Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

July 29, 2015

MR. REAL!

2015

As a doddering older person born in the USA in upstate New York in the last century, I did not, and was not ever around this game called soccer/football.  I never even saw a soccer ball until I traveled with my family south of the border after we moved to Arizona. My dad was a serious baseball and football fan and also a scratch golfer, and a soon to be bull fight patron.  Soccer never entered our paradigm. I only now know about soccer when Ross my intern comes in wearing his REAL sweat suit jacket and he’s in a happy place because his REAL won. Honestly, I’ve tried to be a fan and forced myself to watch games on the TV box. Alas, it’s just not my game.

However, I am a fan of REAL owner Dell Loy Hansen. I met this smiley guy a few years back and assumed he was just your average looking Zions Bank manager or a Church official, or maybe a professor of animal husbandry at his alma mater, Utah State. I didn’t know what he did for a living, just that he was into making Salt Lake City a better place. That got my attention.  Low and behold, slap my head and call me stupid, Dell Loy not only is the main REAL owner, but the CEO of the Wasatch Group.

Never heard of his other company? They/he owns huge interest’s downtown, in the Wells Fargo high rise, the historic/retro/restored Ken Garff Building and Questar’s Corporate Center.  They own almost 17,000 apartments in five states, too.  When Dell Loy’s group bought the shares in the Wells Fargo Building on Main Street he also brought life on the street back to that particular block. He convinced KUTV to move downtown to the ‘sidewalk’ of his little purchase so they could have a Today Show visual format. If you’ve tuned into Channel 2 News you know that anyone can walk up behind the talking heads at 6 and 10 PM and wave at the cameras. He also took an old bank building on 300 South and turned it into one of the finest broadcast studios in the Western US. He bought out most of the assets of Simmons Media and acquired U92, X96, Rewind 100.7, EAGLE 101.5, Mix 107.9 radio stations. He already owned ESPN 700 (the old KALL radio station) and got SLC to approve an electronic billboard over the stations headquarters.

Dell Loy was unable to convince the Utah State Legislature and Salt Lake City that we could use another soccer stadium for his minor league team, the “Monarchs”, out at the State Fairgrounds this past session. He’s still hunting for build options. To dispel rumors, he and the Wasatch Group just purchased 2.3 acres on the southwest corner of 600 So. State for $5.82 million to build ‘mid-priced housing for the city’s regular workforce’…not a stadium.  GOOOOOAAAAAAAL for housing!

July 29, 2015

The Master

2015

Ever since the 1950’s we’ve been in love with our automobiles. After WWII ended soldiers came back wanting their own cars and auto manufacturers were ready to please. Before then people used to walk in hoards downtown to shop and socialize but that disappeared with the opening of suburban  malls in the ‘60’s. Luckily biking, walking and downtown has come back. Now people hang above State Street on 200 South at Bar X, Cedars of Lebanon and Taqueria 27 or mosey down Main Street for yummies from Evas, chops at Lamb’s or breakfast at the Royal Eatery. If you’re one of the folks who have rediscovered strolling downtown then you’ve certainly walked past the corner of glass windows of The Violin and Bow Making School of Peter Paul Prier. There you see beautiful unvarnished instruments being made or hanging on the walls in various stages of creation. Just imagine making a fine instrument yourself-hundreds of hours of designing, carving, sanding, gluing, varnishing, drying wood into a thing of beauty. Peter Prier was one of the world best at making violins, cellos and violas. Sadly our city has lost him, as he passed June 15th at the age of 73.

   Peter was born in Germany and began playing the violin at seven years of age. He loved the instrument and entered the Violin Making School in Mittenwald and worked making violins in a shop Stuttgart. In 1960 after graduating from school, he immigrated to the U.S. to work at the Pearce Music Company in SLC and play violin with the Utah Symphony. He had to give both up after enlisting in the military during WWII but came back and picked up his fiddle with the symphony and began caring for the instruments and needs of the string section of his fellow musicians.  He opened his own violin shop in Salt Lake City and in 1972 he established the Violin Making School of America and also a Bow Maker’s school. Prier made constructed 160 violins, 17 violas, 29 cellos, 2 basses, and 3 guitars of classical design. Musicians and concert soloists such as Lord Yehudi Menuhin, Joseph Silverstein, violinist and conductor, and solo violinist Daniel Heifetz as well as many others play Peter Paul Prier’s instruments.

    His sons will carry on the family tradition and we will continue to see intensely focused men and women in the windows of the school making lovely creations. A friend told me once that during their interview for enrollment at the school Peter asked an unusual question: “What did the doorknob look like when you entered the room?”  The master luthier was a necessary and proud stickler for details.

