Nick Como has a tattoo on each of his forearms: one of the Statue of Liberty, the other of the New York City skyline.
Como, currently the communications director for the Downtown Alliance, cut his musical teeth on raw punk rock in New York City, where he grew up, wrote and printed his own zine, and was the frontman of a band. “I did the music thing pretty hard when I lived in New York,” he says during lunch at Bayleaf Bar & Grub. “I have no talent or skill. I was the singer— I just jumped off the stage a lot.”
Most of Como’s many tattoos—including the skyline, inked when he was 18, and his first, of a Japanese dragon—were done by his friend Kevin Q., owner and artist at Fat Cat Tattoos in Astoria. “I try to go to Fat Cat whenever I am home—even if just to catch up,” he says between bites of blackened catfish and stir-fry vegetables. “Important news always goes through tattoo shops first—it’s my generation’s version of barber shops. Tattoos are more than just the simple ink—it’s where it comes from and from whom.”
Since moving west when he was 21 for “the mountains, the skiing, no traffic and the quality of life,” Como continued to be inspired to go under the needle. While living in Colorado, he got a claddagh ring done. “My mom always wore one when I was a kid,” he says. “That was a way to deal with missing your family 2,000 miles away.” It was at Big Deluxe Tattoo in Salt Lake City that Como got his Statue of Liberty piece done, by Rich.
Como worked as director of marketing and development for the Alta Resort Association and director of marketing and public relations for Solitude before taking up his current post at the Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to showcasing the vibrancy of Salt Lake City. “I think [the Downtown Alliance’s] mission is really fun—to promote Salt Lake—and I think our city is really growing in such a positive direction,” he says. “In the past five or 10 years, there’s been a huge facelift, so I came in at a really fun time.”
For downtown shoppers and sightseers this holiday season, the hassle of parking has been eliminated with the Downtown Alliance’s free Jingle Bus. Until Dec. 28, from 5 to 10 p.m., the trolley will circulate in a loop between The Gateway, City Creek Center and other noteworthy sights and shopping areas.
Unfortunately, the early-stage idea of having Downtown Alliance staff dress up as Santa’s helpers each day the shuttle runs was canned, so shoppers won’t have the opportunity to see Como suited up in an awkward Will-Farrell-elf sort of way. For more information about the Downtown Alliance’s holiday events, visit DowntownSLC.org.
When Como isn’t busy masterminding the Downtown Alliance’s social media presence and website, he’s hitting the slopes and exploring the backcountry. While he prefers the majestic sounds of nature to being plugged in to headphones, he makes sure to “listen to something awesome in the car on the way there, so a great song that I know more than one verse to is stuck in my head the whole day,” he says. So, to find out what Como might listen to on his way to the trailhead, we put the well-stocked music selection of his iPhone on shuffle. Check out the random picks below.
But first, he offers a musical practical joke: “If you ever want to play a great prank on a friend, hum the theme song to a bad TV show at the beginning of the hike so it’s stuck in their head. The Love Boat is a favorite for that game.”
Nick Como talks about his randomized iPhone picks:
Fugazi, “Glue Man,” 13 Songs
[Fugazi was] the first post-punk band. [They helped start] that whole DIY ethic of $5 shows, printing their own T-shirts. They totally revolutionized post-punk music. This 13 Songs album is actually a compilation of their first two 7-inches. Ian [MacKaye], the singer for [Fugazi], was the singer for Minor Threat, which invented straight-edge/ punk/hardcore. Fugazi is awesome.
Frank Turner, “English Curse,” England Keep My Bones
Frank Turner I just recently found. He’s like a mix of a folk singer and Bruce Springsteen and punk rock, all wrapped up into one. Most things are either acoustic or acoustic-sounding, but the lyrics are straight out of Sex Pistols—it’s awesome. He did something, because he’s from England, for the opening ceremonies of the [2012 Winter] Olympics.
Street Dogs, “Not Without a Purpose,” Fading American Dream
When I first moved to Salt Lake eight years ago, I went to see Social Distortion, and the Street Dogs opened for them and completely blew them off the stage. The singer for Street Dogs, [Mike McColgan], was the singer for the first two Dropkick Murphys albums—the first Dropkick Murphys albums, back when they were a punk band and not the Boston sports band of choice. Street Dogs are what Dropkick Murphys should still be.
Vinnie Paz, “Aristotle’s Dilemma,” Season of the Assassin
[Vinnie Paz is] old-school, thug-style, straight-outta-the-streets-of-Philly hip-hop—the most politically incorrect artist. He’s like half Puerto Rican and half Italian, which is probably a bit of an uphill battle to climb in the hiphop world, but he’s an underground sensation. I discovered him through a guest spot on Freddy Madball album. His rap style is so unique because he almost talks more than he raps, but it still has this amazing flow.
Jack Johnson, “Middle Man,” Brushfire Fairytales
I think Jack Johnson, along with Kiss and AC/DC, are going to get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for putting out the same album 20 times and it being pretty good each time. For good, mellow, chill-out music, especially when you have a group of people in the car that don’t want to hear old-school hip-hop or punk rock, Jack Johnson is a good choice.