Recently in SLC Stuff Category
Remember a month or so ago when I wrote about awful, horrible kitschy Mormon art? Well, via Salt Lake City Weekly, I discovered a type of Mormon, erm, visual image (I dare not call it art) that makes all that stuff look downright classy.
That's right: a painting of YOU with your own personal Jesus.
I hardly know where to start.
On Facebook I posted a link to the City Weekly piece, but I didn't bother to click on the link to Kay Paintings, the studio responsible for these images--some impulse of self-preservation stopped me, I guess. But a friend clicked through, and pointed out that the studio had certainly figured out something important about making money in Utah: the more children you want in the picture, the more it costs. (I love the line at the bottom about "For 11+ children please call for a quote.")
I figured if my friend checked out the website and could still produce coherent prose afterward, I should be OK, so I screwed up my courage and clicked through to the gallery. At which point I began a low, pained chant of "oh my god, oh my god" as my horror mounted.
A Street is the first street running north and south in the Avenues. The Avenues is a GREAT neighborhood, with lots of cool historic houses, and lots of liberals who post signs for progressive causes, and several cool coffee shops (including the Jack Mormon Coffee Roasters, which isn't actually much of a coffee shop, but it has awesomely amusing coffee mugs, which I keep planning to give as gifts to the post- or ex-Mormons in my life).
A Street is also the street immediately east of Memory Grove (which I will have to write about because I couldn't find a decent description of it already on the web), and is separated from the capitol building by the mouth of City Creek Canyon. A trail down into Memory Grove opens on A Street, and the street offers some pretty great views. The lots on A Street are GREAT lots. And they should have great houses on them, that take advantage of Utah's pretty great weather and capitalize on the really great views.
And yet, many of the houses on A Street are DREADFUL. Like, SERIOUSLY DREADFUL.
Last night I went to a terrific party in the neighborhood of Main Street and 1700 South, which, I learned, is one of the main spots in SLC where prostitutes hang out, waiting to be picked up. But they don't like to just stand on the street corner, because they're more likely to get attention they DON'T want that way, so they walk, up and down various streets, including some of the residential streets just off Main. This means that occasionally, my hosts explained, that they will glance out a window and see a john picking up or dropping off a prostitute, right outside their house.
They also said that two of the busiest times for SLC prostitutes are--that's right!--the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October, which, in case you didn't know, is when the church holds its General Conference. On those two weekends, Mormons from all over the world converge on Salt Lake's downtown in order to listen to exhortations about how to be righteous. Some of them stay with family in the suburbs, and some of them rent hotel rooms and have sex with prostitutes.
It makes a sort of sense but it just wasn't something I had thought about or ever expected to hear.
Anyway. The party had a theme: Bollywood, and guests were asked to bring Indian food. I am a dessert gal, so I volunteered to bring rice pudding.
Here's something productive and fecund that announces a healthy belief in growth and wise self-confidence: an essay in The Nation about how hip, cool, progressive and all-round AWESOME SLC is.
Lisa Duggan, professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University writes that
Last fall I lived in Salt Lake City. As a leftist and New York City dyke, I had expected to find a conservative city and a quietly assimilationist gay community. Instead, I was repeatedly blown away by the progressive politics and outright queerness of the capital city, which is about 40 percent Mormon.
Duggan notes that SLC "is home to a floridly queer and unusually politically unified LGBT community" and discusses why it was a great place to spend the aftermath of the passing of California's Prop 8.
Please check it out.
I wrote last time that one reason I like SLC is all the green space. Parks abound, and are usually well maintained. One of the biggest park is Liberty Park, which comprises several city blocks and contains an aviary, a museum of folk art, and this cool water feature that is a miniature version of Jordan River and its tributaries, complete with canyons and labels and stuff so you can learn geography at the same time you're splashing around keeping cool in the summer. It's a totally great place to hang out with friends or entertain kids.