July 29, 2015

Patriotic Utah

2015

Where’s the most patriotic pack o’ people in Utah? If you didn’t notice last month, Sugar House held the biggest fireworks show in the Salt Lake Valley in Sugar House.  BYU’s ‘Stadium of Fire’ is the by far the biggest booms for your buck and always sells out because the show features hours of music beforehand. This year the wrinkled old band Journey was the headliner with washed-up emcee Montel Williams and Disney Channels’ Olivia Holt.

    I’m awarding the biggest claim to fame for patriotic celebrations in the entire state to the little town of Willard, which is located just seven miles south of Brigham City.  This tiny town of 1772 people (2010 census) claims the oldest continuous 4th of July celebration in Utah that features a baby contest, a melodrama, bingo, a 5K, parade, basketball tournament beginning with a Fireman's Ball the night before, races and booths that day with picnics and fireworks (although drought fireworks restrictions are in effect).  I’m admit it: I love little Willard (aka ‘lil Willy). It was named after Willard Richards, a counselor to Brigham Young in 1859.   Decades ago I came home from a long day at work and yelled out to my (now deceased) wife, “Honey, I’m home. Guess what? We have a ski boat now!”  Her reply: “We don’t ski.”  You see, sometimes we real estate brokers don’t always get paid in cold hard cash. We can accept a myriad of payment types for our services, and in this particular case I accepted a ski boat as payment rather than commission because the sellers were upside down in their home and didn’t have enough equity to pay the brokerage fees. I worked under a broker at that time and had to call her to ask if “we” could accept a commission of a boat. She replied, “I’ll take 10% of the value as my share of the commission.”  I got it appraised and handed over my broker $600.

There’s a relevant adage: “The greatest day of your life is when you get a boat. The even better day is when you sell the boat.”  Out adventure into boating began and it was terrific for a few summers. Who knew that the Great Salt Lake had a fresh water bay where you could fish, boat and swim? We’d haul the little red speedboat up there on Sundays and tow friends around the lake in inner tubes. If we were lucky enough to get time off on a weekday or Saturday we could make an extra stop at the voluminous Smith & Edwards sporting goods store to see what treasures we could find.  Alas, when the season is over the boat has to be properly stored. Our back yard in Sugar House was small and could barely fit the trailer and the boat. Storing it at a professional facility close-by cost $120 per month.  We sold it to a couple of wide-eyed happy kids who wanted their own first boat.  I still love going up to lil Willy in the Winter to watch the eagles hunt for fish up on the ice and still love shopping at Smith and Edwards.

June 19, 2015

FREE BUSES & TRAINS

2015

Random phone call this week: “Hi, Babs, I’m from Kiplinger Magazine in Washington and I’m doing a story on senior citizens.” “Cheesh, I’m not that old,” I said to myself. Long story short, the reporter was investigating where the best cities were to retire to and she wanted to know about Salt Lake City. Here’s what I know and what I told her:

1)   If you’re on a fixed and or low income, there’s a huge waiting list to get into any housing. The high-rise senior apartment buildings built decades ago (200 West and 200 East for example) aren’t in great shape and one building last year went the entire summer without air conditioning. My friend Sally said she was told in her search that the wait could be six months to two years and was told that there was a five year waiting list for Section 8 housing (subsidizing private landlords to rent to seniors). You can turn to Utah Housing Authority and several non-profits to find housing but they say, “Prepare to wait.” One national company (Danville Development) has 62+ housing in six Utah cities and runs Calvary Tower by Trolley Square for low income seniors. The first new building, Legacy Village of Sugar House has broken ground next to Wilmington Flats and will offer three kinds of care for independent and assisted living, plus a memory care facility.

2)   For seniors who can afford to buy, there are condos priced from $100k-$1 million+ dotted in and around downtown, the Avenues and University areas. Seniors can’t be turned down for loans because of their age or type of income and qualify like anyone else for a home loan. There are no ‘senior only over 55+ only’ condo buildings downtown to purchase, though and I haven’t seen anyone building any either.

3)   The active seniors I work with who want to buy condos want to live downtown near a TRAX station, booze, food, shopping, theater and museums unless they want the burbs of Day Break.

     If you’re reading this column you’re probably not a doddering old coot like me but your parents or grandparents may be and will need to move in the near future. God forbid your elders might have to move in with you because they can’t find housing!

