor Hicks sang in a car commercial. From what I last heard was also ruling Hell, that silver-haired devil.

American Idolers each have to have their token "thing" they do. For Bo Bice it was long chestnut locks, neatly trimmed facial hair and a Rock & Roll attitude to match. Not only that, he was the first of the older folks performing on American Idol tapping in at a senile 28 years old.

But did Bo Bice have what it took to play at the Outlaw Saloon in Ogden? Um...I hope so, because Ogden is more than five miles away from my house and I had to sell a kidney to pay for gas to get up there.

Per the State Governor, May 24th is officially Bo Bice day in Alabama. Was it a coincidence that I would be seeing him at The Outlaw Saloon on his official day? I think fate is more like it.

The drive up was road construction riddled and that automatically scrambled my brain, causing me to surpass Ogden. It was either that or a sign that I had no business being in such a city.

As I turned around and made it off on the correct exit, the Outlaw loomed before me. The fact that it was right off the exit right next to a Flying J should have been warning enough.

Generally most stories that end badly start with "So I stopped at this country bar right off a freeway exit in a town that is completely foreign to me."

I could hear the foreboding life's soundtrack music playing in my head as I slowly made my way into the parking lot. A cowboyed male was there knocking back a tallboy in preparation for the show.

My Nissan boldly stated you’re not from round here in a sea of Fords and Chevy trucks. I parked next to, yes, a barbwire fence scenically overlooking, more road construction as daylight started quickly shifting to night.

I had a flashback of the movie From Dusk Till Dawn and was wondering if people ever truly knew how they would meet their demise based off of movie watching experience.

My counterpart for the night was wearing T-shirt of comedian Bill Hicks. Little did he become aware until we were walking to the building that this T-shirt merely had a picture of Bill Hicks on it, and simply read at the bottom:

HICKS.

And yet we still kept going. From what I was able to size up of the Outlaw, it was set up like a steak house but I had only made it as far as the cash register when confusion set in to all that needed to help me.

I tried multiple times to explain I was from City Weekly. Over the din they yelled "What? City Weekly is giving away free tickets too?" "Wait, what, City Weekly is not a radio station I ever heard of."

I reiterated several times that City Weekly was a paper, not a radio station, and that they were not giving away free tickets, I was writing an article for the show.

This is where it takes an army of people to start asking me questions about this elusive "City Weekly" paper from the Big Country that I must have been telling fables about.

The confusion became such a vast deep hole of disbelief that I said "I am going to make a few calls, be right back" which was countered with "I think that might be a good idea."

Seeing Bo Bice in concert was more difficult than getting into the White House.

As my counterpart and I sat down in the lobby, the irony of the situation grew thicker than an Ogden accent when we looked to our right at a stack of City Weekly newspapers sitting there for any patron or employee to pick up on their way in or out.

Through my barrage of phone calls, I think that cell phones become possessed in Ogden. I was calling and texting eight people in my car (where we could freely laugh and poke fun without fear of getting punched) nobody answered their calls or text messages.

Not only was it Bo Bice day, it was Nobody Answer Their Phone day.

I kept counting down the time from the moment we got there, "Well we have 1 hour and 20 minutes til the show starts.” “ It’s OK, we have one hour and two minutes" "Looks like we have 48 minutes to figure this out." Thus panning this night out to be about the most non-action equivalent of the show 24 that anyone would never see.

We figured if the cowboy in the parking lot could drink beer, then damnit, the people who couldn't even talk their way into a Bo Bice show when there were only forty people inside could do it too.

Beginning the most purposeful move of the night. The trek to the Flying J.

After pondering on whether or not to purchase a sleeveless T-shirt to further our chances to get into the show and picking up a six-pack of beer, the parking lot beer drinking car sitting commenced.

I am about the wussiest rule breaker you will ever meet. I felt like a bad 16-year-old about to get busted for alcohol consumption on school property, looking around and taking quick sips.

Since we had made the journey out there, it was worth getting out of the car to get some photos, which we did. And then the door man came out to ask us if we were coming or going.

