I have lived in Oakland. I have lived in Salt Lake. Even though Oakland is a bit self-aggrandizing and sleeve-tatted with a skyline full of AT-ATs, Salt Lake City is an easy target with terrible air, improperly stored beer and an early curfew.
The Golden State Warriors took a few swipes at Salt Lake City prior to their second round playoff series which tips off Tuesday, which is fine. That’s kind of what Salt Lake is for — making fun of Salt Lake.
When you fly (or drive) into the Bee Hive you’ve got this insanely dramatic backdrop of the Wasatch which looks too good to be real — like the Romneys — and in the foreground is a skyline highlighted by a giant Wells Fargo building with a facade that looks like it was supposed to look like tux ruffles but they ran out of money, plus a few cranes and some kind of smoke stack corporate HQ of a company that manufacturers …pollution?
^ This of course is a reference to the fact that SLC has the worst air quality in the nation, sometimes it’s up there with Beijing. The state mandate that false prophets clean up air that settles in a giant bowl of white people and strange Gell-Oh (the Mormon generic version of Jell-O…) recipes delivered to one another via dinosaur-sized SUVs has backfired. So, the skyline mostly looks like some kid took a gray pastel and rubbed it all over a pretty picture of mountains. The city is basically a preview for the rest of the nation of what an EPA-less future looks like. (Hint: Not clear.)
Because SLC is the Mormon Mecca it’s really just a facsimile of a real city that’s also too uninhabitable most of the year to run across much human excrement on the street. That kind of desertion, plus an unofficial closing time downtown that is sometime before the voting phone lines are taken down on Dancing with the Stars, makes it the major metro in the lower 48 with such a dearth of folks walking around if you’re downtown after eight you wonder whether you’re about to see a turned-loose CGI elephant trample over cars or Dustin Hoffman trying to act in a hazmat suit.
When one gets down to street level SLC, he discovers all roads lead to a giant princess castle for a religion based on a fake book a con man wrote when he was banished there, but at least the main building has a pretty gold cake topper.
Then there are a bunch of streets that are numbered north and south AND east and west so when someone says “meet me at 1400 E, 400 N” you’re totally supposed to morph into a human compass and remember all four directions at once and how to get there and when you realize all the trees and the moss that grows on them are way up the hill you end up on a one-way street going to the wrong side of town or maybe the town next door (which fucking happens …trust me) pulling into a gas station entitled: Maverik: Adventure’s First Stop in a place called American Fork which looks strangely/vaguely familiar and you can’t quite figure it out till the kid at the register tells you, “Yeah, that field where there’s a chicken tractor race in Footloose, you’re standing on it. Also, Julianne Hough’s mother’s cosmetic dermatologist lives here.”
BTW, not to belabor the whole confusing address thing, but that alone is enough to make one want to hide out in their hotel room and Insta pix of side-by-side screenshots of the new Flip or Flop couple vs. the old one with the caption, “I think they’re like Gremlins. Someone got the blonde girl wet after midnight.”
“No comparison. There’s no such thing, man,” Warriors’ forward Matt Barnes told ESPN. (Frankly I still can’t believe Matt Barnes is a) still in the league and b) a Warrior). “There’s no nightlife in Utah. Obviously, as players, you want to be able to have a little bit of a nightlife, but the main focus is winning games. You sit in your room. I think there’s an Olive Garden out there and then a Benihana. So you’ll definitely be locked in [on the game] all the way.”
To be fair to Barnes, the Olive Garden in SLC is at 77 W 200 S, so chances are he nor any of the Warriors would find it.
“The problem with Utah is that you’re just sitting there and your mind is, like, dead, because in L.A., you still got energy for the game,” Andre Iguodala said. “Because you’re in L.A., you’re like, ‘Man, this is just the vibe in L.A.’ but in Utah, it can kind of lull you to sleep. And then you’ve slept too long or I’m bored out of my mind and now you got to try to pump yourself up for the game. You know you’re in the playoffs and you’re supposed to be pumped anyway, but the vibe is just like, ‘Man, let’s just get out of here.'”