I can tell you that as we age we think about how we want to spend our senior years and who we want to spend them with. Wouldn’t it be great if a bunch of Burners got together and built an elderly compound where fire pits battles between dub step and music without words was totally chill? One friend of mine cared for an elderly transwoman. They let her wear her wig in her hospital bed even though she presented as a man. Sadly she complained about not having any other LGBTQ people to talk to about the old days of disco, poppers and bare backing in the facility. 

June 19, 2015

SENIOR HOUSING

2015

Random phone call this week: “Hi, I’m from Kiplinger Magazine in Washington and I’m doing a story on senior citizens.” “Cheesh, I’m not that old,” I said to myself. Long story short, the reporter was investigating where the best cities were to retire to and she wanted to know about Salt Lake City. Here’s what I know and what I told her:

1)   If you’re on a fixed and or low income, there’s a huge waiting list to get into any housing. The high-rise senior apartment buildings built decades ago (200 West and 200 East for example) aren’t in great shape and one building last year went the entire summer without air conditioning. My friend Sally said she was told in her search that the wait could be six months to two years and was told that there was a five year waiting list for Section 8 housing (subsidizing private landlords to rent to seniors). You can turn to Utah Housing Authority and several non-profits to find housing but they say, “Prepare to wait.” One national company (Danville Development) has 62+ housing in six Utah cities and runs Calvary Tower by Trolley Square for low income seniors. The first new building, Legacy Village of Sugar House has broken ground next to Wilmington Flats and will offer three kinds of care for independent and assisted living, plus a memory care facility.

2)   For seniors who can afford to buy, there are condos priced from $100k-$1 million+ dotted in and around downtown, the Avenues and University areas. Seniors can’t be turned down for loans because of their age or type of income and qualify like anyone else for a home loan. There are no ‘senior only over 55+ only’ condo buildings downtown to purchase, though and I haven’t seen anyone building any either.

3)   The active seniors I work with who want to buy condos want to live downtown near a TRAX station, booze, food, shopping, theater and museums unless they want the burbs of Day Break.

      If you’re reading this column you’re probably not a doddering old coot like me but your parents or grandparents may be and will need to move in the near future. God forbid your elders might have to move in with you because they can’t find housing!

I can tell you that as we age we think about how we want to spend our senior years and who we want to spend them with. Wouldn’t it be great if a bunch of Burners got together and built an elderly compound where fire pits battles between dub step and music without words was totally chill? One friend of mine cared for an elderly transwoman. They let her wear her wig in her hospital bed even though she presented as a man. Sadly she complained about not having any other LGBTQ people to talk to about the old days of disco, poppers and bare backing in the facility. 

May 28, 2015

Hooker's in SLC?

2015

We live in the ‘red dirt’ district of downtown SLC. Before paved roads, there was packed red dirt on 200 South on the west side by the Gateway. When men went down to visit the shady ladies of the whore houses in this area of Greek Town, they’d get the red dirt in the cuffs of their pants. If they were married men, their wives would know exactly where they had been and there would be big trouble.

       Sex workers have been in this state since the first brothels were established down by Camp Floyd, a short-lived U.S. Army post near Fairfield, Utah (@ 40 miles southwest of SLC). Women have followed military troops throughout centuries all over the world and Utah isn’t without sin. There was a state statute written in 1876 that prohibited the ‘keep of, residing in, or resorting to houses of ill-fame for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness.’ That didn’t stop men from wanting sex or women selling it.

        - The first hooker anyone knew about in the state was Ada Carroll. She was brought to Utah by W.W. Drummond, as associate justice of the Supreme Court of Utah as his paid concubine. He had been married with children but left his family in favor of this shady lady;

        - In 1886 the Deseret News reported that “There are now in the city some six brothels, forty tap rooms, a number of gambling houses, pool tables and other disreputable concerns all run by non-Mormons”.

        - In 1897 the JUNIOR Brigham Young resigned from the Brigham Young Trust Co. because it was discovered that property owned by the firm was being used as brothel on Commercial Street. However, church controlled real estate in the city leased to houses of prostitution up until @1941 when the First Presidency ordered such leases stopped.

        -Salt Lake City officials recruited Ogden’s most famous madam, Belle London to open up and run prostitutes in the Red Dirt District. She had up to 100 women working in cribs for about four years before she was run out of town and the building ripped down.

        Over a hundred years later, Salt Lake City is redoing one of the most famous naughty streets here into a swell place for art, brews and food to open in conjunction with the new Eccles Theater opening downtown in the spring of 2016.  Regent Street is between State and Main Street between 100 and 200 South behind the Broadway show venue.  It was originally known as “Commercial” and there were cribs (think the size of a modern day work cubicle) rented out nightly to the soiled doves who would sit at the top of the stairs and coo down at prospective clients to come on up for some fun. 

