Publisher Pete Saltas commemorates the 40th Anniversary of City Weekly | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Publisher Pete Saltas commemorates the 40th Anniversary of City Weekly 

The Gardener

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City Weekly’s anniversary falls around Memorial Day weekend each year. I'm doubtful even my dad knows the exact date 40 years later. And that’s fair, since I don’t think that even he figured the once scrappy private club monthly newsletter, the Private Eye, would have evolved to the nationally recognized (we were once featured on HBO’s hit sitcom Big Love), award-winning newsweekly that you still see today.

It’s appropriate that our birthday is around-ish Memorial Day because, by nature, it’s a great time to reflect on things that were. And I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor to teach me where both City Weekly and the Saltas family come from– and how they are interrelated– than John Saltas.

Much of what ends up in a John Saltas column is relayed through his experience as a product of Greek immigrant, coal and copper mining blood, pioneer-stock grandmother, diverse Lead Mine neighborhood, and not-so-Fortunate Son upbringing. He is the David to Utah’s typical white bread Goliath. This is the time of year that reminds me of a favorite article written by my dad: his “tomatoes” article. In it, he relays his relationship with his immigrant grandfather and his garden. He also utilized a version of that article in Memorial Day speeches at the Greek Orthodox church that caused the crowd to go through a range of emotions– laughing, sighing, smiling, crying– all in one sitting.

It’s a uniquely John Saltas style to take the audience on a train-of-thought ride, often starting in Bingham Canyon, winding through stories in a way only he can appropriately tell and culminating at some final destination of his choosing.

Through 40 years of storytelling, City Weekly has provided many in this community with their own favorite memories derived from our pages that were atypical for the Utah normie. (When “alternative” meant against the grain–not to be confused with the term that Kellyanne Conway hijacked to fit the MAGA narrative.) Whenever I meet people for the first time and tell them I work for City Weekly, they all have their anecdotal favorite “thing” about our paper. Whether it’s the “back, crack, and sac” ad that ran for years– until the guy retired; the push by City Weekly to help rid Utah of arcane “members only” licenses for bars (even elder millennials will remember those); the tattered City Weekly float driving through the very first Utah Pride Parade, and the more recent impact of our covid-times reporting that pushed both the city and state to help the mom and pop shops get through the pandemic.

Our stalwart readers recognize not only the causes we’ve supported over the years, but also the many-a-time we’ve punched up well above our weight class. I, for one, wouldn’t want to be Mike Lee or any recent Attorney General. That’s what we do and do well– call out hypocrisy at any level and support the little guy. Any underdog would want John Saltas in their corner. All that and more is my dad’s legacy.

Even after 40 years, that’s what City Weekly is still, too– an underdog on many fronts. Media consolidation left us among the last bastion of local independents. Unlike our newsprint, radio, and TV counterparts along the Wasatch– the Tribune, Deseret News, Park Record, Ogden Standard Examiner, Provo Herald, Broadway Media, Sinclair, Scripps, Nexstar, KSL– we are not by any means billionaire owned nor part of a billion-dollar corporate holding company. Mass consolidation isn’t a uniquely local media problem either. That affects all industries– ski resorts, grocery stores, mom and pop retailers that once were a key feature to a thriving neighborhood. And, thus, the communities we live in are seeing more homogeneity. And, no, you MAGAts reading this, that doesn’t mean more gay. Though a little more rainbow would be good anyhow.

Financial resources aside, that doesn’t even address the digital age we’re in. As City Weekly remained a free publication, we’ve always relied on our advertisers so that means we now have to compete with other multi-billion-dollar companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta. C’est la vie. I’d still choose my dad and our own path over someone like that fuckwad Musk anyway.

On that note, if you’re sick, like I am, of major corporations killing main streets across the United States and buying our “elected” politicians’ favor up and down the spectrum of federal and local governments then follow the 3 easy rules of John Saltas. First, support City Weekly advertisers. Second, when option one isn’t readily available, still go local. Third, grow your own tomatoes.

To pops,

Eleni, Mikey and I truly hit pay dirt to have you as our dad.

Love ya always,

Preemie Pete, your son

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