Northwest Side Story

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When I move to Portland next month, I will have lived in Salt Lake City for almost exactly a year. Part of me wants to stay longer because I like it here, but part of me has decided I’m ready to move on. As is true of most men, my parts seldom agree on which is the best course of action.

Maybe it’s just in comparison to the nine previous years I spent in Utah County, but I love The SLC. And yet there is Portland, calling to me, beckoning me, offering me a toke on its marijuana cigarette (which I will decline). Born and raised in California, I never intended to live in Utah for 10 years; it happened accidentally, like knocking over a drink or stubbing your toe. “Whoops!” I said one morning not long ago. “I’ve lived in Utah for a decade!” And so now it’s time to go someplace else.

I’ll miss this place, though. Make fun of it if you will — I know I will — but Salt Lake has its share of nice, cool, awesome and/or rad things. Herewith, some of the things I will miss most about The SLC and Utah in general.

– The flautas at Cafe Pierpont. Chunks of chicken, sour cream and cheese, all rolled up in a giant flour tortilla and deep fried — and you get two of them! One to eat there, and one to eat at home later that night when you’re watching Letterman! I love these flautas so much, more than anything I’ve had at any other local restaurant. They are not gourmet (though I do applaud Pierpont’s use of chicken chunks, rather than shredded chicken), nor are they fancy, nor are they expensive. But they are deep fried, and that goes a long way in my book. If our repressive government would allow it, I would marry the flautas and we would live happily ever after as man and flautas.

– The quaint mispronunciation of basic English words. Who knew “sale” and “sell” were homophones? Not me, not until I moved to Utah.

– Fry sauce, obviously.

– The City Library. Yes, its huge supply of books, but also its modernity, its beauty, its location (within walking distance of my apartment and right across the street from a Burger King) and its bank of Internet-enabled computers that you can use even if you don’t have a library card. At last, homeless people have a place to check their e-mail!

– The way people in Utah Valley talk about The SLC like it’s a dangerous den of sin. The SLC’s crime rates and liberalism are higher than Utah Valley, yes, but they’re still lower than those of most large cities. And yet Utah Valleyans talk about it like it’s Beirut or Amsterdam. (In Portland, they talk about The SLC like it’s Provo.)

– Coffee Garden at 9th & 9th. I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t like hippies — two facts that make my move to Portland questionable, I know — but I love Coffee Garden. It’s big enough that I don’t feel bad occupying a spot for a couple hours at a time as I write, read, and sip hot chocolate, and the employees seem legitimately friendly and cool, unlike the jerks at some coffeehouses, who seem to be TRYING to be friendly and cool. One downside: Coffee Garden serves pastries and treats, but no coffee cake. Perhaps this is just as well, for if coffee cake were readily available to me, I would probably enter into an unwholesome three-way marriage with it and flautas.

Portland will have replacements for some of these, but it won’t match the overall SLC experience. I mean, what do they dip their fries in up there? Beer?

This was my final monthly column for City Weekly, a gig I'd begun shortly after arriving in The SLC. I was doing some theater reviews for them, too, as well as a bit of Sundance Film Festival coverage, and I enjoyed all of those activities very much. I was grateful to my friends at CW for the opportunity.

This particular column underwent some slight changes in publication, most of which only made the wording different without making it better. In a few cases, punctuation was added or removed, which sometimes merely weakened the joke and other times was simply flat-out wrong. (Removing the parentheses from items that required them, for example.) But none of the actual content was changed, which is certainly an improvement over some other papers I've written for, where entire paragraphs are deleted willy-nilly to conserve space.

A few bits from this column previously appeared in other "Snide Remarks" columns. Sharp-eyed readers will tell you which ones.

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