He was essentially the nicest, and probably most intelligent person I had met at my brief stint in Ogden.

I am thinking maybe next year in honor of Bo Bice going back to Ogden, drinking a beer in the Outlaw Saloon parking lot and pouring a bit of it out in honor of my American Idol homies.
(Dominique LaJeunesse)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Different Kind Of Sleepover

Yesterday, so I heard and I wouldn't doubt, that "dedicated" movie-goers were in line, a day and a half early, setting up tents to be the first to get tickets for today's premeir of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Three decades ago in May of '77 (Memorial Day weekend also) the first Star Wars' movie premiered in theaters. Moviegoers alike started laying out sleeping bags to be the first in line to get tickets. It's crazy but the different generations aren't so different, we all would do it or have done it for that one certain movie that we've been anticipating to see in theaters. In the end, I guess the one movie I would wait in line for possibly a day, would be Harry Potter and that's if I had someone to share the anticipation with. (Jessica Fresques)

That Ain't Right

Apparently Provo's premier all-ages venue Velour has experienced a string of thefts over the past couple of months, including an attempt by a band to steal items from the club's backstage green room. That's right: green room. Perhaps the group wasn't used to being treated like true rock stars and therefore felt inclined to behave like cliches. Other items stolen by persons unknown include a vintage Coke sign framed in old barn wood, a small saxophone, one of three matching Moroccan-style table lanterns and an Art Deco-style table lantern. Velour management is kind enough to maintain the thief or thieves anonymity should the items return unscathed and in a timely manner. They just want their belongings back where they belong. I can't even begin to describe how messed up all of this is. Who would screw over a business that goes out of its way to make Utah a better, more vibrant place? Tell your friends to keep an eye out for evildoers. (Jamie Gadette)


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

5 Spot: Edward Hemingway

As you can read in the current issue of City Weekly, this Thursday, May 24, from 6-8 p.m., the Salt Lake City Film Center is hosting illustrator Edward Hemingway (yes, Papa’s grandson) along with collaborator and screenwriter Mark Bailey (left), featuring their 2006 book Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers at the Alta Club located at 100 E. South Temple.

The book features Hemingway’s original portraits of 43 poets and writers, including John Berryman, John Cheever, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Wolfe, along with literary history, boozy anecdotes, cocktail recipes and book excerpts for each author.

City Weekly caught up with Eddie Hemingway for its Five Spot column; this is the unabridged interview:

Is it safe to sip and read? Is drunken page-turning a responsible way to derive meaning?
Reading, like driving, should be done sober. Both require the undivided attention to the road ahead.

When did you get bit by the illustrating bug?
I did my undergraduate work at Rhode Island School of Design and went through a graduate illustrating program at School of Visual Arts in New York City. When I was about 6 years old, I first started drawing by obsessively copying cartoons from The New Yorker.

Did your family pressure you to become a writer?
Growing up in my family, there was pressure to pursue my interests. And they happened to be artistic. I was lucky to come from a family that had successful artists so my parents were supportive because they knew you could make a living as a writer and an artist.

When drawing caricatures of authors, how do you decide what to emphasize?
With this book, I did a lot of research. I wanted to capture the feelings of the writers by reading about them, reading their work, researching photos of them. Everyone I worked on had passed away, and I hadn’t met any of them. I wanted to get a sense of who they were as people. I wanted to capture them while they were drinking and enjoying alcohol. I tried to show the playful side of them. I went off lots of different photographs but I don’t believe in copying photos. I went to photo libraries like the one at the New York Public Library. I got to choose what age I would depict the person at. I had Lillian Hellman’s character in her later years, but I depicted her partner in life, Dashiell Hammett, as a young man.

What materials did you use to illustrate the bartending guide?
Mostly, I paint with acrylic and scan them and alter them with Photoshop. Some artists can create everything in Photoshop these days, but I like to see an artist’s hand in the work.

