Since my first visit in 2003, I've been lucky enough to travel to Greece eight times. After one such visit, I came home to an envelope that didn't include a return address, just a typewritten address to me, John Saltas, publisher. Inside was a plain piece of white paper with what I still interpret to be the handwriting scrawl of an elderly person (or a not-so-clever antagonist) who wrote me these motivating words:
Dear John Saltas
Please stay in Greece.
I wish I could, I wish I could. Barely two weeks ago, I returned home after a very successful City Weekly tour of Greece, sponsored by this newspaper. We had 36 travelers, of which I'm pretty sure 26 would go back tomorrow if they could. For many, it was the trip of a lifetime. For all, it was a laugh-a-minute good time, interspersed with views of jaw-dropping historical Greek and Roman relics ("Why do so many statues have their breasts and penises chopped off?"); visits to Byzantine Churches ("Wow, these are older than the Salt Lake Temple!"); walks through back alleys tasting the iconic foodstuffs of Athens ("Yum!" "Ick!"); ferry rides across the blue Aegean Sea ("Do these things ever sink?"); driving ATVs all over the island of Naxos into hidden villages ("You stupid Germans!") and remote beaches ("Has anyone seen my Cubbies hat?"); then finally to Santorini for what is arguably the world's most stunning sunset ("Oh! My! God!") high upon the caldera rim at the village of Imerovigli. Yeah, I'd stay in Greece if I could.
Enroute, I couldn't get the in-flight music to work. I ended up having to choose between listening to classical music or AC/DC. With apologies to Angus Young, I chose classical. However, there was only one, 90-minute classical track. After a gentle 45-minute massage of violins and flutes, an unnamed tenor began belting out something to the tune of "Danny Boy." I loved it, though I'd never heard it before. So I tried to play it again only to have the music loop back to the start. It took 45 minutes to hear the song again. I washed, rinsed and repeated that process for nine hours.
I forgot about it until a few days ago, when I typed the few lyrics I remembered into Google. Stranger things have happened, but for a guy like me who sees messages in lawn clippings, I thought the broken song loop was trying to tell me something. It was telling me, "You're OK, John. Relax. Here's a hall pass."
And wouldn't you know it? The song is "I Would Be True," a well-known Christian hymn. I presume it's well-known. I assure you it has never been sung during a Greek Orthodox liturgy, so bound are we to hipster Byzantine words and music. Nor, as it turns out, did my Mormon friends know of it, busy as they are singing their own playlist. Nope, this hymn belongs to those other Christians.
That's fine with me. It's a great hymn mixing a perfect blend of feel-good lyrics with a lullaby melody that begs for a hearing in a time of crisis or need—as it was during its playing at the funeral for Princess Diana. The version I heard somewhere over the North Atlantic, was strong without being syrupy. But, I can't find it. The artist was a male tenor who sang so beautifully I listened to the song seven times, each time suffering through the aforementioned 45 minutes of violin and flutes before it played again. The versions on YouTube—as often as not by children choirs—utterly fail compared to the version still playing in my head. It's just not the same. I interpret that as a cosmic sign that I can interpret the song however I wish.
So, here it is. I think all this means it's time for me to come clean: "I would be true, for there are those that trust me. I would be pure, for there are those that care. I would be strong, for there is much to suffer. I would be brave, for there is much to dare. I would friend of all, the foe, the friendless. I would be giving, and forget the gift. I would be humble, for I know my weakness. I would look up, and laugh, and love and live."
With that prayer out of the way, I think that Gary Herbert should not be re-elected governor of Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune endorsement of him was a telling big, fat kiss; that Donald Trump is gaming all of us and is a very, very dangerous man; that I'm no Hillary fan, but what choice do sane people have? Johnson? Stein? Not for me.
I'm going to go with that Evan McMullin guy, basically because he's younger than me, he's growing his hair in, he seems brave and there's much to dare. That's plenty for me in this election where Trump should not be handed Utah, where his history, proclivities and cynicism should be given no quarter from anyone, especially the LDS. A vote for McMullin is not a throwaway—it's not going to cost Hillary, who won't win Utah, and who won't need this state to throw her over the top anyway. Be honest, Utah still won't matter to her or anyone in D.C. unless the down ballot Dems also win—and by the looks of things, they won't.
So, I'm looking forward to Nov. 9 and to the next City Weekly trip to Greece (please come!), where we can all laugh, and love and live—and where, if we want, we can tune into Trump TV, because that's what he really wants.