viernes, 19 de julio de 2013

Salt Lake City: hardcore punk and mountain highs

Vans Warped Tour 2009 15th Anniversary Press Conference & Kick-Off Party
The iconic TSOL, one of numerous punk bands, to have played Salt Lake City's punk scene. Photograph: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

When friends ask me what there is to do in Salt Lake City, I tell them they can do two things. They can check out the Mormon Temple on West North Temple Street and learn all about the "true" origin of man at the Church History Museum ( Or they can do what I do and go to a good old-fashioned punk show.

It's true. For all of Utah's pious and righteous people, there is, in fact, a strong and enthusiastic punk scene in Salt Lake City. And along with this scene come several seedy punk clubs. My favourite is Burt's Tiki Lounge, south of downtown. Bands come from all over the world to this tiny club, which is filled with tacky Caribbean decorations and hardcore punkers. The juxtaposition is amazing. The beer is cheap and, on a good night, you could catch a hardcore band like TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty), or some other iconic group and get caught up in the tightest mosh pit on the planet. The space is so small and packed that you can't really move around much. But the music is loud and the atmosphere raucous. Chaos in the middle of an ordered city is really something to behold.

You don't get many tourists at these clubs. And it's a small town, so everybody knows everybody. But if you're friendly and in the mood, you will be welcomed with open arms.

If this is not your thing, do what everybody else does when they visit Salt Lake City: head for the mountains.

The Fucktards at Burt's Tiki Lounge in Salt Lake City The Fucktards at Burt's Tiki Lounge in Salt Lake City

In winter, you'll want to go skiing. The best resort is Snowbird, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is famous for its steep slopes and amazing powder. The Great Salt Lake pulls humidity from the clouds, creating very light and fluffy snow that will make you feel you are skiing through marshmallows.

In summer, you can hike up one of the thousands of nature trails around the city. The Wasatch Mountains are part of the Rockies, and after just a few steps into the wilderness, you are definitely off the grid. You will feel like a member of the Donner party (1846 pioneers who passed through the mountains and the Great Salt Lake Desert before getting stuck in the snow under the Sierra Nevada and had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. But that won't happen to you).

I like to take my friends to the Timpanogos Cave, in the Wasatch Range, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City. You drive up the canyon, park your car and hike up this Middle-Earthian mountain along a paved trail. Eventually, you find yourself at the mouth of a very large natural cave system. You will marvel at the giant stalactites and stalagmites. You will gasp at mighty walls made of billions of crystals that reflect a rainbow of colour from the artificial lighting the park service has installed for your delight.

In short, visit the place of my youth. Come on in, the water's fine.

James Merendino, film director and screenwriter, who directed the semi-autobiographical 1998 film SLC Punk

For more information on holidays in the USA, see