Which author was most challenging to illustrate?
The pretty ones are harder for me. The people with more interesting faces and features are more fun to caricaturize. People like Edna St. Vincent Millay, Djuna Barnes, Jack Kerouac, and Jack London—who all were conventionally attractive—were a little more challenging because they were common looking. Writers like Carson McCullers, Lillian Hellman and Ring Lardner had fantastically interesting faces. Bukowski had more wear and tear. They were more fun.

What is your favorite cocktail and how would you caricaturize yourself drinking it?
My favorite cocktail is my grandfather’s in the book, which is the mojito. I would depict myself drinking it in a very flattering light and on a beach.

What’s up with authors and booze? Why are they such constant companions?
We came up for the idea for the book when we were at a party for a group of writers that seemed to be less raucous than we were expecting. That got us thinking about the good old days of hard drinking American writers. That’s what was the inspiration for the book. A lot of writers in the book didn’t drink while they wrote. Faulkner is an example of one who did drink and work. For the most part, my grandfather included, they waited to drink till after they were done writing for the day. It was a social activity. Writing is a solitary business, and it was a great way for them to get together and live a little of their lives and not behind a desk. I don’t know if the drinking informed the writing but it certainly informed the life of the person.

Knowing that alcohol consumption has its darker side, does your family endorse your approach in this book, romanticizing the “saucy escapades” and “delicious excess” of drinking novelists?
The people in my family who have seen the book really enjoyed it and think it is a lot of fun.

You might know there are a number of faithful LDS authors who do not imbibe in evil fire water … but they probably indulge in a mean Diet Coke habit. Have you considered a companion teetotalers volume?
Actually, Mark and I are doing a second book about Hollywood and drinking. But your question made me laugh. One writer in our book was famous for drinking hot tea while she worked. She wanted to be seen as a teetotaler while she was drinking it but the hot tea was spiked with sherry. She would have been a secretive drinker. That writer was Carson McCullers and that drink was called the Sonnie Boy.

An RSVP to the the Salt Lake City Film Center “Literary Libations” fund-raiser is required. Tickets are available for $30 at SLCFilmCenter.org or by phoning 746-7000. The price of ticket includes an autographed copy of the bartending guide and proceeds benefit SLC Film Center’s Novel to Film Series. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served. A cash bar available, featuring the favorite cocktails of America’s greatest authors. (Jerre Wroble)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Playoff Fever

City Weekly grand poobah John Saltas sends out a question to the staff every week; the best (or at least most interesting) wind up in the Staff Box below his Private Eye column. This week, he's throwing it out to everyone--please feel free to leave your own answer in the Comments section:

Do you believe in superstitions or random theory? If so, what are you doing to influence the outcome of the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs playoffs? (John Saltas)
Read Saltas' Private Eye column tomorrow afternoon at SLWeekly.com.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Al's Well That Ends Well

The Rev. Al Sharpton came to SLC today to glad-hand with LDS Church suits and not apologize for the anti-Mormon comments he claims he never made--Mission Accomplished! And where was Mitt Romney, anyway?
Amazingly, no one called Sharpton on this comment: "Whatever difference I have with their denomination or their religion, as I might with any that is not my own, has nothing to do with my disregard or disrespect for their faith."

Go ahead, read it over a few times. (Bill Frost)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Night of the Living PDA

Last Friday night the Urban Lounge was filled with the usual crowd. Hipsters of every shape and size--thin and thinner--filled the smoky joint to hear a couple songs, do a little dancing. I was watching the bands do their little thing too.

There weren’t too many folks on the dance floor, so I could see close and comfortable a make out session par excellence. It looked uncomfortable and it made me uncomfortable too. It was like some amateur swingers had gotten together and didn’t quiet know what to do with themselves.


