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Private Eye: You Gotta Be


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Salt Lake City’s water was recently named the nation’s best. And … ?

Doug Kruithof:
Best saltwater?

Derek Jones: … and the scarcest with all this triple-digit heat. Maybe I’m just a baby and can’t handle it.

Faith Burnham: Maybe that is why our dogs drink out of the toilet instead of carting around bottles of Evian. Who knew?

Holly Mullen: It is the best water, but only because Salt Lake City’s water czars fight like hell to keep the canyon watersheds pure. If they let their guard down for one day, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons would be one big dog park and developers would turn Albion Basin into Six Flags Over Sandy.

Lindsay Larkin: ... and our air-pollution levels call for an alert system much like George W.’s terror codes. Fair trade? I think not. I’m still drinking bottled water, baby.

Andrea Moore: … and let’s celebrate by continuing as we have been and using it all up. Hey, it’s all about depleting our natural resources, right?

Blade Brown: Thank God for Energy Solutions. They must be really packing us full of preservatives. If that’s what you call it …

Nick Clark: Were they talking about the beer?

Jamie Gadette: The water coming out of my tap must be shipped in from Detroit.
Jennifer Higgins: When I worked up at the ski resorts, it baffled me that people would buy extremely overpriced bottled water when you could get better-tasting, mountain-fresh water out of the tap for free.

Kathy Mueller: I am thrilled because my precious lawn would not tolerate anything less than the best. Who’s thirsty?

Justin Healy: Now we can bottle it and sell it around the world. Since it was my idea, can I get a little profit share, please?

Brandon Burt: Water … that’s a chemical used in the making of beverages that are fit for human consumption—like coffee and beer, right?

Bill Frost: But our Jell-O shots have slipped to 10th place!
nI’m a water drinker. So, far I’ve drunk the local water in five foreign countries in around 30 of the United States and in every county in Utah except Box Elder. (Nobody goes to Box Elder County.) Until Salt Lake City recently won a Today show water taste-off against 10 other cities and was proclaimed the city with the nation’s tastiest water, I’d never given water taste much thought, not counting the time I spent on the track gang at the Bingham Canyon mine. All the track gangs had a water boy charged with bringing the rail workers their day’s water supply. If the water boy was from Magna—perhaps home to the worst tasting water anywhere—that water boy risked his life if he dared fill the cooler from home.

I don’t know what it is about Magna water but, unless it’s changed, I recommend you stick to beer while in Magna. Your children will thank you. Up in Bingham, we used to say that if we didn’t flush, Magna would have no water at all. Our Bingham water, coming from springs, mine shafts and wells deep within the Oquirrh Mountains, was as tasty as water gets—albeit a bit on the hard side. I don’t even know what “hard” water is, but it was called that. Not so hard that it could be magnetized, yet it must be said that it did take some span of time to become used to discovering iron filings in a Jell-O salad. Despite that minor shortcoming, if Bingham water were entered in the recent Today show contest, it would have ranked ahead of Salt Lake City water. Hands down.

I’m not sure Salt Lake City’s water is even the best in the valley—Murray water tastes pretty damned good—nor can I be convinced it’s the best in the state, even. I’ve sucked water from streams in the Uintas to rivulets in Zion National Park, and one thing’s pretty certain: Utah has great water from top to bottom. I hope Salt Lake City performs the graceful act of sharing the Today accolade with the rest of the state. We should all be proud of our drinking water. Except Magna.

Funny thing about the water-tasting showdown was that it was judged by wine-tasting experts. That’s the opposite of the way things are in Utah, where nondrinkers pass judgment on drinkers and the alcohol they consume. And you know what we say about those folks, right? You have to appreciate such ironies. When the judging was done, the connoisseurs, unbelievably straight-faced, labeled Salt Lake City water as both “viscous, thick and rich” and “nonflawed, clean and tedious.” Water is either tasty or not, isn’t it? Thick water? Tedious water? I’m going to introduce a newbie item to the Private Eye column, the acronym YGBSM. People who grew up on my side of the tracks can figure that one out very readily. If you can’t, YGBSM! Anyway, when regular tap water is described in such a manner, I’m cast into such disbelief that… OK, here’s a clue: the S word rhymes with spittin’.

I’m as proud of our good water as the next guy, but some folks are downright nutty about it. Following a story on the pronouncement of our great-tasting water, someone posted this comment on The Salt Lake Tribune’s Website, “… and Mayor Anderson deserves much credit for how our tap water tastes.” YGBSM!! Or is it the less demonstrative, but equally incredulous, AYSM? Hey, I don’t personally like Ross “Rocky” Anderson as much as the next guy, but I have given him grudging respect here and there—not recently, but on balance, you know? However, crediting him for the taste of Salt Lake City’s tap water can only mean one thing: The author must have grown up in Magna.

I like water in almost any form, even in popsicles, but I especially like it when mixed with Seagram’s Crown Royal. Just one more area where the mayor and I part ways, because if Salt Lake City’s water is so good, why does the mayor dilute his with scotch? I wish he’d show his solidarity to the North American continent by switching to a Canadian blend, but that’s sniveling. Not that I blame him, though because, unpatriotic as it may sound, I just don’t like most American bourbon or whisky. I get headaches. But count us both in as having the sense to improve both the liquor and the water with the mere addition of the other. I have great sympathy for those among us who will never gain the full enjoyment of Salt Lake City water due to their refusal to marry it with a jigger of liquor.

Even Brigham Young had appreciation for Salt Lake City’s “thick” and “clean” water when he directed the early Saints to brew both beer and liquor steadied by our Wasatch mountain water. The original Salt Lake Brewing Company and the notorious Valley Tan liquor are both pioneer-times legends—considered so not just among those casually passing through on the way to California, but among the pioneers, too. For reasons not clearly understood by common man, Young gave up on that particular quilt piece of God’s work. Mercifully, a cadre of brewers keep the tradition alive. Think of it: without Brigham’s prescient mandate, we might be without the likes of Squatters and Red Rock—an absence that would make downtown Salt Lake City all the poorer.

If only Young were still around to reverse his earlier pronouncement. I think he’d proudly say of our water award, “Told you so!” And I think he’d also look at all the potential consumers of his old Salt Lake Brewing Company and say, “YGBSM!”