May 29, 2015

Hair Museum!

2015

Salt Lake City proper doesn’t have many museums but the few we do have are pretty great. There’s the fabulous Natural History Museum by Red Butte Garden at the University of Utah, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the LDS Church History Museum (closed for updating). You may have been to most of those swell buildings and seen the collections and displays, but I’ll bet you a buck you’ve never been to the Pioneer HAIR Museum. I’m the only person that calls the Pioneer Memorial Museum at 300 N. Main Street by that name. I came up with it long ago when I lived across the street from the place and took friends and family over to visit fairly regularly. It’s free and it’s funky.

        Way back in 1901 in the capitol city a group of 46 women were invited to the house of Annie Taylor Hyde (daughter of LDS Church President John Taylor). You can imagine the gathering of ladies who probably looked much like the distaff cast of Downton Abbey, with long skirts that brushed the floor (often with trains), shirtwaists and high collars. They met and formed a new group called the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (“DUP”). All of them were descendants of Utah pioneer stock and their goal was “to perpetuate the names and achievements of the men, women and children who were the pioneers in founding this commonwealth by preserving old landmarks, marking historical places, collecting artifacts and histories, establish a library of historical matter and securing manuscripts, photographs, maps and all such data as shall aid in perfecting a record of the Utah pioneers.” They collected so much stuff they built a museum next door to the Capitol which opened in 1950.

        Back to the hair. The Museum is free and open Monday-Saturday 9 am to 5 pm and on Wednesday nights until 8 pm. When you walk into the building your nostrils will take in that musty dusty smell you probably get when you have to go to your grandmother’s house to help fetch her something out of her two year supply. For those of you who have an even better developed nose you’ll detect another layer of scent that you probably won’t identify until you’re reading one of the display cards next to a lovely dried flower arrangement under glass. Yes, those flowers are made of good ol’ pioneer hair. You see, in the old days a woman couldn’t run to Smiths and pick up a bouquet to brighten her home. There weren’t flower shops until electricity and refrigeration were more common. Women who were handy with needlework learned to weave their own hair, the hair of their husbands and kids and the hair of the departed into flowers. It was an ancient tradition to keep mementos and the hair of the dead. The designs are crazy good and intricate and smell like, well, old hair.

        Check it out next time you’re walking around the capitol lawns. They’ve got an original ZCMI chandelier, fantastic old Valentines cards and love letters, and newspapers made not from paper but from rags when the Deseret News ran out of paper and had to use old shirts, pants and dresses to print the news on until supplies arrived.

June 18, 2015

TAXI? LYFT?

2015

Twice a year my wife and I go to San Francisco for business and pleasure. We’ve been doing this for years and so we know a) if we stay in a hotel we have to pay a ton to park a rental car; b) finding a parking space is hell in the city and c) Airbnb’s generally don’t have off street parking for our rental car. One of our friends recommended a service called ‘Homobiles’, which is like Uber for Drag Queens. The cars come via text. Often vehicles come held together with duct tape, but we can be ourselves and the fares are cheap, by donation only.

   The sad thing for us about Homobiles is that they don’t have too many drivers and they get booked up very fast. Thus, we often have turned to Uber in the past few years. In San Francisco, Uber has an app that looks like a map, a map covered with 10 black dots within half a mile of wherever we stay. Those black dots on the map are available vehicles ready to pick you up. They appear within three minutes of texting in a fancy schmancy black vehicle, think Caddie (or similar). You don’t need to fumble for cash to pay or tip because it’s a set fee charged to your credit card that you’ve provided when setting up your account. Yes, it’s much more expensive than Homobiles, Lyft or a taxi but the convenience is worth it when there are no other rides available.

    I worked in bars in Salt Lake City for years in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. I learned to rely on a certain cab company in Salt Lake to haul away the forlorn, intoxicated, the party girls and boys. That company has become so unreliable in the past few years that I turned to a friend who worked for Uber and lives across the street from me. We went to Portland for Memorial Day weekend and needed a ride to the airport. Here’s our texts:  Me: “Need a ride to the airport at 2.”  Him: “Sorry, I have a day job now. Can’t help. But there will be plenty of drivers around to take you. Getting picked up from the airport could be a challenge. Uber and Lyft have stopped doing airport pickups in SLC. Lyft has stopped drop offs as well. A few commercially licensed Uber drivers are doing pickups but they can’t keep up with the demand. The taxis are no longer required to use meters so many are gouging passengers.”