One couple macked on each other like they were zombies eating each others' faces off. Their pals played a little coy kiss me, kiss me not game and I, I had to watch. I tried not to watch. I didn’t want to participate in their achingly uncomfortable fun. But they were spreading like a sickness across the quickly emptying dance floor. They had apparently decided that the middle of a half empty dance floor was the best place to awkwardly make out. They had decided against one of the many dark little corners of the bar. I was afraid they might pull me into their vortex; their sappy, oh shucks-fest of teen French kissing oozing towards me like a sickness. It was like watching hypochondriacs wrestle, trying to pin each other while fearing with every touch that they may be infected. (Jonah Owen Lamb)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Kids Are Alright

It's the adults who manage and/or book all-ages venues that need some serious help. Now I understand that the city/man makes it insanely difficult for certain places (cough, Kayo, cough) to stay open, but c'mon! Unless the man's shut you down for liquor violations or any number of bogus offenses, it's your duty to go on with the damned show! Besides Kilby Court, which despite what critics say offers the most consistent good time for the under-21 set, local all-ages venues are notorious for canceling concerts just days (or even one day) before the scheduled events. I'm going to start a running list of shows we've written about and encouraged our readers to attend that are, at the last minute, shut down or moved to an obscure location. This week's honor goes to both The Avalon and New Vortex (whose owners might want to consider changing their name to something that doesn't require "New" to distinguish it from another club down the street) for promising to host I Am the Ocean's CD Release on May 18. After publishing the article about the local rockers and their awesome debut, ... And Your City Needs Swallowing, we learned today that the show has been moved to Todd's Broken Record. Good news for everyone who can legally drink the 3.2. Looks like 75 percent of Ocean fans will just have to buy the record at Slowtrain. Stay tuned for the next "Canceled/Moved? WTF?!" (Jamie Gadette)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Rocky vs. Hannity: The Thrilla In Vanilla

Friday, May 4—the day that will live in infamy. Not because of the long-awaited Assclown Smackdown debate between Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and TV/radio personality Sean Hannity, but because new City Weekly editor Holly Mullen finally gave me an assignment: Cover the debate. OK, it was really more of an afterthought, like “Well, the ASUU sent over a media-request fax and nobody else here wants to go—you’re on it, Frost.” Now I don’t have to take another order for the rest of the year—score!

An hour before show time outside of Kingsbury Hall, the media almost outnumbered the ticket-holders; reporters and their cameramen would size up small groups and jump in with “Are you here for Rocky or Hannity?” then hang back and wait for the soundbite magic. Since I was stag and apparently didn’t have that right glint of crazy in my eyes (just, sadly, sobriety), they avoided me—until Fox 13’s Andrea Fujii came up and asked “Excuse me, have you chosen a side in the debate?” My reply: “No, I can’t stand either one of ‘em.” She was momentarily excited, until I told her I was there covering the event just like her—minus the perfect hair. “Oh, you don’t count, then.” Thanks, Andrea.

The crowd of Hannitards (who seemed to be the majority outside) and Rockheads (who, like typical liberals, were fashionably late) then filtered into Kingsbury, and I was led to my seat on Media Row in the rear of the hall. To my left, no less than four Salt Lake Tribune reporters with laptops blazing. To my right, Jesse Kennedy, the videogame reviewer from SLUG magazine. To his right, yet more Tribune people. They were covering the shit out of this thing.

KSL Newsradio’s Doug Wright took the stage and instantly proved those of us who believed he could never be more annoying than he is on the air very wrong—I’d say he’s an insincere, smarmy game-show host, but I have too much respect for game-show hosts. After a seeming eternity of Wrighteousness, he finally introduced the real star of the show, moderator Ken Verdoia. Coming across like a public-television version of The Daily Show’s Lewis Black, the KUED host laid out the ground rules for the debate and shut down the show's first heckler (“Put a sock in it!”). It was the last time he was in control of anything for the rest of the night.

Verdoia then introduced Anderson, who walked onstage to a 50/50 barrage of cheers and boos. Anderson talked his way through a PowerPoint presentation like the lawyer he is, stopping just short of superimposing George W. Bush’s face over Adolf Hitler’s (you know his handlers talked him out of it while he pled “But it’ll be sooo cool!”). As far as making an intellectual case for getting the hell out of Iraq and impeaching Bush, Anderson essentially nailed it (and, of course, went over time). Too bad this wasn’t an intellectual event.

