Salt Lake City, UT: Updating Tradition

When Mormon pioneers rolled into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they brought with them a new theology, a short but intense history of persecution, and dreams of a new kind of society. 166 years later, Salt Lake City remains deeply influenced by Mormon culture, but defies easy categorization. With a large and politically active gay scene, one of the biggest Polynesian populations in the country, and a steady stream of new migrants, the city is full of vibrant contradiction—and sometimes conflict.


Episode Music

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BonoboDays to Come
David WilliamsIntro
BonoboTransmission 94
MelodiumYou Could Feel Space and Atoms
The Moth and the FlameSorry
E-RockShrink Ray
E-RockThem What Do
BonoboBrace Brace
Aesop RockFumes
Parlor HawkThe Wind
Aesop RockBring Back Pluto
DarksideGolden Arrow
MelodiumI’ve Been Here Before
BonoboShadow Tricks
E-RockLightest Blue

Dear Salt Lake City Letter

Dear Salt Lake City,

When will you admit you’re a mirage, with your doily valentines, your Hummel heart and sidewalks swept so clean we can hardly see them, block after measured block with hospital corners pulled tight? Those kids playing in the cul-de-sacs will pick up their balls the second the supper call comes, the merchants and accountants will pull tight their doors and turn their deadbolts home, but forget all that. Think how life ticks through you, even through the choke of commuter traffic on a summer day, air and salt simmering on the horizon.

I can conjure you from anywhere on earth. I knew you before you put on your apron and lit the barbecue and set the timer for “done.” I knew you before you plopped the kids in the bath two at a time and scrubbed them down sleepy for bed. I knew you when there were no cultivated trees lining your streets, no streets for them to line, when hunters and lovers rendezvoused under the lone cedar near the heart of what was already measured out and apportioned to become town.

So now you are pins and tucks and shady neighborhoods adrift in the desert. So your bartenders stay polite all the way through last call. You think you amount to something? I’ve seen a porcupine strolling down 7th at 2:00 a.m., heading for the Food King; a herd of elk, whited-out by blizzard, taking the freeway down. I’ve seen your streets raging rivers in the sun, teens still in church clothes filling sandbags and heaving them underhand along the line, the mountains looming above deep in snow and ready to thaw.

I’ve seen cougars patrolling your perimeter, bobcats stalking the front yard. A moose by the kitchen window calmly strips down the aspen, and that coyote swings her full teats up the driveway as if she owned the place. Your scoured sky barrels in violence of storm, of heat, of drought; your ground turns and shimmies, ready to rip. The corner Rexall with its orange and blue sign, those trees imported from more hospitable climates, your flimsy fences were never meant to last. Oh, city of dust, of blue mountains and flash floods and faults endless and deep. Don’t tell me about duty or permanence. It’s all right here, vanishing. I will meet you anywhere. How I will miss you.

From far away,
Katherine Coles

  • Ben

    The Christ statue is not inside the Salt Lake Temple. <3 Its inside the Visitors Center in Temple Square.

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