Please No, Not Utah

I was surfing on one of my favorite websites a couple of days ago, a snarky television commentary called, and noticed a poll on the sidebar. Apparently filming of MTV’s reality show “Real World” has recently shut down in Philadelphia due to union issues, and they are contemplating moving to a different city. The folks at TWoP were polling their readers to see which city readers thought should host the next Real World. One of several choices was Salt Lake City. I naturally voted for Salt Lake, because hey, I’m from Salt Lake, and I have hometown loyalty. Once I voted, I could see the results, and Salt Lake was far and away the leader. Twenty-one per cent at that point. I thought it was funny and moved on. I just went back and saw that Salt Lake is still ahead with twenty per cent of the votes. My reaction? Amusement combined with a gnawing feeling of dread. I’ve made a decision to post a public service announcement.

To all MTV big-wigs who read By Common Consent: Please don’t pay attention to that poll on TWoP. It’s very un-scientific. Very unreliable. Utah is boring. Please go away. Thank you.

To all other people who read By Common Consent: Whew. That was close. See, the second time I saw that poll the reality of a Salt Lake “Real World” hit me. I caught the vision. My hometown, object of both my love and annoyance, would be the butt of one great big joke. Hey look, the Real World kids can’t get a drink anywhere. Hey look, the Real World kids are trying to have sex with Mormons, and it’s not working. (Or worse yet, it is.) Hey, what’s that smell? It’s the lake?

I have complicated feelings about Salt Lake. I’m a Utah Gollum if you will, only with more hair and integrity. I’m annoyed by the politics; I’m annoyed by the insularity; I’m annoyed by the driving; I’m annoyed at the lack of ethnic food; at times I’m annoyed that it’s peopled with blond Scandinavians who have been in-breeding for 150 years. But, I love that place. I love the mountains; I love the creepy old irrigation canals; I love that every kid takes piano lessons; I love the neighborhood games of kick-the-can in the summer; I love that people smile and say hi, even when they have no idea who you are (besides the possibility that you’re a seventh cousin). I’m afraid the charms are too subtle for the outside world, who would stop at the “hey, this beer tastes watery” and miss the rest.

As one who feels a certain amount of kinship to those guerillas who kept Johnston’s army at bay, I say to you MTV people, for both our sakes, please stay away–this is not your kind of town.


  1. “was very surprised at the increase in numbers and venom.”

    -And an increase in venom is a good thing? I second the comments of Sens. McCain & Gore’s VP candidate, whom said that if we all aren’t nicer to each other; the next 7 months will be very hateful/contentious.

    You will be glad to know that efforts are being made to remedy Utah’s lack of political clout:
    1. Getting bipartisan mailers out to LDS members with opportunities to participate in the party of their choice…in out of state activities.
    For example: The RNC (yes, this would be me and 2-3 others) are working to get upwards of 2-3k Utah GOP voters to do mail ballots and then spend 7-10 days in surrounding swing states doing GOTV activities. Utah maybe powerless…but it doesn’t have to be ignored. My [edited] site is bundling “dollars, voters & foote soldiers” for the Bush campaign…and then when he wins (assuming he does of course) we can go to Ed & Dubya and remind them that they need to pay more attention to the desires of the LDS church.

  2. Aaron, our particular talent is making other people feel like they are cooler, but it’s really kind of an optical (or social) illusion. You just keep stroking your ego at our expense. We can take it. We like to share and validate…

    Well, I agree the women are beautiful…perhaps David Lee Roth was hanging out in Park City? That’s not really Utah….

  3. Actually, Steve gave me an idea. A list of SLC quirks we love (or love to hate):

    thick milkshakes
    the smell of rain on the dry desert ground in the summer

    scrapbooking guilt
    missing t’s (“you live near the moun’ns?”)

  4. as in “all the fixins for the taco salad” or “I’m fixin to find me a gal”?

  5. Complain about the lack of ethnic food all you want, but there was simply no comparison to the vegetarian food at the Park Ivy (there was one near the Tower theatre in SLC, and one opened later in Orem inside a health food grocery store). I understand they have closed down, but the food was SPECTACULAR while it lasted.

    I understand your love-hate relationship with Utah, Karen, though I probably feel more of the hate than the love, myself. But then, I am a Southern California Mormon after all, and everyone knows us SoCal folk are cultural snobs who look down at you hick Utahns with a combination of amusement and disgust, thanking the Lord daily that He made us way cooler than you. :)

    Aaron B

  6. Dude, better than porn. (Well, I guess that depends on your point of view…)

  7. Err… I defer to Aaron on that point. Nice post, BTW — The TWOP ref is unbeatable. But you’re also right to point out the love-hate relationship people have with UT. Though I’m not from there, and I didn’t particularly like living there in college, I still look back at it wistfully.

