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Since 1980, Signature Books has been giving Mormon historians a chance to push the comfortable norms of the faith’s perception of itself, by giving authors the opportunity to publish works on LDS feminism, power, polygamy, folk magic and every other controversial element of a faith that would prefer to keep these things down to a whisper. The authors include an impressive roster of now-excommunicated Mormon scholars. From D. Michael Quinn’s writing of the folk magic of Joseph Smith or Simon Southerton’s questioning the DNA link between Native Americans and ancient Israelites, Signature Books has given ink to many a scholar who risked more than their jobs by shedding light on some dark corners of the dominant religion’s not so nifty thrifty past.
564 W. 400 North, Salt Lake City, 801-531-1483, SignatureBooks.com
BEST FILM SNOB MOVIE RENTAL
The Tower Theatre is, of course, known for debuting independent and eclectic movies. It also has a unique film-rental concept. The theater has video collections with films organized by director as well as American and world cinema genres, so you can expand your horizons when it comes to less than mainstream films. The directors section is especially great. For example, you’re a Sam Peckinpah fan, but you’ve only seen The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid? Well, peruse the Peckinpah section, and you’ll be pleased to pick up his more obscure works like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. Collections run the gamut from Coppola’s gangster noir to the classic samurai films of Akira Kurasowa.
876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-321-0310, SaltLakeFilmsociety.org
BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE
Pete Ashdown is a man of the people. From his younger days promoting Utah’s first raves to a heartfelt underdog run for U.S. Senate, the local independent entrepreneur has put his best foot forward. It’s should come as no surprise, then, that Ashdown’s company, Internet provider XMission, offers top-notch customer service to its understandably loyal customers. Small business owners are particularly grateful to chat with someone who is located right down the street (as opposed to outsourced help in India) when their computer breaks down at 2 a.m. the morning before a major deadline. Besides employing techies with stellar interpersonal skills, XMission also helps to keep Salt Lake City engaged by spreading free wireless connections throughout downtown.
BEST TATTOO PHILOSOPHY
Happy Valley Tattoo Parlor
American Fork’s one and only Happy Valley Tattoo Parlor might not have the world’s most renowned tat artists but they probably have some of the most conscientious. That’s because Happy Valley Tattoo is also a church, the Whole Life Ministries, where the Reverend “Doc” Lowery and wife Kita Kazoo consider tats and piercings a strong symbol of self-expression. These ministers of ink go out of their way to make sure clients feel comfortable and confident in the sometimes scary experience of getting a tattoo or piercing. “We don’t want our ministers bringing in negative attitudes that other places might have,” Lowery says. The church brings a refreshing kind of “judge not that butterfly tattoo lest ye be judged yourself” ethic to its business and the lives of its customers.
275 E. State Road, American Fork, 801-756-6642, Tat2Me.com
BEST UPSCALE BICYCLE SHOP
BEST GREEN FRIENDLY GYM
The Front Climbing Club
A day at the gym never offered so many eco-friendly ways to break a sweat and bust the flab until The Front opened. The club’s centerpiece may be the 10,000-square-foot climbing wall. It also has weights, aerobics and complete yoga and Pilates classes and free Wi-Fi, all in a facility that purchases 100 percent of its power supply from wind energy. The matching energy purchased by The Front is enough to offset 91.2 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions a year. With competitive membership rates, it’s time to go green or go home.
1450 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7625, FrontSLC.com
You’ve probably zipped by the Euro Treasures building off the 600 south exit without ever having thought twice. But step inside the 85,000-square-foot warehouse and you’ll be treated to antiquer’s nirvana—treasures from Europe and Africa spreading out in every direction. An upstairs room contains more than 5,000 antique chairs, while the bottom floor is filled with Victorian dressers, armoires and mirrors punctuated by tribal masks, statues, carvings and even a 7-foot-long stuffed African lion overlooking the array of vintage treasures. Drop by and lose yourself for hours in one of the country’s largest antique stores.
