I’m in Utah. You know, the 47th state (amazingly Utah was a state before Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico) – also known as “GateWay to Nevada.” Like much of modern America, the place is thriving, stifling, advancing, and in its own wonderful ways, a little bit weird. If you live here, or even if you just grew up here like I did, the weird never quite seems as weird as it does if you are a real Yankee or Cracker, and are just passing through. Yet, it does constantly surprise me how the all the elements of modernity are present here, as they are in Mobile, Alabama, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Those elements of modernity include things like restaurants with twenty-dollar pasta dishes, twenty-four dollar pieces of grilled fish, and your basic uninteresting eleven dollar martini. I just don’t know when I became my Mother. I handle it a little better, perhaps, but let’s face it, it’s easy to bristle at a not very interesting eleven dollar Martini. Utah, a place where only recently could you get a drink served by a waiter at your table without having to walk to the ‘State Liquor Store’ closet in the restaurant (you had to buy the mini bottle, take it to your table, and then the restaurant would charge you a corkage fee to serve it to you. Truly hideous State Intervention!) My mom has catalogued all the cases when what should have been a three or four dollar martini is charged at ten or twelve. I share the outrage. I feel the pain. But it becomes one of those barometers of how groovy our society is. You want the sense of Modern, FoodNetwork oriented dishes in places like Orem, Kankakee, and Great Falls? Well, cool enough, but it will cost you a ten spot for the martini. At least they don’t serve it in a jelly glass. Be thankful for small favors.
Spinning in the Empty Gallery
I think that amongst all the influences which riddle life these days, the Food Network must be one of the most widely spread. At the gym last night, while suffering on the Elliptical machine, I watched Sandra Lee, one of the most innovative of the FN lot, prepare some almond dishes. She is the queen of Semi-Homemade – whose M.O. includes taking off the shelf items, and doctoring them to create things that really look pretty good. This show included using phylo dough, almonds and a small Brie to create a baked Brie which would have a little more ummph than a store bought one. I will say, I was amazed to see she wasn’t from Utah (she’s a Wisconsin girl, it seems). I think the committed Mormons who, in their desire to live up to the tenet of the church which implores them to keep a year’s supply of food in the house – in case of emergency – might follow some of her tips to make that year’s supply of food a little more tolerable. My cousin Terry, a real estate agent in Salt Lake, has described, in her meanderings through homes for sale in the valley, running into some pretty mean “years supply” of emergency food. I suspect that if it came to it, you might really wish you had a few pints of hot sauce, fresh pepper, and ‘instant humus’ to make the food more interesting. I usually try and keep one of those itty bitty hot sauce containers with me, since you never know when doctoring that next bite could be critical.
The critical step I’m doing in Utah this week is opening a sports photo exhibit at the Kimball Art Center, the largest art space in Park City, Utah. Park City, once a funky rough and tumble mining town, is now one of country’s premier ski resorts. The show, which opens Saturday (Feb. 3) and runs for 5 weeks, is called Managing Gravity, and is a collection of some forty images of Sport which I have taken over the last twenty years. As a kid, shortly after I began shooting pictures in High School, I discovered that the joy of journalism lay in the fact that a picture you shot in ONE place, would be reproduced in a News paper, and be seen by thousands of people in OTHER places, and that, generally speaking, they would even pay you for it. I know five bucks doesn’t seem like much now, but in 1963 (this is where you say…”when I was in high school…” the phrase guaranteed to make children use the words ‘old fart’) it was a good chunk of money. But more importantly, it was the first time I realized I could actually keep taking pictures, getting them published, and maybe never have to get a real job. Cool.
Pictures finally going up on the wall
When I was 17 and working for a local weekly paper, I thought I was some kind of wicked good sports photographer. Well, I think I was pretty wicked bad now when I look at those pictures, but with age, the talent began to match attitude, and eventually what is going onto the walls of the Kimball is a pretty interesting selection of pictures. Yesterday we undid the boxes of prints, and I was pleased beyond measure. The good people at Eastman Kodak had stepped in, late in the game, and printed the show, and they did a great job. The really tedious but necessary step of aligning the hanging points, (fish twine, a pencil, and a measuring tape does wonders.) was handled in a couple of hours, and by the end of the day it was starting to really come together. In the morning I took a swirling picture of myself in the empty gallery, and today will match that shot now that images are on the walls. I know I shouldn’t forget to take pictures, but sometimes I do. I just look, you know, the way a normal person would. I almost have to kick myself and be reminded that the one thing I do best is to try and remember what things look like. Going to bed last night in my hotel (the Peery, a lovely old place downtown), I could see the glow of the Shiloh Inn a block away.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
Outlined in neon red, it stands like some kind of alien spacecraft which has briefly touched down in Salt Lake to try and find out what makes this place tick. Based on what I’m seeing, they have plenty to report to their home planet. I just hope they remember to include the info about the eleven dollar martinis. If you happen to find yourself in Park City tomorrow, print this Blob out, and bring it along, and you’ll be able to turn it in for One Martini. On the house.
And by the way -- and I'm not begging -- but I think you should know, we still don't have an invitation to a Super Bowl party. Not even Giada Dilaurentis has called. We’re just sayin… David