Private Eye | Dam Salmon: Utah’s negative liquor-law perception goes away when private clubs do | Private Eye | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Private Eye | Dam Salmon: Utah’s negative liquor-law perception goes away when private clubs do


I was in San Francisco this past weekend and missed most of Game 6 between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout a meal of sushi in Japantown and coffee in North Beach, I was being fed countless texts from home with game time updates. They went something like this: “Trade Boozer for Milsap.” “Down by 18. They look like crap.” “DWill rocks. He’s the only one trying.” “AK left his heart in San Francisco. Have you seen it?”

It went on like that for nearly two hours. When we got back to our hotel, there were two minutes left to play. That was the most exciting part of the game, as the Jazz hit a string of 3-pointers and had a chance to tie the game at the end. It didn’t happen. No sooner did the game end than we clicked off the television and said goodbye to one more Utah Jazz season. I would have been totally bummed if I were home, but luckily I was in a town full of other crazy people, so I just joined their party instead.

The Jazz lost and San Francisco didn’t even blink. I can’t imagine San Francisco blinking for anything other than an earthquake, so a little basketball game played in Salt Lake City doesn’t even ping to most residents there. Trying to strike up a conversation about the Jazz vs. Lakers series was like trying to sell a pig to a bee farmer.

On Saturday, we spent a little time in Haight-Ashbury just so I could point out ground zero of the 1960s hippie movement. I was there in 1968 and remember my dad cussing at all the long hairs and freaks. I also remember thinking, “Uh, Dad, let me out of the car.” By 1968, though, if there was any purity in the peace-and-love movement to begin with, it had already left San Francsico, usurped by a larger movement. I can’t remember which one, but I’m pretty sure one of the Beatles paid homage about the same time as I and went on to say, in a nutshell, that San Francisco hippies sucked.

That sure didn’t stop hippies from being hippies, and neither did their progeny fall far from the hippie tree. You can still see them all over the city. On Sunday, I saw around 60,000 of them as I observed my first ever Bay to Breakers footrace. They say that the Bay to Breakers, a course covering just over seven miles from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, was once just a normal footrace. Then it became a heyday for all things wet, wild and naked. Of the 60,000 who walked or ran this past Sunday, my guess is that less than 10 percent actually ran for the sake of running. Barely more than half the crowd actually bothered to register and pay, which creates quite the cost burden for street cleaners, cops and medical staff.

City Weekly music editor Jamie Gadette posted a blog about the race at She was in San Francisco over the weekend as well. I haven’t talked to her yet, but I hope to all get-out that she didn’t see me running naked. That would be hard to explain. Even the race organizers asked me to pull up my pants, claiming that the race normally attracts more than 75,000 people but that the sight of me—Bulgy the Whale in all the wrong places—scared off a number of people equal to the population of Magna.

I didn’t actually run naked. That’s a lie. Fire me. However, in the spirit of the moment, I did let my cutoffs droop to around my knees, and I walked a few paces with my Bart Simpson boxers visiting the sunlight for the first time ever.

Why not? With people being dunked headfirst into vats of beer, others tossing enough tortillas to fend off Third World starvation, just about everyone decked in wild costumes (I really dug those Vikings!) and still others in the aforementioned au naturel mode, what was the harm? Very little that I could see—not even to my son who just shrugged when Adam and Eve walked past his 11-year-old sight lines. They were more embarrassed than he was. I know because Eve’s cheeks were red. Yes, those cheeks.

I liked the salmon the best. Seeing them reminded me of Utah. Turns out a group of racers dressed as salmon run the course in reverse, starting from the Pacific Ocean. The salmon racers meet the huge crowd headlong and fight their way upstream toward the official starting line. Just like in Utah, where those of us in the minority who love Utah as much as the majority are always swimming against the current.

The morning of the race I learned that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. supports laws or regulations that will help Utah get rid of its silly private club requirements. He was swimming with the wrong crowd when he signed the recent liquor laws that gave Utah another tier of illusory liquor laws. If it’s true that he’ll fight to end private club memberships, then he’s back on course in my book.

The governor says he wants to make Utah more appealing to tourists and less aggravating to locals. Then do it. Utah’s negative liquor-law perception goes away when private clubs do. If he’s serious, he can make it so. Salmon don’t quit and neither should he or we. Utahns aren’t asking for headfirst beer dunking, but neither is it acceptable to maintain a system of private clubs that aren’t private in order to have a beer and a burger. Unless Adam and Eve are pouring, that is.

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