One of the best-kept secrets in Salt Lake is the deal for a building swap being negotiated between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and American Stores.
Now that Albertson’s has bought American Stores, it finds itself stuck with that big green glass building on Main Street and 300 South. Albertson’s is working with a secret consortium to trade its new edifice for the building formerly known as the Hotel Utah. One of the key players is Frank Joklik of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, who wants to restore the ill-conceived Joseph Smith Memorial Building to its former glory as a world-class hotel.
His excellency Juan Antonio Samaranch wants accommodations befitting his exalted station, said a source familiar with the arcane world of the Olympic mystery cult. And his Highness Frank Joklik has fond memories of a wild night he spent in the Hotel Utah back in the ’20s. He’d like to bring the building into the Olympic family.
By one of those wonderful coincidences, I bumped into my old friend Aldeni Ensernos a week ago at the belly-dancing festival at Liberty Park. It turned out that Se-or Ensernos, an architect of international repute, was in town to consult with Frank and the lads at SLOC and lend his expertise to the secret negotiations.
Aldeni was still suffering from jet lag after his flight from Portugal, where in addition to his architectural duties he also holds the Ruth Westheimer Distinguished Chair in Religious Studies and Dental Hygiene at the Lisbon School of Hotel Management.
Frank and I, we go way back, said Se-or Ensernos. We graduate from barber college together, but we soon go our separate ways, me into architecture, Frank into mining. It is nice to hook up again. He pick me up at Deedee Corradini International Airport and whisk me to his sauna for some heart-to-heart talk. All he wants is to seminate the Olympic Spirit and maybe have a statue erected of hisself next to Brigham Young in front of your fine Temple. Everyone, they are I don’t know the reason why, picking on him like a scab.
Se-or Ensernos stopped to take a bite of his gyro sandwich with white sauce. I take a tour yesterday with Frank and the Duke of Grabbing, or Earl of Holding, or whoever he call hisself, of Yosef Smith Mammorial Building. Very, very sad what has been done to that Hotel. I spend a delicious weekend in the ’50s with a stewardess on seventh floor overlooking your lovely Temple. If those walls could speak! What seen! What heard! What smelled! Now some poor Church functionary must labor in room once full of juice and joy of life.
My friend shook his head, and sighed with that nostalgia so characteristic of his Portuguese countrymen. And the lobby. Once bustling and brimming with life! A real beehive, just like the one on top of the hotel. The big red carpet, symbolic of passion, now replaced with bloodless blue, like floor of heaven. Now all hushed and hygienic, like the nice elderly ladies would frown at you if you made a fart on those comfy sofas. The place, it remind me of the Celestial Room of Manti Temple, where I marry that sweet girl from Ephraim, my third wife. Only missing are holy workers wearing white shoes and baker’s hats.
And that statue of Yosef Smith! As the French say, what cheese! And what about that painting across lobby of Yosef supposedly anatomically accurate because based on death mask and testimony of several of his plural wives in their dotage. To me it look like dead ringer of that wooden matinee idol name of Kevin Costner.
So exercised was Se-or Ensernos that a dollop of white sauce spilled on to his immaculate Hawaiian shirt. Me and Frank and Count Grabbing are all hoping the Authorities Generale of the Church will take over the sparkling American Stores skyscraper. For one thing the lobby there will show off statue of Yosef Smith, and we can replace bronze ski jumper with Angel Moroni, but still keep male and female mountain climbers scaling wall, that lustful young man aspiring upward toward that athletic gal with her stretching thigh muscles.
Best of all is that dazzling aquamarine glass, same as windows in Hotel Utah, same kind of glass as peepstone Yosef put in the bottom of his hat to translate thrilling adventures in Book of Mormon. Se-or Ensernos smiled seraphically. But our ace in the hole is recent discovery of artifacts on site of American Stores. It is sacred ground. Sandals, pottery and Tupperware all prove that Jaredites told of in Golden Plates gathered in this very spot for their annual General Conference.