470 W. 600 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-6390
BEST EXTREME INNOVATION
Kahuna Creation’s Big Stick
Sometimes a good idea doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Just ask Steve McBride, founder of the Ogden-based Kahuna Creations, and inventor of the Big Stick. The Big Stick is essentially a large “paddle” that longboard riders can use to help propel themselves along flat surfaces without having to stomp and kick their way around. The Big Stick, with its patented rubber grip also gives the user a solid upper-body and cardio workout, similar to paddling a canoe or kayak. And since the Big Stick can reach up to 6 feet, it doubles as an intimidating sceptre. All the skateboarders giving you s—t for riding a longboard? Just ride softly and carry a Big Stick.
375 Stewart Drive, Ogden, 801-627-0100, KahunaCreations.com
BEST POLITICAL RANT BY A SKATE SHOP
Salty Peaks Skate & Snowboard Shop vs. The North American Union
Salty Peaks Skate & Snowboard shop has been staying out of the political fray for a long while, but finally decided it’s time to warn all its politically active clientele of the perils of looming one-world government. In a radio commercial, Salty Peaks warned of the North American Union that would open the borders of Mexico and Canada and submit us to the rule of a North American version of the European Union. Salty Peaks even offered a $2,500 shopping spree to anyone who could disprove this sinister theory and urged listeners to check out a similarly paranoid Website railing against “illegal alien anarchy” and how “bilingualism is subverting America.” No one claimed the prize as far as we’ve heard, but at least we know now where all the Minutemen’s kids get their snow and skate gear.
3055 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-8000, SaltyPeaks.com
BEST KUNG FU
Sil Lum Gung Fu Club Utah
This West Jordan martial arts academy brings to Utah a lineage of traditional Chinese gung fu dating back to the fabled Shaolin monks. Here, the emphasis is on rigor, discipline and conditioning. While the school teaches more accessible gung fu styles like Hung Gar, for the more dedicated student, lessons are offered also in Wing Chun and Hsing I—a more mystical brand that combines all five Chinese elements and 17 different animals for an advanced “internal” martial arts discipline. As tradition dictates, the Sil Lum school also performs the traditional lion dance throughout Chinese New Year. The school will relocate to West Valley soon; check the Website for details.
7879 S. 1530 West, West Jordan, 801-562-2277, SillumUtah.net
Tony Sciammarella has been a maestro of the suit business for more than 50 years. And, with 30 of those years in Salt Lake City, his downtown suit shop Moda Italia offers outstanding suits, jackets and ties, direct from Biella, Italy. These aren’t your typical warehouse missionary-style suits but include the finest in single- and double-breasted as well as classic pin-stripe suits. To really go all out, you can get your suit custom tailored, so that your dress fits as naturally as a glove, and as elegantly as a work of art.
105 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-355-8828
BEST SPICY SEEDS
Sunflower seeds—they’re not just something to spit into the dugout during baseball games. This Salt Lake City distributor is convinced that the traditional salted snack is only the beginning of the possibilities. Why not spice things up with spicy nacho, jalapeño or hot wings flavor? Or if your taste buds prefer to walk on the milder side, perhaps dill pickle or bleu cheese sunflower seeds? And if you want to take a chance on tequila lime or beer roasted—well, we won’t tell the bishop if you won’t.
722 S. 5300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-746-0640, Zotes.com
BEST SELFLESS SOLUTION TO A NATIONAL PROBLEM
Maliheh Free Clinic
Staffed entirely by volunteer health care providers, the Maliheh Free Clinic offers impoverished Utahns free access to quality care. Named after Maliheh Abdollah—benefactor Koshrow Semnani’s grandmother—the clinic is funded by donations. Thanks to the Maliheh Free Clinic, preventive and proactive health care in Utah knows no economic boundaries. Are you taking notes, ’08 presidential candidates? Because you should be…
415 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-266-3700, MalihehFreeClinic.org
BEST PLACE TO ACCESSORIZE
Need a pair of button earrings, hip shoes or a hand-sewn apron so dainty you’re afraid to bring it anywhere near the kitchen? How about a finger puppet, a hand-painted suitcase or a cloth cupcake? If you answered yes, yes, yes, and yes, Frosty Darling is your one-stop accessory emporium. If nothing else, the granny candy on the counter is impossible to resist.
177 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-532-4790, FrostyDarling.com