Iguodala wasn’t trying for bulletin board fodder, lord knows those Mos love bulletin boards and fodder (and plastic surgery, porn, prescription meds and scrapbooking for some reason …still). He continued, “We kind of embrace it like, ‘Yo, we got to do something together because it ain’t nothing else to do.’ So it actually works for us. So that’s kind of how that works. Similar to OKC, it’s the same way. Matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a movie in OKC. The challenges in L.A. are obvious. Before you know it, it’s 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and you didn’t even realize it was that late because there’s so much to do. You can do whatever. It doesn’t even have to be anything that exerts energy as far as body movement, but mentally you can exert energy because you’re interacting with different people.
“You’re out, and then that could lead to trouble.”
So there it is. The Warriors are very much not looking for something to do on the road. And they’ve come to the right place. League security officials have nicknamed SLC “security heaven” …probably because “weird name heaven” was taken. And there’s nobody to guard from sneaking out of the hotel room because, well, nothing’s fucking open. Case in point: In a Salt Lake Tribune article about 24-hour restaurants and late night eats, bumping late-night hub the Bayleaf Café (now closed) is described as such: On weekends, when you really need refuge and refueling, this solid and soulful fried-chicken-and-pancakes place stays open in the heart of Salt Lake City’s downtown 24 hours, from 11 a.m. Friday until 1 a.m. Sunday.
So, to be clear “all night” or 24 hours in SLC = 1 a.m.
The Warriors will be providing the nightlife while they are here. Jazz games are popular date night activities.
“Date night”. Man, you just summed up the goober feel of Utah perfectly.
Thanks. At least someone got it.
…without acknowledging the fact that the Warriors are in town for one thing and one thing only, to do work. Last week, Draymond Green gave an Iverson-esque nod to abstinence from going out during the postseason altogether. “It’s the playoff(s). Nobody worried about nightlife during the playoffs.”
Should Dray or his coworkers or their fans need to blow off a little steam, yes, it is possible to go out in SLC and get hammered. And there are lots of people to go get hammered with. There are a shitton of Jack Mormons or regular Mormons on a bender or people who used to date/live with/have weird just-the-tip-through-the-jeans-or-is-that-your-jeans’-button-I’m-feeling-barely-inside-me sex with a Mormon or Mormons who used to live on the East Coast or in LA who have the last name Huntsman or Eccles and are back because they want to raise families but “get” what the deal is and what your deal with them is …plus everyone who works for Black Diamond.
So you can go booze, get loose, go to dives and, yes, piano bars are still a fucking thing there, oh well. The enthusiasm people have about actually being out after 9 p.m. (but before 1 a.m.) also does a lot to offset the awkwardness. It’s like drinking in a field with your high school buddies only it’s cold as shit outside so you’re indoors. And yes, sometimes establishments skirt around the state’s amorphous liquor laws a bit to free up a couple swank craft cocktail joints, but fuck that noise. Instead, try the strangely punctuated Ex-Wifes Place, the strangely spelled Twilite Lounge and the strangely strange The Republican, a place that almost feels like a cool Irish bar if you just happen to be in a town with no Irish people (hint: you are). The latter is not to be confused with The actual Utah Republican, who, as we all know by now, is evil and looks like a grown-up version of a child actor.
Should other Warriors besides Green sneak out with enough breadcrumbs to find their way back to 880 E, 770 N or wherever the confusing-ass address is of the place they’re staying, the best concert venue in the world is Kilby Court. It’s an all-ages venue that’s actually some guy’s garage on a divey street on the way out to the airport. There are all kinds of straight-edge kids cutting and huffing in the gravel/dirt parking lot, making out and mainlining Mountain Dew Code Red.
And that’s about all there is to SLC. That and a shitton of warehouse shops that sell mission suits in four packs, year-round haunted houses, bridal stores on every corner with bleached Pergo flooring and sea shells everywhere for some reason and a small burrito chain called Cafe Rio which gives you the kind of portion sizes that do feed families of eight.
…Admit it SLC, it was all downhill after Slowtrain closed.
Steph Curry said the general public need not worry about the discipline of he and his colleagues during the second round and even threw out an end of the day on his Utah sentiment: “…If you’re worried about extracurricular during the playoffs and that’s your priority, then you got it twisted already. It’s a business trip wherever we end up going. We’ll be ready.”
Hear that SLC? It’s a business trip. And you should welcome the business. After all, Outdoor Retailer has pulled out like a second-date Tinder guy because of your politics. Stoppers-over of any persuasion, even the Bay Area kind, should have you rolling out the Red (Iguana) carpet. But please, don’t try to explain to any of the visiting Warriors or their fans what XMission is. It’ll just scare them away.