40 years of City Weekly Volume 3, 1986-1987 | City Weekly REWIND | Salt Lake City Weekly

40 years of City Weekly Volume 3, 1986-1987 

City Weekly Rewind

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Notable adjustments to the Private Eye took place during its third publication cycle. Review features began making regular appearances in June of 1986, extending to theater, music, film and the burgeoning home video market. By the end of the third volume in May 1987, the paper was sporting a snazzy new masthead design.

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Remembering Vol. 3: In the news
"Salt Lakers who like to celebrate the St. Patrick's Day Parade have a debt of gratitude to pay," remarked the Private Eye in March 1987. "Without a noble band of crazies who marched out of Stanyon Street on St. Patrick's Day in 1971, Irish implements in hand, past Dee's Drive-In and around the block, we might be without a St. Patrick's Day Parade today."

Don McGivney (1931-2000), a transplant from New Hampshire and proprietor of Club Stanyon Street (now Charlie Chow's Dragon Grill at 255 E. 400 South), discussed the impromptu festivities in which he and his peers participated. "Earlier, we Irish used to go around to parties and then from club to club," he told Private Eye, "but by 1971, we decided the city needed a parade. There were only about 30 of us, but still the police didn't quite know what to do about us."

That small band of people—playing nothing but kazoos—transformed into the Stanyon Street Marchers, a group that would be frequent participants of the official St. Patrick's Day Parade, which didn't fully take off until the end of the decade. What McGivney called a "parade" was really a one-off excursion, an early taste of what was yet to come.

John Francis Welsh (1934-2020), in a written recollection, described the "whirlwind of creative genius that started as a lark," which he and his friends undertook in 1977. During their annual revelry at Club Stanyon Street, Welsh—with his fellow conspirators Robert Quinn, John Brockert and Michael Rodman—performed military march maneuvers in the downtown area while singing old Irish tunes.

Their lark completed, the group then decided to have "a real parade." And thus, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was born, in tandem with the birth of the Hibernian Society of Utah, which has run the parade since its 1978 debut. To all these people, we do indeed owe a debt of gratitude.

In the running
In October 1986, Private Eye contributor Ron Yengich announced a new honor—the Douglas Stringfellow Morality Award, highlighting "a politician from the State of Utah (generally) who shows those qualities of duplicity and waste which most exemplify former Congressman Stringfellow's tenure in office."

Decided by a vote of Private Eye readers, the Stringfellow Award received its namesake from Utah's own Douglas R. Stringfellow (1922-1966), a one-term Republican U.S. Senator who built an image upon tales of his Silver Star-winning exploits during WWII in the OSS intelligence agency, and the resultant injuries he incurred. Running for re-election in 1954, Stringfellow was exposed as having lied about practically all aspects of his record, down to his claim of having attended the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University. Think of him as the George Santos of the 1950s.

In any event, Yengich's Stringfellow Award offered four finalists and a write-in option, presenting readers with the likes of such "distinguished" public figures as West Valley's then-state senator Verl Asay (1922-1991), Utah Attorney General David Wilkinson (1936-2022), U.S. Attorney Brent Ward and SCOTUS Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1924-2005). Looking back upon those four candidates today, Yengich believes "they all deserved the award." But he is quick to point out that in an era of Donald Trump, Mike Lee and Jan. 6, our political climate has deteriorated to an entirely new low. "As bad as Utah politics were then," he said, "it's way worse now."

In the city
In August 1986, sports writer Dave Blackwell reported on the new leadership decisions being made for the Utah Jazz by Larry H. Miller (1944-2009), who at the time was rumored to have been eying the talents of one Julius Erving.

"With new sole owner Larry Miller at the helm," wrote Blackwell, "working as feverishly as Farragut and Hornblower, the franchise gains credibility by jumping with both feet into the free agent market, which heretofore was verboten."

In September 1986, Private Eye theatrical critic David Pace lamented the closing of the Promised Valley Playhouse (132 S. State St.), a vintage theatrical stage that at the time had been operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1972.

"Area actors," Pace wrote, "now have one less stage to present their craft. (A reason for the theater's closure was stated as an attempt to revise the 'theater's mission,' but strong criticism from locals over gay actors performing at the church-owned theater may well have been the real reason.)"

While the beloved theater has been gone for some time now, the facade of that classic venue still exists to some extent at the corner of State Street and Orpheum Avenue.


In the ads
Remember the Yugo, that charming conveyance from Yugoslavia? Well, in June 1986, Gus Paulos Chevrolet was touting the car as "the road back to sanity," a return to basic affordability. Coming in at slightly over $4,000, some drivers might have seen the appeal, until they discovered that they were operating what Car and Driver magazine later described in 2010 as "the most wretched car ever to sully American highways."

What do you call a Yugo with a flat tire? You call it "totaled."

The Private Eye of May 1987 sported the ads for two unique businesses. One was for Splash Transit, a mobile hot tub and sauna; the other for a then-new music exchange store called Graywhale. While customers can no longer hail Splash Transit's services for parties, Graywhale is still operating today as a storied entertainment retailer with multiple locations.

And on a more sobering note, the Private Eye of March 1987 contained a reminder of the ongoing AIDS epidemic in Utah, warning that women and straight men were also at risk for the disease: "If you were exposed to AIDS five years ago—you may not know it yet." Would that more people had paid attention and taken action against the health risk, even when it was perceived to be confined to their LGBTQ neighbors and loved ones.

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In the ring
"Hulkamania" had come to the Salt Palace, reported the Private Eye in December 1986. To the delight of an audience of almost 13,000 people, Terry Bollea—better known by his ring name Hulk Hogan—came to the Beehive State in November with his cohorts from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

"Anyone who disagrees that pro-wrestling is more than fantasy is kidding themselves," wrote John Saltas for the cover story. "But, anyone who believes pro-wrestling is not fun, exciting and entertaining probably had dry toast for breakfast."

Pro wrestling was then riding a wave of popularity, and joining Hogan at the Salt Palace event were such notables as Jake "The Snake" Roberts (with python Damien in tow), the Iron Sheik and Randy "Macho Man" Savage. These luminaries of athletic theater brought Saltas back to the "rassels" that once took place at the old Fairgrounds Coliseum with the likes of Ali Bey, Karl von Brock, and "Krusher" Kowalski. Perhaps they had a similar effect for other Salt Lakers as well, for by Saltas' reckoning, the event was well-attended by a diverse group and all in high spirits.

"If the Utah Jazz win the NBA championship," he observed, "it may not be possible for a noise meter to record as high a sound as that which is heard when the Hulkster enters the ring."

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About The Author

Wes Long

Wes Long

Wes Long's writing first appeared in City Weekly in 2021. In 2023, he was named Listings Desk manager and then Contributing Editor in 2024. Long majored in history at the University of Utah and enjoys a good book or film, an excursion into nature or the nearest historic district, or simply basking in the company... more

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