  8. HATE
    orrin hatch
    janice crap perry
    Utah Newspapers

    Dallin Oakes
    Hugh Nibley

  9. hate:

    –Oh my heck!
    –Hearing “One Night in Bangkok” at least 10 times per day on the radio. Get over that song you silly Wasatch weirdos!


    –Park Ivy vegetarian burritos and soups
    –cheap rent
    –Arches camping trips

    Isn’t bad apostrophe use a universal (not just a Utah) problem?

    Aaron B

  10. Hey Karen, what’s with your homepage link being T&S? Traitor!

  11. I heard David Lee Roth tell an interviewer that the best city on a rock tour is Salt Lake City because the women are so beautiful and so DIRTY…David thought there was something about religiously uptight upbringings that made girls extra naughty.

  12. Karen, I agree with your sentiments about Utah. I’m a southern Idaho girl myself and I’m fiercely loyal to the Gem State, but my parents were Cougs and I was a Coug and so were a few of my siblings, and well, Utah Valley just has this feeling. Though I think I would actually die if I ever for some reason had to live in Orem, I still find myself checking the temperature on

  13. Karen, I love the way this thread is going all of a sudden. Creeping Fear, indeed! Here’s a few of my own:

    fry sauce
    movies 8
    navajo taco

    socks with sandals
    ties to pioneer ancestry
    improper use of “apostrophe’s”

  14. Look at frickin’, fetchin’, etc… Utah leads the nation in apostrophe abuse, though it is a nationwide problem. Awareness is key. I guess I especially hate the abuse of the poor apostrophe in the case of one word, hated most of all, that I hear most in UT:


    I can live with it almost anywhere else. But “fixin’s,” not even a word to begin with, drives me nuts.

  15. love:

    -babies everywhere–fat blond delicious babies
    -neighborhoods where the ward has been more or less intact for 50 years
    -“block parties”
    -fry sauce (deserves two nods)
    -recipes that make the homemaking night rounds…i.e. that top ramen mandarin orange salad, and funeral potatoes

    -people who correct incorrect but understandable apostrophic use
    ;oP (*pbbbtthhhht*)

  16. Lynne,

    On the other hand, when my dad (a former bishop, high councilor, etc., etc.) let it be known recently in his ward–the same ward he has lived in for 30+ years–that he is a democrat (took me years to get him to convert), many of his old friends looked at him like something of a traitor, or like he had just come out of the closet. There is just something about (many) Mormon Republicans in Utah that is hard to understand. I’m just glad they all have this somewhat bizarre desire to live in a single state with virtually no political clout.

  17. Noun, as in taco salad. Which is why it bothers me so much, because I am a slave to the siren song of the navajo taco.

    Let me add this to the “love” list — Training Table. don’t know why, can’t explain it, but I LOVE that place.

  18. On a totally unrelated note (mostly b/c these politics are boring me), I would like to announce that the title for Lucas’ Episode III has leaked: “The Creeping Fear.”

    I’m posting this here because 1) mormons believe the Force is the priesthood, and 2) SLC reminds me of Tatooine — dry, barren, and yet home.

  19. Park City? Maybe. Van Halen fans more likely to be from Tooele.

    We’ve thought about moving to SLC but then we keep reading the Trib, Dez News and BYU newsnet on line and they all about make us sick: Especially the insane letters to the editor!

    There is a glimmer of hope. Dubya has been so AWFUL that more democrats are coming out of the woodwork. My brother just organized his precinct caucus in Sandy and was very surprised at the increase in numbers and venom. THANK YOU PRESIDENT BUSH!

  20. Pavlovian responses to SLC? Could this be…. THE ARM OF FLESH????

  21. Steve! You scooped even my best internet sources. You da man. Let’s just hope he hired someone else to write the freaking dialogue this time around!!!!

    Okay, so I just have to point out that between the two of us we have both a star wars and LOTR reference in one post. Impressive, my friend. I declare us the co-presidents of nerdville–or, since it is nerdville, the co-poohbahs.

    And just to reference my humor comment on T&S….imagine what Tatooine would look like if we IRRIGATED!

    The force isn’t the priesthood?

  22. Utah Republican Mormons are delusional. They think they are part of the Christian Right. Well, heads up folks. I’m down here in the Baptist South and Mormons are regarded as devil worshippers. Today the Ashcroft Crowd is rounding up Muslims but tomorrow it will probably be Mormons.

    Randy…good for you DAD! As my brother was organizing the Sandy democrats, he was pleasantly surprised to find out a few were in his ward. He thought he was the only one. The Repubs have practically turned our wards into the Church of Ronald Reagan…democrats are operating covertly!

    LYLE if you want to talk about venom…the republicans practically have a corner on that market. It’s time to FIGHT BACK!

  23. Yeah, I was just kind of shocked at how protective I felt all of a sudden…which kind of made me laugh…which kind of made me want to post….

    I think I’m developing pavlovian responses…This could be dangerous.