DULL, DELUDED, DIVISIVE, DANG.
We asked readers to come up with one word that best defines Salt Lake City, and you responded with humor, earnestness and anger. Some of you couldn't resist poking fun at the city and the state. And that, as usual, caused some of the rest of you to suggest a change of address.
The exercise was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Eat, Pray, Love," in which the author travels through Italy, India and Indonesia looking for, among other things, an experience of the divine (God, pasta, etc.). In Italy she meets Giulio, who suggests that every city has a defining word, a single word that is most often on the minds of its residents. Rome's word, Giulio insists, is SEX.
Salt Lake City's word, we suggested a couple of weeks ago, might be PROCREATE. Or LABOR, with a nod to both childbirth and Utah's motto, "Industry." We invited readers to send us their words. Some of the responses reveal frustration at Utah and Utahns; others were more flattering. Many didn't quite follow the rules (we were looking for a word on the mind of most Salt Lakers, rather than an adjective that described the place).
Some offerings from e-mails and our online comment board: POSTERITY, GROWTH, JELL-O, SKIING, POWDER, PLASTIC, POSSIBILITY, PARTISAN, HOME, REPRESSED, HECK, FREEDOM, TIME-WARP, SMOG, HOCKEY, GRANDEUR, MORMON, MATERIALISTIC, BIGOT, POTENTIAL, SERVICE, SECOND-RATE, MULTI-LEVEL, NARROW-MINDED, SUPER, SUPER-DELL, DRY (climate, snow, social scene) and PERFECT. ("It satisfies all sides," the reader noted.)
DORKY, suggested a reader identified as Anonymous. "I've never seen a culture that believes acting dorky is cool," he/she commented. WANNABE, said another. ("Salt Lake has always wanted to be something else.") GIVING, suggested a reader in San Francisco. "If you want to go somewhere materialistic, narcissistic and self-indulgent, come to where I live," responded "U Native."
And so it went, back and forth between people who find Salt Lake City NARCISSISTIC and BORING, and those who find it DIVERSE and INSPIRATIONAL. JUDGMENTAL, wrote several people, sometimes referring to Utahns, sometimes referring to the people who wrote JUDGMENTAL.
RESENTMENT, wrote "lng," who added: "It's message-board conversations like these that make me think twice about moving back to Utah. The same self-obsessed groups of people hacking on each other for the same things over and over and over and over and over and over again at the drop of a hat. There are a lot of things I miss about the state, but that ain't one of them."Or, as Simple Simon posted, "People, this is a game. Play along without arguing or pontificating."