It's never a good day when the morning begins with bad news. But that's how I awoke on Tuesday, learning that Mary Brown Malouf, long the editor of Salt Lake Magazine had died. Mary was an avid, beloved supporter of Utah's food-and-beverage industry, both as a food critic and ambassador for all things tasty and thirst-quenching. The following is the content of a message on her Facebook page, where many first learned this news:
"There was never a time there wasn't Mary Brown Malouf. Today, Mary died when a rogue wave swept her out to sea off the coast of Northern California. Only she—perhaps the world's foremost lover of Brontë, BBC mysteries and, of course, Moby Dick—would appreciate such poetic drama."
Her Facebook page quickly filled with hundreds of personal accolades and sorrowful comments as persons who knew Mary paused their day to comment on a mischievous person so many in Salt Lake considered a beacon of wit, wisdom and hope. I did not know Mary as well as many of those people. We were rivals and competitors in the print world, yet we found time to meet and commiserate. Which of course meant we ate, drank, laughed and talked smack on every bit of our industry. Our human rolodexes were a near copy of the other's, with shared friends and enemies, and combinations of both of those in every iteration. Our most recent night of libation was with several other masked and sanitized print and book-selling giants at the Garten, the outdoor patio of Mountain West Cider. As per the laws of magnetism, Mary, via wit and smile, held our table together. We agreed to see each other again. Then, we didn't.
Two years ago, I had nearly the identical parting with her late husband, longtime news reporter and editor Glen Warchol. He and I met at Duffy's Tavern for an afternoon of divining the future, both of convinced that we knew more about our town than anyone else ever could or will. When all was said and done, our drinks consumed, we agreed to meet again because that which we were talking of was going to rattle the Salt Lake newspaper industry. But Glen died not even two weeks later, and I was dumbstruck.
In every conversation with Glen, there was also a conversation about Mary, of whom Glen was so enamored. I actually knew her better thru Glen than from my own meetings with her. So, comes today where I'm reading and learning even more about Mary. Along with those accolades on Facebook were posted Mary's posts of her final happy days along the sea. Among those cheerful messages was one Mary pushed to Facebook while she was in northern California. The post simply said, "Dad." It linked to the Dec. 6, 2020, obituary printed in the Dallas Morning News for 95-year-old Donald Waddington, her father, who fell victim to COVID-19. Mary died the next day.
So many of us go through life without looking up or out. Mary did both, and she also looked inward. That is a claiming attribute of persons with a good soul. Those around a soulful person just automatically know that person understands something the rest of us can only hope to touch or see. After learning the circumstances of these final days of Mary's life—the respect for her, her zestful final days, her father's passing, her own dying as if by script—I'm thinking "poetic drama" in this context is about the most apt term I've ever seen applied to another person.
Our local print industry is rapidly changing. The Davis County Clipper has stopped publishing. Our dearest friend Greta DeJong is shuttering historic Catalyst Magazine. Meanwhile, The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News will soon reduce their weekly print editions to just one delivered print product weekly starting in January 2021. No one really knows what that will mean for all of us, how it will affect newsgathering in this city or how it will affect other print products in this market.
Believe me, we will watch with a wary eye as, speaking of poetry, it would be poetic malfeasance of the worst kind for City Weekly to suffer the deadly fate of so many other newspapers this year at the very time we become top dog in the weekly print market by virtue of the big guys shrinking down to our size. That will be a new position for us, indeed. For more than 30 years, we've been the little guy compared to them. Even when our circulation topped out at 60,000 per week, they claimed double that.
Come January, they really will become basically our size—in print at least. They will dominate online, but that's OK with us. We know who we are, and we know our position and place in this great city. As we are fond of saying, we know Main Street, they know Wall Street. In the local print street fight, we will take mom-and-pop all day, every day. We will go to bat for the little guys out there as we always have. And we'll do that until we cannot.
Mary Brown Malouf, too, was a determined and strong advocate for Main Street. As a food critic and connoisseur of all things, her voice, positive attitude and vibrant personality lent favor to an industry that is often consumed by doubt. I regret I did not know her well enough. However, I know of her well enough to know that she, with apologies to Charlotte Brontë, would be no angel, that should not be one till she died. That she would be herself.
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