Got Back | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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May 31 marked my second “first anniversary” as copy editor/proofreader for this newspaper. Now known as the City Weekly, back in 1985 it was called The Private Eye. For both of these milestones, I thank John Saltas, and serendipity.

As for the first stint, I was in mid-decade as a music reviewer for The Salt Lake Tribune at that time and also was moonlighting publishing a small monthly tabloid for the now-defunct Zephyr Club (a way for the noted music nightclub to get around the then-ban on private clubs advertising). As fate would have it, I had the paper printed at a little press shop in Midvale, the same place Saltas was assembling his fledgling paper.

One morning, he asked if I would quickly look over his pages for any glaring typos. After a few times of that, I was put on the payroll. Because of my Tribune position, I had to use a pseudonym, and so I mixed my grandfather’s surname and my own initials to become J.P. Gabellini (the Zephyr paper had me as J. Paul Johnson).

In addition to the copy editing, I also was afforded the opportunity to write a variety of columns—as an ersatz restaurant reviewer (hey, I like to eat so that seemed a good thing to do); penning a short feature on recent music events around town I called Eighth Notes; and doing the occasional personal piece not unlike Saltas’s own current weekly column, Private Eye.

The paper grew and soon moved downtown a few doors from the late Port O’ Call. The list of contributors also grew, and quite a cast of characters it was. The noted defense attorney Ronald J. Yengich spent a number of years writing a column. For some reason, the irascible barrister had the kindness to allow my editing without too much complaining, something I attribute to the fact that we were both comrades-in-arms as owners at different times of the much-missed Dead Goat Saloon (a fact he mostly wouldn’t discuss).

That last position eventually necessitated my leaving Private Eye Weekly—same paper, now published weekly—to focus on my demanding nightclub venture.

It was at 2009’s celebrated Saltas family Greek Easter party that I had the opportunity to thank John in person for a kind mention in the paper of my original position with him. After meeting current editor Jerre Wroble that day and mentioning my premier slot, I jokingly inquired if that copy editor gig might still be open.

Her phone call to me a week later was an invitation to return to a job I always had felt honored to have and for over decade very much missed. Maybe I should run true to form and again go with a pseudonym; say, Jojo (from the Beatles). “. . . get back to where you once belonged.”

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