Liberty Park is many people's favorite park, but it's not mine. I much prefer Memory Grove, home to all sorts of memorials--mostly to veterans of various wars, though my favorite is a memorial a guy put up to his wife. (If you do work on memory or memorializations, you've got to check out this place.) It's mere blocks from downtown, and right at the mouth of City Creek Canyon, so you can be out of the city in just a 40-minute walk. Plus it's not called City Creek for nothing-there's really a creek.
But even Memory Grove is not my favorite park--at least, not right now.
As I've mentioned before, I love living in Salt Lake City. Along with Iowa City, it's one of the most liberal, left-leaning places I've ever lived in my life; along with Tucson, it's one of the most geographically beautiful spots I've been lucky enough to call home. It's well planned (kudos to Brothers Joseph and Brigham for that), well maintained, clean, diverse, prosperous, interesting. It has a truly magnificent library that is always packed because I and countless others use it all the time; it has really great public transportation that I hardly ever use because it's so easy to walk in this city and I prefer that to riding the bus or figuring out train schedules. It has a vibrant arts scene, lots of green space, a fascinating graveyard, and plenty of fascinating architecture. It even has a violin making school!
OK, it also has a bunch of homophobic Mormons and the headquarters of the Mormon church, but all of that is remarkably easy to ignore, because as I said, the city itself is really liberal, and that affects life in the city itself (I'm NOT talking about the rest of the state) more than the Mormon church does. And some Mormons here do really great things for the city, the state, and perhaps even the world.
Today has been nasty and rainy--not just a little damp, with occasional sprinkles, like Saturday, but soggy and windy and something you don't want to be out in. The weather people kindly informed us to expect exactly this sort of nastiness today, so I took advantage of yesterday's nice weather and spent a good chunk of the day outside.
I went to Red Butte Gardens, botanical gardens at the north edge of the U of Utah campus. I was attracted by their claim that they have 150,000 daffodils. They were nice, but not as lovely as the gardens I saw Saturday at Temple Square, frankly.
But these gardens have other attractions Temple Square doesn't--like all sorts of plants, stuff for children to play on, and a few big ponds with goldfish of varying sizes.
In one pond, I saw something I'd never seen before: a nesting goose. Her nest was in the pond and fairly exposed, which surprised me at first--I would have thought she'd choose something with more cover. Then it occurred to me that probably the biggest threat to her eggs' safety was people, who were more likely to leave her alone when she was in the middle of the pond. Here's the pond:
and here she is, on her nest:
I plan to go back in a month or so, and hope that I get to see little goslings learning to swim.
I hope you had a happy Easter if you care about Easter. I don't, particularly, but I will say that yesterday was an absolutely glorious day, bright and calm and fine. I couldn't help thinking of people who had gotten new outfits, and and imagining how happy they would be to have such a lovely day to wear those new outfits. I was already in a good mood, but thinking of how happy so many other people would be, even if it involved a celebration I don't partake in, made me happier. That's how nice the weather was yesterday.
But I also liked Saturday, which was gray, damp and rainy. I spent Saturday afternoon with friends, and told them they HAD to visit Temple Square, because it's stunning right now. I swear, I've never seen anyplace as aggressive about planting bulbs as Salt Lake City--and the results are lovely. (I'm not saying there aren't other places that don't plant more, just that I haven't seen them.) I had already made a visit or two to TS to enjoy the bulbs--but it's just so hard to go there without being accosted by sister missionaries.
But I figured a damp Saturday evening, particularly when it was the evening before Easter, might be a good time to wander the gardens without being bothered by anyone wanting to chat me up about religion. And I was right! I got a few nods from people scurrying around without umbrellas, but not one was inclined to stop and talk to me, except for a guy sitting on a retaining wall right inside the gate to Temple Square. He had a large plastic cup of--something; he was so drunk I could smell the alcohol wafting off him even ten feet away. He asked my permission to say something he hoped wouldn't offend me, then told me I was a really good-looking lady. Since he didn't try to hit me up for change or ask me to hang out with him, I felt inclined to trust his sincerity, so I wished him a good evening, having had one myself.
And even though I suspected the light would be lousy and feared it might be too wet for photography, I took my camera. The light wasn't great, but the rain never became too heavy to interfere with taking a picture. So here are the results.