Baboon Shavin’ Tunes: Brought to You by PETA

(Originally ran on September 8th, 2003 as "The running of the bull at Gateway")

Last summer I had the distinct opportunity to attend my first-ever Redneck Barbeque. It was to be a lovely affair, featuring apple bobbing, tight pants, and butt-rock. In order to achieve the proper image, I stopped by the local Deseret Industries in search of a "Redneck" t-shirt.

After browsing through several worthy candidates, I finally settled on the Brooks and Dunn concert tee. It had a beautiful image of a semi-cab on the back, boasting Brooks and Dunn as "Country Music’s Hottest Duo."

Now, I would never be silly enough to debate the country music superiority of Brooks and Dunn, but the front of the t-shirt had me perplexed. Right next to the Brooks and Dunn logo was the logo for Volvo automobiles.

Volvo?

Go ahead. Blame me for perpetuating negative stereotypes. But Chevy I would have believed. Dodge. Ford. Pretty much any manufacturer that was domestic and built dualies. But Volvo? Come on! How many dyed-in-the-wool country fans are going to roll up to the Delta Center, clad in boots, buckles and ten-gallon hats, behind the wheel of a Swedish import wagon?

According to Volvo founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson, "The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo […] must remain, safety…"

Safety? We’re talking about the same crowd that enjoys Bull Riding and Demolition Derby’s! How’s an air bag going to figure into the plans of a six-and-a-half foot locomotive of a man named Hoss as he takes off into the backwoods with the objective of blasting a Moose to smithereens? Where’s he going to strap the thing? The ski rack?

The commercialization of our society has officially crossed the border marked "Asinine." Just check out the name of any sports arena. The Salt Palace yielded to The Delta Center. The Oakland Coliseum became Network Associates Coliseum. Candlestick Park gave up the ghost to…3Com Park? Ach!

Now try this on for size: During last summer’s Days of 47’ Rodeo, there was a little bull incident. For those of you who didn’t hear about it, a bull managed to bust out of the Delta Center and took an unguided tour of the greater downtown area. His first destination happened to be across the street at Salt Lake’s new pride and joy, the Gateway Mall.

Here’s what I think of the Gateway. It’s nice to walk around in an open-air mall, and they have some fun stuff. The movie theater is nice. But for the most part, the stores are way too expensive, and overall, I think it is one of the biggest examples of Salt Lake’s attempt to appear trendy to the rest of the world. From the mayor taking visitors bar-hopping to the annual fervor over why no NBA free agents want to play for the Jazz, there seems to be a continued effort to portray Salt Lake, and Utah in general, as something it’s really not meant to be: hip.

So, with this new perspective, picture the scene: It’s a lovely summer evening at the Gateway, and you’re sitting at the Happy Sumo, enjoying some fine international cuisine and taking down a latte or something. You think to yourself, "Ah, what a fine cosmopolitan city Salt Lake has turned out to be."

Then you look up at the second floor railing just in time to see a 2000-pound bull fly over it and crush the unoccupied table next to you. Aghast, you watch it spring to its feet and barrel towards Pioneer Park.

A moment later- I kid you not- two cowboys charge through the mall on horseback, lassos at their sides, and gallop away after the AWOL bull. What kind of message are you getting?

We can try to change our image, but we are what we are.

At this point, many of you must be thinking, "if you’re so keen on sticking to your roots, isn’t it hypocritical to dress up and go to a redneck barbeque?"

My answer is, sure. But it was for a party, and besides, while I do still subscribe to the notion that country is the Special Olympics of music, I do on occasion enjoy a little Willie Nelson. I own cowboy boots. I even have a cowboy hat, though people tell me it looks more like something Crocodile Dundee would wear in the outback.

But the bottom line is this: if NBA free agents don’t want to come to Utah because we’re a bunch of boring hicks, then buy me a dualie and call me Bubba.