Our annual City Guide hits the streets this week. We first published it in 2002, just in time for Utah's Winter Olympic Games. It turned out to be a hit, so we've kept doing it. Each year our lives change, our favorite places to visit change. And each year our able editorial staff, plus a bevy of independent writers, photographers and illustrators remind us of all the great reasons to live and play in Utah.
Each of our City Guides has had a pretty memorable cover image that helps trigger the innards. This year, however, the game went to a new level with a cover to beat all—a veritable passport for the ages, a blue and gold invite to partake of all that's inside. You never know what a concept will look like until it's finished, and this year I wondered if it would work. But when I saw the first issues a couple of days ago, I knew right away this year's guide would be another big hit.
So, thanks to everyone involved. Every City Weekly department excelled, and for a print industry so plagued with real and fake news about its well-being, it feels good to break sales records and watch people turn and touch the pages like they will never do on their so-called smartphones. Print is not dead. What is dead are the brain cells of people who substitute pixels for paragraphs.
Our 2017 City Guide is more alive, cover-to-cover, than a mobile device will ever be. It will stay on topic longer, it will trigger your senses, it'll make you want to eat all those cheap eats on pages 60 and 61—then eat some more. You'll also want to break out the pedal bike with our cocktail guide in tow, just in case you want a michelada somewhere along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Hearty thanks to the ingenuity and brilliant art design by both Editor Enrique Limón and Art Director Derek Carlisle. They are quite the tandem.
There's just one negative in the whole thing: There are many restaurant and club advertisers in this year's City Guide (I implore you readers to support them all as they sustain the free press in Utah. Choose our advertisers first and often). However, just as the hospitality industry emerges from years of red-headed step-child treatment, the Utah Legislature once again slaps them down. It's like they want to kill our club and restaurant industries once and for all.
You're likely aware of three new bullshit items that passed the Legislature this year: the legal limit for a drunk driving conviction was lowered from .08 to .05 BAC, the completely stupid and ineffective Zion Curtain will gradually be replaced (in most cases) with an equally stupid Zion Moat (I prefer the term "Mormon Moat"; Please adopt that as the standard), and yet another robbery on liquor sales will raise taxes by about 2 percent. It's the last one that matters most to our Legislature: money. They just mask their intent with crazy stuff (walls, moats, ID checks, name tags) to make them feel better about the betrayal and knee-capping they just committed.
It's been said before and must be said again: These legislators know little about liquor or the people who consume it. We are all evil in their eyes. A drinker is a drunk.
My first byline ever was under a letter to the editor of The Salt Lake Tribune in the mid-1970s. At the time, I was a bartender at Club 39 near where St. Mark's Hospital now stands at 1200 E. 3900 South. I and a dear friend, Lynn Hachmeister (RIP), a waitress, sat down and wrote about whatever was the stupid law du jour of the time. I believe it was about Utah mandating that mixed drinks be poured from mini-bottles and how they caused people to become fall-down drunk. At 1.7 ounces, mini bottles produced a potent drink, but when people ordered a double, you had to give them two mini-bottles' worth. Utah was encouraging over-consumption in the name of liquor control.
See, it's always about control. Mini bottles were easy to count. They had control, because if the liquor count was off, a club could be closed. Closing a bar made the state look tough on liquor, but it wasn't. As always, it was about diversion—while we cringe at .05 or bitch about the Mormon Moat, we pay higher liquor taxes, which was/is what it's all about. Checking grandma's ID at the door? That's just to keep you annoyed. It does nothing. The moat? As long as there is Google, the moat is legislative masturbation.
It is always about control. Never forget that. Not safety; control. It's not about safer highways. You know that because we all have heard horrifying stories about the six-time DUI offender who blew 2.1 BAC after killing somebody in a 3 a.m. car accident. If the state wanted drunk drivers off the road, it would attack the drunk drivers—not casual drinkers. It would get out of the liquor business. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) would have more than 10 members. No need to even mention smartphone- or milkshake-distracted drivers until they, like drinkers, can be taken to the cleaners on taxes. Only then will the state consider them a risk on par with drinkers.
Forty years after that letter to the editor, little has changed, really. Sure, the mini bottles are gone and drinks are delivered to restaurant tables. That's just for show. The Utah Legislature will never change. When they want to squash you, like a fly beneath a rolled-up City Guide, keep your senses. Don't whack flies. Whack the Legislature instead.