Hannity came out and did what Hannity does: Bash liberals, Democrats and anyone who doesn’t have their heads ensconced as firmly up the Republican Party’s ass as he does—and the Kool-Aid drinkers loooved it. No facts, no figures, just pure hucksterism and showmanship. It’s easy to see why the Hannitards have been sucked in: The guy’s good, a “straight-shootin’” charmer. In all of his bullshit, however, Hannity actually made excellent points about partisan politics and divisive rhetoric … while dispensing partisan politics and divisive rhetoric.

Oh, and the Trib reporters who listened so intently to Anderson mostly yakked amongst themselves while Hannity spoke, while Jesse and I played Mystery Science Theater 3000 smart-asses during both—you can’t pigeonhole the Liberal Media, damn it!

Then came the Q&A periods: Anderson and Hannity asking questions of each other, followed by written questions for both from the audience. Save for Verdoia’s exasperated comic relief (“I would throw this watch away, but it was a gift from my wife”), the rest of the evening was the shrill clusterfuck pro-wrestling match that local newscasts had been promising for weeks. But I still have more respect for the WWE.

In conclusion: No minds were changed, nobody “won,” local charities made some good money, Doug Wright is a smarmy game-show host, Ken Verdoia is The Man, Andrea Fujii believes I don’t count, the Tribune has waaay too many reporters (and Rebecca Walsh didn’t even say goodbye—I thought we had a real connection), beer tastes much better after a long-ass debate (a Tetley’s at The Republican—thanks, Jon Dunn of KSL Newsradio’s Nightside Project), and I may have a name-dropping problem … (Bill Frost)

Fox 13: The Rocky vs. Hannity debate video

Friday, May 4, 2007

Urning Potential

The Internet opinion poll: It's our single most effective tool for finding out absolutely nothing about our world and the people who live here. But they're so darn much fun!

Evidently, the editors at
the Provo Daily Herald have realized how useless online surveys are and have just whimsically started asking whatever nonsense questions pop into their heads. Here's this week's bizarre poll:

Which statement best describes your view on cremation?
( ) Makes resurrection difficult; cremation should be avoided
( ) Cremation should be encouraged; God doesn't care

... because, of course, there are people in the United States who, after much thought, have realized that cremation is just a huge incovenience for God. He's got enough to do on Judgment Day without looking all around the world for your dispersed ash particles and then gluing them all back together in the right order before breathing life into your incinerated carcass. Sure, The Omnipotent One could do it, but what a pain in God's ass! I wouldn't be surprised if He just decided to call the whole thing off.

Next week's question: Are holy wafers still vegetarian after transubstantiation? (Brandon Burt)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Soccer? We Barely Knew Her!

Quite a week: Real Salt Lake loses again. Dave Checketts is the victim of a grand smear conspiracy. SLCSpin is (!) active. If only soccer games were this exciting, huh? As always, we must turn to The Simpsons for perspective ... (Bill Frost)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Not So Hot Fuzz

While covering the 2006 Sundance Film Festival for City Weekly's Daily Festival Updates (readership: 10), I came across a fellow by the name of Jay Della Valle. The New York-based musician/filmmaker was in Park City trying to gain interest in his film, The Glorious Mustache Challenge, a documentary modeled after Super Size Me's experimental premise with men donning staches for 30 days instead of gorging on heaping portions of trans-fat. While intrigued by the challenge, recent trends have inspired me to reconsider the consquences of promoting facial hair. Don't get me wrong: if you've got it, flaunt it. But just because you were born with the ability to sprout extra fuzz doesn't mean it's a good idea to cultivate a thin strip above your upper lip. Case in point: Anthony Kiedis and Interpol's Carlos D, both photographed at this year's Coachella Music Festival. Kiedis, who changes looks like most people change underwear (if you're unclear on this comparison, please visit the nearest laundromat), more often than not succeeds at being naked, bald, grunge, whatever. But both he and Carlos D look at best like San Fernando Valley porn stars, at worst two-bit ex-cons. Let's hope this trend reverses as quickly as it came about. (Jamie Gadette)