   Have you noticed a difference in ride service options? Gov. Herbert signed a bill March 31, 2015 that put in massive statewide regulations for ride hailing companies. The big one is that the State requires drivers to be covered with at least $1 million in liability insurance. Uber and Lyft didn’t fight that requirement but they have been fighting the Salt Lake Mayor’s office for the even stricter rules imposed prior to that bill getting signed.

April 24, 2015

Rain, RAIN!

2015

Utah is the second driest state in the Union. No, I don’t mean booze, I mean moisture.  Although we’re known for having the greatest snow on earth, the airy flakes don’t melt out to much water.  You may have heard that Gov. Jerry Brown of California has signed legislation to reduce monthly water use by 20% because 93% of the state is under severe drought. We’ve got a big time drought too but so far our Governor hasn’t called for mandatory water cut backs.

        If you’ve got a well in your back yard, who owns the water? Most likely, not you. The state of Utah owns the water here and you’re not allowed to use it without permission. Whaaaaaa?  Isn’t everyone into collecting rainwater these days and helping Mother Nature water the garden and landscaping plants? You’re okay there because the state made it legal to collect rainwater in 2010.  Salt Lake County this past week is officially encouraging you collect rainwater through a program called RainHarvest. County residents are encouraged to collect what falls from the skies to water plants and is offering 50-gallon collection barrels at $40 each (normally $130) first come first serve.

        Apart from the obvious, rain collection is a good thing because the water comes out of the sky with less pollutants. Rain that runs down the street may have oil, gas, fertilizer, poop, piss, vomit, decay, organic and non-organic stuff. Mormon pioneers knew how precious water was when they settled the capitol city. The first thing they started doing was digging irrigation ditches and dam up City Creek to soften the hard clay soil so they could plant potato crops. There were over 1000 miles of irrigation canals in Utah by 1865 and there was a water ditch in front of the Beehive and Lion Houses downtown. Our fine state was successful in part getting off and running because we were the first irrigation-based economy in the entire country.

        I laugh when I see folks buying large bottles of water in the grocery store. Who knows where it comes from and how much energy and resources were wasted in getting it to Salt Lake City? We have a free, wonderful source of drinking water at the Artesian Well Park at 800 South and 500 East that is continually fed by a deep underground aquifer. Anyone can take water from the spigots 24/7, 365 days a year.

        Smarten up your water use and get a rain barrel. You can pre-order the discounted barrels on savesomethingutah.org until May 3rd  and get the $40 price for the 50 gallon containers. Otherwise you can purchase them at a larger local hardware chain or at Murray Park from 10AM-2PM on May 9th for $74 each.

April 03, 2015

FORE!

2015

If you don’t golf then click on!  I’m a golfer because my dad was a golfer and when we moved from New York to Arizona we lived with the new Tucson Country Club in the back yard. The course was a never ending source of play during the day and discovery as darkness fell as the wild life came out.  It’s a patience game and a great way to socialize with friends and meet new ones. And when you play golf you never have to produce anything to prove how great you did, like a fisherman does!

Utah has around 140 golf courses to play on and they are relatively cheap for 18 holes with a cart. Generally it’s about $50 for five hours of fun. If you compare our prices to say Arizona or California we’re generally half of their fees. Sadly though, Salt Lake City can’t figure out how to make golf profitable on its public courses. The sprinkler infrastructures are ancient, waste water and several courses are in need of better design. Frisbee golfers and foot golfers want to use the courses and dog owners for walkies after hours and during the cold months. Instead of creative future mixed use possibilities for thousands of acres of green space golf courses, Salt Lake City is thinking of closing Nibley Park, the airport course and Glendale.  The bad news will be announced soon.

Golf is like sex. You don’t have to play well to enjoy it and it’s just as addicting. For us players Midvale city has just announced “Topgolf” is coming. You’ve seen their style of golf ranges in movies: 2 or more tiers of driving greens where golfers hit buckets of balls at their own speed in heated or cooled comfort, at targets many yards away from the platform. Topgolf will open at Bingham Junction and Jordan River Blvd. and will have 102 hitting bays, 230 hi-def TV’s, music, and dining. The really really cool part of Topgolf is that they make the experience a game of competition (if you want to play). They have special golf balls with microchips that log where you hit the ball to complete a game, and the chip reader will post your score based on your accuracy and distance and send it to the TV screen in your bay. You don’t have to play that game and just practice your own shots. Like bowling, you can practice in your own lane or play on the overhead screen with another person next to you or down the alley.  You don’t have to have your own clubs or balls and their courses allow golfers to drink beer and eat food in the individual bays, served by ‘Bay Hosts’. Whoot! I can’t wait to try Topgolf.